The Vampire month is almost over and so here is the story of a woman who inspired the vampire realm for centuries.
She is one of the most horrifying people who ever lived, and one never is forgotten. Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed.
A High Title
Elizabeth Báthory, born on August 7th, 1560 is a noble Hungarian woman. She reigned over the Kingdom of Hungary that now is part of Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania.
When young, the Countess suffered from many seizures which led historians to understand those were probably from epilepsy and possibly transmitted from inbreeding from her direct parents.
Nobility and “blue blood” used to be important in those time and to make sure the royalty of their blood, sometimes families would marry one another to ensure the pureness of their titles. Elizabeth’s family was no exception.
The symptoms she suffered from had an odd remedy to it. It was named, Falling Sickness and she had the blood of those not affected by her disease rubbed on her lips.
When the episode would end, sometimes they would receive not only the blood of one that didn’t have the “Falling Sickness” but also a piece of skull. Could it be that Elizabeth’s infamous rituals came from her desire to cure her sickness?
Sadly, there is no evidence to support this assumption although very logical to believe so. After all, her taste for blood started young.
Other strange claims that are not supported by historians are the speculations that at a very young age Elizabeth’s parents exposed her to brutal violence officers would inflict on prisoners.
Another belief is that her family were part of witchcraft. The first claim reminds me of Vlad the Impaler who had to witness horrifying punishment while away from his family as a royal prisoner.
While the witchcraft seemed to be entirely made up, it is logical to believe maybe the Báthory family was part of obscure rituals. After all, the doings of Elizabeth later in life must surface from somewhere, but where?
The Prolific Woman Murderer
Between the years of 1585 to 1609, Elizabeth lived a hidden life as a murderer. Some believe that the number of murders goes up to 650. However, it is not sure to this day.
The number came up from the lips of one of Elizabeth’s servants, Susannah who claimed she saw the number written in the Countess’ journal. The book never saw the light of day and the owner of the book, Jakab Szilvássy never shared the information.
Elizabeth was a lucky noblewoman and never faced trial because of the influence and dominant position of her family. Despite all evidence, Elizabeth never knew torture like her victims or the three hundred witnesses or survivors that testified against her.
There was physical evidence and mutilated dead bodies proving her guilty. Many girls, imprisoned and mutilated, held captive were set free after the arrest of Elizabeth.
The most famous torture known from Elizabeth Báthory is the infamous bathing in the blood of the beautiful young girls from her country. It had Elizabeth known as a vampire. Some even believe she was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for some of Dracula’s tendencies.
This ritual from Báthory goes back centuries, but only recorded to her history long after her death. Báthory is the female counterpart of Vlad the Impaler. That is a statement from many people enjoying the horror from the past. While Vlad the Impaler had different goals in mind, the Countess did inspire fear as well.
Bathory – The File
It took years before her rituals spread throughout her kingdom while her husband was away at war against the Ottoman Empire.
In Lutheran, between the year of 1602 and 1604, the Minister went to the court of Vienna to publicly complain about Elizabeth Bathory. It took years before the court responded to the minister, maybe due to Bathory’s status and her family’s influence.
It was in the year 1610 that finally, King Matthias II granted an investigation and a collection of evidence in the month of March. Three hundred people walked forward. Everyone questioned from priests to royalty. Everyone presents at the castle of Sávár went under investigation.
During investigations, the first victims of Elizabeth came out as servants between the age of ten and fourteen. They were the daughters of local peasants who were lured to let their daughter work at Čachtice Castle because they would become wealthy maids.
Then, Elizabeth moved on to lesser known children and teens, luring them by telling their parents they would learn court etiquette. Of course, she then moved on to go from attracting youngsters to the abduction and young women disappearing. What the investigators learn about the violence was often brutal beating, the mutilation of hands and burning the flesh off the women’s faces, limbs and freezing them or merely starving them to death.
