Ur-Tepes (vi)

DRACULA, PART ONE 

We speak of Vlad III Dracula, from his birth to his second assumption of the Wallachian throne. 


Vlad III was born in 1431 in Sighisoara, Transylvania. He died in 1476 at Bucharest, Wallachia, at the age of 45.

He was voievode of Wallachia on three occasions: in October 1448; from 1456 to 1462; and in November and December of 1476, and he died.

From 1436 until his death he was a member of the Order of the Dragon. He signed his name on Romanian documents Dracula; on Latin documents, Wladislaus Dragwlya or Drakwlya.

He was married twice. The first time was to a Wallachian noblewoman whose name has been lost; she died in 1461, possibly while pregnant. His second marriage was to Ilona Szilyagi, a Hungarian noblewoman, from approximately 1464 until his death.

By his first wife he had one child, Minhea cel Rau; by his second he had two, Vlad IV and an unnamed son (1465-1482). Minhea would for a short time be voievode of Wallachia. Vlad IV would not.

Vlad III was of the House of Basarab, the founding dynasty of Wallachia. The House of Basarab ruled without interruption from the early fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, then from 1530 to 1600 directly.

Vlad III was of the cadet branch known as the Draculesti. They ruled from 1443 to 1510 with many interruptions; still they held power for fifty of the intervening sixtyseven years. They then ruled from 1530 to 1600 directly. The last member of the house was Alexander Coconul, the Child-Prince, who died in 1627.

Vlad III was born while his father was in Transylvania, living amongst Wallachian exiles with the goodwill of the Hungarians. The year of his birth saw Vlad II inducted into the Order of the Dragon. Five years later he would have his son Vlad III inducted likewise.

I can find no record of his other children having been so inducted.

In 1442 Dracula and Radu were sent to the Porte as hostages. Dracula was 11; Radu, perhaps seven. It is likely they remained there until 1448, Radu even longer. However, Kritobulous suggests that they returned to Wallachia in 1446 and then fled only after the death of their father. This is not known.

Their activities and lifestyle during their captivity is not known. It is suggested only that during this time Radu converted to Islam.

In 1448 Dracula was inserted into Wallachia, and brought to the throne, at the the head of an Ottoman army. Vladislav returned from his crusading in Kosovo and, with Moldavian support, removed Vlad from the throne. He fled to Moldavia, curiously enough, to the protection of Bogdan II. When Bogdan was assassinated by Petru Aron, Vlad and his cousin Stephen (later called The Great) went to Transylvania.

Just as he was arriving, Hunyadi negotiated a truce with the Porte over Wallachia. They agreed to accept Vladislav II and what might be called the status quo inter bellum. Hunyadi told the court of Brasov not to give him aid or shelter; eventually he was able to return to Moldavia, where Alexandrel had taken the throne.

In 1452 Hunyadi and Vladislav argued over the debasement of coinage; in 1454 they argued over, as ever, the Wallachian voievode’s friendship with the Porte, and Hunyadi siezed the duchies of Amlas and Fagaras. They concluded a peace treaty in 1455, but by the end of the year they were fighting each other in a sort of perpetual, squabbling hostility – more a mutual desire to raid each other than an attempt by either party to dominate the other.

In 1456 Hunyadi went to Belgrade to fight the Turks. Dracula was charged by him with defending the borders of Transylvania. This seems a tacit acknowledgment of support for a bid for the throne. All that is known is, before midsummer had passed, Dracula had regained the throne. He killed Vladislav II in single combat. While this was going on, Hunyadi won the greatest victory of his life at Belgrade; then he caught the plague, and he died.

It cannot be avoided that the salient details of Dracula’s life between his birth and his second reign are few and far between. Less still is known of his brother Radu, or his half-brother Vlad.

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~ by davekov on 24 May 2011.

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