Known throughout the world as Vlad Dracula, Vlad Tepes, and Vlad the Impaler, this infamous prince of Wallachia was born in the winter of 1431 as the middle son of prince Vlad Dracul. Vlad III’s mother is unknown in history, but many believe she was Alexandru cel Bun of Moldavian royalty. The surname of Dracul, which meant “The Dragon” on Romania during Vlad’s time, was derived from the Order of The Dragon into which Vlad II was inducted. His son then became Draculea (Son of the dragon) once he too became part of the Order at age five.
Vlad Draculea lost both his father and oldest brother when they were presumably assassinated by treacherous boyars in 1447. He and his younger brother Radu had been kept as political hostages by the Turkish Sultan for many years during their childhood where Vlad was treated poorly. Radu, on the other hand, had attracted the sultan’s attention and converted to Islam before joining the Ottoman royal court.
Shortly after his father’s death, Draculea was placed on the Wallachian throne by the sultan, who thought the young Vlad would serve as a means of protecting Turkish interests in the region. Vlad was quickly overthrown in less than a year’s time when Hungarians invaded. After staying for a brief time in Moldavia, Draculea went to Hungary seeking a pardon, and after he impressed the Hungarian ruler with his knowledge of the inner workings of the Ottoman Empire, was reseated on the Wallachian throne in 1456.
During this second reign is when Vlad III gained his reputation for being both a monster and a hero. He earned his nickname “Ţepeş” (The Impaler) for his favored method of executing those whom he considered to be a threat by impaling them on long poles and leaving them to slowly bleed to death. Draculea quickly became very unpopular with the boyars because he greatly reduced their power while raising trusted commoners up the ranks. During this reign, thousands were executed for treason, murder, theft, and other offenses and the Wallachian residents enjoyed a drastic decrease in crime.
In 1462 the Turks invaded once again and his brother Radu installed on the Wallachian throne and arranged to have Vlad imprisoned by Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. Vlad’s wife died during the siege, legend has it that she committed suicide rather than be captured by Turks. While the exact length of Vlad’s imprisonment in Hungary is unknown, he did eventually regain the King’s favor and was allowed to remarry before eventually plotting a campaign to regain his throne. In 1475 he succeeded in this with the help of Hungarian warriors. But once the throne was his again, the Hungarians returned to their own country and left him in a weak position that the Ottoman forces took great advantage of a short time later when they re-invaded.
History is very uncertain as to exactly how Draculea met his end. Some accounts claim that he was killed in battle against the Turks, while others insist he was assassinated by poison administered by a bribed servant. Another popular story has Vlad disguising himself as a Turk to prepare to infiltrate the enemy and being slaughtered by his own countrymen who did not recognize him. One thing that all accounts agree on is that his head was severed from his body and brought to the sultan, who then had it displayed publicly to prove that the troublesome rival was finally dead.
ABOUT THE DOLL
Our life-size depiction of Vlad Drăculea’s severed head set on a castle wall stands approx. 25” tall from the bottom of the base to the top of his hat ornament. All of his facial features are hand-painted, and he has a wide mustache, sharp eyebrows, and long black hair. His eyes are clouded over in a death stare and he has several fresh battle wounds.
On his head he wears a hat similar to that worn in his most famous portrait: Burgundy velvet with many faux pearls and a ruby-like stone set in the centerpiece.
The base in which the stake is embedded has been painted to resemble a stone block and has a felt-covered bottom. The base is approx. 8” wide and 8” deep.