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Vlad TEPES, known as Dracula. Romanian king from Muntenia region, born in Transylvania, in 1431, in Sighisoara saxon fortress. He was the son of Vlad Dracul, the Transylvania governor, crowned by the Sigismund Emperor. The name Dracul came from the Dragon order, which his father was rewarded by the Emperor. In 1436 Vlad Dracul becomes king of Valahia ( Muntenia region in modern Romania) . When he was 17 years old, he started the fight against Vladislav the 2nd, the murderer of his father Vlad Dracul. In the year 1456, he succeed to eliminate Vladislav the 2nd, to revenge his father's death. In this way he becomes king of Valahia, starting his first reigning time.He starts by eliminating nobles of Valahia who colaborated with Vladislav the 2nd, against his father. This explains his name Tepes - the Impaler, because some of the nobles was impaled and the rest of them was forced to build with their own hands the fortress on the Arges river,where they died.He is also known due to the fact that he impaled all thiefs. The legend says that he left a gold cup, nearby a fountain, and nobody has stollen it.He launched a campaign against Otoman Empire which was the most dangerous enemy of Europe.He killed thousands of turks with his tactics of night attacks and hidding techniques. Also he punished the saxon traders from Transylvania who refused to pay taxes. The books written by these german traders about his cruelty were the inspiration for Dracula character in Bram Stocker's novel.
There are so many historical figures that I've wondered about and since you only ask for one I have to say that it is President Lincoln. Although not the only wartime president, his burden was unique in that the union was split in two. I often find myself thinking about the tremendous burden he must have 'personally' carried. I wonder about the thoughts he kept to himself. I think about his power of resolve and find myself at a loss as to how he was able to endure the course of his presidency. I have two photographs of Lincoln that I share with my classes, one from 1861 the other 1865. I ask my juniors how old they think Lincoln is without revealing the year. The answers usually range from mid-fifties to mid-sixties. Then the other photo and every year the 1865 photo is met with shock and interestingly a sort of sadness, ( by this point they realize the photos must have something to do with the Civil War ) When I ask the age my students respond with numbers at least twenty years older than he was in the previous photo. The humanity that we all feel in the classroom at that moment is hard to describe, however understood by everyone there. Those photographs depict Lincoln's burden and at the same teach compassion,empathy, resolve, sadness, lonliness, strength, and makes it okay for young people to FEEL. What a lesson !!!
Peter the Great of Russia is a subject who looms in my mind after reading Raymond Massey's awesome biography of him. He single handedly pulled Russia into the modern era. He was an amazing personality. he loved ships and navies in a country that had no ports on a navigable sea, so he learned to build ships, built them, and acquired a seaport, St. Petersburg. He was the first Russian ruler to leave Russia and he tried to travel incognito - a difficult prospect when you are over 6 ft tall in a 5 ft world.
King John of England also is a looming figure. The youngest child of a completely dysfunctional family, the only thing he did right in his reign is to die before bringing about civil war in his country. Yet, the great tradition of British freedoms might never have been had he not been forced to sign the Magna Carta.
John F. Kennedy. From his early life to his shortened Presidency, I like his whole life story. Plus I find him to be one of our more eloquent Presidents, and his writings and speeches are thought-provoking and memorable. If you get the chance, read PT 109 sometimes about JFK's World War II service. even if you're not a military history buff it's a great read (and it was written before his assassination, so it has a different perspective).
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