Vlad the Impaler wasn’t just known for his brutality. Some say he was the first vampire—Dracula.

Halloween is approaching, and you know what that means: vampires! Vampire books, vampire costumes, your friends doing bad Transylvanian accents, and of course, vampire movies. The Twilight Saga alone made $3.3 billion (which might be the scariest part about those movies).

What’s so fascinating about these monsters? Is there more to this topic than some glittering teenagers? We need to take a closer look at the man who started it all … Dracula.

A lot of people don’t know there has been a lot of misinformation about Vlad the Impaler, especially in Romania, where he’s viewed as a sort of George Washington.

Who was Vlad the Impaler?

Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula was the ruler of Transylvania in the 1400s. He fought using fear tactics and impaling to keep the Islamic Ottoman Turks from invading his Christain kingdom.

Vlad’s family was known for its ruthlessness and sadism for generations. When the Ottoman army came to take over Transylvania, Vlad left them a message they would never forget. On their road to attack Vlad, they came upon an area where 20,000 men, women, and even infants had been impaled on stakes. He didn’t get called “the Impaler” for nothing.

The Ottoman Turkish sultan was scared off, saying that anyone willing to go to such lengths to save his kingdom deserved to keep it.

What was the inspiration for the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones? Vlad the Impaler. His father had been killed by the nobles in his country. So after taking back the throne himself, Vlad the Impaler invited the noblemen to a dinner, locked all the doors, and executed them all. The Romanian Communist Party would later praise Vlad for this, highlighting his similarities to the party in cracking down on class culture. (Which is total nonsense, since Vlad killed them for revenge and not because he was a hero for the laypeople.)

Iron-Clad Rule

During Vlad the Impaler’s rule, there was reportedly no crime. One day, a merchant left his cart full of coins unattended overnight in Vlad’s land, knowing his reputation of zero theft. But the next morning, 160 coins were missing. Vlad told the merchant he would have his money back by the next day, sending word to the townspeople that if the missing money weren’t put back, the whole city would burn.

Unsurprisingly, the merchant found his coins returned the next day. These kinds of stories are important to talk about because they speak to his character. But they also show what kind of things are valued by the groups who claim Vlad was good. … Killing and terrorizing for the “good of the country”?

Learn more about Vlad’s crazy backstory, including how he and his brother were kidnapped and left for dead, in Vlad the Impaler & Dracula.

Vlad’s Legacy & Bloodline

George Bush, John Kerry, and Prince Charles are all claimed to be related to Vlad the Impaler. Prince Charles even owns several properties in Transylvania, including a mansion in a community once owned by his Transylvanian ancestors. Charles visits the tombs of his buried ancestors there, and he’s involved in “saving” Saxon villages and the “eternal quality of life” by working with the local Mihai Eminescu Trust foundation.

But does Vlad’s legacy go beyond his bloodline? Vlad the Impaler’s father, Vlad II, was part of the secret Order of the Dragon. The Holy Roman Emperor created it in order to defend Christian Europe from the Ottomans. Vlad II was even named Vlad Dracul by the order, meaning Vlad Dragon. That’s why Vlad was called Dracula or “son of the dragon.”

All of the mainstream sources say that Vlad the Impaler was not a member of the Order of the Dragon. But it’s interesting that membership was supposed to be inherited in the male line, from father to son, and that Vlad the Impaler was remembered as wearing a dragon symbol on his neck. Plus in the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Gary Oldman’s Dracula character is a member of the Order of the Dragon.

Prince Charles’ family also uses dragons on all their insignia. And it doesn’t stop there. Lots of groups—the KKK, the Nazis, the Communists—and even the Bible and Eastern culture are all littered with dragon symbolism.

Why do some consider the Order of the Dragon to be the oldest secret society of all time? Watch Edge of Wonder’s Vlad the Impaler & The Order of the Dragon to find out more.

Vlad, the original Count Dracula?

While Vlad the Impaler certainly sounds bloodthirsty, he hardly resembles the flying, undead monster Count Dracula … right? Conventional sources will tell you that Vlad actually did drink the blood of his victims, but the truth may go even deeper than that.

In Vlad The Impaler, a Bloody Legacy we took a deep dive, discovering that the stories of the horrible creature of the night might be more true than any of us imagined. Some sources describe Vlad as a powerful magician who called on jinns or demons. And that’s just the beginning.

Discover how the feathered serpent creature from ancient history, Quetzalcoatl, fits into the Vlad the Impaler story … because this story just wasn’t weird enough!

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