Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula (2000)

 

 

 

Director:    Joe Chappelle.

Starring:     Rudolf Martin (Prince Vlad Tepes the Impaler),  Jane March (Lidia) , Christopher Brand (Bruno),  Peter Weller (Father Stefan),  Roger Daltrey (King Janos of Hungary),  Michael Sutton (Radu).

1456-1476 Vlad Dracula of Transylvania fights Ottoman Turks; Ottoman Empire (1299-1922)

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  this tells the entire story, so stop as you approach the end.

This movie is done in flashback form. Vlad Dracul is being interrogated by Greek Orthodox priests. He is accused of heresy and threatened with excommunication for cooperating with the Catholic King of Hungary and for marrying his Catholic daughter. In his defense, Vlad tells his story.

Vlad Dracul has to experience the death of his father at the hands of the Romanian nobility. This leaves him and his younger brother alone. He and his brother are taken captive by the Ottoman Turks. Vlad is released, but his little brother is kept for sexual purposes by the Turk leader.

When Vlad comes to power, he marries the daughter of one of the Romanian nobles responsible for his father's murder. He then hosts a huge feast for the Romanian nobility which ends in a mass killing of the nobles, except for his father-in-law.

His wife is haunted by the sounds of the voices of the murdered nobles, but Vlad keeps explaining the sounds away. But she finally realizes his cruelty by his punishment of even minor law violators -- often with impalement -- earning his nickname of Vlad the Impaler. His wife is so upset that he sends her to a mental institution. She does not come back for many years.

Vlad obtains funding from the Catholic king of Hungary to fight the Turks. He pushes the Turks back but eventually they return. His failures and a false report of his betrayal of the Hungarians causes the king of Hungary to throw him in the dungeon. When the king learns that it was a false report and that he needs help again against the Turks, he has Vlad released.

Vlad fights the Turks, ultimately with little success. He becomes a liability to the Romanian nobles and with the help of one of the priests in Vlad's interrogation, he is tricked into coming to a castle in order to see his estranged brother. He falls into the trap and is killed by his brother, now having identified with the Turkish cause.

According to the film's ending, the spirit of Dracul does not stay dead for long.

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Translyvania, the home of Dracula, is found today in Romania; it forms the western and central parts of that country. The main city Cluj-Napoca is considered to be the region's historic capital.

 

271  --  the ancient Dacia became the Kingdom of the Goths until the end of the fourth century.  Transylvania was the political center of Dacia.

4th century  --  the ancient Dacia was now in the Hunnic Empire.

Middle Ages  --  Romanians lived in three principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania.. 

until the 8th century  --  the Gepids and the Avars  ruled Transylvania.  The Bulgars took over Romania as part of their empire. 

1000  --  the Pechenegs, Cumans and Uzes controlled  the territory of Romania.

11th century  --  the Kingdom of Hungary gained control over Transylvania.

13th & 14th centuries  --  Dragos founded the Vlachian principality of Moldavia.

1301  --  Hungary and Transylvania became possessions of the Houses of Anjou and Habsburg.

1310  --   Basarab I founded the Vlachian principality of Wallachia. 

 c. 1310-1352  --  the Prince of Wallachia ruled. 

1330  --  Basarab I defeated the Hungarians under Carol Robert of Anjou at the Battle of Posada, thereby gaining the independence of Wallachia.  The House of Basarab was founded by Basarab I.  The ruler of Wallachia was a vassal of the King of Hungary.

1352-1364  --  reign of Nicolae Alexandru.

1364-c.1377  -- reign of Vladislav I. 

1377-1383  --  reign of Radu I.

1383-1386  --  reign of Dan I. 

1386-1418  --  Mircea the elder ruled Wallachia. 

c. 1390  --  Vlad II (also known as Dracul or "The Dragon") born.  His father was Mircea the elder. 

1394-1397  --  Vlad I the Usurper.

1408  --  King of Hungary Sigismund founded the Order of the Dragon, an order of selected nobles.  Its creed was designed to gain political favor for the church and to protect the Hungarian-Romanian royal family from the Ottoman Empire. 

1420-1421  --  Dan II.

1420 (August) - 1422  --  Radu II Chelul. 

1421-1444 – Murad II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

1421 to 1423  --    Dan II.

1423 (summer)  --  Radu II Chelul. 

1423 to 1424  --   Dan II.

1424 (autumn )  --  Radu II Chelul

1426-1427  --   Dan II.

1427 (January-spring)  -- 

1427-1431  --   Dan II. 

before 1430  --  Mercia, the oldest son of Dracul II born.

1430  --  birth of second son, the future Vlad IV.  He was the half-brother of Dracula.

1431-1436  --  reign of Alexandru I Aldea.

1431  --  Vlad II was titled into the Order of the Dragon by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. 


1431  --  the future Vlad III Dracula, the third son of Vlad II, in Transylvania while his father was in exile   

1436-1442  --  first reign of Vlad II.  Threatened with invasion, he promised the Turkish Sultan to be a vassal and turned his two younger sons over to the Turks as hostages.  Dracula was treated harshly, often being whipped, while his younger brother became the sexual property of the Sultan's son, converted to Islam and was accepted at court. 

c. 1437  -- birth of the fourth brother, Radu cel Frumos. This brother was always trying, with the help of the Turks, to replace Dracula.

