"The Night Attack" - Vlad III Dracula's efforts to protect Europe from Ottoman Conquest

"The Night Attack" - Vlad III Dracula's efforts to protect Europe from Ottoman Conquest

For 700 years Islam had been encroaching upon Europe by the time this historical battle took place in 1462. Over the long course of this era of Islamic expansion millions of Europeans were captured and forced into slavery, mainly from the coasts of the Mediterranean and even further inland. Muslims had invaded Spain and established an Islamic state across the entire country for hundreds of years, which was only just being overcome around the time this conflict took place. The Ottoman Empire was eager to subjugate its Eastern European neighbors, and in the case of any resistance, outright conquer and rule as much of the continent as could be claimed. It should be noted that though Vlad Dracula (or Tepes meaning "Impaler") became a huge thorn in their side (pun intended), this was a relatively short-lived resistance to Islamic expansion into Europe, and Muslim armies were all the way at the gates of Vienna a few generations later. To a broader point, it could be said that there are adherents of Islam that have never considered this old war to be over and continue to see Europe as a prize to be taken from its native, infidel populace.

This information was taken from Wikipedia
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History of Vlad III Dracula

"In the year of his birth, Vlad's father traveled to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg, where he was then vested into the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_Dragon, a fellowship of knights sworn to defend Christendom against the encroaching Ottomans and European heresies, such as the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussites. During his initiation, he was given the epithet Dracul, or dragon, by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund."


Vlad III Dracula's signature
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In 1442, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_II_Dracul (Father of Vlad III Dracula) was beguiled into a confrontation with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_the_Conqueror. Insensitive to the situation, Vlad II Dracul took his two sons Mercea and Dracula (age 11) to meet him, only for them to be taken prisoner. During his years as "favoured prisoner" in Gallipolli, Vlad was educated in logic, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran, and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_language language and works of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literature. He would speak this language fluently in his later years. He and his brother were also trained in warfare and horsemanship. It is suspected that the young Dracula spent some time in 1443 in Constantinople in the court of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_XI_Palaiologos, the final Emperor of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire. Both were eventually released in 1448 after 6 years of "captivity". His Turkish allies supported him by attempting to install him as Voivode of Wallachia. This bold coup lasted two months when his opponents were distracted.

Vlad was not at all pleased to be in Turkish hands. He was resentful and very jealous of his little brother, who soon earned the nickname https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radu_cel_Frumos, or "Radu the Handsome". Radu was well behaved and quickly earned the friendship of Sultan Murad's son, Mehmet; he eventually converted to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam and entered Ottoman service. Conversely, Vlad was defiant and constantly punished for his impudence. It has been suggested that his traumatic experiences among the Ottomans may have molded him into the sadistic man he grew up to be, especially in regards to his penchant for impaling. The death of Vlad's father Vlad II Dracul and older-half-brother Micea, both politically assassinated, greatly contributed to the development of the sadistic nature of Dracula.
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Rise of Vlad III Dracula
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Bust of Vlad the Impaler in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sighi%C8%99oara, his place of birth

After his escape, Dracula escaped to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldova, fearful of assassins, to learn under the tutelage of his uncle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogdan_I_of_Moldavia and his cousin Prince Stephen. They formed a close friendship, promising each other to help other in need. This was called into action in 1457 when Vlad helped his cousin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_the_Great ascend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldavia's throne by providing 6,000 horsemen as military assistance against https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petru_Aron, who was deposed after two battles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_III_of_Moldavia's long lasting reign developed into the most fierce anti-Ottoman resistance.

In 1451, only three years after his "adoption", Dracula was forced to flee due to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogdan_I_of_Moldavia's assassination. He reappeared in Transylavnia and put himself under the tutelage of the mighty Hungarian military leader https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hunyadi and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_Hungary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladislaus_the_Posthumous. Under their tutelage, Dracula learned immensely. It was in 1456 that Dracula was sent to eliminate the Turkish-friendly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_II_of_Wallachia, who was the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voivode of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallachia. Dracula came to the throne as his main and important reign.

