Who is Elizabeth Bathory
"The Blood Countess"?
Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Born August, 7 1560 – Died August 21, 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility. Although in modern times she has been labeled the most highly educated female serial killer in history, the number of murders and even her guilt is debated. She is nevertheless remembered as "The Blood Countess."
After her husband died in January of 1604, she and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one source credit to over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, now in Slovakia and known as Cachtice, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later.
Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth and subsequently also to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of the Blood Countess and Countess Dracula.
Countess of Transylvania
The noble Báthory family stemmed from the Hun Gutkeled clan which held power in broad areas of eastern central Europe (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania), and had emerged to assume a role of relative impotance by the first half of the 13th century. Abandoning their tribal roots, they assumed the name of one of their estates (Bátor meaning 'valiant') as a family name. Their power rose to reach a high point by the mid 16th century, but declined and faded to die out completely by 1658. Great kings, princes, members of the judiciary, as well as holders of priestly and civil posts were among the ranks of the Bathorys.
Adopting an exalted name did not alter some basic ancestral preferences among lesser lights however, and in order to combine a stronger influence there was considerable intermarriage amongst the Báthory family, with some of the usual problems of this practice produced as a result. Unfortunately, beyond the 'usual problems' some extraordinary difficulties arose and several "evil geniuses" appeared, the notorious and sadistic Erzsébet the most prominent of them.
Unusual for one of her social status, she was a fit and active child. Raised as royalty, as a young maid she was quite beautiful; delicate in her features, slender of build, tall for the time, but her personality did not attain the same measure of fortuitous development. In her own opinion her most outstanding feature was her often commented upon magnificent creamy skin color. Although others were not really so equally impressed with the quality of her rather ordinary skin, they offered abundant praise if they knew what was good for them, as Erzsébet did not accept unenthusiastic half-measures of praise; and she was vengeful.
She was only 15 when she was 'married off' for political gain and position to a rough soldier of (nevertheless) aristocratic stock and manner. By reason of the marriage, she became the lady of the Castle of Csejthe, situated in the Carpathian Mountains
of what is now Central Romania,
but which then was known only as Transylvania.
The castle was surrounded by a village of simple peasants, & rolling agricultural lands, interspersed with the jagged outcroppings of the frozen Carpathians.
While the picturesque setting embraced a bucolic tapestry of ideal small fields, meandering stone walls, quaint cottages, a few satisfied brown cows, and goats with tinkling bells about their necks scampering amongst the chickens, life here was uneventful. The castle was typical for its day and place: cold, dun, gloomy, damp, and dark; unlike the cozy thatched houses of the peasants below.
Her tastes were of a certain slant, and consequently she began to gather about herself (as her ample financial resources readily accommodated) persons of peculiar and sinister arts. These she welcomed into her presence, affording them commodious lodging and lavish attention to each of their most singular needs and interests. Among them were those who claimed to be witches, sorcerers, seers, wizards, alchemists, and others who practiced the most depraved deeds in league with the Devil and too painful to mention even in a story such as this. They taught her their crafts in intimate detail and she was enthralled. But learning such unspeakable things was not enough.
Elizabeth was not alone in her 'unusual' interests. Aware of Elizabeth's complex preoccupations, and amused by them, her aunt had introduced her also to the pleasures of flagellation (enacted upon desolate others of course), a taste Elizabeth quickly acquired. Equipped with her husband's heinous silver claws, she generously indulged herself, whiling away many lonely hours at the expense of forlorn Slav debtors from her own dungeons. The more shrill their screams and the more copious the blood, the more exquisite and orgasmic her amusement. She preferred to whip her 'subjects' on the front of their nude bodies rather than their backs, not only for the increased damage potential, but so that she could gleefully watch their faces contort in horror at their most grim and burning fate.
Maintaining her youth and vitality became central to this developing plot; the absolute divine right to power she understood was hers to keep and protect would be essential to the attainment of all that she sought. Vanity, sexual desire, drive for political power all were seamlessly blended into a central primordial passion. If she lost her youth, she could forfeit all. Her mood deteriorated markedly and one day, as she viciously struck a servant girl for a minor oversight, she drew blood when her pointed nails raked the girl's cheek. The wound was serious enough that some of the blood got onto Elizabeth's skin. Later, Elizabeth was quite sure that that part of her own body - where the girl's blood had dropped - looked fresher somehow; younger, brighter and more pliant.
