Vlad the Impaler is a household name throughout Europe and beyond. He has become synonymous with the vicious and the blood thirsty. But despite his infamy, I really didn’t know much about him, other than his violent streak of course, so I had a delve…
Vlad III was born in 1448 and died at the age of 45. He was known as Vlad the Impaler only posthumously, before his death he was known as Vlad III Dracula, Prince of Wallachia, or more impressively: “Kazikli Bey” – The Impaler Lord, my personal fave. He was a member of the House of Drăculești and was the famous inspiration for Bram Stoker’s classic novel of 1897 – Dracula. Dracula actually means “Son of Dragon” in Romanian, due to his father being a member of the Order of the Dragon, a group that enforced and protected Christianity throughout Eastern Europe.
He was born in Transylvania in the Kingdom of Valahia (Wallachia), an area fraught with conflict. Battles between the Ottoman, Islamic regime and the Hungarian pro-Catholic dogma were always prevalent. A fitting back drop to breed a monster.
Vlad had two older half brothers and one younger brother called Radu III The Handsome; that name’s a lot to live up to isn’t it?
Vlad was most famous for his cruelty, as we all know. Much of the evidence for this comes from German manuscripts which became popular after his life had ended, but there are many references from both Ottoman and Hungarian sources that talk of his twisted penchant for impaling people. A German pamphlet from 1521 reads:
He let children be roasted; those, their mothers were forced to eat. And (he) cut off the breasts of women; those, their husbands were forced to eat. After that, he had them all impaled
It’s estimated that he laid waste to between 40,000 and 100,000 people during his reign. Pretty impressive going by anyone’s standard, not even Obama has reached those heady heights… yet. There are German wood cuttings showing him feasting at a solitary table, nestled amongst his victims on spikes whilst others are tortured. Most of his killings were politically motivated, but sometimes he killed merely to cure boredom. He hanged his victims, stretched them on the rack, burned them at the stake, boiled them alive, but mostly impaled them.