April 03, 2008
VLAD, OR THAT'S "MISTER THE IMPALER" TO YOU
Welcome to Day Four of Dracula Week at Goat Rope. Along with links and comments about current events, the theme is the character and the real person behind it, the former being by far the nicer of the two.
Yesterday's post covered the outline of Vlad III's "career." In a way, he shared many traits with other rulers of the time, particularly a ruthless drive to gain and retain power. But his methods were so brutal and sadistic that he makes many contemporaries seem like humanitarians.
After all, one does not acquire the title "the Impaler" by acts of charity.
Since this is a family-friendly blog, I won't go into all the gory details, although you're probably heard about them. But in outline, here are some of the events of his longest reign.
*Forced labor and liquidation of the opposition of the nobility. Shortly after gaining power for the second time, Dracula purged the ranks of the nobility with mass impalements and forced labor.
*He is said to have invited the beggars of his kingdom to a feast, after which he had the doors sealed and burned them alive.
*He waged a terror campaign against Saxon merchants in Transylvania, making copious use of his preferred method of execution, in addition to various other means, some of which may have been just as bad.
*When foreign diplomats visited who refused to remove their caps or turbans (there are versions of this happening to Italians as well as Ottoman envoys), he had them nailed to their heads.
*Ottoman armies invading Wallachia were sickened by a "forest" of impaled Turks.
I could go on and on. Estimates of the deaths caused by Dracula go as high as 100,000, although that is probably an exaggeration. Let's just say it was lots and lots.
The moral to the story is not just that truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes it's worse.
TORTURE FROM THE TOP DOWN. A recently released memo suggests signals that led to Abu Ghraib came from the top.
HOWARD ZINN ON EMPIRE here.
THE ART OF LOVE, octopus style.
BAD IDEA. Here's yet another item on the Bush administration's unnecessary war and the strain it's causing US armed forces.
WILL POWER. Is self control a matter of the mind or blood sugar levels? Maybe both.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED