Ur-Tepes (v)

THE DRACULESTI 

We speak of Vlad II Dracul, and his descendants.

Vlad III was the son of Vlad II, later called Dracul, namesake of the Draculesti. Vlad II was born in 1393 to Micrea cel Batran and his concubine, Maria Tolmay of Lacković. He was most likely the third of four brothers, each of whom would rule Wallachia.

Vlad II married twice; first an unknown noblewoman, probably Wallachian; second Cneajna, the eldest daughter of Alexander cel Brun (r. 1400-1432) of Moldavia. By her he had three children: Mircea II (b. 1428), Vlad III (1431), and Radu cel Frumos (1435). He also had several illegitimate children by multiple mistresses, including Vlad Calugarul (b. 1424) and a Mircea of whom little record exists.

Vlad II was born and raised in Orthodoxy. He maintained at least a facade of sympathy both with Catholicism and Islam, often traveling to the divan (then located in Edirne) or to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor (then located in Nuremberg). His children were raised in the Orthodox church; his illegitimate son Vlad Calugarul became a monk in that faith.

Vlad II had been sent by his father, Mircea cel Batran, as a hostage against his good behavior (and that of the armies of Wallachia). This occurred during the failed Nicopolis Crusade of 1395-96; his host and captor was Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, leader of the crusade, later Holy Roman Emperor, and founder of the Order of the Dragon.

Between the death of his father in 1418, and the death of Radu II Praznaglava in 1427, he spent at least some time as a guest of the Porte at Edirne. In 1429, during the reign of Dan II, he went to Transylvnia to stir the exiles (that is to say, enemies of the Danesti; that is to say, those would would be definition become the friends of the Draculesti). In 1431 he went to Nuremberg where Sigismund invested him, first as a Dragon, and second, as rightful heir to the Wallachian throne.

On his way from Nuremberg to Transylvania, Swidrigaillo, Prince of Lithuania, convinced Sigismund to switch his allegiance to Alexandru Aldea, favorite of Moldavia, as Prince of Wallachia. Alexandru invaded with Moldavian support and drove Dan II from the country; he attempted to retake the throne with Ottoman support, but was killed in the ensuing battle.

Vlad seemed unable to gather enough support to launch a campaign against Alexandru Aldea; nevertheless he did not return to Wallachia and pledge his allegiance to his brother. He remained in Transylvania, a pretender to the throne, where he was kept in hearth and home by the Hungarians. They, like every other Power in the region, were always eager to hold a prince-pretender in reserve like an ace, or a knave, in the hole.

Alexandru Aldea proved less successful than many other princes as maintaining good diplomatic relations with his neighbors simultaneously. He joined the Ottomans in raids into both Bulgaria and Transylvania, and drove many boyars from the country (either through direct means, or because they felt the change in the wind, is unknown).

When, in 1432, Aldea was absent on a visit to the Porte, Vlad tried to muster an invasion of the country. His chief boyar Aldea summoned his defenses too quickly, and the attack was never begun.

Vlad led a full-scale invasion of Wallachia in 1435. Aldea summoned Ottoman reserves in time, and repulsed the attack. One year later Aldea was dead of purportedly natural causes. Vlad II entered into Wallachia unopposed, and took the throne.

With the death of Sigismund in 1438, Vlad was forced (and more easily allowed) to pay homage to the Porte. In 1438 he was required to give Wallachian troops to an Ottoman raid into Transylvania, which he did. Together the plundered the major cities of Transylvania, including Saxon cities such as Brasov.

Wallachia was allowed to keep the most politically important prisoners so that he could ransom them to Hungary in return for agreements of peace. Hungary refused, citing the cowardice of the captives who allowed themselves to be captured. After this Basarab II, son of Dan II, began to serve in Emperor-King Albrecht’s army.

With the crowns of Poland and Hungary joined in the personal union of King Ladislas and with John Hunyadi the governor of Transylvania, war against the Ottomans was once again being contemplated. Vlad II began to pay homage to the Christian powers. The Porte summoned him in 1442 to demonstrate his loyalty. He abdicated in partam to visit the Porte, leaving his eldest son Mircea II on the throne (1442).

The Ottomans imprisoned him and put him in a tower at Gallipoli. The Ottomans launched an assault against Wallachia; it was repulsed by John Hunyadi, Voievode of Transylvania. when his army swept out of the country like a wave from the shore, Basarab II was left on the throne. In response the Ottomans freed Vlad and used their army to inject him back into the country like a bacillus, as Lenin into Russia.

Vlad II took the throne; Basarab II died in the fighting. In payment for Ottoman assistance he began paying tribute to the Porte. Part of the tribute took the form of Wallachian boys to be trained as Janissaries. Part of this included his two natural-born children, Vlad and Radu, to the court of the Sultan as hostages.

The young princes were hostages against their father’s good behavior. But it seems clear that they were also being given to the Sultan to be raised as princes – the upbringing and education of noble children being, in feudal Europe, commonly ‘farmed out’ to other noble households. He remained with the Turks from 1442 to 1448 – that is, from age 11 to 17.

For the next years, Vlad II remained neutral in all anti-Ottoman campaigns, including the battle of Nis which proved a great Christian victory. He was particularly reserved on the subject of the Varna Crusade of late 1444, brainchild of Hunyadi and supported in person by Ladislas. Vlad advised Ladislas personally not to take to the field, telling him that the Sultan went hunting with more men than Ladislas was going to war.

He was told that he would be overthrown if he did not lend his support, so he provided 4,000 troops, as many as he could spare, in an effort to guarantee the success of the crusade. The troops, commanded by his eldest natural son Mircea, were slaughtered; the crusade foundered like waves upon rocks. Ladislas, as well as the Papal legate Cardinal Cesarini, were killed; Mircea, and Hunyadi, escaped.

The Crusaders – what few were left – returned north through Wallachia. Vlad intercepted them and arrested Hunyadi. He was on the verge of killing him, blaming him for the stupidity of the war and the loss of his men. Transylvania was forced to pay a large ransom for his return.

In 1445 Dracul joined a crusade led by the Burgundian Walerin de Wavrin. Hungarian support failed to materialize. Still they managed to liberate the oft-contested fortress at Giurgiu. Some twelve thousand Bulgarians, Christians all, returned with him to settle in Wallachia.

Hunyadi became de facto regent of Hungary with the assumption of Ladislas the Postumous (who took the throne at his baptism). Cool relations with Hungary forced Vlad to once again sue for peace with the Porte. This soured relations further, which the Ottomans did not seem to mind terribly. When the Hungarians invaded Wallachia, the Turks were nowhere to be found.

In 1447 Vlad II and his son Mircea II were killed. Vlad II was executed by Vladislav II, his successor; Mircea was buried alive by boyars in Targoviste. Hunyadi returned to Transylvania, leaving Vladislav on the Wallachian throne. Dracula became the heir to the Draculesti and pretender to the Wallachian throne – though in either position, he was not alone.

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~ by davekov on 24 May 2011.

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