Vlad the Impaler is famous for being the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula and being one of the cruelest rulers in the history of Romania. But the story of his interesting brother, Radu the Handsome, is lesser known.
Radu the Handsome was born in 1438 as Radu III of Wallachia. His father, Vlad II Dracul, ruled over the kingdom of Wallachia. When the two brothers were young boys, they were taken as hostages to the Ottoman Empire.
In 1442, their father had brought them to a meeting with Sultan Muhrad II, but a surprise attack led to their capture. Vlad II was able to escape after agreeing to leave his sons behind as hostages.
During their time there, the brothers were allowed to keep up with their schooling. After six years of living in the Ottoman Empire, their father was killed, and their older brothers were tortured to death.
Eventually, the sultan released the two brothers. Vlad III returned to Wallachia to replace his father on the throne. But while Vlad III sought revenge on his father’s behalf, Radu acclimated to life there, becoming a member of the Ottoman court and even striking up a relationship with Mehmed II, the sultan’s heir.
Mehmed II was one of the Ottoman Empire’s most influential figures and was known for inviting young boys to his bedchamber. Soon after taking the throne and becoming the sultan, he summoned Radu to his room, captivated by the boy’s exceptional beauty.
It was said that he attempted to sleep with Radu upon their first meeting; however, Radu was taken by surprise and fought off his advances, stabbing the sultan in the leg with a knife and running out of the room.
Although they had a messy start, a romance between them developed. In 1453, Mehmed II took the city of Constantinople with Radu the Handsome at his side.
Nearly a decade later, Vlad III retaliated against the sultan, attacking Ottoman land and slaughtering thousands of civilians. Mehmed II was enraged and sailed to Wallachia with Radu and an army of men.