When the mention of needles came up, the investigators realized Elizabeth Báthory was not working alone. Atrocities surfaced such as girls burned with hot tongs then placed in freezing water. There was also the mention of girls covered in honey and live ants. Later, the belief that Elizabeth was a cannibal also surfaced.
The Two Witnesses
Elizabeth Báthory had a gynoecium, which is a place reserved for women only. Many people said that women died while attending the women quarters. There were also dead bodies that people said showed traces of torture. Many dead buried in unmarked graves to hide evidence of the Countess’ doing.
Court officials, Benedek Deseő and Jakab Szilvássy, confided witnessing the Countess torturing young maids. Elizabeth did not stop at her official castle, but throughout her entire estate of Sárvár, Németkeresztúr, Bratislava, and Vienna among other places.
Some young women and female children, delivered to the Countess, sometimes by deception and sometimes by abduction came up during the investigation.
The Countess had suppliers. Her taste for blood and youth did not stop at bathing in it but spread out through family celebration, her daughter’s wedding and the holidays, not to mention orgies.
The personality of Elizabeth Báthory was quite unnerving and brought with it, terror and nightmares. So many young women and daughters slew for blood.
When It Stops
December 30th of the year 1610, one of the investigators, Thurzó went up to the castle of Čachtice and not prepared to such a scene, caught Báthory in a blood bath.
The Countess, arrested along with four servants accused of helping the inhuman habits of their boss, followed Thurzó’s orders. One of his men found one young lady dead, another dying and one bruised while others locked up in a room. The Countess was now under arrest and had to stay at her house.
This statement seemed to support that Báthory tortured women herself. However, there is next to no evidence to prove she pained them herself. Although part of history, some prefer to believe – due to the lack of evidence, that Thurzó finding Báthory red-handed was nothing else than an embellishment to the satisfaction of details and entertainment purposes. Many believe it to be pure fiction.
The Nobility Rule
The Báthory Family was one not to, um, screw with under any circumstances. They had much power, history, and influence on their side. The Báthory Family ruled over Transylvania at the time, and Elizabeth large estate given to her by her husband made them more prosperous and even more powerful.
If a public trial took place, all would belong to the crown. Elizabeth’s brother suggested to place his sister in a nunnery to protect her life and family’s status, but due to her multiple murders including, lesser nobility, it wouldn’t happen, but he saved the Countess from a public trial.
Following the trial, King Matthias II agreed not to have a public trial with the Countess followed by execution in exchange of whipping his debt to her and save the Báthory Family from dishonor and scandal throughout the nobility at the time.
Two trials took place after the arrest of Elizabeth Báthory. One happened on January 2nd of the year 1611 and the following on January 7th, 1611. Many witnesses and survivors showed up to attest the findings of the investigation, proving the Countess guilty of all charges.
Sometimes, the court would see up to thirty-five people a day. Every single servant of the Countess showed up to trial at the exception of one. Bodies examined, cadavers looked at for proof of torture and bloodletting.
There is no way to know the exact number of Elizabeth Báthory’s murders. Servants could only reveal the number of women disappearing during their service, and sometimes the numbers would go higher than a hundred.
One dared say that the total amount of murders was 650, however unable to prove despite it written in the handwriting of Elizabeth herself. It was in her journal. However, there are thirty-two letters kept at the Hungarian state archives in Budapest if anyone is curious.
A Golden Cage
As a punishment following the trial, the Countess stayed at the Čachtice Castle in solitary confinement. Chosen windowless rooms bricked so she would not walk out became her cage and enough space for air to go through as well as the food was the remaining freedom she had. She survived four years until on the morning of August 21st of the year 1614 Elizabeth Báthory died in her bed.
Due to the reputation of the Countess, after the Catholic service she had, the villagers refused to have her buried in their local cemetery, and so Elizabeth traveled back to her hometown of Ecsed, and her resting place was among her family crypt. However, the location of her body remains a mystery to this day. No one knows where the Blood Countess indeed is as her grave bear no markings, and no writings hold the answer.