Elizabeth Báthory, portrait, History

It is the week of Halloween which is celebrated in several countries worldwide. This celebration has many traditional activities like trick-or-treating, costume parties, telling scary stories and watching horror movies. Scary stories are usually about Frankenstein, Dracula, zombies, ghosts and mummies. If you would like to widen your repertoire, you might be interested in a horrifying story related to Hungarian history. It is the story of Elizabeth Báthory.

Elizabeth Báthory was a Hungarian countess, noblewoman and alleged serial killer from the noble family of the Báthorys. She was born on 7th August 1560. Elizabeth spent her childhood at Ecsed Castle (North-Eastern region of Hungary) and received exemplary education from many excellent professors. She learned three different languages including Latin, German and Greek. She was also taught how to behave in an aristocratic way. Raised in a wealthy family, Elizabeth was endowed with wealth, education and a stellar social position.

The countess first got married at the age of ten, to a Hungarian nobleman. Their first child, Anna, was born ten years later in their marriage. Elizabeth gave birth to five children, but only two reached adulthood. The details of the marriage remain unknown, but many historians believe that it was a harmonic and happy relationship. During the Long War (1593-1606), her husband had to leave the castle and Elizabeth got in charge of the estate and the lands as well. Her husband died in 1604. As the couple did not have an adult son, Elizabeth became the lady of the castle.

Elizabeth Báthory, portrait, history
Portrait of young Elizabeth (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The strong and stubborn widow was not particularly lovable in the servants’ eyes. Many peculiar things happened in the castle after Elizabeth lost her husband. According to the stories, many young handmaids died in unknown circumstances and were buried in secret. She was also cruel and evil with her servants and often hurt them physically.

One day, when a handmaid was brushing Elizabeth’s hair, she accidentally pulled it. Elizabeth became furious and slapped the handmaid in the face. The slap was so strong that the handmaid’s mouth started to bleed and some of it got on Elizabeth’s hand. After she wiped off the blood, she noticed that her skin became younger and smoother. From this moment on, Elizabeth killed hundreds of young virgin girls and bathed in their blood to make her skin healthier, younger and smoother. Sometimes she also drank the blood from a golden goblet or from the young girls’ bodies.

Elizabeth Páthory, painting, history
Hungarian painter István Csók’s painting about Elizabeth’s cruelty (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On 19th December 1619, Elizabeth Báthory was arrested and accused of murder. She was sentenced to prison and died before her trial. She was buried in Csejte (Slovakia), but the location of her grave is unknown.

After Elizabeth’s death, her story soon became popular in Hungary, and she became equal with the cruel, evil and murdering devil. In some cases, she is also mentioned as the Hungarian Dracula. Many archaeologists and tourists visit the Ecsed Castle every year where they try to find Elizabeth Báthory’s torture chambers.

castle, history, slovakia
Castle of Csejte, Slovakia (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Báthory is significant and famous in Hungarian culture. Many paintings, books, plays, musicals and even films were made about her life. She also holds the Guinness World Record as the most prolific female murderer. The Hungarian Dracula is also a popular icon in many foreign countries.

Here are some examples:

  • English band called Cradle of Filth made a studio album titled Cruelty and the Beast which is about Elizabeth Báthory
  • American film entitled Stay Alive is about the countess’s legendary life
  • The Countess, a 2009 French-German historical drama film
  • The 2014 Dynamite Entertainment comic series The Blood Queen in the USA
  • Vampyress, an opera written by Chad Salvata in 2005, performed in Austin, Texas
  • The fifth season of American Horror Story where The Countess’s character (portrayed by Lady Gaga) was inspired by Elizabeth Báthory
  • Theatrical play Bathory by Canadian playwright Moynan King in 2000
  • PC game called Vampire Legends: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bathory (2014)
  • The card game Evil Baby Orphanage includes Lady Báthory as a character
  • She is a character in the 2018 novel On Devil’s Wings by M. J. Meade
  • The second episode of the second season of the Amazon Prime series Lore recounts the tale of Elizabeth Báthory
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s supernatural radio programme Nightfall in 1980
  • The influential Swedish black metal band Bathory
  • Mexican heavy metal band Erzsebeth

Featured image: www.npg.hu

Source: nadasdymuzeum.hu, Wikipedia

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