Deadliest Warrior Wiki
Vlad the Impaler
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Weapons Kilij, Halberd, Steel Crossbow, Hand Cannon
Origin Wallacia (Romania)
Activities Defeating the Turks
Service 1431-1486
Battle Status Won vs. Sun Tzu
Experts Vaclav Havlik (Medieval Sword Master)

Brahm Gallagher (Vlad Historian)

"Vlad had no remorse. He killed without any hesitation. He chose the most cruel ways to kill."

- Vaclav Havlik, medieval sword master

Vlad the Impaler, the medieval Romanian prince whose insatiable thirst for blood inspired the legend of Dracula.

Sun Tzu, the ruthless Chinese warmonger whose revolutionary "Art of War" led to the massacre of millions.



  • 1431 - 1476
  • Height - 5' 9"
  • Weight - 170 lbs,
  • Armor - Plated Mail PlatedShield
  • Symbol - Heraldic Dragon (Vlad's last name Dracula means son of the dragon)


Romania is an Eastern European nation between the Danube and Prut rivers. During the reign of Wallachia; it was neighbored by Hungary, Moldova and the growing Ottoman Empire.


Vlad was born in Sighișoara, Transylvania, in the winter of 1431 to Vlad II Dracul, future voivopde of Wallachia and son of the celebrated Voivode Mircea the Elder. His mother is believed to be the second wife of Vlad Dracul: Princess Cneajna of Moldavia. He had two older half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad Călugărul (aka Vlad IV), and a younger brother, Radu III the Fair.

The 1400s was the peak of the Ottoman–Hungarian Wars, which had Wallachia as one of Hungary's strongest rivals even outside of Vlad III's reign.

In the year of his birth Vlad's father, known under the nickname Dracul, had traveled to Nuremberg where he had been vested into the Order of the Dragon. At the age of five, young Vlad was also initiated into the Order.

Vlad II Dracul's Reign (1436 – 1442 & 1443 – 1447)[]

In 1436, Vlad II Dracul ascended the throne of Wallachia. He was ousted in 1442 by rival factions in league with Hungary, but secured Ottoman support for his return agreeing to pay the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to the Sultan and also send his two legitimate sons, Vlad III and Radu, to the Ottoman court, to serve as hostages of his royalty.

Vlad III was imprisoned and often whipped and beaten because of his verbal abuse towards his trainers and his stubborn behavior; refusing to convert to or respect Ottoman Islam. These years presumably had a great influence on Vlad's character and led to Vlad's well-known hatred for the Ottoman Turks, the Janissary, his brother Radu for converting to Islam and the young Ottoman prince Mehmed II (even after he became sultan). He was envious of his father's preference for his elder brother, Mircea II and half brother, Vlad Călugărul. He also distrusted the Hungarians and his own father for trading him to the Turks and betraying the Order of the Dragon's oath to fight the Ottoman Empire.

Vlad was later released under probation and taken to be educated in logic, the Quran and the Turkish and Persian languages and works of literature. He would speak these languages fluently in his later years. He and his brother were also trained in warfare and riding horses. The boys' father, Vlad Dracul, was awarded the support of the Ottomans and returned to Wallachia and took back his throne from Basarab II and some unfaithful Boyars.

First Reign (1448)[]

Vlad III and Vladislav II both had claims to the Wallacia throne. Vlad III was still an ally of the Ottomans at this time and with their assistance overthrew Vladislav II. Before Vlad III could establish his position; the Ottomans defeated the Hungarian Army (assisted by Vladislav II) at the Battle of Kosovo in 1448. Vlad III refused to assist Vladislav II during or after the battle; and so Vladislav II used the remnants of his army to lead a revolution in Wallacia, force Vlad III into exile in Moldova.

Vlad would gain many powerful allies during his exile; including Stephen III the Great (future Prince of Moldavia) and John Hunyadi (a Hungarian general against Vladislav II).

