As Eclipse, the latest in the Twilight saga, is about to open, I think it’s time to pay homage to the dude who started the whole vampire craze all by himself just by living it. His name: Vlad Tepes (“Tepes” which by the way, translates as “impaler”).
Vlad (or Vlad III as he was commonly known) was born on November 25, 1431 in a creepy place called Transylvania.
Vlad had an older brother, Mircea, and a younger brother, Radu the Handsome (LOVE the name!). Vlad’s father, Vlad II, ascended the throne in a creepy part of Transylvania called Wallachia. During this time, Vlad’s father acquired the nickname “the Dragon” because he had joined a royal society called the Order of the Dragon. In old Romania, “dragon” translated into “Dracul” (in modern Romanian however, it means “devil”). When Vlad II was born, he became known as “Dracula”, “son of the Dragon”.
In 1442, Vlad II was ousted by some rival factions who weren’t cool with his leadership. He was however, able to regain his royal position on the throne when he agreed to prove his loyalty by sending his two sons, eleven year old Vlad III and Radu the Handsome, to the Ottoman court in Turkey (talk about having your priorities all screwed up!).
During this time, Vlad III was imprisoned and often whipped and beaten because of his verbal abuse towards his captors. It was also here that Vlad first witnessed the act of impalement. Vlad’s brother, Radu the Handsome however, was much easier to control and three years later when his sentence was over, he chose to remain in Turkey.
Well, cut to December 1447, Vlad has been out of prison for a couple of years, cleaned himself up, got educated, learned about warfare and all that neat stuff until, uh-oh, Vlad’s father was killed by some rebels and Vlad’s older brother Mircea was assassinated with hot iron stakes and buried alive (OUCH!). Not good for the Dracul family and certainly not good for Vlad’s enemies as we’ll soon learn.
So, long story short, Vlad Dracula eventually succeeded his father on the Wallachian throne and thus started Vlad’s notorious actions which earned him the nickname, Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad’s murderous ways started early in his reign when he gave a feast for his nobles and their families to celebrate Easter. Vlad was well aware that many of these same noblemen were part of the conspiracy that led to his father’s assassination and the burying alive of his elder brother, Mircea. Vlad immediately had all the assembled noblemen and their families arrested and impaled on the spot. Oh, but Vlad was just getting started.
Vlad’s atrocities were usually attempts to enforce his own moral code upon his country. He appears to have been particularly concerned with female chastity. Maidens who lost their virginity, adulterous wives and unchaste widows were all targets of Vlad’s cruelty. Such women often had their sexual organs cut out or their breasts cut off, and were often impaled through the vagina on red-hot stakes.
Vlad also insisted that his people be honest and hard working. Merchants who cheated their customers were likely to find themselves mounted on a stake beside common thieves.
One of his most horrible actions, however, occurred on St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1459 when Vlad Dracula caused thirty thousand of the merchants and nobles of the Transylvanian city of Brasov to be impaled. In order to better enjoy the results of his orders, Vlad commanded that his table be set up amongst the forest of impaled corpses. While dining, Vlad noticed that one of his noblemen was holding his nose in an effort to alleviate the terrible smell of clotting blood and emptied bowels. Vlad then ordered the sensitive nobleman to be impaled on a stake higher than all the rest so that he might be above the stench (Payback is a BITCH!).
In all, Vlad is credited with killing between 40,000 and 100,000 people through impalement.
Well, all things must eventually come to an end and Vlad Dracula’s end came when he was killed in battle against the Turks near the town of Bucharest in December of 1476.
Vlad Dracula’s body was eventually decapitated by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that the horrible Impaler was finally dead.
It was then about 400 years later that a man named Bram Stoker did some research and started writing a book called “Dracula”…