Countess of Hungary People thinks that Elizabeth Bathory killed hundreds of young women in the early 1600s.
What happened to Elizabeth Bathory?
Elizabeth Bathory, or Countess Elizabeth Bathory, was a wealthy and powerful Hungarian noblewoman. Her uncle was king of Poland, and her nephew was a prince of Transylvania. In 1610, she was accused of horrible serial murders and locked up in her home, Castle practice, where she stayed until she died. Bathory is thought to have killed at least 600 people, making her the most prolific female murderer in Guinness World Records. Called her the “Blood Countess” because of what she did, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula may have been based on her. But it’s possible that Bathory didn’t do all the things that have been blamed on her.
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Bathory was born in Hungary on August 7, 1560, in the town of Nyrbátor. Bathory got engaged to Count Ferenc Nadasdy when she was 11 years old. She was thought to be a beautiful and smart girl. Some stories about her life say that she had a child with a man who wasn’t her husband before she got married.
On May 8, 1575, Bathory married Nadasdy when she was only 15 years old. After ten years, in 1585, they had their first child. Five children were born to Bathory. Two of them died as babies, but two daughters and a son made it to adulthood.
Since her husband was a soldier who often had to fight the Ottoman Turks, they were apart for most of their marriage. But when they were together, he may have taught her how to torture people. In January 1604, Nadasdy died, and Bathory took over her large estates.
Bathory was accused of a scary list of crimes against female servants and minor noblewomen who had come to her for training and education. Most of the attacks and killings she is said to have done happened after she lost her husband in 1604.
Some of Bathory’s victims were covered in honey and put out in the open for bugs to eat. During the colder times of the year, young women might be stripped naked and put in ice baths that will kill them. Bathory sometimes hurts girls by putting needles in their fingers, cutting their noses or lips, or whipping them with stinging nettles. She would bite people on the shoulders and breasts and burn their skin, including their genitalia. The closeness of Bathory’s attacks makes it seem like she did it for sexual reasons, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
Bathing In the Blood Of Virgin Victims:
In many stories about Bathory, it is said that she tried to regain her youth by bathing in the blood of virgin victims. But this horrible act isn’t backed up by eyewitness accounts from the time, which didn’t shy away from gore in other ways. The first time anyone talked about Bathory’s blood baths was 100 years after she died, so it seems like they were made up.
As the lord palatine of Hungary, Count Gyorgy Thurzó was in charge of the law. On December 29, 1610, he went to Bathory’s Castle practice to look into the countess’s alleged crimes against women of noble birth (any mistreatment of servants was not a concern to authorities). He supposedly caught Elizabeth Bathory in the middle of torturing a victim, so she locked her up in her home right away (her high status meant she would not be jailed like a common criminal).
Involved in the Murders:
Then, three women and one man who worked for Bathory were taken into custody, questioned, and tortured. At the beginning of January 1611, they went to court. These servants denied being involved in the murders, but they did say that they buried more than one body, though the number of bodies they buried varied from 36 to 51. Not only did they blame their mistress and each other, but they also blamed Darvulia, a dead servant who had worked as a maid and a governess. Two of the women and the man who worked for them were given death sentences, which were carried out quickly. The fourth was not put to death right away, and no one knows what happened to her after that. Another woman was soon killed, too. She was said to have used magic to help Bathory.
Thurzó kept looking into the countess even after these executions. One witness said that Elizabeth Bathory had written in her papers that she had killed 650 people, but other witnesses gave different numbers, and the countess’ exact death toll is still unknown. Thurzó also got 289 witness statements as part of the evidence he gathered.
Bathory was not tried because she came from a powerful family. Instead, she was put in Castle practice, where she stayed until her death in 1614. It is possible that she was walled in. Since she wasn’t found guilty of a crime, her property went to her family instead of being taken away.
Not Guilty or Not?
There are flaws in the evidence against Elizabeth Bathory: More than 250 of the 289 witness accounts were either hearsay or gave no information at all. The testimony that Bathory had listed 650 victims was a second-hand account of what a court official had found, but the official who was said to have seen this information didn’t testify. Thurzó, who was in charge of the whole investigation, was in debt to many of the people who testified against Bathory. And the fact that Bathory’s workers were tortured makes it hard to believe what they said.
Swayed by People:
Why might Elizabeth Bathory have been swayed by people from the outside? The powerful widow’s family members were able to take control of her property while she was in jail (her sons-in-law knew beforehand that her arrest was coming). She was owed money by the Habsburg court, but they didn’t want to pay. Elizabeth Bathory could have been in danger because she supported her nephew, Prince Gábor Báthory of Transylvania, who was at odds with the Habsburgs, who were in power.
Bathory was Totally Innocent:
But it’s not likely that Elizabeth Bathory was totally innocent. In 1602, a priest wrote a letter in which he talked about how cruel Bathory and her husband were to the servants who worked for them. Bathory’s case could have been helped by true stories about how harshly she treated people from the lower classes. Even though it wasn’t against the law at the time, and Elizabeth Bathory was only punished because some of her victims were said to be noblewomen, she was still responsible for a lot of broken lives.
On August 21, 1614, the body of 54-year-old Elizabeth Bathory was found in Castle practice, which is now in Slovakia. She had been locked up there since 1610. She was first buried in the crypt on her property, but it’s likely that her body was moved later.