Friday, August 5, 2016

The real Dracula

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Vlad the Impaler
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"Vlad Țepeș" redirects here. For other uses, see Vlad Țepeș (disambiguation).

Reign 1448; 1456–1462; 1476
Born November or December 1431
Segesvár, Kingdom of Hungary
(city now known as Sighișoara, Romania)
Died December 1476 or January 1477, exact date unknown (aged 44–45)
Wallachia (exact location unknown)
Transylvanian noblewoman
Ilona Szilágyi
Father Vlad II Dracul
Mother Cneajna of Moldavia (presumed)
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476/77) was a member of the House of Drăculești, a branch of the House of Basarab, also known as Vlad Drăculea or Vlad Dracula. He was posthumously dubbed Vlad the Impaler (modern Romanian: Vlad Țepeș.

He was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia, ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, the period of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. His father Vlad II Dracul was a member of the Order of the Dragon, which was founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero in Romania and Bulgaria for his protection of the Romanians and Bulgarians both north and south of the Danube. Following his raids on the Ottomans, a significant number of Bulgarian common folk and remaining boyars resettled north of the Danube to Wallachia and recognized his leadership.

As the cognomen "The Impaler" suggests, his practice of impaling his enemies is part of his historical reputation. During his lifetime, his reputation for cruelty spread abroad to Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The name of the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula was inspired by Vlad's patronymic and reputation.

During his life, Vlad wrote his name in Latin documents as Wladislaus Dragwlya, vaivoda partium Transalpinarum.

The Order of the Dragon, founded by Emperor Sigismund in 1408.
Vlad's nickname of Țepeș ("Impaler") identifies his favourite method of execution, but it was only attached to his name posthumously in c. 1550. Before this, however, he was known as Kaziklu Beg or Kaziklı Voyvoda (both meaning Impaler Lord) by the Ottoman Empire after their armies encountered his "forests" of impaled victims.

Early life
Vlad Dracul was born in Sighișoara, Voivodeship of Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (today part of Romania) in the winter of 1431 to Vlad II Dracul, future voivode of Wallachia. Vlad's father was the son of the celebrated Voivode Mircea the Elder. His mother is unknown, though at the time his father was believed to have been married to Princess Cneajna of Moldavia (eldest daughter of Alexander "the Good", Prince of Moldavia and aunt to Stephen the Great of Moldavia) and also to have kept a number of mistresses. He had two older half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad Călugărul, and a younger brother Radu III the Handsome. Vlad had a half-brother also named Vlad through his father's mistress Caltuna. She entered a monastery, and her son followed in her footsteps to become Vlad the Monk.
In the year of his birth, Vlad's father traveled to Nuremberg, where he was then vested into the Order of the Dragon, a fellowship of knights sworn to defend Christendom against the encroaching Ottomans and European heresies, such as the Hussites. During his initiation, he was given the epithet Dracul or dragon by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.
Vlad and Radu spent their early formative years in Sighișoara. During the first reign of their father Vlad II Dracul, the Voivode brought his young sons to Târgoviște, the capital of Wallachia at that time.
Byzantine chancellor Mikhail Doukas showed that, at Târgoviște, the sons of boyars and ruling princes were well-educated by Romanian or Greek scholars commissioned from Constantinople. Vlad is believed to have learned combat skills, geography, mathematics, science, languages (Old Church Slavonic, German, Latin), and the classical arts and philosophy.

