For those of you who are rusty on 15th century Eastern European history, I’ll fill you in. Vlad the Impaler (Vlad III, Vlad Tepes, Vlad Dracula) was Prince of Wallachia, which is present-day Romania. If you’ve heard of the city Bucharest, well, that was part of Wallachia. Anyhow, this country sat at the throat of the Ottoman Empire’s expansion out of Turkey and into Europe. Not a pleasant place to be. However, the Wallachians had Vlad.

Using what is now considered psychological warfare, their prince kept the Ottomans off their land while he was the ruler from 1456-72. His deeds reached central Europe and were met with horror and, also, congratulations among those he championed. He’s still revered in Romania. But I’ll let his deeds speak for himself and you can decide if drastic times really called for drastic measures.

1. Hematophagy

Vlad wasn’t a vampire, but he did have some hematomania. There are even credible sources. A 15th-century poem by Michael Behiem called 'Von Ainem Wutrich Der Heis Trakle Waida Von Der Walachei' (Story Of A Bloodthirsty Madman Called Dracula Of Wallachia) portrayed Vlad as a blood drinker. Around his dinner table, he collected the corpses of those who displeased him, which I'm sure reeked to high heaven. He washed his hands in their blood before dining. And collecting it in goblets. And dipping his bread in it. And ate said bread. Ya, hematomania. Oh, and he liked it when the victim’s family joined in. That’s the torture part.

2. Impalement

For a prince short on resources and men, terror’s a great deterrent. Over time, there grew a forest of stakes surrounding Wallachia. Of course, you’re thinking, “They’re all Ottomans.” Wrong. Vlad didn’t reserve the stick up the arse for just his enemies. He took it a little farther by ordering the impalement of ten thousand people, an entire population of a town, for being short two silver coins in taxes. Moral of the story: It’s 1455 and it’s okay to terrorize your own people, so… pay your taxes.

3. Cannibalism

Ya, that village Vlad impaled, he fed their bodies to the crabs in the local pond. “How environmentally-friendly,” you might think. No. He then fed the crabs to other villages who didn’t pay their taxes. But that’s just gross, not cannibalism. Boiling a gypsy alive and then forcing the remaining family to eat it, however, is. Moral of the story: Don’t let Vlad catch you stealing or your family pays the price or eats it more precisely.

4. Genocide

Needless to say, Wallachia was not a wealthy country. And their ruler was also poor in compassion and charity. Once, Vlad gathered all the beggars for a feast… only to burn them down afterward. The mother of all justifications: he felt he did the beggars a favor to end their inevitable suffering and, at the same time, unburden the country. Two birds, one stone. Well, two small starving birds and one really big boulder. There’s no moral to that.

Fun Fact

Vlad was assassinated by his own people in 1474. Go figure. What’s the real kicker is that they didn’t just murder him; they dismembered his body. His head was chopped off, covered in honey as a preservative, and sent to the Turkish sultan. The rest lies in his family’s tomb in Brasov, in case your interested in joining the 250,000 tourists who visit him annually.