This Day in Halloween: Vlad III of Wallachia becomes Vlad the Impaler. / Illustration by Ryan Zulueta
Vlad III of Wallachia becomes Vlad the Impaler in 1462. After a surprise attack on an Ottoman Turk army fails to capture or kill the sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, Vlad displays the bodies of approximately 20,000 captured Turks on a forest of spikes just outside Wallachia’s capital of Targoviste. The sultan and the remainder of his army immediately retreat after seeing it. About 400 years later, Bram Stoker bases his novel Dracula partly on Vlad.