Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Elizabet Báthory - The Most Prolific Female Serial Killer

Elizabeth Bathory Portrait
A Portrait
A few months back I was on a mini Euro Trip. We visited Vienna, Krakow, Bratislava, the Wieliczka Salt mine, a few other smaller cities and at the end we had a bonus trip to Budapest. All beautiful places and the tour guide was a brilliant old lady, which could answer every question you ask. Brilliant! When we went passed by Čachtice Castle in Slovakia she told us the story about Elizabeth Báthory. The thing that grabbed my attention was the part with the hundreds of girls dead and how Elizabeth bathed in their blood. I thought it was a fiction or just a story for the tourists, but when I did a little research, things were very real.

They call her the Blood Countess. And it's a very reasonable name.

You may heard she is related to Count Dracula and that that connection caused her bloodthirst. Or there is a story which says her childhood nurse was practising black magic and liked to sacrifice little children. But that's not all - her aunt was a witch, her uncle a devil worshipper and her brother a paedophile. Now that's a classy family tree. Of course, these stories are all made up.


Yes, she has connections with Transylvania, but that doesn't make her a vampire. Actually she was a very intelligent woman - knew how to write and speak in four different languages and doubtfully had any sadistic tendencies when she was a child. She was definitely no Joffrey Baratheon. Married at the age of 14 she had a pretty regular life for a woman with her origins and her status. Her husband - Ferenc Nádasdy was constantly on the battlefield and she was alone in the castle.

But what made her go berserk and kill so many girls? Some sources say the murdering began around 1590 when she was 30 years old. The main theory is that she was obsessed with her looks and didn't want to loose her youthful features.

How it Began

The tale says that one of her maids was combing her hair and accidentally pinned her. Elizabeth hit her so hard blood dripped out of the skin and fell on the countess' hand. When she looked at the bloody spot on her palm, she noticed how this area was consuming the blood and took the freshness of the young maid. She realized what her childhood nurse told her so many years ago was true - human blood can give you eternal beauty. So the carnage began.

Elizabeth Bathory Blood Bath
by Andrew Power at cartoonandrew.tumblr.com
She needed a daily supply of fresh blood. So she and her henchmen lured innocent young girls to the castle. They promised them good jobs, a better place in society, or sometimes they forced them to come. She tortured them for days, weeks and even months. Used all kinds of horrific torturing devices, such as the Iron Maiden, foot roasting. The countess just loved the excitement of a slow dying prisoner.

There were girls beaten to death, mutilated, faces bitten off, ones who froze or starved to death, others were used for surgical experiments.

Truth or Fiction

The barbarous killing methods are a fact. But the part with the blood baths and eternal beauty are a bit ludicrous. Yet, there might be some truth in it. Thirty years old was quite old for these times, specially when you are married at 14. She has already given birth to several children and she wasn't getting any younger. And some people say she had affairs with other lords and ladies while her husband was away. This means her looks were very important, but the curse of ageing was upon her and she needed a solution to keep her youthful looks.

Iron Maiden Band Poster
Not the Iron Maiden I was Talking about
Maybe she did bathe in young girls' blood. What else would you do with so many dead people? Or maybe she was just sadistic. Back in the days people couldn't believe that a woman would kill just for the fun of it. So they made up stories. And 650 dead bodies is a lot - enough for people to start making up horror tales. Although this number is fictional - a witness said it and people started using it, because it sounds more freakish. The actual number of which she was convicted was 80. Still, that's more than the Zodiac Killer and Ted Bundy combined.

The Legacy

Why she did it and how she did it, we may never know. But Elizabeth Báthory The Blood Countess has left a huge mark in history. Her history inspired many writers to create tons of novels, films, songs, comicbooks, stage plays and even video games.

Many authors even connect their characters with the Infamous Lady. Take a Jeanette - a heroine in DC comics' series Secret Six (I just had to talk about comicbooks). She was one of the tortured girls by Elizabeth, but she was released after 1610 when the countess was imprisoned. The writers even described how the Infamous Lady died - killed by Jeanette, who placed ground glass in her tea.

I started by looking for the truth behind this horrible woman, but found only more myths and speculations. But you know what they're saying - behind every lie there is a little bit of truth. So she maybe had a thing for black magic or liked drinking blood. All we know is she is the most prolific female serial killer and her story will continue to live on.

Today Cachtice Castle is a tourist sight and part of natural nature reserve. Many people visit it not only for the splendid view, but because of the myths surrounding the place.

Jack The Ripper Art
by Arnaud De Vallois

We don't have such sights in London, but lately a local serial killer became a tourist attraction. You can take Jack the Ripper Tour and witness all the murder scenes. There are special effects too - pictures, clips, sounds. Most of the people really enjoy it.

And here is a list of things to do in London. You know... since we're on the subject. 

Did you know that in Dracula the Un-Dead novel, Elizabeth Báthory was killing young women under the guise of Jack the Ripper?