Vlad III Impaler: biography, interesting facts and legends
Vlad Tepes was born around 1429 or 1431 (the exact date of birth, like death, is unknown to historians). He descended from the Basarab family. His father, Vlad II Dracul, was a Wallachian ruler and ruled the region on the territory of modern Romania. The mother of the child was the Moldavian Princess Vasilika.
Family and famous nickname
Vlad III Tepes spent the first seven years of his life in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. In the house of his family was located the mint. It minted gold coins, which depicted a dragon. For this, Vlad's father (and later himself) got the nickname “Dracul”. In addition, he was enrolled as a knight in the Order of the Dragon, created by the Hungarian king Sigismund I. In his youth, the son was also called the "Dracul", but later this form changed to the more famous - "Dracula". The word itself belongs to the Romanian language. It can also be translated as "the devil."
In 1436, Vlad's father became the ruler of Wallachia and brought his family to the then capital of the principality of Targovishte.Soon the boy had a younger brother - Radu A handsome. Then the mother died, and the father married the second time. Another Dracula brother, Vlad the Monk, was born in this marriage.
In 1442, Vlad III Tepes was on the run. His father quarreled with the Hungarian ruler Janos Hunyadi. An influential monarch decided to put his protégé Basarab II on the Wallachian throne. Realizing the limitations of his own strength, Dracula's parent went to Turkey, where he was going to ask for help from the powerful Sultan Murat II. It was then that his family and fled from the capital, so as not to fall into the hands of the supporters of the Hungarians.
It's been a few months. The spring of 1443 came. Vlad II agreed with the Turkish Sultan and returned to his homeland with a powerful Ottoman army. This army dislodged Basaraba. The Hungarian ruler did not even resist this coup. He was preparing for the upcoming Crusade against the Turks and rightly believed that it was necessary to deal with Wallachia only after defeating his main opponent.
The war of Hunyadi ended in the battle of Varna. The Hungarians suffered a crushing defeat in it, King Vladislav was killed, while Janosh himself fled ignominiously from the battlefield.Talks on peace followed. Turks as winners could impose their demands. The political situation has changed dramatically, and Dracula's father decided to fly over to the sultan. Murat agreed to become the patron of Wallachian ruler, however, to make sure of his loyalty, he demanded to send valuable hostages to Turkey. 14-year-old Vlad Dracula and 6-year-old Radu were chosen as them.
Life at the Ottomans
Dracula spent four years in Turkey (1444-1448). Traditionally it is believed that during this period his character underwent irreversible changes. Returning to his homeland, Vlad Dracula has become a completely different person. But what could have caused this change? The opinions of the biographers of the Wallachian ruler on this account are divided.
Some historians claim that Dracula was forced to convert to Islam in Turkey. Torture really could have a negative effect on the psyche, but there is not a single evidence of them in reliable sources. It is also assumed that Tepes experienced severe stress due to the harassment of the heir to the Ottoman throne Mehmed to his brother Radu. The Greek historian Laonique Halkocondil wrote about this connection.However, according to the source, these events took place in the early 1450s, when Dracula returned home.
Even if the first two hypotheses are true, then the true Vlad III Tepes changed after he learned about the murder of his own father. Lord of Wallachia died in the fight against the Hungarian king. By sending his sons to Turkey, he hoped that peace would finally come to his country. But in reality, the flywheel of the war between Christians and Muslims only unwound. In 1444, the Hungarians again set off on the Crusade against the Turks and were again defeated. Then Janos Hunyadi attacked Wallachia. Dracula's father was executed (his head was cut off), and in his place the ruler of Hungary put his next protégé, Vladislav II. Vlad's elder brother was even more brutally massacred (he was buried alive).
Soon the news of what happened reached Turkey. Sultan gathered a formidable army and defeated the Hungarians in the battle of Kosovo. The Ottomans contributed to the fact that in 1448, Vlad III Tepes returned to his homeland and became the Wallachian prince. As a sign of grace, the sultan gave Dracula horses, money, gorgeous clothes and other gifts.Radu remained to live in the Turkish court.
