Thursday, August 6, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory

For the next few days I want to do something different. Given that Friday is the 449th birthday of Elizabeth Bathory the infamous Blood Countess, I figured I'd post her history as I have researched it and stats for a few of my favorite games.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction for my role-playing games.  Please do not consider this page as anything other than that.

(and portrayed in my games by Monica Bellucci)

So Happy Birthday Elizabeth. It is too bad you had to gain your infamy in such a brutal and sadistic way, but isn't that often the case.

Erzsébet Báthory
Countess Báthory Erzsébet, Elizabeth Bathory, Alžbeta Bátoriová, also known as the Blood Countess of Hungary.

She was in life, one of the most notorious serial killers in Hungarian history, with detailed accounts in her own hand of how she killed 610 servant girls.

Birth: August 7, 1560 in Nyírbátor in present-day Hungary
Death: August 21, 1614 in Castle Čachtice (Csejte) in present-day Slovakia (54 years old)

Erzsébet Báthory was descended from a long line of one of Europe's wealthiest noble families. Her family had, in the years before her birth, already began to exhibit signs of mental illness and sexual depravity. Known for their brutal acts of sadism, fiery tempers, and bizarre sexual tastes (incest, satyrism and necrophilia being the most scandalous), the Báthorys provided the young Erzsébet the perfect breeding ground for her own neuroses.
Erzsébet began her lifetime of depravity very early. Erzsébet was a Báthory from both her father and mother's side of the family. It is also claimed that Erzsébet is a descendent by blood (if one can use that term) of Vald the Impaler himself.

Even as a very young woman she was known to be cruel, manipulative and promiscuous. Early on she had been sent to live with an aunt only to be introduced to her aunt's own obsessions with bisexuality and witchcraft. While her aunt was content to being merely cruel and have sexual dalliances with the servant girls, Erzsébet had already graduated to torture. Her aunt did introduce her to the whip and flagellation of the servants. A taste she quickly grew accustomed too.

One tale of Erzsébet's early cruelty deals with her treatment of one of these servant girls. Erzsébet was only 14 but already showing the signs of her adult ways. A servant girl, a milk maid, discovered the young Erzsébet in a stable being pleasured by two young stable hands. The servant told her mistress of the deed. Erzsébet denied the whole affair of course and the girl was whipped. Erzsébet, not having satisfied her taste for revenge planned an ambush for the young girl. Once the servant girl was alone in the stable the two young men from before attacked her and ravaged her while Erzsébet watched in delight. When the milk maid later died from her trauma Erzsébet had the two men castrated and executed.

She was engaged to Count Ferncz Nádasdy at the age of 11. The count came to claim his bride when she was 15. Once married they moved into Csejte Castle situated in the Carpathians in present-day western Slovakia near Trenèín, then part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In addition to Erzsébet's illegitimate daughter (born when Erzsébet was 14, father unknown) Erzsébet had six children with the count, but only four survived to adulthood.

Erzsébet inexplicably abandoned Nádasdy to run off with a "Dark Stranger" sometime during the first years of her marriage. Erzsébet returned to Nádasdy and she was forgiven, but speculation about the identity of this dark stranger would come up much later in her life.

Nádasdy was often away at war with the Turks and Erzsébet was left as lady of the castle. She spent this time learning to read and write in four different languages, and came in contact with more horrific forms of torture. She also began to gather around her a rogues gallery of support. Her former nurse Ilona (Helen) Jó, the witches Katarína Benická, Dorota "Dorko" Sentéšová and Anna Darvulia who taught her more witchcraft, her captain of arms Thorko (with whom she was reported to having an affair) and János "Fickó" Ujváry, a twisted dwarf who also relished in the torture and murder of young girls. At times Erzsébet's "Dark Stranger" would make appearances at her torture sessions.

Her marriage did nothing to quell her sadism. She was known to severely beat any of her servants for even the most minor of infractions. Her husband would partake with her when would make his infrequent visits to their home and he introduced his young bride to even more gruesome forms of torture for their shared amusement. Soon even he was outpaced in cruelty by the young Erzsébet. Nádasdy himself came to an ignoble end, the great hero, the "Black Hungarian" feared by the Turks, was killed by a whore he had refused to pay. After his death all restraint Erzsébet had shown was now gone.

A well know, and often retold, tale of Erzsébet deals with the first servant girl Erzsébet tortured to death. While brushing her mistress' hair a servant girl pulled a little too hard and tugged out several strands of Erzsébet's hair. The Countess struck the girl so hard that blood spurted from her nose onto Erzsébet's skin. The countess rubbed the blood away and felt the skin underneath was younger, more beautiful. She quickly sent for the servant girl, had her stripped naked and drained of all her blood. Erzsébet then bathed in the blood of the dying girl. For the next few years it is claimed the Countess tortured, killed and drained the blood from her victims, all beautiful young girls and women, to fill her literal bloodbath. As many as 610 girls met their fate this way in the dungeons of Castle Čachtice.

