The Blood Countess, Erzabet Bathory of Hungary
August 7, 1560. Born in 1560 to George Bathory and Anna Bathory.
Raymond T. McNally, who has written four books on the figure of Dracula in history, literature, and vampirism, in his fifth book, "Dracula was a Woman," presents insights into the fact that Stoker's Count Dracula was also strongly influenced by the legends of Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary.
For example Vlad was Romanian and Dracula was Hungarian like Bathory. Vlad the
impaler was never even rumored to have drunk human blood while Elizabeth not
only drank blood but was also reported to have bathed in the Blood of virgins
to keep her youth.
The Bathory family was
"one of the richest and most powerful Protestant families in all Hungary. Her
family was to provide two of the most important ruling princes of Transylvania,
Stephan Bathory, prince of Transylvania and king of Poland. Elizabeth's other
interesting relatives included: An uncle supposedly "addicted to rituals and
worship in honor of Satan, her aunt Klara was a well-known bi-sexual and lesbian
who enjoyed torturing servants, and Elizabeth's brother, Stephan, who was a
drunkard and a lecher.
As a child Elizabeth had witnessed the torture and execution of a gypsy, who was sewn up inside a horse and left to die there.
At the age of sixteen,
Ferenc Nadasdy was engaged to Elizabeth, then eleven, in 1571 thanks to the
careful manipulations of his mother. Ferenc married Elizabeth on May 8, 1575.
Ferenc was a warrior and so was not often around, leaving Elizabeth at Castle Sarvar managing the family seat, "especially the task of disciplining the servants. The countess carried her 'disciplining' to a point that would be considered sadism today". Beating the girl servants with a heavy club was the least of her "punishments," according to accounts. Often she would stick "pins into the upper and lower lips of the girls...into the girls' flesh and... under their fingernails". One particularly harsh "punishment" would be to drag girls out into the snow where she or her women servants poured cold water on them until they froze to death.
Among the things Elizabeth did to amuse herself while Ferenc was away at war was to "visit her aunt Klara, an open bisexual. Wealthy and powerful, Klara always had plenty of available girls around. Elizabeth presumably enjoyed herself with her aunt Klara, since she visited her aunt's estate frequently".
the Countess's service, as helpers in the macabre, was her manservant referred
to only as Ficzko (which means "lad " in Hungarian), Helena Jo the wet nurse,
Dorothea Szentes (also called "Dorka"), and Katarina Beneczky a washerwoman
who came into the Countess's employ late in her bloody career. Also, between
the years of 1604 and 1610 a mysterious woman named Anna Darvulia, who was probably
a lover of Elizabeth's, who taught her many new torturing techniques and was
"one of the most active sadists in Elizabeth's entourage". After a severe stroke
that left her blind, Darvulia left her work to Elizabeth, Helena Jo, and Dorka,
content that she had taught them well.
With the death of Elizabeth's dear Darvulia, when Elizabeth was in her forties, she became more reckless.
Elizabeth started picking girls from some of the surrounding lower nobility. Feeling lonely, the Countess turned to the widow of a tenant farmer from the nearby town of Miava. The woman's name was Erzsi Majorova. Apparently, it was Erszi Majorova who "encouraged Elizabeth to go after girls of noble birth as well as peasants".
One accomplice testified that on some days Elizabeth had stark- naked girls laid flat on the floor of her bedroom and tortured them so much that one could scoop up the blood by the pailfull afterwards, and so Elizabeth had her servants bring up cinders in order to cover the pools of blood. A young maid-servant who did not endure the tortures well and died very quickly was written out by the countess in her diary with the laconic comment "She was too small,"...
She demanded that one of
her female servants be brought before her. Dorothea Szentes, a burly, strong
peasant woman, dragged one of Elizabeth's girls to her bedside and held her
there. Elizabeth rose up on her bed, and, like a bulldog, the Countess opened
her mouth and bit the girl first on the cheek. Then she went for the girl's
shoulders where she ripped out a piece of flesh with her teeth. After that,
Elizabeth proceeded to bite the girl's breasts.
The trials on January 2 and 7 of 1611 were largely for show and to make the occasion "official." At the proceedings, the testimonies of her four accomplices, Ficzko, Dorka, Katarina Beneczky, and Helena Jo (Erzsi Majorova was tried much later because she could not be found) were taken and their sentences pronounced. It is somewhat important to mention here that the testimonies of the four 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.
First of all, Helena Jo and secondly Dorothea Szentes, the so- called foremost perpetrators of such great crime, were sentenced to having all their fingers on their hands, which they had used as instruments in so much torture and butcherings and which they had dipped in the blood of Christians, torn out by the public executioner with a pair of red-hot pincers; and after that their bodies should be thrown alive on the fire. Because of his youthful age and complicity in fewer crimes, Ficzko was only to be decapitated. After that his body, drained of blood, was to be reunited with his two fellow accomplices and burned... Only Katarina Beneczky escaped the death sentence. Later on January 24, 1611... Erzsi Majorova... was also found guilty and executed.
Elizabeth was never convicted of anything, and remained for the rest of her life walled up inside of her room, under "Castle Arrest".
In August of the year 1614
one of the countess's jailers wanted to get a good look at her, since she was
still reputedly one of the most beautiful women in Hungary. Peeking through
the small hole in her walled-up cell, he saw her lying face down on the floor.
Countess Elizabeth Bathory was dead at the age of fifty-four.
Taken from: A Brief on the life and death of Hungary's infamous Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory-Nadasdy by Mathew Amaral
McNally, Raymond T., Dracula was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983. (out of print)
McNally, Raymond T., and Radu Florescu. In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends. Connecticut: New York Graphic Society, 1972. (out of print)
Ronay, Gabriel. The Truth about Dracula. New York: Stein and Day, 1972. (out of print)
A few other books of interest:
The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu
The Blood Countess, Erzebet Bathory of Hungary (1560-1614 : A Gothic Horror Poem of Violence and Rage ; With, Bathory, a Play for Single Performer) by Robert Peters
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