The Insanity of Vlad the Imapaler
Ruthless to the core, Vlad Dracul - the man who would later become known as Dracula - was many things to many people. However, the scariest part about Vlad was that he was all too human.
Numerous documents and accounts from survivors of Dracul’s reign indicated he was a sociopath of the low common denominator. Nearly any label would fit him: mass murderer, sadist, criminally insane, and (the one that would stick) the impaler.
Whatever the title may be, he was an extremely scary person. He appeared to revel in the presence of his victims – those he had sentenced to death by means of impalement. Also, some psychologists and historians studying the man have claimed that he may have drawn some sort of sexual gratification watching them writhe and contort on the wooden stakes.
Reports of his blood-lust – like that of a vampire – had been so rampant that his acts became legendary. His actions were inconceivable, even for those who once supported him. For many victims, he had to be a demon – or in this case, a vampire. This may have been a comforting feeling, for it separated a man with a heinous reputation from the rest of the human race and gave a reason for his actions.
Vlad began to impale bugs, rats or any vermin that made the unfortunate move to cross his path
The Creation of a Monster
Unfortunately, as mentioned before, Vlad was all too human. His history was marked with physical and sexual abuse as a child, deception and betrayal from his own family, and a perverse sense that he was killing heretics and sworn enemies of the Christian church (in most cases, it was the Islamic Ottomans).
Not only was he molded by his turbulent childhood, he was a product of his era. Vlad lived during a violent time in European history. This was a time when governments fell quickly into chaos, invasions happened, and diseases that decimated the population were common. This era, the medieval ages, was called the Dark Ages for a very good reason.
Also, Vlad’s tiny kingdom, Walachia, stood in the way of the expanding Ottoman Empire to the East. Although his kingdom was a buffer-zone between Christian Europe and Islamic Ottomans, Walachia was subjected to power struggles with its European neighbors as well as the Ottoman Turks. On top of that, there were internal political struggles between Vlad’s ruling family and the country’s nobles who actually succeeded in betraying and exiling his father throughout portions his tenure (when Vlad became the ruler, he made sure to get his revenge against the nobles by impaling them or forcing them into slavery, in which they were worked to death). The turmoil in and around the country created a kingdom in constant strife. It's likely that all this was witnessed by Vlad and left an impression that he had to be ruthless.
Even as a child, Vlad was affected by the political upheavals and wrangling. His father cut deals with both sides in order to keep himself and his country intact. In one such deal he made with the Ottoman, his father sent him and his younger brother to the Ottomans as hostages. While incarcerated, Vlad and his brother were systematically raped or beaten by their captors.
It is reported that Vlad’s “love-affair” with impalement started in the dudgeon cell he was kept in. Whether to release the anger and rage or to emulate the death sentences he had witnessed, Vlad began to impale bugs, rats or any vermin that made the unfortunate move to cross his path.
By the time of his release (in which he actually received quality education from the Ottoman’s schools), Vlad returned to his tiny kingdom, alone. His brother converted to Islam and later became a member of the janissary forces of the Muslim empire.
Vlad was not the same person. The Ottoman became his sworn enemy. Also, he swore revenge against the nobles who had briefly ousted his father from power - even if he held resentment toward his father for exchanging him as a hostage. In a sense, anger was consuming Vlad to the point that the only release was cold-blooded retaliation and murder against all those he perceived as his enemies. This anger probably robbed him of his own morality.
...stories of him dining before a forest of impaled victims began to horrify leaders in Europe and in the Ottoman Empire.
Oddly enough, during the time he committed his atrocities, Vlad was seen as a hero in his country and the rest of Europe. Some of his first acts of violence were against the Turks. And, everyone, including the pope, was grateful that Vlad was keeping them safe from this hated group, as well as doing the “good” work of the lord. This must have emboldened him, and sent him even more over the edge of sanity. He began to feel invincible and justified for his actions.
Eventually, stories of Vlad’s treachery would reach a wider audience. Stories of him impaling people for the slightest infraction were being reported. Also, other stories of him dining before a forest of impaled victims began to horrify leaders in Europe and in the Ottoman Empire.
In one such account, an entire village of his own people – men, women, children, and the elderly were sacrificed through this brutal and slow form of torture and death. His favorite method of impaling was to have a dull wooden stake of nearly 9 or 10 feet in length, inserted through the rectum of the victim, carried out to the certain place and raised. From there, the victim slowly slid down the pole, puncturing vital organs and dying slowly through exposure and shock caused by this gruesome form of punishment.
Eventually, Vlad died violently. The Turks, who had feared this man for years, finally got their revenge. By this time, the rest of Europe had been reeling from the accounts made by survivors of his deadly regime. Although there were a few diehard supporters (in fact, he's still considered a hero in parts of Romania), many in Europe were glad to see him go.
Stories of him being a vampire really didn't come into fruition until Bram Stoker created his masterpiece, "Dracula." After researching the exploits Vlad the Impaler, he came to realization that Dracul made for a good villain - in this case, a vampire.
Vlad the Impaler has gone down in history as an example of the type of evil men can do. He may have been insane, but he was not a monster, literally.
© 2014 Dean Traylor