With Hungarian help, Vlad took the throne of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallachia from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_II_of_Wallachia in 1456. In 1457 exactly a year after ascension, Vlad helped his cousin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_the_Great ascend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldavia's throne by providing 6,000 horsemen as military assistance against https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petru_Aron, who was deposed after two battles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_III_of_Moldavia's long lasting reign developed into the most fierce anti-Ottoman resistance.
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Wallachia circa 1390
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In 1459, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_II called for a new crusade against the Ottomans, at the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Mantua_(1459). In this crusade, the main role was to be played by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_Corvinus, son of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hunyadi (János Hunyadi), the King of Hungary. To this effect, Matthias Corvinus received from the Pope 40,000 gold coins, an amount that was thought to be enough to gather an army of 12,000 men and purchase 10 Danube warships. His plan, however, failed and the only European leader that showed enthusiasm for the crusade was Vlad Ţepeş, whom the Pope held in high regard. Because of a lack of enthusiasm shown by Europeans for the crusade, Mehmed took the opportunity to take an offensive stand. Later that same year (1460), he captured the last independent https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbia city, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smederevo, and in 1461, he convinced the Greek despot of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Despotate_of_Morea to give up his stronghold; soon thereafter, its capital, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistra, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinth followed suit and surrendered themselves without struggle. In this context, Vlad allied himself with Matthias Corvinus, with the hope of keeping the Ottomans out of the country (Wallachia was claimed as a part of the Ottoman Empire by Sultan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_II).



Turkish Envoys meeting with Vlad III Dracula

Later that year, 1459, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan Mehmed II sent envoys to Vlad to urge him to pay a delayed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribute of 10,000 ducats and 500 recruits into the Ottoman forces. Vlad refused, because if he had paid the 'tribute', as the tax was called at the time, it would have meant a public acceptance of Wallachia as part of the Ottoman Empire. Vlad, like most of his predecessors and successors, maintained the goal of keeping Wallachia independent. Vlad had the Turkish envoys killed on the pretext that they had refused to raise their "hats" to him, by nailing their https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turban to their he

Meanwhile, the Sultan received intelligence reports that revealed Vlad's domination of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube. He sent the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bey of Nicopolis, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamza_Bey (also known as Hamza Ceakirdjiba), to make peace and, if necessary, eliminate Vlad III.

Vlad Țepeș planned to set an ambush. Hamza Bey, the Bey of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikopol,_Bulgaria, brought with him 1000 cavalry and when passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad launched a surprise attack. The Wallachians had the Turks surrounded and defeated. The Turks' plans were thwarted and almost all of them caught and impaled, with Hamza Bey impaled on the highest stake to show his rank.

In the winter of 1462, Vlad crossed the Danube and devastated the entire Bulgarian land in the area between https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbia and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea. Disguising himself as a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_people https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sipahi and utilizing the fluent Turkish he had learned as a hostage, he infiltrated and destroyed Ottoman camps. In a letter to Corvinus dated 2 February, he wrote:

I have killed peasants men and women, old and young, who lived at Oblucitza and Novoselo, where the Danube flows into the sea... We killed 23,884 Turks without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers...Thus, your highness, you must know that I have broken the peace.

In response to this, Sultan Mehmed II raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in spring of 1462 headed towards Wallachia. This army was under the Ottoman general https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmud_Pasha_Angelovic and in its ranks was Radu. Vlad was unable to stop the Ottomans from crossing the Danube on 4 June 1462 and entering Wallachia. He constantly organized small attacks and ambushes on the Turks, such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_Attack when 15,000 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Turks were killed. This infuriated Mehmed II, who then crossed the Danube. Radu was left behind in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A2rgovi%C8%99te with the hope that he would be able to gather an anti-Vlad clique in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallachia that would ultimately establish Radu as the new https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voivode of the region. Vlad's rule falls entirely within the three decades of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_conquest_of_the_Balkan, conquering the entire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans_peninsula.
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Overview of "The Night Attack"
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The Night Attack of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A2rgovi%C5%9Fte was a battle fought between forces of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_the_Impaler of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallachia and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_II of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462.

