Vlad III was Prince of Wallachia at times between 1448 and 1476. Because of his reputation for excessive cruelty and sadism, Vlad was given the nickname the Impaler and would later become the inspiration for the character Dracula. In the fall of 1476 he was defeated by the Ottomans – some scholars suggest that he was killed, with his head taken to Constantinople and his body buried in a monastery in Romania. However, Erika Stella, who is doing her PhD research with the University of Tallinn, has uncovered evidence to suggest that he was taken captive and ransomed by his daughter. Vlad was then brought to be with her in Naples, where he passed away and was buried at the church of Santa Maria La Nova.
Her colleague, Raffaello Glinni, points to a particular tomb in the church that has symbols which would have been used by the Romanian prince. He explains, “When you look at the bas-relief sculptures, the symbolism is obvious. The dragon means Dracula and the two opposing sphinxes represent the city of Thebes, also known as Tepes. In these symbols, the very name of the count Dracula Tepes is written.” The researchers are applying to have the tomb opened to see if more evidence can be uncovered.