Tales about Vlad the Impaler

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  1. Roy Fokker Forum Veteran

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    The Golden Cup

    The legend says that during Dracula’s reign, the laws regarding honesty and order were very effective, mostly because breaking them usually lead to death. Thieves seldom dared practice their trade within Dracula's domain - they knew that the stake awaited any who were caught. Dracula was so confident in the effectiveness of his law that he placed a golden cup on display in the central square of Târgoviste, and said it belonged to everyone and they could drink from it. The cup was never stolen and remained entirely unmolested throughout Dracula's reign.

    The Foreign Merchant

    A merchant from a foreign land once visited Dracula's capital of Târgoviste. Aware of the reputation for honesty in Dracula's land, he left a treasure-laden cart unguarded in the street over night. Returning to his wagon in the morning, the merchant was shocked to find 160 golden ducats missing. When the merchant complained of his loss to the prince, Dracula assured him that his money would be returned and invited him to remain in the palace that night.
    Dracula then issued a proclamation to the city - find the thief and return the money or the city will be destroyed. During the night he ordered that 160 ducats plus one extra be taken from his own treasury and placed in the merchant's cart. On returning to his cart in the morning and counting his money the merchant discovered the extra ducat. The merchant returned to Dracula and reported that his money had indeed been returned plus an extra ducat. Meanwhile the thief had been captured and turned over to the prince's guards along with the stolen money. Dracula ordered the thief impaled and informed the merchant that if he had not reported the extra ducat he would have been impaled alongside the thief.
    The Two Monks

    There are several versions of this anecdote. In some the two monks were from a Catholic monastery in Wallachia or wandering Catholic monks from a foreign land. In either case Catholic monks would be viewed as representatives of a foreign power by Dracula. In other versions of the story the monks were from a Romanian Eastern Orthodox establishment (thus, from the indigenous Church). Dracula's motivation also varies considerably among the different versions of the story.
    All versions of the story agree that two monks visited Dracula in his palace at Târgoviste. Curious to see the reaction of the churchmen, Dracula showed them rows of impaled corpses in the courtyard. When asked their opinions of his actions by the prince, one of the monks responded, "You are appointed by God to punish evil-doers." The other monk had the moral courage to condemn the cruel prince. In the version of the story most common in the German pamphlets, Dracula rewarded the sycophantic monk and impaled the honest monk. In the version found in Muscovite pamphlets and in Romanian verbal tradition Dracula rewarded the honest monk for his integrity and courage and impaled the sycophant for his dishonesty.
    The Polish Nobleman

    Benedict de Boithor, a Polish nobleman in the service of the King of Hungary, visited Dracula at Târgoviste in September of 1458. At dinner one evening Dracula ordered a golden spear brought in and set up directly in front of the royal envoy. Dracula then asked the envoy why he thought this spear had been set up. Benedict replied that he imagined that some boyar had offended the prince and that Dracula intended to honor him. Dracula then responded that he had, in fact, had the spear set up in the honor of his noble, Polish guest. The Pole then responded that he had not done anything to deserve death, but that Dracula should do as he thought best. He further asserted that in that case Dracula would not be responsible for his death, rather he would be responsible for his own death for incurring the displeasure of the Prince. Dracula was greatly pleased by this answer and showered the man with gifts, while declaring that had he answered in any other manner he would have been immediately impaled.
    The Foreign Ambassadors

    There are at least two versions of this story in the literature. As with the story of the two monks, one version is common in the German pamphlets and views Dracula's actions unfavorably while the other version is common in Eastern Europe and sees Dracula's actions in a much more favorable light. In both versions, ambassadors of a foreign power visit Dracula's court at Târgoviste. When granted an audience with the prince the envoys refused to remove their hats as was the custom when in the presence of the prince in Wallachia. Angered at this sign of disrespect, Dracula had the ambassadors' hats nailed to their heads so that they might never remove them.
    In the German version of the story, the envoys are Florentine and refused to remove their hats to demonstrate their superiority. When Dracula asked the ambassadors why they would not remove their hats they responded that such was not their custom and that they would not remove their hats, even for the Holy Roman Emperor. Dracula immediately had their hats nailed to their heads so that they might never come off and had the ambassadors ejected from his court. In Germany and in the West, where the concept of diplomatic immunity was at least given lip service, this was held to be an act of barbarity against the representatives of a friendly power.
    In the version of the story common in the east, the envoys are Turkish. When ushered into the presence of the prince, the Turks refused to remove their fezzes (or turbans). When questioned they answered that it was not the custom of their fathers to remove their hats. Dracula then ordered their hats nailed to their heads with three nails so that they might never have to break such an excellent tradition. The envoys were sent back to the sultan. According to Levantine customs, this was held to be a courageous act of defiance in the face of the Ottomans. It should also be noted that the nailing of hats to heads of those who displeased a monarch was not an unknown act in Eastern Europe. Apparently, this method was occasionally used by the princes of Muscovy when faced by unpleasant envoys.

