Vlad the Imaler

The history of Vlad Dracula is surrounded by myth and legend I had a really tough time sorting out the facts from the legends, the truth is that nobody is too sure what is what. We do know that he was the character that was the inspiration for Bram Stokers Novel "Dracula" being the very famous Count Dracula. The book then brought about the very vampires that are well known to this day and made Vlad the Impaler a famous character from history.

Vlad the Impaler -Tepes (pronounced tzse-pesh) was born in the town of Sighisoara in Transylvania (now known as northern Romania) in 1431 and later ruled the area of Southern Romania known as Wallachia. His father was Vlad Dracul who was a knight in the Order of the Dragon which was a union of central and Eastern European rulers who were a tad worried about the rising Ottoman empire.

Dracul's Dragon & CrossThe Order of the Dragon's coat of arms was a dragon (the Ottomans) and a cross (Christianity). Vlad Dracul bore this coat of arms on everything, flags, coins, and his seal. It attracted the nickname of "Dracul" I believe coming from the story of the evil dragon in St. George and the Dragon, Dracul meaning Devil in Romanian.

The second son was soon born to Vlad Dracul - that being Vlad II - therefore the name developed an "a" representing the son of Dracul - "DRACULA", the son of the Devil.

The word "tepes" in Romanian means "impaler" and Vlad was so named because of his cruel and gruesome habit of impaling humans and leaving them to rot in the sun as a means of punishing his enemies.

In fact, Vlad was called Tepes (the Impaler) only after his death in 1476. Impalement for Dinner! Impalement was considered a particularly gruesome form of execution, the victim was stuck on a sharp stake usually the width of a big burly man's arm (ohhh that's gotta hurt!). Vlad was said to especially enjoyed mass executions, where several victims were impaled at once, and their stakes hoisted upright. As they hung suspended above the ground, the weight of their bodies would slowly drag them downwards, causing the sharpened end of the stake to pierce their internal organs causing a slow painful death. In order to better enjoy these mass spectacles, Vlad routinely ordered a banquet table set up in front of his victims, and would enjoy a leisurely supper amid the pitiful sights and sounds of the dying. I'm glad that I wasn't around in those days to be invited to one of Vlad's dinner parties.

It is estimated that Vlad killed some 20,000 men, women and children - the amount of people he killed varies from anywhere between 20,000 to 500,000. He showed no mercy and often tortured his enemies before killing them.

At the same time that Vlad became notorious for his sadism, he was also respected by his subjects because of his fierce campaigns against the Turks. He was a respected as a warrior and a stern ruler who tolerated no crime against his people, and during his reign erected several monasteries. He was a hero that was both worshiped and feared by his people.

But maybe there was a bit more to Vlad's murderous bloodthirsty habits than we first thought. In 1985 an Idaho physician Dr. Thomas McDevitt suggested that he may have suffered from a bizarre allergic reaction to blood. He claimed that in some allergic reactions to a given substance, sufferers also developed an addiction to that same substance, and if deprived of it they could react in a highly bizarre and deranged manner. Could Vlad of just been throwing a tantrum every time he craved blood? Portraits of the price depict him with dark circles beneath his eyes, puffy cheeks and a sallow pallid complexion - classic characteristics of some types of allergy victim.

There are various descriptions of the death of Dracula. The most popular being that he was killed in battle against Turks near Bucharest in December 1476. It was also said that he was murdered by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to overcome the Turks and send them packing. Other stories describe the Impaler falling in defeat, surrounded by rotting bodies of his loyal Moldavian troops. There is another account of Vlad accidently being struck down at the moment of victory by one of his own men (now that's a nasty accident).

Whatever happened to Vlad's body? Well that's surrounded by plenty of legends as well, none can be confirmed:

The general thought amongst Vlad historians and experts is that the body of Vlad the Impaler was entombed near the alter in a Snagov Monastery located on an Island in the middle of a lake accessible only by boat. It is well documented that his head was taken and put on display in Constantinople for all to see that the reign of this terrible man was truly over.

