Skip to main content

Vlad the Impaler

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

A warning to students using this article as a source: there is some dispute about the views expressed in here. You should make sure you read the comments to get a flavour of the argument. If you feel you need to disagree, please feel free to leave a comment.


The Golden Cup

I guess most of you will have heard of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, also known as Vlad Tepes. One of his titles was Dracula, and he was probably the original for the central character in Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. He must have been one of the most evil people ever to have existed.

He is Romania’s most famous historical figure.

“Tepes” means “Impaler”. He got his name because impaling was his preferred method of execution. This is how it was done. The victim had his legs yanked apart, by horses attached to ropes, and then a sharpened stake about the size of a fist was inserted between the buttocks, up the anus. The stake was greased with pig-fat to allow ease of inserting, and to stop the body shock that might cause the victim to die too quickly. It was then pushed carefully through the body parallel with the spine so as not to puncture or damage any of the major organs. The impaled person was then lifted above the ground and staked into position where he would die slowly, probably over several days. Sometimes the stake was only partially inserted so that the force of gravity could be allowed to do its work, driving the stake through the body millimetre by millimetre, as the body slowly grazed its way down the stake, until it emerged out of the body, through the mouth or the upper chest cavity, and the victim died in writhing agony.

That “pig-fat” detail is particularly telling. It shows the care that Vlad took not to damage anything too much at first, so as to prolong the process. Greasing up the stake obviously eased the insertion somewhat, allowing for a more leisurely death.

This must be the most horrific death ever devised by anybody, worse than crucifixion even. It’s not only that the person dies slowly, in great agony. What is worse is the idea that the person has this alien object, this stake with its rough bark and splinters, running through their body, which they can feel from the inside, and that they will drift in and out of consciousness, always returning to this awful sensation, always awakening to the full horror of their predicament, with death as the only solace.

Imagine it, to wake from the restful state of sleep, emerging from that blissful unconsciousness, into this: this knowledge, this terror, this pain, this stench, this awful realisation, with this alien object rubbing up against your inner organs, your heart and lungs and liver, knowing that you must soon be dead, that these will be the only sensations left to you before you exit this world.

The peculiar thing is that the Romanian people are proud of him. He is seen as a great patriot in that he defeated the Ottoman Turks, and attained a brief independence for Wallachia, where he ruled. It probably helps that his main victims were Turks, Saxons and Hungarians, but he was not averse to staking up a few Romanians too, when he was in the mood. And indeed, there is a weird kind of moral certainty about him, an insistence on fair trade and honesty and an imposition, by these gruesome punishments, of a strict moral and legal code. Not many people were willing to break the law under Vlad’s watchful regime.

There is one story which perhaps gives you the psychology of all of this. It is that Vlad left a golden cup in the central square of Tirgoviste, the capital, and so feared was he, so far did his rule extend, that that cup remained untouched throughout his reign. No one dared steal it. And you can imagine this, too: the extent of Vlad’s all-encompassing control, reaching into every home, every heart, every mind, in the form of a golden cup, symbol of his reign, which no one dares to touch. This, it seems to me, is true psychopathic terror. You can imagine the satisfaction he would feel, even in the confines of his remote castle, to know that this cup was there, accessible, but unmolested, in a public place. That cup would have been like an eye in every citizen’s heart. Every time people passed it, they would know. Vlad is there. He is watching. He knows what we think.



The name “Dracula” is from “Drac” meaning dragon; “ul” is the definite article, and the “a” ending means “son of”. So Dracula means, “the son of the dragon”. The Dragon is a reference to membership of the Order of the Dragon, to which his father belonged, and Vlad’s coinage had a dragon on the reverse.

It is also a Romanian vernacular term meaning devil or demon, which is appropriate enough too for Vlad.

As to whether he was ever a vampire as such, this is a matter of speculation. What is true, certainly, is that he drew special pleasure from the suffering of his victims, that he would happily dine amongst fields of the dead and dying and that, perhaps, this was a source of psychic strength to him. Is it possible to drink the suffering of the dying, to suck up the agony of their souls, knowing you are the creator of their torture, their unbelievable pain? Maybe. Maybe Vlad was some form of a psychic vampire.

But here is the story that most betrays the full horror of Vlad’s peculiar form of vampirism. It was not only that he liked to eat amongst the dead and the dying, or that he appeared to enjoy the suffering of his victims. There is one other detail which brings to light the full extent of Vlad’s ripe insanity. You see he didn’t like to eat alone. He liked to have someone to talk to as he ate. Maybe he distrusted his ministers. Maybe he knew that they were afraid of him and that he was unlikely to hear the truth from their lips. He had no friends. Thus he was in the habit of having someone impaled directly in front of his dinner table, so that he could talk to them as he ate and they were dying.



Imagine that.

And you have to wonder, also, what those conversations must have been like. Vlad there, at table, tucking into his meat and drink, pulling the flesh from the bone with greasy fingers, while his helpless victim is perched in front of him, impaled like a kebab on a stick, moaning in grief and pain: what possible conversations could they have had?

Scroll to Continue

So many were his victims that it was doubtful he would know immediately who it was in front of him. Or perhaps, being a precise sort of a ruler, he would have asked his henchmen to find out the name of the person beforehand. Perhaps he would also know the crime. So he could begin the conversation either by asking the name of the victim, or by addressing him by name. Either way, there would be a grim kind of intimacy in his tone, almost a note of concern.

Maybe he would enquire after the person’s health?

“I hope you have learned your lesson,” he might say, as if the whole gruesome business was really just the equivalent of a smart smack across the thighs: as if impaling people had a purpose beyond the sense of power it gave him.

He might ask after the victim’s wife and children. What were their names? What were their hobbies? Did they enjoy sports?

Perhaps he would philosophise with his unwilling guest, pondering the meaning of life.

“You know, I was just thinking the other day how short life is really. You live, you die, and then it’s all over. I wonder what it all can mean?”

