Vlad Dracul

Vlad Dracul (1390?–1447)

(pop culture)

Vlad Dracul was the father of Vlad the Impaler (1431–1476), the person who has been identified as the historical Dracula. He was the illegitimate son of Prince Mircea, the ruler of Wallachia, that area of present-day Romania south of the Carpathian Mountains. His mother might have been Princess Mara of the Tomaj family of Hungary. He possibly spent a period of his youth at the court of Sigismund I of Luxembourg, the king of Hungary, as a token of faithfulness of Mircea’s alliance with Sigismund. Thus, Vlad might have grown up in Buda and in locations in Germany. He married and had a son, also named Mircea. In 1430 Vlad appeared in Transylvania as an official in charge of securing the Transylvanian border with Wallachia. He resided in Sighisoara, where toward the end of the year his second son, Vlad (later called Vlad the Impaler), was born. Shortly after the child’s birth, it became known that Sigismund had selected Vlad as his candidate to rule Wallachia. Vlad was invited to Nüremberg to be invested by the Order of the Dragon (Sigismund had founded the order in 1418), which had a variety of goals, among them to fight Islam. Now bearing the title of prince of Wallachia, he was unable to secure the throne. He eventually created a powerful alliance by marrying Eupraxia, the sister of the ruler of Moldavia, as a second wife. In 1436 he was finally able to secure the Wallachian throne, and in the winter of 1436–37 he moved to Tirgoviste, the Wallachian capital. He had three other children: Radu, another son also named Vlad (commonly referred to as Vlad the Monk), and another son named Mircea.

In 1437, following the death of Sigismund, Vlad Dracul signed an alliance with the Turks. In March 1442 he allowed Mezid-Bey to pass through Wallachia and attack Transylvania. However, the Turkish army was defeated and the Hungarian army pursued Mezid-Bey back through Wallachia and drove Vlad Dracul from the throne in the process. He took refuge among the Turks, with whose help he regained the throne the following year. To secure the new relationship, Vlad Dracul left two sons, Vlad and Radu, in Turkish hands. Then, in 1444, Hungary moved against the Turks. Vlad Dracul, attempting to keep his pledge to the sultan but also aware of his obligations to the Christian community, sent a small contingent to assist the Hungarian forces. They met with a resounding defeat, which Vlad Dracul and his son Mircea blamed on John Hunyadi, the governor of Hungary. In 1447 Hunyadi led a war against Vlad. The decisive battle was fought near Tirgoviste, and as a result Vlad was killed and Mircea captured by the Romanian boyars (the ruling elite) and tortured and killed. The year after Vlad Dracul’s death, his son Vlad Dracula (“son of Dracul”) attempted to assume his throne. He was unable to do so until 1456. Soon after becoming prince of Wallachia, he avenged the death of his father and brother.

Sources:

Florescu, Radu, and Raymond T. McNally. Dracula: A Biography of Vlad the Impaler, I4I3–I476. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973. 239 pp.
———. Dracula: Prince of Many Faces: His Life and Times. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989. 261 pp.
McNally, Raymond T., and Radu Florescu. In Search of Dracula. 1972. Rept. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1973. 247 pp.
Treptow, Kurt W., ed. Dracula: Essays on the Life and Times of Vlad Tepes. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 336 pp.
Trow, M. J. Vlad the Impaler: In Search of Dracula. Thrupp, Shroud, Gloucs., UK: Sutton Publishing, 2003. 280 pp.