Why and how was Dracula impaling the Turks ?

First, let’s recall who was Dracula…

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1477), was a member of the House of Drăculești, also known, as (Vlad) Drăculea or (Vlad) Dracula.

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1460.

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1460.

His Romanian patronym Drăculea, is a diminutive of the epithet Dracul carried by his father Vlad II, who in 1431 was inducted as a member of the Order of the Dragon, a chivalric order founded by Emperor Sigismund in 1408 to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe against the Ottoman conquest.

Dracul is the Romanian definite form, the -ul being the suffixal definite article (deriving from Latin ille). The noun drac “dragon” itself continues Latin draco. Thus, Dracula literally means “Son of the Dragon”. In Modern Romanian, the word “drac” has adopted the meaning of “devil”. This has led to misinterpretations of Vlad’s epithet as characterizing him as “devilish”.

Vlad’s nickname of Țepeș (“Impaler”) identifies his favourite method of execution. He was known as Kazıklı Bey (Sir Impaler) by the Turks after their armies encountered his “forests” of impalement turk victims.

A very short story of the story

In 1436, Vlad II Dracul (father of Vlad III) 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 the Tribute to the Sultan (Murad).

As a consequence, At 13 years old, Vlad III and his younger brother Radu the Handsome were held as political hostages by the Ottoman Turks. During his years as hostage, 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.

But Vlad was defiant and constantly punished for his impudence.

Radu was the boy that Murad’s son Mehmet II, the future conqueror of Constantinople, has his eye on from the beginning. Radu was extraordinary handsome according to Ottoman chronicles.

Muhammad bin Murad, alias Mehmet II, sultan of the Turks

Muhammad bin Murad, alias Mehmet II, sultan of the Turks

At first, Radu was afraid of Mehmet, he was especially afraid he would be raped as it was notorious Mehmet II was gay. When Mehmet made his first attempt, Ottoman chronicles tell us that Radu fled with his sword and climbed a tree.

As Mehmet was falling for him and of course, with his court, he tried to convince him to come down from the tree, which Radu eventually did, after 3 days.

What followed is uncertain, some years later Radu the Handsome being officially entitled in Mehmet’s harem.

Radu the Hansome, lover of Mehmet II and Prince of Walachia.

Radu the Hansome, lover of Mehmet II and Prince of Walachia.

Radu the Handsome became a devout Muslim and a commander of the Janissary. He is believed to have taken part in the operations related to the siege of Constantinople.

His wife was a Muslim woman, his daughter was Maria Voichita. His life’s passion was apparently Mehmet, he supported at every opportunity.

Radu died relatively young a syphilis.

Some other “details”

Vlad’s father and older brother were killed after they tried to fight the Turks in Targoviste. His father was buried alive along with Mircea, who had already had his eyes poked out.

Vlad fought the Turks his entire life, was Prince of Wallachia by three times and defeated on serveral occasion the Ottoman Armies.

This painting displays one of his famous braveries, the night attack on Mehmet’s camp which could have led to the sultan’s killing, if his tent was not mistaken with another.

The Night Attack, painting by Theodor Aman

The Night Attack, painting by Theodor Aman

Focus on the impalement methodology

The impalement was a common punishement during Middle Ages across Europe. In Central Europe it was especially used for punishing adultery, for its strong phallic symbolism.

Longitudinal Impalement

Following the multiple campaigns against the invading Ottoman Turks, Vlad would not show mercy for the captured invaders. The road to Vlad’s capital of Wallachia eventually became inundated in a “forest” of 20,000 impaled and decaying corpses, and it is reported that Mehmet II’s invading army of Turks turned back to Constantinople in 1462 after encountering thousands of impaled corpses along the Danube River.

Vlad’s legacy

His deeds and military accomplishements are only comparable to those of John Hunyadi, the “Athleta Christi” (“Christ’s Champion”), as Pope Pius II referred to him.

Venerated towards the Balkans, he is claimed as a national hero by Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians.

His tomb (unknown) lies in the monastery of Comana, south of Bucharest, his head being exposed in Constantinople after his assassination in 1477.

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