Vlad IV, 1431?–1476, prince of Walachia (1448, 1456–62, 1476), known as Vlad the Impaler. He was the son of Prince Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Devil) and is therefore also called Dracula or son of the Devil. Vlad IV seized the Walachian throne briefly in 1448 and definitively in 1456 with the support of John Hunyadi, whom he had helped against the Ottoman Turks. Ruling with firmness and with cruelty toward his opponents, he created an orderly administration, developed commerce, and strengthened the army. In 1462, however, a campaign against him by the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II resulted in his deposition. Vlad sought aid from the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus but was instead imprisoned in Hungary for 12 years. In late 1476, Vlad, with Transylvanian aid, regained the Walachian throne only to be defeated and killed by the Ottoman-supported prince, Laiota Basarab. The novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, although not based on Vlad's historical exploits, made the name Dracula well known in literature.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.