Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory (1569 - 1614)

In my lifetime, I earned the monniker, the "Bloody Countess". To stay young, I tortured and bathed in the blood of hundreds of young women.

Eastern European history is rife with noble men and women whose propensity for carnage, cruelty, and bloodshed are unequalled. Some, like me, were rumored to be vampires. My heinous crimes, when finally revealed, included torture, murder, and alleged blood drinking.

Born in 1560, I was a child of wealth and privilege whose closest relatives became cardinals, prime ministers, and kings. Unfortunately, other members ofy large family tree also dabbled in the black arts, diabolism, lesbianism, and habitual promiscuity. None of these “pastimes” were kept secret from me while I was growing up. My renowned beauty and stature made me a valuable commodity for political alliances. By age 11, I was betrothed, and at age 15 I married a count, a nobleman of equal stature. My husband had earned a reputation as a fierce warrior and was more commonly known as “The Black Hero of Hungary.” As soon as we were married, the Count whisked me away to northern Hungary and to my new home, an isolated fortress located deep in the Carpathian Mountains. The valleys around the castle were rich farmlands worked by superstitious peasants. What little entertainment or diversion there was could be found below in the tiny village.

I was by no means impressed with married life and y utter isolation, nor did her my new husband help ease my boredom. He stayed with me only long enough to ensure his line would continue and then once again rode off to war. Over the years, between my husband’s sporadic visits and giving birth to 4 children, I established myself as a cruel mistress. I enjoyed the fact that the peasants were afraid of me and my hair-trigger temper. I relieved my boredom by taking countless lovers, one of whom the villagers believed was a vampire because of his slimness, pale complexion, and very sharp-looking teeth. His sudden and complete disappearance only confirmed the locals’ dark suspicions, and they became even more careful not to anger me. My other activities included beating and torturing my young female servants, first using cruel methods learned from my lesbian aunt and then with various torture devices my husband had discarded in the dungeons of our castle. I also gathered around me any loyal retainers, servants, my own trusted nurse, and various practitioners of the black arts. My enclave and I became avid students of witchcraft.

I had always been a vain and self-centered child, and I treasured and protected my natural beauty. By my mid-twenties it was becoming evident that my looks were beginning to fade. My temper turned even more unpredictable, and my acts of cruelty toward my female servants escalated. I dragged young girls into the dungeons and mercilessly and sometimes ritualistically tortured them. No one dared speak to protect any of the servant girls for fear of also being brutalized by me.

By 1600 A.D., my husband was dead and I became the true mistress of my isolated domain. Once I had divested myself of my children, who were sent to relatives, and my mother-in-law, I was even freer to do as I pleased. It was around this time that I acquired a taste for blood. I was now in my early 40s and desperate to find a way to stay young. So far, none of my dark rituals had been successful in restoring my fading beauty. One day, my latest maid angered me, and in a fit of fury, I struck the unfortunate girl across the face. Blood poured from the maid’s nose and spattered my hand. After wiping it away, I was sure my flesh looked smoother. Not wasting a single moment, I ordered my manservant to kill the maid and drain her blood into a tub so that I could wash with it.

I soon ordered more unmarried maidens to be brought to the dungeons. For the next 10 years, my loyal accomplices did just that under the pretext of securing the peasant girls’ good jobs. They also assisted me in the gruesome methods I used to extract their blood and then in the dead of night took the dead girls’ bodies away for burial. But the supply of young virgins didn’t last forever. Desperate, I and my henchmen devised a new way to bring fresh blood to my mountain hideaway. Aristocratic families were always looking for tutors to train their daughters in etiquette and good manners. I, whose lineage was long and impeccable, was the perfect choice. It didn’t take long for me to acquire my next batch of victims.

When peasant girls disappeared without a trace, no one asked too many questions and excuses were manufactured. But when aristocratic young women went missing, it didn’t take long for the families’ suspicions to soar. My growing carelessness only made it easier for authorities to wonder what was really going on at the castle. Instead of burial, my henchmen and I simply began tossing the drained bodies of the young girls out for the wolves. It didn’t take long for someone to stumble over the gruesome remains. News of my atrocities soon reached the ears of the king.

A close relativeof mine, a count, was ordered to investigate.

On the night of December 30, 1610, he and his soldiers came upon a scene that made their blood run cold: half a dozen dead or dying young women, all of them gruesomely tortured. Dozens more bodies were found in and around the castle. Me and my band of accomplices were immediately put under arrest. All except one were tried and executed, a few of them in ways that befitted the horrific magnitude of what we had done.

I could not go to trial, let alone be executed. Under the laws of my countr, it was illegal to try or condemn a citizen of noble birth. Determined to keep me from walking away from the murder of over 600 young women, Parliament passed an interim law and sentenced me to be sealed alive in a tiny tower room in my castle. My only human contact was from the guards who passed my food through a narrow slot in the padlocked door. Four years later, one of my jailers caught a glimpse of my body lying prostrate on the floor. I was dead at the age of 54. Not once during my confinement did I ever speak a word of remorse for the horrible crimes I had committed.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory
August 7, 1560 – August 21, 1614

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

This post was based upon an article written by Martina Bexte - © 2002 Pagewise


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Mirella,
I hope thigs are going well for you.
What a dreadful woman the countess was. She made by blood run cold.
Extremely interesting post, though.

Yvonne Walus said...

I can see how the myth of vampires would be propagated through this woman's deeds....