Second Reign (1456–1462)[]

Overthrow of Vladislav II[]

After learning of the Siege of Belgrade in 1456; Vlad saw the opportunity to return from exile and retake his throne in response to the military power vacuum. Vlad III led his mercenary army into Wallacia and was soon met by Vladislav II. Instead of fighting a battle; the two princes had a duel. Vlad III was victorious and killed Vladislav II. In August; Vlad III crowns himself Voivode, shortly before a comet flies over the country (often cited as God confirming Vlad's right to the throne).


Vlad began his reign with many radical reforms. He weakened the Boyars (a privileged class of rich landowners) by introducing taxes; which Boyars previously never had to pay. Boyars that Vlad saw as corrupt or potential enemies were quickly executed. Boyar estates were then given to peasants. Many of the Boyars would be replaced by military Knights. The middleclass would have partial tax exemptions to inspire business growth.

Vlad reformed the military as well. While he began his reign with a mercenary army; he began introducing peasants into the military as well. Peasants would be given basic training and would resume their occupations until summoned for service. Vlad also constructed churches, castles, roads, and tolls.

Vlad's genocides were primarily against people that Vlad declared 'were polluting the land'. Criminals, thieves, adulterers and those committing premarital sex were publicly impaled and mutilated; in order to scare anyone else from committing crimes. Vlad considered the homeless and diseased to be a burden on society; and so attracted them with feasts, only burned them alive in the barns hosting the feast. Vlad justified these mass executions; saying that these people "depart their Earthly sufferings for a better afterlife."

One of the most infamous victims of Vlad's genocide was one of his mistresses; she lied about being pregnant, and Vlad retaliated by cutting her stomach open to confirm the lie.

Estimates for number of his victims ranges from 40,000 to 100,000. According to the German stories the number of victims he had killed was at least 80,000. In addition to the 80,000 victims mentioned he also had whole villages and fortresses destroyed and burned to the ground.

Impalement was Vlad's preferred method of torture and execution. Several of the woodcut from the German pamphlets of the late 15th and early 16th centuries show Vlad feasting in a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brașov, while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims. Vlad also cracked down against those who overthrew his father Vlad II and former supporters of Vladislav II: many of whom were impaled in front of their families (the family members Vlad did not impale were enslaved instead to rebuild castles, and then were executed anyways). Adulterous women would be impaled through their vagina, have their breasts cut off, and have their illegal lovers forced to cannibalize their dismembered body parts.

Saxon War[]

In 1458: Vlad knew that an Ottoman invasion would be difficult to resist if his northern border with the Saxons was insecure. He invaded Saxon territory; slaughtering civilians and political rivals mercilessly. This allowed Vlad to annex the iconic Bran Castle as well.

In 1460: the Saxons were unable to gain much Hungary support and knew they had to engage Wallacia on their own. The Saxons led by Dan III of Wallachia (one of the assassins involved in killing Vlad III's father, Vlad II) attempted to invade Târgoviște; only to be ambushed on all sides by Vlad's army. Vlad stopped his army and demanded Dan to duel him to determine the victory of the battle. Vlad won the duel and forces Dan to dig his own grave before decapitating him. Vlad then impales the Saxon army.

Vlad continued raiding the Saxons; killing 10,000s of civilians. Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus sued for peace. The two agreed to a military alliance; in exchange for the Hungarians surrendering political rivals to Vlad, Wallacia agreed to be a buffer state against Ottoman invasion.

Vlad used this security to construct Bucharest: the current capital of Romania. Vlad moved his capital from Târgoviște to Bucharest in order to station his army closer to the Ottoman border. Bucharest was located in a snake, leech and mosquito infested marsh: a natural barrier against enemy armies.

Ottoman War[]

Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, attempted but failed to conquer Hungary when he lost at the Siege of Belgrade in 1456. So instead; the Ottomans began annexing other smaller nations to regain control of the region. This included Serbia in 1459, Greece and Morea in 1460 and the Empire of Trebizond (the last territory of the Byzantine Empire) in 1461.

Vlad secured his North-Eastern border with Stephen III of Moldavia; forming an alliance that angered the Ottomans. The Ottomans raided Wallacia, only to be slowed down by the weight of their plunder as well as the dispersal of their forces, and were slaughtered by Vlad's army.

