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.