Dracula's Wars: Vlad the Impaler and His Rivals by James Waterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finally a book that focuses on Dracula's military career that does not elude to him being a vampire, which he never really was. The book is military history, it talks about the political intrigues with the Ottoman Empire, the Baltic states and Walachia itself. It also tells about Dracula's life and how political events shaped it.
Contrary to popular opinion the Turks or the Ottomans engaged in conquest not to enlarge the borders for the Islamic world, called Ghazi, but rather their expansion and movement westward was driven by tensions further east. Moreover loyalties were not based strictly on religious ground but rather they were based on personal interest. Turks or Christians could be loyal to just about anyone if it merited their survival and personal interest. This was true of Turkish tribes and Baltic princedoms.
In these fiefdoms like Transylvania and Walachia things were rather tense. The were small and almost powerless. They would Allie with the strongest party in order to keep their throne and kingdom. Inner politics were tricky as well. In Walachia there was the Voivod or king but there were also Boyars and Daxon merchants who wielded enough power to unseat a voivode. This could lead to civil war, which it often did and to outside powers leaning into their business .
Dracula's grandfather was the first Voivode and after him came Vlad Dracul II, Dracula's father. Dracula's father was sworn into the king of Hungry's Order of the Dragon. Designed to defend Catholicism from the Turks. Vlad was Eastern Orthodox and sometimes he switched sides and helped the Turks. This would put him at odds with the likes of Jonas Hunyadi form Hangary. At times Vlad would switch and fight for the Christians. All the while Dracula and his brother Radu were hostages to the Sultan. When Dracula's father died, Dracula would be released to assume the throne.
Dracula would have three reigns. At times he was deposed and had to flee for his life. Once he was imprisoned in Hungary at times he was o. The run from rival kings. During his tenure Dracula would deal with internal threats quite harshly and deal the Turks devastating blows. Dracula is remembered as a monster by some and a hero by others. Read the book and make a decision .
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