The conflict initially started with Vlad's refusal to pay the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to the Sultan and intensified when Vlad Ţepeş invaded https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgaria and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impalement over 23,000 Turks. Mehmed then raised a great army with the objective to conquer Wallachia and annex it to his empire. The two leaders fought a series of skirmishes, the most notable one being the Night Attack where Vlad Ţepeş attacked the Turkish camp in the night in an attempt to kill Mehmed.

The assassination attempt failed and Mehmed marched to the Wallachian capital of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A2rgovi%C5%9Fte, where he discovered another 20,000 impaled Turks. Horrified, the Sultan and his troops retreated.-
Details of the Battle
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Vlad Ţepeş asked the Hungarian king for assistance—even offering to convert from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholicism in order to gain support from Corvinus. He received no support despite promises made by Corvinus and instead called for a mobilization that included "not only men of military age, but also of women and of children from the age of twelve up; and included https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_people slave contingents." Various sources mention the strength of his army to be between 22,000 and 30,900, with the most popular accepted number set at 30,000. The letter of Leonardo Tocco which put the numbers of the Turkish army at an exaggerated strength of 400,000, exaggerated also the Wallachian strength which was estimated at 200,000. The majority of the army consisted of peasants and shepherds, while the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyars on horseback—who were few in numbers—were armed with lances, swords, and daggers and wore chainmail as armour. Vlad's personal guard consisted of mercenaries from many countries and some Gypsies. Before battle, it is believed that Vlad told his men that "it would be better that those who think of death should not follow me".

The Turks first tried to disembark at Vidin, but were pushed back by arrows. On June 4, a contingent of janissaries landed in the night, at Turnu Severin, where 300 of them died from Wallachian attacks. The Serbian-born janissary, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstantin_Mihailovi%C4%87, recounted their encounter with Vlad Ţepeş:

When night began to fall, we climbed into our boats and floated down the Danube and crossed over to the other side several miles below the place where Vlad's army was stationed. There we dug ourselves trenches, so that cavalry could not harm us. After that we crossed back over to the other side and transported other janissaries over the Danube, and when the entire infantry had crossed over, then we prepared and set out gradually against Vlad's army, together with the artillery and other equipment that we had brought with us. Having halted, we set up the cannon, but not in time to stop three hundred janissaries from being killed ... Seeing that our side was greatly weakening, we defended ourselves with the 120 guns which we had brought over and fired so often that we repelled the prince's army and greatly strengthened our position ... Vlad, seeing that he could not prevent the crossing, withdrew. After that the emperor crossed the Danube with his entire army and gave us 30,000 coins to be distributed among us.

The Ottoman army managed to advance as Vlad Ţepeş instituted a policy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorched_earth, poisoned the waters, and also created marshes by diverting the waters of small rivers. Traps were created by the digging of pits, and then covered with timber and leaves. The population and animals were evacuated to the mountains and as Mehmed advanced for seven days, his army suffered from fatigue as "he found no man, nor any significant animal, and nothing to eat or drink." Vlad adopted guerrilla tactics as his cavalry made several hit-and-run attacks. He would also send ill people suffering from lethal diseases, such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberculosis, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphilis — and in more significant numbers – those who suffered from the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague, to intermix with the Turks and infect them. The bubonic plague managed to spread in the Ottoman army. The Ottoman fleet launched a few minor attacks on Brăila and Chilia, but without being able to do much damage, as Vlad Ţepeş had destroyed most of the ports in Bulgaria. Chalkokondyles writes that the Sultan managed to capture a Wallachian soldier and at first tried to bribe him for information; when that didn't work, he threatened him with torture, to no avail. Mehmed was said to have commended the soldier by saying, "if your master had many soldiers like yourself, in a short time he could conquer the world!"


