The Elizabeth Bathory Genre:
Origins in Folklore, Literature and Myth
Copyright © 2016 Jozef Borovský. All Rights Reserved.
The Elizabeth Bathory myth and subsequent entertainment genre with which so many are familiar, is but a tiny fragment of a much larger, and complicated set of historical events. The roots lie in very real national, religious, political and cultural divisions behind the many trials, tribulations of the Medieval Dark Ages which spilled over into the sixteenth and seventeenth century European Reformation. So, it should be understood in no uncertain terms, that the
Blood Countess, or
Lady of Cachtice myth began with an act of treason against the Imperial Habsburg Crown. Everything subsequent, had, and continues to have, as its sole purpose, obfuscation of historical truths concerning a country and a peoples by an empire which intended to subjugate them. Bathorys represented resistance to Holy Roman imperial war waged Habsburgs and their allies in Imperial Hungary against the Principality of Transylvania (all which was left of a free Royal Ungaria) and their Ottoman allies. It is not our intention to dive into the troublesome political history involving Elizabeth Bathory in this article but you can certainly read about if this interests you. The details of what led up to these wars are published in the book, Chrysalis: Metamorphosis of Odium and Carpathian Liberty. The reader should keep this historical backdrop in mind as we explore the folklore, myth and subsequent entertainment genre of Elizabeth Bathory, its literary origins within popular culture.
It is true, that political enemies succeeded in eliminating Elizabeth Bathory for political reasons. Without doubt she was murdered in 1610. The manufactured charges of mass murder and torture, the trials, well, that was nineteenth century propaganda dreamt up to obfuscate real history and to wage propaganda war against Magyar Hungarians during a time of revolutionary unrest. It also made some publishers very wealthy. By that time, the Medieval Kingdom of Ungaria - Elizabeth Bathory's
Hungary - had been relegated by the Habsburgs and their Imperial Hungarian collaborators to the ash heap of dead civilizations. What these propagandists could never have appreciated or ever imagined, is just how effective they were in assassinating her character, her reputation, as well as that of her family, well into the present day and more than 400 years after her death! The seeds for Elizabeth Bathory's myth were produced in 1729 with her
discovery. She had been condemned to memory, meant to be forgotten in the imperial Habsburg world a non-entity, someone banned. Her very name was illegal. Knowledge of her existence lay forgotten by time for more than one hundred years until she was
discovered in the eighteenth century by the Slovak Jesuit priest and historian, Ladislav Turciansky (Ladislao Turocius [Lat.], Ladisalav TurČianskÝ [sk.], László Turóczi [hu.]). His contemporary, Matthias Bel (Matthias Belius [Lat.], Matej Bel z Očovej [sk.], Mátyás Bél de Ocsova [hu.]) would later add to the fantastic story to fuel the fire. Subsequent authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, just cultivated the myth until it became what it is today... a delightful harvest of the bizarre!
Local Čachtice Folklore
A tale of folklore, that of a cruel Countess who tortured and killed her young female victims, has been told in Slovakia for more than 400 years. Its origins date back to the seventeenth century and first told by local townfolk in Cachtice, Slovakia. Later, the rest of Slovakia and then throughout the world.
The story is that of a very beautiful, but cruel Countess, Bátorička, as she was, and still is, referred to in the Slovak popular culture. She ruled over Cachtice long ago from her castle atop a high hill overlooking the entire town and surrounding countryside. With age, and having become a widow, her youth and beauty began to fade, causing her to become even more cruel, especially to the young servant maidens in her household. Then, one day, as she was being assisted with her dressing, and in a fit of rage, she beat one of her handmaidens to the point of spattering the handmaiden's blood on her own skin. Upon wiping off the blood, the Countess observed that her skin had suddenly taken on a youthful appearance! In this manner, the Countess discovered her secret to rejuvenating her beauty. Because of her vanity, and desperate to attract a suitor, the Countess was driven first to torture, and ultimately progressed to killing young local women in order to draw their blood, which she used to draw a bath so as to maintain her beautiful, youthful appearance.
