Elizabeth Báthory is one of the most prolific serial killers in all of history.
She was born into nobility and was highly educated but also very vain.
One day, infuriated, Elizabeth struck one of her servant girls so hard that some blood dripped from her face onto Elizabeth’s hand and she immediately thought that her skin took on a glowing freshness of her young maid.
Elizabeth believed she had found the secret of eternal youth. After this, women were abducted and hung upside down, while they were still alive and their throats were slit to prepare Elizabeth’s bath.
The Countess of Transylvania and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted.
Can I just time in here and say a few things, since half of what is written here is straight from the wikipedia page, which don’t get me wrong —it’s accurate— but extremely underwhelming.
“Elizabeth” Erzebet Bathory was so much more than some vain bitch who killed over 650 women, she was a vain bitch who could speak and write more than two languages, in a time where a woman writing one was unheard of. She was raised mostly by her very infamous openly bisexual aunt, and was a torturer and a murderer before she was 14 (rumored).
This woman was the person who made the villagers quake in both fear and revelation, that the courts refused to take action against when young girls started dissapearing, when bodies started being found. She OWNED the country, her family was richer then even the Lords presiding over it, she had all the say.
Her and her ‘accomplices” (which by the way, they were extremely trusted, and unlike her, they were executed without mercy when the truth came out), would gather village children who their parents practically threw their way in hopes of a better future, although the children would never live again. She didn’t only hang them, she caged them, used iron maidens, spears, so many different objects. And the whole ‘bathing in blood’ thing, although is technically can be true, that and the whole striking her maid is all exagerrated to add to the story. Her and her husband got off to killing, literally, they liked the screams. If she bathed in blood, it wasn’t to be younger, it was to enjoy their life ending. Not to say she wasn’t vain, but for good reason. She was considered the most beautiful woman in Hungary for all of her days.
And she technically was tried, although as I said before she practically owned the country, they couldn’t actually kill her. But she had killed another young girl of noble blood, and that couldn’t just be set aside. So instead of execution, they sentenced her to house arrest for the rest of her days, unable to punish her for all the women she had killed.
Also, she had three children, and regardless of her murderous ways it was said that she had been a wonderful, loving mother. Strange how the ‘vain blood mistress’ can be more than just, isn’t it?
I could go on and on about this woman, I’ve read and watched basically everything pertaining to her due to reports and essays that I wrote when I was younger, and even though she was a horrifying murderer, she deserves a bit more than ‘blood bitch’.
It’s also interesting to note that one of her descendents feels so bad about what his ancestor did that he donates blood as often as humanly possible.
Let me just throw a few more things into the mix here because the above only shows one of the possibilities.
I’ll start off with what we know as fact about Erzebet Bathory. She lived in Late 16th, early 17th century Hungary and was born into Nobility, both her Father and her Grandfather on her mother’s side were Voivode of Transylvania (Highest ranking officials, they’re selected by the monarch). She was also cousin to Stephan Bathory, King of Poland.
Erzsebet could not only read and write in ‘more than two languages’ she could read and write in four.
She was engaged to Ferenc Nadasdy (Hungarian nobleman who had huge wealth and power) at the age of 12. By the age of 15 they were married and living together in Csejte Castle, a wedding gift from the Nadasdy family. Ferenc and Erzsebet had 5 children together, however only 3 survived past their infant years (the children and Ferenc took the name Bathory as the Bathory name held more honour than the Nadasdy one at the time).
So, so far we have a woman with immense power, wealth and intellect. Quadrilingual and bloody emotionally strong to get over the death of two children.
There’s a few more important facts before we get to most of the speculation. Ferenc became the chief commander of the Hungarian troops, leading them to battle against the Ottomans. As a result Erzsebet was charged with the defence of Ferenc’s estates (anything from business affairs to providing medical care).
During Ferenc’s life he was notorious for his torturing of the Ottoman prisoners during the war and he was celebrated for it some sources say that he came back and bragged about it, even exchanging techniques with Erzsebet, other sources say that Erzsebet was more skilled than her husband and taught him a lot of what he knew. (Although I challenge the latter for reasons i’m going to go through).
Ferenc died (cause is widely disputed, many say a battle wound others say a disease) leaving Erzsebet a widow. Erzsebet however was now a woman in control of a very large estate and had no shortage of power or money. A few years after Ferenc’s death the King of Hungary assigned Thurzo to investigate.
Thurzo collected many many witness statements, and samples from dead bodies that were found and the count palestine determined that Erzsebet had killed and tortured around 600 young women.
All of the Countesses servants were questioned and all but one said that she had killed and tortured the women. The one that had denied it had her eyes gouged out and her breasts removed before being burnt at the stake (no wonder they were all so quick to say that Erzsebet was guilty).
The King of Hungary was rushing for Erzsebet to face the death penalty for the crimes however Pal (Erzsebet’s son) negotiated with the King and instead Erzsebet was put under permanent house arrest. Erzsebet was never put on trial.
She was literally cemented in her own house, she could not leave. Ever. Not even for a minute. Isolated fully from the entirety of humanity, she only got her meals slid through a hatch to her. She lived with no contact with anyone or anything for an entire 3-4 years before she was found dead on the floor in her castle.
Now if you look at it closer and consider the following
- The King of Hungary was rumored to have huge debts to Erzsebet. With her death all that was essentially wiped.
- Erzsebet was still a Catholic whilst most around her was converting to Catholicism
- A smart, intelligent, powerful and rich woman who held more land than nearly anyone else in Hungary.
Any one of those could be cause for Erzsebet being framed. Assassination was too high profile and this way the Bathory name was and still is tarnished, 400 years later.
Alternatively it is full well possible she could be the notorious murderer most people think she is, although what makes her crimes worse than her husbands? One is encouraged, cheered by the country the other has made someone notorious as the most prolific female serial killer in history? But that is another debate altogether.
We will never know if she was a serial killer who likes to torture her victims or if it was an elaborate framing by monarch or religion. Many even say that a witch named Darvulia lead Erzsebet to commit the crimes but regardless of the truth I don’t think we can let Erzebet Bathory become more lost in time than she has already.
I apologise that this was so shoddily written, it’s late and i’m just very passionate about the blood countess.