Vlad's first wife bore him two sons: Mihnea I "the Bad" (Mihnea I cel Rău, ?-1510) and Mihail (?-1485).
According to local legend, she died during the siege of Poenari Castle, which was surrounded by the Ottoman army led by his brother Radu Bey and the Wallachian Janissary. A woodland archer, having seen the shadow of Vlad's wife behind a window, shot an arrow through the window into Vlad's main quarters with a message warning him that Radu's army was approaching. McNally and Florescu explain that the archer was one of Vlad's relatives who sent the warning out of loyalty despite having converted to Islam and served in the ranks of Radu. Upon reading the message, Vlad's wife threw herself from the tower into a tributary of the Argeș River flowing below the castle, saying she would rather rot and be eaten by the fish of the Argeș than be led into captivity by the Turks. Today, the tributary is called Râul Doamnei (the "Lady's River", also called the Princess's River).
Gradually winning back King Matthias's favour, he married Ilona Szilágyi of Wallachia, a sister or cousin of the king (sources vary and disagree on what her relation was), and in the years before his final release in 1474, had her as a companion in his captivity.
In October 2011, Prince Charles publicly claimed that he is a descendant of Vlad the Impaler. The claim accompanied his announcement of a pledge to help conserve the forested areas of Transylvania. Radu Florescu documented on page 193 of his book, "Dracula: Prince of Many Faces" that the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I granted Ladislas Dracula and his brother John recognition as Dracula's direct descendants: based on their documentation, the Emperor granted them letters patent (a patent of nobility) on January 20, 1535, in which their descent is described and also specific mention is made in the patent of "the ancient insignia of Ladislas's family" as being the same as that of the Bathory family--i.e., gules (red) a sword covering three wolf teeth.
First reign and exile
In December 1447, boyars in league with the Hungarian regent John Hunyadi rebelled against Vlad II Dracul and killed him in the marshes near Bălteni. Mircea, Dracul's eldest son and heir, was blinded and buried alive at Târgoviște.
To prevent Wallachia from falling into the Hungarian fold, the Ottomans invaded Wallachia and put young Vlad III on the throne. However, this rule was short-lived as Hunyadi himself now invaded Wallachia and restored his ally Vladislav II, of the Dănești clan, to the throne.
Vlad fled to Moldavia, where he lived under the protection of his uncle, Bogdan II. In October 1451, Bogdan was assassinated and Vlad fled to Hungary. Impressed by Vlad's vast knowledge of the mindset and inner workings of the Ottoman Empire as well as his hatred of the new sultan Mehmed II, Hunyadi reconciled with his former rival and made him his advisor.
After the Fall of Constantinople to Mehmed II in 1453, Ottoman influence began to spread from this base through the Carpathians, threatening mainland Europe, and by 1481 conquering the entire Balkans peninsula. Vlad's rule thus falls entirely within the three decades of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.
In 1456, three years after the Ottomans had conquered Constantinople, they threatened Hungary by besieging Belgrade. Hunyadi began a concerted counter-attack in Serbia: while he himself moved into Serbia and relieved the siege (before dying of the plague), Vlad led his own contingent into Wallachia, reconquered his native land and killed Vladislav II in hand-to-hand combat.
Vlad found Wallachia in a wretched state: constant war had resulted in rampant crime, falling agricultural production, and the virtual disappearance of trade. Regarding a stable economy essential to resisting external enemies, he used severe methods to restore order and prosperity.
Vlad had three aims for Wallachia: to strengthen the country's economy, its defense, and his own political power. He took measures to help the peasants' well-being by building new villages and raising agricultural output. He understood the importance of trade for the development of Wallachia. He helped the Wallachian merchants by limiting foreign merchant trade to three market towns: Târgșor, Câmpulung and Târgoviște.
Vlad considered the boyars the chief cause of the constant strife as well as of the death of his father and brother. To secure his rule, he had many leading nobles killed and gave positions in his council, traditionally belonging to the greatest boyars, to persons of obscure origins, who would be loyal to him alone, and some to foreigners. For lower offices, Vlad preferred knights and free peasants to boyars. In his aim of fixing up Wallachia, Vlad issued new laws punishing thieves. Vlad treated the boyars with the same harshness, believing them guilty of weakening Wallachia through their personal struggles for power.