Thursday, September 22, 2011

“The Blood Countess,” Hungarian Serial Killer & Sadist Elizabeth Báthory - 1610



Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak ; 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) was a countess the noble Hungarian Báthory family. For centuries she has been known as the “Blood Countess” or “Blood Queen.” The Countess was arrested on December 29, 1610. Her trial took place in Bytca,  from January 2 to 5, 1611.


She and four collaborators were accused of torturing, sexually mutilating and murdering  hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which the defendants were convicted was 80.

An agreement between the court and Elizabeth’s relatives was made whereby her life would be spared. On December 29, 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, now in Slovakia and known as Čachtice, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later.

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EXCERPTS: From Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers (Penguin Books, 2007), an indispensable book which refutes the theories of misandric apologists for female violence. The book contains a long section on Bathory, based on evidence discovered in the 1970s.

As Janos [Janos Ponikenusz, Lutheran reverend, Cachtice church] began to put in order the church records and accounts left behind by his predecessor he uncovered crypric notes notes about horrors in the castle on the hill. He found unusually long lists of names of young women who had died in the employ of the countess, women his predecessor would inter only at night while making strange references to the unexplained nature of their deaths and his reluctance to bury them. One note indicated that he had recently entombed nine women in a single night in an underground crypt near the castle walls. Armed with keys to the crypt, Janos proceeded to explore the tomb. No sooner had he unlocked and thrown open the crypt doors than the fetid smell of death rose up to meet him. In the gloomy chamber Janos discovered nine boxes stacked haphazardly in a corner. The lids were not even nailed shut, according to the deposition Janos later gave. Opening one box after another, Janos was shocked by the condition  of the young women’s corpses. They were all mutilated, some partly burned, and all caked in dry, dark, crusted blood. On several bodies Janos saw to his horror the clear impressions of human bite marks and deep jagged wounds where it looked like their flesh had been bitten away. Clearly these women did not die of natural causes, disease, or the clutches of animals or inhuman monsters: The bite marks were clearly human. The victims had been brutally tortured. [Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters,  (Penguin Books, 2007), p. 83]

Court testimony showed that: “on some days Elizabeth had naked girls laid flat on the floor of her bedroom and tortured them so much that one could scoop up the blood by the pail afterward.” When the Countess was too ill to leave bed in order to participate in her usual pastime she demanded that a victim be brought to her and held. “Elizabeth rose up on her bed and bit the girl on the cheek. Then she turned to 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.” [Vronsky, Female Serial Killers, 2007, p. 88]

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The killings began some time before the death of Elizabeth’s husband Ferenc Nádasdy in 1604. Countess Báthory’s chief accomplice was her servant Anna Darvolya, who taught the four other servants (one of them male) who formed the torture and execution team that tortured and murdered dozens of young servant girls, most of them aged from 10 to 14 years-old. The methods would include whipping, cutting with shears, burning with fire irons, beating with a cudgel, and sticking needles under their fingernails. When a girl would attempt to pull out the needle her fingers would be sliced off. Efforts were made by commoners to stop the crimes but to no avail. Eventually she would take into her household teenaged girls from noble families in decline. They were eventually treated the same as the peasant girls. [RstE]

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CHRONOLOGY:

Aug. 7, 1560 – E. Bathory born.
1575 – E. Bathory marries Nadasy (20).
1604 – death of husband, Count Nadasy.
Dec. 27, 1610 – György Thurzó, ordered by parliament, leaves for Cachtice to investigate
Dec. 29, 1610 – Doricza of Rednek, Cratia, servant girl is tortured and murdered. The final victim. Bathoy arrested.
August 21, 1614 – E. Bathory dies.
Nov. 25, 1614 – E. Bathory buried.

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BOOKS:

1729 – Laszlo Turoczy, Ungaria suis cum regibus compendio data, Nagyszombat, 1729 – this book includes the first public exposure of the prosecution of Bathory.

1796 – Michael Wagener, Beiträge zur Philosophischen Anthropologie,
[Articles on Philosophical Anthropology], Vienna, 1796 – this book is apparently the source of the myth that Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins in order to preserve her youth.

1894 – R.A. von Elsberg, Elisabeth Báthory Die Blutgräfin: Ein Sitten und Charakterbild, Breslau: 1894.

