Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elizabeth Bathory - The Bloody Countess

Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Báthory Erzsébet) is renowned for her atrocious crimes and has been a famous character in pop culture. However, many debate whether she was indeed a serial killer or not. 

She was born in 1560 and was engaged to Ferenc Nádasdy at age 11. Unlike most women from that time, she was highly educated and spoke four languages. Her husband trusted her with managing the estate and business while he was leading the Hungarian troops at war with the Ottomans. They both had control over a wide land and they were the most powerful union in Hungary. Unfortunately, with her husband missing for battle, she gained interest in occultism and alchemy.

A lot of her sadistic behavior has been explained by the fact that she might have been mentally ill since she was young, due to inbreeding. Also, her husband was not very far from being as cruel as her and it seems that he “educated” her in his favorite ways of punishing servants. Some tales say that they were both involved in the occult art and participated in different satanic rituals, others say that her husband had no idea of his wife’s “hobbies”. However, one thing is certain: in those times torture and punishment were common, so people even considered cruelty to be a virtue.

While her husband was away she seemed to engage in sexual activities that were seen as perverse at the time, such as: adultery, bisexuality, masochism, and sadism. But the real atrocities started when the count died in battle, leaving Elizabeth and her children alone with his mother. First she got rid of her mother-in-law. Then, she started by torturing her servant girls along with accomplices such as Helena Jo, Dorothea Szentes, and Johannes Ujvary. Her torture methods included: beating her maidservants with barbed lash and heavy cudgel, dragging them naked in the snow and dousing them with cold water until they froze to death, and putting pins underneath their fingernails, armpits and genitals; she also bathed in the young girls’ blood, made different surgeries on her victims, starved them to death, bit their flesh, and sexually abused them. 

Her accomplices testified and described certain tortures. Ficzko was very graphic about a specific torture:
“They tied the hands and arms very tightly with Viennese cord, they were beaten to death until the whole body was black as charcoal and their skin was rent and torn. One girl suffered more than two hundred blows before dying. Dorko [another accomplice and procurer] cut their fingers one by one with shears and then slit the veins with scissors.”

Ilona Joo admitted that she applied red-hot pokers in the mouth or nose of girls, stabbed them with needles and torn open their flesh with sharp pincers. She also enjoyed cutting the skin between her victim’s fingers.

A servant refused to testify against Elizabeth and her eyes were poked and her breast cut before she was executed by burning at stake.

Bathing in young girls’ blood might be just a legend. Apparently she discovered this when she slapped a young servant and when the girl’s blood touched her skin she thought it made her skin look young again. With this idea in her head, the countess started taking numerous blood baths that were supposed to reverse her aging process.  

Her downfall began with Erszi Majorova, the successor accomplice of Darvula (who died in 1609) who advised her to start killing noble people. Although the deaths of peasants were overlooked, too many nobles dying was catching people’s attention and soon the Lutheran minister Istvan Magyari complained about her publicly. She was kept under strict house arrest because she was noble and any scandal would have disgraced the noble family that ruled Transylvania at that time.  The exact number of killed girls is unknown but it has been speculated that it could be as high as 650. Some say that the number of victims was approximately 32 while others even argue that she was a victim of conspiracy (which could be a valid argument since it would be explained by Hungarian history at the time).

On 30 December 1610 she was arrested along with four of her servants. As I mentioned earlier, she was put to house arrest but her servants were not noble so they didn’t received the same treatment. Three of them Dorota Semtész, Ilona Jó, and János Újváry were tortured and executed. Katarína Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Although many historians believe that bathing in blood is just a legend made to impress an audience, the story of Elizabeth Bathory still influences culture today and has inspired countless fictional characters. 


  1. goodness Andreea, my goose bumps are all up and I just have no words on what this woman has done. Btw, those sexual stuffs like sadistic, multiple partners, same sex are all done now too.

    Another one is also exchange partners, spouses and having sex with the other. Maybe she went a bit over board.