As the inventible tide of age grew, Erzsébet went from bathing in the blood of virgins to bathing and drinking the blood of virginal girls of noble birth. It is speculated that the law of the time ignored Erzsébet when she focused on peasant girls (whom she regarded as little more than dogs or worse) and focused on noble birth girls.

Erzsébet kept a diary of every victim she killed in her sexual-sadism. She quickly went through the local crop of peasant girls and moved up through the lower gentry. She had to resort to sending out her henchmen to collect young girls from neighbouring lands. One night after an orgy of blood lust Erzsébet had the corpses of three girls tossed out the window instead of taking care to bury them. This was the last straw for the local townsfolk.

On the morning of December 29, 1610 György Thurzó, the palatine of Hungary, was sent by emperor Matthias II to investigate the complaints. Thurzó and his men invaded Csejte and caught Erzsébet in the act in the Csejte country-house; she was torturing several girls - one of them had only just died. She and four collaborators were charged with sadistic torture, as well as mass murder. Despite the overwhelming evidence found by investigators, Elizabeth herself was not brought to trial.

Except for Katarína, all of Erzsébet's collaborators were executed at Bytèa on January 7, 1611. Katarína's guilt could not be proven, and according to McNally's sources from recorded testimony by all witnesses, she seems to have been dominated and bullied by Dorota Sentéšová and Anna Darvulia. Two of the women had their extremities hacked off before being thrown onto a blazing fire, while Fickó, whose guilt was deemed the lesser, had the mercy of being beheaded before being consigned to the flames. A public scaffold was erected near the castle to show the public that justice had been done.

Erzsébet herself was walled up alive in her castle, kept alive only by food poked through a slit in her door. On August 21, 1614 one of her guards took a peak to see the famed beauty of the countess saw that she was dead.

Erzsébet was burned at the stake after her death and placed in the family crypts. It was then that her dark stranger, none other than her own distant relative, Dracula, returned. Having infused Erzsébet with his own vampiric blood during their initial tryst he called to her to join him in unlife.
Erzsébet remained with Dracula for many years, but they had a disagreement over his "harem". She demanded to be his one and only bride, an equal in his endeavours, he refused and she left. At least that is the story that Dracula scholars tell. It must have been much more than that since there exists a great animosity now between the two noble vampires.

Erzsébet has since travelled throughout Europe, often accompanied by a young woman or man. These thralls are not vampires, but under her control. Erzsébet also has numerous allies that will aid her in dozens of countries.

Every new moon Erzsébet (now using Elizabeth for the most part) must feed on the blood of three virgins or she will begin to age. She appears as a hauntingly beautiful woman in her prime (25-30). However every month she does not feed she appears to age 10 years. This is similar to the aging that Dracula does, but while the Count uses this as a way to keep people from realizing he is a vampire, the Countess is very vain and cannot stand to be anything but perfect.

In life Elizabeth had long black hair. Given the style of the time she died it blonde very often and it sometimes appears to be red. In undeath her hair is black right after feeding but changing quickly to iron grey to white as her month progresses.

Elizabeth has been searching for a permanent solution to her aging problem, one that will allow her to stay forever young. There was a time in 18th century France that she felt she had a solution, draining a virgin girl a day. But even that did not stave off her aging effects. Elizabeth was also known to be in London in the 1840's, Ireland soon after, Russia in the 1900's to 1920, and Germany in up to 1945. It was believed that she was working with the Nazis on their Gegengeistgrüppe, though she had her own motives and plans. She was seen again in her native Hungry during the late 1970's and then she vanished, believed to have been destroyed.

Erzsébet Today - Mid-Semester's Nightmare
Elizabeth was recently spotted in Boston, her first recorded American encounter. Here she worked her way into a position at BLANK* Academy. Of note in this particular class were a large number of Gifted and magic wielding girls. Elizabeth had moved not only to the "blue bloods" of America, but ones that were magical as well. Elizabeth's plan was to drain the blood and magical essence of these young girls in order to achieve her ultimate goal of everlasting immortal beauty.

Notes: I had this idea of her finding a job at a school so she could feed on all the young virgins there. I thought I might go BESM with it, but I started to play M&M and Claremont looked like it fit rather well. I would also love to try this in Witch Girls Adventures, though the tone of that game is much lighter than the plot of a depraved blood fiend feeding on all the magical girls she can get her hands on.

The game, "Mid-Semester's Nightmare", was my "crossover" mini-season where I dual (or tri-) stated most things. Chill, d20, BESM and M&M were all worked in to my normal Unisystem game.

Bathory was my big bad from Chill and I thought that she would be perfect to bring back.

Of course she was defeated at the end of "Mid-Semester's Nightmare", but that is not the first time someone has thought that.


*It was "Claremont Academy" under Mutants & Masterminds, "Eden Girls' Academy" under Unisystem, the "New School" for BESM, and "Boston Academy for Girls" in Chill.


Channel M said...

You do realize she's already in the Witch Girls World lol

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Really!? That is cool.

I looked for her in the book, but missed her. Is she there and I just misser her or is she in your notes and has not appeared yet?

Either way, I have some stats and an idea for a game with her.


Channel M said...

We haven't covered her yet but she's in the notes.

Cool, Would love to see what you have planned.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Monday. I think.

Today will be Unisystem I am sure.


Michael S/Chgowiz said...

Moral of the story, don't mess with Hungarians! :) (I'm of Hungarian descent. I just found out Melan (he of various forums) is a Hungarian resident too. Nice article! Thank you.

Unknown said...

there are many inaccuracies I have found. First, she never went to live with her aunt. Erzsebet left home at about age 11, to go live with her future mother in law. AS far as her killing 650 or however many girls. During the trial, a young servant girl, said, she saw the countess write in a register, the names of the girls that she had killed. But to this day, that register has never been found. that would go in direct contradiction to the testimony of the 4 others involved in the killings. there was 3 older woman and one teenage boy. they all had the count no higher than 60-80 girls killed. The biggest myth of all, is the bathing in blood. that simply never happened.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well yes, and she wasn't a vampire either.

That is the constant struggle when making historical persons into game personalities. That struggle with being true to history (as it was recorded, and that can be in error) and being true to the vision of the game.

In the end I choose to depict her as such for the game needs.

The Grey Elf said...


You are either a descendant of the Bathorys, a wannabe descendant, or a revisionist historian. Erszebet Bathory did bathe in blood--it's generally accepted save by people who somehow think this fact "taints the Bathory name" and engage in a crusade to "prove" otherwise. It is, however, generally accepted by legitimate scholars that she bathed in blood. There were in fact torture devices in her chambers that consisted of a bathtub in a cage which had spikes on top, upon which bodies would be hurled allowing her to shower in the blood. There were also devices similar to iron maidens mounted above thrones, in which she would sit while her victims were bled to death above her.

As for the arrest and subsequent trials, there are very few records relating to the proceedings--many were lost in a fire. As for Erszebet herself, she was never tried. They walled her up in her castle as an alternative to trying her, because a trial would bring shame to the Nadasdy and Bathory families.

Anonymous said...


I agree and it is nice to finally see that someone else has the facts lined up. I am a huge Bathory fan myself.

Lex said...

No, Jim is right. The tale of Elizabeth bathing is blood is complete crap, it was created about two hundred years after her death.

She was abusive towards her servants, but it's hard to ascertain just how much, it's also possible that she was involved in witch craft, but again impossible to tell if she actually.

King Matthias owed her dead husband some money and when she tried to reclaim it, he decided have her tried based on rumors. She was never actually tried because her son, (and son-in-laws) knew it would ruin the family name, plus loss of inheritance. So they agreed to forgive the debt, if he wouldn't actually allow her to be tried.

The Grey Elf said...

And your evidence for these bold statements? I hope it's not wikipedia. I've been a Bathory scholar for 24 years and have NEVER heard a WHISPER of this conspiracy theory about her uncle owing the king money. That's laughable.

Indeed, it's even MORE likely that she was a psychotic serial killer who bathed in blood, than it is that she was involved in witchcraft. There's never been a substantiated claim of ANY actual witchcraft being uncovered in the middle ages. That was a smokescreen cooked up by the Church of Rome to have its detractors hung or otherwise executed.

The Grey Elf said...

Sorry, the king owing her husband money. I mis-typed.

roguevampire said...

Jason, Im not sure how you can be a legitimate Bathory historian and still believe all the false myths about her. You asked what proof their is that Erzsebet didn't bathe in blood. first, if you knew anything about blood, you would realize, blood clots extremely fast, talk to any dr. or nurse. it would clot within minutes. 2nd, in the last 10 years, all her transcripts from the "trial" are now available. Kim Craft wrote a book exposing all these myths are simple garbage. are you also aware of the fact that the only people ever caught and admitting to doing any killings were her 4 servants, not the countess. on the night they raided her castle in 1610, the countess wasn't even there. only her servants were there. the more you dig into it, the more you realize what the countess said all along, was that it was a political conspiracy. please, do some real research and stop perpetuating the myths of this great, extremely intelligent and passionatle woman.

Unknown said...

Bathory was my second season Bug Bad in our Buffy series. Good stuff!

And Monica Bellucci shows up as the model for many characters in my games.... *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Well Belucci was a Bride of Dracula after all (1992). So understandably a fitting model.

Unknown said...

Stay alive :)

Biblionomicon said...

According to history, Elizabeth Báthory was probably the most prolific female serial killer in history. Today (August 7), its her 453rd birthday and the cruelty of her evil deeds is still remembered today. Nevertheless, one should be careful to connect her to the vampire myth, because this will make her an idolized icon and potential role model...what for god's sake should be prevented...There's more to read about Báthory in our daily history of science, technology, end arts blog: