On November 26, 1476, Vlad III Dracula (1431-1476), ruler of Wallachia returned from a decade-long exile to take a throne for the last.
The man was named Vlad by his father, Vlad II and he also received his nickname “Dracula” (the “Son of Dragon”). The elder Vlad had taken an oath to preserve the Christian faith in 1431 and joined the Order of the Dragon.
He was known for his brutal treatment of those seeking to challenge his leadership.
However, Vlad is still regarded a national hero in his home country, Romania and also in and Bulgaria. He was considered a brutal and yet fair ruler.
Vlad was born in Transylvania, then part of the Kingdom of Hungary, the prince found himself in the arms of the Ottomans for most of his early years, held as guarantee for protection from attacks by the Sultan on Wallachia as part of an agreement with his own father.
Forced to learn the ways of his sworn enemies from a young age, Vlad felt bitter about his captors, his family and most of all, his younger brother Radu. His sibling, also sent to the Sultan, gained favor among the Ottomans for his willingness to cooperate. Radu was released and converted to Islam, and he was allowed into the Ottoman royal court.
Though Vlad would later be installed on the throne of Wallachia by the Sultan’s armies, after his father had been killed by Hungarian king John Hunyadi, he maintained his grudge for the rest of his life.
These years had a great influence on Vlad. They shaped Vlad’s character. He was often beaten by the Turks for being stubborn and rude. He developed a well-known hatred for Radu and for Mehmed, who would later become the sultan.
In 1456, Vlad managed to regain the throne of his homeland while king Hunyadi defended Serbia from the Sultan’s advances. Eager to provide stability in his war-ravaged land, Vlad created trade restrictions and boosted grain exports to keep the common people from rising up against him. He also ordered the murder of nobles he suspected of disloyalty and installed those he knew would remain on his side.
In the meantime, the Ottomans were on the march again. Though Vlad managed to repel Mehmed’s armies at first, his brother Radu would take the crown on September 8, 1462.
Vlad fled into Hungary in search of aid from his allies, instead, he was imprisoned but based on diplomatic letters and writings Vlad’s actual period of imprisonment was short.
On November 26, 1476, Vlad retook his homeland for the last time and he did it with the help of the Hungarians and his cousin, Steven the Great of Moldavia.
Weeks later, he was dead.