When talking about the infamous Vlad the Impaler,
the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula, people think of a ruthless, vengeful ruler, incapable of caring deeply for another. This is far from the truth as, in fact, Vlad loved a young girl by the name of Katharina ardently. Nevertheless, was their relationship a heartwarming love story, or is it a sinister tale of obsession?
Katharina Siegel, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a Saxon weaver from Brașov, never thought she would catch the eye of the young, military governor, Vlad.
She had been brought up in a monastery and lived with her relatives in the vicinity of the castle where Vlad the Impaler resided. She didn’t know anything of relationships or love. When they met, she was endeavoring to carry a sleigh packed with provisions for the garrison stationed nearby. When Vlad set his gaze upon the young, beautiful maiden he was completely taken with her.
Many historians say it was love at first sight. However, their story does not have a happy ending and their love would much sooner resemble a tumultuous adventure rather than a fulfilling relationship.
Vlad courted Katharina for a long time, gifting her silk frocks and precious jewelry. She soon became his mistress and their adventure turned into a passionate romance, lasting for twenty years and causing a lot of trouble for both.
Many details regarding their story are, to this day, shrouded in mystery.
What we do know is that they were never wed. However, despite Vlad’s habit of marrying his mistresses to his closest advisors, he never married Katharina off to any of them. On the contrary, he was very jealous of her suitors and threatened all who dared beseech her hand.
Legend has it that one night, when Katharina was returning from a stroll through the town with her cousins, Vlad the Impaler became enraged and demanded to know what she had been doing out at such late hours of the night. Bewildered, he accosted and threatened Katharina. Upon hearing the commotion, a priest tried to push Vlad off Katharina, attempting to protect the young girl. It was at that moment that Vlad wounded the priest with his sword, a blasphemous act.
A few years later, the tradesmen grew contemptuous of Vlad the Impaler because of his spiteful treatment of them. As a result, their wives kidnaped Katharina, beat her and cut her hair. When Vlad heard of the events that had transpired, he threatened to burn the entire city down to a crisp. He couldn’t be reasoned with when it came to Katharina.
After Vlad’s wife took her life, he tried to marry Katharina.
Nevertheless, he was soon imprisoned by Matias Corvinus and died in confinement. Katharina was struck by the news and decided to live out the remainder of her days at a monastery. She is estimated to have died two years after Vlad the Impaler. Moreover she is rumored to have taken a vow of silence following her lover’s death.
Katharina and Vlad had five children and the latter made sure that they were all cared for and left them lots of riches and land following his death.
Their relationship was not exactly the stuff of fairy tales and Vlad the Impaler’s greatest love seems to have been just as sinister as the rest of his life.
While from a contemporary point of view, we could raise more than a few objections to romanticizing such a gruesome story, we can’t deny its authenticity as a portrayal of marriage, love affairs, and women’s status in the Medieval Ages. So, far from being an endearing love story, it is much rather a testimony of how love and consent were ignored in the patriarchal society of the Middle Ages in order to satisfy the desires and whims of powerful men. Unfortunately, we can’t change history, we can only choose what we learn from it and struggle to never repeat it.
I hope you enjoyed this story about Vlad the Impaler and took away a few new interesting facts from it!