Elizabeth BathoryThe Blood Countess
Born... 7th August 1560 Died... 21st August 1614

Contents:

1. The Bathory Family
2. Birth, Marriage and Children
3. Psychotic Behaviour
4. Accomplices
5. Trial and Death
6. Travels
7. Timeline
8. Legacy
9. Sources
10. Picture Gallery
11. Activities
12. Reading List




The Bathory Family


Elizabeth Bathory was born to Baron George Bathory and Baroness Anna Bathory. The Bathory’s were a powerful Hungarian Protestant family; she was brought up to believe in her superiority. Her cousin Stephen became Prince of Transylvania in 1571 and was later elected King of Poland. Elizabeth ancestor Stephen Bathory had fought alongside Vlad Dracula in one of his many successful attempts to reclaim the Wallachian throne. Other members of the family were less respectable including Elizabeth’s brother Stephen who was a drunkard and lecher.
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Bathory Crest (Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)



((Right: Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)Birth, Marriage and Children
Elizabeth was born on the 7th August 1560 in Transylvania, it is said that at the age of 4 or 5 she suffered from violent seizures which may have being caused from epilepsy or some other neurological disorder.

In 1574 she fell pregnant to a peasant lover and gave birth to a young daughter who she named Anastasia. However Anastasia was given away because Elizabeth was ashamed about having a daughter with a peasant. At the age of 15 she married Count Fenrec Nadasdy and moved to Castle Cséjthe in the Hungarian province. The count spend a lot of time away from home fighting in wars, for a brief time Elizabeth eloped with a dark stranger but on her return to the castle her husband forgave her.

For the first ten years of their marriage Elizabeth bore no children, then around 1585 Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, a girl who she called Anna. Over the next nine year she gave birth to two more daughters, Ursula and Katharina and her first son Paul. In letters to her family members she seemed to be a loving wife and caring mother to her four children. In 1604 Elizabeth's husband died of an infected wound, which resulted in the countess becoming one of the richest land owners of Central Romania. Her first act was to banish her mother-in-law, Ursula, from the country. Ursula took her grandchildren, Elizabeth's children, with her.

Psychotic Behaviour
Elizabeth Bathory had a lot in common with her husband, Fenrec Nadasdy. They both had an interest in torture and spent hours coming up with new ways of inflicting pain on Fenrec's enemies. They soon began to practise the same methods on their servants.
But the most well known part of her psychotic behaviour, that went down in legend, began with her becoming increasingly obsessed with staying young and beautiful
She spent long hours staring at herself in the mirror while servants brushed her hair, when one day she lashed out at a maid who accidently tugged at it. In her rage, Elizabeth cut the maids hand and the blood from the wound splashed onto the countess's own hand. Later that day, Elizabeth noticed that where the blood had splashed, her skin's complexion had improved. She decided that blood from young virgin girls would be able to restore her body to its past youthful appearance. After believing she had discovered the secret of eternal youth she had two accomplices strip the maid and drain her body of all her blood. The blood was then put into a huge vat, which Elizabeth bathed in to create the youthful look on her whole body. This began the period of time that had Elizabeth prowl around the countryside looking for young peasant girls who she could take and drain of blood.
In 1609, Elizabeth's lover, Anna Darvula, also an accomplice, died, which influenced the countess to find a new accomplice, who was named Erszi Majorova. Together they devised a plan to target young girls who belonged to noble families suffering from financial problems as Elizabeth believed peasant blood would not have the same pleasing effect as noble blood. She would offer the young girls a job in her castle, then would lead them through a series of underground passageways that led to the dungeons where they were tortured, killed and drained. After awhile, Elizabeth wasn't fully content with just bathing in the blood, so she took to standing under the body as it hang there draining and drank the blood immediately.

Accomplices

Elizabeth had many accomplices to help her torture the servants, kidnap and kill the young girls that she needed the blood from.
Her accomplices were:

  • Anna Darvulia: was Elizabeth's main accomplice during the period of time following her Fenrec's death. When Anna died in 1609, after being very ill, Elizabeth obtained a new accomplice...

