The Blood Countess

The content below is from Episode 90 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

Recommendation Segment

  • I got Shannon to do another recommendation segment so enjoy Audio Podcast listeners!


  • The past few episodes have been about different milestones in technology, but this week I wanted to take a different rout. This week I wanted to learn about something dark and twisted. This story takes place in 16th and 17th century Hungary, near Transylvania… but this isn’t about Count Dracula. no…
Dracula (Dover Thrift Editions) - Kindle edition by Stoker, Bram.  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @
  • This episode is about Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess!
    • Her name in her native Hungarian form is: Ecsedi Báthory Erzsébet
      • Although some speculate that Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula was inspired by the Blood Countess, none of the authors notes indicate as much.
    • She was born in August of 1560 and died of natural causes in August 1614, just two weeks after her 54th birthday.
    • Her family was a very well connected bunch. Her uncle was King of Poland. She had Dukes, Barons, Baronesses and so forth. 
    • Born into a privileged family of nobility, Elizabeth was endowed with wealth, education, and a prominent social rank. It is safe to say that Elizabeth was relatively well-off for the time period.
    • Báthory was raised a Calvinist Protestant. As a young woman, she learned LatinGermanHungarian, and Greek.
Death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory | History Today
Supposedly she was a beautiful young girl, but she just looks like a depressed middle schooler to me.
  • She may have been well-off financially, but Elizabeth’s child hood was grim
    • As a child, she suffered multiple violent seizures that most believe were caused by epilepsy. During the late 1500’s, symptoms relating to epilepsy were diagnosed as falling sickness and treatments included rubbing blood of a non-sufferer on the lips of an epileptic or giving the epileptic a mix of a non-sufferer’s blood and piece of skull as their episode ended… fun.
      • Some historians believe that her parents being first cousins may have contributed to her poor health.
    • There is no hard evidence of this, so it could be just rumors, but it is said that little Elizabeth witnessed various horrors of man within her families estate.
      • Stories include a young Báthory witnessing brutal punishments executed by her family’s officers, and being taught by family members involved with Satanism and witchcraft.
      • She witnessed the punishment of a man caught stealing. As she played spectator to a man being sewn in to the body of a horse while still alive, she reportedly laughed at the sight.
      • It was common for her to see the harsh beatings of her family’s servants.
      • Instead of looking away from all this violence, she seemed to be drawn to it.
Ferenc Nádasdy - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Ferenc Nadasdy looks like a real douche in this painting.
Ferenc Nádasdy - Wikipedia
  • At the age of 11, Bathory, who was considered a beautiful and well-educated girl, became engaged to Hungarian Count Ferenc Nadasdy. 
    • Elizabeth promply moved in to her future husbands house… well, more like an estate with a castle and everything. There she was educated on how to run the estate of her future mother-in-law.
    • At the age of 13, before her first marriage, Elizabeth allegedly gave birth to a child. The child, said to have been fathered by a peasant boy, was supposedly given away to a local woman who was trusted by the Báthory family. The woman was paid for her actions, and the child was taken to Wallachia.
      • Legends says her betrothed fiance Ferenc Ndasdy found out about Elizabeth’s affair and took action. He had the peasant boy castrated and then executed by feeding him to wild dogs.
      • A 15-year-old Bathory married Frerenc Nadasdy on May 8, 1575 (some sources say 1574). The wedding was a massive banger with over 4 and a half thousand guests in attendance and it went on for 3 days. It was at their wedding when Ferenc Ndasdy gave his wife a castle just for her. It was Castle Cachtice, a grim and forboding stucture.
        • The surrounding village and farmland is where Elizabeth committed the many acts that gave her the gruesome moniker: The Blood Countess!
Fictional reconstruction of Cachtice Castle in modern-day Slovakia  (formerly in Hungary) in the film Bathory (2008). | Castle, Elizabeth  bathory, Castle ruins
Čachtice Castle reimaged to look like what it did back in its prime.
  • The couple’s first child was born 10 years after their marriage, in 1585. Elizabeth Bathory gave birth to five children. Two died as infants, but two daughters and a son survived.