Of course the beauty of such conversation is that the other person wouldn’t really be able to answer back. He might give out the occasional groan, the odd croak. Certainly little more than animal noises. But then, I imagine, Vlad would have to acknowledge such sounds. After all, what’s the point of a one-sided conversation?

“Good point,” he might say after one guttural bellow of anguish. “Yes, I too believe that life has some meaning, some purpose. As for myself,” he might add, while picking his teeth after his meal, “I think that my purpose is to bring moral certainty to the world. Yes it is a harsh punishment I have inflicted upon you, but think of it this way: you are acting as a lesson for the whole country, and by your death I have brought honesty and moral integrity back into our small state of Wallachia, for who, now, will do as you have done? Who, now will cheat the foreign merchant of his gold or beg or take money from the widow-woman? Who will be slack or lazy in his work, or shirk his duty? You see what good you have done by your death? You have made our world a better place.”

And on and on like this, expounding his philosophy at great length, before, finally, wiping his hands on a cloth and taking his leave.

“Yes, thank you for an interesting and stimulating debate. There is much to ponder here, I think. And now I will leave you to your death. God have mercy upon your soul!”


Bran Castle, Transylvania

Actually, on reflection, I think that Vlad would know precisely who his victim was. He would have the details of their crimes before him, on parchment, to be read out to them, to remind them of why they were there. He demanded that his people be honest and hard working. Merchants who cheated their customers sometimes found themselves mounted on a stake besides members of the lower orders.

As I say, Romanians regard Vlad as a culture hero. They have a sort of admiration for the character, for his decisiveness, and for his energy in action. Talk to a Romanian about Vlad and you will often hear the phrase, “yes, but in the context of the time”: meaning that the age in which he lived was brutal. And yet it is a measure of Vlad’s extreme brutality that, even in the context of the time, when violence and murder abounded, and where vicious punishments were the norm, the particular horror of Vlad the Impaler was recognised by everyone.

It was the late 1400s, and the printing press had just been invented. The story of Vlad appeared shortly after his death almost simultaneously in Germany and in Russia as a popular chapbook, and was read throughout Europe for the next sixty years or so. In this sense, Vlad was the original horror-comic character. The printed story was published with suitable woodcuts of people with oddly serene faces staked up in fields while butchers with knives and axes chopped up human remains and Vlad ate his lunch.

So it was in the beautiful mountains of Transylvania that Vlad’s victims had been staked, sometimes in their thousands, in huge displays of mass torture referred to as “the forests of the impaled.” Whole cities had been impaled just to teach some moral lesson.

And there were nice comic-horror touches too, to all this grim nastiness. Like the famous story of the guest at one of his mass stake-outs, who showed a certain prim disgust at having to eat amongst all the stench of decaying flesh. Vlad felt such sympathy for his sensitivities that he had him staked a little higher than all the rest - once he had been impaled for his impudence - so as not to offend the man’s delicate nose.

He clearly had a sense of humour.

When I first heard about Vlad I had a genuine feeling of horror and revulsion. I think it was the addition of the detail about the pig-fat that did it for me. I couldn’t help imagining the greased up stake entering my own nether regions, pushing up into my innards, being driven through my own body, and being lodged there amongst my own vital organs.

History, though, has a way of filtering out its own worst excesses. So Vlad’s tale comes to us via medieval chapbooks - popular horror stories of their day - through arcane vampire lore and 18th century vampire tales, to Bram Stoker, who used the name for his character and the location as a setting for his most famous book. And after this we have vampire films with Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee in the starring role, or other famous actors playing the part, starting off as horror and ending as camp theatrics. And then we have all sorts of popular cultural accretions, vampire masks and vampire teeth and vampire cloaks as a bit of fun for Halloween. And then somehow, by some strange circular historical and cultural logic, all of this returns to the home of Vlad the Impaler himself, to Bran Castle in Transylvania, where there is a picturesque medieval castle which had little to do with Vlad when he was alive, but which was the location for the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman (one of the better excursions into the genre) and where there is a market selling all this Halloween tat, witch’s hats and devil’s horns, along with all the vampire gear, including two spectacularly badly translated pamphlets on Vlad, from which I got most of the previous information.

I mean: how do you account for this?

Poor Vlad must be turning in his grave (assuming he has a grave and isn’t actually one of the undead) to have his monstrous sadism turned into a parlour game for children.

Not that you can blame anyone for cashing in on the Dracula market.

It’s what I’m doing here.

More about Romania by CJ Stone


© 2008 Christopher James Stone


Alexandra on May 10, 2014:

CJStone, you make an interesting argument. I agree that Vlad had rather unorthodox and controversial ways of dealing with his enemies. I also do not doubt that he was a bit of a psychopath.

However, you must keep in mind that all these records that describe all the devilish things that Vlad did could be and are indeed probably biased.

The reason for this is that these accounts were most likely written by boyars. Boyars were what one can attribute to the upper class. There was great hatred between the boyars and Vlad. Like in every other part of the world, only the rich and noble had access to education, and therefore writing an reading. So, if the boyars were the only ones who knew how to read and write, and they hated Vlad with a passion, would it really surprise you if all their accounts on him were horrible and sadistic?

As to the reason why the locals see Vlad as a hero, it is probably because the peasants loved Vlad for protecting them and persecuting the rich, but of course their accounts were not published for they did not know how to write.

As you probably already know, Vlad was very distrustful, and was often paranoid about being betrayed. But how could he not be, when his own father had given him and his brother to the Turks as a show of peace?

To make matters worse, both he and his brother, in their young years, were sexually molested by their imprisoners. With such a ghastly childhood, it is not surprising that he would grow to have some mental problems.

Mr. Happy also brought up a valid point. Vlad always had a reason, if with fluctuating validity, as to why he impaled people. He impaled the boyars for their disloyalty to his father. He impaled criminals for neglecting his law. There is no written record of Vlad's that states that he enjoyed watching people writhe on their stakes and enjoyed the sound of their many groans and croaks.