Wallacia was able to avoid Ottoman invasion by being a vassal that paid annual tribute. Vlad however refused to pay tribute in 1462; outraged by the aforementioned Ottoman raids. Aware that this would be an act of war; Vlad raided the Ottoman border territory of Bulgaria (killing 20,000 Turks) before the Ottoman Army could respond.

Vlad also attempted to gain support from Pope Pius II, who declared a Crusade against the Ottomans in 1461. However the Crusade fell on deaf ears; primarily since Europeans were engaged in their own wars against each other. The failure of this Crusade forced Vlad to submit to paying tribute once again to prevent the Ottomans from invading.

However this peace didn't last. Michael Szilagyi (Hungarian general, Regent of Hungary, Count of Beszterce and Head of Szilágyi–Hunyadi Liga), was executed by the Ottomans for accusations of espionage. Michael was tortured and publicly sawed-in-half. Vlad was outraged, as Michael was one of his closest allies.

The Ottomans attempted to collect the Wallacia tribute shortly afterwards. However with the execution of Michael; Vlad feared that the Ottoman army that came to Wallacia to collect tribute was instead an invasion force. The Sultan's envoys approached Vlad, but refused to lift their turbans when addressing Vlad: causing Vlad to punish them by literally nailing the turbans onto their head and impaling the other visiting Ottomans on burning stakes.

Vlad claimed that the leader of this army, Hamza (bey of Nicopolis), was given orders to kidnap Vlad and bring him to Constantinople. Vlad decapitates Hamza's head (as well as two massive bags full of disembodied Ottoman ears and noses) and sends it to Hungary to reconfirm their military alliance. Vlad claimed to have killed 23,884 Turks during his raids against the Ottomans (admitting that this number is higher since he didn't count the Turks that were decapitated in combat or the Ottoman civilians burned alive in their homes). However Hungary made no response (most likely unwilling to re-declare war against the Ottomans). The Ottomans thus began their retaliation against Vlad in 1461; and Vlad began training his troops and fortifying his nation.

During this time: Vlad was aware that Ottoman forces were still occupying Morea and Greece. Vlad invaded the Ottoman border fort of Giurgiu in Feburary 1462. This Siege of Giurgiu was not a typical siege; as Vlad had an unorthodox strategy. He ordered his army to hide in the woods north of the city. Then Vlad used his knowledge of Ottoman culture, Islam and the Turkish language to pretend to be an Ottoman general. Vlad and his bodyguards were dressed in Ottoman clothes, and the Ottoman garrison fell for the ruse. Vlad killed the sentries shortly after walking into the fort. This allowed the Wallacia army to capture the city.

Mehmed II personally led a 100,000 strong army to invade Wallacia in response. Vlad was known for his use of Guerilla tactics and ambushes to resist the larger Ottoman army; as well as Scorched Earth tactics, traps to disable the enemy and biological warfare to slow the Ottoman advance. He also was able to use bows and handcannons effectively to pick off the Ottoman Army at a distance. Vlad even used biological warfare; sending plague infested people into Ottoman villages to spread the disease.

Battle of Târgovişte[]

On the night of June 17, 1462; Vlad ambushed the Ottoman camp at Târgovişte. Vlad himself entered the camp in disguise and located the Sultan's tent. He then sent his cavalry to strike the eastern part of the camp: but this was a diversion, and Vlad attacked from the west. The Eastern Cavalry assault failed to meet up with Vlad to assist him in attacking Mehmed II's tent: and thus the Sultan managed to escape the assassination attempt. As time passed, more Ottoman soldiers woke up and rushed to push back the Wallachians; forcing Vlad to retreat.

Mehmed II attempted to enter Târgovişte regardless; but found the city abandoned. The Sultan was then sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled Ottoman corpses that Vlad presented to the camp. Mehmed II also was exhausted by the frequent night ambushes Vlad launched against the Ottomans. Not wanting to risk a prolonged war, with a severely demoralized Ottoman army; Mehmed met up with his navy on the Danube River to retreat.