    • As her husband was a soldier who was often off fighting Ottoman Turks, the couple spent most of their marriage apart. Ferenc was brutally effective on the battlefield and was called the Black Knight of Hungary.
      • When they were together, Ferenc educated his wife in techniques of torture.
        • He taught Elizabeth the fun little game of placing oiled paper inbetween the toes and fingers of servant girls then lighting them on fire. He also gave Elizabeth a clawed metal glove so she could scratch and permanently scar the faces of servant girls that displeased her.
      • When the Turks invaded Hungary in 1591 it kicked off the Long War. This is when Ferenc’s talent for combat scared his enemies and allies alike.
      • This war was sapping the Hungarian empire of its economic resources, but Ferenc, the Black Knight, never stopped sending his spoils of war back home to his wife. She was showered in wealth from the Ottoman empire. This steady flow of wealth made the sinister couple so rich that they leant money to the Hungarian Hapsburg Empire to keep the country afloat.
      • During the long war, while Ferenc was out fighting, Elizabeth was learning how to effectively run her estate. She defended the castle Cachtice against the Turks and gave shelter to surrounding peasants.
The Legend of Elizabeth Báthory: The Blood Countess - Medical Bag
  • Ferenc did teach his wife how to torture her servants, but he wasn’t the biggest influence.
    • In 1601 Elizabeth met Anna Darvolya. Darvolya was thought to be a witch by the community and her sadistic nature was well known. She took Elizabeth from a torturer that mamed her victims, to a full blown torturing serial killer.
    • Elizabeth would take servant girls, torture them for as long as she wanted and then murder them. No one ever came looking for them because that is how lowly peasants were thought of in those days… at least in Hungary. She and her family name were so powerful that she could kill all she wanted without any fear of reprocussions.
      • One of the very few people to even acknowledge the deaths was a local priest that had grown weary of performing an unusual amount of burrial rights for young servants girls in Elizabeth’s charge.
      • The priest basically pulled Elizabeth aside and said: “Look, I know what you are doing. You might want to think about stopping. This sort of stuff, like mass murder, tends to piss off God. You keep telling me these girls have died from various illnesses, but you and I know damn-well that if any of these bodies are exumed they will find all sorts of evidence that points to torture and mutilation.”
      • Elizabeth threatened the priest and asked her hubby to shut him up.
The Real-life Countess Dracula Who Murdered Over 600 Girls | by Anita  Durairaj | Medium
She looks like a salamander.
  • After Ferenc Nadasdy had fallen ill in 1601 which paralyzed him from zthe waste down, he died in January 1604. That is when Elizabeth Bathory took control of her extensive estates.
    • She was accused of a haunting litany of crimes against both female servants and minor noblewomen who’d come to her for training and education. Most of her alleged assaults and murders took place after she was widowed in 1604.
    • Some of Bathory’s victims were covered with honey and left outside for insects to devour. During colder parts of the year young women might be stripped naked and forced into deadly ice baths. Bathory sometimes tortured girls by driving needles into their fingers, cutting their noses or lips or whipping them with stinging nettles. She would bite shoulders and breasts, as well as burning the flesh, including the genitals, of some victims. The intimate nature of Bathory’s attacks suggests a sexual motivation, though it’s impossible to know with certainty what compelled her to act.
    • She had hundreds of peasant girls to torture and kill. When she was done torturing her victims she often threw their remains over the castle wall to be eaten by wolves… so at the very least she was an animal lover. How nice.
    • Elizabeth didn’t do all of this on her own, she employed the help of Anna Darvolya and other servants.
      • Some were happy to join Elizabeth and others were threatened with torture if they didn’t help with the torturing themselves.
    • All of these atrocities were carried out on peasants because peasants couldn’t bring charges against a noble at the time. Hell, some of the peasant parents were fine with the arrangement because it meant Elizabeth would give them some money in exchange for their daughter.
    • In 1609, Anna Darvolya, Elizabeth’s most influencial torturer and accused witch died.
Elizabeth Bathory - Death, Children & Facts - Biography
What a charming young woman! …. jk
  • But when Elizabeth began to target girls from noble houses, her crimes quickly caught up with her.