Though it may not answer your question as to why Romania sees Vlad as a hero, I can perhaps enlighten you in my own small way. We Romanians acknowledge that he was cruel and killed ruthlessly. However, we admire him because he was the last defender of Christianity in Romania, and because he brought crime to an all time low. In addition, he was able to fend off the Turks, despite their enormous size and obvious dominance. He was straightforward and probably the least politically correct leader in history.

He is a hero because he did not let Romania fuse into another population ruled and made up of Turks, and instead certified that it would have its own unique culture and legacy. We owe him our title of Romanians.

gavan Bowyer on January 26, 2014:

i like the bit about the pig fat

Asil on October 20, 2012:

Vlad is known to have impaled 20,000 people at a time-- men, women, and children. He is/was pure evil.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on May 10, 2012:

Glad you like it ata1515. You could almost take this as a sample of a successful hub since it is quite high up on the Google rankings.

There are plenty of mad Vlads out there in our world right now Chris. Half of the world's leaders take their inspiration from him, I think.

Chris Linder on April 24, 2012:

Why is it that the sadistic impalers always get the bad rap... Think about all the people he didn't have to kill because everyone was so freaked out by what he did.

A Anders from Buffalo, New York. on April 24, 2012:

Interesting hub and interesting comments. Great writing, and good historical work making a narrative from the facts!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on November 06, 2011:

Yes Petra and Mr Happy have cultural ties. Romanians think of Vlad as a culture hero. I didn't promise this would be a nice article, but for some reason people want to read this a lot more than any of my other stories. Perhaps for precisely those reasons...

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on November 06, 2011:

I had to stop reading because you were describing things a bit too well, and I got one of those rushes of hot blood to the head that makes you want to go nuts, or something.

I say Petra and Mr. Happy - who I do know, and was surprised at the tone, but then again they certainly both have cultural ties that I do not have, and so I should really start at the top of the comments and read from there....after finishing eating (LOL!) and the article.

bubba on October 08, 2011:

This is why time travel would be awesome. We could go back and apply the same form of justice to these monsters that they practiced. No doubt Vlad would then regret his deeds. No doubt he would scream in vain for forgiveness and pity even before his sphincter was stretched and snapped like a cheap rubber band.

Nils Visser from Brighton UK on September 16, 2011:

I enjoyed the article, but the discussion that follows it was even more of an enjoyable read. I'm always perplexed that people think CYBERSHOUTING and personal attacks lend weight to their arguments. I was recently called a gobby ignoramus, and wasn't all that pleased about it (the intentions being good, please don't let me be misunderstood). But after reading the above, I think I'll interpret it as an accolade and wear the badge with pride. By the by, why are people so surprised to conclude you're a perverted old man? ;-)

Artisan Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 17, 2011:

Compared to this sick sadistic twist (I've seen him profiled more than once on History Channel) today's worst vampires (including those creepy things in "Priest") are nothing!

Sranunta Lamduan from Bangkok, Thailand on August 16, 2011:

Very interesting!! Vote up!!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 16, 2011:

Thanks Szabi and Crystolite. Yes this is the usual response, and I agree, those times were stormy and Vlad needed to be strong, and it's true, the history has been given to us my his enemies, so we don't really know the truth. There are many different interpretations of this, and I'm at least pleased to have taken part in the debate.

Szabi Kovacs on August 15, 2011:

Nice hub Chris,but I think Vlad was a strong handed ruler of his people,and a warrior without mercy against his enemies...he was kill mostly the Turkish warriors,and exposed them in the hills to scary the enemy...Most of the history off the last couple of hundred or even more filled up with lies,and those times was really stormfull in that part of the word in that times,so I don`t know how much of the informations actually cover the truth...but any way is an interesting hub and was wort the effort:)

Emma from Houston TX on August 15, 2011:

Nice written hub.I enjoyed up,interesting.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

Fen, just realised what the point of the article is: it's cathartic. It's the reason why kids like to be frightened, so that they resolve their fear. You confront horror in story form and it resolves the horror. It's why we like horror films and, whatever you feel about Vlad, he is the ultimate figure of horror: more so than Bram Stoker's anaemic Dracula, because he was real. He really had the power of life or death over people and he held a whole continent in fear. That's the point.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

Thanks Wes.

Wes on August 14, 2011:

Usual fun excellent stuff. As ever, thought provoking from that particular Stone angle.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

PS and it wasn't flagged for the content, but for the links. Some of the links were a problem, but that had nothing to do with bestiality or voyeurism either, just that you could watch free TV.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

As far as I know de Sade never killed anyone and most of his books are weird fantasies rather than depictions of any kind of reality. He was a wholly different kettle of fish. As for why I wrote it: well I was intrigued. I went to Romania. I read the pamphlets, and at some point the whole lot kind of splurged out of me in the form of this hub. Not everything has to have a purpose.

fen lander from Whitstable on August 14, 2011:

Can you do something about the Marquis De Sade now? There's nothing better than having my head filled with thoughts of tortuous death on a Sunday Morning! I don't get the point of this article, what are you trying to say? Do you enjoy thinking about horrible death? I'm not surprised it was flagged. It's disgusting voyeurism, better suited to a bestiality porn-site. Some people have an appetite for this kind of depravity, but not me. Why bother?

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

Thanks Tenerife Islander. Yes I find it strange, but if you look through the comments the Romanians are all in agreement that he was a hero. I think the point was he defended Romania against the Turks, and while he was brutal, the enemy was just as brutal. Whether he took pleasure in the brutality is a matter of conjecture, but I think the sheer scale of his crimes says it all. The Romanians say that all the histories were written by his enemies, which is why we have such a poor image of him, but I welcome the fact that this hub, at least, serves as a platform for the debate.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 14, 2011:

Yes you're right Mr Happy, Vlad would have had Rumsfeld impaled. No, what I meant was, Runmsfeld would have enjoyed the freedom to impale at will, and would have employed it if he could. I look forward to reading your Dacian history. Make sure you inform me directly when it is out.