  • Erzsi Majorova: a widow of a local farmer, who encouraged Elizabeth to kill noble girls aswell as peasants. She was also thought to be the brains behind the disposing of the murdered girls bodies.


  • Ficzko: Elizabeths manservant, was the only male servant to help with the torturing of the girls. He was described as a "dwarflike cripple".

  • Dorothea Szentes: also known as Dorka, was a witch who instructed Elizabeth in the ways of witchcraft and black magic. Dorka was Elizabeth's helping hand when she decided she wanted to disipline her servants through methods of torture. Dorka also helped the torturing and killing of the peasants and noble girls for Elizabeth.

  • Iloona Joo: also known as Helena Jo, was Elizabeth's old nurse from when she was a child. She was also the nurse of Elizabeth's children, and participated in the torturing's and killing's.

The different techniques that Elizabeth and her accomplices used to torture the servants and other victims included:
  • Beatings
  • Whippings
  • Burning with hot irons
  • Burning and mutilation of hands and faces
  • Starving
  • Sexual abuse
  • Needles
  • Surgery, often fatal
They also enjoyed making the servants sit naked outside in winter while having buckets of icy water poured over them. This often led to
them freezing to death.


Trial and Death
After several years of hunting innocent young women Elizabeth Bathory was finally captured when rumours spread all over Hungary about her activities. King Matthias of Hungary sent Juraj Thurzo, Elizabeth’s cousin and a bunch of soldiers to raid the castle. What they found horrified all of them. Buried all over the castle grounds, and even hidden inside the castle itself, hundreds of corpses and skeletons, all bearing horrific injuries. Soldiers recalled corpses with no eyes, no arms or legs. Clothing and personal effects of the kidnapped girls were also found, and several graves were found, dug hastily around the castle grounds. Elizabeth was put on house arrest straight away and on the 2nd of January 1611 she was put on trial. Elizabeth however did not attend her trials due to her nobility.
The testimonies of the four accomplices placed the body count between thirty and sixty, but a fifth witness heard at the January 7th trial revealed the missing piece of the puzzle: testimony from a witness identified only as "the maiden Zusanna," no last name being mentioned. After describing the tortures by Helena Jo, Dorothea, and Ficzko...and after making a plea for mercy in the case of Katarina Beneczky, Zusanna then revealed the single most shocking piece of evidence in this trial, a list or register in the Countess's chest of drawers, which put the number of girls killed at 650 and that was in her Ladyship's own handwriting.
After two trials the King of Hungary found her guilty but because of her nobility she was not sentenced to death but instead imprisoned in a room of her castle with only a small hole to fit food and water through. Her accomplices were however all sentenced to death for their crimes.
Manservant Janos Ujvary was beheaded and female attendants Ilona Jo and Dorottya Szentes had their fingers ripped off and burned. On the 7th of August 1614 one of her guards wanted to have a look at the countess, who was still one of the most beautiful women in Hungary. He found her lying on the ground of her cell dead at the age of 54.

Travels

Elizabeth Bathory did not travel very much, she was born on her family estate in Nyirbator, Hungary and spent her childhood at Esced Castle. After marrying Fenrec Nadasdy she moved to Cachtice castle in Little Carpathians near Trencin in Slovakia. She lived in the castle until the day she died, however she often went on little excursions around the surrounding villages where she hunted for peasant girls. She also at one point after her husbands death traveled to Vienna.


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This map shows Elizabeth Bathory's travels from East Hungary to North Slovakia where she lived and then to Vienna in Austria. It also shows the area in which she hunted for peasant girls and then later nobles.


Timeline
1560- Elizabeth born to George and Anna Bathory

1571- Elizabeth was engaged to 16 year old Fenrec Nadasdy, which was arranged by his mother Ursula

1574- Was contained in a remote Bathory Castle, after falling pregnant to a peasant she was having an affair with, until the illegitimate
baby girl was born. She was named Anastasia.