Hungarian Imprisonment & Reign of Radu cel Frumos (1462 – 1473 & 1474 & 1474 & 1474-1475)[]

Mehmed II's retreat was a militaristic loss for the Ottomans, but Mehmed II was still able to defeat Vlad politically. Mehmed II assisted Radu cel Frumos' (Radu III 'The Handsome') ascension to the Wallacian throne during the retreat. This was somewhat easy since Vlad abandoned Târgovişte to avoid a conventional battle against the larger Ottoman army. Radu's loyalty to the Ottomans was rumored to be due to his history as Mehmed II's homosexual concubine; although this is difficult to confirm. Radu claimed to be the true heir (claiming to be Vlad's brother) and was quickly popular with the boyars that Vlad repressed; Radu not only reversed Vlad's restrictions against the boyars, but also implemented pro-boyar policies. Vlad was too busy still engaging Ottoman forces to prevent this coup. By August 1462: Radu had control over most of Romania, and Vlad was on the run with only the soldiers still loyal to him.

Vlad approached the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus for assistance against the Ottomans. Matthias wanted to prevent igniting a war with the Ottomans; as Hungary avoided the war at this time, and did not want to risk conflict by threatening Radu III since he was an Ottoman puppet. The Saxons presented Matthias with a letter allegedly written by Vlad Dracula to Sultan Mehmed; in which Vlad offered his support to the Ottomans. Convinced of Vlad Dracula's treachery, Matthias had him imprisoned. The Ottomans themselves were oblivious to the arrest of Vlad and did not exploit this.

Other Ottoman Wars[]

During the 1460s; the Ottomans were invaded by the Persian Aq Qoyunlu Empire in an attempt to get a Mediterranean port in the territory of Kabamanid. This temporarily prevented the Ottomans from conquering Europe during this time. In the Battle of Otlukbeli in 1473: the Ottoman cavalry was surrounded and overwhelmed by Uzun Hasan; who destroyed bridges to prevent Ottoman reinforcements. However only 10 days later; Mehmed II returned with reinforcements. In the second battle; the Ottoman cavalry was initially outnumbered; but Mehmed provided Janissary musketeers to assist the cavalry and the Persian center line foolishly charged into Janissary musket and cannon fire. This Ottoman victory allowed the Ottomans to return to Europe.

Stephen III gained experienced in fighting against the Ottomans due to his alliance with Vlad, and managed to implement similar scorched-earth tactics. Despite being outnumbered 3 to 1: Stephen III of Moldavia, The Great and the Holy, won at the Battle of Vaslui in 1475. He use light cavalry hit-and-run tactics to lure the Ottomans across a bridge into a a foggy valley. Stephen then used musical instruments to trick the Ottoman forces into moving westward; when his actual army ambushed the Ottomans from the east.

Stephen III also was hostile to Vlad's replacement Radu cel Frumos and managed to invade Wallacia and dethrone Radu multiple times in 1474: attempting to ascend Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân to the throne. Radu's fate is difficult to confirm; but it is believed that he was killed by Stephen: either dying in battle or executed after being a POW.

Third Reign (1476)[]

Vlad III managed to eventually regain his political power by befriending Matthias Corvinus: despite also being his prisoner. Vlad eventually was released thanks partially to marrying Matthias' cousin Justina Szilágyi. Vlad managed to rebuild his army with these political alliances.

On July 26, 1476: the Ottomans won the Battle of Valea Alba (or the Battle of Războieni). Stephen III of Moldavia surrendered to the Ottomans and became a vassal; although his previous victories against the Ottomans gave him favorable conditions. With Moldavia no longer an issue; the Ottomans threatened Romania once again.

Vlad the Impaler used his new army to retake the throne in fall of 1476, but was killed by Basarab's forces in late December of 1476. Vlad did not have enough time to rebuild his reign and army fast enough to survive a new Ottoman-backed invasion: his army at this time was only 4,000 men strong. There's debate over if Vlad was assassinated or died in battle, but his murdered corpse was decapitated and his head impaled by the Ottomans.