Thanks Narcy. Yes, I think that's part of the horror, that the rear end is inherently funny, yet here it being used as a method of killing someone, and in an unimaginably painful way.

Steve Andrews from Tenerife on August 14, 2011:

I have voted up for this awesome hub about a man whose extremely evil deeds are hard for us to understand, and I find it just as hard to understand why anyone would want to think highly of such a monster! on August 14, 2011:

Such a scene of impaling was included in a Maltese play, Mattew Callus, about a local dissident bothering the ruling Knights of Malta. When I saw this giant stake pushed up the skirt of this dangling actor, albeit being set in mood lighting and music, I suppressed a smile. Then they let out an enormously amplified scream in surround sound that froze me stiff in the sudden blackout. That's when I realised such things are not funny at all; pig-fat grease or not.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 13, 2011:

lol I am not suggesting any similarity between Rumsfeld and Vlad Tepes. I found the comparison to be strange. Vlad Tepes would have had Rumsfeld impaled ... lol I would probably agree ...

We do speak a form of Latin. You would have to look at what Emperor Traian's personal doctor (T. Statilius Crito) wrote about the Dacian people and of course, the Greeks. From what I know, when the Romans reached Dacia, they were surprised to find there, a people with a similar language. They understood each other. That was somewhat strange due to the fact that all the other tribes either to the west or to the east, had languages which had nothing in common with that of the Romans.

The Dacians incorporated a lot of characteristics from Asian tribes and people as well. For example, the city which is now known as Constanta (on the Black Sea), is said to have been founded by a Persian Queen? (I think she was Persian to some extent) by the name of Tomi or Tomis , around 600BC. Thus, there was a great Scythian influence but nonetheless, we remained who we are: Dacian. Names are not that important I think - it is what they signify that matters, in my opinion.

I think I got off track here lol ...

I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 13, 2011:

OK Mr Happy, I'll accept Dacian. But you do speak Latin though, or a form of it.

As for the comment about Rumsfeld, are you suggesting that Vlad was acting as a 15th Century Rumsfeld? In which case, I rest my case, as Rumsfeld is clearly a sadist too.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 13, 2011:

When I say Dacian, I mean Dacian, Mr. CJ. Yes, we have incorporated some things from the Roman invaders but the Dacian Spirit remains. It is who we are.

I will write in-depth on the subject of my ancestors, soon. By soon I mean within a year. There is a lot of research to be done.

Your comment about Donald Rumsfeld, in regard to the topic at hand does say a lot though ...

All the best.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 13, 2011:

Yes, he knew how to punish dissenters all right. I bet Donald Rumsfeld would have liked to have had the same capacity in Guantanamo Bay. Not that it would have been any more effective in stopping terrorism, but he'd have enjoyed the POWER!

PETER LUMETTA from KENAI, ALAKSA on August 13, 2011:

CJ a relief to all these current pretenders to Vlad's incredable visciousness. These right wing radicals have nothing on Vlad. Maybe this is the origin of their political savagery. Good Story! Thanks for the break,


Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 13, 2011:

You say "Dacian" but you mean "Romanian" I think Mr Happy. The Romanians speak a form of Latin and are probably the descendants of the Roman invaders in this region, interbred with the Dacians maybe, but with a lot a Latin blood. It's interesting that you've selected a passage that was pure speculation on my part to enjoy. I made that whole passage up. I'm not sure where Bram Stoker got his Vampire tale from. The castle he describes is actually one on Scotland, and he peoples Transylvania with Serbs, so he was obviously also making it up. Most of the material in this article was, as I say, gleaned from a couple of pamphlets I found in the market near Bran Castle, and I've made it quite clear in the piece that it is essentially a work of entertainment, but there are links to more stuff on the net so people can read more if they like. I've written a few other pieces about Romania if you want to check them out.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 13, 2011:

"He must have been one of the most evil people ever to have existed." - Well, Mr. CJ ... that line hurt. A lot. I am sorry you feel that way. At this point, I must say that from the viewpoint of a Dacian, making one of our greatest leaders a topic of "entertainment" is harsh, to say the least. He was a good man and a great leader.

I enjoyed the following passage: "I think that my purpose is to bring moral certainty to the world. Yes it is a harsh punishment I have inflicted upon you, but think of it this way: you are acting as a lesson for the whole country, and by your death I have brought honesty and moral integrity back into our small state of Wallachia, for who, now, will do as you have done? Who, now will cheat the foreign merchant of his gold or beg or take money from the widow-woman? Who will be slack or lazy in his work, or shirk his duty? You see what good you have done by your death? You have made our world a better place.”"

I think you presented the problem quite clearly by saying that "Vlad’s tale comes to us via medieval chapbooks - popular horror stories of their day - through arcane vampire lore and 18th century vampire tales, to Bram Stoker". If people were interested in historical facts, they are available but usually people like to invent their own stories ...

I guess I like my history in general and I like to keep things factual. If you go to Transylvania and ask people about vampires they will laugh at you. We do not have the Bram Stoker beliefs ... yes, we have witches and ghosts and many stories/folk tales about spirits and such but nobody turns into bats ... not even in our children stories.

I guess this was entertaining but it does no justice to our great Dacian leader, Vlad Tepes.

DC Gallin on July 04, 2011:


I didn't say they stayed on the german side for the duration of the war but only that their choice to join them was a choice ruled by fear as Germany was seen as a less dangerous entity. Nevertheless thanks for the lesson in Romanian history. Above I am echoing the opinion of my Romanian father and grandparents who were there at the time.

nemo mohoho on April 12, 2011:

heeeeeeyyyy i lurv vlad!!!!! :) ;)

courtney on April 06, 2011:

vklad was a meany

KelseyRed on March 28, 2011:

this helped alot with my homework, and six page report, thanks :)

Axx'NoWay on February 23, 2011:

Liar! At least look for the real story, don't write your stupid stories(nonsense of an old man). Some of your lies and "mistakes", "sir":

“He must have been one of the most evil people ever to have existed.”- must be a joke. He wasn’t evil, but a hero. He protected his people and those who were killed were thieves, traitors and criminals.