1574- Elizabeth married Count Fenrec Nadasdy

1578- Fenrec began fighting and winning battles against the Turks, which earned him the nickname "Black Hero of Hungary"

1585- Elizabeth's first daughter of 3, to Fenrec, was born, named Anna

1594- Elizabeth's second daughter, to Fenrec, was born with the name Katalin.

1594- Elizabeth's only male servant who participated in the torturing processes was hired. His name was Ficzko.

1598- Her son was born, named Paul.

1604- Fenrec died of an infected wound. This brought along the witch, Anna Darvulia; around this time the torturing and killings
increased dramatically.

1609- Elizabeth invited 25 young noble women from financially struggling families to stay at the castle during winter. She killed them
all, then claimed that one of them killed the others for jewellery then committed suicide.

1610- Having financial difficulties, Elizabeth sold Castle Blindoc.
Later in the year, Megyery put a formal complaint in before the Hungary Parliament. This resulted in an enquiry into the
countess's crimes. Castle Csejte, where the countess was living, was raided on the 30th of December. This also was the date of Elizabeth's
arrest.

1611- January 2nd; the first trial held of 2. Elizabeth was not brought to trial, but her accomplices were. Three of them, Dorka, Ficzko
and Helena Jo, were found guilty with another accomplice, Katalin, left for further evidence.
January 7th; the second trial. Elizabeth petitioned the court, asking to appear and defend herself. But her cousin, Thurzo, would not
allow it as it would disgrace the Bathory name. Elizabeth was not punished for her crimes, even though she was condemned by the
court.
Her three accomplices that were guilty were punished then killed, while Elizabeth tried to escape the country during her trial, resulting
in a lifelong house arrest in the castle Csejte. She was placed in a small, walled up room in the castle, with only a small number of
ventilation slits and a food hatch.

1614- Elizabeth wrote her last will and testament on July 31st. Later in the year, one of her guards found her lying face-down on the floor
dead. The date was reported to be the 7th of August

Legacy
When she died, Elizabeth Bathory left behind a bloody, gruesome legacy of sadism. She was considered to be the most prolific and first female serial killer of all time, and no one has managed to best her in that regard. Her legacy also brought about an written law in Hungary, which forbade anyone from speaking the countess's name, although the people in the surrounding regions called her "The Hungarian Whore".

The case of Elizabeth Báthory inspired numerous stories during the 18th and 19th centuries. The most common motif of these works was that of the countess bathing in her victims' blood in order to retain beauty or youth.
This legend appeared in print for the first time in 1729, in the Jesuit scholar László Turóczi’s Tragica Historia, the first written account of the Báthory case. At the beginning of the 19th century, this certainty was questioned, and sadistic pleasure was considered a far more plausible motive for Elizabeth Báthory's crimes. In 1817, the witness accounts (which had surfaced in 1765) were published for the first time,suggesting that the bloodbaths were legend.
The legend nonetheless persisted in the popular imagination.Some versions of the story were told with the purpose of denouncing female vanity, while other versions aimed to entertain or thrill their audience. The ethnic divisions in Eastern Europe and financial incentives for tourism contribute to the problems with historical accuracy in understanding Elizabeth Báthory. During the twentieth and 21st centuries, Elizabeth Báthory has continued to appear as a character in music, films, plays, books toys and to serve as an inspiration for similar characters.

Sources
Source 1:

“They tied the hands and arms very tightly with Viennese cord, they were beaten to death until the whole body was black as charcoal and their skin was rent and torn. One girl suffered more than two hundred blows before dying” –Elizabeth Bathory’s accomplice Ficzko during her trial-

This source tells us how Elizabeth Bathory sometimes tortured the young girls. It also tells us that Elizabeth Bathory did not care for any of these poor children. She only wanted to look younger and she did not mind if she had to kill innocent girls to achieve that. It reveals to us just how much the girls suffered and also how much her accomplices would go to, to not be put to death. It is said that Elizabeth's accomplices only testified at her hearing because they thought that if they did they would not get such a harsh charge. However all of them were sentenced to death for their crimes and the one person who didn't testify was not executed, Elizabeth Bathory. This reveals to us a lot about her legacy and how she treated her subjects and victims as well as much about her career as a serial killer.

