03 December 2007

Vlad Dracula

In 1459 Vlad Dracula engaged in a campaign of terror, so cruel that his name will be remembered over centuries. In fact is in 1457 that he crossed the Carpathians for the first time and punished the Saxons in Mediaş, Sibiu, Braşov. I know no proof that he grouped his troops together in Bran Castle as the documentary mentions. He intended to punish the Saxon merchants in Braşov, medieval Transylvania’s richest and most well defended town. Today’s Braşov gives few clues about the events that unfolded here 550 years ago. What the documentary don’t mention, is that the reason of the attack over the Saxon towns is more complex than simple revenge: they shelter Dan III, pretending Wallachia’s throne. On the Easter week of 1460 Dan III and his troops march through Vlad’s army but gets defeated and gets his head cut off. Vlad‘s attack on the city of Braşov was not an easy one. A huge wall, thick almost 14 feet in some places was surrounding the city. There were bastions at regular intervals. We get acquainted with the medieval fortification system. A multi-level wooden gallery was built on the inner part of the wall. Into the outside walls there are arrow slits and loopholes, that were later been used for canons and for musketry.

Dracula, that grew up in the Saxon town of Sighişoara knows the Saxons very well, as well as them way of fighting. He avoids a frontal attack, instead take them by surprise attacking by night, before they can retread behind the thick walls. Everyone he catches is impaled on the surrounding hills. Thousands died, according to some later Saxon stories. The attack over Braşov inspires the most infamous of the few images of Vlad: the forest of the impaled, with him, Dracula, taking his lunch/dinner in the middle of corpses. However there is proof that he drunk blood or had canibalic acts. Is known the image is an exageration of Germans, that wanted to present Vlad as the Evil in person.

Once Braşov subdued, Vlad turns his attention to the Ottoman Empire. Vlad Dracula is determined to resist the Turks. He concentrates his building efforts on South. He built his palace in Bucharest, on an important commercial route. As the Turks could attack in any moment, he built it in a hurry, with the best specialists available. He took the best stone-masons and approximately 1000 workers to make sure the palace is erected quickly. This is a very functional fortress, opposed to the exotic palace one could expect from Dracula. Later rulers rebuilt and extended it, to reach what we know today as the old court. But hidden in the building’s foundation are clues to its history.

With the country secured by these palaces and castles, Vlad Dracula begins planning for war. In his fortification in Târgovişte he receives a delegation of the Ottomans, claiming for tribute. He refuses to pay the tribute, and ordered the envoys to remove them turbans. When they answer they never remove them turbans he nailed them to them heads so they could really never remove them turbans. After a striking campaign in the winter of 1461 Vlad returns to the safety of his fortification at Târgovişte.

Here is the History Channel documentary :

Vlad's flee in Transylvania, his last reign and his death.

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