Short reign and exile
The first Wallachian rule of Dracula lasted only two months. During this time, he only managed to start an investigation into the circumstances of the killing of his relatives. The Romanian prince learned that his father had been betrayed by his own boyars, who at the decisive moment had gone over to the Hungarians, for which the new government showered them with various favors.
In December 1448, Dracula had to leave the capital of Wallachia, Targovishte. Recovering from defeat, Hunyadi announced a campaign against Tsepesh. The army of the ruler was too weak to successfully resist the Hungarians. Soberly assessing the situation, Dracula hid in Moldova.
This small country, like Wallachia, was ruled by its princes. The rulers of Moldova, not possessing significant forces, were forced to agree to the Polish or Hungarian influence. Two neighboring states fought with each other for the right to be overlords of a small principality. When Dracula settled in Moldova, the Polish party was in power there, which guaranteed him security. The overthrown master of Wallachia remained in the neighboring principality, until in 1455 a supporter of the Hungarians and Janos Hunyadi Peter Aron was established on the throne.
Return to power
Fearing to be extradited to his sworn enemy, Dracula left for Transylvania. There he began to gather the people's militia in order to regain the Wallachian throne (on which the Hungarian protégé Vladislav was once again).
In 1453, the Turks seized the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. The fall of Constantinople again exacerbated the conflict between Christians and Ottomans. In Transylvania, Catholic monks appeared, who began to recruit volunteers for a new crusade against the infidels. At the holy war they took everyone except the Orthodox (they, in turn, went to the army to Tepes).
Dracula in Transylvania hoped that the Wallachian Prince Vladislav would also go to liberate Constantinople, which would facilitate his task. However, this did not happen. Vladislav was frightened by the appearance of the Transylvanian militia on its borders and remained in Targovishte. Then Dracula sent spies to the Wallachian boyars. Some of them agreed to support the claimant and help him with a coup d'état. In August 1456, Vladislav was killed, and the Impaler for the second time proclaimed ruler of Wallachia.
Shortly before the Turks again declared war on Hungary and besieged Belgrade that belonged to it. The fortress managed to escape.The crusade, which was supposed to complete the liberation of Constantinople, turned in the direction of Belgrade. And although the Turks were stopped, a plague epidemic began in the Christian army. Nine days before Dracula came to power in Wallachia, his opponent in Belgrade, Janos Hunyadi, died from this terrible disease.
Prince and know
Vlad's new rule in Wallachia began with the execution of the boyars who were responsible for the death of his brother and father. Aristocrats were invited to the feast, timed to coincide with the feast of Easter. There they were sentenced to death.
According to legend, right during the solemn feast, Dracula asked the boyars sitting at the same table with him how many Wallachian rulers they found alive. None of the guests could name less than seven names. The question was ominous and symbolic. The incredible routine of the rulers in Wallachia spoke only about one thing: the nobility here is ready to betray her prince at any moment. Dracula could not allow this to happen. He took the throne more recently, his positions were still fragile. In order to gain a foothold at the helm of power and to demonstrate his determination, he carried out indicative executions.
Although the Lord was unpleasant to know, he could not get rid of her completely. Under Tsepesh, there was a council of 12 people. Each year, the ruler tried to update the composition of this body as much as possible in order to include enough people loyal to himself.
The possessions of Dracula
Vlad's first priority on the throne was to deal with the tax system. Wallachia paid tribute to Turkey and the government required a steady income. The problem was that after Dracula ascended to the throne from Wallachia to Transylvania, the chief treasurer of the principality escaped. He took with him a register - a collection where all the data on taxes, taxes, villages and cities of the state were entered. Because of this loss at first, the principality was in financial trouble. The next treasurer was found only in 1458. A new inventory, necessary for the restoration of the tax system, was prepared for three years.
