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Vlad Dracula was a fifteenth century prince who has been the subject of many horror stories There is much debate whether Vlad Dracula was a just prince or a crazed tyrant Entanglement of fact and legend has portrayed him as both a national hero and the prince of darkness Wallachian Politics In order to understand the life of Vlad Dracula it is first necessary to understand something about the nature of Wallachian society and politics A Transylvanian named Rudolph the Black founded Wallachia in 1290 Wallachia was dominated by Hungary until 1330 when it became independent The first ruler of the new country was Prince Basarab the Great an ancestor of Dracula Augustyn p 12 The throne of Wallachia was hereditary but not by the law of primogeniture Instead the boyars or great nobles had the right to elect the prince from among the various eligible members of the royal family Augustyn p 14 By the late fifteenth century the House of Basarab had split into two rival clans the descendants of Prince Dan and those of Prince Mircea the old Draculas grandfather These two branches of the royal family were bitter rivals Both Dracula and his father murdered rivals from the Danesti upon reaching the throne Miller p 64 Another important fact of the fifteenth century Wallachian political life was the influence of powerful neighbors Draculas grandfather Mircea the Old was forced to pay tribute to the sultan early in the fifteenth century Miller p 64 The Hungarian Kingdom to the north and west of Wallachia reached the height of its power during the fifteenth century and was a target for the powerful Ottoman Empire Wallachia was the first step for the Ottomans on their way to conquer the Christian world so throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the princes of Wallachia attempted to maintain independence by constantly shifting allegiance between the powerful neighbors Augustyn p 20 Young Dracula Vlad inherited the name Dracula
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