Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431 - 1476), also known by his patronymic name Dracula (son of the Dragon, after his father Vlad II Dracul), and posthumously dubbed Vlad the Impaler, was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia, ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, the period of the incipient Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. His father was a member of the Order of the Dragon (Dracul) which was founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe. Vlad III spent much of his rule campaigning against the Ottoman Empire and its expansion. As the cognomen 'The Impaler' suggests, his practice of impaling his enemies is central to his historical reputation. During his lifetime, his reputation for excessive cruelty spread abroad, to Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The total number of his victims is estimated in the tens of thousands. The name of the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula was inspired by Vlad's patronymic.
Contributions by Dahn, Jxdent, and Orioane.