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The Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory, known as the Blood Countess, was a mortal blood drinker who has also been immortalized in literature and film, although rarely accurately. Bathory was born in Transylvania in 1560, and lived there until she married the Slovak Count Ferenc Nadasdy in 1575. The couple then lived in Nadasdy's castle in the Slovak Republic.
While heading her household, the always-cruel Countess began to punish her servants in vicious ways. Eventually, she began to kill some of them. Her husband died in 1604(she was never implicated in his death), and BAthory apparently kept on murdering until suspicion about her activities arose in 1610. By that time, approximately 650 victims werw said to have died at her hands. But what did she do with them?
In 1611, Bathory was convicted for her crimes and setenced to life imprisonment in a room in her castle with no windows. Only a small hole was made for food and water to be passed to her. She died in that room three years later. Just as she was locked away, so were the records of what she had done. A Royal Edict declared that she was not even to be mentioned.
Years later, documents surfaced that detailed what Bathory had done, and helped her earn the title of "Blood Countess". Raymond T. McNally, one of the authors of Dracula: Prince of Many Faces, wrote a book about BAthory entitled Dracula Was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania. The title refers to the possibility that Bathory influced Stoker's placement of the novel in Transylvania, even though Bathory started committing her crimes after she moved away from that district. More importantly, the book is valuable because it contains some of the legends that arose about Bathory's practices.
The most famous of those is the belief that the countess killed young ladies to bathe in their blood. She supposedly did that to become younger. In one instance, a girl accused Bathory of biting her. That method of attack, along with the bathing in blood, has sparked interest in the countess and has surrended her with vampiric legends. However, like Dracula, it can't be proven whether the countess felt the urge to drink the blood of her victims.
It has been speculated that evidence and testimony in the Bathory trial was kept from the public. More than one writer has assumed that some of those lost records include desriptions of various acts of vampirism that Bathory might have performed. Of particular note is Gabrial Ronay, who McNally cites as having said that Bathory's "acts of vampirism and ritual murder were kept out of the trial records."
Let's say for amoment that the Blood Countess did not actually drink her victims' blookd, and only bathed in it, apparently with the intent of appearing younger(Stoker used the idea of growing younger with the help of blood in his novel, although his fictional count drank it to accomplish that). What would make Bathory believe that doing so would make her appear younger? McNally includes a particularly interesting translation from the German scholar Michael Wagener in his book that shows how Bathory could have come to think the way she did. Here's an excerpt:

Elizabeth used to dress up will in order to please her husband....On one occasion, her chambermaid saw something wrong with her headdress, and as a recompense for observing it, received such a severe box on the ears that blood gussed from her nose and spurted on her mistress's face....When the blood drops were washed off her face, her skin appeared more beautiful: whiter and more transparent on the spots where the blood had been. Elizabeth, there fore, formed the resolve to bathe her face and her entire body in human blood, so as to enhance her beauty....

The account goes on to mention details of how Bathory, with the help of her assistants, would kill her victims and bathe in their blood at four in the morning. Is that account accurate? Even if only the first couple of lines are true, we know that the countess was a person who obviously took her apppearance very seriously and could act viciously when it came to matters concerning it. As for whether the skil of the countess became "whiter and more transparent" after being splashed with blood, I"m sure many medical professions would disagree. It seems that in her rage, the countess had delusions she didn't want to surrender at a later time. If she was as cruel a person as historians claim, the "rejuvenating" bloodbaths might have been a convenient excuse to her subconscious for her behavior.

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