On the territory belonging to Dracula there were 2100 villages and 17 more cities. No census was taken at that time. Nevertheless, historians with the help of secondary data were able to restore the approximate number of subjects of the prince. The population of Wallachia was about 300 thousand people.The figure is modest, but in medieval Europe there was practically no demographic growth. Regular epidemics prevented, and the bloody events of the century of Dracula were especially rich.
The largest cities of Tepes were Targovishte, Kampulung and Curtea de Arges. They were actual capitals - the princely courts were located there. Also, the Valash gospodar belonged to the lucrative Danube ports that controlled the trade of Europe and the Black Sea region (Kilia, Braila).
As mentioned above, the treasury Dracula replenished mainly due to taxes. Wallachia was rich in cattle, grain, salt, fish, and wineries. In the dense forests, which occupied half of the territory of this country, many game animals lived. Rare for the rest of Europe (saffron, pepper), fabrics, cotton and silk were delivered here from the east.
In 1457, the Wallachian army went to war with the Transylvanian city of Sibiu. The initiator of the campaign was Vlad III Tsepesh. The history of the campaign is foggy. Dracula accused the residents of the city of helping Hunyadi and quarreling with his younger brother Vlad Monk. After leaving the lands of Sibiu, the Wallachian ruler went to Moldova.There he helped his old comrade Stefan ascend to the throne, who had supported Dracula in the period of his exile.
All this time, the Hungarians did not cease their attempts to subordinate again the Romanian provinces. They supported a challenger named Dan. This rival Dracula settles in the Transylvanian city of Brasov. Soon there were detained Wallachian merchants, and their goods - confiscated. For the first time in Dan’s letters there are mentions that Dracula loved to resort to the cruel torture of impalement. It was from her that he got his nickname Tepes. From the Romanian language, this word can be translated as "kolschik."
The conflict between Dan and Dracula escalated in 1460. In April, the army of the two rulers met in a bloody battle. Valashsky ruler won a landslide victory. As an edification to the enemies, he ordered to impale already dead enemy soldiers. In July, Dracula took control of the important city of Fagaras, which was previously occupied by supporters of Dan.
In the autumn, an embassy from Brasov arrived in Wallachia. He was received by Vlad III Tepes himself. The castle of the prince has become a place of signing a new peace treaty. The document applied not only to Brasovians, but also to all Saxons who lived in Transylvania. Prisoners from both sides received freedom.Dracula promised to join the alliance against the Turks who threatened the possessions of Hungary.
War with the Ottomans
Since Romania was his birthplace, Dracula was Orthodox. He actively supported the church, gave her money and in every possible way defended her interests. At the expense of the prince, a new Coman monastery was built nearby, along with Giurgiu, as well as a temple in Tyrgshor. Gave Tepish money and the Greek Church. He donated Athos and other Orthodox monasteries in the country seized by the Turks.
Vlad III Tsepesh, whose biography during the second reign was so closely connected with the church, could not but fall under the influence of Christian hierarchs, who persuaded authorities in any European country to fight against the Turks. The first sign of a new anti-Ottoman policy was an agreement with Transylvanian cities. Gradually, Dracula was increasingly inclined to the need for war with the infidels. This thought was diligently urged on by the Walashi Metropolitan Makarii.
It was impossible to fight with the sultan with the forces of one professional army. Poor Romania simply didn’t have enough people to equip an army as colossal as the Turks considered it.That is why Tepes armed citizens and peasants, creating a whole militia. Dracula in Moldova managed to get acquainted with a similar defense system of the country.
In 1461, the Valashian ruler decided that he had enough resources to talk with the Sultan on an equal footing. He refused to pay tribute to the Ottomans and began to prepare for the invasion. The invasion really took place in 1462. The army of up to 120 thousand people headed by Mehmed II entered Wallachia.
Dracula did not allow the Turks to conduct a war according to their own scenario. He organized guerrilla warfare. The Wallachian detachments attacked the Ottoman army in small detachments - at night and suddenly. Such a strategy cost the Turks 15 thousand lives. Moreover, Tepes fought according to the scorched earth tactics. His partisans destroyed any infrastructure that could be useful to the invaders in a foreign land. The beloved executions of Dracula were not forgotten either - impalement became a terrible dream of the Turks. As a result, the sultan had to retire from Wallachia with nothing.
