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Peacemakers

Vlad the Impaler Dracula

by Marcu from Dej

Vlad Tepes (http://www.freewebs.com/baptizedinblood/vlad_tepes.jpg)
Vlad Tepes (http://www.freewebs.com/baptizedinblood/vlad_tepes.jpg)

There are many types of heroes, but for me a real hero whose fame lived over the centuries is Vlad Tepes, alias Dracula. I will try to present him against the the social and historical background he lived in and to clarify why he has been associated with the so well known Dracula, the vampire prince of Transylvania.

For almost a millenium, the lands in the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic area were ploundered by the migratory people. Beginning with the 10th and 11th centuries, the Eastern part of Europe was threatened by the last large migratory vallum, made of Turkish nations. Towards the 16th century, a great danger seemed to appear at the Europen borders: the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. In those times, Romania was divided into three provences: The Romanian Country or Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. The Romanian Country had the Black Sea in the East, the Ottoman Empire in the South and Moldavia and Transylvania in the North. Between 1389-1402 the ruler of the Ottoman Empire was Sultane Baiazid (nicknamed The Lightning ). The Romanian Country was ruled by Mircea the Old, one of the greatest leaders of the Romanian army, who defeated two large military expeditions commanded by Baiazid. After his death (1418) a period of high political instability broke out and there were also internal fights regarding the heirs of the throne, between two royal families: the Danesti and the Draculesti.

Vlad Tepes Dracula was the son of Vlad Dracul, one of the illegitimate sons of Mircea the Old. In that period, at Nurenberg, Vlad Dracul obtained the alliance and the support of the Holly Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg in order to gain the throne of the Romanian Country, and he spent a period in Transylvania, being the protege of the great emperor. He got married to one of the daughters of Moldavia's ruler and he lived in Sighisoara for a while. He had two sons, Mircea and Vlad,the latter getting a special education, the Occidental influence interfering with the Oriental one. In 1436, Vlad Dracul became the ruler of the Romanian Country, supported by Iancu of Hunedoara. In the meantime the Ottoman army was in a great rising, The Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg died and his death led to the weakening of the anti-Ottoman front. The Turkish army conquered a part of Transylvania; Vlad Dracul had to join the Ottoman army but he was suspected for treason and was summoned to The Sublime Porte together with two of his sons. The contact with the Ottoman world gave him the opportunity of finding out the Ottoman organization, habits and military technics and of learning the Turkish language. While Vlad Dracul and his sons, Vlad and Radu, were hostages there, the throne of the Romanian Country was under the rule of his elder son, Mircea. In 1443 he returned to his throne, but his two sons Vlad and Radu were still kept hostages until 1448, when their father was killed.

The name of Vlad Dracula is connected to the day of 8 February 1431, when his father, Vlad I, was invested by the Holly Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg with the Order of Dragon (Ordinis Draconis) for having protected the catholicism against the Turcs. It is this ancient symbol of the Order of Dragon from which the name of " Dracul " is supposed to be assigned to Vlad I, as a nickname, the origin of which is a European noble rank and that became a name itself later. The name Dracula, given to the son of Vlad I, derives, according to the tradition the Romanian names are being formed, from his name Dracul, to which was added the inflexion "a", which proves the fact that Dracula is Dracul's son. In the Romanian historiography, Vlad II, is generally known as Tepes / tsepesh / which means the Impaler; it is a nickname assigned to him in the 15th century, as a consequence of his preference for impalement as a way of punishing guilty people. Using this cruel method of punishment he managed to impose in front of the internal evildoers and the external enemies. The motivation in using this punishment can be found in the objective necessities of establishing an order in the country according to his aspirations of justice and independence. The nickname " Tepes " was accepted by the historiography and transformed into a name.

Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes "Dracula" engraving from 1499 (www.aboutromania.com/dracula7.html)

In 1448, Vlad Tepes came to the throne of the Romanian Country, but only for a short time, because the circumstances made him leave it; he went to Moldavia and in 1451 he ran away to Transylvania. Iancu of Hunedoara appointed him commander of the border army in the South Transylvania; in 1456 he defeated Vladislav II and became ruler of the Romanian Country. He organized the country on social, political and cultural levels; he took measures in order to centralize the power of the country and to increase its potential of defence and prosperity. A lot of legends and stories were inspired from the actions he initiated under the sign of authoritative rule. In order to assure the calm and the internal unity, Vlad punished the tracherous landowners and boyars impaling them, as well as the thieves, the liars, the greedy and faithless merchants, the slanderous priests and monks, the spies, the conceited and the contemptuous heralds, the sluggards or the cowards. The honest and hardworking people, the patriots, the brave ones were rewarded with generosity. The measures he took, transformed the Romanian Country into an organized, powerful, and united state. He also organized the army consisting in a cavalry and pedestrians, ruled and trained by Vlad himself. His policy of the strong hand aims the independence of the country and the Ottomans don't seem to like it too much. He died in December 1476, during a battle against the Ottomans, which was, in fact, the single battle he had lost. His head was sent to Sultan Mahomed, at Tarigrad, as a remedy against the terror he had caused to the Ottomans, and his body was slaughtered with sadism. The mortal remains of his body were buried, in secretly, by some faithful people, at Snagov Abbey. So, one of the legendary hero-ruler of this nation vanished, sacrificing himself on the altar of freedom and independence of his country.

Page created on 2/25/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 2/25/2010 12:00:00 AM

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