Dracula: The Life and Times Of Vlad the Impaler

Posted Jan 9, 2007 by Tar De Moutonnoir
Vlad Ţepeş of Romania, nicknamed the impaler, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale. Dreaded by his enemies, emulated by his admirers, history remembers him as a bloody tyrant with a legacy that intrigues us to this day.
Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes
Vlad Dracula also known as Vlad Tepes, meaning "Vlad the Impaler' because of his preferred method for executing his victims, became Prince of Wallachia, a Romanian province, in the 15th century. His rule was short and intermittent and spanned the years between 1448 and 1472, as he was deposed occasionally. He is best known for his brutal and bizarre punishments that he imposed on his own people and others. He was chased out of power by his brother and held in captivity in Hungary but returned for a final reign around 1475 where he was defeated by the Turks.
His death remains a mystery, there are many stories that exist none are confirmed. Some say he was killed in battle, others by assassination at the hand of his own loyalists. The most popular claims he was captured and beheaded with his head delivered to Istanbul.
These are three stories that I recently re-read from a book written about him. I have posted them below because I find them very interesting and though I would share them. The are a testament to the psychopathic behavior he exhibited. They are short and dark but very telling and enduring. These are true accounts that have become part of Romanian and European folklore.
[1] I have found that some Italians [i.e., Genoese] came as ambassadors to his court. As they came to him they took off their hats and hoods facing the prince. Under the hat, each of them wore a coif or a little skullcap that he did not take off, as is the habit among Italians. Dracula then asked them for an explanation of why they had only taken their hats off, leaving their skullcaps on their heads. To which they answered: "This is our custom. We are not obliged to take our skullcaps off under any circumstances, even an audience with the sultan or the Holy Roman Emperor." Dracula then said, "In all fairness, I want to strengthen and recognize your customs." They thanked him bowing to him and added, "Sire we shall always serve you with your interests if you show us such goodness, and we shall praise your greatness everywhere." Then in a deliberate manner this tyrant and killer did the following: he took some big iron nails and planted them in a circle in the head of each ambassador. "Believe me," he said while his attendants nailed the skullcaps on the heads of the envoys, "this is the manner in which I will strengthen your customs."
[2] One day Dracula met a peasant who was wearing too short a shirt. One could also notice his homespun peasant trousers, which were glued to his legs, and one could make out the sides of his thighs. When he saw him [dressed] in this manner, Dracula immediately ordered him to be brought to court. "Are you married?" he inquired. "Yes, I am, Your Highness." "Your wife is assuredly of the kind who remains idle. How is it possible that your shirt does not cover the calf of your leg? She is not worthy of living in my realm. May she perish!" "Beg forgiveness, my lord, but I am satisfied with her. She never leaves home and she is honest." "You will be more satisfied with another since you are a decent and hardworking man." Two of Dracula's men had in the meantime brought the wretched woman to him, and she was immediately impaled. Then bringing another woman, he gave her away to be married to the peasant widower. Dracula, however, was careful to show the new wife what had happened to her predecessor and explain to her the reasons why she had incurred the princely wrath. Consequently, the new wife worked so hard she had no time to eat. She placed the bread on one shoulder, the salt on another, and worked in this fashion. She tried hard to give greater satisfaction to her new husband than the first wife and not to incur the curse of Dracula.
[3] Having asked the old, the ill, the lame, the poor, the blind, and the vagabonds to a large dining hall in Tîrgovişte, Dracula ordered that a feast be prepared for them. On the appointed day, Tîrgovişte groaned under the weight of the large number of beggars who had come. The prince's servants passed out a batch of clothes to each one, then they led the beggars to a large mansion where tables had been set. The beggars marveled at the prince's generosity, and they spoke among themselves: "Truly it is a prince's kind of grace." Then they started eating. And what do you think they saw before them: a meal such as one would find on the prince's own table, wines and all the best things to eat which weigh you down. The beggars had a feast that became legendary. They ate and drank greedily. Most of them became dead drunk. As they became unable to communicate with one another, and became incoherent, they were suddenly faced with fire and smoke on all sides. The prince had ordered his servants to set the house on fire. They rushed to the doors to get out, but the doors were locked. The fire progressed. The blaze rose high like inflamed dragons. Shouts, shrieks, and moans arose from the lips of all the poor enclosed there. But why should a fire be moved by the entreaties of men? They fell upon each other. They embraced each other. They sought help, but there was no human ear left to listen to them. They began to twist in the torments of the fire that was destroying them. The fire stifled some, the embers reduced others to ashes, the flames grilled most of them. When the fire finally abated, there was no trace of any living soul.
* paragraphs 1, 2, 3 are reproduced from the book Dracula: Prince of Many faces by Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T McNally.