Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Holy Shit, Dracula!

Vlad III Dracula

When you get one of the most infamous monsters in all of storytelling named after you, you know you've done something right. Or wrong. Depends on how you respond to the whole "No such thing as bad publicity" adage. Posthumously. Very posthumously.


I shouldn't be getting off track this early.

Vlad III "Motherfucking" Țepeș was a Voivode (warlord) of Wallachia back around the time when the Byzantine Empire finally had enough with being the legacy of old Rome and rebelled via being utterly vanquished by the Ottomans. Wallachia, being a nearby neighbor of Constantinople, had its own problems with potential Ottoman invasion. Vlad's father, Vlad II, dealt with this threat pragmatically.

That is to say, he allied himself with Ottoman Empire, paid them tribute, sent his sons to them as hostages, and in return was installed as Voivode of Wallachia.This is after he joined a chivalric order called The Order of the Dragon, which was dedicated to fighting the "enemies of Christianity" -- chief among which were the Turks themselves.
White Flag
The best defense is a good mewling surrender.

As an aside: the Romanian word for "Dragon" is "Drac." Vlad II's association with The Order of the Dragon earned him the name "Vlad Dracul," or "Vlad the Dragon." I think you know where this is headed. Adding an "-a" to the end of a name makes it patronymic in this context. So Vlad III was also known as "Son of the Dragon," or "Dracula."

Vlad III's younger brother Radu got along famously with the Ottomans, and ended up converting to Islam. Vlad...not so much. He was constantly at odds with his captors, which meant he was constantly punished. This did nothing to improve the relationship. Eventually, his father and older brother were both killed, and Wallachia was taken over by a rival faction. The Ottomans' solution to this little problem was to install Dracula as Voivode.
Shit blowing up.
Which went thusly.

This didn't work out so well. First, because he was immediately overthrown. Then he came back and described to the usurpers all the vicious fantasies he had about just...straight up destroying Turks. And that pleased them enough to make him Voivode again. When Sultan Mehmed II sent envoys to his childhood playmate, Dracula responded by saying, "Hey, envoys, you didn't tip your hats to me when you came in. You must really like those turbans." Then he had their turbans nailed into their heads.

The Sultan was understandably a bit miffed by this turn of events. He sent an army under Hamza Bey to "make peace" with Wallachia and "remove" Vlad III if necessary. Vlad apparently caught Bey sleepin', though, and launched a surprise attack that killed or captured almost every single man under Hamza Bey's command. Then Vlad went to work earning the epithet Țepeș, or "the Impaler."

And boy howdy, did he ever work hard to earn it. The more squeamish readers might want to go ahead and stop here. It's about to get graphic up in this blog.

See, impalement is one of those execution methods that isn't meant to just kill you. It's meant to keep you alive until you really, really want to die. They'd grease a stake, stick you on it (and I'm gonna let you use your imagination as to where exactly they put you), and try to avoid rupturing any of your internal organs. In that way, you could live up to eight excruciating days in blinding, horrific pain before you finally died.

Vlad did this to about 1,000 of Hamza Bey's men, and to Hamza Bey himself. Then he brought small bands with him and, using the fluent Turkish language and customs he learned in his youth, waltzed into various Ottoman camps and put everyone within them to the sword. Or the stake.
Vlad Tepes and Impaled People
While Vlad treated himself to the steak.

Mehmed was displeased. He sent an army of almost 100,000 men in retribution, which Vlad the Impaler proceeded to dismantle and impale little by little over a series of stunning victories. Finally, it became too much. He was out of money, his mercenaries abandoned him, and he fled to Hungary where a rival imprisoned him.

For about a dozen years. Then he went back to Wallachia and took over again. Can't keep Dracula down. Or rather, you can. You just have to finally defeat him in battle to do it. Which is what happened about two months into his reign. The Turks brought his head back to Constantinople and everyone in the Ottoman empire changed their underpants and hoped no one like that would rise to power in the Balkans again.

Several hundred years later, an old writer named Bram Stoker was working on a vampire novel and came upon a tome that detailed some of the nastier figures in history. Vlad III Dracula turned out to be a perfect fit for the main villain, and the rest is pop culture history.
Bela Lugosi as Dracula
He's missing some of that Wallachian charm.

Holy shit.

No comments:

Post a Comment