1442  --  Vlad II avoided war with the Ottoman Empire so much that the Hungarians accused him of disloyalty and removed him. 

1442  --  Mircea II ruled Wallachia.  He was the oldest son of Vlad II Dracul and brother of Vlad III Dracula. 

1442-1443  --  reign of Basarab II. 

1443-1447  --  second reign of Vlad II.  He regained the throne with the help of the Turks, but was able to get along with the Hungarians.

1444-1446 – reign of Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire.

1444  --  the King of Hungary, Ladislaus III of Poland, launched the Varna campaign in an effort to drive the Turks out of Europe.  Governor-general John Hunyadi demanded that Vlad II,  as a member of the Order of the Dragon and a vassal of Hungary, join the effort against the Turks.  When Vlad declined, the Pope demanded that he send his son Mircea II instead.

1446-1451 – Sultan Murad II of the Ottoman Empire returns.

The Ottoman Empire soldiers destroyed the Christian army at the Battle of Varna.  John Hunyadi escaped the battle.  Many, including Vlad, blamed Hunyadi for the debacle. This started the hostility between John Hunyadi and Vlad Dracul.

1447  (December)  --  Vlad II was assassinated on the orders of John Hunyadi, regent of Hungary.  His eldest son, Mercia, was buried alive.  After the death of his father, the Turks released Dracula. 

Hunyadi invaded Wallachia with the Hungarian military and ousted the Turks  Dracula fled to Moldavia and stayed there for several years.  He was put under the protection of his cousin, Bogdan II.

With his cousin Stefan, he then went to Transylvania.

1447-1448  --  first reign of Vladislav II.

When Bodgan II was assassinated, Dracula gambled on fleeing to Hungary. Fortunately for Dracula, Hunyadi pardoned him and even made him the Hungarian candidate for the throne of Wallachia.

1448  --  first reign of Vlad III Dracula. 

1448-1456  --  second reign of Vladislav II. 

1451-1481 – Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire.

1456  --   Hungary invaded Serbia to drive out the Turks.  At the same time Dracula invaded Wallachia.  Both efforts were successful.  (Hunyadi died of fever.)

1456-1462  --  second reign of Vlad III Dracula.

Dracula started eliminating any possible competition for his position as ruler.  He also used extremely harsh methods to bring law and order to Wallachia.

1457  --  Dracula helped his cousin Ştefan get the throne of Moldavia. 

1459  --  Dracula stopped paying tribute to the Ottomans, placing his faith in the new Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus. 

c. 1460  --  Dracula made a new alliance with Corvinus; the Ottomans tried to oust Dracula from his position.

1461-1462   --  Vlad crossed south of the Danube and devastated the area between Serbia and the Black Sea. In his wake, over 20,000 people were dead.

1462 (spring)  --  Sultan Mehmed II and an army of 60,000 men attacked Wallachia and occupied the capital Târgovişte (June 4). 

1962 (June 16/17)  --  as part of his guerrilla war, Dracula and some of his men attempted to assassinate Mehmed.

The Turks installed Vlad's brother, Radu the Handsome, as Dracula's successor and left Wallachia. 

1462-1473  --  first reign of Radu cel Frumos, the younger brother of Vlad Tepes (Dracula).  Radu, with support from the nobility, chased Dracula to Transylvania.

1462  --  Radu made a deal with Hungary and Dracula was imprisoned.  Dracula, however, was able to come back into favor with the Hungarians, mostly because his brother was too supportive of the Turks. (It is said that in captivity Dracula tortured small animals.)

1466  -- Dracula released from prison. 

Dracula married a member of the Hungarian royal family and had two sons.

1473  --  first reign of Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân.

1473-1474  -  second reign of Radu cel Frumos.

1474  --  second reign of Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân.

1474  --  third reign of Radu cel Frumos.

1474  --  third reign of Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân.

1474-1475  --  fourth reign of Radu cel Frumos. 

1474  --  Dracula received his final release from Hungary. 

1475-1476  --  fourth reign of Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân, the Turkish candidate.

1475  --  Dracula, Prince Stephen I Bathory of Transylvania and Dracula's cousin Stephen II of Moldavia invaded Wallachia.  His opponents fled.

1476  --  third reign of Vlad III Dracula. His cousin Stefan helped Dracula return to the throne of Wallachia.

The Turks responded by sending a large army into Wallachia.  At this point, Dracula had too many enemies in Wallachia and he could muster few troops to fight the Turks. 

1476 (December)  --  death of Vlad III Dracula.  Some sources say he died in battle with the Turks.  Another say he was assassinated.  And still another say he was struck down by one of his own men in the battle.

The Turks decapitated Dracula and sent his head to Istanbul preserved in honey.   The Sultan displayed the head on a stake as proof  of the death of the Impaler. He is believed to have been buried at a monastery located at Snagov, near Bucharest.


1476-1477  --  fifth reign of Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân.

1477-1481  --  first reign of Basarab Ţepeluş cel Tânăr.

1481-1512 – Sultan Beyezid II of the Ottoman Empire.

1481  --  reign of Mircea.

1481  --  first reign of Vlad Călugărul.

1481-1482  --   second reign of Basarab Ţepeluş cel Tânăr.

1482-1495  --  second reign of Vlad Călugărul.

 

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