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  • Vlad the Impaler was a fifteenth century historical ruler with a well-earned reputation for savagery.

  • Even hearing the name conjures up two grisly images: Thousands of screaming innocents impaled

  • on giant wooden spikes in the fields of Eastern Europe, and shadowy Transylvanian noblemen

  • drinking blood in decrepit old castles.

  • But, there's an awful lot more to this brutal Wallachian ruler than fanciful legends about

  • ancient counts and bloodthirsty vampires.

  • So, let's strip away the terrifying myths and reveal the even darker truths behind Vlad

  • The Impaler, thought by many to be one of the evillest men of all time.

  • By some accounts, his total number of victims rises as high as 100,000 - many of which were

  • killed in unimaginably horrific ways, and overseen personally by Vlad himself.

  • Vlad's forces were never the largest, often coming in at around 24,000 strong, but he

  • compensated for this by building a brutal reputation across all of Eastern Europe as

  • a man who must be feared and respected on pain of death.

  • To be captured by Vlad's forces often meant being tortured to death with extreme prejudice,

  • and mounted like a trophy outside his territory to scare off any encroaching enemies.

  • If you were lucky, he'd kill you before the worst of the mutilation began, but few

  • people who fell into the clutches of Vlad the Impaler could count themselves as lucky.

  • This is a man so bloodthirsty that rumours circulated about him literally drinking the

  • blood of his slain enemies, believing it would grant him strength.

  • While doubt has been cast about whether he actually ever dipped his bread in the blood

  • of his impaled victims, it's a testament to his character that stories like these are

  • entirely believable, considering he made a habit of looting, burning, and slaughtering

  • whole cities if their inhabitants dared to defy him.

  • If he ever actually did drink blood, it probably wouldn't even rank among the top ten of

  • his most awful atrocities.

  • Especially considering other acts on this list include running people through on huge

  • wooden spikes, total dismemberment, and in some cases even skinning enemies alive.

  • For a man who practically seemed like a monster in human skin, you're probably wondering

  • how he could rise to power?

  • Well, like many of history's most terrifying rulers, Vlad the Impaler was quite literally

  • born into it.

  • Born in Wallachia – a historical region in modern Romaniabetween 1428 and 1431,

  • Vlad the Impaler was actually the third Vlad of the House of Drăculești.

  • That's a name that probably rings a bell, thanks to Irish gothic horror writer Bram

  • Stoker, but we'll get back to that.

  • Back during Vlad III's era, Wallachia was caught between two ruling familieshis

  • own, the Drăculești, and a rival house of nobles, the House ofnești.

  • These families both descended from the House of Basarab, who founded Wallachia, leaving

  • their descendants with a claim to the throne over which many bloody, Game-of-Thrones-style

  • wars were fought.

  • Vlad the Impaleror Vlad Tepes, as he was known in his native tonguewas the

  • son of Vlad of Wallachia, aka Vlad II, aka Vlad Dracul.

  • That last one meansVlad The Dragon”, a name he earned from being part of The Order

  • of the Dragon – A group dedicated to protecting Christianity from the perceived threat of

  • the Muslim Ottoman Empire based in Turkey.

  • The nameDracula”, often attached to Vlad the Impaler, doesn't have anything

  • to do with vampirism oras some other scholars suggest - Satanism.

  • It actually meansSon of the Dragon.”

  • The name proved to be prophetic, as Tepes would take after his father as a legendary

  • military leader.

  • When you're a ruler, especially a ruler of an embattled territory like Wallachia,

  • it's important to build yourself a strong reputation.

  • If you wanted to be taken seriously, the fastest way to do that is to make a grisly example

  • of someoneand thankfully for Vlad, he was an expert at making grisly examples, particularly

  • of the Transylvanian Saxons.

  • These Saxons, unlike the British Anglo-Saxons, were German migrants and traders who'd settled

  • in the area after it was conquered by Hungary in the 12th Century.

  • Vlad's first point of contention with the Saxons was a religious difference: The Saxons

  • were Catholics, and Vlad – a deeply religious manwas a follower of the Romanian Orthodox

  • Church.

  • However, the true impetus behind Vlad's horrific treatment of the Saxons was a question

  • of loyaltythe Hunyadi family, who ran the military wing of Hungary, were at odds

  • with the nation's monarchs.

  • The Transylvanian Saxons were supporters of the Hapsburg King of Hungary, whereas Vlad's

  • loyalty lay with the Hunyadis, who'd helped install him into power.

  • In 1457, John Hunyadi's widow, Erzsebet Szilagy, was the target of Saxon protests.

  • Vlad happily helped the Szilagy forces rampage through some Saxon villages, where they looted

  • and burned the homes of the people suspected of organising the protests.

  • This ended up being a bigger headache for Vlad than he initially imaginedThe Saxons

  • responded to his violence by supporting two challengers to his throne: Dan III, and his

  • own half-brother, known as Vlad the Monk.

  • This caused an escalation in Vlad's violence, when his efforts at diplomacy fell flat.

