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Countess Elizabeth Bathory - Historic Queen of the Vampires
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Elizabeth Bathory's Descent into a Life of Murder
Elizabeth Bathory is a historical figure with much controversy surrounding her name. Many fantasists claim that she was one of the first vampires, possibly a Queen of the Vampires. Others claim that the Countess was simply the worst female serial killer in history, killing over six hundred innocent souls. How Elizabeth's life story has elevated to this level of exagerration becomes obvious by merely taking a glance at the legends told of her sadistic and murderous ways.
Let us begin with Elizabeth's early life. Elizabeth (Erzebet) Bathory was born in Hungary in August of the year 1560 to a well-known and respected noble family, the Bathory family. As a young girl, it is said that she was intelligent but was known to have seizures and sporadic fits of rage...possibly epilepsy? Her physical and mental condition as a child has been hypothesized to have some sort of psychological tie to her sadistic ways in adult life. Marriage knocked at Elizabeth's door in her teen years and so she quickly became the lady of Csejthe Castle...a haunting and beautiful castle overlooking a small peasant town in present-day Slovakia (pictures below). While Elizabeth's husband, Count Ferenc Nadasdy, was out proudly battling the Turks...Elizabeth would practice some of the torture techniques that the Count had supposedly taught her. While hubby's away, Lizzy will play...
Most of this torture was inflicted upon peasant servants that might have misbehaved in some way or were, consequently, slacking in their daily duties. After a period of boring tortures, as rumor has it, Elizabeth was voluntarily sucked into a world of darkness and black witchcraft. It has been said that she employed a twisted friendship with a lady named Anna Darvulia (amongst other sinister women). Anna was the primary cohort to the Countess' numerous abductions, cruciations, and killings.
Countess Bathory & A Blood-lust for Immortal Beauty
The tortures and afflictions upon the servants and castlemaids continued and then escalated to a whole different level when Elizabeth's absent husband, Count Ferenc, died during a bloody battle. It has been rumored (and written) that Elizabeth got her first lust for blood when she was angered by a chambermaid. The chambermaid was slapped so hard by the Countess that a drop of blood fell from her cheek and landed on the Countess' hand. Elizabeth believed that this single drop of blood had reversed the aging of her hand's skin and commanded that the chambermaid be killed and drained of her blood. This is where the vampirical speculations began, as the Countess was reported to have drank this chambermaid's blood to restore her own youth and beauty. After this twisted moment of bliss, the Countess went on to afflict her vampirical ways upon many young women residing and working in the castle. Anna Darvulia, among other sadistic associates to the crimes, aided Elizabeth in her sick web of seduction and bloodletting by persuading other peasant women in the village below to attend the castle for work or classes in proper etiquette...taught by the Countess herself. I am sure the young ladies in this class learned a very valuable lesson...but it was not a simple lesson on etiquette!
Many authors and scholars debate if any of these stories were actually based on fact, although there were numerous eyewitnesses of the Countess' reign of sadism. Some of the eyewitnesses' accusations involved torture including everything from the use of needles under fingernails, to torture and death by freezing, to biting and burning of the flesh off of arms and genitalia, and who could forget the drinking of these poor souls' life force...their blood. Other more not credible claims included the Countess' affair with Satan himself and the visual reversal of her physical age.
Countess Bathory's rule of malice began to crumble in the year of 1610, when bodies were beginning to pop up around the castle grounds. Certain women were known to be missing throughout the town below the Countess' castle and so the townsfolk put two and two together. She was put on trial that same year, along with her loyal band of sadistic aides. All of her cohorts were put to death in ways that befit their crimes, but the lovely and youthful looking Countess was not executed as she was of noble blood. It is rumored that this trial was set in place not only to find justice for the murdered women of the town but to also assist the government in confiscating a majority of Elizabeth's property. The Countess escaped the execution for her crimes but was literally bricked into her own castle, with nothing but a small hole for the transfer of food as her window to the outside world. Elizabeth Bathory died of natural causes after four years of being sealed up and left to mentally and physically marinate in the surrounding darkness of her castle and crimes.
Following the Countess' death, a whole collectin of manuscripts was discovered in the Castle. Some claim that these manuscripts documented murders not merely of just thirty to fifty women (as the trial had held) but over six hundred women total. Over the years, the Countess' story has undoubtedly been exagerrated and manipulated for dramatic effect, including the theory of her vampirism. There have been quite a few books written and based on her scarily fascinating life: exploring both the dark side as well as a more debatable kinder side. Movies have been made on Countess Bathory, including one of my favorite older horror films, Countess Dracula...which was made in the early '70s (scroll down and you can view this film in its entirety). There was also a more recent movie entitled Bathory that can be rented through Netflix. In the '80s and '90s, the rock music crowds heard loud, heavy metal splashes of the Countess' name from a Swedish band entitled Bathory.
No matter how much the "Queen of Vampires" story has been dramatized to fit our millenium's meanderings of vampires and female serial killers, we can all agree that whatever actually occurred within the walls of Castle Csejthe will intrigue and inspire the twisted and maimed of heart for centuries to come.
Written and copyrighted © by Kitty the Dreamer (May Canfield), 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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© 2010 Nicole Canfield