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Vlad the Impaler

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Vlad IV of Wallachia (1430-1476)

Dracula!

Well, maybe not.

Otherwise known as Vlad Tepes (the Impaler, pronounced - roughly - te-pesh) although, as with a lot of medieval leaders, never to his face. In fact he was safely dead before that particular sobriquet became current.

As a ruler, he was not known for a particularly enlightened approach to offending. An, "offence," in these terms being defined as anything Vlad took a scunner to.

For example:

Vlad was out one day, surveying his dominions, as despots are wont to do, when he observed a peasant toiling in the fields who's tunic appears to Vlad to be somewhat on the skimpy side.

Anyway, in his concerned-for-the-people way, Vlad stops and asks the peasant if he is married. The peasant, developing a sudden twitch, replies that he is. "Really?" says Vlad, "mind if I have a word with the missus, then?"

Well the missus, being duly summoned, is questioned on her daily routine: "Why, sewing, baking, washing - that kind of thing," says she.

"So," smoothes Vlad, "how comes your husbands errse is keekin' oot under his jacket?"

At this point, the twitching husband has become a slavering wreck - he knows his Vlad.

Sure enough, Vlad uses the briefness of hubby's attire to convict the woman on the spot of idleness and dishonesty - despite her husband's protestations to the contrary - and she promptly gets the sharpened stake treatment.

Still, no one is entirely bad, and Vlad ensures that the bloke gets a new wife.

Harsh, but fair.