Dealings with the Ottoman Empire and first reign (1448).
In 1436, Vlad II Dracul ascended the throne of Wallachia. He was ousted in 1442 by rival factions in league with Hungary, but secured Ottoman support for his return by agreeing to pay tribute to the Sultan. He also agreed to let two of his sons stay at the Ottoman court as an extra guarantee of his loyalty.
In 1442, Vlad II Dracul was beguiled into a confrontation with Sultan Mehmed II. Insensitive to the situation, he took his two sons, Mircea and Dracula, to meet him, only for them to be taken prisoner. During his years as a "favoured prisoner" in Gallipolli, Vlad was educated in logic, the Quran, and the Turkish language and works of literature. He would speak this language fluently in his later years. He and his brother were also trained in warfare and horsemanship. It is suspected that the young Dracula spent some time c. 1443 in Constantinople in the court of Constantine XI Paleologus, the final emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Both were eventually released in 1448 after six years of captivity, however privileged. His Turkish allies supported him by attempting to install him as Voivode of Wallachia. This bold coup lasted the two months when his opponents were distracted.
Vlad was not at all pleased to be in Turkish hands. He was resentful and very jealous of his little brother, who soon earned the nickname Radu cel Frumos, or "Radu the Handsome". Radu was well behaved and quickly earned the friendship of Sultan Murad's son, Mehmet; he eventually converted to Islam and entered Ottoman service. Conversely, Vlad was defiant and constantly punished for his impudence. It has been suggested that his traumatic experiences among the Ottomans may have molded him into the sadistic man he grew up to be, especially in regards to his penchant for impaling. The death of Vlad's father and older half-brother Mircea, both politically assassinated, greatly contributed to the development of his sadistic nature.
Dracula escaped to Moldova, fearful of assassins, to learn under the tutelage of his uncle Prince Bogdan and his cousin Prince Stephen. They formed a close friendship, promising each other to help in time of need. In 1451, only three years after his "adoption", Dracula was forced to flee in the turmoil following Prince Bogdan's assassination. He reappeared in Transylvania and came under the tutelage of the mighty Hungarian military leader Janos Hunyadi and the Hungarian King Ladislaus. In 1456, Dracula was sent to eliminate the Turkish-friendly Vladislav II, who was the Voivode of Wallachia. Dracula came to the throne as Prince of Wallachia, ushering in his main and most important reign.

