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Vlad III, commonly known as Vlad The Impaler (Romanian: Vlad Tepes or Vlad Dracula Romanian Vlad Draculea 1428/31 -1476 /77), was voivode of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death in 1476/77. He is often considered one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and a national hero of Romania.

  • 1st Reign October - November 1440
  • 2nd Reign 15 April 1456 - July 1462
  • 3rd Reign December 1476 or January 1477

On the night of June 16 -17, 1462,

Vlad The Impaler led a night attack on the camp of sultan Mehmed II Besieging the Wallachian capital of Targoviste, after infiltrating the camp disguised as a Turk, in an attempt to personally assassinate the Ottoman ruler.

Luckily for the sultan, Vlad got lost and hit the wrong tent. The Ottoman troops regrouped, repelled the raiding Wallachians, and chased them out of the camp.

The next day, Mehmed and his troops continued their march before stumbling upon a forest of wooden stakes piled high with 23,844 skewered ottoman corpses, the now famous Forest of The Dead - a number which is mentioned by Vlad himself in a letter to Matthias Corvinus.

According to a contemporary Greek historian, upon seeing the grisly scene, “the sultan said that it was not possible to deprive of his country a man who had such a diabolical understanding of how to govern his realm and its people”

Vlad The Impaler Facts

The real-life Dracula might not have sucked the blood out of his victims' necks, but he still drank it in a different way: by dipping chunks of bread into buckets of blood drained from the people he killed.

The fifteenth-century manuscript of the story of a bloodthirsty madman called Dracula of Wallachia, by Michel Beheim, describes how Vlad III would invite a few guests to his mansion, provide them with a feast, and then have them immediately impaled right there at the dinner table. With the bodies still draped over the stakes, he would leisurely finish his own dinner and then dip his bread into the blood collecting below the bodies.

"Dracula" Means "Son of the Dragon"

The word Dracula wasn’t something that Bram Stoker made up for his book; Vlad III actually preferred to be called that. His father, Vlad II, was a member of a secret society known as the Order of The Dragon. He was so proud to be a member that he had his name changed to “Dracul,”  Romanian for “Dragon.”

Vlad III also got involved in the order as a child, which prompted him to change his own name to Dracula, or “Son of The Dragon.” (although now it means something closer to “Son of The Devil”). Either way, it was a pretty frightening name at the time, especially since the guy had the reputation of, you know, killing everybody he met.

He Had a Sense of Humor

Life for Dracula wasn't all work, work, impale, work. Nope - according to most sources at the time, he thoroughly enjoyed all that impaling and skinning and boiling alive. In fact, you could even go so far as to say he had a sense of humor - at least, he was known to make some incredibly morbid jokes about his victims as they died.

For example, one account in the book In Search of Dracula describes how people would often twitch around “like frogs” as they died via impalement. Vlad III would watch and casually remark, “oh, what great gracefulness they exhibit!”

Another time a visitor came to his house, only to find it filled with rotting corpses. Vlad asked him, “do you mind the stink?” when the man said “yes,” Vlad impaled him and hung him from the ceiling, where the smell wasn’t quite so bad.