Here is the story of a woman who inspired the vampire folklore for centuries. She is one of the most horrifying people who ever lived, and one we can never forget. Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed.
Elizabeth The Countess
Let’s dig in Elizabeth Báthory the Blood Countess. Elizabeth Báthory, born on August 7th, 1560, was 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 that led historians to understand those were probably from epilepsy and possibly transmitted from inbreeding from her direct parents.
Nobility and “blue blood” were quite crucial in those times, and to ensure the royalty of their blood, sometimes direct family members would marry one another to certify 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 to cure it, she would have the blood of those not affected by her disease rubbed on her lips.
When the episode would end, sometimes Elizabeth 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, Elizabeth’s taste for blood started young. After all, she is Elizabeth Báthory the Blood Countess.
The Blood Countess
Other strange claims that have no support from historians are speculations. One stipulates that at a very young age, Elizabeth’s parents exposed her to brutal violence. It was torture officers would inflict on prisoners.
Another belief is that her family was part of witchcraft. The first claim reminds me of Vlad the Impaler. Vlad III had to witness horrifying punishment while away from his family as a royal prisoner.
The witchcraft family claim seems to be entirely made up. However, it is logical to believe that maybe the Báthory family was part of a secret society. After all, the doings of Elizabeth later in life must surface from somewhere, but where?
Elizabeth Báthory The Vampire
Between the years 1585 to 1609, Elizabeth lived a secret life as a murderer. Some believe that the number of murders she committed goes up to six hundred and fifty. However, it is not official to this day.
The number came from the lips of one of Elizabeth’s servants. The servant, Susannah, 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 publicly.
Elizabeth was a lucky noblewoman and never faced trial because of the influence and dominant position of her family. Despite all evidence, Elizabeth never tasted the torture, unlike her victims.
She avoided the horror despite the three hundred witnesses and survivors that testified against her. She earned the name, Elizabeth Báthory the Blood Countess.
Elizabeth Báthory Blood Bath
There was physical evidence and mutilated dead bodies proving her to be guilty. Many girls, imprisoned and maimed, 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 share the title of 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 III had different goals in mind, the countess did inspire fear as well.
The Elizabeth Báthory Investigation
It took years before her rituals spread throughout her kingdom. Meanwhile, her husband was away at war against the Ottoman Empire.
In Lutheran, between the years 1602 and 1604, the minister went to the court of Vienna to publicly complain about Elizabeth Báthory. It took years before the court responded to the minister, maybe due to Báthory’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 priests to royalty. Everybody present at the castle of Sávár went under investigation.
During investigations, the first victims of Elizabeth came out as servants between the ages of ten and fourteen. They were the daughters of local peasants convinced to let their daughters work at Čachtice Castle. It was under the pretence they would become wealthy maids.
The Blood Countess Abductions
Then, Elizabeth moved on to lesser-known children and teens. She lured them by telling their parents they would learn court etiquette. Of course, she then moved on to go from attracting youngsters to plain abduction. Then, young women started disappearing.
What the investigators learned about the violence within the castle was brutal. It was often brutal beatings, the mutilation of hands and burnings of the flesh of the women’s faces, limbs. Sometimes, she would freeze them or even 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 fed to live ants. Later, the belief that Elizabeth was a cannibal also surfaced. Then we knew her as, Elizabeth Báthory the Blood Countess.
Visions of nightmares Yet?
The Blood Countess 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 confessed witnessing the countess torturing young maids. Elizabeth did not stop at her official castle. But throughout her entire estate.
It extended from Sárvár, Németkeresztúr, Bratislava, and Vienna, among other places.
A True Red Wedding
During the investigation, people confirmed that young women or female children came up to the castle. People present realized sometimes it would be by deception while other times, it would be plain abduction.
The countess had suppliers. Her taste for blood and youth did not stop at bathing in it. It spread out through family celebrations. Her daughter’s wedding and the holidays, not to mention orgies, had a bloody theme.
The personality of Elizabeth Báthory was quite unnerving. It brought with it, terror and nightmares. So many young women and daughters slew for blood.
Elizabeth Báthory Torture Stops
December 30th of the year 1610, one of the investigators, Thurzó, went up to the castle of Čachtice. He had no preparation for such a scene. He caught Báthory is a blood bath.
The arrest of the countess was immediate. The four servants helping Elizabeth received accusations of inhumane actions. One of Thurzó’s men found one young lady dead. Another woman was dying, and one bruised. In a locked room, other women waited for their fate. The countess was now under house arrest.
This statement seemed to support that Báthory tortured women herself. However, there is next to no evidence to prove she pained them herself.
Thurzó finding Báthory red-handed could be nothing else than an embellishment to satisfy the entertainment of the court. That is despite it as part of history. Keep in mind that it might be nothing more than pure fiction to make the facts appear gruesome.
The Elizabeth Báthory Ruling
The Báthory family was one not to mess with under any circumstances. They had much power, history, and influence on their side. The Báthory family ruled over Transylvania at the time.
Moreover, Elizabeth’s 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 placing his sister in a nunnery to protect her life and family’s status.
But due to her multiple murders including, lesser nobility, it was inconceivable. But he did save the countess and his sister from a public trial.
King Matthias II
Following the probationary, King Matthias II agreed not to have a public trial with the countess. The prosecution would follow with the execution of Báthory. But he declined it in exchange for wiping the debt he had with her. It would save the Báthory Family from dishonor and scandal throughout the nobility scene 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. They all attested to 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 the 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. As a result, sometimes the numbers would go higher than a hundred.
One dared say that the total amount of murders was six hundred and fifty. However, they were unable to prove it to be true despite it written in the handwriting of Elizabeth herself. It was in her journal.
Interestingly enough, there are thirty-two letters kept at the Hungarian state archives in Budapest if anyone is curious.
A Blood Cage
As a punishment following the trial, the countess stayed at the Čachtice Castle in solitary confinement. The room had no windows and built with bricks so she could never walk out of her cage. There was enough air going through, and food with beverages delivered was the only freedom she had left.
She survived four years in her house arrest. Until the morning of August 21st of the year 1614, Elizabeth Báthory died in her bed.
Following the Catholic service, villagers refused to have Elizabeth Báthory rest in their local cemetery. Therefore, her body traveled back to her hometown of Ecsed, where she now rests among her family crypt.
However, the location of her body remains a mystery to this day. No one knows where the Elizabeth Báthory the Blood Countess indeed is. Because her grave bears no markings, and no writings hold the answer.