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Evil Women
The Many Faces of Dracula
Halloween Nostalgia
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Not Quite Dead
Ghoulies, Ghosties, and Giggles
Evil Women

~ Erzsebet Bathory ~
                                           Page Two

Thus began a horrific ritual; hundreds of peasant girls were kidnapped, brought to the castle, and drained of their blood. Often she bit their necks and breasts herself, drinking the blood and eating the flesh from their open wounds.
Elizabeth ordered torture devices from German clockmakers and blacksmiths; soon Csjethe Castle, where she lived out much of her adult life, had a full-scale torture chamber in the basement. Aside from the notorious vat and a kitschy iron maiden, there were spiked cages and a spike-filled metal orb hanging from the ceiling.

Iron Maiden

Girls were placed in the cylindrical spiked cages and prodded with red-hot iron pokers until they impaled themselves on the spikes; others were placed in the spiked orb, which was rocked back and forth like a pendulum until the girl's flesh had been shredded. The cages were fitted with drains at the bottom so that the Countess could stand beneath them for a "blood shower."
On other occasions, young girls would be hung, alive and naked, upside-down by chains wrapped around their ankles. Their throats would be slit and all of their blood drained for Elizabeth's bath, to be taken while the heat of their young bodies still remained in the thickening and sticky crimson pool.

And every now and then, a really lovely young girl would be obtained. As a special treat, Elizabeth would drink the child's blood: at first from a golden flask, but later, as her taste for it increased, directly from the stream, as the writhing and whimpering body hung from the rafters, turning pale.

Over the next ten years, Elizabeth Bathory's evil trusted helpers provided her with beautiful young peasant girls, from some neighboring villages, upon the cover of hiring them as servants to Castle Csejthe. Back in the castle, the young girls would be mutilated and killed, so the Countess could take her blood baths.
The casualty list grew into the triple-digits; this was later verified by the roster of victims the Countess kept in her writing desk. Bodies of dead girls were burned, buried beneath the castle floors, or left in the wilderness to be devoured by scavengers.
Shockwaves of terror penetrated the surrounding countryside from which most of Elizabeth's victims had been abducted, but few dared speak out for fear of the Countess' infamous wrath. Even the clergy - supposedly responsible for protecting peace and justice - remained silent.
But soon Elizabeth began to realize that the blood of simple peasant girls, was having little effect on the quality of her skin. Better blood was now required.

In early 17th century Transylvania, parents of substantial position wished their daughters to be educated in the appropriate social graces and etiquettes, so that they might gain the 'right' connections when ripe. Here was an opportunity.

In 1609, Elizabeth established an academy in the castle, offering to take 25 girls at a time from proper families, and to correctly finish their educations.  Assisted by Dorotta Szentes (known also by the graceful diminutive "Dorka") these poor students were consumed in exactly the same beastly fashion as the anguished peasant girls who preceded them.

Bathory Family Crest

This was too easy, and Elizabeth became careless in her actions for the first time in her dreadful career. During a frenzy of lust, four drained bodies were thrown off the walls of the castle.  She grew even more careless by ordering dead girls tossed over the castle walls to be devoured by passing wolves and asking clergymen to perform burial services for mutilated girls.

A clergyman finally notified King Matthias of Hungary, who commissioned Elizabeth's cousin, Count Thurzo, to conduct an investigation of the Countess' activities. A raid on the castle proved ghastlier than Thurzo and his men had prepared themselves for: one dead girl in the main hallway, another, still alive, whose entire body had been pierced with holes, and several more hung from the rafters of the basement ceiling like gutted deer, their blood emptying into Elizabeth's now-legendary vat.

Fifty bodies were exhumed from the basement of the castle; the roster, discovered in Elizabeth's desk, listed the names of 650 girls who had been murdered. The Countess' accomplicies -- Dorka and her witches -- were taken into custody, tried, and burned alive.
Matthias also ordered that the Countess be placed on public trial. But, her aristocratic status did not allow that she be arrested. Parliament at once passed a new Act to reverse this privilege of station (lest she slip from their hands) and Elizabeth was brought before a formal hearing in 1610.  Even with all the evidence and testimony before her, Elizabeth did not ever utter even a single word of regret, or remorse. 

The Tower in which Erzsebeta Bathory was sealed.

The Countess, by reason of her noble birth, could not be executed.  But she got her punishment, when the Hungarian Emperor demanded her condemn to lifelong imprisonment in her own castle. Stonemasons were brought to her Castle Csejthe, to wall up the windows and the door to the bedchamber with the Countess still inside. Here she would spend the remaining days of her life, with only a small opening for food to be passed to her.

In 1614, four years after she was walled in, one of the Countess's jailers found her food untouched. After peeking through the small opening in Elizabeth's walled-up cell, he saw her lying face down on the floor. Elizabeth Bathory the "Blood Countess" was dead at the age of fifty-four.

A complete transcript of Elizabeth's trial was compiled during the proceedings but spent the next few centuries locked away in the Hungarian State Archive in Budapest. Csjethe Castle fell into ruins, which can be seen today in the modern Slovak Republic.
Elizabeth was interred in the Bathory family tomb, and the act of speaking her name was declared a criminal act by the Hungarian Parliament. Only after the demise of Communism was the Archive opened and the trial transcript released.
References:  Wikepedia:  Elisabeth Bathory; Legends, Myths, and Superstitions.

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