Vlad was really not so bad, say Marxist historians
Vlad the Impaler has gone down in history for the ferocity of his treatment of his enemies and as the inspiration for Dracula - Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale.
However the 15th century warrior prince also underwent an unlikely rehabilitation as a hero of the people's revolution, according to newly released government files.
Papers released by the National Archives at Kew, west London, show that when Tory MP Julian Amery visited Nicolae Ceausescu's communist Romania in 1983, he was astonished to learn the reputation of "Vlad Dracul" had been "positively" reassessed by a panel of Marxist historians.
"He was, apparently, a very good administrator if somewhat excessive in his use of impaling to punish wrongdoers. He was also a very patriotic warrior against the Turks," Mr Amery wrote in a report of his visit to Margaret Thatcher.
"His tendency in old age to drink the blood of virgins as a restorative is of course deplored. But as our guide lamented, he would find it difficult nowadays to find an adequate supply."