    • Apparently another of Elizabeth’s accomplices who dabbled in witchcraft convinced Elizabeth to start targetting Noblegirls. She told Elizabeth that if she spilt noble blood instead of peasants it would solve her financial issues at the time.
    • On December 29, 1610, Count György Thurzó, who oversaw judicial matters as the lord palatine of Hungary, arrived at Bathory’s Castle Čachtice to investigate the countess’ alleged crimes against women of noble birth (any mistreatment of servants was not a concern to authorities).
      • Elizabeth was appauled that she was being investigated and insisted that she was innocent. She claimed her servants were going mad. She told Thurzo and the local community that her servants would kill each other in a fits of murder suicide…. sounds like a sick game that would only be fabricated by such a twisted mind of Elizabeth.
    • When Thurzo went unannounced to investigate Cachtice Castle one day he opened the door to find the mutilated body of a servant girl right by the door. He went in further and found 2 more bodies. Thurzo reportedly surprised Elizabeth Bathory and her team of accomplices in the middle of tormenting a victim and in response immediately imprisoned her in her home (her high status meant she would not be jailed as a common criminal).
    • Some of Elizabeth Bathory’s servants were then arrested, questioned, and subjected to torture.
      • The accmplices’ court proceedings began early in January 1611. These servants denied their culpability in the murders but admitted to burying multiple victims, though the number in their accounts varied between 36 and 51. In addition to shifting blame to their mistress and each other, they also implicated a deceased servant, the wicked Anna Darvolya, who’d served as a maid and governess.
      • Four servant accomplices were punished harshly. Their fingers were slowly torn out by iron tongs. This was a fatal form of torture due to blood loss. Once they died their bodies were placed on a bon fire.
      • One of the accomplices, a young boy named Fizcko, was spared torture because of his young age. Instead of torture, he was beheaded and then burned.
      • Another accomplice named Katalin was spared death. Elizabeth’s surviving victims and witnesses said Katalin would sneak food to victims being starved for fun. It was believed Katalin was forced to help her fellow torturers. Even though she wasn’t killed, she was sentenced to life inprisonment.
    • After these executions Thurzó continued to investigate the countess. One witness stated that Elizabeth Báthory herself had listed 650 victims in her papers, though the number of victims varied in other testimonials and the countess’ exact death toll remains unknown. The evidence gathered by Thurzó also included 289 witness statements.
    • As a member of a powerful family, Elizabeth Bathory was not put on trial. Instead, she was isolated — perhaps walled up — in Castle Čachtice, where she remained.
      • While in custody, basically on house arrest, Elizabeth would constantly claim she was innocent and that her servants were all to blaim. She hated them and hated Thurzo.
      • Many priests would visit Elizabeth, but she would never acknowlege the horrible things she had done.
    • In 1614, Elizabeth complained to a guard that her hands were cold. He told her to lie down and get some rest… She never woke up. The body of a 54-year-old Bathory was found on August 21, 1614, in Castle Čachtice (located in present-day Slovakia), where she’d been imprisoned since 1610. She was initially buried in the crypt on her estate, but her body was likely moved afterward.
Guys, do you think Elizabeth Bathory really killed women and children or  was she victim of a big conspiracy?? : r/creepypasta
  • Today there is Doubt that Elizabeth was guilty. Some now think she may have been the victim of a 17th century witch hunt.
    • The evidence against Bathory has flaws: Of 289 witness accounts, more than 250 offered either hearsay or no information whatsoever. The testimony that Bathory had listed 650 victims was a secondhand accounting of what a court official had discovered — yet the official who’d supposedly seen this information didn’t testify. Many of the witnesses who spoke against Bathory were beholden to Thurzó, who oversaw the entire investigation. And the fact that Bathory’s servants were tortured makes their confessions unreliable.
      • Some believe that Elizabeth was a victim of a witch hunt, orchestrated by her family to take control of her estate and wealth. They believe it was a conspiracy backed by the powerful Hapsburg family who felt threatened by a family so rich they could afford to loan money to their empire to stay afloat.