Vlad was replaced by a prince the Ottomans would use as their puppet: Basarab Laiotă cel Bătrân.

In 1515, 35 years after his death, Wallacia finally was defeated by the Ottomans and became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.


Even during his lifetime, Vlad III Țepeș became famous as a tyrant taking sadistic pleasure in torturing and killing. After Vlad's death, his cruel deeds were reported with macabre gusto in popular pamphlets in Germany, reprinted from the 1480s until the 1560s, and to a lesser extent in Tsarist Russia: Ivan the Terrible would research Vlad's methods of repression and genocide in his own tyrannical reign.

Despite Vlad's brutality to his own people; his stance against the Ottomans made him one of the most famous heroes of Romania and Christianity.


The Ottoman–Habsburg wars had the Catholic House of Habsburg conquer Transylvania from the Ottomans with the Treaty of Karlowitz in 26 January 1699. However Romanians resisted the Hasburgs and with the Treaty of Szatmár on 29 April 1711 the Principality of Transylvania was formed.

Romania would spend much of its modern history under foreign occupation or influence; Austria-Hungary between 1867-1918, the Axis Powers during WWII, the Soviet Union 1947–1989 (staying with the Warsaw Pact until 1991) and NATO since 29 March 2004.


The Kilij is a curved single edged Turkic sword, because of the curved blade it makes it a good chopping and hacking weapon.

The Halberd is a poleaxe. This weapon consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It has a hook or a thorn on the back side of the axe. It can hack/chop, thrust/stab, and hook the enemy.

The Hand Cannon is a portable mini cannon. This firearm can fire either pebbles or shaped iron or stone balls, & has a sharp steel spike for use at close range.

Short Range Kilij (337)
Mid Range Halberd (214)
Long Range Steel Crossbow (30)
Special Weapons Hand Cannon (71)

Deadliest Warrior: Legends weapons[]

Short Range: Kilij, Turko-Mongol Saber

Medium Range: Military fork, Ranseur

Long Range: Steel Crossbow, Javelin

Armor: Wallachian Robes, Chain Mail Coat

Joke Weapon: Farmer's Pitch Fork (which replicates Vlad's mid-ranged weapon)

Finishing move: He strikes his adversary's throat, causing him to retreat while Vlad advances with his military fork/ ranseur/ pitchfork and runs it through his opponent and raises it up, balancing it on the ground, and leaves his still writhing opponent.

Simulated Battle[]

The battle starts out with Vlad sneaking up to Sun Tzu's campsite, where Sun Tzu has sat himself down to a cup of tea. Close by, Vlad sets his shield into the ground and readies his hand cannon, firing a shot which destroys the general's teapot. Vlad laughs as he has taken the general off guard, but Sun Tzu raises his repeating crossbow and gets off a few shots and runs away. Vlad ducks behind his shield but is struck in the shoulder. Relatively unharmed, Vlad pulls out the bolt and readies his hand cannon again, but Sun Tzu is nowhere to be seen.

Collecting his effects (a steel helmet, his shield, and his halberd), Vlad runs off searching for Sun Tzu. But the general is not far away as he gets the drop on Vlad by shooting him from a tree with a flaming arrow. The Son of the Dragon is thrown to the ground by the force of the shot, but still remains relatively unharmed as he scrambles to his feet while putting out the small fire. Sun Tzu jumps down from the tree, but is promptly stabbed in the thigh by Vlad's halberd. Sun Tzu yells in pain and strikes the halberd with the edge of his hand, breaking it at the head which astonishes Vlad. Sun Tzu kicks Vlad in the face while he is still distracted and pulls out the halberd, hobbling away as Vlad gets back up and collects his helmet and shield again.

