In the Shadow of Empires by Sir Jens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The facts around Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler are scarce indeed with not much too go on for the researching scholar. Contrary to popular opinion Dracula was not a vampire, he was considered by some to be a brave warrior who fought for his people and his land. Others considered him a demon or a devil and that depended on whether you were friend or foe. Sir Jens who is a history buff rather then a scholar renders to the reader a good skeleton of Vladimir Dracula's life. There are no sources mentioned in the book, nor is there a bibliography which is a must for any book of research.
There are a few not well known facts about Dracula's life or should I say family that are not mentioned in other works, at least which I have seen. Vlad's grandfather was a Viovode of Wallachia. Like his grandson he too would fight against the Turks and would in the end turn out paying tribute and sending Wallachian boys over to be Janniseries. THe grandfathers name was Mercia. Vladimir the second or Vlad Dracul ,me weaning Vlad the Devil, was Mercea's first son. A boy of a more diplomatic bent he was sent to be raised in HUngary far from the court intrigues of Tirgovaste , the cpaital of Wallachia. He learned the art of diplomacy an throughout the gift of tongue was able to resolve many disputes diplomatically and rendered such services to Hungary. Vald the second while belonging to the Orthodox Church, converted to Catholicsim and joined "THe Order of the Dragon" which was dedicated to preserving Christianity and fighting the Ottoman Empire. For practical purposes Vlad converted to Catholicism but returned tro the Orthodox Church upon assuming power with the Viavode of Wallachia. He paid tribute to the Ottoman's and one would say that he was the epitome of real politik. As a matter of policy and a show of loyalty to Murad the Second Vald Dracul left his son, Vladimir the Third and Radu.
Vlad was born in the Hungarian town of Sighiousorsa in the year 1431. As hostages to the Ottomans they were raised as Ottoman. learning war and customs they were allowed to keep their religion. Life by and large was comfortable at the court although there are stories of cruelty . One was was that the boys could be used sexually. Vlad stayed their until 1448 and in hsi 17th year the Ottomans helped him reclaim his throne with a small force of Ottoman soldiers. His reign did not last long . Driven out by rival boyars , someone from the Danesti throne was put into power. For a good number of years he dwelt with his uncle Bogdan and son Stephan rulers of Moldovia. They did not hold to thir throne that long either . Seeking refuge in Hungary, Stephan would find refuge while Dracula's fate was more precarious, Janas Hunyadi was a powerful personage in Hungary and he had been the one for responsible fo the death of Dracula's father and older brother Mecrcea.
Yet it would be Janos Hunyadi that would be instrumental in helping Dracula reclaim his throne. First he allowed Dracula thje right or privilege to be the protector governor of Transylvania. Janos Hunyadi would later die of plague after holding the Sultan Moorad off from over taking Belgrade. This opened the way for Dracula to reclaim his throne.
The reign of 1456 was his second and most noted reign. Must be noted that neither the Otoman's nor Hungary wanted Wallachia as that would be a border with the two empires. Better for both if they could install a puppet ruler who served their interests. Some of Vlad's achievement was the cowing of the Saxon Merchant towns who could sway the balance of things and hold undue influence in the Wallachian court. He also supposedly wiped out the Boyar as they were a destabilizing element and made thing rather turbulent. He also killed off all the beggars and indigent. Now how far he went is up for debate. His actions are compared to the death camps in Europe where undesriable were eliminated. He mentions Gypsies, handicapped and metally ill but he fails to mention that Jews were the main victims. What is with Sir Gens? What other important details did he leave out?
THe second reign is when Dracula challenged the Sultan by refusing to pay tribute , torturing Ottoman emissaries and fighting the Turks as they came across the Danube. Ultimately Dracula lost and had to flee to Hungary while Radu too the throne. But there was a lot of back and forth. While in Hungary Dracula would be a political prisoner and get married. Eventually he did reclaim his thrown but only briefly. Having died in battle his hdedad was displayed in Ottoman Turkey.
Vlad is both a hero and villain depending on your perspective.Catholic monks and Saxons vilified him. The Romanians look to him as a savior. Bram Stoker's novel did not help clarify things. I know that some of Sir Jens material is somewhat slanted and biased and I question hopw much research he has done. A BETTER BOOK TO GET WOULD BE "DRACULA :PRINCE OIF MANY FACES" by Radu Florescu.
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