Ur-Tepes (vii)

DRACULA, PART TWO

 We speak of the primary reign of Vlad III Dracula.

It is 1456. Dracula is voievode of Wallachia. He took the throne with the tacit understanding of John Hunyadi, who has just died. He was at one point strongly supported by the Porte, though that was some time before. He has killed the last occupant of the throne. There is no primary pretender to challenge his authority. He is in as good a position as any that have come before – or will come again, for quite some time – to maintain the integrity of his rule and the state he rules.

His first acts were to find and punish those who had killed his father Vlad and particularly his brother Mircea, who was buried alive. He is recorded as having impaled them, or else having taken them into bondage and forced them to work strengthening the defenses of the town. He also invested heavily in the construction of more substantive fortifications at Bucharest, essentially founding what would become the capitol of Romania.

His closest advisers were Voico Dobrita and Dragomir Tacal. Three of his initial cabinet had served in that of his predocessor. Soon after Albu cel Mare, boyar under Vlad’s uncle Alexandru Aldea, tried to take the throne for himself – perhaps the first person from outside the House of Basarab to attempt to take the throne. Vlad killed him; killed his whole family; destroyed his army; and gave his lands to the Church.

The exiles who opposed him, mainly in Brasov, were led primarily by Mihail logofat, a boyar. He was kept as a bargaining chip by the Transylvanians. He never seemed to cause much difficulty, but remained just out of reach so as to influence negotiations. This perhaps contributed to the policy of free trade which Vlad enacted throughout his realm, of which the Saxons (and the Turks) were the primary beneficiaries.

At this point Vlad Calugarul was in Amlas, working either for Dracula or for his own claim to the throne, while Radu cel Frumos was at the divan, serving a function at the Ottoman court.

Vlad used a time of chaos in Hungary to support his cousin Stefan in his bid for the throne of Moldavia. The Porte seemed to approve of this action. Vlad sent his entire army, some six thousand men, into Moldavia. Stefan ruled for many years thereafter, coming to be known as Stefan cel Mare.

An armistice was negotiated between factions in Hungary, Transylvania, and Poland; then the Polish king died. A new armistice was negotiated, including Wallachian representatives; as part of the agreement Dan III, another pretender to the Wallachian throne, was expelled from Brasov. Matthias Corvinus, a Hunyadi, was named to the Hungarian throne in 1458; his uncle Mihail Szilyagi ruled as his regent for the next five years.

In 1459 the duchies of Amlas and Fagaras were restored to Wallachia. Corvinus then ordered Brasov to arrest Mihail logofat and turn him over to Dracula for execution. Relations between Dracula and Christendom were at their peak.

Corvinus had his uncle imprisoned and sought a pretext for a war with Wallachia (it was a shipment of steel being taxed unfairly). As a result he brought Dan III back to Brasov and began to prepare an army on his behalf. In 1460 he invaded Wallachia; Dracula met him on the field, and defeated him. He forced him to dig his own grave, then beheaded him next to it, after having allowed him to be given extreme unction.

Dracula then, after warning Brasov of his intentions, rode into Transylvania, to his duchies of Amlas and Fagaras, and punished them for siding with Dan III in rebellion. At this point Corvinus once again acknowledged the sovereignty of Wallachia and the rightfulness of its ruler. A potential pretender, Basarab Laiotia, was removed from Transylvania to the court at Buda, well away from any hint of threat.

All this time Vlad was also paying tribute to the Porte. He concluded a treaty with the Sultan that said they would respect Wallachian neutrality; the Ottomans from invading it, and Dracula from allowing it to be used as a staging-ground for invasions. Scanderbeg made a similar treaty at the same time. It was desired by the Porte, who was focusing its attentions (and military strength) towards Asia at the time. Mehmet did not desire a two-front war, and so arranged for a one-front peace.

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~ by davekov on 24 May 2011.

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