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Vlad the Impaler

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"Vlad Țepeș" redirects here. For other uses, see Vlad Țepeș (disambiguation).
This article is about Vlad Dracula, a medieval ruler of Wallachia. For the fictional vampire,
see Count Dracula.

Vlad III Dracula

Voivode of Wallachia

Ambras Castle portrait of Vlad III (c. 1560), reputedly a copy of an

original made during his lifetime

Voivode of Wallachia

1st reign 1448

Predecessor Vladislav II

Successor Vladislav II

2nd reign 1456–1462

Predecessor Vladislav II

Successor Radu cel Frumos

3rd reign 1476

Predecessor Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân

Successor Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân

Born 1428–1431

Died December 1476 – January 1477

Spouse Unknown first wife

Jusztina Szilágyi

Issue Mihnea


House Drăculești

House of Basarab (original branch)

Father Vlad II of Wallachia

Mother Eupraxia of Moldavia (?)


Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler (Romanian: Vlad Țepeș, Bulgarian: Влад
Цепеш, pronunciation: [ˈvlad ˈt͡sepeʃ] ) or Vlad Dracula (/ˈdrækjələ/ (Romanian: Vlad
Drăculea, pronunciation: [ˈdrəkule̯a] , Bulgarian: Влад Дракула); 1428/31 – 1476/77),
was voivode (or prince) of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death.
He was the second son of Vlad Dracul, who became the ruler of Wallachia in 1436. Vlad
and his younger brother, Radu, were held as hostages in the Ottoman Empire in 1442 to
secure their father's loyalty. Vlad's father and eldest brother, Mircea, were murdered
after John Hunyadi, regent-governor of Hungary, invaded Wallachia in 1447. Hunyadi
installed Vlad's second cousin, Vladislav II, as the new voivode. Hunyadi launched a
military campaign against the Ottomans in the autumn of 1448, and Vladislav
accompanied him. Vlad broke into Wallachia with Ottoman support in October, but
Vladislav returned and Vlad sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire before the end of the
year. Vlad went to Moldavia in 1449 or 1450, and later to Hungary.
Relations between Hungary and Vladislav later deteriorated, and in 1456 Vlad invaded
Wallachia with Hungarian support. Vladislav died fighting against him. Vlad began a
purge among the Wallachian boyars to strengthen his position. He came into conflict with
the Transylvanian Saxons, who supported his opponents, Danand Basarab Laiotă (who
were Vladislav's brothers), and Vlad's illegitimate half-brother, Vlad the Monk. Vlad
plundered the Saxon villages, taking the captured people to Wallachia where he had
them impaled (which inspired his cognomen). Peace was restored in 1460.
The Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II, ordered Vlad to pay homage to him personally, but Vlad
had the Sultan's two envoys captured and impaled. In February 1462, he attacked
Ottoman territory, massacring tens of thousands of Turks and Bulgarians. Mehmed
launched a campaign against Wallachia to replace Vlad with Vlad's younger brother,
Radu. Vlad attempted to capture the sultan at Târgoviște during the night of 16–17 June
1462. The sultan and the main Ottoman army left Wallachia, but more and more
Wallachians deserted to Radu. Vlad went to Transylvania to seek assistance
from Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, in late 1462, but Corvinus had him imprisoned.
Vlad was held in captivity in Visegrád from 1463 to 1475. During this period, anecdotes
about his cruelty started to spread in Germany and Italy. He was released at the request
of Stephen III of Moldavia in the summer of 1475. He fought in Corvinus's army against
the Ottomans in Bosnia in early 1476. Hungarian and Moldavian troops helped him to
force Basarab Laiotă (who had dethroned Vlad's brother, Radu) to flee from Wallachia in
November. Basarab returned with Ottoman support before the end of the year. Vlad was
killed in battle before 10 January 1477. Books describing Vlad's cruel acts were among
the first bestsellers in the German-speaking territories. In Russia, popular stories
suggested that Vlad was able to strengthen central government only through applying
brutal punishments, and a similar view was adopted by most Romanian historians in the
19th century. Vlad's reputation for cruelty and his patronymic inspired the name of
the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.