Let’s will meet Vlad the Impaler or as commonly referred to, Dracula. Not the legendary Dracula of Bram Stoker but the man who is historically identified with Vlad Tepes. Vlad Tepes was born in November or December of 1431 in the town of Sighisoara, Transylvania.
He had a bigger brother Mircea II (14271447) and a little brother, Radu cel Frumos (1437/1439 – 1475). His father was Vlad II Dracul, the illegitimate son of Mircea cel Mare, and his mother, Princess Snezana, the daughter of Alexandru cel Bun of Moldova.
He was educated by his mother and his family, but his actual studies began in 1436, when he was taught the art of war and peace that was necessary for every Christian knight.
In 1438 his father accompanied Sultan Murad II to his campaign in Transylvania, where he tried to protect the local population from the pillage of the invaders, which caused the sultan’s suspicion and got him imprisoned in Gallipoli.
In 1444 he was liberated in exchange for the freedom of his sons Vlad and Radhu, who were imprisoned for four years in the city of Eğrigöz. Young Vlad, twelve years old, remained in the Ottoman Empire until 1448. While he was held hostage, he learned the Turkish language and gained extraordinary military training.
In all likelihood, this affected Vlad’s mental health. He is referred to as an extremely unbalanced, with various strange ideas and habits, personality. His imprisonment also prompted him to hate the Ottoman Turks.
At the age of 17 he learned of the murder of his father and older brother. The Turks released him and returned the Wallachian throne, which had been occupied by Vladislav II and the Boyars. But the kingdom of Vlad II did not last long. The Boyars in alliance with the Hungarian John Hunyadi invaded Wallachia and expelled Vlad, despite the Turks trying to support him. Vlad was forced to seek asylum from his allies in Moldova, but after four years in 1451, the Moldovan ruler and Vlad’s uncle were murdered.
Vlad leaves again, this time with his cousin Stefan cel Mare. Hunyadi’s former enemy, impressed by Vlad’s knowledge of how the Ottoman Empire operates, recruits him as a consultant to Hungary. In 1456, he ascends to the throne of Wallachia with the help of Hungary and the Wallachian Boyars and kills the previous King Vladislav II in a duel.
At the beginning of his reign, his people numbered about 500 thousand people, while the Wallachian state was ravaged after years of war. Vlad promoted trade and empowered the army. He struggled with the Boyars to gain state power. He armed the free farmers and residents to fight both internal and external threats – especially the threat of the Ottoman Empire who considered Wallachia a part of their empire.
In 1461, Vlad refused to pay tribute to the Ottoman sultan. He then crossed the Danube river and plundered the territories of the Ottoman Empire in today’s Bulgaria. Muhammad II had an army of 60,000 soldiers and 30,000 troops. Vlad ambushed them – the night of 16 – 17 June 1462 and killed 15,000 Turks, who were forced to retreat. But Muhammad II convinced his brother Vlad, Radhu, to lead the Janissaries to the conquest of Wallachia and so they did.
Vlad was imprisoned in Hungary under false accusations of working with the Turks and spent twelve years in prison. He ruled again in 1476, but that same year he was killed by the Boyars.
His emblem was the dragon hung from a cross. Vlad III was named Draculea, which means the son of the Dragon – or according to a different interpretation – Devil’s Son.
Article by Depi Tzini
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