On August 7, 1560 a beautiful
little girl was born to one of the wealthiest families in Hungary; a family whose members were part of the nobility of Transylvania
and Poland. Her father’s brother and her mother’s brother were both princes of Transylvania. Her uncle,
on her father's side, became king of Poland. The family was also known, more favorably, for having defended
Hungary against the Ottomans.
Who was this stunning girl who would become one of the most notorious figures in history? It
was Elizabeth Bathory, born to Gyorgy and Anna Bathory. This girl with the ethereal beauty would become known as the
Blood Countess. Was she insane, or was she just plain evil? Obviously we would want to believe she had something
wrong with her mind; after all, we tell ourselves, only a person with some kind of mental illness could have committed such
atrocities. But many believe in ultimate evil. Perhaps Elizabeth was born evil.
It is known she suffered great trauma as
a child, having witnessed both her sisters raped, tortured, and hanged. Also, she suffered severe seizures that would
leave her unconscious for several hours. Records show there was a family history of mental illness. But Elizabeth
was also around family members who were known to be lascivious, and who participated in satanic blood rituals. She witnessed
the murder and torture of the man who killed her sisters; we must remember she was not hiding in some dark hallway, watching
without the knowledge of her parents. No, she was actually invited and expected to be present. What kind of scars
do these experiences leave on the psyche of a child?
At the tender age of 15 she was forced to marry Count Ferencz Nadasdy. An arranged
marriage that had been planned since Elizabeth was 11 years old. She was taken away to live at castle Cachtice, which
was to the north-west in Hungary, far from her parents. Since Ferencz was constantly off to war, fighting against the
Turks, Elizabeth was left alone to run the castle. Now, we must note that Elizabeth was not an ignorant girl.
She was brought up with the best education reserved only for men at that time. She spoke several languages and knew
about many subjects including math and science.
Growing up, Elizabeth’s beauty became legend. Everyone always told her
how beautiful she was and so she grew to be quite vain. Living alone for most of the time, she admired herself in the
mirrors in the castle more and more each day, believing herself to be eternally youthful. Slowly, as time passed, she
did begin to notice signs of aging. Elizabeth took on young lovers to feel wanted and vibrant. You begin to wonder
if in her mind her reflection spoke to her, telling her what she must do to regain her youthful vigor.
Elizabeth’s aunt, Klara Bathory,
who was known to be bisexual and was also known to be sadistic with her own servants, was said to invite Elizabeth often to
her castle for long visits. It is said Elizabeth learned much of her cruelty from this aunt. Klara was said to
have killed two of her husbands and many of the servants in her castle, but karma is karma and eventually Klara was beaten
and raped by a Turkish garrison before being stabbed to death.
Thorko, one of Elizabeth’s trusted servants, a young man who she seemed
to have lusted after, began to teach her the ways of black magic and was said to have encouraged her in her sadistic practice.
After all, she was the mistress of the castle, high ruling figure, so why should she not do as she pleased? And so we
must ask ourselves, what of Ferencz? Well, while he was home, he too would torture the servants. Apparently he
was a sicko too.
What started all this, and what was the motive behind it? No one knows for sure and I know we can get into
a complicated psychological profile here, but that is not my intention with this article. What is believed from witness
testimony during her trial is that she had accomplices at the castle that would help her with the torture and murders of these
young women. It is also reported that Elizabeth would drain her victims of their life’s blood and bathe in it.
I would say there was more to it than that because she tortured her victims and enjoyed watching their suffering.
What brought about the
blood baths (literally), was one occasion when Elizabeth struck a young servant girl so hard the blood that spurted from the
blow fell on Elizabeth’s hand. Fascinated, she rubbed the blood into her skin and believed it made her hand look
more youthful. Being the vain person she was, she decided she wanted to eternally preserve her beauty, and so began
draining these young servant women of their blood. Did she actually drink it, nobody really knows. There are rumors
of course. There are also rumors she made others eat the flesh of these girls. The court records
from the trial of her accomplices indicate they witnessed the carnage.
There is one story that recounts the evening when she ordered her brute servant
Thorko to bring a young blond servant girl into her quarters. The girl was held in place, standing before Elizabeth’s
bed. Elizabeth stood atop her bed, coming close to the girl who had apparently been stripped naked. In one vicious
animalistic move she lunged at the girl and bit her cheek, tearing the delicate skin. Then she bit the terrified girl’s
neck, and then moved to her shoulders and breasts. With every bite she tore away pieces of the girl’s flesh.
Eventually Elizabeth became
so bold, she began to kidnap and torture young girls from Hungary, making the great mistake of picking one from the nobility.
The king had to send in Elizabeth’s cousin, with a brigade of soldiers to arrest her and her accomplices. They
were all put on trial. The servants were found guilty and were ordered to have their fingers ripped from their hands
with hot tongs and then thrown, alive, into a burning pit. Elizabeth got away without a true official conviction.
She was ordered sealed up in her own tower with only a small space near the door for food to be slipped through.
Three years after her trial, Elizabeth died in that tower.
Her legend lives on and the stories surrounding her have grown over
the centuries. Bram Stoker is said to have based his novel, Dracula, loosely on the legends of Elizabeth (the blood
drinking, blood letting rituals), and the infamous Transylvanian prince Vlad Dracula better known as Vlad the Impaler.
Now, don’t send me any emails. I didn’t say it has been proven to be true, but it is something that is believed
by many because Elizabeth was a Hungarian countess who drained the blood from innocent servant girls, as did Dracula, the
character created by Bram Stoker. I believe Dracula was a combination of both Vlad and Elizabeth.
The records of her life and trial were sealed for over one hundred years and her name was
forbidden to be mentioned in Hungarian society. Even to this day, those who are related to her are at times ashamed
to admit it.
scares me the most about Elizabeth’s story is, that it shows the depravity a human being can sink to. And
that my friends, is something we should all be concerned about.