    Dracula's Mistress

    Dracula once had a mistress who lived in a house in the back streets of Târgoviste. This woman apparently loved the prince to distraction and was always anxious to please him. Dracula was often moody and depressed and the woman made every effort to lighten her lover's burdens. Once, when Dracula was particularly depressed, the woman dared tell him a lie in an effort to cheer him up; she told him that she was pregnant. Dracula warned the woman not to joke about such matters but she insisted on the truth of her claim despite her knowledge of the prince's feelings about dishonesty. Dracula had the woman examined by midwives, to determine the veracity of her claim. When informed that the woman was lying, Dracula drew his knife and cut her open from the groin to her breasts while proclaiming his desire for the world to see where he had been. Dracula then left the woman to die in agony.
    The Lazy Woman

    Dracula once noticed a man working in the fields while wearing too short a caftan. The prince stopped and asked the man whether or not he had a wife. When the man answered in the affirmative, Dracula had the woman brought before him and asked her how she spent her days. The poor, frightened woman stated that she spent her days washing, baking and sewing. The prince pointed out her husband's short caftan as evidence of her laziness and dishonesty and ordered her impaled despite her husband's objection that he was well satisfied with his wife. Dracula then ordered another woman to marry the peasant but admonished her to work hard or suffer her predecessor's fate.
    The Nobleman with the Keen Sense of Smell

    On St. Bartholomew's Day (sometime in August) in 1459, Dracula caused thirty thousand of the merchants and nobles of the Transylvanian city of Brasov to be impaled. In order that he might better enjoy the results of his orders, the prince commanded that his table be set up and that his boyars join him for a feast amongst the forest of impaled corpses. While dining, Dracula noticed that one of his boyars was holding his nose in an effort to alleviate the terrible smell of clotting blood and emptied bowels. Dracula then ordered the sensitive nobleman impaled on a stake higher than all the rest so that he might be above the stench.
    In another version of this story the sensitive nobleman is an envoy of the Transylvanian cities of Brasov and Sibiu, sent to appeal to the cruel Wallachian to spare those cities. While hearing the nobleman's appeal, Dracula walked amongst the stakes and their grisly burdens. Some of the victims still lived. Nearly overcome by the smell of drying blood and human waste, the nobleman asked the prince why he walked amidst the awful stench. Dracula then asked the envoy if he found the stench oppressive. The envoy, seeing an opportunity to ingratiate himself with Dracula, responded that his only concern was for the health and welfare of the prince. Dracula, angered at the nobleman's dishonesty, ordered him impaled on the spot on a very high stake so that he might be above the offending odors.
    The Burning of the Sick and Poor

    Dracula was very concerned that all his subjects work and contribute to the common welfare. He once noticed that the poor, vagrants, beggars and cripples had become very numerous in his land (in the Romanian variant they are the thieves and fake beggars). Consequently, he issued an invitation to all the poor and sick in Wallachia to come to Târgoviste for a great feast, claiming that no one should go hungry in his land. As the poor and crippled arrived in the city they were ushered into a great hall where a fabulous feast was prepared for them. The prince's guests ate and drank late into the night, when Dracula himself made an appearance. "What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world?" asked the prince. When they answered that such was indeed their wish, Dracula ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire. None escaped the flames. Dracula explained his action to the boyars by claiming that he did this, "in order that they represent no further burden to other men so that no one will be poor in my realm." This deed is also attributed to the bishop Hatto of Mainz.

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  2. Roy Fokker Forum Veteran

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    Life portrait of Vlad III circa 1560, after a now lost original. Housed in the Ambras Castle Chamber of Art and Curiosities in Innsbruck, Austria. :agree:

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