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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Evil Murderess of Hungary - Countess Elizabeth Bathory 1560 - 1614


Mass Murderess
Countess Erzebet Bathory
Countess Erzebet Bathory is given the anglicised version of her name, Elizabeth for this blog.

In the years that Countess Elizabeth Bathory lived, the peasants of the surrounding East European nations lived in terror of the Aristocracy. They had no rights against the nobility and were considered very low. There had been an uprising some years prior and the ruling classes had put it down with ferocious cruelty. Thus it was difficult to complain about an aristocrat in these times. The common folk lived in isolated communities of mountain and forest and had many fables concerning paranormal beings. They were a deeply suspicious people and among their beliefs were vampires

Some graves from areas of the Carpathian mountains have been found with skeletons having stakes through their bodies to keep the dead corpse down. There were fears that such dead people might rise from their graves as undead vampires. All this made for a ready paranoid people eager to believe what anyone from learned backgrounds might tell them. People from religious or political classes were held in fearful and high regard.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory was born into the privileged society of Hungary's noble family. She had relations that were Kings and Princes. Her connections were to the most powerful people all about in the surrounding countries like Poland, Austria, and Germany. At fifteen she was married to Count Ferencz Nadasdy who was a soldier in the Hungarian army fighting against the Ottomans of Turkey. Her new husband had many lands and was away campaigning for much of her young married life. He came home on leave and she bore him children, some of whom, died in infancy.

She would move about and stay at various estates in many different areas of Austria and Hungary. It was reported that she started to develop an unhealthy lust for sadistic torture of young girls. Some of her servants were loyal and helpful in this morbid perversion, but others would be victim to Countess Elizabeth’s evil obsession of bloodletting, torture, and beatings. She seemed to like young girls with soft skin and was reported to have had cruel Lesbian fetishes too. These accusations would come about later towards the end of her reign when arrested by the king of Hungry.

It is hard to believe how she surrounded herself with an entourage of willing helpers – some of whom, shared the same obsession. Much of what the Countess had been accused of begs belief. There is also the fact that in this time and age, people were accused of witchcraft, being vampires and werewolf changing. All sorts of paranormal disorders were believed in these parts of Europe. There is an abundance of folklore from around these parts some of them enjoyable fairy tales, while others are more dreadful.

The church thrived on such belief and many a twisted and fanciful account was made. These related to foul practices done by Count Elizabeth Bathory. They spoke of murderous indulgences, but these were written by self-righteous priests, extracting confessions under torture. Such people were every bit as wicked and base as what the bloody Countess was accused of being.


Artist's impression of Castle Csejthe
Her husband Count Ferencz was very cruel to his servants and had all sorts of ways to punish them. Freezing them in winter, stripping them naked and coating them in honey so that bees and other insects would be attracted when the victim was tied down. There are also accusations of beatings that Countess Elizabeth was privy too. 

While out on a campaign against the Ottomans, Count Ferencz would send home new instruments and ways of diabolical torture that he obtained from people he met.

The Charges Against Countess Bathory

Among the names of the Countess' helpful servants were Anna Darvulla, Erzsi Majorova and another named Ilona Joo. She left her grounds in Austria to retreat to her Castle Csejthe in the Little Carpathian Mountains and began to lure young girls into the grounds on the promise of taking them into service. These young girls were brought in from the surrounding villages and further afield. The Countess was accused of killing in Austria too but preferred the seclusion of the Castle Csejthe in Hungary. Here the downtrodden peasants were terrified of her and the powerful aristocratic connections she had.

Because the peasants had no right to complain to authorities when their loved ones went missing, they began to confine in the local priests. Rumours abounded and before long it came to court where King Mathias II of Hungary heard the news. Even then it was for some time that this circumstance was allowed to continue. (If it was true) The dreadful crimes against young women continued and it seems the aristocracy were loath to act – dithering with disbelief - not wanting to bring their high bloodline into question. 

Count Ferencz Nadasdy returned to his wife Countess Elizabeth at Castle Csejthe with a bad leg. This injury happened in battle. He was bedridden for a number of years then died leaving the Countess a widow at the age of forty-four. The killings still continued, while the surrounding villages and homesteads looked upon the Castle Csejthe with great fear and foreboding, reporting that carriages were transporting young girls to the grounds and they never returned. 


King Mathias II of Hungary owed a large sum of money to the Countess – a debt he had incurred with her late husband Count Ferencz and in 1610 he decided that if the Countess could be convicted of a crime, the debt would become obsolete. These are rumours from some people who believe the Countess Elizabeth Bathory crimes are a conspiracy. It would be an easy thing to cook a terrible story, especially among locals peasants.

The Hungarian King sent a group of men to raid the castle at night. They did this and reported that they found a host of young ladies in dungeons and some corpses, plus graves. The Countess was taken into custody while her close servants and helpers were put to the torture. Foul confessions came forth under duress and admissions of over 650 deaths were obtained over several decades. Under these types of torture, people would confess to anything. The countess was found guilty of murdering hundreds of women. Stories circulated among the common folk that the countess was performing satanic and diabolical acts. Some believed she was a vampire bathing in virgin blood to remain young. All sorts of fanciful stories began to circulate.

The Countess was imprisoned in brick-walled rooms (no doors?) but was not brought to trial as her servants and helpers were. The King of Hungary wanted Countess Bathory to answer for her crimes but his advisers staunchly argued against this. She had no chance to defend herself in court. She had no judgemental hearing that she could answer to and was pronounced guilty under acts of demonic persuasion in absence. She would remain bricked in her room for the rest of her life.

There followed the public executions of Countess Bathory's associates. Many were burnt at the stake; others beheaded and hung depending on the severity of their involvement. One loyal follower was said to have died under horrific torture, protesting the innocence of the Countess. Everything ended in a diabolical blood letting of loyal friends while the countess remained imprisoned and doomed in bricked purgatory. 

Countess Elizabeth Bathory lived for another four years in terrible confinement before dying. To date, she remains a most notorious serial killer with 650 victims to her evil and sadistic reign. Again, it is difficult to believe what is true. She had immunity from execution because of her high social rank and lower class peasants could be forgiven and fooled into believing the countess had been committing evil for a long time. As vampires were apt to do. Many believe Countess Bathory was a victim of the Hungarian King's circumstance of debt and that all the charges were made up. 


The countess became mythical as a vampiress who drank the blood of young virgins to remain young. In the 20th Century, movies and paranormal novels have embraced the dreadful accusations put upon her. Hammer House Horror movies made a film starring Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula. It was loosely based on the Countess Bathory myth.

I've had to add this because I have, since doing this blog, watched a TV documentary about women serial killers. Countess Bathory was the topic of this particular episode. It was narrated by Martina Cole, an author on such matters. There were also others who contributed to the documentary. Some were historians and another was a descendant. Most of the evidence they produced seemed to back the theory that Countess Bathory did have a sadistic sexual depravity and because of her rank and privilege, she used young women for her sadistic pleasure. They did offer ideas of her being the victim of a conspiracy, but all those in the documentary discredited this against the way the nobility lived and the historical documentation going back well before her being taken into custody.

Sources:

Infamous Lady

HISTORY

Encyclopedia Britannica.

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