Editor's Note: This text is a translation of one of the oldest surviving versions of the story of Vlad V, Prince of Wallachia--known to his friends as Vlad the Impaler, or Prince Dracole. It was printed in Nuremburg in 1488. The accounts of the atrocities here must be taken with a grain of salt, since this pamphlet and many other like it were prepared under the influence of a political enemy of Vlad V, King Matthias Corvinas of Hungary. The document was written within a few years of Vlad V's death, however, and some of the events described can be traced back to events in historical records.
Six copies of this particular pamphlet are known to exist. The
only copy outside of Europe--from which this translation was made--is
held by the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. This
translation is from a publication prepared by the Rosenbach Museum and
The Text of "Prince Dracula"
In the year of Our Lord 1456 Dracula did many dreadful and curious things.
Item: The old governor had the old Dracula put to death, and Dracula and his brother gave up their faith and promised and vowed to defend the Christian Orthodox faith.
Item: In the same year he was appointed lord in Wallachia. Immediately he had Prince Lasla killed, who was lord of this country. Soon after this he had villages in Transylvania, also a town by the name of Beckendorf in Wurtzland, burned. Both women and men, young and old perished. Some he brought home with him to Wallachia and impaled them all there.
Item: He commanded that all young boys who were sent to his land to learn the language be confined in a chamber, and he had them burned; there were four hundred.
Item: He declared a peace, and during the same he had many
merchants and waggoners from Wurtzland impaled. He also had a
large family extinguished and impaled, from the smallest to
the largest, young and old.
Item: He captured the young Dan and had a grave for him and had a funeral service held according to Christian custom and beheaded him beside the grave.
Item: Ambassadors numbering fifty-five were sent from the Kingdom of Hungary and Saxony and Transylvania into Wallachia. Dracula kept them waiting for five weeks and had stakes made for their lodgings (for their impalement.) Therefore they were in great distress. He did this because he feared treachery. Meanwhile he went to Wurtzland and destroyed the grain and had all the crops burned and he had the populace led in captivity out from the city called Kronstatt. Then Dracula rested near St. Jacob's Chapel. H~ had the outskirts burned. Also when day came, early iii the morning, he had women and men, young and old, impaled around the hill by the chapel and sat down among them and ate his breakfast with enjoyment.
Item: He also had St. Bartholomew's Church burned and all
vestments and chalices taken from there.
Item: Merchants and other people numbering six hundred came with their goods from Wurtzland toward Tunau to Pregel. Dracula had them all impaled and their properties seized.
Item: He had a large pot made and boards with holes fastened
over it and had people's heads shoved through there and
imprisoned them thus. And he had the pot filled with water
and a big fire made under the pot and thus let the people cry
out pitiably until they were boiled quite to death.
Item: He had all kinds of peoples impaled sideways: Christians, Jews, heathens, so that they moved and twitched and whimpered in confusion a long time like frogs. Afterwards he had their hands and feet also impaled and often he spoke in his language, "Oh, with what great skill they move." He had his amusement in this way.
Item: He had captured a gypsy who had stolen. Then the other
gypsies came and begged Dracula to release him. Then he said,
"He must hang, and you must execute him yourselves." They
said it was not their custom. So Dracula had the gypsy boiled
in a pot. Then the other gypsies were made to eat his flesh
Item: A cleric preached how sins would not be forgiven unless one return injustice with justice. Then Dracula invited him to his home and sat him at his table. Dracula broke up a loaf of wheatbread that he intended to eat himself. After a while the cleric took one of the pieces and ate it. Dracula said, "How did you preach today? That sin will not be forgiven unless one return injustice with justice?" The priest said, "Yes." Dracula said, "Why did you eat my bread which I broke for myself?" He impaled the priest immediately.
Item: Moreover Dracula came to Kalmotz in Transylvania. There
he himself had the people cut down like weeds; he led home
and impaled the rest.
Item: He had people ground to death on grindstones and did many more inhumane deeds which people tell of him.
Item: He had a mistress who pretended she was pregnant. Then
Dracula had the woman examined by midwives, who said she was
not pregnant. Then he cut this same mistress open right up to
her breasts. And he said he wanted to see where his seed was,
or where it had been.
Item: About three hundred gypsies came into his country. Then
he selected the best three of them and had them roasted;
these the others had to eat. And he said to them, "You all
must eat of one another so, or else go against the Turks."
The gypsies were happy to battle the Turks. Therefore Dracula
had horses and men clothed in cowhides.
Item: Some Italian ambassadors were sent to him. When they came to him they bowed and removed their hats, and they kept on the berets beneath them. Then he asked them why they did not take their caps off, too. They said it was their custom, and they did not even remove them for the Emperor. Dracula said, "I wish to reinforce this for you." He immediately had their caps nailed firmly on their heads so that their caps would not fall off and their custom would remain. Thus he reinforced it.
Item: There were two monks who came into his country; he summoned them to come to him. This they did. Then he took the one monk and asked him what good people told of him. This monk was very frightened and said, "People say everything good about you and that you are a very pious ruler; this I, too, say of you." He commanded that this monk be held. And they brought the other monk to him, who was questioned by him like the first. Then the second monk thought, "I must die in any case. I will tell him the truth." And he said, "You are the greatest tyrant that one may find in the world. I have seen no man who ever reports good of you, and this you have no doubt proven." Then. Dracula said, "You have told me the truth, therefore I will let you live." And he let him alone, and sent again for the first monk. Then he spoke as before. Dracula said, "Take him away and impale him for truth's sake."
Item: He had children roasted; these their mothers had to eat. And he cut the women's breasts off; these their husbands had to eat. Afterward he had them all impaled.
Item: He had a good meal prepared for all the beggars in his land. After the meal he had them locked up in the sheds in which they had eaten, and burned them all. He felt they were eating the people's food for nothing and could not repay it.
Soon after this the king of Hungary captured him and kept him for a long time in severe captivity. Afterwards he let himself be baptized publicly as a Roman Catholic and did great penance. After this the king made Prince Dracula a ruler again as before. And people say he did many good deeds afterwards.