Source 2:

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A painting of Elizabeth Bathory, painter and year is unknown

(Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)

This painting reveals to us what Elizabeth Bathory looked like. Not much is clear about her appearance except that she was very pretty. It is said that she had long, black, silky hair and a pale complexion. This painting reveals that Elizabeth Bathory was in fact very beautiful however it does not show her sadistic side but a more calm side, which would be seen when she was around her children, this painting was probably done before she started killing. It also shows us a little about 17th century fashion, long dresses, lots of jewelry and puffy sleeves.

Source 3:
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Elizabeth's signature on her final will and testament after she dictated it to 2 Cathredral Preists on the 31st of July

(Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)

This source shows us that Elizabeth was educated enough to have a signature, which many noblemen and women didn't have around that time, as it was widely regarded that the higher classes didn't have a need to be educated. It also reveals that the countess, even though she was imprisoned at the time, was respected enough to be allowed to dictate a final will and testiment. The source doesn't reveal much about the countess's career or legacy as such, but does allow us to get a glimpse of the way she was treated and at her education.

The three sources tell us a lot about the different perspectives of Elizabeth Bathory. The first source tells us about how she tortured and killed her victims. This is from one of her accomplices perspective, he tells of her beating and killing girls in such a horrific way. This perspective is of her being cruel and sadistic unlike the second source. The second source is a painting of her from before her killing spree began. It shows us nothing of her cruel side but a more calm side, we even see a small smile curling in the corner of her lips. Unfortunately the last source does not shows us much of a perspective because it is too hard to read but it does show us that she was a well educated women even if she was cruel and heartless to her victims.

Picture Gallery

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Elizabeth Bathory, considered the most sadistic serial killer to ever live
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Fenrec Nadasdy, Elizabeth's husband until his death in 1604
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The Nadasdy Coat of Arms
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Anna Durvulia, Elizabeth's main accomplice until her death in 1609

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The Original painting of Elizabeth Bathory

(Above: Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)

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Cachtice Castle, where Elizabeth lived, tortured and killed hundreds of girls.

(Above: Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)

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The hole in the wall where food and water was passed through during her imprisonment
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View of the town below from Cachtice Castle

(Above left and right: Pictures Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)
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Tower at Cachtice Castle known as the 'Death Tower'

(Above: Picture Credit: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz http://bathory.org)

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A painting depicting the goings ons inside Cachtice Castle during the early 17th century



Activities

Activity 1: True or False

1. Elizabeth Bathory was born in Slovakia............... True/False
2. When Elizabeth was 15 she became engaged to Fenrec Nadasdy...................... True/False
3. Elizabeth had five main accomplices Anna Darvulia, Erzsi Majorova. Ficzko, Dorothea Szentes and Iloona Joo...... True/False
4. After Fenrec's death Elizabeth found a new lover, her bisexual aunt Anna Darvulia......................... True/False
5. Elizabeth was having financial difficulties in 1610..................... True/False
6. Elizabeth gave birth to a illegitimate daughter named Victoria........................ True/False
7. Elizabeth's second cousin was elected King of Poland........................................ True/False
8. Elizabeth's second daughter to Fenrec was named Katalin...........................True/False

Activity 2: Cryptogram

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Activity 3:

Imagine you are a peasant living in the village below the Cachtice Castle, your ten year old daughter has just gone missing. Construct a letter addressed to the King describing what has being happening in your village and who you suspect it is.

Activity 4:

Discuss with a partner the possibility that the story "Dracula" was based on the countess's life. Give evidence to support you ideas.

Activity 5:

Create your own plan for a story based on Elizabeth Bathory.


Reading List
-Bad Girls and Wicked Women...by Jan Stradling
-Countess Bathory: the Life and Times of Elizabeth Bathory...by Tony Thorne
-Dracula was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania...by Raymond T. McNally
-The Natural History of the Vampire...by Anthony Masters


By Kara Leverett and Tessa Houze