Mehmed II, picture by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile_Bellini
The Turks continued with their advance towards Târgovişte, after failing to capture the fortress of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucharest and the fortified island of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snagov. On June 17, when the Turks camped south of the capital, Vlad Ţepeş launched his night attack with 24,000, or possibly with only 7,000 to 10,000 horsemen. Chalkokondyles retells the story that, before making his attack, Vlad went freely into the Turkish camp disguised as a Turk, and wandered around to find the location of the Sultan's tent and learn about his organization. The anonymous Italian chronicle of Verona mentions that Mehmed had disallowed his soldiers to exit their tents during the night, as to not cause panic in case of an attack. The chronicle goes on explaining that Vlad Ţepeş, being aware of Mehmed's strategy, had decided for an attack in the night, knowing how to proceed in his offensive when the enemy soldiers would have to remain in their tents. The skirmish would last from "three hours after sunset until four the next morning" and would cause great confusion in the Ottoman camp. The Wallachians made noise from their buglers and illuminated the battle with their torches; and in that night, they launched not one, but several attacks. Documents differ on the exact result of the skirmish: some sources say that the Wallachians slaughtered a great number of Turks, while others say the Ottoman losses were minimal. Many horses and camels were, however, killed. Some chronicles blame a Wallachian boyar named Galeş, who supposedly led a simultaneous attack on the Turks with a second army, for not being brave enough to cause the expected devastation on the enemy. Vlad Ţepeş himself aimed for the tent of the sultan, as he routed the Asian cavalry, but mistakenly went for the tent of the two grand viziers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishak_Pasha and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmud_Pasha_Angelovic.

A pro-Wallachian account of the events was recorded by the papal legate, Niccolò Modrussa, years later at the court of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buda when Vlad was being imprisoned by Corvinus. It is said to have been told by a Wallachian veteran:

The sultan besieged him and discovered him in a certain mountain where the Wallachian was supported by the natural strength of the place. There Vlad had hidden himself along with 24,000 of his men who had willingly followed him. When Vlad realized that he would either perish from hunger or fall into the hands of the very cruel enemy, and considering both eventualities unworthy of brave men, he dared commit an act worthy of being remembered: calling his men together and explaining the situation to them, he easily persuaded them to enter the enemy camp. He divided the men so that either they should die bravely in battle with glory and honor or else, should destiny prove favorable to them, they should avenge themselves against the enemy in an exceptional matter. So, making use of some Turkish prisoners, who had been caught at twilight when they were wandering about imprudently, at nightfall Vlad penetrated into the Turkish camp with part of his troops, all the way up the fortifications. And during the entire night he sped like lightning in every direction and caused great slaughter, so much so that, had the other commander to whom he had entrusted his remaining forces been equally brave, or had the Turks not fully obeyed the repeated orders from the sultan not to abandon their garrisons, the Wallachian undoubtedly would have gained the greatest and most brilliant victory. But the other commander (a boyar named Galeş) did not dare attack the camp from the other side as had been agreed upon....Vlad carried out an incredible massacre without losing many men in such a major encounter, though many were wounded. He abandoned the enemy camp before daybreak and returned to the same mountain from which he had come. No one dared pursue him, since he had caused such terror and turmoil. I learned by questioning those who had participated in this battle that the sultan lost all confidence in the situation. During that night the sultan abandoned the camp and fled in a shameful manner. And he would have continued to this way, had he not been reprimanded by his friends and brought back, almost against his will.
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Vlad the Impaler's attack was celebrated by the Saxon cities of Transylvania, the Italian states and the Pope. A Venetian envoy, upon hearing about the news at the court of Corvinus on 4 March, expressed great joy and said that the whole of Christianity should celebrate Vlad Țepeș's successful campaign. The Genoese from Caffa also thanked Vlad, for his campaign had saved them from an attack of some 300 ships that the sultan planned to send against them.



Transylvanian Saxon engraving from 1462 depicting Vlad Țepeș

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In conclusion, this victory for Vlad III Dracula was short-lived yet was a powerful signal to the Ottoman's that Europe was not their's for the taking and would not be an easy beast to tame. Although Islamic armies spread even further into Europe in later years, they were eventually repulsed by the Polish King's hand in the Battle of Vienna. It should be noted that today Europe doesn't have a military equal in the Islamic world, and yet many of that faith do not consider the war to be over. We shouldn't allow history to repeat itself. Do not be fooled into thinking all of the fighting age males currently immigrating to Europe have only the intention of acclimating to European life. They are bringing Islam with them, in droves.

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By: cerastes6 (764.90)

Tags: Dracula, Islam, Europe, History

Location: Romania

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