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"Vlad the Impaler: Exploring the Legacy of Romania's National Hero"


This article examines the life of Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler, and his impact as a national hero and patriot in Romania. It explores his tactics for instilling fear in the Ottomans and the consequences of his rule in the region.

Early Life

Dracula is widely known for his association with vampires, but in reality, he was Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler. He was a national hero and patriot in Romania for his bravery and methods of instilling fear in the enemy. Vlad's defiance against the Ottomans showed his willingness to lay down his life for the freedom of his kingdom. He was infamous for his cruel methods, but his rise from a hostage to the scourge of the Ottomans cemented his name in history.

Vlad III was born in Wallachia, Romania, in the early 15th century. His father, Vlad II Dracul, was the ruler of Wallachia and a member of the Order of the Dragon, which aimed to stop the Ottomans from invading Europe. In 1442, Vlad III did not support the Ottoman invasion of Transylvania, and he and his younger brother were taken hostage by the Ottomans to ensure their father's loyalty.

Captivity and Ruthlessness

While in captivity, Vlad's father and eldest brother were killed, fueling his hatred of the Ottomans. He believed they posed a threat to his kingdom's independence and took a strong stance against their expansionist agenda. Vlad used both military actions and psychological warfare to challenge the Ottomans' perceived invincibility. After his release, Vlad partnered with John Hunyadi, a prominent Hungarian military and political figure, and amassed a small army of mercenaries. With Hungarian support, he invaded Wallachia and defeated Vladislav II, who was rumored to have assassinated Vlad's father, in single combat. Vlad regained his ancestral seat and became notorious for his cruelty.

Vlad became increasingly ruthless, killing anyone he suspected of plotting against him or involved in the murder of his family. He impaled them on a spike until they died. He also harbored a deep hatred for the Ottomans and would send ill people, including those with lethal diseases, to infect their army. While Vlad ruled Wallachia, the Ottoman Empire was expanding and sought to take over Eastern Europe. Wallachia was a buffer state in their way, and Vlad's resistance challenged their sense of invincibility.

Vlad's Tactics

In April 1462, the Sultan led an army of 150,000 men to conquer Wallachia against Vlad. Despite being outnumbered, Vlad used scorched earth tactics, poisoning waters, and creating marshes. He also used guerrilla tactics and sent ill people to infect the Ottoman army with the bubonic plague. However, the Ottomans still advanced towards Targoviste in Romania. Vlad launched a night attack on the Ottoman camp with 7,000 to 10,000 horsemen. The skirmish resulted in 5,000 casualties for the Wallachian side and 15,000 for the Ottomans. Vlad's actions impressed the Sultan, who said "a man who has done such things is worth much." The Ottomans gazed on 20,000 impaled corpses, sending a chilling message to Sultan Mehmed and his troops.

Vlad needed more men to defeat the Ottomans, but his men were abandoning him. His brother, Radu the Fair, rose in the Ottoman court while Vlad fought against them. Although Vlad defeated Radu's forces in two battles, the Ottomans still had more soldiers. Vlad retreated to the Carpathian mountains, hoping that Matthias Corvinus would help him regain his throne. Matthias opposed the Ottoman expansionist agenda but supported Dan III, who was beheaded on Vlad's orders. Vlad negotiated with Matthias for weeks but did not provide military assistance to regain his principality. However, he set him free after over a decade in captivity. Vlad used terror tactics, impaling Turkish soldiers and killing civilians. He returned to Wallachia with new allies and was crowned in 1476. Later, his army of 2,000 was defeated by 4,000 Turkish warriors.

Vlad's Death

It's unclear how Vlad died. Some reports say he died on the battlefield, while others say his own nobles betrayed him to end his tyrannical rule. Despite his gruesome methods, Vlad's tactics had a great impact in deterring the Ottomans and preserving Wallachia's independence. His reign demonstrates the lengths to which leaders throughout history have gone to defend their territories and people. Vlad's legacy as Vlad the Impaler will forever be intertwined with his unwavering defiance against the Ottoman Empire, leaving behind a chilling reminder of the cost of war and the price of survival.


Annotated Bibliography

  • Florescu, R., & McNally, R. T. (1989). Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

This book provides a comprehensive biography of Vlad III, including his family background, early life, and reign as Prince of Wallachia. It explores his infamous methods of impaling and the impact of his campaigns against the Ottomans on the region. The authors use primary sources and historical accounts to provide a detailed and objective portrayal of Vlad's life.

  • Miller, K. (2018). Vlad the Impaler: A Life From Beginning to End. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

This book delves into the life of Vlad III, exploring his rise to power, his methods of impaling, and his eventual downfall. It discusses the historical context of his reign, including the Ottoman Empire's expansion and the political climate of Wallachia. The book is written in an accessible and engaging style, making it a great introduction to Vlad's life.

  • Spinei, V. (2009). The Romanians and the Turkic Nomads North of the Danube Delta from the Tenth to the Mid-Thirteenth Century. Leiden: Brill.

This book provides a broader historical context for Vlad III's reign, exploring the relationship between the Romanian people and the Turkic nomads who lived north of the Danube Delta. It discusses the political and economic climate of the region and the impact of the Ottoman Empire's expansion on the local population. The author uses primary sources and archaeological evidence to provide a detailed and nuanced portrayal of the period.

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