Countess Elizabeth Bathory, c. 1560-1614

There are many legends about vampires. However, there are official documents proving the existence of an authentic seventeenth-century countess, Elizabeth Bathory, who was the most bloodthirsty vampiress of all time.

Elizabeth Bathory was born in 1560 into one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Transylvania. She had many powerful relatives - a cardinal, princes, and a cousin who was prime minister of Hungary. The most famous Bathory was King Steven of Poland. 1575-86.

Elizabeth was married to Count Ferencz Nasdasdy when she was 15, he was 26. The count added her surname to his, so the countess kept her name. They lived at Castle Csejthe in the Nyitra country of Hungary. The count spent a great deal of time away from home fighting. His nickname was The Black Hero of Hungary. While he was away, Elizabeth's manservant Thorko introduced her to the occult.

Elizabeth eloped with a dark stranger briefly, but came home. Luckily the count forgave her. Back at the castle, Elizabeth couldn't stand her domineering mother-in-law. She began torturing the servant girls with the help of her old nurse Iloona Joo. Her other accomplices included the major-domo Johannes Ujvary, Thorko, a forest witch named Darvula and a witch Dorottya Szentes.

In 1600 Ferencz died and Elizabeth's period of real atrocities began. First, she sent her hated mother-in-law away. Elizabeth was very vain and afraid of getting old and losing her beauty. One day a servant girl accidentially pulled her hair while combing it -- Elizabeth slapped the girl's hand so hard she drew blood, which fell onto her own hand. She immediately though her skin took on the freshness of that of her young maid. She was sure she found the secret of eternal youthful skin!!! She had her major-domo and Thorko strip the maid, cut her and drain her blood into a huge vat. Elizabeth bathed in it to beautify her entire body.

Over the next 10 years Elizabeth's evil henchmen provided her with new girls for the blood-draining ritual and her blood baths. But one of her intended victims escaped and told the authorities about what was happening at Castle Csejthe. King Mathias of Hungary ordered Elizabeth's own cousin, Count Cuyorgy Thurzo, governor of the province to raid the castle. On December 30, 1610 they raided Castle Csejthe. They were horrified by the terrible sights in the castle - one dead girl in the main room, drained of blood and another alive whose body had been pierced with holes; in the dungeon they discoverd several living girls, some of whose bodies had been pierced. Below the castle, they exhumed the bodies of some 50 girls.

Elizabeth was put under house arrest. A trial was held in 1611 at Bitcse. She refused to plead guilty or innocent and never appeared at the trial. A complete transcript of the trial was made at the time and it survices today in Hungary! Johannes Ujvary, major-domo, testified that about 37 unmarried girls has been killed, six of whom he had personally recruited to work at the castle. The victims were tied up and cut with scissors. Sometimes the two witches tortured these girls, or the Countess herself. Elizabeth's old nurse testified that about 40 girls had been tortured and killed.

All the people involved in the killings, except the Countess Bathory and the two witches were beheaded and cremated. The tow accomplices had their fingers torn out and were burned alive. The court never convicted Countess Elizabeth of any crime. Stonemasons were brought to Castle Csejthe to wall up the windows and doors of the bedchamber with the Countess inside. They left a small hole through which food could be passed. King Mathias II demanded the death penalty for Elizabeth but because of her cousin, the prime minister, he agreed to an indefinitely delayed sentence, which really meant solitary confinement for life.

In 1614, four years after she was walled in, one of the guards wanted a look at this famous beauty. He saw her lying face down on the floor. Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, was dead.

There are some connections between the Bathorys and the Draculas. The commander of the expedition that helped Dracula regain his throne in 1476 was Prince Steven Bathory. A Dracula fief, Castle Fagaras, became a Bathory possession during the time of Elizabeth. Both families had a dragon design on their family crests.

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