The resulting confusion is best expressed by Treptow, who defined twenty-nine separate reigns, of eleven separate rulers, from 1418 to 1476, including Vlad III thrice. (Treptow, Vlad III Dracula, p. 33) It was from this chaos, and a patchwork of local boyar factions, that Vlad sought first the throne, and then to establish a strong state through both bold actions and outright terror. There was a temporary victory in 1448 when Vlad took advantage of a recently defeated anti-Ottoman crusade and its capture of Hunyadi to seize the throne of Wallachia with Ottoman support. However, Vladislav II soon returned from crusade and forced Vlad out.
Although Sigismund had turned to a rival of Vlad II’s soon after initially supporting him, he came back to Vlad and in 1436 Vlad II became ‘voivode’, a form of prince, of Wallachia.
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Vlad was born between 1429 - 31 into the family of Vlad II Dracul. This nobleman had been allowed into the crusading Order of the Dragon (Dracul) by its creator, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, to encourage him to defend both Christian east Europe and Sigismund’s lands from encroaching forces and other threats. The Ottomans were expanding into eastern and central Europe, bringing with them a rival religion to that of the Catholic and who had previously dominated the region. However, the religious conflict can be overstated, as there was an old fashioned secular power struggle between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottomans over both Wallachia – a relatively new state - and its leaders.