By C. Michael Forsyth
Vlad the Impaler, better known as Dracula, took a shameful secret to his grave. He murdered his own kid brother because he was gay!
“Contrary to popular belief, the real-life Dracula was not a vampire,” reveals Romanian historian Eugen Croitoru. “Quite the opposite, the 15th century warlord was one of history’s most prolific vampire slayers — impaling as many as 100,000 of the undead on wooden stakes during his reign.
“His younger brother Radu WAS, however a vampire, and Vlad drove a stake through his heart with his own hands. Not because Radu drank blood — but rather because he was a homosexual.”
Prince Vlad III of Wallachia, upon whom author Bram Stoker based the aristocratic bloodsucker of his novel Dracula, is regarded as a national hero by Romanian historians.
That’s because he singlehandedly repelled the Ottoman Empire’s invasion of their homeland and thus prevented the Muslim Turks from overrunning Europe. The fact that the invading Turkish army was infested with vampires is left out of most accounts.
“Just as Australian historians play down the country’s origins as a penal colony, most Romanian historians are embarrassed to talk about vampirism,” explains Croitoru. “But trying to keep vampires out of the Vlad story is like trying to tell the story of Native Americans without bringing up buffaloes.”
Vlad III was born in Transylvania, a region adjacent to Wallachia in what is now Romania, in 1431. His moniker Dracula meant “son of the Dragon.” While he had two older half-brothers, he was closest to his sweet and gentle kid brother, aptly named Radu the Handsome.
“Vlad and Radu were inseparable,” recounts Croitoru. “They spent their early years playing ‘soldier’ and other games together in their mother’s home. But when the boys were in their early teens, their father agreed to send them as hostages to the Ottoman court, to keep peace with the Sultan.”
The Sultan had promised the young princes would not be harmed, but soon after they arrived, he demanded that they renounce their Christian faith and drink vampire blood.
“Vlad defiantly refused. He was tossed in an underground dungeon where he was whipped and beaten daily,” says Croitoru. “But, despite years of torture, he never cracked.
“His softer, younger brother Radu didn’t have the strength to resist. He eventually knuckled under and converted to Islam. He also allowed himself to be bitten and to drink the blood of the Sultan’s son Mehmed II, who, according to the historical record, was a vampire.
“Vlad was horrified and heartbroken when guards gleefully told him that his brother had not only become a Muslim but a vampire as well.
“But if he had known the full story, he would have been even more mortified. Mehmed was gay, and Radu’s pretty face and pale skin caught his eye. He seduced Radu, converting him into a homosexual too.”
Vlad managed to get free, but Radu — now a full-fledged vampire — chose to remain behind. He became a member of the Ottoman court and a fawning minion of his vampire “sire” Mehmed II. When Mehmed’s father died and he was crowned the new Sultan, he put his sweetheart Radu in charge of a battalion made up largely of fearsome undead troops.
After Vlad’s father and his older brothers were killed by the enemy, Vlad inherited the throne of Wallachia and took a bride — only to learn that the Mehmed II had dispatched Radu and his unholy army of darkness to destroy him.
“Radu did his master’s bidding without mercy,” says Croitoru. “When Vlad was away fighting, Radu’s battalion besieged his castle. Vlad’s wife learned that she was to about be taken prisoner and forcibly vampirized.
“She bravely hurled herself from the tower into the Argeș River, declaring that she would rather ‘rot and be eaten by the fish’ than join the ranks of the undead. When Vlad later learned his own brother was responsible, he was devastated — yet knew that as a victim of vampirism himself, Radu was not truly to blame.”
With immensely strong and hard-to-kill vampires now making up an estimated one-third of his forces, Mehmed II became unstoppable. After capturing Constantinople in 1453, his armies marched through the Balkans, killing or converting all those who stood in his way. His goal was to drive out Christianity and turn all of Europe into a bastion of evil.
But Vlad had other ideas.
“He transformed Wallachia’s joke of an army into a formidable fighting force, and created a militia of peasants to fend off the invaders,” says Croitoru. “Though vastly outnumbered, he mounted a fierce guerilla campaign against the Turks.”
The Sultan dispatched an army 12,000 men strong to conquer Wallachia, led by a high-ranking vampire lord named Hamza Pasha.
“When the troops were marching through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad staged an ambush. The Wallachians showed no mercy. The vampires were all caught and impaled on wooden stakes, with their general Hamza Pasha impaled on the highest stake as a message to the Sultan.”
Vlad went on the offensive, annihilating enemy troops from Serbia to the Black Sea. He constantly organized small surprise attacks on the Turks, using bold tricks not unlike those later employed by America’s Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.
“Disguising themselves in the traditional garb of Turkish vampire warriors, he and his men infiltrated enemy encampments and used stakes to dispatch scores of Turks at a time,” the historian says.
“He even struck at night — an unprecedented strategy when facing this kind of enemy. With the element of surprise on his side, the famous Night Attack succeeded. He was able slaughter hundreds of vampires before they could even draw their weapons.”
Furious, in the spring of 1462, the Sultan raised an army of 90,000 troops and personally led them toward Wallachia.
“When the Sultan and his troops crossed the Danube, they found the bank lined with the corpses of 20,000 vampires impaled on 14-foot-stakes. They were so horrified that they turned tail in terror and returned to Constantinople,” says Croitoru.
“Basically, their reaction was, ‘Yes, we know these are the bloody Middle Ages, but this mother f_____ is crazy!’ ”
Enraged at being thwarted and humiliated by Vlad time after time, the Sultan gave Radu a huge army with marching orders to take down his brother once and for all. After a grueling battle, Radu and his better-equipped forces finally captured Poenari Castle, Vlad’s famed mountain lair. The Sultan appointed his loyal boytoy Radu the Handsome the new ruler of Wallachia. And the deposed Vlad soon found himself imprisoned in a dungeon — again.
“For more than a decade, Vlad languished in a prison cell as a steady stream of henchmen (and lovely henchwomen) sent by his brother tried — again — to convert the stubborn prince to vampirism,” says Croitoru. “Sometimes he would be left in a cell for weeks at a time with no food and only a tempting goblet of blood on his table. But always the strong-willed Vlad resisted.
“Finally, one stormy night in 1475, Radu arranged to meet his brother in secret face to face, hoping to convince him that joining him on the dark side was his only hope.”
Although 40 years old by this time, Radu still looked like a handsome lad in his teens, his skin smooth and his “lips as full as any woman’s” in the words of a Hungarian account dug up by the researcher in 2009.
“Vlad bitterly demanded to know why his beloved brother could have abandoned the Christian faith and taken up arms against his own people,” says Croitoru. “Hoping for understanding, Radu confessed that he had acted out of love for Mehmed II and that they were lovers.
“Vlad was infuriated. He could forgive his brother for becoming a Muslim and a vampire, yes, for killing his wife, yes, and for usurping his throne, yes — but not for submitting sexually to another man. To a deeply religious Orthodox Christian like Vlad, such an act was an abominable sin.”
Although he was unarmed at the sit-down, Vlad picked up a heavy wooden chair and smashed it over Radu’s head. Then, consumed with rage, he took a broken chair leg and rammed the sharp tip through his brother’s heart.
With his brother dead, Vlad retook the throne of Wallachia on November 26, 1476. His hatred and loathing of the enemy that had turned his kid brother into a gay vampire now drove him to the brink of insanity.
“Instead of traditional chest-staking, captured undead soldiers were now lowered naked onto a huge stake described as ‘thick as a burly man’s arm,’ and deliberately dull at the tip so that death would come slowly,” Croitoru explains.
“The vampire’s weight would cause the victim to slowly sink onto the immense stake as it entered the anus, ripped its way inch by inch through the organs until, mercifully, it penetrated the vampire’s heart.
“It was a very undignified and excruciating death — which was exactly what Vlad intended. He was sending a message to Sultan Mehmed II, the man who had both vampirized his younger brother and introduced him to sodomy.”
Vlad’s relentless, take-no-prisoners campaign worked like a charm. Mehmed II eventually withdrew from the Balkans, his dreams of glory and world domination crushed. His existence remains today only an interesting historical footnote.
Sadly, Vlad lived for only another year before he died, a grief and guilt-ridden man who never got over the fate of the young brother he once so loved.
“Prince Vlad is rightly remembered as a valiant patriot and one of history’s greatest vampire killers,” observes the historian. “But for the sake of historical accuracy, he must also be remembered as one of history’s greatest homophobes.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth