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|“||In 1611, in an isolated castle high up in the mountains of what is now modern Slovakia, a woman was about to begin a death sentence condemned to spend the rest of her life walled up in a single room. At her trial Countess Elizabeth Bathory, one of the most powerful aristocrats of her day, was accused and convicted of murdering over 600 young girls. What appalled many was not just the number of deaths but the way in which these girls died. It was said that they were sadistically tortured for weeks on end, sometimes forced to eat their own flesh and their corpses left to rot in her castle. According to the evidence given at her trial, a picture emerged of a woman who not only had a need to inflict pain and commit murder but apparently developed an obsession with her victims' blood. Elizabeth Bathory's taste for this blood would eventually give her the title by which she's still known today, "Countess Dracula".||„|
|~ Introduction to the Discovery Channel documentary about Elizabeth Bathory|
Elizabeth Báthory (August 7th, 1560 – August 21st, 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. Although the number of murders is debated, she has been labeled the most prolific female serial killer in history and is remembered as "The Blood Countess."
After her husband Ferenc Nádasdy's death, she and 4 collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Elizabeth Báthory herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, she was imprisoned in the Čachtice Castle, now in Slovakia and known as Čachtice, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death 4 years later.
The stories of her sadistic serial murders are verified by the testimony of more than 300 witnesses and survivors as well as physical evidence and the presence of horribly mutilated dead, dying and imprisoned girls found at the time of her arrest. Stories describing her vampiric tendencies (most famously 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. Her story quickly became part of national folklore, and her infamy persists to this day. She is often compared to Vlad Tepes the Impaler of Wallachia (on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based); some insist she inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), though there is no evidence to support this hypothesis. Nicknames and literary epithets attributed to her include The Blood Countess and Countess Dracula.
Báthory was born into prominent Protestant nobility in Hungary. Her family controlled Transylvania, and her uncle, Stephen Báthory, was king of Poland. She was raised at the family castle in Ecséd, Hungary. In 1575 she married Count Ferencz Nádasdy, a member of another powerful Hungarian family, and subsequently moved to Castle C̆achtice, a wedding gift from the Nádasdy family. From 1585 to 1595, Báthory bore four children.
After Nádasdy’s death in 1604, rumours of Báthory’s cruelty began to surface. Though previous accounts of the murder of peasant women had apparently been ignored, the claims in 1609 that she had slain women from noble families attracted attention. Her cousin, György Thurzó, count palatine of Hungary, was ordered by Matthias, then king of Hungary, to investigate. The count palatine determined, after taking depositions from people living in the area surrounding her estate, that Báthory had tortured and killed more than 600 girls with the assistance of her servants. On December 30, 1609, Báthory and her servants were arrested. The servants were put on trial in 1611, and three were executed. Although never tried, Báthory was confined to her chambers at Castle C̆achtice. She remained there until she died.
While documents from the 1611 trial supported the accusations made against her, modern scholarship has questioned the veracity of the allegations. Báthory was a powerful woman, made more so by her control of Nádasdy’s holdings after his death. The fact that a large debt owed by Matthias to Báthory was canceled by her family in exchange for permitting them to manage her captivity suggests that the acts attributed to her were politically motivated slander that allowed relatives to appropriate her lands.