Elizabeth Bathory was yet another monster from Transylvania. In 1560, Erzsébet Bathory was born into one of the oldest and wealthiest families in this area of Romania. They were certainly the most exotic. Elizabeth had family relatives including satyrs, lesbians, witches, sorcerers, seers, wizards, alchemists, and "others who practiced the most depraved deeds in league with the Devil." (In 1546, King Vlad Dracula and her uncle, Prince Steven Bathory, had ridden into Wallachia to claim the throne. Vlad, known as "Vlad the Impaler" was the original model for Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula.") At around the age of 4 or 5, Elizabeth had violent seizures. These may have been caused by epilepsy or another neurological disorder and may have something to do with her "psychotic" behavior later in life. At the age of 10, she was betrothed to Count Ferencz Nadasdy. However, Elizabeth, probably imitating the indulgences of those around her, became quite promiscuous. At 14, she gave birth to an illegitimate child fathered by a peasant boy and conceived at the chateau of her intended mother-in-law, Countess Ursula Nadasdy. Elizabeth and Count Ferencz Nadasdy were married on May 8, 1575 when Elizabeth was fifteen. Because her name had more cache, Elizabeth retained her own surname, while the Count changed his to Ferencz Bathory. The Count thrived on conflict and war, preferring the battlefield to domestic life at the castle, and earned a reputation as the "Black Hero of Hungary." While Ferencz was away on one of his military campaigns, the Countess began to visit her lesbian aunt, Countess Karla Bathory, and participated in orgies. Elizabeth was a beautiful young woman. She had long raven hair that contrasted with her milky complexion. Her amber eyes were catlike and her figure voluptuous. She was excessively vain and her narcissism drove her to madness. Elizabeth also developed an interest in Black Magic. Thorko, a servant in her castle, Castle Csejthe, a massive mountaintop fortress, instructed her in the ways of witchcraft, at the same time encouraging her sadistic tendencies. "Thorko has taught me a lovely new one.
Catch a black hen and beat it to death with a white cane.
Keep the blood and smear a little of it on your enemy.
If you get no chance to smear it on his body,
obtain one of his garments and smear it."
- Elizabeth Bathory to her husband Ferencz For a brief time Elizabeth eloped with a vampire-like "dark stranger." Upon her return to Castle, the Count forgave her, but Elizabeth couldn't tolerate her domineering mother-in-law. She began to torture the servant girls. Thorko and her old nurse, Ilona Joo, assisted her. Her other accomplices included the dwarf major-domo and chief executioner János Ujvary, and two forest witches, Darvula and Dorottya Szentes. The first ten years of their marriage, Elizabeth bore no children because she and Ferencz shared so little time together as he pursued his "career." Then around 1585, Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Anna. She gave birth to two more girls, Ursula and Katherina, then she bore her first and only son, Paul, in 1598. After the Count died in battle in 1600, Elizabeth got rid of her mother-in-law, sending her away from the Castle. He either died in battle or was killed by a harlot in Bucharest who he had not paid. Elizabeth, growing older, now 40ish, began to worry about losing her youthful beauty. By this time, Elizabeth had dabbled in some forms of sorcery, including rituals that included animal sacrifice. When a servant girl accidentally pulled her hair while combing it, Elizabeth slapped her so hard she drew blood. When the young girl's blood fell onto Elizabeth's hand, she thought it made her skin look smoother. The Countess believed the ancient credo that the taking of another's blood could result in the assimilation of that person's physical or spiritual qualities. Elizabeth was convinced she had found the secret of eternal youth, or at least, a way to obtain that special silky softness of the young. Elizabeth ordered Ujvary and Thorko to strip the maid naked and cut her open, draining her blood into a huge vat. Elizabeth bathed herself in the maid's blood, fully believing she was receiving a magic beauty treatment. Elizabeth continued to order her youthful female servants killed. So much so, that she began to run out of servants and had to import them from far away locales to not provoke suspicion. Elizabeth and her coven captured servant girls at the castle and took them to an underground room known as "her Ladyship's torture chamber." Under the pretext of punishing the girls for failing to perform certain trivial tasks, Elizabeth used branding irons, molten wax, torches, razors, knives and her own custom made silver pincers to torture them. She tore the clothing from one girl, covered her with honey, and left her to the hunger of the insects of the woods. Soon, the Countess began attacking her bound victims with her teeth, biting chunks of bloody flesh from their necks, cheeks and shoulders. When some time past and Elizabeth didn't like the results she was getting from peasant girls, she decided she needed noble blood. She established an "academy" at her castle and began to recruit students from the nobility. She killed them too. But then she started to get sloppy, disposing bodies carelessly, perhaps arrogantly. For over a decade she perpetrated her acts of vampirism, mutilating and bleeding dry over 600 maidens. Rumors spread that Elizabeth headed a terrible group of vampires that preyed upon the village maidens. Reverend Andras Berthoni, a Lutheran pastor of Csejthe, realized the truth when Elizabeth commanded him to bury secretly the bloodless corpses. He set down his suspicions regarding Elizabeth in a note before he died. The Countess was becoming so notorious that her crimes could no longer be concealed. Using the note written by Reverend Berthoni, Elizabeth's cousin, Count Thurzo, came to Csejthe Castle. On New Year's Eve of 1610, Count Thurzo and Reverend Janos Ponikenusz, who had succeeded Berthoni and had found the note, found the underground torture chamber. They discovered a number of mutilated corpses and several living girls, some of whose bodies had been pierced several times. Below the castle, they exhumed the bodies of some 50 girls. In 1611, a trial was held at Bitcse. Elizabeth refused to plead either guilty or innocent. For political reason, Elizabeth never attended her trial. She remained confined in her castle while she and her sadistic accomplices were tried for their crimes. Elizabeth was tried purely on a criminal basis, while her cohorts were charged with vampirism, witchcraft and practicing pagan rituals. At this trial, Ujvary testified that about 37 unmarried girls had been killed, six of whom he had personally recruited to work at the castle. The trial revealed that most of the girls were tortured for weeks or even months. They were placed into a spiked cage hung from the ceiling. Bathory rested underneath and received a "blood shower." The nurse testified that about 40 girls had been tortured and killed. In fact, Elizabeth killed 612 women. She documented their deaths in her diary. A complete transcript of the trial was made at the time and it survives today in Hungary. Of the people involved in these killings, all but Countess Bathory and the two witches were beheaded and cremated. They only had their fingers torn out. Then, they were burned alive. Due to her nobility, Elizabeth was not allowed by law to be executed. The court didn't convict Elizabeth of any crime, but she was put under house arrest. Parliament at once passed a new Act to reverse this privilege of station and Elizabeth was brought before a formal hearing. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in her own torture chamber. Like Montressor in Poe's "Cask of Amontillado," stonemasons walled up the windows and doors with the Countess inside. They left a small hole through which food could be passed. On July 31, 1614 Elizabeth dictated her last will and testament to two priests. Elizabeth never uttered a single word of regret or remorse. On August 14, 1614 one of the countess's jailers peeked through the small hole in her walled-up cell and saw her lying face down on the floor. Countess Elizabeth Bathory was dead. The citizens of Cachtice refused to allow her body to be buried in their church cemetery, so instead, she was buried in the northeastern Hungarian town of Ecsed, the original Bathory family seat. The trial documents were then hidden away in the castle of Count Thurzo and remained there, apparently 'lost' for over a hundred years. Hungarian society forbid her name to be spoken aloud.