Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes, is one of the greatest and more interesting figures from history. Vlad III was likely born in a fortress named Sughisiara, in Romania in 1431. He was the son of Vlad II, also known as Vlad Dracul as he was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a Christian military order.
He was the governor of Wallachia, which was a significant place as it was all that separated the Ottoman Empire from Hungary and the whole of the Christian kingdoms.
Vlad III supported the Ottoman Empire and in 1442 after a “diplomatic meeting” with Sultan Murad III he and two of his sons, Vlad and Radu, were taken as hostages. Vlad II was released, but his sons were kept there as a guarantee that he would support the Turks’ cause.
Vlad and Radu were well treated and were tutored in the ways of the nobles. Vlad II and his other son were not so lucky. As a consequence of an old feud about who should rule, he was killed, and his son was buried alive after being tortured and blinded.
Shortly after, in 1448, Vlad III was released and went back to Wallachia to take back his rightful seat. He succeeded, but his success did not last long. He disappeared for some time only to return in 1456. He abandoned the Ottoman cause and joined the Hungarian one, although only after he received military support from the king. This time he got the governor seat for a longer period.
He was an excellent military leader and was victorious in every battle he led against the Ottoman incursions and the internal riots.
He was celebrated by a lot of people, including Pope Pius II, who held him in high regard. Although he was a good leader and is remembered to this day (mostly in Romania), he gained his reputation by a lot of blood-shedding. That is also how he acquired his name.
To bring internal peace to Wallachia, he invited all the local warlords to a banquet, then after it was over he had them all stabbed and impaled. It is important to emphasize that the people who were impaled suffered quite a lot. It could take days for them to die, especially if rounded poles were used instead of sharp ones to prevent internal damage.
Another famous story is when some Turkish diplomatic envoys went to him to claim their tribute, which consisted both of money and people, that he refused to pay. When they would not take off their turbans before him as an act of respect, he had them nailed to their heads.
One of his most renown victories was the Night Attack. The Sultan Mehmed II attacked Wallachia in 1462, and Vlad III attacked the Turkish camp and tried to kill the Sultan. He failed, but he won the battle. When Mehmed marched to Targoviste, the capital of Wallachia, he found 20,000 impaled Turks and retreated.
All in all, it is believed that he had more than 80,000 people impaled, but in doing so, he gained order and stability in his kingdom and kept the Turks in line while he ruled.
In 1462 he was exiled by Mehmet and only returned to his seat in 1475. He was killed shortly after in an ambush while marching to battle. Some say he was beheaded and that his head was taken to Mehmed who had it displayed on the city gates, but probably he was buried by monks in a monastery named Comana, which was founded by Vlad.