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Vlad III, also called Vlad the Impaler, was a prince of Wallachia infamous for his brutality in battle and the gruesome punishments he inflicted on his enemies.
In 1897, writer Bram Stoker published the novel Dracula, the classic story of a vampire named Count Dracula who feeds on human blood, hunting his victims and killing them in the dead of night.

The Count Dracula in the book, which contemporary critics described as the “most blood-curdling novel” of the century, was Stoker’s own creation. But many believe the bloodthirsty villain was partly inspired by Vlad the Impaler, the terrifying ruler of Wallachia (now part of present-day Romania) in the mid-1400s.

Vlad III earned his fearsome nickname for impaling more than 20,000 people and killing as many as 60,000 others during his bloody reign. He was even said to dine among his impaled enemies and dip his bread in their blood.

But while the stories of the “real Dracula” have surely been embellished over the years, the true history of Vlad the Impaler is far scarier than anything Bram Stoker could have dreamed up.

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