  2. hi andreea, this is even more grotesque, imagine a woman can be so violent- especially so when aristocratic women are supposed to be gentle, lady like and very disciplined.

    OMG the way people torture others during those days were very scary indeed- makes me want to vomit blood.
    consider ourselves very lucky :)

  3. eeeewwwww..Andreea not in my own knowledge have I known a woman such I say "evil" like she really human..killing someone is really cruel but torturing those servants like putting pins on their genitals inhuman..she must be insane to do really research so well Andreea..scary what will you bring us this November sis..Trick or Treat..

    thank you for always visiting me sis..I really appreciate it so much..I'm not feeling well now even yesterday so just a short comment..oh is this short..bye sis ;)

  4. It's always hard to tell with historical figures what is true and what isn't. Plus everyone during that period had a much more accepting view of torture and cruelty, especially on the lower classes. It does make for an interesting read, I love all your posts, you do a great job of bringing up interesting people and ideas :) Have a great weekend!

  5. There are very few female serial killers....but she certainly sounds like oneto me! A creepy Halloween read - and I read every word!

  6. She definitely was insane.

    I just watched a video "HOSTELS", how the very rich bid the highest to a syndicate who lured unsuspecting young tourists, boys and girls (drugged and kidnapped)- to satisfy their cravings for torture hence slowly killing these youngsters - with my eyes covered watching the most part of the scenes.. really cruel!.

    And yes, there was this a scene, one crazy lady lying naked while blood of her victims (hanged and slashed slowly)oozes down her body!

    Very2 chilly but an eye opener when we go on holidays - to be careful when we travel abroad!

  7. @Nava.K Yeah sexual things like the ones mentioned by me are still done today but what I meant in the article was that they are not seen as big perversions as they were seen back then, people are more open regarding sexuality today. In that time, engaging in bisexual relationships was completely outrageous.
    @Wan Yeah, this is pretty grotesque and she was probably suffering from a mental condition. If you think about it, perhaps the fact that they were supposed to be very disciplined made them so cruel.
    @Sie She was pretty creative at being cruel, but I guess that’s what being a cruel sadist means. I hope you are feeling better now, it makes me sad to know that you are not well.
    @Frugal in WV Indeed, it’s hard to determine whether these stories are true or not but they are a great way to spark a conversation during Halloween :D Thanks for your kind words! :D
    @Ann Yes there is a small number of women serial killers and I believe that she is the worst of them if we take the cruelty into consideration.
    @Katrina Indeed she was. I know that movie, it was pretty gruesome. It makes you think twice before traveling to an unknown place :D

  8. Omy god...its real shocking to know such cruel hearts existed....truly undigestable killing..!
    Tasty Appetite

  9. I agree Jay, she was really cruel, if everything about her is true.

  10. It's creepy. At first, when you mention that she 'offed' her mother-in-law, I thought maybe this was revenge for something really horrible that she (the Countess) had been subjected to. But when I read that she tortured and killed her servants ... she was really sadistic. It's pretty hard to understand how someone can get satisfaction from seeing others suffer - but I guess that's what it is. I can more-or-less understand depression, mania, anxiety disorder, even delusions and hallucinations. I can imagine what it would be like to experience any of these things. But wanting to see someone suffer (especially someone like a servant, who's helpless, vulnerable) is unimaginable.

  11. This lady was scary, if everything was true. I can't imagine someone would enjoy bathing in others' blood. The thought makes me sick.

  12. According to history, Elizabeth Báthory was probably the most prolific female serial killer in history. Today (August 7), its her 453rd birthday and the cruelty of her evil deeds is still remembered today. Nevertheless, one should be careful to connect her to the vampire myth as it is often done here among the vampire fan community, because this will make her an idolized icon and potential role model...what for god's sake should be prevented...There's more to read about Báthory in our daily history of science, technology, end arts blog:

    1. Thanks for your information Harald! :D You have a very interesting blog!

  13. The first portrait is not Elizabeth Bathory. It is Lucrezia Panciatichi. Wrong era and country. The painting is at the Uffizi