Countess Elizabeth Bathory is the best known and notorious Hungarian woman outside of Europe. She lived in Transylvania over four hundred and fifty years ago and had the reputation of woman Dracula.
Elizabeth Bathory was born into a prestigious Hungarian family. She was well educated, spoke several languages, and her family had power and privileges. Her uncle was elected king of Poland in 1575, but the Countess was subject of the Habsburg crown.
Elizabeth Bathory’s legend has influenced modern day literature and movies across many cultures. One of the most famous books which also became a movie is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In this version, Dracula was a terrifying blood sucker. Many books and movies portrayed vampires this way. Recently, the depiction of vampires has softened into immortal creatures who are trying to fight against their cravings for human blood. This is seen in the recent vampire movie, called Twilight.
Was Countess Elizabeth Bathory an enemy or monster? Is she was a victim of a conspiracy? Recent Hungarian research suggests that for political reasons she was labeled as a vicious serial killer. Research points to the conflict between Hungarian aristocrats and Austrian Habsburgs, who were the greatest ruling family at the time in Europe.
Her early life
Elizabeth Bathory was a beautiful young woman born from well powerful rich Hungarian family. She was born in August 7, 1560 in Nyirbator, Hungary and spent his childhood in castle of Ecsed, Hungary. Her father was George Bathory and her mother’s brother was Prince Stephen Bathory, later king of Poland from 1575 to 1586, but Elizabeth was subject of the Habsburg crown. This is a very important point because there were conflicts between Hungarian aristocrats and Austrian Hasburgs. Unknown author said “Elizabeth was technically a subject of the Habsburg crown. Her family lands, dotted across today’s Slovakia, were part of the ‘Kingdom of Hungary’ that was absorbed by the Habsburgs in 1536. This partly explains why the authorities were so slow to investigate Bathory’s crime” (unknown page 2).
Her marriage and life with Count Nadasdy
She was 11 years old when her parents betrothed her to Count Ferenc Nadasdy who was five years older than Elizabeth. They got married in 1575. In 1602, Count Nadasdy bought castle of Csejte and became their property. During the Fifteen Year’s War (1591-1606) the Turks feared from the very brave and cruel warrior Nadasdy and the enemies’ armies mentioned him as a “Black Bey”. He was away often and for long time from his loved-one because of this disastrous war. Elizabeth became an aloof and lonely Countess. However, five children were born from their marriage but two of their offspring’s passed away. In 1604, Elizabeth widowed because the Turks assassinated her husband in Bucharest, Serbia.
Elizabeth the bloody Countess
The people around the castle have been spread very strange rumors about Elizabeth Bathory, such as dealing with occult sciences and tortured maids. According to the legend, not just after the death of her husband but during the time of her marriage, her closest family members practiced witchcraft, rape, torture and devil worship. This made her to like inhuman acts the rest of her lifetime. Why she was labeled as a vicious serial killer? One day, when one of Countess’s maids was combing and accidentally pulled the lady’s hair. Immediately the Countess hit her and the maids’ blood splattered on Elizabeth’s skin. Her skin felt young and beautiful. Elizabeth though she had found the secret of the eternal youth. From here there was no stopping: she mutilated her victims and hung by their legs and took their blood. She was drinking their blood from gold cups and later straight from their bodies. She used to kill young and virgin girls in the region through collaborating with her peasants. When she has run out of the neighborhood girls, Elizabeth established a female academy in her castle. More than six hundreds of victim's blood dried on her soul. Hambly said “peasant girls were systematically rounded up, tortured, and then bled to death so that Bathory could bathe in their blood. In her castle were iron cages: A girl placed inside was slashed to ribbons by moveable steel blades, while the countess, standing underneath, was showered in warm blood” (Hambly page 1).
In 1610, the people around her estates have complained about her a lot. According the accusers, no fewer than 650 casualties attributed to the woman who was arrested by the regent of Hungary, George Thurzo, practically without any evidence. “Thurzo, with a band of retainers, entered Csejte, confined the countess to her room, and carried off her servants to his castle at Bycta” (Hambly page 2). The proceedings have been instituted against the Countess and her servants and maids testified under the regent’s torture. A week later the witnesses were decapitated or executed.
King of Hungary, Matthias II. did not want to risk his reputation with this lawsuit that’s the reason of why the Countess never was on court. Instead of the court and prison she was bricked into one of her rooms at her castle in Csejte. It was like a house arrest. She could not have contacted with anyone and she died in 1614.
In the seventeenth century spooky story lover dramatized the Countess’s story and they created a real monster.