Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vlad the Impaler


A reader thoughtfully informed me last night that I had impugned the integrity of Lucrezia Panciatichi by mistaking her portrait for that of Countess Elizabeth Báthory (thanks, Beth). I revised my post and - as promised - follow up with a post about the even more heinous Vlad the Impaler. Vlad Ţepeş (1431-1476) was Prince of Wallachia (in present-day Romania). He was also known as Vlad Drăculea after his father Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Devil). Vlad the Impaler was given his nickname during his 3 reigns, since his favorite method of torture and execution was to have stakes inserted into the bodies of his victims - the height of which indicated their rank - and arrange them in geometric patterns, such as concentric circles around a besieged city. He killed tens of thousands of people at a time in this way, causing them to suffer for days before dying and then leaving their bodies to decay on the stakes. The number of his victims ranges from 40,000 to 100,000, and a contemporary woodcut depicts him sadistically feasting in the midst of their agony. Vlad was also fond of skinning, roasting, and boiling people; feeding people the flesh of their friends or relatives; and nailing their hats to their heads. It is no wonder that Bram Stoker (1847-1912) - when writing his novel based on Slavic folklore - used the name of the region's most notorious villain, Vlad Dracula.

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