This story is part of the chapter in my e-book about European Royals: The Royal Madness.
The world knows Dracula was written by Bram Stoker, an Irish novelist, but it was not clear however if Stoker really based the concept of the story on Prince Vlad III, who waged a reign of terror in Wallachia during the 15th century. Wallachia was once an ancient principality in Central Europe that was known later as Transylvania (and now part of Romania), the setting of Dracula.
Sketch of Vlad III, though no records accurately show
how he looked like exactly
Trivia: Did you know that the name DRACULA is not really mean "devil" in ancient Wallachia? This word means "son of the dragon". Dracul means dragon, an ancient chivalric order in Wallachia use to defend Christianity against invaders. Vlad III's father was a famous member of this group.
Dracula started to achieve an evil reputation translation when Bram Stoker published a book about a Transylvanian Count with a voodoo history.
Here's the strip of Vlad III's story which I included in the chapter of my e-book about madness in the royal court.
If there’s one horrid story about mental derangement crossing the border of sadistic insanity, it's Vlad III's story. The saga of his vampirism act was so popular in Europe even during the 17th century that it inspired Bram Stoker to write a novel about a horrendous man that drinks blood, Dracula.
If we would combine the sadistic nature of Ivan The Terrible of Russia and the psychotic maladies of Caligula of Rome, we will get a dose of terror with Vlad III of Wallachia. He was dreadful and gruesome and if there’s anything maddening about protecting the Kingdom from invaders, it was Vlad III’s historical legacy of resorting to impaling.
Whether Stoker really based his novel to a Voodoo Prince in Wallachia that finds pleasure in torturing people with his spikes, no one really knew exactly, it was only a speculation, but the story of Count Dracula is somewhat closer to Vlad III’s vampirism tendencies.
Vlad III was Prince of Wallachia, now part of Romania in Central Europe, from 1452 to his death, with deposition and exile in-betweens, making him to rule the tiny principality for about three times. He reigned during the troubled period of 15th century when invasion, wars and chaos were popular in the continent.
His father was Vlad II, the Dracul, which means Dragon because he was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a chivalric order founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe. Vlad III was known as Dracula, meaning son of the dragon, but in later decades the name dragon was replaced with “devil” referring to the vicious crimes of murders and tortures committed by Vlad III during his reign, thus, Dracula in the present time means “son of the devil.”
During his youth, Wallachia suffered discord from rival factions and his father was ousted in 1442. He regained the throne after securing support from Ottoman by agreeing to pay a tribute. Part of this loyalty was sending his two sons, Vlad and Radu, to the Ottoman court. It was in this exile that the young Vlad was trained and learned skills in warfare.
Vlad II was murdered by the faction of John Hunyadi, a Hungarian regent, it ignited another war in Wallachia, Ottoman rescued the principality and put Vlad III on the throne. What followed next was a series of uproar and disturbances that shaped Vlad III’s personality and reputation in later years. His life was dominated with the terror of war, political unrest and murders that the only way to survive is to become awful and hostile.
He returned to Wallachia and regained the throne only to find a miserable land devastated by poverty, widespread crime and depressing agricultural fall out. Realizing it could never be amended with systematic and lenient governance, he decided to austere methods to restore progress.
His reign was not entirely troublesome and grisly, there were also periods that his people experienced harmony, development and fairness particularly in the trading, economy and infrastructure. He created several reform measures especially among merchants. But despite turning his attention to Wallachia’s reforms and development, he did not forget the group that killed his father and brother which he believed had also caused trouble in his land, the Boyars.
To secure peace and order and to strengthen his reign, he had most of the Boyars nobles killed and gradually became harsh in creating laws for criminals and offenders. It was during this period that he started implementing his severe punishment of executing enemies through impaling.
The most brutal part of this way of execution was the spikes that boiled in oil to implicate horrible pain to the victims. At the height of his cruelty and Dracula streak, he would held a feast in the forest and kill everyone leaving the corpses to rot in the ground.
He had reportedly killed close to 100,000 people mostly in a grisly way, torturing, impaling and burning at stake. At one point, he made a killing rampage along Danube, burning houses, killing everyone he found in the village, men, women, old, young, infant.
His sadistic pleasure in torturing was unimaginable. He had children roasted and fed to their mothers, cut off the breasts of women and forced the husband to eat it and had them all impaled. His reputation for cruelty horrified even his enemies, it was reported that when invaders discovered impaled corpses on the banks of Danube river, they were sickened with what they saw and retreated in fright.
Vlad III paid a high prize though. When he engaged in a battle against the Turks, he was killed and beheaded and had his severely mutilated head brought to Constantinople to present to the Sultan who had wished nothing but Vlad III's downfall and death.
More of the undiscovered stories of terror and madness in the European royal court in my upcoming e-book: European Royals: Madness and Intrigues