This is the horrifying story of a woman called Erzsébet Báthory de Ecsed. A countess of the noble Báthory family, rulers in the Kingdom of Hungary. The trail of corpses left behind her is unequaled in the history of serial crimes. It is most impressive as it's one of the few cases in which a woman was ruthless with incredible ferocity exclusively towards other women.
We can say that if plastic surgery existed at her time, this story would never be told. This because her problem was only an aversion for the "growing old" perception. And only by precising this we can fully understand the whole story. The terror of aging mixed with a sadism tendency is the deadly formula that made this noble woman a vicious killer.
Erzsébet (or The Bloody Countess, as is now universally called) overcome the original idea of Cleopatra's bathing in milk, replacing it with the scarlet red color of human blood. This incredible "anti-aging remedy" involved the lives of about 600 virgin girls, brutally murdered for letting the countess succeed in this practice.
But let's start from the very beginning. Erszébet Bathory was born in Hungary in 1560, in a noble family which had lots of possessions throughout Transylvania. She had a family tree full of princes, cardinals and ministers. Just to mention few of them, Stephen Báthory became governor of Transylvania. Her uncle was crowned King of Poland in 1575, while her brother Christopher Báthory succeeded Stephen as Prince of Transylvania. Erszébet was therefore the nephew of the King of Poland.
At the age of 15 she married Count Ferencz Nádasdy and went to live with him in the dark castle of Csejthe. She was so powerful all around Europe she kept the name because his family was even more powerful than her husband's.The Count was always far away, engaged in new battles. To chase boredom and melancholy, young Erszébet began to betray her husband with young men and took an interest in the Black Magic Arts.
During her lonely days inside the castle, Bathory discovered a huge amount of torture instruments, all carefully kept in the dungeons of the castle. With these new knowledge, the darker side of his personality slowly emerged. Between studying the occult sciences and handling whips, the madness began to sprout inside her.
Erzsébet toyed with dozens of lovers and horribly played with young serves. Among her favorite tortures (and here I'm going to be brutal in the description...so beware) were setting fire to pieces of paper tucked between the toes of the girls. She used to warm coins until they became hot and forced the victims to take them in hand while shaking the fist. Or even scarred the faces of the maids with hot irons, if they ironed expensive clothes wrong. Sewed with thread the mouths of those who (according to her thoughts) had lied, jabbed needles under fingernails, smeared with honey all over the body of the alleged thieves and then moving into the woods and tied them to a tree, at the mercy of insects and other dangerous animals. The most monstrous practice was to burn the sex of the young people with a candle.
But, among these "innocent" games, Erzsébet found the way and the time to have four children: three daughters named Anna, Orsolya and Katalin, and a son, Pál. However, having four children does not improve her maternal instinct. In fact, she never cared for them and preferred to entrust them to the family nurse Ilona Jó, an old widow, just to devote herself to the tortures of all her maids.
Causing pain became his favorite pastime. She frequently made girls undress in front of the servants for the sheer pleasure of humiliating them. Many times this violence flowed in murder. And just because I haven't been fully explicit so far, I will add that, among the many rumors have been said about the macabre list of practices, there's one, telling how the maid's meat was served more than once to unsuspecting soldiers, returned from the war with the Count. Choosing among the most malignant souls, Elizabeth put together a court composed of individuals united by the common interests in torture. Among them stood the already named Ilona Jó, the ladies of the company Dorottya Szentes and Kateline Beniezky, and a footman named Ficzkó, the most terrible of the group, because he was motivated by a furious ranklement towards women who had always rejected and ridiculed him. The Countess raped young girls everywhere: in its many castles and while travelling on her carriage, when she was bored or when the headache made her angry. But this was just the beginning.In 1604 Count Ferencz Nádasdy died, and the real nightmare began.
Countess Bathory was a beautiful woman, but the men who crowded around here were mostly attracted by its wealth and the chance to get to the throne by marrying her. Obsessed with his own image in the mirror and terrified with the idea of seeing fade its charm, the Countess found a way to stop time. After trying and failing with ointments and herbal cosmetics, devised a new therapy, with the dual purpose of appeasing his phobias and satisfy his cruel nature. Nobody knows exactly when and how she started. It is said that one day, while he was savagely beating a servant, a drop of blood fell on her hand. Perhaps it was just light cheating on her or an altered mental state to make her believe that the wet skin touched by the blood was smoother and therefore younger. She thought that a complete immersion in the plasma of young girls could give her what she wanted. The Csejthe castle became a huge torture chamber. The destitute peasants of the village came there searching for a job, without ever coming out anymore. The victims were hung upside down over a bathtub and slaughtered, or locked up for hours in tiny cages with iron spikes.
The Madness of Elisabeth grew at the highest point when she began to drink blood, giving rise to the legends according to which, in addition of being a witch, she was also a vampire. Given that the therapy didn't fully satisfy her thirst, she started to kill up to forty girls in a row, leaving her corpses all around the castle. With these kidnappings and murders, she drew the attention on herself, even by those who, up to that time, had been silent despite all the suspects.
Then the decline begun. The financial problems and debts accumulated during years of poor management of family assets. The suspects became obviously evident. Her scarlet bathrooms were finished. Some men were commissioned to explore the castle of Csejthe in search of evidence. What they saw is documented by some written documents. Believe me, saying the dungeons were soaked with blood is not an exaggeration.
In a cell some young girls were found covered in dirt and blood, waiting to fall into the Countess' claws. Half of them were starved to death, and the remaining, had to eat the flesh of her companions to survive. All of them had been driven crazy since the first time they entered in that cursed manor. An Iron Maiden stood in a corner, completely caked with dried blood. Wooden tables, whips, chains, piles of metal tools, everything was reddish-brown. A slaughterhouse from which investigators came out pale and unable to utter a word for several weeks.
Erzsébet never showed up at her trial. His faithful dame, considered witches, were condemned to the stake, while the footman was beheaded. But the rich lady suffered something worse than death.
She was walled up alive in one of the castle's towers, with a small opening between her and the world, waited for death in darkness, and tormented of not being able to continue her "beauty care".And finally, in 1614, after four years of loneliness, the prisoner was found dead. She was 54 years old...Quite advanced for the time.
As I said, the amount of victims has no equal in history. Between 600 and 650 teenagers were documented. And I'm saying documented, so no one can ensure there cannot be more.
Some say that the writer Bram Stoker was inspired by Bàthory for his Dracula, rather than the figure of Vlad the Impaler. Aside from literary disquisitions, there exist some ties between the two families.
Just to mention some examples:
- The Prince Stephen Báthory helped Dracula regain his throne in 1476.
- One of Dracula's castles was given to the Báthory family during Erszébet life period. So the Báthory and Dracula, over the years, always lived close enough.
- In addition, the coats of arms of both families had a dragon (actually Dracula belonged to the Order of the Dragon, which symbol was a Dragon).
THE TRUTH HAS BEEN SEALED BEHIND A BREAKING WALL, WITH NO PITY OR REMORSE.