Elizabeth Báthory alias the Blood Countess

Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak, Alžběta Báthoryová in Czech, Elżbieta Batory in Polish, 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614), was a Hungarian countess from the renowned Báthory family.

She is possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history and is remembered as the “Blood Countess” and as the “Bloody Lady of Čachtice”, after the castle near Trenčín.

She had many powerful relatives: a cardinal, princes, and a cousin who was prime minister of Hungary. Though frequently cited as Hungarian, Erzsebet is more likely to belong to the Slovak Republic (During this time, her land shifted hands between the armies of Europe.) Most of her adult life was spent at Castle Cachtice, near the intersection of Austria, Hungary, and the Slovak Republic.

In 1571, her cousin Stephen (1575-86) became Prince of Transylvania and additionally assumed the throne of Poland. He was a very effective ruler, but his plans of uniting Europe against the Ottoman Empire were foiled by the invading armies of Ivan the Terrible.

A strange coincidence: Prince Steven Bathory of Transylvania participated in an expedition led by Vlad Dracula in Walachia in 1546 to recover his throne. A Dracula fief, Castle Fagaras, became a Bathory possession during the time of Elizabeth. Both families had a dragon design on their family crests.

At fourteen Erzsebet gave birth to an illegitimate child fathered by a peasant boy and conceived at the chateau for her intended mother-in-law, Countess Ursula Nadasdy. She married Count Ferencz Nadasady on May 8th 1575, when Erzsebet was fifteen and Ferencz twenty-six. Erzsebet retained her own surname, while the Count changed his to Ferencz Bathory.

She took over household affairs at Castle Sarvar, the Nadasdy family estate while Ferencz headed for the battlefields and began scoring victories against the Turks as early as 1578. He eventually earned the nickname “Black Knight of Hungary”. He also lent the Hungarian Crown a great deal of money to finance the war against the Turks.

Erzsebet Bathory was a woman of exceptional beauty. Her long raven hair was contrasted with her milky complexion. Her amber eyes were almost catlike, her figure voluptuous. She was excessively vain and her narcissism drove her to new depths of perversion.

The Countess would spend days in front of her large dark mirror she had designed herself. It was so comfortable that it even had supports on which to lean one’s arms, so as to be able to stand for many hours in front of it without feeling tired.

Erzsebet gave birth to another three daughters, Anna in 1585, Orsika (Ursula), Kato (Katherina) and eventually one son, Paul in 1598.

While Ferencz was away on one of his military campaigns, the Countess began to visit her lesbian aunt, Countess Karla Bathory. Klara was a sort on nymphomaniac who also enjoyed killing people in the Roman way. Her four husbands died (the first two perished by her hand) and she was finally raped by an entire Turkish garnison before being stabbed to death.

Erzsebet became acquainted with the art of inflicting pain and death, in the same time she was also developing an interest in Black Magic. Thorko, a servant in her castle, instructed her in the ways of witchcraft, at the same time encouraging her sadistic tendencies. Erzsebet wrote one day to Ferencz:

“Thorko has taught me a lovely new one. Catch a black hen and beat it to death with a white cane. Keep the blood and smear a little of it on your enemy. If you get no chance to smear it on his body, obtain one of his garments and smear it”. 

Her husband, when he was home, also took part in torturing the servants, giving her lessons from his own experience of torturing war prisoners. When the Countess became romantically involved with a black-clad stranger with pale complexion, dark eyes and abnormally sharp teeth, the villagers who believed in vampires had more reason toe be wary of Csejthe Castle. Perhaps, to the imaginative, the stranger was Dracula himself, returned from the grave.

The Countess returned alone from her sojourn with the stranger and some of the villagers stated that her mouth showed telltale signs of blood. When Count Nadasdy returned he quickly forgave his wife’s infidelity.