This is the true story of Elizabeth Bathory, a woman who killed more than 650 women to stay young forever.
Transylvanian Countess Elizabeth Báthory “The Blood Countess” (1560-1614) is often described as the first atypical and very rare, pathological hedonist lust female serial killer, as opposed to the more typical profit-motivated “black widows” or “poisoner care-giver” female serial killers. Her victims were not her political rivals or intimates but innocent peasant girls employed in her service or daughters from minor declining aristocratic families put in her charge.
At the center of the Báthory story and her nickname “Blood Countess” were allegations that she bathed in the blood of virgin girls in a deluded belief that it nourished the beauty of her aging skin. She was accused of having killed as many as 650 girls—many tortured to death in the most savage and cruel manner before being drained of their blood for the Countess to bath in.
Elizabeth was born in 1560 in Hungary into the Transylvanian branch of the powerful and wealthy Báthory family which dominated the eastern regions of the Holy Roman Empire (today Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Romania, Germany and Poland.
Surviving portraits of Countess Elizabeth in her youth show a beautiful woman with her hair pulled back from a high intelligent looking forehead, smoky almond shaped eyes and sensually pouting lips. Yet there is a cruel curve to her mouth and her face exudes a sullen petulance that betrays an underlying rage.
She was married by arrangement at the age of fifteen in 1575 to a wealthy Hungarian Count, Ferenc Nadasdy, five years her elder. The marriage was a happy match. The “power couple” lorded over a vast network of castles, country manor houses and palaces in Prague and Vienna and other cities. At their country estates and inside the walls of their castles they had life and death power over their servants and peasants. Elizabeth was often left alone in charge as her husband was away for years at a time fighting the Turks in the south, where he developed a distinguished reputation as a fierce warrior until his death in 1604 from disease.
According to the story, beginning as an adolescent, Elizabeth used her power to torture to death in the most horrific and sadistic ways her servants, mostly peasant girls; burning their genitals with a candle; biting them to death; ripping their mouths open with her own hands; burning them with heated metal rods and rivets; beating them with whips, clubs or iron bars; cutting and stabbing; throwing them naked into the snow and pouring freezing water over them; pouring boiled water on them and tearing away their skin; hauling them up in suspended barrels spiked inside and rocking and rolling them while showering and bathing in their blood below; or closing them in spiked Iron Maidens like in a garlic press to extract their blood.
It was alleged that as many as 650 girls and young women were murdered over a thirty-five year period—and at least between 37 and 51 in the last decade before Elizabeth’s arrest in 1610 at the age of fifty, when she started killing not only peasant girls, but girls of noble birth as well. This is said to have led to her downfall.
In the wake of multiple complaints and accusations, when her castle was raided by authorities during the Christmas holidays of 1610, it was reported that mutilated corpses of girls were found strewn in the courtyard and in the basement of the tower. When the arresting party burst into her chambers, according to legend, she was found sitting on a stool chewing on the mutilated dying body of a girl prostrate before her. The Hungarian authorities ordered that Elizabeth be walled-in for the rest of her life in a castle apartment with only a small open port for food. After four years she died at the age of fifty-four still preserving her legendary cruel beauty.
The true story of Elizabeth Báthory, however, is slightly more complicated, but horrific nonetheless in its details.
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