Vlad III is most widely known for being exceptionally cruel. Most allegations of this cruelty however, have been spread merely by word of mouth, and have been considerably garbled over the centuries. He was a successful ruler, much like his father, and ruled not twice over his land, but three times, –extending his rule even beyond that of his assassinated father, Vlad Dracul II. Despite his reputation for cruelty, that is most likely hyperbole in many instances, he was viewed among his own people as a prince with a deep sense of defending justice. Not only did he maintain an independent policy against Ottoman rule, but successfully defended Wallachia against the cruelty of Ottoman expansionism. The ottomans fought to extend their own empire into Wallachia; this would mean slavery for its citizens, which is why Vlad III is defended so much by his own people.
Consider the Norman rule over the Saxons as an example; King William ruled the Saxons after defeating their nobility, and allowed men to wed unwilling widows of Saxon noblemen. These Norman noblemen were little better than savages, who masked their viciousness with loyalty to the Church. They could drag women literally kicking and screaming to the churches for marriage, and afterwards, do as they wished with their women. Saxon resistance was wiped out, and men and women fled England, only to be caught and slaughtered in the roads. The same Saxons settled later in Wallachia, and became tools against Vlad III in his rule. He had 30,000 of them executed. However, he also knew their situation; this is why he worked so hard to keep his own country free from invasion. Almost five centuries later, the noblemen of Wallachia sought to protect their own citizens against the same dissolution and so dealt with traitors and mercenaries against their people, royal houses, and churches with a very heavy hand.
Vlad III, Dracula’s preferred method of execution and torture was impalement. The method was to tie each of the offender’s legs to a horse as a sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. The end of the stake was usually sharpened and oiled, but not too sharp, or the victim would die of shock. The stake would be forced up through the anus until it emerged through the mouth. Some stories indicated that infants were sometimes impaled inside pregnant women, and forced upward, through the mother’s chest.