Vlad III Tepes
Vlad III Țepeș (in full, Vladislaus III Drăculea; 1431-1476) military governor and prince of Wallachia (1448; 1456–1462; 1476) within what is now present-day Romania, and notorious for the cruelty he practiced upon his enemies. Nicknamed the impaler (Romanian: Țepeș), Vlad III may also have been the primary inspiration for author Bram Stoker's fictional vampire, Dracula.
Vlad Dracula was born in Sighişoara, in Transylvania, the second of four sons of Prince Vlad II Dracul of Wallachia, an independent principality of Romania; it was the elder Vlad who founded the "Order of the Dragon" ("Dracul") and adopted the title as a surname. Wallachia was the object of a power struggle between its neighbours Hungary and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, and by the mid-15th century the principality had begun to pay tribute to the latter. In 1444, Vlad Dracul sent his two younger sons to Turkey to prove his loyalty to the Ottoman sultan. The younger Vlad then spent the next four years in Adrianople as a hostage.
In 1447, Vlad Dracul was murdered, possibly by the Hungarian general János Hunyadi, who then made a member of his own Danesti clan, Prince Vladislav II, ruler of Wallachia. The following year the Turks gave Vlad an army with which he seized the Wallachian throne. He ruled for only two months before Hunyadi forced him into exile in Moldavia, and Vladislav II returned as prince. However, Vladislav II soon allied Wallachia with the Turks, causing Hunyadi to support Vlad’s return to the throne in 1456.
In the following six years Vlad unified Wallachia while resisting the influence of both Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. He ruled through terror and by 1462, when he was deposed, had killed, principally by means of public impaling on stakes, many tens of thousands of his own people. He also liquidated the boyars (nobility), seized their property, and passed it out to his supporters, thus creating a new loyal nobility. Vlad’s fearsome reputation was the inspiration for Dracula by Bram Stoker.
In 1462, Vlad was deposed by an Ottoman army led by his brother Radu. In 1476, after 12 years of exile in Hungary, Vlad took the Wallachian throne for the third time. When the Turks counterattacked a few months later, he was killed near Bucharest. His head was displayed on a pike in Constantinople, and his body was buried at the island monastery of Snagov.