When the Pendulum Swings Heavily
Extremes are not often found easily but at times, we can see how far extremes can reach in this three dimensional experience. Human beings are quite easily predictable. One can watch their patterns of thought and behavior and with that in mind, everything becomes clearer: reasons, intentions, and actions.
Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Implaer as he is known to non-Romanians, was a Romanian Prince/King who lived in between 1431-1476. He actually was born in the town were my father attended high school, the town of Sighisoara, which is now a UNESCO protected site. The memories of this great leader stand strong in the Romanian mind-state. We value his life, leadership and dedication towards those who were oppressed and disadvantaged.
Most people have heard of Vlad the Impaler and if they have not, I am quite sure they have heard of Dracula. Perhaps we can start with Dracula since most people are knowledgeable on this topic. Even though this is a fairy tale, it is based on some truths.
When Bram Stoker came-up with the Dracula character, he did base it on some factual information related to Vlad Tepes. To begin with, Vlad Tepes’ father was named Vlad II Dracul. "Drac" in Romanian means Devil. Also, the father was a member of the Order of the Dragon. The connections with drinking blood, I must say that many Kings and Princes used to drink blood, especially before battles to raise their adrenalin level. So, yes there were oddities for sure (if we are to judge the life in the 1400’s in Romania by today’s standards) but I must say here, that in Romania we do not have folktales about vampires; Vlad never turned into a bat and he never sucked the blood of any woman, or man for that matter.
Vlad Tepes was a cruel man to cruel people. Of course, for the most part all people remember is the shocking and fantastical stories: “Vlad had the Turkish envoys killed on the pretext that they had refused to raise their "hats" to him, by nailing their turbans to their heads”, or “Several woodcuts from German pamphlets of the late 15th and early 16th centuries show Vlad feasting in a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brașov, while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims.”
In a letter to Istanbul, Vlad Tepes wrote: “We killed 23,884 Turks without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers...Thus, your highness, you must know that I have broken the peace with him (Sultan Mehmed II)”. Peace with the Ottoman Empire meant that Romanians had to pay tribute to Istanbul, enslaving the Romanian people. This was not acceptable (then, now or ever).
So, when the pendulum of greed, invasion and enslavement swings to one side, the price of retribution will also be heavy: impalement! The Ottoman Empire experienced that on Dacian/Romanian lands. We are kind people, welcoming and helpful (as much as we can) but when ill-intent is directed our way - we stand strong as Oaks and do not falter.
Not enough has been said of the oppression of my people in the past, whether it was oppression by the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and so on. And without such knowledge, the actions of some of my past Kings will not be understood. Dacians/Romanians have never been conquering people. We have never tried to build empires, or subjugate others for our benefit. Of course, as a Dacian/Romanian my bias is heavy but in truth, I do not know of one Dacian/Romanian King who decided to invade other people’s lands.
Thus, what Vlad Tepes did was necessary: in extreme times, one needs to take extreme measures. Vlad fought to his death in order to free our people from enslavement. For that we, Dacians/Romanians honor his Spirit, his deeds and his memory. He was not a cruel man in general. He was a cruel man to cruel people. It makes sense: when the pendulum swings to one side, it will end-up swinging to the other side as well.
Note: the above photograph is not mine. It was taken from Google Images.