Vlad the Impaler - 1431-1476. Voivode of Wallachia.
Vlad III was born in Sighișoara, Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (Romania), 1431. His father was Vlad II Dracul, future Voivode of Wallachia, and his mother was unknown. He had two older half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad Călugărul, and a younger brother, Radu III the Handsome.
During the reign of their father, Vlad II brought his young sons to Târgoviște, the capital of Wallachia at that time. Vlad is believed to have learned combat skills, geography, mathematics, science, languages, and the classical arts and philosophy.
Vlad II was assassinated in 1447. The throne of Wallachia was taken by the boyars, the same people who had killed Vlad II. Vlad III, still a teenager, defeated the boyars with help of Turkish cavalry and took back the throne. In 1569, following an Easter Sunday feast, Vlad Dracula had all the boyar families who had been attending arrested. Those who were in good health were condemned to a life of slavery, and put to work on the construction of his Poenari Castle on the Arges river. Those who were old and weak were impaled for all to see.
Vlad abhorred weakness of any kind, and was determined to be the ruler of a Kingdom which would only be host to the rich and powerful. Vlad decided to cleanse his Kingdom of those he considered to be lazy and unproductive, suffered from illness, handicap, or born in poverty. He decreed that no one should go hungry in his Kingdom, and invited all the poor, unfortunate souls to a banquet in the great hall in Tirgoviste. Once he felt his “guests” had been well fed, Vlad made his appearance, asking them how they would enjoy never having to feel the pain of hunger ever again, or if they wished to never have to worry about anything ever again, to be without a care in the world. Of course, their reply was enthusiastic, so he obliged, ordering his men to board up the hall, which was then set ablaze. No one escaped. Vlad Dracula’s treatment of his own subjects paled in comparison to the atrocities he committed against his enemies, and any who opposed him. On St. Bartholomew’s Day, he impaled 30,000 merchants for disobeying trade laws, and left their bodies to rot outside the city walls.
There are rumours that Vlad also ate the flesh, and drank the blood of his enemies, often holding dinner parties next to the freshly impaled. During his reign, Vlad Dracula also had people decapitated, had their eyes gouged out, had them skinned alive, boiled, burnt, dismembered, eviscerated, or sometimes just physically disfigured for his own amusement.
He was often at war, usually with the Ottomans, however, he was assassinated in 1476. The exact location of his death is unknown, but it would have been somewhere along the road between Bucharest and Giurgiu. Vlad’s head was taken to Constantinople as a trophy, and his body was buried unceremoniously by his rival, Basarab Laiota, possibly at Comana, a monastery founded by Vlad in 1461.