After some time had passed, at first rumours, then fear, began to spread among the local population. Her sudden youthful appearance coincided with mysterious disappearances of young women and something needed to be done. Could it be that the Countess was behind these disappearances? Word reached the king himself, who, having observed the Countess' sudden youthful appearance himself, ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of these accusations. One day, the king's appointed investigator and his men, while calling on the Countess at her castle unannounced, surprised her as well as her servants red handed, so to speak, in the monstrous act, about to kill a young maiden, having already tortured her beforehand! Bátorička, as well as her servants were arrested and summarily found guilty in a court of law. Her guilty servants were sentenced to death, while Bátorička, because she was a noblewoman, was sentenced to life imprisonment, to be walled up in her own castle bedroom wherein she eventually died.
Historically speaking, Elizabeth Bathory never lived Čachtice Castle. In December of 1610, it is important to know that one of the penalties against Elizabeth decreed by the King of Hungary, Mathias II Habsburg, and then passed into law by the Diet of Hungary (Hungarian Parliament active from twelfth to twentieth century), was that her name was illegal. It was a criminal act against the imperial and Hungarian crown to speak, write or bear her name anywhere in the Holy Roman Empire or any realm within the empire. Her condemnation was also by Rome, by her excommunication by the pope! It is little wonder then, that for over a century since her death, Elizabeth Bathory, the person, became a private and mostly local subject of the inhabitants of the town of Čachtice, Slovakia and surrounding region which once had been her private estate.
This folklore was surely told to family - especially daughters - friends and other trusted persons but in a careful, guarded way. After all, nobody wished to run afoul of Imperial Hungarian law. In 1610, the modern day independent state of Slovakia we know today, with its own national Slovak laws, would not exist for another 383 years! Čachtice was still part of Imperial Habsburg Hungary. Save for a few travelers passing through, even fewer outsiders knew of her or her treason for which she had been condemned.
The very first mention ever, and introduction of Elizabeth Bathory to the world, came in the dutiful historical writings of Ladislav Turciansky. Turciansky was a Jesuit priest, teacher and scholar. He studied philosophy in Klagenfurt and Vienna, Austria. He also studied theology and philosophy at the University of Trnava, Slovakia where he received his doctorate. He taught at University of Košice and University of Trnava and eventually even became rector of the Jesuit seminary in Trnava. He was a highly educated, reserved, but devout man in service of the Almighty by way of his religious order and academic training. He was also an Imperial Habsburg Censor of books. Imagine his surprise and excitement, then, that when he was writing his first of three academic publications on Hungarian history and rulers(1) he discovered a peculiar omission in the historical record, that of Elizabeth and her husband Francis I Bathory-Nadasdy! Surely for him, this was an exciting and major academic coup! The problem with Turciansky's discovery, which he included in his book, is that he did not merely
fill the gap in the historical record, but embellished it! Perhaps he was influenced by the witch hunt hysteria in Hungary at the time,(2) and because he was swept up in this this hysteria himself, and because no details of the Countess were available (just like in the present), he opted to detail what was known of her - the local Cachtice folklore, witchcraft, murdered virgins, tales of bloodletting and bathing in blood that kept the Countess young and beautiful. It was probably to get around the censorship which he knew full well. Whatever his reason, the folklore was introduced to the public at large! Voilà! The myth was officially born!
Not to be outdone, Turciansky's very Catholic historical publication was countered by a very Protestant version in 1736 by Matthias Bel,(3) a highly respected Evangelical (Lutheran) pastor and historian, with an ego, we might add, bigger than Elizabeth Bathory's myth will ever be. He was known as the Great Ornament of Hungary (Magnum decus Hungariae) and described himself as lingua Slavus, natione Hungarus, eruditione Germanus (by language a Slav, by nation a Hungarian, by erudition a German).(4) Why? Well, he was a turncoat. He had supported the Royalist Ungar Rakoci Transylvanian War of Independence, was captured, and given the choice of swearing allegiance to the Habsburgs or be killed. He was a Habsburg loyalist ever since, hence his slogan. In one of his chapters, Bel wrote of local Čachtice history as well as the Elizabeth Bathory. More notably, he challenged Turciansky's
facts such as the blood baths, etc., as fiction. Otherwise, true to his Lutheran philosophy, Bel basically stuck to Turciansky's narrative which he accepted as fact. Curiously, Turciansky's next two academic publications which were updates of his earlier 1729 work, one in 1743(5) and other in 1768(6). Neither mentioned Elizabeth Bathory at all. In fact, both men got into hot water with imperial censors in Vienna.