In 1931-32, archaeologist Dinu Rosetti, under orders from the Romanian Academy, visited the Snagov Monastery in hope of discovering the body of Vlad Dracula.

Draculas empty tombWhat he discovered was looted graves inside the monastery, local legend told of how the body of Vlad Dracula lay one step in from the doorway of the monastery. Not believing this legend he went to the worn out and hammered tombstone in front of the alter. Rosetti found the grave beneath empty. He continued to dig and pre-christian altar, with bones of sacrificial animals.

He decided to give the legend a go - he researched the floor in front of the entranceway. He soon found an unmarked grave that was un looted and appeared to be that of a nobleman. He took photographs of all the inventory of the tomb. The clothes of the body pointed to a rich man. A ring was later identified as a tournament ring of the kind given at Nuremberg. The skeleton however, still had it's head. As mentioned before It is well documented that Vlad's head was decapitated and sent to Constantinople.

Dinu Rosetti went forth and announced that he had uncovered the remains of Vlad Tepes Dracula but the leading historian of the time, Constantin Gurescu dismissed these claims. Dinu Rosetti's claim is not recognized as a true one.

Draculas tomb at Snagov
Its true that Monastery at Snagov suffers great humidity and most of the remnants of bodies and skeletons located in the monastery decomposed extremely quickly and much that has been found was beyond recognition, if the body of Vlad were there it probably decomposed and rotted into the ground before anyone could ever see it for themselves.

Stories about Vlad

To this day there are certain legends of Vlad the Impaler that are commonly told around the world. Here are the most famous ones that you might of already heard:

THE GOLDEN CUP

Vlad was generally known as a fierce and honest leader. Vlad was said to have been so confident that no thief would dare challenge him knowing they would be brutally killed that he placed a golden cup on display in the central square of Tirgoviste. The cup was never stolen and remained where it was untouched throughout Vlad's reign.

I have heard another version of this story that he had a fountain in a far off place with pure and cold water that travellers visited often to drink from. The gold cup was placed at the fountain for any who chose to drink from it. It was also never stolen and always returned back to its place at the fountain.

THE STORY OF THE FOREIGN MERCHANT

A foreign merchant from Hungary visited the capital of Tirgoviste. Vlad ordered him to leave his wagon of gold in the street overnight obviously to show off how his people would not steal. However the merchant was surprised to find 160 gold florins missing in the morning. Vlad then told the merchant "Go now; and tonight you shall have your gold back". He put forward orders for his men to find the thief in the city saying also that if the burglar was not found that he would personally throw one of the hugest tantrums anyone had ever seen and destroy the city.

Dracula then put his own money in the wagon overnight adding one florin to the original sum.

The next morning the Merchant was astonished to find his florins returned with one extra. He went to Vlad and said of his findings. Vlad had by then been brought the thief and had him impaled (probably whilst enjoying breakfast off to the side). He announced to the Merchant "walk in peace now; but if you had not told me about that one florin, I would have had you impaled together with this thief!".

THE VISITING MONKS

A difficult story is this one as there is quite a few variations surrounding different details.

The basics of the story are that 2 monks visited Vlad in his palace at Tirgoviste.

Vlad was curious to see the reactions of two monks regarding his impaling and atrocities. He led them to the rows of corpses in his courtyard and asked their opinions. One of the monks responded saying "You are appointed by God to punish evil doers". The other monk obviously more horrified at what he saw and was honest enough to express himself truly and condemned Vlad for his actions.

The German stories tell of Vlad impaling the second monk and rewarding the first but the Russian story tells of Vlad impaling the first for dishonesty and rewarding the second monk for his honesty. Whichever he impaled you can be assured that Vlad being the lover of impalement wouldn't of missed and opportunity like that and most probably impaled both just to have something to enjoy lunch by.

THE NAILING OF THE HATS

Another story that there are a few different versions of.

