Elizabeth Báthory was popularly known as the “Blood Countess” and was one of the most controversial and sensational personalities of the 16th century. She was a mass murderer and a serial killer who tortured and killed hundreds of young girls in the most gruesome and inhumane way known to the history of mankind.
There were several folklores surrounding Elizabeth Báthory. It was believed that she bathed in the blood of her young victims for everlasting youth and people often compared her to bloodsucking vampires of Transylvania. She was nicknamed later on as “The Blood Countess” or “Countess Dracula”. In fact, it was also believed that the famous writer Bram Stoker who wrote his novel Dracula in 1897 was actually influenced by the life of Elizabeth Báthory.
Early Life of Elizabeth Bathory
Elizabeth Báthory was born on August 7, 1560, in Transylvania, Hungary to a very wealthy and noble family. Her father was George Báthory, mother Anna Báthory and her uncle Stephen Báthory was the King of Poland. Elizabeth spent her childhood in the Ecséd Castle in Transylvania where she received her education and had excellent command over languages.
In 1575, Elizabeth was married to Count Ferencz Nádasdy who also belonged to a very prominent Hungarian family and they moved to the lavish Castle Cachtice, a wedding gift from her husband. They had five children together and lived a normal life.
Later Years of Elizabeth Bathory
In the year 1578, Ferencz joined the Hungarian troop and spent most of the time either in the war front or studying in Vienna. Ferencz was named the “Black Knight” and was greatly feared due to his cruelty against the war prisoners. In his absence, Elizabeth looked after the estate, which comprised of 17 villages.
During this time, Elizabeth has worked towards the betterment of many poor and needy children, women and their families and little was known about her evil nature. Elizabeth would often ask her husband to send her letters describing the tortures and atrocities that were inflicted on the prisoners.
She would take great pleasure in reading those letters and eventually it was believed that this gave rise to the sadistic nature that history would witness later on.
There were stories that Count Nádasdy actually built a torture chamber in the castle where Elizabeth would carry out her hideous crimes against the poor young maids and would write letters of her horrendous acts to her husband. The Count took great pleasure in reading those letters.
After the Count’s death in 1604, Elizabeth became viler and she continued her evil actions. Her husband’s death and her fading youth made her more vulnerable and angry and she victimized the young girls. It was estimated that she killed around 650 girls and also kept a record in a journal. The actual figure is however estimated around 80 as recorded in Elizabeth’s trial in the court.
Even when her husband was alive, Elizabeth would often beat up these young girls so bad that she had to sprinkle sawdust to soak up the blood on the floor. She had a group of senior servants who would go out in the villages and appoint young girls to serve their mistress.
It was during this time in 1601, that Elizabeth met a woman called Anna Darvolya who worked for her and soon became her most trusted servant and associate. It was believed that Anna was Elizabeth’s lover and she actually encouraged her to carry out these hideous crimes and turned her into a sadistic murderer.
Elizabeth’s acts of cruelty were beyond imagination. She would often beat up the girls, smudge them with honey and stung them with bees. She would pour cold water and leave them outside to freeze to death. Many stories revolved around the hideous crimes of Elizabeth. One such story was that she used to bathe in the blood of the young virgins, which she believed would preserve her youth.
After a while, Elizabeth began to target the rich young girls of the noble family who were often sent to her household to learn etiquettes. People now have started to suspect Elizabeth, but she still managed to escape law due to her high connections.
It was in 1610, that Hungarian King Mathias II ordered his men to investigate the matter. The investigation team was led by Thurzo Gyorgy and Elizabeth along with her four associates was arrested. There were numerous charges against her. Three of her accomplices were executed and one given a life sentence.
Elizabeth was sentenced to complete isolation in a small corner of her own castle. Elizabeth starved herself to death and eventually died on 21 August 1614. This marks the death of one of the world’s most notorious mass-murderer and serial killer.