The Story of the Murdering Countess of Eternal Youth — Elizabeth Báthory

Elizabeth Báthory, born on the 7th of August in 1560, was a rich and highly educated Hungarian countess with over 600 victims who is known as the greatest serial killer of all time. According to the stories, she bathed in the blood of her young victims.

Elizabeth’s Youth and Education

Elizabeth was born on the 7th of August in 1560, she was named Erzsébet, but we call her Elizabeth because that’s how she’s internationally known.

She lived in what we now know as the north of Hungary, and she was born into a rich and wealthy family as her parents were very influential.

Elizabeth also had a critical uncle named Stephen Báthory, who was the Prince of Transsylvania and the King of Poland since 1576. According to many Polish people today, he is still known as one of the best kings Poland has ever had.

There isn’t much information about Elizabeth’s youth, but a couple of things are known, such as the fact that she was raised as a Calvinist and had epilepsy which caused heavy seizures.

Elizabeth was quite intelligent and learned Latin, German, Greek, and arithmetic in her youth. In writing and orally, she also got along with Hungarian, her native language, and Slovak, the language spoken by many court members.

The Murdering and Torturing

To understand why she started murdering and torturing people, we need to look at her marriage which started in 1574 when she got pregnant by accident. She was 13 years old here.

Her mother had married her off to count Ferenc Nádašdy, a very wealthy and rich man who had prestige. She married him when she was 14 years old in 1575.

Nádašdy himself was away from home a lot, especially from 1578 when he became commander of the Hungarian army and was busy fighting the advancing Ottomans.

This probably made Elizabeth quite bored. From 1585, she began to torture and murder young court officials and young girls from the area, along with five others — three old court servants, a certain Anna Durvolya, and a young man named János Újváry, aka Fickó.

Importantly, Elizabeth had an unhealthy obsession with the phenomenon of “eternal youth.” She believed that young girls’ blood played a vital role in counteracting the aging process.

“If I drink girl’s blood or bathe in it, I will stay forever young.”

— Elizabeth Báthory

It started around 1585 with a young girl from the royal household who accidentally combed Elizabeth’s hair too hard so that a part of it came off.

Elizabeth hit the maid so ruthlessly that blood spattered from her face and got onto Elizabeth’s hand. Elizabeth immediately felt that her skin looked younger.

Psychologically disturbed as she was, she ordered the girl to be cut open and to collect the blood in a bath. Then she sat down in it, convinced as she was that it would keep her young.

Elizabeth and her five accomplices from then on, over a period of twenty-five years (from 1585 to 1609), helped some 650 young ladies to the eternal hunting grounds in the most gruesome ways.

Their blood was supposed to keep Elizabeth young.

How Did She Torture Her Victims?

One of the most horrible torturing methods she used was the pointy cage. The cage was too low to stand and too narrow to sit. There were nails and knives on all sides of the cage.

In this, they put a young girl between eleven and fourteen years old. The box was pulled up and hung still. One of the ladies would then start working the poor girl with a red-hot poker. The recoiling victim then cut himself on the nails and knives.

After this torture session, the only man in the party, Fickó, pulled the cage hard on a rope, causing the girl to be further injured by the nails and knives.

During this torture session, dressed in a white dress, Elizabeth sat on a chair under the cage and let the girl’s blood drip over her until the victim died and Elizabeth’s dress was blood red.

Her Arrest and Conviction

After a while, Elizabeth and her companions also decided to kidnap and kill noble people. The rumors that Báthory was behind the long series of disappearances, now spread to the nobility and grew rapidly.

On December 26, 1609, or 1610, Count György Thurzó paid a surprise visit to Elizabeth’s castle Čachtice by order of the Hungarian King Matthias II, and just on time, Elizabeth was conducting a torture session with young girls. In addition to seriously injured and half-dead girls, a total of about 50 bodies were found in several places in the castle.

The trial against Elizabeth Báthory and her henchmen took place in January 1611. More than 300 witnesses related what they had seen.

Everything was recorded, so we know what Báthory was up to. Because Elizabeth was of noble birth and had strongly lobbying family members, she was ultimately not sentenced to death.

The authorities locked her up in her own castle for life. They bricked up the exits, leaving only a small opening for food and drink. Three of Báthory’s associates were tortured and executed, while another accomplice was given a life sentence.

Elizabeth Báthory died on August 21 in 1614, a few weeks after writing her will. She was buried in the church of Csejte, but according to stories, she was taken away from there quite quickly.

The population did not want this bloodthirsty woman lying in their sacred ground. The physical remains then ended up with her family and were reburied in an unknown place.

Originally Published on Medium by me (Bryan Dijkhuizen)


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