Prince Vlad III of Wallachia. Vlad Tepes. Vlad the Impaler. Vlad Dracula. These days there's a thin line between the historical 15th-century figure who fought the Ottoman armies and the seductive vampire who took his name - so much so that, in a film like the recent DRACULA UNTOLD, they're taken to be one and the same. But while Universal Pictures are weighing up the costs before deciding whether to sink another budget into their revised gothic franchise, let's consider whether the bloodletting of the vampire onscreen bears any relation to the blood so torturously shed on Eastern Europe's killing fields The legend has been exaggerated out of all proportion, but the bare facts are gruesome enough. Endless aisles of Turkic soldiers, their bodies sinking under their own weight down stakes of sharpened cedar wood. Semi-crucified, they endure the most agonising deaths as the sharpened points enter their lower body, often through the anus, and exit through the chest, shoulders, or even the mouth, as their dying form sinks ever downwards. Folklore insists that the 'Forest of the Impaled' consisted of 20 thousand captured Ottoman soldiers, the atrocious display of butchery intended to frighten off the invaders' comrades. It was such an audacious display of horror that it made Romanian warlord Vlad Tepes ('the Impaler') feared throughout the region, and made the all-conquering leaders of the Turkic caliphate hesitate. But Wallachia (as it was then named) was a small country of no more than 470 thousand people. How likely is it that Vlad would have had an army big enough to administer to the torture and execution of so many men? Is it not the case that the sheer weeping, bleeding spectacle of, perhaps, as many as a thousand men impaled together on stakes would have had a similar visual impact to 20 times that amount of suffering? Then there was the suggestion that the Wallachian Voivode inflicted such punishments not only on his military foes but on his own people. The stories vary according to which part of Eastern or Mittel Europe they originate from, but they tell of impaled adulteresses, swindling landowners - even the innocent children of those who ended on the stake, sent to join the parents in their final agonies. This version of Vlad was not merely a ruthless warrior but a sadist. A monster. And what of the story about Vlad stalking the blood-drenched field in the aftermath of battle, drinking the lifeblood of the mortally wounded Ottoman troops - or possibly of his own men? This seems to originate from the 1970s, when the historic connection was finally made between the once-obscure Romanian and the gothic character whose name was derived from his: Dracula (meaning son of Vlad Dracul, 'the Dragon', or Prince Vlad II). It was no longer enough for Vlad to be a ruthless warrior or tyrant - now he had to be a vampire.