Peter C. Earle writes for the American Institute for Economic Research of “The Economics of Dracula.” The man who would inspire the legend of a monster was indeed a monster.

As leader of Wallachia, he was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 of his own people. As he implemented his government, he sought to be “feared by the right people.”

But as Earle writes, “several historians agree that ‘it is beyond any doubt that [among other] reasons, Vlad the Impaler was … guided by economic ones.'”

Monster versions of redistribution, protectionism, and a war on poverty

Those were the three tenets of Vlad III’s approach to government. But his approaches to them were all horrific.

Like all redistributionist governments, his idea was that “the wealthy and productive live off and at the expense of the multitude.” But rather than tax and overregulate them and tell them they “didn’t build that,” Vlad III “decimated the landowning and merchant population and at the same time seized their wealth and property.”

He also imposed high tariffs and installed a border patrol to inspect goods coming into Wallachia. When craftsmen revolted, “Vlad III’s troops descended on them, ‘pillaging, looting, and burning them to the ground.'”

Vlad III’s solution to the problem of poverty was to bring all the poor and sick in the land to a great feast in the great hall. Asking them if they wanted to “be without cares, lacking nothing in this world,” and receiving the grateful affirmation in reply, he boarded up the hall and burnt them all to death. He then told the oppressed merchant class they wouldn’t be burdened by the poor in the realm.

Read Earle’s column for more information and for the consequences of these policies on Wallachia — and Vlad Tepes III.