    • In 1989, writer Michael Farin stated the accusations against Báthory were supported by testimony from more than 300 individuals, some of whom described physical evidence and the presence of mutilated dead, dying and imprisoned girls found at the time of her arrest. 
    • In a 2018 article for Przegląd Nauk Historycznych (Historical Science Review) Aleksandra Bartosiewicz stated that when Báthory was persecuted, the accusations were a spectacle to destroy her family’s influence in the region, which was considered a threat to the political interests of her neighbors, including the Habsburg empire.
    • Legends describing Báthory’s vampiric tendencies, such as the tale that she bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth, were generally recorded years after her death and are considered unreliable. Stories about Báthory quickly became part of national folklore. Nicknames and literary epithets attributed to her include The Blood Countess and Countess Dracula.
  • Doubt the Doubt
    • It is unlikely Elizabth Bathory was completely innocent. In 1602 a priest wrote a letter that discussed the excessive cruelty exhibited by Bathory and her husband towards their servants. The testimony against Bathory could have included true tales about how harshly she acted with lower classes. Such acts weren’t illegal at the time — Bathory was only punished because her victims were said to have included noblewomen — but would still make Bathory responsible for many ruined lives.





The Nazi Hunting Wizard

The following content is from Season 2 Episode 20 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week’s recommendation segment is simple:
    • anything Sir Christopher Lee worked on or inspired.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT: Sir Christopher Lee

  • To me and my generation,
    • he was the Sith Lord Count Dooku from Star Wars and the Evil Wizard Saruman from Lord of the Rings.
    • It turns out his real-life story was much more legendary than either of those fictional characters combined.
    • This episode is about Sir Christopher Frank Tarantini Lee.
    • Just as a heads up to the Blog Readers: I use a TON of images for this episode. I just kept finding amazing images of this man.
      • Plus, there were a ton of memes claiming extraordinary facts about him that I wanted to double check.
  • So let us start by going over his Guinness Book of World Records:
    • Most screen credits for a living actor in 2007 after being acknowledged to have appeared in an incredible 244 film and TV movies.
      • When he passed in 2015 the number had gone up to 282 acting credits (according to IMDB)
      • Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of his acting credits.
        • HERE is a list of Lee’s filmography over the years according to Wikipedia
      • Some of his most notable roles:
        • Francisco Scaramanga from James Bond: the Man with the Golden Gun
        • Saruman in The Lord of the Rings series 
        • Frankenstein’s Monster
        • Kharis the mummy in The Mummy 
        • Count Dracula
        • Lord Summerisle in the British mystery movie The Wicker Man
        • the diver Martin Wallace in disaster movie Airport ’77
        • Count Dooku from Star Wars
        • Count de Rochefort in a couple Three Musketeers movies
        • Willy Wonka’s Dad
        • Emperor of China,
        • the Grim Reaper
        • Lucifer
        • Grigory Rasputin
        • Ramses
        • Vlad the Impaler
        • hosted SNL
        •  Russian Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov in Police Academy 7
          • Those are just a small fraction of the roles he played. I picked them because they all sound like really fun roles to play.
    • the Tallest actor in a leading role (a record he would go on to share with Wedding Crashers star Vince Vaughan).
      • Lee was 6’5″
    • most films with a swordfight by an actor
      • having dueled in 17 films with foils, swords, and even billiard cues
      • he’s been in everything from cutlass fights on the decks of waterlogged pirate ships to rapier duels in seventeenth-century France to taking on a couple guys one-third of his age with a lightsabers and a fistful of force lightning on the deck of an Imperial Star Destroyer
    • In 2004 he helped set the record for First spoken dialogue in a massive multiplayer online role playing game after lending his vocal talents to the game Everquest II,
    • he played the role of Diz/Ansem the Wise in Kingdom Hearts to set the record for Oldest videogame voice actor.
      • That same year also saw Lee knighted for services to drama and charity before being awarded a Bafta fellowship in 2011.
