Vlad III Dracula’s official title was voivode. Some take it
to mean “Prince” but in his case the term voivode more accurately means
Although he was fairly intelligent and highly educated in
politic Vlad wasn’t, by feudal standards, a “prince” at all. By European
standards he technically wasn’t even considered royalty. His father and brother
were both murdered, leaving him absolutely nothing when he returned to his home
country. No immense family fortune, no crowns, no servants, no castles, and no
armories. While he most certainly was a champion and leader it was for one of
the poorest and most under-privileged groups in Europe – the Romanians.
He was not like the Hungarians or Ottomans with their
immense armies of knights dressed in shining, well-kept armor and fleets of
highly skilled assassins riding atop their well-trained warhorses with
overflowing artillery carts following close behind their hordes. Vlad was
lacking the one essential resource which was fundamental for the making of such
armies; AKA ducats. Gold and silver.
While not “poor” by Romanian peasant standards of the time,
Vlad simply could not afford to pay the wages or provide the same privileges
such as food and housing that other lords of his time could. This makes his
achievements even more impressive when you think about the fact that most of
his “soldiers” probably fought on his behalf out of sheer loyalty to him and/or
his state of Wallachia – and indeed they did.
Vlad Dracula’s armies were actually mostly guerilla armies.
Armies made entirely out of his own (ill-fitted) group of peasant men (and
sometimes women). This rag-tag group of Romanians would have been sparsely
outfitted with whatever shields, daggers, swords, and chainmail that they
either had laying around or could makeshift themselves out of local materials.
It is clear to see why Vlad preferred calculated, low risk
military strategies such as targeted blows, sneak attacks, and night raids. It
was to minimize the lose of soldiers on his side who rode into battle with
nothing but a dull saber and the knitted shirts on their backs. It was such a
situation in Wallachia that not even every other man would have had a horse but
maybe one in every four or five would have had a horse or donkey to their name.
What comparatively little coin Vlad did have was spent – not
on wages for hired-assassins – but mostly on bribes, artillery, and gunpowder.