lunedì 11 giugno 2012

In the Shadow of Empires by Sir Jens

“Vlad Dracula, three times ruler of Walachia, never once ruler of Transylvania, indeed he left Transylvania at around the age of 7, when his father took the throne in Wallachia and moved his family from Sighisoara to Tirgoviste (and no, he didn''t have a castle in Transylvania either. Neither the one in Bran, nor any other). Vlad was given as a hostage to the Ottomans in ca. 1442 and held there until his father's murder in 1448. He then briefly ruled with Ottoman backing. Sent packing, he roamed around until he managed to get the throne back in 1456. He ruled for 6 years in what by many is still seen as a golden period, where crime and anti-social behaviour was as good as eradicated through harsh and very public punishment of those that broke the law (impaling was particularly popular. He had learned that trick from the Ottomans). He enraged Fatih Sultan Mehmet by a series of raids into Ottoman held Bulgaria in the winter of 1461, and in 1462 Mehmet came for him. Following a series of guerilla skirmishes, Vlad finally withdrew to his bolthole castle in Poienari, which was eventually bombarded by Ottoman cannons and Vlad had to flee to Transylvania. Having had enough of him causing trouble with the sultan, the Hungarian king, Matthias, put him in house arrrest for the next 14 years (partly in Budapest), only to suppport his last reign in Wallachia in 1476, when Mathias needed a strong arm facing the sultan. He was killed in battle in January 1477 and his head was sent to the sultan as proof that his long-time adversary had died. Despite this historic summary, most people think that Vlad Dracula was from Transylvania, that his castle stands in the Borgo Pass and that he is a vampire. The book "In the Shadow of Empires" is a narrative of the historic Vlad Dracula, the events he shaped and the events that shaped him. It follows Vlad Dracula from cradle to grave and specifically avoids discussing vampires, apart from where it is absolutely necessary to link the historic person to nineteenth century fiction writing. Written by an international traveller, who spent 9 years living in Transylvania, and couldn't understand why there was no Dracula, the book is factual but written in light and accesible language aimed at a general, rather than academic, audience.”

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