“but he was not averse to staking up a few Romanians too, when he was in the mood.”- you’re the sadist here, not Vlad the Impaler… of course he also killed Romanians, it’s not like there weren’t any Romanian criminals. To say that he killed people when he was in the mood, definitely not true.

The story with the golden cup shows that he was a very just man and during his reign justice was real, not like nowadays when it’s more like a joke…

“Vlad is there. He is watching. He knows what we think.”- this is funny, complete paranoia(you, of course =)) )

“The peculiar thing is that the Romanian people are proud of him.”- it’s not peculiar at all! For us, Romanians, he was a hero. He did what others had never dared(fought against the Ottoman Empire when their army was far more numerous than his), he protected the peasants from the nobles’ abuses and unlike any other foreign rulers he also punished the nobles for their mistakes.

“The name “Dracula” is from “Drac” meaning dragon;”- it doesn’t mean dragon, it’s just that peasants couldn’t pronounce “dragon” so they said “drac” (which also means “demon”)as an adaptation to Romanian language. The word “dragon” was introduced in Romanian very long after Vlad’s death.

You make him sound like a crazy man, when in fact he wasn’t! The story about him dining in fields of corpses is nothing but speculations. He was cruel but killing people with stakes is not as worse as the crusades. Crusades were nonsense, while Vlad’s fight to obtain the autonomy of Transylvania and get rid of thieves, criminals and enemies like Ottoman warriors is great. He was a strong and wise man(a proof is the attack in the Ottoman camp when 30,000 Romanians killed almost 100,000 Ottomans in an ambuscade which was lead by Vlad himself-not like most coward foreign emperors who sit in their palaces while their army is fighting)!

Of course we would praise him, what he did was for his country. Those chapbooks that appeared after his death are proof that he wasn’t very loved outside Transylvania. Why? Because he was a just man and made no difference between poor and rich, which brought him the noble’s hatred. At that time, nobles used to have a great influence on the ruler, but Vlad didn’t accept that. They were against him so they made sure he was imprisoned.

“Whole cities had been impaled just to teach some moral lesson.”- another lie(quite many in this article); There weren’t any cities impaled, and regarding the forests: it wasn’t a moral lesson for Romanians, but for Ottoman warriors because at those time, there were many wars between Transylvania and The Ottoman Empire and staking was a way of killing used by Ottomans. Vlad grew in the Ottoman Empire where he saw a lot of atrocities and Romanian people staked by Ottomans… so he used the Ottoman’s “weapon”(=staking) against them as a revenge and a lesson to what Ottomans did to his people.

To summarize all that I wrote: Vlad was a cruel, but yet a great ruler. He made most of foreign emperors and kings look like a joke. He was a brave, wise and just man, a hero for us, Romanians. You must be a fool(nicest word I could find) if you believe all those marketing stories and you seem quite stubborn to believe that he was an evil man and “bla bla bla”(all the nonsense that you wrote in your so called article). You could have at least the decency to look for the real story, instead of giving your readers false information based on your personal opinion. Your article is nothing but manipulation. You only want to write something that appeals to the public, “interesting”. So if I were to stay who is the mad person here, it’s not Vlad the Impaler, but you(as you changed the real story and made it a lot darker and bloodier).

For those who want the real story(not the media-marketing one which was promoted for so many years), you should look carefully for Vlad’s biography and the wars between the Ottoman Empire and Transylvania :-)

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on February 17, 2011:

What does "rad" mean?

ac on February 17, 2011:

rad article

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on February 12, 2011:

Maybe Hosni Mubarak did what needed to be done to protect his country too. I think if you were one of the ones with a stake stuck up your arse you might think he was evil.

Vladimir on February 11, 2011:

You bias bastard, you act as though it was a fact that Vlad the Impaler was "evil", he did what needed to be done to protect his country, he was also a pretty damn good leader.

cc on February 08, 2011:

D.C. GAILIN ,please read some books about ROMANIAN history,and then talk,because,after staing aside for over a year in the WORLD WAR 2,they chossed to help GERMANY,and lost several lands like,BASARABIA,BUCOVINA DE NORD and the TINUTU HERTEI,,to URSS,in 1941,but after three years,they switch sides to help URSS,to recover some lands.OH and about Vlad the Impaler,i think much of the rumors or fake,his father was in the order of the DRAGONS,but Vlad was to,in the year 1431,13 december,Vlad was killed whit his son MIRCEA who was buried alive,also he was a vessel of the UNGARIAN king..bye

Lakeland Hotels on January 06, 2011:

He was an amazing figure in Romanian history! If you are interested in more stuff about Vlad Tepes (that's how the romanians call him) you must see the movie titled "Vlad Tepes" (1979). This is the real story of Vlad The Impaler, the Lord of the Romanians from Valachia.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on December 14, 2010:

A warning to students using this article as a source: there is some dispute about the facts in here. You should make sure you read the comments too to get a flavour of the argument.

Unknown on December 14, 2010:

Before i go, many many thanks for this! Take care!

Unknown on December 14, 2010:

Im citing you for my paper im writing on :)

Unknown on December 14, 2010:

This was very interesting wow!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on December 13, 2010:

DC: Yes, their other "great" leader was Ceausescu who also ruled by fear and who had his own version of the Golden Cup: a spy in every apartment block.

D.C.Gallin on December 13, 2010:

In other words Vlad ruled through the blade and controlled the (golden) chalice...

Romania, a small country overrun and ruled by other nations throughout its history has hardly ever known political freedom, Their 'acceptance' of Dracula could be compared to the nation's attitude during the second world war: having to choose between Russia and Germany they perceived German supremacy as the lesser evil...The politics of fear?

pink flavour on December 10, 2010:

Dracula is neither a name nor a title! You said "drac" means dragon,which is true and "ul" is a definite article which is also true . But "a" has nothing to do with "the son of". It's just another definite article .It is true that his father was member of the order of the dragon and this is where Vlad Tepes is also known as Vlad Dracul. But again dracula...this is just a form of publicity to attract tourists!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on December 10, 2010:

It's true Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania, and his view of it is entirely fictional. "Dracula" is a title, not a name, and "Tepes" means "Impaler", which shows that the atrocities must have had some basis in reality. They are more than just legends. Thanks for your comment.

pink flavour on December 10, 2010:

Bram Stocker didn't even visit Transylvania so I doubt his sources of information can be trusted, I think it's more fiction than reality. As for Vlad Tepes ,cause this is his real name(nobody in Romania knows him as Dracula),the atrocities it's said he did were not just for fun and nobody really knows if they were for real or just legends. The thing is those days the nobles hardly oppressed the poor peasants, Vlad Tepes punished them for really good reasons. He tried to establish the good justice and help all of his people, no matter what their social or financial status was.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on December 07, 2010:

Yes, it was a strange kind of twisted morality. People were impaled for cheating a merchant, or for wearing their dresses too short. But it obviously all meant something to Vlad.

Marshall on December 06, 2010:

Fascinating research for a [fictional!] story that I'm writing.I only ever knew of him [and his 20000 "guests"]but to find out more about Vlad was intriguing to say the least.It may be an understatement of sorts to say he ruled with an iron fist but it was underscored somehow the fact that behind his horrific deeds was some sort of moral outlook

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on November 14, 2010:

It doesn't worry me. This hub gets lots of hits cos it's number 2 on google, so it must be liked by some people.

virtual monkey on November 10, 2010:

Man people are just rude (the kid, cough cough).

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 25, 2010:

Well when your butt crack can write I look forward to reading the results.

thekid on October 25, 2010:

this is crap im ten years old and i knew more than this information when I was 7 good information. my butt crack I bet he could tell you more (my butt crack). good day to you sir!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on September 15, 2010:

Thanks for your comment Neannalina. I'm leaving all comments up so people can read all points of view. I make it clear in the text where I got this information from, so readers can do their own digging if they want. It's also clear in the text where I am using my imagination, and I admit, this was written mainly for entertainment purposes.

Neannalina on September 15, 2010:

Obviously you yourself Mr.Stone have some imagination to write what vlad May have NEVER EVER spoken. This being said, you must have some serial killer thinking in you to bring up such nonsense. You show the GERMANS Propaganda as if this was factual evidence of what Vlad Dracula did as if using a National Enquierer to state Aliens from the sky actually came because it was written!!! This incunabulum was written before lawyers could claim Lible. And if you did any FACTUAL diggning before writing such a biased page of nonsense you would know the German incunabulum was a false piece of work due to the knowledge claimed in it stating Vlad Dracula killed 30,000 at this Timpa hill, when the population of Brasov at the fifteenth century was only 9-13,000 people. GET your facts first before you deface a man who was imprisoned by false documents. Do you just BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU ARE TOLD> or do you study to find FACTUAL evidence along a more HISTORICAL approach. VLad had six years only to get his country back from a rampant society of thieves, beggers,YES murders. He himself was plotted against daily by the boyars and ruthless relatives. HE had no time to do what you suggest,if you would pick up a book sometime!!But, go ahead, this is not factual, but propaganda itself and ONLY entertainment with no factual/Historical significance.

epigramman on June 26, 2010:

I am from Mars and we do not have this problem with vampires or its mythology - we suck their blood dry!

But you have my attention - Jack the Ripper, Rasputin and Vlad the Impaler - my three favorite dinner guests.... and for desert your hubdelicious writing and hub planet!!!

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on June 24, 2010:

I don't know about "pleasure", but he did used the method as many others have done before him and long after his reign of only 6 years. I do expect people to do some more and better research before coming up with a hub that is inacurate and sensationalistic for the most part.

There are plenty of legends in this world so if that is what you are facinated by, that's fine with me, just make sure you separate facts from fiction

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 24, 2010:

Hello Petra, it was poorly translated brochure written by a Romanian, so I'm not too worried about the fact that I've used it. As you say, I make it clear in the text where the information comes from. Whether impalement was "the fashion of the day" or not, the fact remains it is a brutal punishment and Vlad appears to have taken pleasure in it.

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on June 24, 2010:

So now I am back and this is what I have to say:

By your own admission, you got your information from a poorly translated brochure made for tourist – as a way to bring immediate profits and benefit from keeping alive the distorted Hollywood image.

It seems obvious that the graphic description of the impaling methods required more research than just the brochure, so WHY didn’t you bother to bring other historic facts into your account?

For your information Vlad was not the one to come up with such torture; it was the preferred execution method of the Ottoman Empire and it was the “fashion of the day”, performed by many others. There is truth in regards to his drastic punishments, BUT primarily Vlad brought order into his kingdom and reworded honesty – see the golden cup and fear not if you are not a thief.

I understand the need and motivation of Hollywood to milk a profitable subject and turn historic facts into legends, but the grossly exaggerated brutality of Vlad Tepes is out of context and this hub only re-enforces such “blood thirsty” concepts that have nothing to do with the Romanian psyche.

hamburghotels on June 23, 2010:

Great man........nice heard about his deeds

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on June 23, 2010:

There is just too much I have to say about this that I will come back another time to comment

SpiritLeo from Europe on April 16, 2010:

CJStone, Thank you for sharing this interesting information with us. If you dont mind, I would love to add something as well.

Drac in Romanian means Devil.

Adding the deffinite article -ul (in Romanian) to the end of the noun we will get Dracul - The Devil.

I am just a Romanian speaker...