The Blood Countess
The History of Elizabeth Bathory
1560: Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory born to George and Anna Bathory
1571: The eleven-year-old Erzsebet was engaged to the sixteen-year-old Ferencz Nadasdy; the match was arranged by his mother, Ursula.
1574: Erzsebet became pregnant from an affair with a peasant; she was sequestered at a remote Bathory castle until the bastard, a daughter, was born.
1575: Erzsebet married Count Ferencz Nadasady on May 8th. She took over household affairs at Castle Sarvar, the Nadasdy family estate. Ferencz made war his "career", and began scoring victories against the Turks as early as 1578. He eventually earned the nickname "Black Knight of Hungary". He also lent the Hungarian Crown a great deal of money to finance the war against the Turks.
1585: Erzsebet gave birth to the first of her three daughters, Anna.
1598: The Countess' only son, Paul, was born. He had three older sisters: Anna, Orsika (Ursula), and Kato (Katherina). Helena Jo served as his wet nurse, as well as having been the nurse for his older sisters.
1594: Janos Ujvary Ficzko came into Erzsebet's service. He was a dwarflike cripple, and the only male servant who got to participate in torturing.
1604: Ferencz Nadasdy died on January 4th. Erzsebet moved to Vienna only four weeks after his death, shocking the royal court. She also began to spend time at estates at Blindoc (Beckov) and Csejthe (Cachtice). According to the terms of Ferencz's will, Paul was placed under the guardianship of Imre Megyery. The witch, Anna Darvulia, began serving Erzsebet sometime during this year; with her arrival, the torture and killings escalated.
1607: After demanding for years that the Crown repay the debt owed to Ferencz, the Countess was so financially strapped that she was forced to sell her castle at Theben. At this point, the women in her employ began to actively procure girls, acting like "madams".
1609: In the winter, the Countess invited around twenty-five impoverished noblewomen to stay at Csejthe. Erzsebet accused one of them of killing others for jewelry and then committing suicide.
1610: Darvulia probably died during this year. Still having financial problems, Countess Bathory sold Castle Blindoc. The Bathory family secretly decided to spirit the Countess off to a convent for the rest of her days, but before this could be accomplished, Megyery deposed a formal complaint against her before the Hungarian Parliament. Inquiry into Erzsebet's crimes began late in the year by the Lord Palatine, Count Gyorgy Thurzo, who was her cousin, and one of the members of the Bathory family who had planned to have her retired to a convent. Thurzo raided Castle Csejthe and arrested Countess Bathory on December 30th.
1611: Two trials in January. In the first trial, on January 2nd, only Erzsebet's accomplices were brought to trial. Three of them, Helena Jo, Dorka, and Ficzko, were found guilty, while the fourth, Katalin, was held pending "further evidence". The second trial, was convened on January 7th, and although Erzsebet petitioned the court to allow her to appear and defend herself against the charges, her cousin Thurzo would not allow her to appear and so disgrace the Bathory name. While the court condemned the Countess' actions, she was not actually to be punished. Helena Jo and Dorca had all the fingers torn out by a pair of red-hot pinchers, and were then thrown alive onto a fire. Ficzko was decapitated and then burned. Erzsebet attempted to escape to Transylvannia during the trial, and was consequently condemned by Thurzo to lifelong imprisonment in Castle Csejthe.
King Matthias II of Hungary continued to try and bring Erzsebet herself to trial, and took depostions from witnesses in July and December. However, her relatives lobbied very hard to keep a trial from actually taking place, and the king finally conceeded defeat. The Countess was walled up inside a small room in Castle Csejthe, with only a very small food hatch and a few ventilation slits. Although Matthias did seem quite outraged about Countess Bathory's crimes, his motives in wanting to bring her to trial more involved his desire to seize her lands and cancel the debt owed her husband by the Crown than any feelings of justice for the poor girls she murdered.
1614: Countess Bathory writes her last will and testament on July 31st. Later in the year, she was found face-down on the floor, dead, by one of her guards. The date is reported as either August 14th or the 21st.