Cultivation of Her Myth (1812 - 1850)
Other publications contributed to the elaboration of the myth also. In particular, one article in the highly regarded publication Hesperus: ein Nationalblatt für gebildete Leser (Hesperus: National Journal for educated readers) stands out. Alois Mednansky's 1812 article(7) tells the shocking and true story of the terrible crimes of Elizabeth Bathory. In fact, Mednansky was an aristocrat whose family knew the Bathorys very well before they were all murdered off and their dynasty extincted. He was also an imperial bureaucrat, and employee of, and business partner of one Joseph Hormayr, another aristocrat and imperial bureaucrat who just so happened to be the director of the Habsburg Secret Archives in Vienna. The first article was a sensation. Their contrived 1610-11 trial documents were published in another 1817 article, again in Hesperus Magazine, back by popular demand no doubt. It
sealed the mythical deal so to speak, of Elizabeth Bathory's heinous deeds. It was the very first, and sensational, publication of the official court witness testimonies from the legal proceedings against Elizabeth Bathory which were supposedly
discovered in 1765.(8) Together, Hormayr and Mednansky went on to write fictional history and became very wealthy as result. They were, in fact, Austria's most successful propagandists to counter revolutionary activities in Hungary at the time. Mednansky went on to become Hungary's chief of police and was assassinated. Hormayr got into trouble with the Habsburg-Lorraine regime and had to go into exile. He continued working as an archivist and historian for the Bavarian regime.
By the time other writers came along, such as John Paget and his 1839 two-volume book about his travel adventures in Hungary and Transylvania(9) and Johann Ernst Daniel Bornschein with his 1852 novel(10) about Elizabeth Bathory, her reputation, the myth, had already been firmly established, almost into the myth most familiar to us today. It merits a read of Paget's visit to Cachtice Castle:
I know not why, but one always feels less incredulous of the marvelous when one has visited the scene of action and made oneself at home in the whereabouts of dark deeds - as though stone walls had not only the ears so often attributed to them, but tongues also to testify to the things they had witnessed. The history of Csejta [Cachtice], however,requires no such aid to prove its credibility; legal documents exist to attest the truth.
The ruins of a once strong castle still remain on the top of a hill which can be ascended only on one side, for like many old Hungarian castles, Csejta is built on a limestone rock an abrupt precipice on three sides. About the year 1610 this castle was the residence of Elizabeth Bathori sister to the King of Poland and wife of a rich and powerful magnate.Like most ladies of her day she was surrounded by a troop of young persons generally the daughters of poor but noble parents who lived in honourable servitude in return for which their education was cared for and their dowry secured. Elizabeth was of a severe and cruel disposition, and her handmaidens led no joyous life. Slight faults are said to have been punished by most merciless tortures. One day as the lady of Csejta was adorning at her mirror those charms which that faithful monitor told her were fast waning, she gave way to her ungovernable temper, excited perhaps by the mirror's unwelcome hint and struck her unoffending maid with such force in the face as to draw blood. As she washed from her hand the stain, she fancied that the part which the blood had touched grew whiter softer and as it were more young. Imbued with the dreams of the age, she believed accident had revealed to her what so many philosophers had wasted years to discover, that in a maiden's blood she possessed the elixir vita, the source of never failing youth and beauty. Remorseless by nature, and now urged on by that worst of woman's weaknesses, vanity, no sooner did the thought flash across her brain than her resolution was taken the life of her luckless handmaiden seemed as naught compared with the rich boon her murder promised to secure.
Elizabeth however was wary as she was cruel. At the foot of the rock on which Csejta stands was a small cottage inhabited by two old women and between the cellar of this cottage and the castle was a subterranean passage known only to one or two persons and never used but in times of danger. With the aid of these crones and her steward the poor girl was led through the secret passage to the cottage where the horrid deed was accomplished and the body of the murderess washed in virgin's blood. Not satisfied with the first essay at different intervals by the aid of these accomplices and the secret passage no less than three hundred maidens were sacrificed at the shrine of vanity anil superstition. Several years had been occupied in this pitiless slaughter and no suspicion of the truth was excited though the greatest amazement pervaded the country at the disappearance of so many persons.
