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The 17th Century “Blood Countess” – Known as the Most Evil Woman in History

Katie Vernon

Although one may wish that she was pure myth, Erzsébet Báthory, better known as Elizabeth, was a real person outrivaled in her bloodthirst only by Count Dracula. However, it is now impossible to determine where facts end and fiction begins in the 17th-century horror story that Elizabeth spread across Transylvania.

According to the legend, “the Infamous Lady” bathed in the blood of some 650 servant girls who she enjoyed torturing before murdering them. Legend has it that “the Blood Countess” had a torture chamber in her castle designed in agreement with her husband.

Copy of the lost 1585 original portrait of Elizabeth Bathory.

Copy of the lost 1585 original portrait of Elizabeth Bathory.

She was born in 1560 in Transylvania and her parents, allegedly, were both Báthorys by birth. Ever since her childhood, Elizabeth was the witness of brutality and bloodshed performed by her family on petty criminals and wrongdoers.

One of her uncles introduced her to Satanism, while one of her aunts taught her everything about sadomasochism.

Transylvania, central Romania.

Transylvania, central Romania.

At the age of 14, she married the 20-year-old Count Ferenc Nádasdy, an ambitious soldier who led the Hungarian armies against the Ottoman forces in Central Europe. They were both highly intelligent and knowledgeable about many subjects.

Count Ferenc Nádasdy.

Count Ferenc Nádasdy.

Since Ferenc was passionate about military business, he left Elizabeth to run the estates. She had a profound understanding of classical studies, economics, and politics, and she was fluent in Greek, Latin, and German.

In the absence of her husband, Elizabeth enjoyed the presence of many lovers in the famous Csejthe Castle, in what is today Slovakia, and gave birth to four children. But there was nothing she enjoyed more than her torture chamber in the castle where she experimented with torture techniques on servant girls.

Csejthe Castle. Photo by Martin Hlauka (Pescan)

Csejthe Castle. Photo by Martin Hlauka (Pescan)

Accounts say that although Ferenc built the chamber for Elizabeth, he managed to control her sadistic appetite to some degree. However, after his death in 1604, things slipped out of control.

“The Infamous Lady” mastered the torture techniques while her sadistic urges intensified with time. Among some of the methods she used were biting the flesh from the girls’ arms, faces, and breasts before killing them, sticking needles into their eyes and lips, cutting their bodies with scissors, burning them with red-hot metals, beating, and starving them.

Ecsed, the lake and the old castle.

Ecsed, the lake and the old castle.

Elizabeth ate bits of flesh from her victims’ bodies believing that it would help her keep her youth and looks, and bathed in their blood with a belief that it would make her stronger and healthier.

The villagers became so afraid of the rumors that no girl ever returned from the castle that they started hiding their daughters. Elizabeth even had assistants to provide her with new ideas and supplies for torture. One of them was Dorottya Szentes, a local witch who helped Elizabeth hunt for girls around the castle.

Main tower at Csejthe Castle, Slovakia. Photo by Jacomoman78 CC BY-SA 3.0

Main tower at Csejthe Castle, Slovakia. Photo by Jacomoman78 CC BY-SA 3.0

Through the years, the rumors of horrors in the castle spread around, but the Countess’ sick behavior was ignored due to her powerful family. However, after the murder of a noble girl in 1609 which Elizabeth tried to rule as a suicide, King Matthias of Hungary and Croatia decided to put an end to the madness.

He ordered a night raid on Csejthe Castle, during which officials discovered the dead bodies of young girls in each corner they looked. It was the end for Elizabeth. Along with her assistants, Elizabeth Báthory was convicted of 80 murders, but some estimates suggest that the total number of her victims was 650.

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Her crime associates were sentenced to death, while she was imprisoned in a room in her own castle for life. There were only tiny slits for air and food in the chamber where she endured barely three years before she was found dead on the floor.

She is considered the evilest woman in the history of humanity.