In 1462, shortly after the end of the war with the Ottoman Empire, Dracula was betrayed by the Hungarians, who deprived him of the throne and put their neighbor in prison for twelve years.Formally, Tepes was in prison on charges of collaborating with the Ottomans.
After his release, when it was already 1475, he was left without power, began to serve in the army of Hungary, where he held the position of royal captain. In this capacity, Vlad took part in the siege of the Turkish bastion of Sabac.
In the summer of 1476, the war with the Ottomans moved to Moldova. Stefan the Great continued to rule there, a friend of whom was Dracula. Year of birth Tsepesh fell on the troubled times, when at the junction of Europe and Asia, events were happening on a huge scale. Therefore, even if he wanted to return to a peaceful life, he would not have succeeded in doing this.
When Moldova was rescued from the Turks, Stefan Moldavsky helped Dracula to establish itself again on the Wallachian throne. In Targovishte and Bucharest, at the time, the pro-Osman-inspired Layot Basarab ruled. In November 1476, Moldovan troops captured the key cities of Wallachia. Dracula was proclaimed the prince of this poor country for the third time.
Soon Stefan's troops left Wallachia. At the tepes left insignificant army. He died in December 1476, only a month after the approval of his power.The circumstances of death, like the grave of Dracula, are not known for certain. According to one version, he was killed by a servant bought by the Turks; by another, the prince died in battle against the same Turks.
Today Vlad Dracula is much more known not for the historical facts of his life, but for the mythical image that has developed around his personality after the death of the prince. It is, of course, about the famous Transylvanian vampire who adopted the name of the Wallachian ruler.
But how did this character appear? About the real Dracula there were the most incredible rumors during his lifetime. In Vienna in 1463 a pamphlet was written and published about him, in which Tepes was described as a bloodthirsty maniac (facts about executions were used by impalement and other evidence of numerous Romanian wars). In the same collection was included the poem “About the villain,” written by Michael Becheim. The piece insisted that Tepes was a tyrant. The executions of girls and children were mentioned. Himself Vlad III Tepes, married to Ilona Siladya, had three sons: Mikhail, Vlad and Michnya.
In 1480 appeared "The Tale of Dracula the governor." It was written in Russian by the clerk Fyodor Kuritsyn, who worked in the ambassadorial order under Ivan III.He visited Hungary, where he was on an official visit to King Matthias Corvinus to conclude an alliance against Poland and Lithuania. In Transylvania, Kuritsyn collected several stories about Dracula, which he later used as the basis of his story. The work of the Russian clerk differed from the Austrian pamphlet, although there are scenes of cruelty in it. However, the image of Dracula received a real worldwide fame much later - at the end of the XIX century.
Image of stoker
Today only Romania itself knows about this: Dracula was not a vampire or a count, but the ruler of Wallachia of the XV century. For the majority of the inhabitants around the globe, his name is associated only with the undead. The idea that Vlad III Tepes drank the blood was made popular by the Irish writer Bram Stoker (1847 - 1912). His novel "Dracula", he transferred the historical character in the category of mythical creatures and popular hero of mass culture.
The image of a vampire, anyway, is in every pagan culture and religion. In general, it can be called a "living corpse" - a dead creature that supports its life by drinking the blood of its victims. For example, the ancient Slavs considered the creation of a ghoul.Stoker was fond of mysticism and decided to take advantage of the notoriety of the real Dracula for his vampire novel. The writer also called him Nosferatu. In 1922 this word was pronounced in the title of the epochal horror film of Friedrich Murnau.
The image of Dracula has become a classic for all world cinema and the horror genre. During the 20th century, this industry again and again returned to the story of Stoker about the Transylvanian graph (according to the Guinness Book of Records, 155 full-length films were made). At the same time there are only a dozen ribbons dedicated to the Impaler, who lived in the XV century.