Hungary is a fabulous place to visit and experience. The beautiful scenery, as well as the historic cities and towns, are what attract most visitors. Amid these stunning places, you will also find some eerie folktales that could make the hair on your arms stand up. Who knew that Hungary’s most infamous serial killer was a noble!!
Learn here about Elizabeth Bathory who was a Hungarian noblewoman, but was also a serial killer. She was born on 7 August 1560 and started her infamy in 1585. Elizabeth is believed to have killed 650 young women in her time. So what made this noblewoman turn bad? Read on to find out more about the woman they call – Countess Dracula or The Blood Countess.
10 From Noble Origins
Elizabeth Bathory was born in 1560 to Baron George VI Bathory and Baroness Anna Bathory in Nyirbator, Hungary. Her mother’s brother was Stephen Bathory who was a Hungarian nobleman and later became the king of Poland. Her brother was a judge royal of Hungary. Both her parents’ side were nobility and this they had achieved from small beginnings.
Elizabeth lived in her estate called the Ecsed Castle where she learned languages like Hungarian, Latin, Greek as well as German. Since she was born into a noble family, wealth, education and a high social status were something that she was privileged to have.
9 Elizabeth Bathory’s Love Child
As was the custom in that era, Elizabeth was betrothed to Ferenc Nadasdy who was the son of Baron Tamas Nadasdy and Orsolya Kanizsay. She was only 10 at the time and Ferenc was 14. This would have been a political alliance that was needed to maintain the noble lineage. Elizabeth and Ferenc married five years later and lived in Cachtice Castle.
It is rumored that before her marriage to Ferenc, Elizabeth had a child, fathered by a worker or a lowly nobleman. The child born out of wedlock was taken away from Elizabeth and given to a local woman. Later records show that Elizabeth accused the worker – Ladislav Bende, of abduction and rape.
8 Elizabeth was Educated and Intellectual
While Elizabeth was in her maternal home, she learned several languages and mathematics. She was way ahead of her time and had a curious mind. She loved to read books and her interests lay in subjects like botany, anatomy, biology, religion, as well as the occult. It was this kind of sharpness that led her to control her estates even after marriage.
Since Ferenc was busy with the war and managing his military, it was left to Elizabeth to take care of the estates. She did so with great success as she was able to protect her estates from prying hands, even after Ferenc’s death.
7 Violence Surrounded Elizabeth Bathory
From an early age, Elizabeth Bathory was exposed to violence and this may be the reason for her cruel streak. Due to a peasant uprising in 1514 and its subsequent failure, the nobility took full advantage and unleashed their violence on them. Elizabeth, as a child, would have witnessed cases of men being roasted alive, heads being severed, etc.
It is reported that she even saw a man being sewn into the belly of a horse. The strange fact is that Elizabeth didn’t seem fazed by this at all, but was apparently amused. These events could have caused Elizabeth to later turn into a sadistic killer.
6 The Rumors Spill Out of the Castle
Elizabeth Bathory’s cruel acts stayed within castle walls for a long time. Since her torture was aimed mostly at the castle servants, all of whom were females, it was not reported to any authority. With the first signs of suspicions, she claimed the young girls had died of cholera. Later on, rumors flew around that she would beat, burn and whip the girls, and even gouge out the flesh.
It was not until Elizabeth started her cruel acts on young girls from noble families, that the King of Hungary was made aware of the abuse. Elizabeth’s rage was known far and wide, by now.
5 Elizabeth’s Hand-in-Arms
While the brain behind the serial killings was Elizabeth herself, she did have help from others. These were her servant girls who seemingly helped her get crueler. Her closest aid was Anna Darvolya, who was known as Darvulia. Anna instructed the other servant girls and also fine-tuned the art of killing.
Along with three other women, Elizabeth Bathory terrorized the young girls in her castle. It was not only these servants that helped Elizabeth. She did have at least three noblewomen who helped her in her crimes. They would supply Elizabeth with young girls from other towns when there were no more girls in her own castle.
4 No Hard Evidence Against Elizabeth
As Elizabeth Bathory was the head of the household and her family held in high esteem in Hungary, she was saved from allegations and questionings for a very long time. There was no one to hear the servants’ voices either. This was because the families of these girls would have to complain to Ferenc, husband of Elizabeth.
Eventually, Gyӧrgy Thurzó was appointed by King Matthias II to investigate the deaths of young girls and he arrested Elizabeth on December 30, 1610. The only corroboration was the presence of a girl named Anna, who was severely injured but gave her account of what happened.
3 The Figures Add Up
After Elizabeth was arrested by Thurzó, she was placed in castle dungeons of Csej the. At this point, witnesses were rounded up to gather information on the happenings within the castle walls. Allegations flew left and right against Elizabeth and her aids. It was the aids who willingly gave away information to Thurzó after he tortured them and increased his atrocities day by day.
It was then understood that Elizabeth started off her killing spree sporadically before Ferenc died. But after his death, she escalated these horrendous murders which numbered about 50. The mind-boggling number of 650 murders was based on a servant girl’s account, who said she had seen a ledger kept by an official.
2 A Myth Added to the Folklore
Among the many famous stories that surround Elizabeth Bathory, the most striking one is the blood bath story. This is actually a myth and was added to the folklore about a hundred years after her death. The blood bath myth was one where Elizabeth would torture young girls and then bathe in a tub filled with their blood.
This was to preserve her beauty and youth. This became a part of folklore when a Jesuit scholar traveled around to learn about the Countess and heard stories from villagers. It was later learned from records that there was no such blood bath and that Elizabeth did not fancy blood in this way.
1 Elizabeth Knew Her Time Was Up
With all the evidence surfacing against her, Elizabeth knew that she could no longer be free. Thurzó never put her on trial, even though the king asked for one. Thurzó saw to it that Elizabeth was kept locked up in solitary until her death. Elizabeth tried in vain to have witnesses claim her innocence.
She even pinned the blame of the murders on one of the girls from a finishing school. Since she saw no way out of her predicament, she made her will and signed off everything she owned to her children. Thurzó kept her in a windowless room in the castle where she finally died on August 14, 1614.