1983 – Raymond T. McNally, Dracula Was A Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania, McGraw-Hill, 1983. – McNally’s findings are summarized (pp. 78-93) in: Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters,  (Penguin Books, 2007). – In 2006, Elizabeth Miller convincingly refuted the claim that Stoker’s Dracula was influenced by the Bathory story.

1998 – Tony Thorne, Countess Dracula: Life and Times of Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess (self-published, e-book), 1998. – the book discusses the story of Bathory in popular imagination.

2006 – Elizabeth Miller, Dracula: Sense and Nonsense (Desert Island Dracula Library), January, 2006. – refutes McNally’s thesis that Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel was influenced by the Bathory story.

2009 – Kimberly L. Craft, Infamous Lady: The True Story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory, (self-published), 2009; second, revised edition, (self-published), 2014. – based on extensive study of documents not before examined, or never thoroughly studied.

2011 – Kimberly L. Craft, The Private Letters of Countess Erzsébet Báthory, (self-published), 2011.

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EXCERPT: From Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers (Penguin Books, 2007), an indispensible book which refutes the theories of misandric apologists for female violence. The book contains a long section on Bathory, based on evidence discovered in the 1970s.

Court testimony showed that: “on some days Elizabeth had naked girls laid flat on the floor of her bedroom and tortured them so much that one could scoop up the blood by the pail afterward.” When the Countess was too ill to leave bed in order to participate in her usual pastime she demanded that a victim be brought to her and held. “Elizabeth rose up on her bed and bit the girl on the cheek. Then she turned to 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.”

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A 2008 Slovakian movie, “Bathory,” offers up an interpretation of this accomplished psychopath suitable for an audience steeped in cultural narcissism. In a decadent age, this nauseatingly sadistic criminal is “cool,” an “intelligent” victim of circumstances who, in the words of director Juraj  Jakubisko, “was unfortunate to have been born at the wrong time in history.”

“I decided to make this film because Countess Elizabeth Bathory is the most famous Austro-Hungarian aristocrat that lived in what is Slovakia today. She is so well known that she is also included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most prolific mass murderer. She supposedly murdered 650 people during her lifetime. The film is essentially a mix of genres. What is interesting about this story is that it doesn’t even lack humour and it is also a kind of crime story as there are two monks investigating what is actually going on with Bathory. But there is also political intrigue, and the drama of an intelligent woman too weak to face all the odds she had to face… It is the story of a woman, Elizabeth Bathory, who, in short, was unfortunate to have been born at the wrong time in history …” [Interview with Juraj Jakubisko, 2008?, attributed to Cineuropa, by Wikipedia]

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For more cases see: Cannibal Murderesses

3 comments:

  1. An interesting detail... One of her descendants apologized for her behavior.

    And as far as I know... Elizabeth Bathory was mentally unstable from a mentally unstable line and despite this had her good points. This does not excuse her but she is my favorite serial killer when it comes to how interestingly contrasting her story was.

    She was knowledgeable on many different languages compared to most of her time and friendly to those she ruled over... Yet she had a child with a peasant at sixteen (I cannot confirm this one alas), was brutal to servants and it was only after her husband died that she went crazy though she always had a bit of a streak of cruelty that her husband supported.

    It'd be nice to know more about her then just what you put in the pulp article because her case is not so simple nor clear cut. It doesn't excuse her crimes... But the speculations and psychology with her, unlike with most serial killers, are much more diverse.

    Still... This is a good article... Just lacking in information to me. I'd complain if an Ed Kemper article was like this too.

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  2. *But there is also political intrigue, and the drama of an intelligent woman too weak to face all the odds she had to face… It is the story of a woman, Elizabeth Bathory, who, in short, was unfortunate to have been born at the wrong time in history …” [Interview with Juraj Jakubisko, 2008?, attributed to Cineuropa, by Wikipedia]*

    So when a women is a serial killer, she is a unfortunate victim? So women are always victims no matter what?

    The movie maker is a psychopath herself it seems.

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  3. You need a new category, if I may say so. One to include Bathory, Dragon Empress Cixi, Agrippina the younger and Agrippina the elder, and other ruling women who were evil.

    ReplyDelete