At last however Elizabeth called into play against her two passions stronger even than vanity or cunning love and revenge became interested in the discovery of the mystery. Among the victims of Csejta was a beautiful maiden who was beloved by and betrothed to a young man of the neighborhood. In despair at the loss of his mistress he followed her traces with such perseverance that in spite of the hitherto successful caution of the murderess he penetrated the bloody secrets of the castle and burning for revenge flew to Pressburg boldly accused Elizabeth Bathori of murder before the Palatine in open court and demanded judgment against her.
So grave an accusation so openly preferred against an individual of such high rank demanded the most serious attention and George Thurzo the then Palatine undertook to investigate the affair in person. Proceeding immediately to Csejta before the murderess or her accomplices had any idea of the accusation he discovered the still warm body of a young girl whom they had been destroying as the Palatine approached and had not had time to dispose of before he apprehended them. The rank of Elizabeth mitigated her punishment to imprisonment for life but her assistants were burned at the stake.
With this tale fresh in our minds we ascended the long hill gained the castle and wandered over its deserted ruins The shades of evening were just spreading over the valley the bare gray walls stood up against the red sky the solemn stillness of evening reigned over the scene and as two ravens which had made their nest on the castle's highest towers came towards it winging their heavy flight and wheeling once round each cawing a hoarse welcome to the other alighted on their favourite turret I could have fancied them the spirits of the two crones condemned to haunt the scene of their former crimes while their infernal mistress was cursed by some more wretched doom.
The castle though once strong particularly towards the village is now fast falling to decay It is loosely built of unhewn stone held together by mortar and crumbles away with every shower and blast.(11)
She Was a Werewolf!
Turciansky, Bel and Mednansky had created kindling for the Elizabeth Bathory myth which was rehashed once more by Paget and others. All it needed now was the spark to ignite it. This spark came in 1854 by way of Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, a Vicar in the Church of England in Devon, in his publication, The Book of Werewolves, which captivated reader's imaginations. He begins one of his chapters about the 'Hungarian Bather in Blood' with:
It was not till the close of the Middle Ages that lycanthropy was recognized as a disease; but it is one which has so much that is ghastly and revolting in its form, and it is so remote from all our ordinary experience, that it is not surprising that the casual observer should leave the consideration of it, as a subject isolated and perplexing, and be disposed to regard as a myth that which the feared investigation might prove a reality.
In this chapter I purpose briefly examining the conditions under which men have been regarded as werewolves.(12)
He gives some examples of other "werewolves" and of Elizabeth Bathory, he goes on to quote another writer, Michael Wagener from his book, Beitrage zur philosophischen Anthropologie (Contributions to a Philosophical Anthropology), Vienna, 1796... [Note that the name of Elizabeth Bathory was still forbidden in Austria in 1796!]
...Michael Wagener... relates a horrible story which occurred in Hungary, suppressing the name of the person, as it was that of a still powerful family in the country. It illustrates what I have been saying, and shows how trifling a matter may develop the passion in its most hideous proportions. Elizabeth ------ was wont to dress well in order to please her husband, and she spent half the day over her toilet. On one occasion, a lady's-maid saw something wrong in her head-dress, and as a recompense for observing it, received such a severe box on the ears that the blood gushed from her nose, and spirited on to her mistress's face. When the blood drops were washed off her face, her skin appeared much more beautiful--whiter and more transparent on the spots where the blood had been.
Elizabeth formed the resolution to bathe her face and her whole body in human blood so as to enhance her beauty. Two old women and a certain Fitzko assisted her in her undertaking. This monster used to kill the luckless victim, and the old women caught the blood, in which Elizabeth was wont to bathe at the hour of four in the morning. After the bath she appeared more beautiful than before.
She continued this habit after the death of her husband (1604) in the hopes of gaining new suitors. The unhappy girls who were allured to the castle, under the plea that they were to be taken into service there, were locked up in a cellar. Here they were beaten till their bodies were swollen. Elizabeth not unfrequently tortured the victims herself; often she changed their clothes which dripped with blood, and then renewed her cruelties. The swollen bodies were then cut up with razors.
Occasionally she had the girls burned, and then cut up, but the great majority were beaten to death.
At last her cruelty became so great, that she would stick needles into those who sat with her in a carriage, especially if they were of her own sex. One of her servant-girls she stripped naked, smeared her with honey, and so drove her out of the house.
