Real Horror Stories: Countess Elizabeth Bathory
The Blood Countess
No matter where you go in the world you will find stories of vampires and monsters stalking the night. For many people, the most famous vampire is none other than Dracula himself, the famous count who impaled his victims and reportedly drank the blood of his enemies. However, Dracula has nothing on one of the most notorious serial killers and reported vampires to stalk the earth: Countess Elizabeth Báthory.
Báthory, also known as the Blood Countess, is said to have racked up a body count of over 600 women throughout her life. Báthory was born in 1560, to a highly respected upper-class family. She was a strange young lady who seemed to enjoy watching the suffering of others as if it were sport. It was reported that she erupted in joy at the sight of a local gypsy being punished by being sown into the dead body of a horse.
Elizabeth suffered from seizures throughout her life, possibly from the inbreeding within her family, which was not uncommon at the time within royal blood lines. However, it could be this same reason that laid the foundation for the horrors that she would bring on to others throughout her life.
At the age of 15, she was married to Baron Tamás Nádasdy. Her husband bestowed her with a castle as his wedding gift to her: Čachtice Castle would come to be the site of an infinite number of horrific events. Both Nádasdy and Bathory enjoyed spending their time torturing the servants in their care. It is possible that Nádasdy taught the young Elizabeth many of her deadly skills. One report stated that Nádasdy, who was upset with one young girl, had her stripped naked and covered her in honey, then made the girl stand outside for a day and a half. This led to numerous stings and bites covering the girl’s body. However, the true horrors did not start till Elizabeth’s husband passed away in battle.
His death left Elizabeth in full control of the lands and the servants. Her madness, which may have been kept in check to a degree under her husbands’ rule, was now unleashed. This new unleashed madness escalated to horrific heights. When a servant who was brushing her hair a bit too roughly upset Bathory, Elizabeth swung around with such force to hit the girl that she caused the girl to bleed. As the now aging Bathory saw the blood resting on her skin; she came to believe that the skin where the blood rested looked younger. She started to believe that the blood of the girl had given her back her youth.
One young girl who had the misfortune of upsetting Bathory was stripped naked and placed in a cage that had several inward facing spikes. Bathory would swing the cage back and forth, impaling the girls that were unfortunate enough to find themselves in her cage of death. Another girl who had displeased Elizabeth had her jaw ripped open by the countess herself. During her trial, servants testified that she would shove burning rods down the mouths and in the genitals of her victims, reportedly a favorite torture method of Elizabeth's.
By the time Bathory was captured, over 300 witnesses had testified against her. One testimony stated that she would bite off chunks of her victims’ flesh. Elizabeth Bathory was a sadist and truly enjoyed watching the suffering of those who displeased her.
Because of her station, Bathory was free to do as she pleased with the young girls. This was because in the 15th and 16th century, servants were no better than cattle. So, despite several reports to the king of her behavior; it was not until she ran out of peasants and started looking to young nobles that an investigation was launched. When a young noble girl went missing under Bathory's care, the king could ignore the reports of the events happening at the Čachtice Castle no longer. The king asked György Thurzó to lead the investigation. Ironically, György was a longtime friend of the Bathory family and was even asked by Bathory's late husband to look after Elizabeth and their children. Perhaps this is why, when all the evidence was gathered, instead of being subjected to trial in the public eye, Bathory was instead locked in her own castle tower.
There were reports that as Bathory sat in her tower room, separated from her would be victims, she started to take her violent behaviors out on herself. She remained in her tower prison for the next four years, finally passing away on August 14th, 1614.
Čachtice Castle Today
Today the old castle sits in ruins. However, it is open for tours to the brave adventurer that is willing to risk displeasing the countess that is said to wander the castle grounds. Many have witnessed shadow figures lurking in the crumbled halls, full bodied apparitions and sometimes, the sounds of a young girl crying can be heard. So if you are in the area and feel brave enough to venture to the old castle, be sure to take one of the tours of the grounds. But be careful, or you might just be the newest victim of the Blood Countess.