Foreign Ambassadors were at Vlad's court at Tirgoviste. They were granted an audience with the prince and refused to remove their hats which at the time was the custom when in the presence of a prince in Wallachia. Vlad was angered and instead of immediately impaling them he had their hats nailed to their heads so that they could never remove them.

Another version:
The envoys were Turkish. They refused to remove their Phrygian caps. When questioned why they said it was not the custom of their fathers to do so. Vlad ordered their hats nailed to their heads with three nails so that they might never break such and excellent tradition.

THE MISTRESS

Vlad kept a mistress in the back streets of Tirgoviste. The woman was madly in love with the prince and would do anything for him. One day Vlad came to her depressed and to cheer him up and claimed to be pregnant with his child (she did this knowing full well how upset he got over dishonesty). Vlad warned her that she should not joke over a matter so serious but she stuck with her lie. Vlad then ordered her to be examined by the bath matrons to determine if she was telling the truth or not. He was soon informed of her lie and then slit the poor woman open from her groin to her breasts leaving her to die a slow horrible death and wishing for his people to see what happens to a liar.

BURNING OF UNFORTUNATE ONES

Vlad got upset at the increase of cripples, beggars, poor and vagrants upon his land. He was very obsessive regarding that all worked and contributed equally. So he offered up a great feast in a great hall in Tirgoviste, saying that no one should go hungry in his land.

The people who were made up of those unfortunate souls that were poor and crippled ate and drank late into the night when suddenly Vlad made an appearance. He asked them "What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares and lacking nothing in this world?". The crowd were fooled by his question and rose up and answered that they did indeed. Vlad then ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire. No one escaped. Vlad explained his actions saying he did it "in order that they represent no further burden to other men so that no one will be poor in my realm". I think Vlad was reincarnated later as Hitler.

WHAT TO DO WITH A LAZY WOMAN

Vlad pointed out a man working in a field who was wearing a too short caftan. The prince stopped and asked if the man had a wife. He replied "yes". Vlad ordered the wife be brought before him and asked her how she spent her days. The terrified woman answered that she spent her days washing, baking and sewing. Vlad pointed out to her the husbands short caftan as evidence of her laziness and dishonesty and ordered the poor woman impaled despite her husband's protest that he was well satisfied with his wife and she certainly was not lazy. The woman was not spared and Vlad ordered another woman to marry the peasant warning her to work hard or she would suffer the same fate.

NEVER HOLD YOUR NOSE IN FRONT OF VLAD

In 1459 on St. Bartholomew's Day, Vlad had 30,000 of the merchants and nobles of the Transylvanian city of Brasov to be impaled. In order to enjoy the entire experience (as we know that it's a full day's entertainment for him!) he commanded that his table be set up and that his boyars join him for a feast amongst the forest of impaled corpses. Whilst dining, Vlad noticed that one of his boyars was holding his nose in an effort to try and avoid some of the smell of blood and emptied bowls of the surrounding bodies. Vlad took it upon himself to impale the man higher than all the rest so that he might be above the stench.

Another version has the man as a nobleman, an envoy of the Transylvanian cities of Brasov and Sibiu sent to appeal to Vlad to spare those cities. Whilst hearing the man's appeals Vlad took great enjoyment walking amongst the stakes with some of the bodies still alive. The nobleman was almost overcome by the ordeal and so Vlad asked him if he found the stench oppressive. The nobleman, seeing an opportunity to get on Vlad's side of things responded that his only concern was for the health and welfare of the prince. Vlad was then angered at the nobleman's dishonesty and of course (I bet you've guessed already) had him impaled once again high above the stench.

CONTINUED ON PAGE TWO



{Back to Vampires}
{Page 2 on Vlad the Impaler/Dracula}
{Home}


Before you e-mail us - read Castle of Spirits FAQ
Castle of Spirits it's graphics and contents are all © 2001 Castle of Spirits
Copying or duplicating of anything off this site PROHIBITED