Erzsébet Báthory | The Blood Countess

| On
July 06, 2019

Erzsébet Báthory is one of the first female serial killers in history and was also the inspiration for Lady Gaga's character in American Horror Story. 

Her trial records were found in the 1720s and ever since she has become known as the first sadomasochist. So, today we are going to look at her life, her marriage and her crimes.

Attention! The content of this article or section may seem obscene or offensive to some readers.


Childhood


Erzsébet Báthory was born on the 7th of August 1560 to Baron George VI Báthory and Baroness Anna Báthory. She was born in the Kingdom of Hungary, which is now known as Slovakia and Romania. She was born into one of the most powerful clans in Europe, and her parents spared no expense when it came to their daughter.

They made sure she had the finest education money could buy. Erzsébet was able to speak Hungarian, Slovak, Greek, Latin and German.

As a child, she suffered from seizures which were possibly caused by epilepsy but back then the illness was called Falling Sickness. They would treat this by rubbing the blood of a non-sufferer onto the lips of the sick. It is thought that she suffered from this because her parents were cousins and the incest within their clan.

It is also thought the crimes she committed later in life could have been a desperate attempt to cure her illness, but there is no proof of this.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
When she was a child she witnessed a lot of violence, so much so she became used to it. She once witnessed a man guilty of theft be sewn into to stomach of a horse, and she laughed at the sight of it. 

Thanks to her education Erzsébet was a smart woman but she was also very beautiful. Like most aristocratic women she had a high, white forehead which she most likely plucked her hairline to achieve.

At 10 years of age, she was engaged to marry 15-year-old Ferenc Nádasdy,  the son of another powerful family. During their engagement, Erzsébet moved to the Nádasdy palace and started to learn how to run their estate.

During their engagement, a rumour was spread that she gave birth to a child. The father was allegedly a young peasant boy and the child was given away to a friend of the Báthory clan. After the affair her fiance had the boy castrated and thrown into a pack of wild dogs. Again this has not been proven, but Erzsébet gained a reputation for being promiscuous and her fiance for his violence. 


Married Life


At 14 years old Erzsébet married her fiance on the 8th of May 1574. They had their wedding in front of 4,500 guests and the celebrations lasted 3 days.


As her social standing was higher than Ferenc her new husband, she refused to change her last name. For a while when they got married she spent a lot of time at Nádasdy castle alone while Ferenc was studying in Vienna. 

As a wedding gift, she was given a secluded castle called Castle Csejthe which would be the place she committed most of her crimes.

Image credit: Jacomoman78 at Wikimedia Commons
Ferenc left to go to battle, which meant the couple didn't have their first child until 10 years after they got married. He loved war and after The Long War, he was given the name The Black Knight of Hungary because of his cruelty. During the war, he was known to play catch with the severed heads of his enemies.

The Long War was draining the countries wealth, but Erzsébet was not affected at all thanks to all the Ottoman treasures that she received from Ferenc. The King also borrowed money from her.

The Torture Begins


The couple may have spent a lot of time apart, but they found the time to bond over torturing young servant girls. 

Both had their fair share of violence, Erzsébet punished people when in charge of hundreds of peasants, and Ference when he served in the war. Nádasdy taught his wife different ways she could torture people, and he even bought her a clawed glove to slash at the servants' skin.

Eventually, in 1601, Erzsébet found another partner in crime called Anna Darvolya. Rumours began to spread that she was a witch and when she came to the castle Erzsébet became increasingly cruel. People say that Nádasdy may have taught her how to torture, but Darvolya taught her how to kill.

Servant girls started to die at an alarming rate at the Nádasdy-Báthory household. It didn't make anyone suspicious because back then servants were deemed as disposable. The law protected the nobles and meant that servants had no rights.

Erzsébet started to feel invincible and that she was above the law. The King of Hungary was in her debt and owed her an amount that would have been impossible to pay back. 

However, some people did start to become suspicious of her and the amount of servants dying of Cholera or unknown mysterious causes. She was questioned by one pastor after a sermon, but she stormed out in disgust at the accusations. 

The pastor threatened to exhume the body of a servant girl that died recently to see the cause of her death, but Nádasdy managed to stop this happening. Unfortunately, Nádasdy would not be there forever and would die in 1604.

Images credit: Wikimedia Commons
When he passed away Erzsébet became more violent. What the couple had shared as a hobby became an obsession for her. She would take young girls from local towns and leave their bodies for the wolves when she was done. She even gathered a new group to help her with the torture.

The abuse usually started with a simple mistake, and to punish them she would punch, slap, and mutilate them. They would sever fingers and take chunks from their faces. The torture would continue in the torture chambers.

What happened in the torture chambers was truly horrific. They would beat the servants, force them to eat human flesh, cut off their fingers with shears, and lash them. It got t the point where she couldn't go a day without torturing someone. 

It is rumoured she would bathe in the blood of the victims to preserve her beauty, but this has never been proven to be a fact. 

At first, she had her pick of girls in the towns, and parents would willingly sell their daughters to her. This would change when families started to hide their daughters when she came to town. This meant she was running out of people to kill.

To solve this problem she would create a finishing school for young girls, and noble parents paid to send their daughters there. Not only did she have extra income but she had the girls to satisfy her urges. However, she didn't think this through as their parents would ask how their children were.

Her downfall would follow not long after opening the school, as when the parents asked if their children were okay, she told them that one girl had become jealous and murdered the others girls. 

