On December 26, 1610 Count Gyorgy Thurzo paid a visit to Csejthe Castle in Hungary. On orders of King Matthias, he was instructed to investigate a number or rumors regarding the castle’s countess. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw that day. A young girl was lying dead on the ground, another girl was dying and a third young lady was severely wounded. Three servant girls stood by holding archaic instruments of torture while in the center of it all the Countess instructed them on how to torture her captives.
The Countess, Elizabeth Bathory, was born in Transylvania in 1560. She was born into a privileged family whose members included knights, cardinals, and kings. She spent her days living a life of privilege surrounded by great wealth, always being taught the ways of an aristocrat. However, Elizabeth also had some other unique instruction. She was instructed in Satanism by her uncle, a devil-worshiping alchemist, and introduced to witchcraft and sadomasochism by one of her aunts. If that wasn’t enough to create a female version of GAME OF THRONES’ Ramsay Bolton, as a child Elizabeth Bathory suffered from epileptic seizures as well as extreme outbursts of rage, often directed towards whichever servant happened to be nearby.
At the age of ten, Elizabeth was engaged to Fernec Nadasdy, the son of Baron Tamas Nadasdy, a powerful Hungarian statesman. Known as The Black Night of Hungary, as a soldier Fernec was known for disemboweling, impaling, and torturing his Turkish captives. Five years after their engagement, and in front of 4,500 guests, the two were married. Because she was of a higher social class than her husband, Elizabeth Bathroy decided to keep her own name. She was moved into his castle in Csejthe. The couple went on to have five children before Fernec died of illness in 1604.
Rumors about the Countess’s brutal nature began circulating in 1602. Countess Bathory passed the time and drudgery of ruling over her 17 villages by torturing servants for her own amusement. Not satisfied with the occasional beatings, Bathory quickly graduated to hot pokers, needles under fingernails, and stitching mouths shut. She also had a fondness for covering villagers in honey and watching as insects and animals devoured them. Some of Bathory’s other greatest hits included: forcing victims to cook and eat their own flesh, forcing them to stand in buckets of ice outside until they froze to death, starvation, poisoning, and on one occasion having a gypsy man sewn up in to the belly of a dead horse. And these were just a small sample of what she was accused of at her trial. After her death, it was revealed that she enjoyed bathing in the blood of her victims as well as drinking it.
At her trial, 300 witnesses were more than happy to testify against her. No one has ever been able to put an exact number on just how many people were killed by Bathory or by her servants who were acting under her orders. Some estimates are as low as 35 and as high as 200. One rumor circulating around the time of her trial was that she kept a list of her victims, a list that included 650 names. However, that list was never found. The official death toll is 80, making her one of the most prolific female serial killers ever.
For her crimes, Bathory was sentenced to house arrest, while her three servant accomplices were put to death immediately after their trial. The Countess spent the remainder of her days in a small room in her castle with only a small slit for air and another for food. It was a sentence that only lasted four years. On August 22, 1614, was found dead in her prison cell. She was buried in the church at Cachtice. However, her body was moved soon afterwards when villagers protested having the Countess of Blood in their cemetery. Her final resting place was an undisclosed spot in her family crypt in the castle where she was born.