Countess Elizabeth Bathory - Bathory Erzsebet

Elizabeth Bathory

Some call her the Queen of Blood. Others call her the first true vampire. Whatever her label, Elizabeth Bathory has gone down in the history books as a sadistic woman, whose horrific crimes have made her one of the most infamous women in evil lore.

I was first drawn to the story of Elizabeth Bathory when I heard the band Bathory years ago. While never thinking much of the name, it didn't take long for me to begin research on Elizabeth Bathory when Cradle of Filth's "Cruelty and the Beast" came along. Through some searching, this is what I've found out about the woman...

Elizabeth Bathory was born a noblewoman to George and Anne Bathory in 1560. Her family held lands throughout Hungary and were considered one of the most powerful families in the country. At fourteen, she gave birth to an illegitimate child -- fathered by a peasant boy -- conceived at the Chateau of her intended mother-in-law, Countess Ursula Nadasdy. Bathory was sequestered until the baby was delivered because she was engaged to marry Count Ferencz Nadasdy, who she had been betrothed since she was eleven years old. (I have not been able to find what happened to the child) The marriage took place on May 8, 1575 when Bathory was fifteen. In those days, long before women's liberation, it was of great significance that Elizabeth retained her own surname, while the Count changed his to Ferencz Bathory. The Count thrived on conflict and war, and so left Elizabeth to the responsibilities of managing the affairs of Sarvar, the Nadasdy family estate.

While Ferencz was away on one of his military campaigns (he eventually earned a reputation as the "Black Hero of Hungary"), the Countess began to visit her Aunt, Countess Karla Bathory. It is rumored that there, Elizabeth began to participate in orgies. During that period in history, it was common for those in power to treat their servants cruelly. For Elizabeth, though, this cruelty began to take on a new form. Not only was Elizabeth becoming infatuated with her specialized carnal pleasures, but it is also said that at this time she developed an interest in black magic. Thorko, a servant in her castle, instructed her in the ways of dark witchcraft, at the same time encouraging her sadistic tendencies. "Thorko has taught me a lovely new one," Elizabeth wrote in one of her letters to Ferencz. "Catch a black hen and beat it to death with a white cane. Keep the blood and smear a little of it on your enemy."

Under the pretext of punishing her female servants for failing to perform certain trivial tasks, Elizabeth used branding irons, molten wax, and knives to shed their blood. She would stick pins in various sensitive places on the body. During the winter, she would execute victims by having them strip, led out into the snow, and then would pour water over them until they were frozen. It has also been said that Ferencz, when home, would join in occasionally and sometimes actually teach her new forms of torture -- such as in the summer, having girls stripped, covered with honey, and left to be bitten and stung to death by various insects.

Ferencz died in 1604 (apparently of poisoning) and Elizabeth began to spend time at her estate at Beckov and at a manor house in Cachtice (or Csejthe), both of which are located in present-day Slovakia. Here Elizabeth's beauty began to wane, because of her age, and so she tried to conceal the decline through cosmetics and the most expensive clothes. But these would not cover the ever-spreading wrinkles. One fateful day a servant girl was attending to Elizabeth's hair and either pulled it or remarked that something was wrong with her mistress' headdress. The infuriated Countess slapped the girl so hard that blood spurted from her nose. The blood sprayed across Elizabeth's hands. When she went to rinse off the blood, she felt that her skin looked smoother and younger than it had in years. The tenuous connection between blood and youth had been made, and it was from here that she began her even bloodier descent into evil.

Convinced that blood, particularly the blood of young girls, was the secret to eternal youth and beauty, Countess Elizabeth Bathory began to devise scheme after scheme to provide herself with the blood -- and therefore the youth she so desperately sought. Elizabeth did not deal in simplicities like slitting the throats of the young girls she killed. Most of the servant girls were tortured by Elizabeth for weeks or even months before they were killed. They were cut with scissors, pricked with pins, even prodded with burning irons or sharp spikes in a cage hung from the ceiling to provide her with a "blood shower."

During this reign of terror, which lasted several years, some accounts of her murders number in the 600 region or more. Some of these six hundred women killed were noblewomen like Bathory, al beit of a lower station, that she persuaded to visit her. But not even a noblewoman could continue those types of crimes indefinitely without questions being raised.

Reverand Andras Berthoni, a Lutheran pastor in Cachtice, realized the truth when Elizabeth commanded him to bury secretly the bloodless corpses. He set down his suspicions regarding Elizabeth in a note before he died. Using the note written by Reverand Berthoni, Elizabeth's cousin, Count Thurzo, came to Cachtice Castle. On New Year's Eve of 1610, Count Thurzo, Reverand Janos Ponikenusz (who succeeded Berthoni and had found the note) and some of the castle personnel, found Elizabeth's underground torture chamber. There they discovered not only the unbelievably mutilated bodies of a number of girls, but also the blood-soaked Countess herself.

For political reasons, Elizabeth never attended her trial. She remained confined in her castle while she and her sadistic accomplices were tried for their crimes. Elizabeth was tried purely on a criminal basis, while her helpers were charged with vampirism, witchcraft, and practicing pagan rituals. All her cohorts were beheaded, except for two, whose fingers were pulled off before they were burned alive. Due to her nobility, though, Elizabeth was not allowed by law to be sentenced to death. Instead, she was sentenced to life imprisonment at the top of her castle. Her small room had no windows, no doors, and only a small opening in the wall to allow food to be passed through. Countess Elizabeth died in the room in August of 1614.

Source: Unknown