Will The Real Dracula Please Stand Up? Part III


Vlad Dracula had some minor success in fending off the Turks from his homeland but the Sultan’s forces proved in the end, to be too big and too powerful. His titular overlord, Blogline King Mathias Corvinus of Hungary, son of John Hunyadi, gave him little aid in his endeavours. And Wallachian resources as they stood, were far too small to provide any lasting success. In 1462, the Turks finally made headway into Wallachia and Vlad was forced to flee. Rather than give herself up to the invaders, princefoundation his first wife, it was reported, threw herself to her death from a tower window into the Arges River far below. Vlad using a system of secret tunnels, managed to escape across the mountains and into Transylvania. Once there, he tried to enlist support from Mathias but instead, h was immediately arrested. He was imprisoned in one of the royal towers. There is some debate as to how long Vlad spent as a prisoner. Russian records state that he was held prisoner between the years of 1462 and 1474. While there, he managed to ingratiate himself into the Kings graces and favours, to the point of actually marrying one of the royal princesses, probably one of Mathias’ sisters. He also sired two sons. As it is highly unlikely that a prisoner, pollenindex no matter what the status, would be allowed to marry into the royal family and the fact that his eldest son was ten years old when he retook the throne in 1476, he was probably released around 1466. Another explanation for Vlad finding favour with Mathias was his renouncing his Orthodox religion and becoming Catholic like the royal family.

Another factor in this turn around of favours was the fact that Radu the Handsome, Vlad’s younger brother, now sat on the Wallachian throne and one of his first acts was to initiate a pro-Turkish policy. It is quite possible that the Turkish King saw Vlad as the obvious candidate to take back the throne. In 1476 Vlad was once again ready to make a bid for the Wallachian throne. Radu, kutyulva at this time, was dead. On the throne now sat a Danesti prince, Basarab the Old. Together with Stephen Bathory, (ancestor to Erzsebet) and a mixed contingent of armed soldiers, Vlad once again lay siege to Wallachia. On sighting the army, Basarab and his forces fled. Shortly after taking the throne however, Bathory and the army returned to Transylvania leaving Vlad in a very awkward and vulnerable position. Before he was able to muster another army, the Turks invaded Wallachia again and Vlad was forced to march and meet them with just four thousand men. izomautok

The records surrounding Vlad’s death at the Battle of Bucharest in 1476 are sketchy at best. Different reports tell that he may have been assassinated by unfaithful Boyars right on the point of victory, while others state that he fell in defeat, surrounded by his loyal Moldavian body guards. Yet others tell that at the moment of victory, he was accidentally felled by his own men. One fact that isn’t disputed is that his body was eventually decapitated and the head sent back to Constantinople and the sultan who had it impaled to prove to his people that the dread “Impaler” was indeed dead. He was buried, so it was said, in the island monastery of Snagov. There is a strange epilogue to this report in that, years later, historians digging before the chapel altar where Vlad’s remains were said to have been lain to rest, found, not a headless skeleton but the remains of a jackal. In many myths concerning the vampire in that region of the world, it is said that as well as having power over animals such as the rat, cat and dog, they could also transform themselves into any of these creatures, the favourite being the wolf. otthonszuletik

The Evidence

As I have already stated, it is important that we don not take the evidence at face value. Quite a large amount of the stories concerning this dark prince come from politically motivated enemies of which there were many. There are however, three main sources that record his exploits and these come from,
1: German pamphlets which were published shortly after his death.
2: Russian pamphlets published shortly after the German ones.
3: Romanian oral traditions.

The German Sources

It must be remembered that the victims more commonly falling to Vlad’s cruelty were the Saxon merchants. Mathias Corvinus seeking to boost his reputation in the Holy Roman Empire, may well have used the biased nature of the pamphlets as a justification for his reluctance to support a Hungarian Vassal. And there can be no doubt that the gruesome and detailed pamphlets were a source of macabre entertainment throughout Europe when the printing press was becoming popular. Proof of this can be seen some thirty years on after Vlad’s death when the pamphlets were still being printed. villanyt-szere

The Russian Sources

We find the Russian records favourable towards Vlad. This is because at that time, the princes of Moscow were laying the foundations of what would later become the Russian Autocracy of the Czars. As Vlad had, they too were having their troubles with the Boyars and so Vlad was represented as a cruel but just prince.

Romanian Oral Tradition

Legends about the Impaler have become intrinsically linked with Romanian folklore. As would be expected, these tales have been embellished with each telling and have been passed down through the generations for the past five hundred years. The Gypsy element spread it throughout Europe as they roamed and it gained in popularity with each retelling. To the Romanians, Vlad will always be national hero who stood up to Islam and defended their faith and their lands from the Ottoman hordes. He is also remembered by them for sticking up for the common man against deceitful German merchants and the oppression of the ruling Boyars.

Despite conflicts in how each group saw him, there is a common core, especially within the German and Russian pamphlets that agree on a remarkable amount of specifics, leading scholars and historians alike to believe that there is a great deal of truth within the tales. All in all, there are around nine anecdotes that agree with all three sources and cannot be denied. These are as follows.

The Polish Nobleman

In September of 1458 in his palace at Tirgoviste, Vlad threw a dinner in honour of a visiting Polish Nobleman by the name of Benedict de Boithor. During the dinner, Vlad ordered that golden spear be brought in which was promptly set up before his guest. Vlad then asked of his guest if he could guess the reason that the spear had been brought in. The nobleman replied that it was for some Boyar who had either insulted, upset or angered Vlad. The Wallachian prince looked his guest right in the eye and stated that it was for him. After a moments silence, the nobleman replied that, if he had done something that deserved death, then the prince should do with him as he saw fit. At that, Vlad grinned and showered his guest with gifts, adding that, had he replied in any other way, he would indeed have been impaled on the spot.

Vlad Dracula’s Mistress

In the back streets of Tirgoviste Vlad kept a mistress. A very handsome woman by all accounts, she doted on the prince and wanted to please him all the time. She was driven to distraction in her love for him and endeavoured constantly to lighten his moods as he was often sullen and down. One day, during a particularly depressing mood, she decided to tell him that she was with child. Vlad, in response, had her examined by the bath matrons who reported to Vlad that the pregnancy was negative. In a fit of rage, Vlad took his dagger and opened her up from the pubic bone to her breasts, leaving her to die where she fell in agony.

The Foreign Ambassadors

There are some discrepancies with this tale between the German and the Russian accounts but the core of the tale remains the same. Two ambassadors from an Eastern power came to Tirgoviste on a state visit and met with Vlad at his palace. As was their custom, they refused to doff their turbans in the prince’s presence which offended Vlad. In order that they should never have to take them off again, he had them nailed to their heads and sent on their way. Although cruel, this is by far an isolated case. This was a practice that had been exercised throughout the Middle East and Russia.

The Golden Cup

As well as his barbaric cruelty, Vlad was also known for his fierce honesty. It was a well known fact that during his reign, thieves very seldom practiced their trade in his kingdom for they knew that if caught, they would undoubtedly find themselves on the wrong end of a large, wooden stake. To illustrate this, shortly after coming to the throne, Vlad had a magnificent, golden goblet set up in one of the main squares in Tirgoviste. The cup remained completely untouched and molested throughout his whole reign of the period, 1456-1462.

 


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