Second and main reign (1456–62).
With Hungarian assistance, Vlad took the throne of Wallachia from Vladislav II in 1456. In 1457, exactly a year after his ascension, Vlad helped his cousin Stephen ascend Moldavia's throne by providing 6,000 horsemen as military assistance against Petru Aron, who was deposed after two battles. Stephen's long reign developed into a fierce anti-Ottoman resistance.
War with the Ottomans
In 1459, Pope Pius II called for a new crusade against the Ottomans at the Congress of Mantua. In this crusade, the main role was to be played by Matthias Corvinus, son of John Hunyadi (János Hunyadi), the King of Hungary. To this effect, Matthias Corvinus received from the Pope 40,000 gold coins, an amount that was thought to be enough to gather an army of 12,000 men and purchase ten Danube warships. Vlad allied with Corvinus in the hope of keeping the Ottomans out of Wallachia, which was claimed as a part of the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Mehmed II.
Later in 1459, Mehmed II sent envoys to Vlad to urge him to pay a delayed tribute of 10,000 ducats and 500 recruits into the Ottoman forces. Vlad refused, because if he had paid the tribute, it would have meant a public acceptance of Wallachia as part of the Ottoman Empire. Vlad, like most of his predecessors and successors, maintained the independence of Wallachia. On the pretext that they had refused to raise their "hats" to him, Vlad had the Turkish envoys killed by nailing their turbans to their heads.
Meanwhile, the Sultan received intelligence reports that revealed Vlad's domination of the Danube. He sent the Bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Bey (also known as Hamza Ceakirdjiba), to make peace and, if necessary, eliminate Vlad III. Vlad Țepeș planned to set an ambush. Hamza Bey brought with him a thousand cavalry, and as they passed through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad launched a surprise attack. The Wallachians had the Turks surrounded and defeated. The Turks' plans were thwarted and almost all were caught and impaled, with Hamza Bey impaled on the highest stake to show his rank.
In the winter of 1462, Vlad crossed the Danube River and devastated the entire Bulgarian land in the area between Serbia and the Black Sea. Disguising himself as a Turkish Sipahi and utilizing the fluent Turkish he had learned as a hostage, he infiltrated and destroyed Ottoman camps. In a letter to Corvinus dated 2 February, he wrote: I have killed peasants men and women, old and young, who lived at Oblucitza and Novoselo, where the Danube flows into the sea. We killed 23,884 Turks without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers.Thus, your highness, you must know that I have broken the peace.
Sultan Mehmed II's invasion of Wallachia.
The Night Attack of Târgovişte, which resulted in the victory of Vlad the Impaler.
In response, Sultan Mehmed II raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in spring of 1462 he headed towards Wallachia. The army was under the Ottoman general Mahmut Pasha and in its ranks was Radu. Vlad was unable to stop the Ottomans from crossing the Danube on 4 June 1462, entering Wallachia. He organized small attacks and ambushes on the Turks, such as The Night Attack when 15,000 Ottomans were killed. This infuriated Mehmed II, who then crossed the Danube. Radu was left behind in Târgoviște with the hope that he would be able to gather an anti-Vlad clique in Wallachia that would ultimately establish Radu as the new Voivode of the region. Vlad's rule falls entirely within the three decades of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans, conquering the entire Balkan Peninsula.
Vlad the Impaler's attack was celebrated by the Saxon cities of Transylvania, the Italian states, and the Pope. A Venetian envoy, upon hearing about the news at the court of Corvinus on 4 March, expressed great joy and said that the whole of Christianity should celebrate the successful campaign of Vlad Țepeș. The Genoese from Caffa also thanked Vlad, for his campaign had saved them from an attack of some 300 ships that the sultan planned to send against them.
Writ issued on 14 October 1465 by Radu cel Frumos from his residence in Bucharest signifying the victory of the Ottoman Empire.
Vlad's initial victory against the Ottomans was short-lived, and he soon withdrew to Moldavia, leaving behind detachments in Wallachia that were overrun by the Ottoman Sipahi commander Turhanoghlu Omer Bey, who was appointed governor of Thessaly as reward.
The Ottoman administrator Mihaloghlu Ali Bey, on behalf of the Sultan, gave Vlad's younger brother Radu cel Frumos and his Janissary battalions the task of leading the Ottoman force. As the war raged on, Radu and his formidable Janissary battalions were well supplied with a steady flow of gunpowder and dinars, allowing them to push deeper into the realm of Vlad III. Radu's forces finally besieged Poenari Castle, the famed lair of Vlad III. After his victory Radu was given the title Bey of Wallachia by Mehmed II.
Vlad III's defeat at Poenari was due in part to the fact that the Boyars, who had been alienated by Vlad's policy of undermining their authority, had joined Radu under the assurance that they would regain their privileges. They may have also believed that Ottoman protection was better than Hungarian.
By September 8, Vlad had won another three victories, but continuous war had left him without any money and he could no longer pay his mercenaries.
Imprisonment in Hungary
In autumn of 1462, Vlad and Matthias Corvinus spent five weeks negotiating alliances and making battle plans at Braşov. After believing he had gained Hungarian support for his crusade against the Ottomans, a confident Vlad started on his way home to Wallachia. Unbeknownst to him, there was an ambush waiting for him at Castle King's Rock, a fortress about six kilometers north of Rucăr, barely inside the Wallachian state. On November 26, Vlad was captured and spirited away to Hungary by Matthias Corvinus' own men.
Neither his contemporaries nor modern day scholars can say why exactly Matthias Corvinus shifted his loyalties and betrayed Vlad. Relatively recent research volunteers a possible explanation, though: In the early 1460s, the Hungarian king became distracted by the possibility of receiving the title of Holy Roman Emperor, and effectively tried to end the anti-Ottoman crusades in Eastern Europe. To focus on gaining power in Central Europe, he abandoned the Balkans to the Turks, a hasty and incriminating move for a supposed crusader-king. In order to justify his actions, he ordered Vlad's arrest, claiming that the Wallachian prince was actually in league with the Turks; therefore, the entire area was undeserving of his protection.
Vlad was imprisoned at the Oratea Fortress located at today's Podu Dâmboviței village. A period of imprisonment in Visegrád near Buda followed. The exact length of Vlad's period of imprisonment is open to some debate, though indications show that it was from 1462 until 1466. Diplomatic correspondence from Buda seems to indicate that the period of Vlad's effective confinement was relatively short, his release occurring around 1466 when he married Ilona Szilágyi. Radu's openly pro-Ottoman policy as voivode probably contributed to Vlad's rehabilitation. Moreover, Steven the Great, Voivode of Moldavia and relative of Vlad, intervened on his behalf to be released from prison as Ottoman pressure on the territories north of the Danube was increasing.