  • Vlad declared all-out war on his Saxon challengers, and burned several villages of key Vlad The

  • Monk supporters to the ground.

  • He also struck against Dan III, by wiping out the village of Bod near Brasov.

  • This particular offensive was where Vlad coined his greatest trademark: The few prisoners

  • he took during the battle he had brutally impaled at the city of Targoviste.

  • And if you picture this impalement as a sharpened stake forced through the chestas many

  • sanitised depictions tend to showyou're both a kinder and less imaginative man than

  • Vlad the Impaler.

  • In his method, victims often had a slightly duller spike forced up their anus, and left

  • there.

  • Over the following hoursand, if you're really unlucky, daysyour body weight

  • would force the stake further into your abdomen, at which point it would horrifically displace

  • your internal organs.

  • It's a gruesome way to die, and thus, makes an incredibly effective psychological warfare

  • tactic.

  • He was sending a strong message: “If you mess with Vlad, your fate is on the spike.”

  • But that's far from the only sadistic method Vlad employed in dispatching his enemies.

  • He was also rather fond of having his men literally hack their victims to bloody pieces,

  • such as in the Saxon city of Talmes, and even having people boiled alive in huge cauldrons,

  • as he enjoyed doing to Saxon merchants who didn't follow his trade rules.

  • He handed out brutal executions like candyhaving 41 students impaled just for being

  • suspected of subversion.

  • Many accounts have it that Vlad enjoyed dining among his fields of impaled victimsperhaps

  • as a power move, to further his reputation as a terrifying enemy.

  • And this perception worked.

  • Vlad continued to rampage and slaughter through the Saxon forces until Dan III was finally

  • in his clutches.

  • In a truly gangster move, Vlad forced Dan to dig his own grave while a priest read him

  • his own funeral rites.

  • Dan was then decapitated and buried, eliminating yet another threat to Vlad's power.

  • After this, Vladhaving thoroughly subjugated his Saxon enemiesdecided to call a truce.

  • A far more formidable enemy was on the horizon: The powerful Ottoman empire, headed by the

  • late Sultan Murad's ambitious and ruthless son, Sultan Mehmed II.

  • Mehmed sent a detachment of emissaries to Vlad in order to essentially negotiate his

  • surrender, but that wasn't how Vlad Tepes rolled.

  • His confidence bolstered by his new alliances with the remaining Saxons, and the forces

  • of Hungary, Vlad literally had the emissary's skullcaps nailed to their skulls to send a

  • message.

  • Mehmed was successfully provoked, and all-out war began, but Vlad organized a series of

  • vicious guerrilla conquestssplitting his army into small groups who'd covertly

  • and ruthlessly attack larger Ottoman strongholds, breaking them apart from within.

  • Vlad's most infamous act followed shortly after, when Sultan Mehmed, enraged by Vlad's

  • victories, sent a powerful force of 60,000 men with top-of-the-line armour and weaponry

  • straight to Wallachia.

  • Vlad was outnumbered and outgunned, but there was one factor that Sultan Mehmed didn't

  • take into account: He may have been stronger than Vlad, but nobody was more brutal.

  • He staged a terrifying night attack on an Ottoman encampment outside Targoviste in 1462,

  • where he took 5,000 men.

  • When the full might of the Ottoman forces arrived shortly after, they discovered that

  • Vlad had mounted all 5,000 – in addition to fifteen thousand other Ottoman prisoners

  • - on his trademark spikes.

  • This grisly display would later be dubbedThe Forest of The Impaled.”

  • To the invading Ottomans, Vlad seemed less like an average ruler and more like an inhuman

  • monsterthe kind of terrifying, legendary figure who makes a perfectly logical inspiration

  • for the world's most famous vampire.

  • Mehmed ordered his forces to retreat the next day.

  • The troop's morale just couldn't survive seeing 20,000 of their countrymen turned into

  • rotting shish-kebabs.

  • The Ottoman's came to know Vlad as theImpaler King”, an iconic nickname that would live

  • on in different forms for centuries to come.

  • Vlad continued his bloody reign, on and off, for the rest of his life.

  • Even when he was deposed and imprisoned for a time, he was later released by his captors

  • to once again wage bloody war against the Ottomans.

  • He'd slaughter, impale, and dismember his enemies with glee all the way up until his

  • deathwhen he was killed defending his beloved principality from Ottoman invasion

  • in January of 1477.

  • For many modern Romanians, Vlad is still revered as a powerful ruler and a good man to his

  • citizensthough to his unfortunate enemies, like the Saxons and the Ottomans, you'd

  • be forgiven for thinking he was the most evil man who ever lived.

  • Check outMost Evil ManIvan The TerribleandMost Evil ManJoseph Stalin

  • for more information on some of history's most terrifying rulers.

  • Sometimes, the reality is a lot more terrifying than the fiction.

Vlad the Impaler was a fifteenth century historical ruler with a well-earned reputation for savagery.

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Vlad The Impaler - Most Evil Man

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/15
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