Throughout history, few men have inspired as much fear in their enemies as Vlad the Impaler. Known for his namesake move of impaling his foes, Vlad was so feared that his name eventually inspired the creation of Bram Stoker’s nightmarish creature Dracula.
At one point, however, Vlad was not the captor, but the captured.
During his teenage years, Vlad was held hostage by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan as part of a political deal between the Sultan and Vlad’s father. During this time, young Vlad learned a lot about Turkey, including their language, and developed into the adult many would soon fear.
Eventually, Vlad put this Turkish knowledge and new attitude to use by laying siege to the Ottomans. Using a scorched earth tactic, Vlad did everything in his power to decimate his former captors. This included poisoning waters, blocking off rivers, digging pit traps, and sending people infected with leprosy, syphilis, tuberculosis, and the bubonic plague to infect his opponents.
In the end, even with an army over twice as small in size, Vlad and his forces took the lives of 15,000 Ottomans.