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Haesindang Park, South Korea Pandora and her Box
The Blood Countess - Titbits
2434    Dibyendu Banerjee    23/07/2020

It is said that Elizabeth Bathory, the woman who came to be known as the Blood Countess, was the inspiration for Dracula, the Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. According to legend, the infamous lady bathed in the blood of at least 650 girls she had killed after inhuman torture. It is also said that the villagers kept their daughters in hiding, as they feared that Elizabeth would kidnap them to satisfy her abnormal desire to torture and kill.

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Elizabeth Báthory, more commonly known in the Western world as Elizabeth, was born in 1560 to Baron George Báthory and Baroness Anna Báthory, belonging to one of the most powerful Protestant families in Hungary. Both of her parents were Báthory by birth and possibly due to stemming from inbreeding within the family, Elizabeth suffered from seizures, loss of control, fits of rage, probably even epilepsy from an early age. According to her family history, the family tree was not clean and it included some disturbed kin. It is said that one of her uncles inculcated her the occult of Satanism and she learned about sadomasochism from her lesbian aunt, who molested her. As a child, Elizabeth liked to witness the brutal punishments and torture of the peasantry conducted by the officers of her father. On one of such occasions, a gypsy accused of theft was sewn up in the belly of a dying horse and left to die.

Eizabeth Bathory
Elizabeth Bathory

Elizabeth Báthory became the mistress of the Nádasdy estate, when after spending her early years in the Ecsed Castle, she got married to Count Ferencz Nádasdy at the age of 15. Although she really got off on sexual sadism, during her married life she perfectly played the role of a devoted wife and gave birth to three daughters and a son in ten years. However, the couple was infamous as harsh masters and although it is suggested that Ferencz taught his wife some of his new methods of punishing his servants, it is widely believed that Elizabeth committed most of her hideous crimes in his absence. Ferencz was a soldier, who had to spend much of his time away from home. In 1578, he became chief commander of the Hungarian army and embarked on a military campaign against the Ottoman Empire, leaving his wife in charge of his vast estates.

Paloma Picasso as Elizabeth
Paloma Picasso as Elizabeth

Centuries ago, it was a common practice among the aristocrats to harshly treat and punish the domestic servants, as they used to consider them not as people, but their property. Elizabeth took the practice of torturing and tormenting the help to a new level. Once she burned a girl with a hot iron, as she messed up the laundry she was pressing. She had bisexual tendencies, which she expressed through the domination of virgins and unnecessarily tormented them for having unwittingly aroused her. However, she became more reckless after the death of her husband in 1604, while he was away at war and eventually, moved to one of her castles at Cachtice in northwest Hungary with a band of servants, to continue her perverted practice in a comparatively secluded place.

The ruins of Csejte Castle
The ruins of Csejte Castle

The cruelty of Countess Elizabeth knew no bounds. Sometimes, even without any provocation, she used to strip one of her servants naked and made her to lie down in the snow as she poured cold water over the poor girl until she froze to death. It said that one day while brushing her hair, the attending girl accidentally pulled too hard and it tugged on a snag in her hair.

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It made the Countess enraged and immediately she jumped up and started to strike the girl with the back of her hand, which made the girl bleed and some of that blood was left on her hand. Later that night, Elizabeth thought that the part of her hand that became red with the patch of blood looks younger than before. Immediately, it gave her the idea to bath in the blood of virgin girls to restore youthfulness to her whole body.

Elizabeth and her attenders
Elizabeth and her attenders

Soon, the young women of the village began to disappear, as they were lured to the castle with the prospect of a lucrative job and were never seen again. They were locked up in a cellar in the castle as the future victims of the blood Countess. As part of her morbidly perverse psychology, Elizabeth Bathory focused a great deal of her cruelty on the genitalia of the virgin girls. Sometimes she would stick needles underneath the fingertips of the victim before cutting off the fingers, in case she tried to take them out.

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Sometimes she would even force a poor girl to eat chunks of flesh off her breasts and sew her lips, if she did not agree. In addition, she very much liked using scissors to cut off the fingers, noses and mutilate the private parts of the victims. Later it was reported that a girl had to suffer the pain of 200 blows until she died and one of her maids admitted that as instructed by the mistress, she had to shove a red-hot fire poker into the mouth of another girl. It was also confessed by a servant that many girls were tied up and beaten to death until their whole body was black as charcoal and their skin battered and torn.

Elizabeth is tormenting a girl
Elizabeth is tormenting a girl

Within a short time, Elizabeth became reckless and got sloppy in her efforts to conceal her crime. She did not care about the disposal of the corpses, which her servants started to throw away casually here and there, over the walls, in a garden or in a cemetery. Soon Elizabeth found it difficult to get a new victim, as by that time, the villagers became alert and started to hide their daughters out of fear of losing them forever. During that period Elizabeth committed the blunder to cross the line, when she killed a Hungarian noblewoman, possibly in 1609.

Finally, in 1610, Gyorgy Thurzo, the Palatine of Hungary, was instructed by King Matthias II, to investigate a number of complaints filed against Countess Elizabeth relating to the harsh treatment of her servants. During the official night raid, as the troops under Gyorgy Thurzo stormed the Cachtice Castle, the residence of Elizabeth, to conduct a search, they were horrified to discover around a dozen girls, some with missing arms or eyes or both, who were either dead or in the process of dying. Elizabeth was arrested on the spot with four of her accomplices.

The Torture Chamber of the Blood Countess
The Torture Chamber of the Blood Countess

During the investigation, some accused the Countess of cannibalism, while some alleged that she liked to bath in the blood of her young victims in an attempt to retain her youthful appearance. After long hearings of countless testimonies of the ghastly and morbid activities that took place behind the walls of the Cachtice Castle, Elizabeth and her accomplices were convicted on 80 counts of murder. Although it was alleged that she maintained a record of her 650 victims, the record book was never found and appears to be a story or a false allegation. The faithful followers of the Blood Countess were accused of the murders and were publicly executed. However, one of her accomplices, who once worked as a wet nurse for her children, was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Elizabeth was imprisoned for life in solitary confinement in a room in her own castle, where she lived for three and a half years, until the day when she was found dead lying face down on the floor.

However, although Elizabeth Bathory has been labelled as the greatest female mass murderer in history and was nicknamed as the Blood Countess, very little evidence has ever been found to prove that allegation.

Elizabeth in her prison cell
Elizabeth in her prison cell
Haesindang Park, South Korea Pandora and her Box
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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