Vlad the Impaler the second reign – Part 3

The Army of Vlad the Impaler counted about 4ooo paid soldiers. The boyars had about 100-200 paid soldiers each one (meaning a total of about 4000). The total of 8000 permanent soldiers (even 10000) couldn’t face the professional Ottoman army.

Moreover, the “greater army” summoned only in case of invasion (25000-30000) was mostly formed by peasants, who did not receive any preliminary military training, and whom nobody paid to fight. But they were allowed to take any spoils of war.

At higher levels, at about the same time, the Pope Pius II started the work for a new crusade. But his action didn’t have any echo in the Central and Western European counties. France and England fought each other. Germany had internal troubles. Poland fought with Teutonic knights.

Matthias Corvin of Hungary fought for his own throne, contested by Frederick III. Against all these, at 14th of January 1960, the Pope read the Bule through he proclaimed the new crusade against the Ottomans. He sustained this through with financial help sent to Matthias Corvin.

Well, the unknown hero of this “crusade” was Vlad the Impaler. Hero, because he was the only ruling prince/king who raised an army against the Ottomans after the Pope’s Bull, with no help from the others. And to be clear, no money and no soldiers (except 1000 horse-riding troopers sent by Stephen the Great) were ever sent to sustain Vlad the Impaler effort to keep the Ottomans away from the Danube river.

Not even from Matthias Corvin who promised to help Vlad in his campaign (and also had the money sent by the Pope for this purpose). Unknown, because Matthias Corvin assumed the merits for his victories against the Ottomans. Ok, back to chronological facts.

The armistice with the Saxons proved to be only temporary and because Vlad was protecting his traders very stubbornly from Saxon abuses, they decided to help Dan III. Along the 1459 year the conflict with Saxon merchandisers got deeper, culminating in the spring of 1460.

After a long harassment campaign (from both sides), Dan overruns Targoviste in the hope he’ll take the throne of Wallachia. But Vlad the Impaler beats him off and catches him. After Dan had been forced to dig his own grave and to listen to his own funeral service, he was beheaded.

Only seven boyars from his faction escaped. The rest either died on the field or were impaled afterwards. But the revenge for the support provided by Brasov to Dan was merciless. He entered Transylvania through the Prahova Valley (the first time this passage was used for a military expedition), achieving total surprise. He burned, pillaged and impaled.

But this time he destroyed the city’s outskirts and the beautiful Bartholomew Church. The prisoners were taken to the Gesprengberg/ Sprenghi Hill and impaled to the horror of the rest of the inhabitants. He then attacked the Fagaras County, where some of the boyars from the rival faction were residing.

The end of this conflict came in the 1st of October 1460 when Vlad the Impaler comes to an agreement with the city of Brasov, ruling that the Transylvanian inhabitants contribute with 4000 soldiers in the fight against the Ottomans. A help that Vlad never saw.

In 1459 Vlad skipped paying the tribute to the Porte. He never said he won’t pay. He just found (or invented) reasons to delay again and again. The Sultan, being busy in his Anatolian campaign, didn’t take it seriously at the beginning. But once he put order in Anatolia, he turned his mind on Europe. The threatening of the Ottoman Empire rose day after day.

So, despite all their misunderstandings, the Impaler and Matthias Corvin signed a treaty of alliance against the Turks. The Turks tried to prevent the alliance with Hungary. Seeing that he couldn’t stop the Christian alliance, the sultan tried to catch Vlad. He sent Hamza-beg and 10,000 men (according to Mikhail Doukas) to bring Vlad to the Porte: “no matter how: by tricks, under oath or any other kind of trap.”

Hamza-beg asked the Impaler to come at Giurgiu, on the Danube, to settle some disputes concerning the state border. The ruling prince arrived at the meeting accompanied by his mercenary guard, thwarting the Turk’s plans. The Turks were defeated and some of them caught and impaled, and Hamza took the highest stake according to his rank.

In the winter of 1461/1462, taking advantage of the ice bridge created over the Danube, Vlad III the Impaler crossed into Bulgaria and started a campaign, which led to the death of 23,884 Turks and the capture of Dobruja. He conquered Rusciuk, Shishtov, Samovit, Rahova. He spared the Christians, but he moved them north of the Danube, into his lands.

First part of the preparations for the real war with Turks been done, Vlad the Impaler writes to Matthias Corvin. He wrote a full report of his Danube campaign. He hoped that his skills as an army leader would convince the Hungarian king to give him the needed help against the Ottomans.