Count Dracula is synonymous with Halloween. The world’s most famous bloodsucker and legendary vampire has inspired more fear than almost any other supernatural villain in modern history, as well as scary movies, TV shows and books. In fact, Dracula was himself a work of fiction, or was he? Author Bram Stoker brought him to life in his 1897 novel “Dracula.”
But Stoker’s “Dracula” was actually based on a real-life, blood-thirsty monster, even more frightening than the fictional Dracula, a man known as Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad III, the Prince of Wallachia, which is now part of modern-day Romania, was born in Transylvania in 1431. His father Vlad II was given the surname Dracul, which means dragon in Romanian, according to History.com. Vlad the III was known as Dracula or the son of Dracul. Later, he was also known as Vlad Tepes or impaler for his favorite way of dealing with his enemies.
Some historians say Vlad developed his taste for blood while being held hostage by the Ottoman Turks for five years, beginning in 1442 when his hatred for the Ottomans began festering. He was left with the Turks for five years as collateral by his father, who needed military support from them.
Vlad the Impaler became King of Wallachia after his father and older brother were brutally killed in 1447, History.com reported, and Dracula ascended to the throne in 1456. Historians said Vlad maintained his iron-fisted rule on Wallachia through “torture, mutilation and mass murder, according to Britannica.com.
Vlad Tepes killed his enemies and the people of his kingdom who displeased him in the most terrifying ways imaginable: beheadings, disembowelment, boiled or skinned alive.
A bust of Vlad Tepes, the 15th-century ruler of Wallachia also known as Vlad the Impaler, stands in the Curtea Veche archaeological site in the Old Town Lipscani district on September 6, 2013 in Bucharest, Romania. While the country's economic output has risen significantly since it joined the European Union in 2007, it still lags in infrastructure development and the fight against corruption. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
But he earned his barbaric nickname after one of the worst mass killings of the time. When at war with the Ottomans in 1462, he ordered 20,000 captured Turks impaled on wooden stakes, in an act of such stunning brutality that it caused the Turks leader to retreat from the battlefield.
It’s believed the real-life Dracula was eventually killed years later in another battle against the Ottomans, but Vlad the Impaler’s name has lived on in infamy and fear over the many tortuous deeds he perpetrated in his lifetime.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.