It was Christmas Eve 1455 in the Transylvanian city of Brasov or Kronstadt / Corona as it was called in those days. It was snowing heavily! A few young girls were trying to pull uphill, in the snow, a big sled filled with supplies for the soldiers in the Weavers Bastion. The bastion was located near the house of Vlad the Impaler, who was at that time military governor of Brasov. Being with his officers on the hill, Vlad jumped to help. The gallantry of the prince seemed strange for everybody around, until they noticed he could not take his eyes off the blue-eyed blonde little lady.
Khatarina was the daughter of the Weaver’s guild leader in Brasov. Her relationship with the prince lasted 20 years and resulted in five children: Vladislav (1456), Catherine (1459), Christian (1461), Hanna (1463) and Sigismund (1468). The cruel ruler overwhelmed his young mistress with great tenderness, during the 20 years, she was the only woman for whom he asked the high priest to allow him to get a divorce.
Love story in the Tartler house
When she met the prince, Katharina was 17 and he was 34. She was educated in a Franciscan Monastery and lived her with her father Thomas Siegel and mother Susanna Fronius in the house called Tartler. The building still exists today and can be seen at Str. Poarta Schei No. 14.
Vlad the Impaler often visited Katharina at her house, where she spent most of her time weaving in a room downstairs. Vlad gifter her with the most beautiful dresses of silk and lace from Venice and Flanders.
Until meeting Katharina, Vlad had many loves, including Ursulla from Schassburg / Sighisoara, Erika from Bistrita and Lize from Hermannstad / Sibiu. These affairs of the prince created discontent among the Saxon guilds, families wanting to marry their daughters with someone from their community. Vlad was careful to marry or get engagements for all his mistresses, except Katharina. He could not bear the thought of sharing her with someone else.
The Transylvanian Chronicle from the 18th century tells that the romance of Prince Vlad, military governor, Duke of Fagaras and Amlas with Katharina created great revolt among pretenders to the girl’s hand, three of them coming from rich families of the Saxon community. It is said that his love for Katharina sparked violent crisis: sword throwing, kicking things around or taking revenge on those who were around. The prince’s scenes of jealousy terrified the city of Brasov and during one of them he even wounded a priest.
Bartholomew Massacre and the Golden Locks
On 2 April 1459 upset with the high taxes imposed by the Saxons in Brasov and their intrigues around the country, Vlad destroyed all their corn crops. He trapped hundreds of townsmen and merchants coming into the city with goods, took near the city slums, in the neighborhood of Bartholomew and started impaling them one by one.
During the Bartholomew massacre, Vlad received the news that the merchants wives had attacked Katharina’s house. They beat her, tied her to the pillory in the Square and cut her long golden locks. Because they cut her locks, the prince threatened to burn entire city. In order to save his beloved, Vlad, freed the other Saxons who were to be killed in Bartholomew.
Legend has it that Vlad was able to recover one of the braids of Katharina and then kept it almost religiously. One day surprised that his wife opened the closet where he kept the locks as a sacred object, he became very angry and mistreated her. Vlad the Impaler wanted to take Katharina as his wife, but religion did not allow divorce, even though he had more children with his mistress than with his own wife. He often wrote to the Patriarch and even to Pope Pius II, asking him for a letter of indulgence to have his marriage with Anastasia Holszanska (granddaughter of Queen of Poland) annulled, but he never received approval.
After the death of the prince, Katharina, at the age of 39, returned to the monastery where she was educated as a child. Of the 20 years of love, the only witness that still stands today is the house at Str. Poarta Schei No. 14.
Beautiful Katharina was the only woman who managed to tame the heart of this cruel and feared ruler.