Reconquest of Wallachia, third reign and death
Around 1475, Vlad and Stephen V Báthory of Transylvania began preparations for the reconquest of Wallachia, mixed with forces of Transylvanians, Hungarian support, some dissatisfied Wallachian boyars, and Moldavians sent by Prince Stephen III of Moldavia, Vlad's cousin. Vlad's brother Radu had died by this time and had been replaced on the Wallachian throne by Turkish candidate Prince Basarab the Elder, a member of the Dăneşti clan. When Vlad's army arrived, Prince Basarab's army fled, some to the Turks, others in the mountains. After placing Vlad on the throne, Stephen Báthory and his forces returned to Transylvania, leaving Vlad in a very weak position. Vlad had little time to get support before a large Turkish army entered Wallachia to put Prince Basarab back on the throne. Vlad had to meet the Turks with the small forces at his disposal, which were made up of fewer than four thousand men. Vlad III declared his third reign on 26 November 1476, where it had lasted little more than two months and thereafter he was killed.
The exact date and location of Vlad's death are unknown, but he was dead by 10 January 1477. He is presumed to have died at the end of December 1476, somewhere along the road between Bucharest and Giurgiu. There are variant descriptions of Vlad's death. Some sources say that he was killed while fighting the Turks, surrounded by the bodies of his loyal Moldavian bodyguards. Others say that he was killed by disloyal Wallachian boyars also fighting the Turks, or killed during a hunt. Still other reports claim that Vlad was accidentally killed by one of his own men. According to Bonfinius (Antonio Bonfini) and a Turkish chronicler, Vlad was decapitated by the Turks as a trophy, and his head was sent to Constantinople, preserved in honey. Afterwards, the head was displayed on a stake as proof that he was dead.
Vlad's body was buried unceremoniously by his rival, Basarab Laiota, possibly at Comana, a monastery founded by Vlad in 1461. The Comana monastery was demolished and rebuilt from scratch in 1589.
In the 19th century, Romanian historians cited a "tradition", apparently without any kind of support in documentary evidence, that Vlad was buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest. To support this theory, the so-called Cantacuzino Chronicle was cited, which claims Vlad as the founder of the monastery, but Alexandru Odobescu had established this as impossible as early as 1855, since the monastery had been in existence before 1438. Since excavations carried out by Dinu V. Rosetti (1935) in June–October 1933, it has become clear that Snagov monastery was founded during the later 14th century, well before the time of Vlad III. The 1933 excavation also established that there was no tomb below the supposed "unmarked tombstone" of Vlad in the monastery church. Rosetti reported that "Under the tombstone attributed to Vlad there was no tomb. Only many bones and jaws of horses." In the 1970s, speculative attribution of an anonymous tomb found elsewhere in the church to Vlad Țepeș was published by Simion Saveanu, a journalist who wrote a series of articles on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Vlad's death. Most Romanian historians today favor the Comana monastery as the final resting place for Vlad Țepeș.