Thank you!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on March 06, 2010:

Thanks for your comments and corrections adi, though I have to say that 2,000 impalements at once does sound like the "forests of the impaled" of legend. As for the Pope's calling him "the champion of Christ" this again tends to serve the legend rather than deny it, Popes in the Middle Ages often being less than savoury characters. They authorised the Inquisition remember.

adi on March 06, 2010:

this article is historically inaccurate. 90% of what you have said derives from tales concocted by the saxon merchants. the first thing vlad did when he came to power, apart from executing the nobles that assassinated his father, was to annul the the free trade and free passage rights the saxon merchants enjoyed for decades. back in the day istambul-vienna was the most profitable trade route in eastern europe. and there were only 2 ways to reach vienna from instambul: through serbia (which was a battle zone so it was a no go)and through vlad's wallachia. now imagine the merchant's outrage when all of a sudden they had to pay for the armed escort, they had to pay tolls at every bridge and gatehouse, transit taxes to various nobles, etc. thus severely limiting their profits. as an act of revenge they invented stories about him dining amongst his victims and taking pleasure from executions.

yes it is true his punishments were draconian, there is one story where a gypsy stole a buttered goose from a peasant woman's window and when the thief was caught vlad ordered that he be executed by having him thrown into a pot filled with molten butter. but still that does not mean that he was a sadist, it only means that he was a very harsh ruler. i mean the pope himself named him "athleta christi" (champion of Christ), a distinction that was not given lightly. i find it hard to believe that the pope would give this distinction to someone who was pure evil.

yes he did practice impalement, but he wasn't the only one. it was practiced in most european countries at the time. though vlad did it on a larger scale. also the largest number of people he impaled at once were 2000 turkish soldiers, not the hundreds of thousands the saxon stories depict. there was no forest of the impaled. though he did perform the stunt of pacing said impaled soldiers in front of the capital city's walls so that when the sultan and his army arrived his men became so afraid that he had to postpone his invasion plans.

regarding the story with the golden cup the actual story is this: bandits were so afraid of vlad, that during his reign the wooden cups of every well in the country were replaced with golden cups as a symbol of security (if you were honest you had nothing to fear), and punishment (if you were a bandit)

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on November 02, 2009:

AJ88, my source wasn't wikipedia. I tell you in the text: it was from two spectacularly badly translated Romania pamphlets that I bought in the market near Bran castle, so you can blame the Romanians for the historical inaccuracy here.

AJ88 on November 02, 2009:

I just came across this and it is a year old. I must say that you're passion for writing is great but your historical accuracy of this man and inability to understand the barbaric times and enemies he faced (he was not the only one to have this method of execution , the germans did worse) was simply to a scare tactic to keep enemies away and not widely done to thousands as you've said. As for dining among the dead the depiction is simply a german account , not a romanian one. Its a myth. sorry. this article sucked. and include sources next time. not wikipedia.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 21, 2009:

You may be right cameciob. But we don't only love him as a historical character necessarily: it's as Dracula we love him the most, and then he can be as brutal as all our worst nightmares suggest. Anyway, he didn't get his name by learning how to knit did he? Even if only one impalement ever happened, it would still be enough to stir up the nightmares and to make us shiver in our beds.

cameciob on October 20, 2009:

Very interesting article. i would question the extend in witch saxons and russians chronicles exagerated the facts. Vlad III only reign for 6 years and few month all togethe. would he had time for such ...attrocities?

Just a doubt.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 20, 2009:

He was brutal, and they were brutal times, certainly, but the telling point is the story about him talking to his victims. That makes him insane.

Adele Cosgrove-Bray from Wirral, Cheshire, England. on October 20, 2009:

An interesting man (and Hub), I think; his history has been coloured by politics, plus people's innate hunger for gory tales. Brutal, certainly, as was probably required to survive in brutal times - but no more so than napalm or nukes or germ warfare.

Nancy on February 02, 2009:

Actually, there's some speculation as to the truth of Vlad eating amongst impaled victims. The woodcut that was pictured was part of German pamphlets that survived. Since Vlad had killed a vast number of germans, it's highly likely that much of what he supposedly did was exaggerated to help promote negative propaganda against him.

I'm not saying he wasn't a brutal person, y no means. but some of what is "common" knowledge is nothing more, in fact, then bad press.

tyler on January 26, 2009:

nice its gunna provide alot of info for my topic in school

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on January 12, 2009:

Glad you enjoyed the gory details. SiddSingh. Mr Ghasiram does seem to have learnt his methods from Vlad.

SiddSingh on January 12, 2009:

Thanks for all the gory details! I remember a play here in India, which went by the name of Ghasiram Kotwal. Mr Ghasiram was a Kotwal (something like a Sheriff), and his favourite method of punishment was impalement. Now I know where he learnt it!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on November 16, 2008:

Thanks Vonni, glad to be od assistance.

Vonni on November 16, 2008:

Very nice. :)

I was looking up info about Vlad for a report I'm doing in school and this is a wonderful tresure trove for me. You did a very nice job and i plan to give you alot of credit. There are so many things in here that i didn't know. (I've been researching for 2 weeks)

Misha from DC Area on October 28, 2008:

Yeah Robbie,

It does not work in a long run - but it works for a life duration of dictator, and this is what matters to him...

And yes CJ,

I agree this comes from the need in guidance and protection most people have. Don't have the answers to why they have this need, though...

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 28, 2008:

Yeah CW: Vlad was no hero.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on October 28, 2008:

This was one twisted, sick-ass, f%!k of a man. Amazing how far the vampire image has come, from Vlad to it's current perception of romance and beauty... even heroics.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 27, 2008:

I'm intrigued, too. The American war on terrorism is an objective our current leaders would like us to agree to. But I'm not sure what its symbol might be. Surely not a golden cup.

Perhaps the symbol might be the American flag (and flag lapel pins). If you don't support the flag or wear it, then you are subject to being identified as subversive.

So, have we put up the flag of this country to wreak terror on the parts of the world that don't subvert themselves to Bushian rule, and have we used this symbol of patriotism to wreak terror on US citizens who choose to not pledge to the flag?

