• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Elizabeth Bathory: Was the ‘Blood Countess’ Serial Killer Misjudged?


May 15, 2023

Countess Elizabeth Báthory, famous as a prolific serial killer within the Guinness Guide of Data, allegedly tortured and killed 80-650 younger ladies between 1585-1610 AD. Imprisoned in Csejte Fort, Slovakia, she died in 1614. Her story impressed folklore, performs, books, and movies, and she or he’s in comparison with Vlad III the Impaler , the premise for Count Dracula , incomes the title “The Blood Countess.” Nevertheless, current scholarship questions the accuracy of those accounts, suggesting political betrayal as an alternative.

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian) was a countess from the famend Báthory household of the Aristocracy within the Kingdom of Hungary and cousin of the Hungarian noble Stefan Báthory, King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Duke of Transylvania. She was born on a household property in Nyírbátor, Hungary, and spent her childhood at Ecsed Fort.

Copy of the misplaced 1585 official portrait of Erzsébet Báthory. ( Public Domain )

On the age of 15, Elizabeth was married to Ferenc Nádasdy, the son of Baron, in what was doubtless a political association inside the circles of the aristocracy. Nádasdy’s wedding ceremony reward to Báthory was his residence, Csejte Fort.  Nevertheless, solely three years after their marriage, Nádasdy turned the chief commander of Hungarian troops, main them to warfare in opposition to the Ottomans, and in 1604, Ferenc died on the age of 48, reportedly because of an unknown sickness or a battle wound. Through the warfare, and after Ferenc’s dying, Elizabeth was left to run the Nádasdy property, together with administration of its defence, enterprise affairs, and maintenance, which might have been no straightforward activity. It was throughout these years that Elizabeth was stated to have gone on a brutal killing spree.

Legends of the Blood Countess

The primary account of Elizbeth Báthory’s killing spree appeared in 1729 (greater than a century after her dying) within the e book ‘Tragica Historia’ by Jesuit scholar László Turóczi.  Based on Turóczi, the alleged serial killer would kidnap younger peasant ladies from the close by city or lure them to the citadel with the promise of well-paid work, and would subsequently torture them to dying by way of extreme beatings, burning, mutilation, biting, freezing, or ravenous. She was then stated to have ordered her slaves to assemble their blood in buckets and fill a shower in order that she might bathe within the blood of virgins to retain her youth.

Since this primary publication, rumors and tales unfold rapidly all through the nation and overseas. Elizabeth was ascribed with vampire-like tendencies and was stated to have bitten her victims and drunk their blood.  The tales of her serial murders and brutality are stated to have been verified by the testimony of greater than 300 witnesses and survivors in addition to bodily proof and the presence of horribly mutilated lifeless, dying and imprisoned women discovered on the time of her arrest.

There are lots of conflicting accounts relating to the variety of ladies Elizabeth Báthory is claimed to have murdered. However in line with one other fashionable story, one witness reported that Báthory had a e book the place she saved a listing of over 650 victims. The situation of this supposed diary is unknown.

Rumors say Bathory would bathe in the blood of her victims. (FlexDreams / Adobe Stock)

Rumors say Bathory would bathe within the blood of her victims. ( FlexDreams / Adobe Inventory)

Investigation and Arrest

Earlier than dying, Elizabeth’s husband, Ferenc, entrusted his widow to György Thurzó, the Palatine of Hungary, who would ultimately lead the investigation into Elizabeth’s alleged crimes.

After rumors of Báthory’s atrocities had unfold by way of the dominion, Thurzó ordered two notaries to gather proof in March 1610, which supposedly included testimony from greater than 300 witnesses (data truly present 13 witnesses). In December 1610, Thurzó went to Csejte Fort and arrested Báthory. However he was confronted with a dilemma – a trial and execution would have triggered a public scandal and disgraced a noble and influential household, and Elizabeth’s appreciable property would have been seized by the crown.  

Thurzó efficiently satisfied King Matthias that bringing Elizabeth to trial would negatively have an effect on the the Aristocracy, so the trial was deserted and as an alternative Báthory was imprisoned in Čachtice Fort. She was saved bricked up in a windowless room, with solely small slits left open for air flow and the passing of meals. She remained there for 4 years, till her dying on 24 August, 1614.

Čachtice castle in Slovakia where Elizabeth Báthory was imprisoned and died. (LMiH/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Čachtice citadel in Slovakia the place Elizabeth Báthory was imprisoned and died. (LMiH/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Political Betrayal?

Within the final 20 years, quite a few historians, most notably Laszlo Nagy, have come   ahead to defend the identify of Elizabeth Báthory, claiming that the accusations made in opposition to her have been a part of a crafty plan by Thurzò to imprison a bothersome political rival. A lot of arguments have been put ahead by these proclaiming Elizabeth’s innocence.

Firstly, Thurzò took steps to imprison Bathory as quickly as he turned Palatine of Hungary, main some students to counsel that this transfer was pre-planned. Thurzò had been aiding King Matthias in his efforts to increase his management over highly effective Hungarian nobles and the Bathory household definitely fell into his class.  It has additionally been stated that there’s proof that Thurzò was after Bathory’s vital wealth.

Secondly, King Matthias and the Imperial Household owed substantial quantities of cash to the Countess, which they’d bother paying because of the lack of money circulate of their coffers, and this may occasionally have offered motive to have her eradicated.

As well as, being a widow in cost of a big property, Bathory might have been inclined to rumors that she was concerned in witchcraft. Scapegoating widows and accusing them for being chargeable for pure deaths was frequent in Central Europe throughout this period.

It’s not possible to know the true info relating to Elizabeth’s story as she was by no means given a trial and so there have been no official data of the case. It’s identified that confessions from Bathory’s alleged accomplices was obtained by way of torture, they usually have been subsequently executed. Elizabeth’s supposed record of victims has by no means been discovered, nor produce other key paperwork that would have make clear the true info.  If there was an try made to border Elizabeth for crimes she didn’t commit, the true motivation stays solely a matter of hypothesis.

In the end, certainty in Bathory’s innocence or guilt is unattainable. With out definitive proof to absolve her, folklore and fashionable media will doubtless immortalize her because the Blood Countess and a infamous serial killer.

Prime picture: Killer countess. Supply: kharchenkoirina / Adobe Inventory.

By Joanna Gillan

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