People were very suspicious of this story and eventually the king decided to move against Erzsébet.

The Arrest and Trial


It is believed that Erzsébet was caught in the act when investigators went to the castle in December 1610. They found one girl dead and mutilated and 2 others dying near the doors. They also heard screaming which led them to a torture chamber and her torture squad.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
She claimed that she was innocent but was arrested the next day. Many people speculated as to how many girls lost their lives, but they could not give a definite number. The numbers ranged from 30 - 650 deaths.

Two of her accomplices were given the death sentence and one was put in jail. Erzsébet was thrown into her own blood-drenched castle and imprisoned there for life. As a result of this, the king didn't have to pay the debt he owed her.

Erzsébet died on August 22nd 1614 after saying her hands were cold. She laid down and sang a song before passing away. She was then buried in holy ground but was moved to the Báthory family crypt when people complained. However, when the crypt was opened in 1995 her body was not found there.

Final Thoughts


Honestly, I think that some of the stories have been exaggerated as time has gone by. There are a lot of rumours about her and what she did, but there is little to no proof that they happened. 

That being said, she was obviously a bloodthirsty woman that was obsessed with inflicting pain. I also find it strange she only chose to harm young girls and not men. 

The things she did to those poor girls were horrific and the fact it was a way she bonded with her husband was crazy to me. I know there were many couples that committed crimes together, but it always shocks me.

What do you think of this case? Do you think there is any truth to her possibly killing 600 or more people? Let me know in the comments.
26 comments on "Erzsébet Báthory | The Blood Countess"
  1. It seems a large amount of girls to kill, maybe she was jealous of something? It is unreal that she was married by the time she was 14. Imagine how haunted the castle would be. Someone probably took her body.

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    1. I wonder if there are any ghosts there actually. If it is true at all you would expect something! Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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  2. I've actually read alot about this gal because I really enjoyed the serial killer podcast episodes about her tbh they were so good!she's such an interesting character and the idea about it being a conspiracy is even more interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I think 600 is probably exaggerated but you never know. She sounds like she was so evil.

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    1. She does sound really evil, and I wish I knew the actual number because 600+ sounds crazy. Thank you for commenting!

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  4. When I started reading this, I thought she sounded pretty cool. Refused to change her last name after marriage, bonded with her husband over a weird (and cruel, I know) hobby and lived in a castle. Particularly as her life sounded pretty traumatic - if she really did give birth pre-marriage, then that must have been horrific and I am always suspicious when history calls pre-teens 'promiscuous' - I tend to suspect abuse instead.

    Anyway, once you got into the torture and murders, I was a little less enamoured with her. She sounds brutal and cruel and creative and I just can't imagine why she did what she did. It must have been a nightmarish place...

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    1. I can't even begin to imagine what happened in that castle, but thank you for commenting on my post! :)

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  5. I am not at all sure she murdered so many girls. More or less sold as a child, raped before marriage and witness to extreem brutality as a child she probably wasn't the most stable of people though. I am suspicious about the large dept she owed to the king. She wouldn't be the first woman of power to be accused of witchcraft and murder as soon as the king owed her money... Anyways, interesting story as allways!

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    1. Thank you very much for commenting! I am glad you enjoyed the post! :)

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  6. Your posts are terrific - fascinating and in-depth...just subscribed...bravo!

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    1. Thank you so much! :) I am so glad you enjoy reading my content! x

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  7. This is a story that has always fascinated me. It's too bad that we will never be able to get the whole story given how long ago it was and that we are limited to the documentation still available from that time.

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    1. I know! I am gutted we will never know the full truth, but it is definitely and interesting story. :) Thank you so much for commenting.

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  8. This was so interesting! As a history nerd, and a lover of crime drama, her story would make such an interesting programme to watch! I feel like you don't see a lot of historical crime dramas about murderers, psychopaths that much beside Jack The Ripper.

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! :) The character in AHS Hotel was based on her and she was called The Countess - she even had to glove! i am glad you enjoy my content! x

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  9. I love this story. I've read it a fair few times and am quite familiar with the countess. You've got all the details there in perfect form! I love learning about historical crime/murder etc so keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you! You are so sweet and I am glad you enjoyed my post. :) x

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  10. That is a lot of young girls to kill! I so enjoy reading your writing!!!

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    1. It really is! No wonder people started hiding their children if this was the real number of girls she killed! Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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  11. I’ve never heard of this story but it’s so interesting to see how rumours spiral and how difficult it is to tell fact from fiction. 650 seems like an awfully high number and I’m not sure if she would have gotten away with that, but sadly I think it could have been a lot because as you said servants didn’t have a lot of rights and probably not a lot of people who cared about them! Great post as always Fran!:)x

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    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed my post! :)

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  12. I've always loved this story! Morbid, yes, but still kind of fun in a gothic, bloody way. As much as I would in a weird way like to believe the story is true, I've heard historians say that these stories were probably rumors made up by other jealous noble-people and since the king owed her money, having her incriminated would be better for him. So maybe the rumors started because she did abuse her servants, but they might have been GREATLY exaggerated. But who knows! Maybe it's all true. But the images of her bathing in virgins blood is such a horror-inspired image that it makes sense why her legend is so infamous!

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    1. It is incredibly morbid and I wonder if it was exaggerated because the number of girls is ridiculously high. It's a shame we will never know what the truth is. Thank you so much for commenting! :)

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