America prides itself on democratic rule, but the psychology of dictatorship transcends politics. Is it possible that Americans are subject to a psychological dictatorship?

Perhaps the flag is the golden cup.

Food for thought.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 27, 2008:

Sally, actually I'm intrigued by the Golden Cup image as a symbol of how dictatorship can enter the very mind of the people. Ceaucescu had a form of it. He had informers in every block so people modified their behaviour in case they were informed upon. I wonder what the Western version of it is? The war on terror perhaps?

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 27, 2008:

Cheers Steve. Who HASN'T David Icke written about as an example of a reptilian?

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on October 27, 2008:

Excellent hub as always, Chris! I first read in detail about Vlad in David Icke's books as a prime example of a reptilian.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 26, 2008:

Yes Hitler was a vegetarian robie. But you're right about the romanian psyche. In the 20th century they gor ceaucescu, who wasn't quite as obvious in his brutality, but who held the whole of the nation in his thrall, with a network of informers and a secret police etc. More Stalinist than Stalin.

Yes I've heard some people in the ex-Soviet Union yearn for Stalin's return Misha. In fact I know one or two ex-communist types here in the west who do.It's the notion of the "strong leader" which gets mixed up with the "protective father". I'm sure there are deep psychological issues to be explored there.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on October 26, 2008:

Hmmm Misha-- I think that brutal violence is the way to subjugate a people not motivate them. In the long run, like beating your wife and kids into submission, it does more harm than good--Turks or no Turks:-) The people of Romania have certainly suffered brutality down through the centuries and into the modern era. Maybe like battered women, they have become bonded to the abuse-- but that doesn't change the fact that they have been abused. I think that brutal violence erodes the soul of a nation or an individual and eats away at the abuser as well. I bet Vlad was not a happy camper and I know Hitler and Stalin weren't......just a thought:-)

...and CJ-- Hitler was a vegetarian?????? Who knew:-)

Misha from DC Area on October 26, 2008:

Robie, they are proud of Stalin in Georgia. Not all of Georgians of course, but not all of Romanians preach Dracula either. In fact, quite a few people in former Soviet Union (but not the majority, mind you) still dream about Stalin second coming.

Aside from obvious psychological issues, I do think the brutal violence is THE way to mobilize a nation to make some kind of great achievement - repel turks in Vlad's case, attempt to conquer the World in Stalin's. And that is what people remember.

Great hub CJ, thanks!

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 26, 2008:

This is one of the most vivid accounts I've ever heard about what happens when you are impaled, what the physiological process is. Worse than crucifixion (where death is by eventual suffocation), as you mentioned, impalement is a much more slow and agonizing death. You painted it quite horribly.

Although there may be no public squares today where a cup is placed to test fidelity born of fear, I can't help but think that the mindset of a Vlad is still alive and well, and could surface under the right conditions. Perhaps in the serial killer? Perhaps in government-sanctioned tortures that we will never see?

I imagine that in Vlad's time, people were desensitized to the atrocities by familiarity, as so many today are desensitized to violence portrayed in the news and in films and in gaming.

Needless to say, thumb is up.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 26, 2008:

robie, I think there was a mrs Vlad and little vlads, but it's one of the qualities of psychopaths that they can separate out the different parts of their livee and in fact act normal and believe themselves to be moral. Hitler for instance loved kids and dogs, was a great sentimentalist and a vegetarian. How do you account for that? Vlad saw himself as a sort of national saviour. The romanians love him because he defeated the turks, and claim that the literature about him was propaganda.

Yeah Ralph, and Tepes is a recognised surname in romania. Imagine being called "impaler". How cool is that.

Hi Shirley, yes Vlad's anal probing was a lot more painful (and fatal) than the alien form. But you must have been to some of the same dinner parties as me. I won't tell you what a dinner party at Vlad's house was like.

Shirley Anderson from Ontario, Canada on October 26, 2008:

Well done, C.J., and Happy Hallowe'en.

I didn't know that Dracula meant Son of a dragon. I'll bet he's been called worse.

I saw a documentary on Vlad the Impaler...very interesting in a sick and twisted way. Makes what the aliens do look pretty tame! Actually, I've been to dinner parties that felt as painful as what you describe.

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on October 26, 2008:

Great moniker, "Vlad the Impaler!"

Interesting hub!

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on October 26, 2008:

Happy Halloween, CJ-- I haven't had much time to be online lately, and even less time to be on hubpages but I just had to read this when it turned up in my email this morning and I'm glad I did...... brings up so many interesting moral questions-- I wonder, for example if Georgians are proud of Stalin the way Romanians are of Vlad? Just what is the human dynamic here? Very thought-provoking.

And you paint a really interesting picture of Vlad seeing himself as the protector of traditional morality-- a sort of law and order kind of guy in the midst of his appalling appetite for sadism. Talk about denial!!!!!One wonders if there was a Mrs. Vlad or any little Vlads and what they thought or felt about the whole dysfunctional family situation. You paint a riviting word picture of Vlad doing lunch, I must say:-)

Beautifully written and well thought out as usual, are always a joy to read. Thanks for a great Halloween post:-)

pgrundy on October 26, 2008:

One of the few things that truly frightens me is sadism. Right now sadistic games are a hot theme in horror films, and I haven't gone to any of them. I feel a real affection for monsters, aliens, and ghosts, but Vlad? I think I was married to that guy once. I can't remember. Gruesome but fascinating hub, CJ. If Vlad was alive today he'd definitely be Republican. Vlad the I'm-Palin. (o:

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 25, 2008:

Loved the detail, (it's all history after all). :)

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on October 25, 2008:

Hey Misty, I bet ypou could have done without some of the detail.

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 25, 2008:

Fantastic to get such a detailed Hub on Vlad the Impaler. I knew a little about the impaling and the Dracula connection before, but nothing like the amount of detail I know now. Thanks

Related Articles