Who really was Vlad III Tepes, nicknamed the Impaler and inspiration for the myth of Dracula?


The little-known story of Vlad III Tepes, the Prince of Wallachia

The education of Vlad III Tepes

Vlad III Tepes was born in 1428 in Sighișoara, in the kingdom of present-day Hungary. Educated at the royal court of King Sigismund of Luxembourg, Vlad was already well versed in the art of war and diplomacy when he ascended the throne of Wallachia in 1448.


Vlad and his brother Radu were held hostage by Sultan Murad II for several years. This period had a significant impact on the life of Vlad III, determining his approach to politics and his military strategy which would later become decisive.

The reign of Vlad III Tepes

When Vlad III took power for the second time in 1456, he undertook an abrupt series of economic, judicial and military reforms aimed at strengthening Wallachia in the face of pressure from neighboring powers, notably the Ottoman Empire.

His controversial methods

Vlad III is best known for using the extreme method of impalement to ensure order and discipline in his kingdom. Although he was uncontrollably brutal, these decisions were motivated by a desire to stabilize and defend his kingdom.

The death of Vlad III Tepes

The death of Vlad III Tepes remains a mystery. Some claim he died in battle in 1476, while others maintain he was murdered by his own men.

Conclusion: Who really was Vlad III Tepes?

Vlad III Tepes is often reduced to a bloodthirsty monster, a caricature that gave rise to the myth of Dracula. However, a closer look at his life and reign shows a determined leader, willing to take drastic measures to defend his kingdom.
It is this reality which hides behind the myth, and which highlights an often overlooked historical figure: Vlad III Tepes, the Prince of Wallachia.

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Vlad the Impaler: a terrifying figure in Romanian history

Vlad III Tepes: an introduction to the man behind the myth

Over the centuries, history has been marked by singular and controversial personalities. Among these prestigious names, that of Vlad III Tepes continues to inspire fear and intrigue. Known for his bloody and vigilante reign in Wallachia (a historical territory located in present-day Romania), he is often associated with the image of the vampire thanks to Bram Stoker and his famous novel, Dracula.

Vlad the Impaler’s rise to power

Born in 1431, Vlad III Tepes is the son of Vlad II Dracul. His nickname, Tepes, means “The Impaler” in Romanian, a title he inherited thanks to his favored method of execution. Despite his reputation for cruelty, many Romanians still consider him a hero for his fierce defense of his territory against Ottoman invaders.

A reign of terror and controversy

During his reign, Vlad III Tepes implemented a series of brutal policies aimed at maintaining order and defending its territory. He earned a reputation for cruelty by impaling his enemies, a particularly sadistic method of execution. Despite his reign of terror, he remains a source of fascination for his ruthless handling of justice and his fierce resistance to Ottoman rule.

The posterity of Vlad the Impaler

Despite the brutality of his reign, Vlad III Tepes left a lasting mark on Romanian history. For many, he embodies the definition of a strong and fearless leader, willing to do anything to defend his people. However, the popular image of Vlad in the West is that created by Bram Stoker, where he is portrayed as the sinister Count Dracula, one of the most iconic figures in horror folklore.

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The bloody deeds of Vlad III Tepes that inspired the myth of Dracula

The emblematic figure of Vlad III Tepes, also known as “The Impaler”, shaped the popular imagination to the point of giving birth to the mythical vampire Dracula. As for his life, it was characterized by incredible acts of cruelty and violence.

Vlad III Tepes: A Reign Marked by Terror

Ascended to the throne of Wallachia in the middle of the 15th century, Vlad III Tepes reigned in a climate of instability and perpetual violence. Gifted with unparalleled cruelty, he resorted to methods of torture and public executions to establish order. Among them, impalement, which would consist of piercing the victim right through with a pike, was his favorite. This practice, of inconceivable violence, earned him his nickname “The Impaler”.

Bloody Deeds of Vlad III Tepes

One of the most famous incidents relates that Vlad is said to have impaled some 20,000 people in one go, then leaving the bodies as a spectacle to frighten his enemies. Another story mentions a dark banquet, during which he had several hundred nobles and their families murdered, before having them impaled in front of him while he continued to feast.

Influence in Literature: From Vlad to Dracula

The bloodthirsty and horrifying behavior of Vlad III Tepes soon became mixed with local legends of creatures of the night, giving birth to the character of Dracula. Indeed, the writer Bram Stoker was largely inspired by these stories to create the character of the vampire Count Dracula, whose eponymous novel was first published in 1897.

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While many legends have embellished reality, the life of Vlad III Tepes was indeed marked by acts of cruelty and bloodshed. A real monarch of terror who, associated with local folk legends, gave birth to one of the most iconic and terrifying characters in horror literature: Dracula.

Fiction versus reality: how Vlad III became Dracula

Introduction: The myth and the man

Dracula, the emblematic character of Bram Stoker’s novel, has become an essential figure in popular culture. But behind this fictional character hides a man of flesh and blood: Vlad III Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler. This 15th-century Romanian prince is considered a national hero in Romania, while in other cultures he is seen as a ruthless monster.

Vlad III Tepes: A controversial reign

Vlad III Tepes ascended the throne of Wallachia, a region of modern Romania, after a period of intense conflict. His reign was marked by a series of military campaigns, political purges and a particularly brutal method of execution: impalement.

From Vlad the Impaler to Dracula: The influence of Bram Stoker

Published in 1897, Bram Stoker’s novel contributed greatly to the association of Vlad III Tepes with the character of Dracula. Yet this association is largely based on misunderstandings and exaggerations. Unlike the supernatural creature in the novel, Vlad III Tepes was very human.

Conclusion: The reality behind the myth

Ultimately, Vlad III Tepes was neither the monster that Bram Stoker portrayed nor the hero that Romania celebrates. He was a complex ruler, whose reign was rich in conflict and controversy. He continues to intrigue and fascinate, centuries after his death. The truth about Vlad III Tepes is more nuanced than the black and white of Stoker’s novel.

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