Son of Prince Vladislav II Dracul and Princess Cneajna, was born in Sighisoara Transylvania in December of 1431 and died near Bucharest in December of 1476. Vladislav lived his early life in the court of his father, Vladislav II Dracul (the Dragon) until the age of either eleven or twelve when his father was taken prisoner of the Turks and Vlad and his younger seven year old brother, future Prince and vassel of the Turks, Radu III the Handsome, were taken away from him. They became the Turks prisoners for many years and it was there, as a prisoner of the Turks, that Vlad began to evolve the sadistic and cruel behavior that he had become known for. He was tutored by the Sultan's teachers the language and customs of their religion, Islam, amongst other subjects. He learned alongside the Sultan's son, Mehmed II, for years and had learned his future advisary well. He learned a great deal of the Turks military tactics and fighting methods, including impaling people onto long stakes, which he later became most famous for. As he learned the torture methods of the Turks, some mild forms were being done onto him because of his impulsive behaviour, such as needles under the fingernails. His brother, on the other hand, endured tortures that left him physically and mentally scarred for life. Because of Radu's shyness and good looks, the Sultan and his court brought it upon themselves to molest poor Radu, including both males and females, and also including Mehmed. the Sultan's own son whom consitantly thought of him as a secret lover. Vladislav, an awkward looking boy, was lucky enough not to endure the same fates as his brother.
The home of Prince Vladislav in Sighisoara where he grew up his first young years. Now it is a restaurant and bar.
Vladislav became Prince of Wallachia in November of 1448 to December of 1448, barely two months, under the control of the Turks. He was replaced as Prince by Vladislav II Danesti after the combined army of Hungarians, Serbs, Albanians, Wallachians and so forth drove out the Turks. Vlad didn't return with them but fled to Moldavia to live with Prince Bogdan II, his uncle, and with his cousin, the future Prince Stephen the Great, until October of 1451. In Augest of 1456, Vlad began his second, longest and most important reign, which lasted until 1462, ending only because the Hungarian King, Matthias Corvinus, took him prisoner. Those next twelve years he remained prisoner of King Matthias while his younger brother, Radu, became Prince of Wallachia backed by the Turks. In 1474, Vlad was released after his brother had died of syphilis and until 1476, with the help of King Matthias, fought to regain the throne once more. Radu's replacement was Basarab III Laiota, a family enemy of Vlad's. Vlad did manage to regain the throne from Basarab in November of 1476, but remained Prince until his death in December of 1476.
His death, it is said, happened near the city of Bucharest. He was stabbed from behind in the back by a Turkish spy dressed like one of his men. The spy then dragged his body, in the dark, to a swamp near the monastery Snagov, and from there decapitated him. He then brought the head of Vladislav back to Constantinople where it was displayed in front of the Sultan and carried through the streets to show that Kaziglu Bey (Impaler Prince) was dead. A monk at Snagov happened upon the body of Vlad in the swamp and recognizing it by the clothes who it was, dragged it to the monastery to bury him in the floor near the altar of the monastery. Where his body lays now is uncertain since many of the graves at Snagov had been disturbed and destroyed during its many years of neglect.
The island monastery known as Snagov, where Prince Vladislav Tepes was buried. The monastery used to, at one time, cover the entire island and under Prince Vlad, was built up like a fortress. All that remains is the small chapel in which his body was laid to rest.
Vladislav had become known in his time as Tepes (pronounced tse-pesh), meaning 'the Impaler' because of his consitant use of the method. Only later towards the end of his life did he aquire the nickname Dracula (pronounced drah-coo-lah), which means 'son of the dragon'. His father became known as Dracul after his induction into the Order of the Dragon. Vlad began to use the nickname Dracula towards the end of his life, a document still survives where he had actually signed himself 'Wladislaus Dragwlya'.
Impalement was a favorite torture method of the Wallachian Prince.
Vlad was best known for his torturing that he had brought upon the people of his time. He tortured not only Turks, but Germans, Hungarians, and Wallachians. No one was exempt, if you did what he thought disagreeable, you were impaled on the spot. But not only did he impale, he also did other forms of torture, some he carried out himself or had his soldiars, guards or servants carry out the gruesome deeds. He had the children of pregnant women removed from their wombs in which he had boiled them and made the mothers eat their own children. He also cut off the breasts of wives and made their husbands eat them. He boiled people alive, chopped their heads and other body parts off while he feasted, he burned people alive in masses and individually and so on. But he was most famous for his impaling in which he used differant size and length stakes and used them in differant positions. His most famous of all impalings was his 'Forest of the Impaled', in which he had lined up outside his palace of Tirgoviste about 20,000 carcasses of Turkish captives on varying lengths of stakes and in various stages of decay strung along a mile or so in a picket fence-like fashion.
Prince Vladislav's castle on the Arges River, also called Poenari.
Despite these atrocities and even more, Vlad did have somewhat of a love life. Vlad had met a mistress in secret, so secret that there is no mention of her name. But she did bore him a child in 1458, the child's name was Mihail, later in his life known as Mihnea the Bad. In 1462, there was an episode at his castle on the Arges river, also known as Poenari, where his mistress flung herself from the high tower of the castle down into the river below after receiving a letter concerning an oncoming attack to the castle in the morning. It's not known whether this was the same mistress that bore Vlad's child or not, but it is possible that he could have seeked the company of two different women before he had married his wife Ilona Szilagy, the cousin of King Matthias Corvinus. They met while he was the King's prisoner, married in 1474 and had two son's, neither of which there is much mention. His second son, the first with Ilona, was named Vladislav IV and may of had the epithet Tepelus (pronounced Tse-pe-loosh) meaning 'little impaler'. He in turn had a son named Ladislaus. Vlad's third child, second to Ilona, was named Mircea, but died at a young age. Mihail later became Prince of Wallachia from April 1508 to October 1509, but like his father, he had a strong and impulsive personality and fell into conflicts with boyars. He was assassinated, like his father, from a stab wound in the back.
Want to learn more? Read these books from authors Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T.McNalley-
Dracula- Prince of Many Faces
In Search of Dracula
Dracula- A Biograghy of Vlad the Impaler, 1431-1476
The crest for the Order of the Dragon.