Reputation for cruelty.
After Vlad's death, his deeds were reported in popular pamphlets in Germany, reprinted from the 1480s until the 1560s, and to a lesser extent in Tsarist Russia. A typical German pamphlet from 1521 gives numerous examples of lurid incidents, such as the following: He roasted children, whom he fed to their mothers. And (he) cut off the breasts of women, and forced their husbands to eat them. After that, he had them all impaled.
Vlad's reputation was considerably darker in western Europe than in eastern Europe and Romania. In the West, he has been characterized as a tyrant who took sadistic pleasure in torturing and killing his enemies. Estimates of the number of his victims range from 40,000 to 100,000. He also had whole villages and fortresses destroyed and burned to the ground.
Impalement was Vlad's preferred method of torture and execution. Several woodcuts from German pamphlets of the late 15th and early 16th centuries show Vlad feasting in a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brașov, while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims. It has also been said that in 1462 Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled corpses outside Vlad's capital of Târgoviște.
German sources
The German stories circulated first in manuscript form in the late 15th century and the first manuscript was probably written in 1462 before Vlad's arrest. The text was later printed in Germany and had a major impact on the general public, becoming a bestseller of its time with numerous later editions adding to and altering the original text.
In addition to the manuscripts and pamphlets the German version of the stories can be found in the poem of Michael Beheim. The poem called "Von ainem wutrich der hies Trakle waida von der Walachei" ("Story of a Hothead Named Dracula of Wallachia") was written and performed at the court of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor during the winter of 1463.
To this day four manuscripts and 13 pamphlets have been found, as well as the poem by Michel Beheim. The surviving manuscripts date from the last quarter of the 15th century to the year 1500 and the found pamphlets date from 1488 to 1559–1568.
Eight of the pamphlets are incunabula, meaning that they were printed before 1501. The German stories about Vlad the Impaler consist of 46 short episodes, although none of the manuscripts, pamphlets or the poem of Beheim contain all 46 stories.
All of them begin with the story of the old governor, John Hunyadi, having Vlad's father killed, and how Vlad and his brother renounced their old religion and swore to protect and uphold the Christian faith. After this, the order and titles of the stories differ by manuscript and pamphlet editions.
Russian sources
The Russian or the Slavic version of the stories about Vlad the Impaler called "Skazanie o Drakule voevode" ("The Tale of Warlord Dracula") is thought to have been written sometime between 1481 and 1486. Copies were made from the 15th century to the 18th century, of which some 22 extant manuscripts survive in Russian archives. The oldest one, from 1490, ends as follows: "First written in the year 6994 of the Byzantine calendar (1486), on 13 February; then transcribed in the year 6998 (1490), on 28 January". The Tales of Prince Dracula is neither chronological nor consistent, but mostly a collection of anecdotes of literary and historical value concerning Vlad Țepeș.
There are 19 anecdotes in The Tales of Prince Dracula, which are longer and more constructed than the German stories. The Tales can be divided into two sections: The first 13 episodes are non-chronological events most likely closer to the original folkloric oral tradition about Vlad. The last six episodes are thought to have been written by a scholar who collected them, because they are chronological and seem to be more structured. The stories begin with a short introduction and the anecdote about the nailing of hats to ambassadors' heads. They end with Vlad's death and information about his family.
Of the 19 anecdotes there are ten that have similarities to the German stories. Despite the similarities, there is a clear distinction in the attitude towards him. The Russian stories tend to portray him in a more positive light: he is depicted as a great ruler, a brave soldier and a just sovereign. Stories of atrocities tend to seem justified as the actions of a strong ruler. Of the 19 anecdotes, only four seem to have exaggerated violence. Some elements of the anecdotes were later added to Russian stories about Ivan the Terrible of Russia.
The nationality and identity of the original writer of the Dracula anecdotes are disputed. The two most plausible explanations are that the writer was either a Romanian priest or a monk from Transylvania, or a Romanian or Moldavian from the court of Stephen the Great in Moldavia. One theory claims the writer was a Russian diplomat named Fyodor Kuritsyn.

Romanian national awakening
Romanian and Bulgarian documents from 1481 onwards portray Vlad as a hero, a true leader, who used harsh yet fair methods to reclaim the country from the corrupt and rich boyars. Moreover, all his military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Empire which explicitly wanted to conquer Wallachia. Excerpt from "The Slavonic Tales": And he hated evil in his country so much that, if anyone committed some harm, theft or robbery or a lye or an injustice, none of those remained alive. Even if he was a great boyar or a priest or a monk or an ordinary man, or even if he had a great fortune, he couldn't pay himself from death.
An Italian writer, Michael Bocignoli from Ragusa, in his writings from 1524, refers to Vlad Țepeș as: It was once (in Valahia), a prince Dragul by his name, a very wise and skillful man in war.
In the Letopisețul cantacuzinesc ("Cantacuzino chronicle"), a historic account written around 1688 by Stoica Ludescu of the Cantacuzino family, Vlad orders the boyars to build the fortress of Poenari with their own bare hands. Later in the document, Ludescu refers to the (re)crowning of Vlad as a happy event: Voievod Vlad sat on the throne and all the country came to pay respect, and brought many gifts and they went back to their houses with great joy. And Voievod Vlad with the help of God grew into much good and honor as long as he kept the reign of those just people.
Around 1785, Ioan Budai-Deleanu, a Romanian writer and renowned historian, wrote a Romanian epic heroic poem, "Țiganiada", in which prince Vlad Țepeș stars as a fierce warrior fighting the Ottomans. Later, in 1881, Mihai Eminescu, one of the greatest Romanian poets, in "Letter 3", popularizes Vlad's image in modern Romanian patriotism, having him stand as a figure to contrast with presumed social decay under the Phanariotes and the political scene of the 19th century. The poem even suggests that Vlad's violent methods be applied as a cure. In the final lyrics, the poet makes a call to Vlad Țepeș (i. e. Dracula) to come, to sort the contemporaries into two teams: the mad and the wicked and then set fire to the prison and to the madhouse.

The connection of the name "Dracula" with vampirism was made by Bram Stoker around the 1890s. Since then, the character of 'Count Dracula' has recurred through vampire mythology and popular culture.

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