When you think of Dracula, does the image of Vlad III the Impaler come to mind? It is Vlad, who was born in 1431 that would later gain a reputation for indulging in torture and taking advantage of the weak. Vlad was Prince of Wallachia, which is now part of what is known as Romania. He reigned at three different times throughout history, including 1448, between 1456 and 1462, and 1476. During this time, he would impose rather inhumane punishments on people and would inspire Bram Stoker to pen his ultra-popular Dracula novel after this man.
Vlad as a king was known for maintaining an independent policy when it came to the Ottoman Empire and in Romania; they actually viewed him as a prince who carried on justice. He was often seen as a defender of Wallachia when Ottoman expansionism threatened their sensibilities.
It is very likely that Vlad was given life in a city called Sighisoara, which was positioned in Transylvania , a military fortress. His birth was marked by the winter of 1431. Vlad’s parents were Vlad Dracul and his mother Princess Cneajna of Moldavia. He was their second son. His other relatives were an older brother by the name of Mircea and a younger brother named Radu, who was also referred to as “the Handsome.” While his native country was known as Wallachia (set in the south), his family was exiled to Transylvania. At the same time around his birth, his father dwelled in Nuremburg, where he became a part of the Order of the Dragon. By the time Vlad turned five, he too became a part of the Order of the Dragon.
As a youth, the Ottoman sultan placed a great deal of political pressure on Vlad’s father. He threatened him with an invasion and forced his father to make a promise to become a vassal of the Sultan. This included giving up his two younger sons as hostages so that his promise meant something. These would become significant years in Vlad’s life, as he endured plenty of punishment in the form of whippings from the people he was held captive under the will of the Ottomans.
Vlad was viewed as a pig-headed and rude boy. At the time, he would also generate hateful feelings towards Radu and for Mehmed, who would later take the position of sultan. He was also full of distrust, especially against his gather, who had given him to the Turks in the first place. He also took notice that his father betrayed the oath of the Order of the Dragon, which stated that they would never give into the Ottomans.
In the second part of this series on Vlad the Impaler titled, “Vlad the Impaler: The First Reign.” you will learn about what happened to a couple of his family members, as well as the person, who would give Vlad support when he most needed it.