    • In 2008, he was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s Most connected actor living after software developed by the University of Virginia that mapped the working relationship between 1,250,000 actors and actresses in the Internet Movie Database determined that Lee was “at the centre of the Hollywood universe”.
      • His networking skills must have been amazing.
  • But even legends have to start out somewhere
    • Lee was born in England during the year 1922.
    • His father was Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee
      • (1879–1941)
      • Lee’s father, was a distant relative of Robert E. Lee and was multi-decorated war hero who’d served as a Colonel in the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps during World War I and the Boer War.
    • And his mother, Countess Estelle Marie
      • (née Carandini di Sarzano; 1889–1981)
      • She was an Italian Countess and descendant of Charlamagne
      • One of Lee’s ancestors on that side was the Papal Secretary of State who refused to attend the coronation of Napoleon and is buried in the Pantheon in Rome next to Raphael
      • Her visage was apparently so striking that her portrait was painted by almost a dozen famous Italian painters
    • Lee studied Classics at Wellington College. He was a champion squash player, an amazing fencer, and spent his spare time playing on the school hockey and rugby.
    • In 1939 Lee quit his job as a desk clerk to enlist in the Finnish Army against the Soviet invasion of Finland. He didn’t see much combat by the time he returned to England in 1940, but this means he did technically fight in the WINTER WAR.
    • When Lee did return to England it was to Enlist in the Royal Air Force to fight against the Nazis.
      • He enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940 and trained with de Havilland Tiger Moths. Just before he was to have his first solo flight, he was diagnosed with a failure of his optic nerve that caused him headaches and blurred vision. Devastated, he was told he would never fly again. But that wasn’t the end of his military career, far from it…
      • He became an intelligence officer in WW2 and was shipped out to North Africa to join the Long Range Desert Patrol (later known as the British SAS)
        • If you have any knowledge of military powers of the world, or have seen a few movies, or even played a Call of Duty game, you know the SAS are some hardcore warriors.
          • Bear Grylls was in the SAS
          • and Christopher Lee was in LRDP the group that came before the SAS
        • Although Christopher Lee himself seldom spoke about his time in the military, history shows that the LRDP were some of the most elite soldiers in WW2.
        • While in Africa they took convoys hundreds of miles behind enemy lines (braving the formidable Sahara Desert) to sabotage Nazi Luftwaffe airfields with espionage, quick precise attacks, and of course… explosives. The unit Christopher Lee fought in (Long Range Desert Patrol) was very effective.
        • After his time in the LRDP, Lee became a Special Operations Executive. This would later be known as Winston Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (it almost sounds like the British were saying “sorry, not sorry” about being on the winning side of WW2.
          • These Special Operations Executives lead small team assaults on Germany’s top secret nuclear weapons sites in Norway.
          • They worked with Eastern European rebel forces to destroy Nazi supply lines that would have given them a chance to defeat the Soviets.
    • Later in the 2000’s Lee was asked by a reporter about his time in the military. Lee (6’5″ legendary war veteran famous for playing some of the most terrifying roles in cinematic history) stopped dead in his tracks, turned to face the reporter and gestured for him to come closer. … This man has played DEATH and he his now focusing all his attention on this reporter that is about half his height.
      • Lee asked “can you keep a secret?”
      • to Which the reporter eagerly said “YES!” Expecting Lee to finally open up about his combat experience.
      • At this Lee leaned down and whispered in his ear “so can I,” and just walked out the room.
    • Records show that when Lee retired from the Military as a Flight Lieutenant in 1945 he was personally decorated for battlefield bravery by the Yugoslavian, Czech, Polish, and English governments. He was also good friends with the Former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz.
  • After the war, Lee started his long career of acting in 1948.
    • Nearly 10 years later in 1957 Lee got his first big hit “The Curse of Frankenstein” where he played Frankenstein’s Monster.
    • In 1958 he played one of his most iconic roles in Dracula, playing Count Dracula.
    • In 1959 he played the Mummy Kharis in the movie The Mummy
    • Then in 1974 Lee played Francisco Scaramanga, the main villian from James Bond The Man with the Golden Gun
Lee looks cooler than cool.
  • Even though he played the villian… Christopher Lee WAS James Bond.
