The Blood Countess of Transylvania
(a short and simple version)
Many of you are familiar with the legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess who was obsessed with torturing and murdering other women to obtain their blood. Well, here is a re-telling of her unforgettable legend. This research is derived from a speech I gave in class and I decided to add it here for your pleasure and curiosity.
If you don’t believe in the existence of vampires…think again!
To understand why Countess Bathory was defined as a vampire, you must first understand what vampire is.
A. Vampires are believed to be creatures that drain the life source or energy and who can be physical, ghostly or formless.
B. The vampire is known in superstitions for feasting on the blood of others.
One woman managed to live like a vampire, this woman is Countess Elizabeth Bathory.
In this essay I will write about her background, her marriage, her crimes, her trial, and the works she has inspired. According to Anthony Masters and other sources, Countess Elizabeth Bathory killed between 300-600 women.
Let’s start with a little background on Countess Bathory
Elizabeth Bathory was born in Hungary in 1560 into a noble family that had lands throughout Transylvania. She had relatives of high status.
Her relatives were princes, a cardinal, a prime minister, and others in high ranks
The most famous Bathory was Stephen, King of Poland during the mid 1500’s.
Elizabeth Bathory was promised in marriage to Count Ferencz Nadasdy at the age of 11, she married the 25-year-old count at the age of 15.
The Count adopted her surname, and she kept her last name. They both lived in Castle Csjethe, a cold, damp, gloomy castle, unfortunately, Count Nadasdy was always away in a battle and Elizabeth’s life in that castle became uneventful.
Elizabeth decided to add some spice to her life and soon became unfaithful to her husband, in addition she easily found people to entertain her in the occult arts.
Her husband didn’t seem to mind and forgave her for being unfaithful.
Elizabeth’s interest in torture began when she realized there were torture devices that were kept in the castle. She watched her husband torture prisoners on these claw-like pincers that when used could rip the flesh in such a way that even the count stopped using it. Elizabeth also became interested in playing with whips.
During the 1600’s Count Nadasdy died.
The Torture Begins
Elizabeth Bathory tortured and killed many peasant women. After her husband died, Elizabeth found many lovers. They were interested in her name and fortune; her husband would be next in line to be king. This blew up Elizabeth’s ego making her believed she was the most beautiful woman. Elizabeth feared that age would take away her beauty.
Infuriated, she struck one of her servant girls so hard that some blood dripped from her face onto Elizabeth’s hand making her believe that the blood that fell on her hand made her skin younger.
Elizabeth Bathory decides she will bathe in young women’s blood.
She had several accomplices go out and get girls. These peasant girls came believing they were there to work but where tortured and killed instead.
Castle Csejthe became a torture chamber.
Women were hung upside down, while they were still alive and their throats were slit to prepare Elizabeth’s bath, many were put in cages that had spikes within, the victim was squatted in this small cage and if they fell asleep they would be impaled.
The Countess of Transylvania got to the point that she drank her victims’ blood but was never completely satisfied with the results (hmm I wonder why).
Someone had the answer to Elizabeth’s dissatisfaction; her accomplice suggested that she should use better blood, the blood of other noble women. Many of these women were still of a lower status than Elizabeth but she managed to kill at least 40 of them.
Transition: Elizabeth’s blood fetish is finally stopped
Unfortunately for Elizabeth Bathory financial troubles and debts where her ruin. This was one of the reasons she was investigated. The second reason was the killing of the upper class women, therefore, it seems that the investigation took place because of the desire by others to obtain whatever was left of her wealth and her property.
In 1610, Elizabeth’s blood showers were stopped.
Elizabeth was never sent to trial because of her status but her partners in crime were sentenced to death by burning, while was condemned to be imprisoned within a tower of her own castle, with only a small hole for food and air. Elizabeth Bathory was found dead during 1614, at the age of 54.
Many novels, poems, movies, and songs were inspired by Elizabeth Bathory.
McNally, author of “Dracula was a Woman” believes Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” to be inspired by Elizabeth Bathory’s bloodlust. This is understandable, since there were books about vampires and werewolves during Bram Stoker’s time he could have read. But you will find several authors who disagree on this point.
There is an odd connection between the Bathorys and Draculas.
a. Prince Stephen Bathory helped Dracula regain his throne in 1476.
b. One of Dracula’s castles became the possession of the Bathory family during Elizabeth’s time.
c. The Bathorys and Draculas lived in close proximity to each other.
There were a handful of movies inspired by the life of Countess Bathory.
1. Daughters of Darkness released in 1970
2. Countess Dracula released in 1971
3. And several others followed
There are also countless books on Elizabeth Bathory.
1. Biographies of her life in English.
a. Countess Bathory: The Life and Times of Elizabeth Bathory by Tony Thorne
b. Dracula was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania by Raymond T. McNally.
Elizabeth’s life has been retold and sometimes recreated in art books, comic books, poetry, songs, operas, and endless websites. Not to mention bands such as Bathory and Cradle of Filth who have revived her in the eyes of all metal fiends. As you have seen, Elizabeth Bathory lead the life of a physical vampire and has somehow gained that immortality she so desperately wanted and she achieved beauty as well as ugliness through the eyes of those who re-interpret her past.
The Sources/ Bibliography and detailed information can be found at:
Masters, Anthony. The Natural History of the Vampire. New York. Berkley Medallion, 1976
McNally, Raymond T. Dracula was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania. New York. McGraw-Hill, 1983
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press, 2000.
Sifuentes K. Crime Web 2001. http://www.crimeweb.homestead.com/index.html