|Fig.1: What Vlad III Dracula |
lacked in fangs and a thirst
for blood, he made up for
with awesome hair!
Interestingly enough, Vlad Dracula was actually raised and educated by the Ottoman Turks! His father's position on the throne was always tentative due to the rebellious Romanian nobility known as the boyars, short for "Boy, are those guys annoying little jerks or what?!" So in return for the Ottoman Sultan's support to keep his throne, Vlad II gave him two of his sons, Vlad Dracula and Radu (who was nicknamed "the Handsome" after his soft blue eyes and chiseled chin) as tribute. Oh the days where you can sell off your children in return for job security! Vlad lived in the Ottoman capital of Edrine until was seventeen, and was taught the Turkish language, memorized the Qur'an, and learned the punishment of impaling, or the penetration of a person with a sharpened pole rooted in the ground where the impaled is left to slowly hemorrhage and die. In retrospect, the Turks probably shouldn't have educated Vlad on that last thing, but at the time it was just a bit of fun that they thought couldn't possibly come back to hurt them.
|Fig.2: No, not that kind of puppet! |
Bad, image editor! Bad!
When looked at from a practical standpoint, Vlad III was a skilled ruler. During his reign, the economy of agricultural output was strengthened, his government became more established in all corners of Wallachia, and the military turned into a highly-trained fighting force. But when viewed from a more personal angle, Vlad was kind of a really terrible person. He had the majority of the boyars killed, based in his belief that all previous strife in the principality came from their whininess. He cracked down on crime, and everything from robbery to assault to parting your hair to the wrong side became punishable by death. There were also countless stories of Vlad's cruelty that made the antics of pre-Buddhist Ashoka look like the Kids' Choice Awards! As his posthumous nickname will imply, Vlad really got into the whole impaling thing. One story in particular tells of Vlad setting up a banquet table so he could feast while observing the impalement of 20,000 people who failed to use their turn signal while merging. When he noticed one of his soldiers holding his nose at the smell of the corpses, he cried, "Why would I want in my service a man who cannot look at death without regurgitating? Death is a soldier's livelihood! Let him join these others, but because he had been loyal until today, hoist him higher than the rest that he does not have to smell his company!" Such a sweetheart.
|Fig.3: Vlad always threw the best impalement parties.|
Alas, Vlad's success would not last forever, just like the thankfully dying vampire fad of today. An Ottoman force would eventually kick Vlad off the throne later that year; it was ironically led by Vlad's brother, Radu the Handsome, who decided to keep his supple check bones and perfectly-aligned teeth on the side of the Sultan. Vlad fled to Hungary and the court of King Matthias, son of the late John Hunyadi, and Matthias welcomed Vlad with open arms...and an open jail cell. He was imprisoned in various palaces throughout Hungary for thirteen years (sorry, triskaidekaphobics) mostly so Matthias wouldn't peeve off the Ottomans (scientifically, this makes him what experts call a pansy). However, Radu died in 1475 after his perfect face was blemished by a single wrinkle, and Vlad was permitted to return and reclaim his throne. Unfortunately, the boyars and the general population never forgave him for the whole impale-everyone-for-no-good-reason thing, and when an Ottoman force was en route, no one volunteered to defend the voivodeship. Thus Vlad III Dracula would meet his end in 1476 not by a wooden stake, or a silver bullet, or a garlic herb-crusted prime rib; a simple beheading did the trick, with his head brought back to the Sultan as a trophy, and his hair kindly donated to Locks of Love.
|Fig.4: Vlad wouldn't be caught |
dead wearing that vest...and not
just because he was beheaded.