    • Although Lee didn’t get an official credit for inspiring the character, Ian Fleming (coincidentally, Lee’s step-cousin), has admitted that Lee’s days as a spy are what inspired him to create the ultimate super-spy, James Bond
    • Ian Fleming and Lee fought together in the SOE (Special Operations Executives) during WWII.
      • … he WAS James Bond
  • Lee was obsessed with Lord of the Rings
    • Out of the entire cast of the Lord of the Rings movies, only Lee met the Author J.R.R. Tolkien.
      • In a 2010 interview with Cinefantastique, Lee described meeting Tolkien “quite by chance.”
      • “I met him with a group of other people in a pub in Oxford he used to go to, The Eagle and Child,” he said. “I was very much in awe of him, as you can imagine, so I just said, ‘How do you do?'”
    • Because he was a massive fan of the books (quote: “greatest literary achievement in my lifetime.”), Lee was determined to be involved in any screen adaptation.
      • So in the 90’s he started trying out for other Wizard roles.
      • By 1997, he landed the role of wizard Olwyn in the TV series The New Adventures of Robin Hood.
      • When he heard Peter Jackson was making the now-famous Lord of the Rings films, Lee sent him a picture of himself dressed as a Wizard (robes and all) with a note saying “This is what I look like as a Wizard, don’t forget this when you cast the movie.”
        • I love this story because it humanizes Lee and makes you realize he had weird quirks like being a MASSIVE Tolkien fanboy.
  • I’m just imagining these two terrors of cinema giggling together like school boys at slapstick comedy in the form of Looney Toons.
Imagine being so cool you turn down Swedish Royalty. I’ve met Swedish women and they are DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!
  • Lee’s Music Career
    • Going back to Lee’s collegiate education on the classics, he was a classically trained vocalist.
    • When he was 88 years old he came out with an album about his ancestor Charlemagne called “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross”
    • He played with Manowar and Rhapsody.
    • His single “Let Legend Mark Me as the King” was written by some Judas Priest band members.
Aside from the content of his words, I am in awe by HOW he speaks.
I had to include an image of Count Dooku
  • Miscellaneous Accolades
    • Oh, Lee’s also a master at golf being the only actor to be a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the most prestigious country club in the world.
    • He was married to Birgit Kroencke (a Danish Supermodel for 54 years.
    • He was a Commander of the Order of St. John’s of Jerusalem
      • The Order of St John, short for Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem and also known as St John International, is a British royal order of chivalry constituted in 1888 by royal charter from Queen Victoria and dedicated to St John the Baptist.
    • Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire
    • Received the the World Award’s lifetime achievement award presented to him by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003
    • Also was awarded the Unicef Award of 2012 and the Cinema For Peace Award in 2014, which he received from Angelina Jolie
Order of Saint John
  • His characters have executed both Charles the First of England and Louis the Sixteenth of France.
  • He’s portrayed Englishmen, Egyptians, Spaniards, Transylvanians, Frenchmen, Greeks, Poles, Chinese, Indians, Italians, Wallachians, Romans, Germans, Arabs, Gypsies, and Russians, played the lead role in the biography of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
  • He speaks English, German, Russian, Swedish, Italian, and French, can do any English accent he wants, and sings everything from opera and death metal in a hardcore bass voice.
    • Lee’s movies have grossed more than any actor ever – his top five alone grossed $4.4B
    • he filmed every single scene in Star Wars 3 in a single day
    • he’s never received a Best Actor nomination BUT he’s been in 4 movies nominated for Best Picture
    • Lee belonged to three stuntman unions and did all of his own stunts.
      • He even has cool stunt injury stories
        • He once busted his face smashing head-first through an actual plate glass window for a scene.
        • He injured himself falling into an open grave while portraying Dracula, and once had his hand slashed open during a drunken sword fight with Golden Hollywood Era star Errol Flynn.
  • He was a living legend
    • You might point to his incredibly impressive ancestry or perhaps his military training, but after learning about his life you have to realize he was different from most people in a spectacular way.
    • I would have loved to have met him, maybe have a glass of brandy with the man.