Researchers discovered medieval cannonballs from culverins (an ancient type of cannon) that were presumably used by Wallacian Voivode Vlad III Dracula – or Vlad the Impaler – from the 15th century. According to a report in Archaeology in Bulgaria, they believe that the cannonballs were used during the 1461 battle against the Ottoman Turks.
The cannonballs were discovered in Svishtov, which is a small town in northern Bulgaria. They were found by Professor Nikolay Ovcharov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, as well as his team. They also discovered bigger cannonballs that were used in later times.
In an interview with Nova TV, Ovcharov talked about the discovery, “What’s really interesting is that from the [early] Ottoman period we have found cannonballs. We rejoice at those small cannonballs because they are from culverins,” adding, “These were the earliest cannons which were from the 15th century, up until the 16th century, they weren’t in use after that. These were still very imperfect cannons. That was precisely the time of Vlad Dracula, there is no doubt that they are connected with the siege by Vlad Dracula [for control of the Zishtova Fortress] in 1461.”
Ovcharov said that he believes Dracula himself could have quite possibly stayed at the fortress, “The truth is that Vlad Dracula besieged this place, conquered it, and most probably also resided here.”
Excavations will continue at the site until June 15th, with another one-to-two-year exploration following that date, and the fortress will be restored after the researchers are finished with their work.
While Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was inspired by the real Vlad the Impaler, the history connected to the real person is much more frightening. Vlad the Impaler wrote a letter to the King of Hungary, bragging that during the battle he killed 410 Turks. “Some of them were probably impaled, in his style,” Ovcharov suggested. “He was one of the most meticulous fighters against the Ottoman invasion. He was cruel but, at the end of the day, that was the Middle Ages, and he was allowed those things,” he explained.
From 1463 to 1475, Vlad was held captive in Visegrád, but then died in battle in 1476. His cruel methods of punishing his enemies made him well-known throughout the world, even to this day. And the newly discovered cannonballs that were used by him in the 15th century are a reminder of just how ruthless he was.
You can see pictures of the recently discovered cannonballs of Dracula here.