Not far away, Sun Tzu pulls out a spare armor set and a zhua hidden underneath fallen foliage. Above him, The Impaler watches him, preparing his steel crossbow. Vlad walks a little ways and sees the general's armor nearby and takes his shot. The armor falls over and Vlad goes to investigate, only to find that he shot a decoy. The real Sun Tzu then jumps down, disarming Vlad from his shield using the zhua. Vlad dodges another swing from the zhua and draws his kilij, slashing General Tzu across the midsection as he recovers. The general falls back again, as Vlad pulls off his gauntlet, revealing that the zhua managed to cut his forearm. The enraged Prince of Darkness picks up his kilij and charges General Tzu, who pulls out his jian and clashes with the warrior king. Both warriors cross swords until Vlad severs both of General Tzu's hands at the wrist. The general drops to his knees as The Impaler raises his sword over his head, but stops in mid-swing from decapitating his victim. Grinning wildly with an evil laugh, Vlad Tepes Dracula has other ideas for the fallen general.

A shot of the Wallachian countryside is shown as terrible sounds and screaming are heard offscreen. When the camera cuts back to the warriors, it is revealed that Vlad has impaled the defeated Sun Tzu on a large stake. Vlad places his sword in front of his face as an act of respect towards his fallen enemy and gives a loud victory roar as he raises his kilij in the air.

Expert's Opinion[]

The reason why Vlad won was because most of his weapons, especially the kilij, were superior to Sun Tzu's arsenal, (with the exception of Sun Tzu's repeating crossbow against Vlad's steel crossbow) as well as the fact Vlad was a more seasoned and experienced fighter and Sun Tzu was more of a strategist and scholar.


  • The English Queen Elizabeth II claims to be the decedent of Vlad IV (brother of Vlad the Impaler). This is due to her grandmother Mary of Teck. [1]
  • Vlad was a great tactician, always taking advantage of the surroundings to full extent, because he was always outnumbered by his enemies (especially the Ottomans, about 7 to 1 on average). He was also cunning and great at deceiving the enemy; and even known for going himself with a small contingent disguised as the enemy, slipping behind their lines and taking them out on several occasions, at times the Ottomans would kill fellow Ottomans because they would be unable to tell friend from foe. Vlad was in real life the gatekeeper of Europe. He stopped countless invasion attempts of the Ottoman Empire.
  • In Deadliest Warrior: Legends, Vlad's introduction is that he drinks from a golden goblet before he drops it (and sometimes it lands right side up) and laughs. According to legend, Vlad allowed golden cups to stand in the center of city plazas, as he knew no one would dare steal such a treasure under his rule (and none of the cups were ever stolen). The towns feared that Vlad would destroy the town to capture the thief.
  • Allegedly, the reputation of Vlad's cruelty was actively promoted by Matthias Corvinus, who tarnished Vlad’s reputation and credibility for a political reason: as an explanation for why he had not helped Vlad fight the Ottomans in 1462, for which purpose he had received money from most Catholic states in Europe. Matthias employed the charges of Southeastern Transylvania, and produced fake letters of high treason, written on 7 November 1462.
  • Vlad III was forced into adopting Islam, converted back into Orthodox Christianity during his reign, and converted to Catholic Christianity during his imprisonment in Hungary.
  • The Chinese King Goujian of Yue was a similar extreme military general, ordering the forced-suicide of thousands of criminals and POWs in front of the enemy army before a battle.
  • Contrary to popular belief: there is no historical evidence of Vlad the Impaler ever visiting Bran Castle. Vlad's most noticeable home was actually Poenari Castle.
  • Romanian History [2]

  • Vlad (like some other Gun Powder Warriors) could debatably be a modern warrior, due to his Hand Cannon, but to some, he is still considered an ancient warrior since the rest of his weapons are non-black powder. If to be considered a modern warrior, he'll then be the second modern warrior to face an ancient one, the first when the pirate battled the knight.
  • Vlad and Sun Tzu are the only warriors wearing either formal wear or body armor throughout their episode.
  • According to an online poll, Vlad the Impaler was the most popular ancient celebrity on Deadliest Warrior.
  • Vlad reappeared in the Vampire/Zombie episode as the inspiration of the most famous vampire: Dracula.
  • It is the second match-up that involved amputation (the first being the battle between the Somali Pirates and the Medellin Cartel) and the only match-up where in the final simulation the defeated warrior was finished by a weapon not on the Warrior's official list (although the Kilij did technically defeat SunTzu).