When she was ill, and could not indulge her cruelty, she bit a person who came near her sick bed as though she were a wild beast.
She caused, in all, the death of 650 girls, some in Tscheita, on the neutral ground, where she had a cellar constructed for the purpose; others in different localities; for murder and bloodshed became with her a necessity.
When at last the parents of the lost children could no longer be cajoled, the castle was seized, and the traces of the murders were discovered. Her accomplices were executed, and she was imprisoned for life.(13)
Michael Wagener, whom Baring-Gould quoted, was no doubt influenced by the writings of the earlier works of Turoczi, Bel and no doubt others, as was Baring-Gould. So there you have it. In Baring-Gould's opinion, Elizabeth Bathory was suffering from nothing less than clinical lycanthropy, defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is a non-human animal... a werewolf! Excellent diagnosis, Reverend!
Little wonder then, that by the end of the 19th century Victorian Era when the Irishman Bram Stoker published his 1897 bestseller Gothic horror novel, Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory's fate as the bloody Lady of Cachtice had already been sealed in popular mythology. Note also, that somewhere between von Mednyansky's 1812 article and Baring-Gould's 1854 werewolf book - a mere space of 43 years - Elizabeth Bathory's victims ballooned from an original 12 to 650!
The 20th century was no different and featured an absolute flood of mostly fictional as well as supposedly non-fictional works. One author, Raymond McNally, who was an American author and a professor of Russian and East European History at Boston College, published his 1983 book about Elizabeth Bathory, Dracula Was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania. In his book, McNally explored Stokers research that gave rise to his vampire character and even went so far as to connect Vlad The Impaler a.k.a. Bram Stoker's Dracula, to Elizabeth Bathory! No surprise then, that in 2009, Bram Stoker's great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt finished where McNally left off and published a sequel to the original novel Dracula the Un-dead. In this sequel, Elizabeth Bathory is is introduced as a vampire, related to Dracula no less.
Thanks to Stoker and the likes of Baring-Gould, the public hunger for Gothic tales of horror became insatiable. And thanks to McNally's weird literary history, her character became firmly sealed as the most prolific psychotic mass murderess of all time, factually speaking, to even that of a fictional bloodthirsty vampire. The Elizabeth Bathory genre of Gothic horror was born!
A Hungarian 'Ghoul'ash of Stories
There are dozens of books - fiction and non-fiction - published about Elizabeth Bathory in many languages around the world. A small sampling and flavour of English language books in print today, are listed below.
|The Bloody Countess: The Atrocities of Erzsebet Bathory, Valentine Penrose, Alexander Trocchi, 1962.0
Synopsis: Descended from one of the most ancient aristocratic families of Europe, Erzsebet Bathory bore the psychotic aberrations of centuries of intermarriage. From adolescence she indulged in sadistic lesbian fantasies, where only the spilling of a woman's blood could satisfy her urges. By middle age, she had regressed to a mirror-fixated state of pathological necro-sadism involving witchcraft, torture, blood-drinking, cannibalism and wholesale slaughter. These years, at the latter end of the 16th century, witnessed a reign of cruelty unsurpassed in the annals of mass murder, with the Countess' depredations on the virgin girls of the Carpathians leading to some 650 deaths. Her many castles were equipped with chambers where she would hideously torture and mutilate her victims; hundreds of girls were killed and processed for the ultimate, youth-giving ritual: the bath of blood. The Bloody Countess is Valentine Penrose's true, disturbing case history of a female psychopath, a chillingly lyrical account beautifully translated by Alexander Trocchi (author of Cain's Book), which has an unequalled power to evoke the decadent melancholy of doomed, delinquent aristocracy in a dark age of superstition.
|The Blood Countess: A Novel, by Andrei Codrescu, 1995.
Synopsis: A Hungarian-American journalist confronts the beauty and terror of his aristocratic heritage in this suspenseful chronicle of murder and eroticism. Turmoil reigns in post-Soviet Hungary when journalist Drake Bathory-Kereshtur returns from America to grapple with his family history. He’s haunted by the legacy of his ancestor, the notorious sixteenth-century Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have murdered more than 650 young virgins and bathed in their blood to preserve her youth. Interweaving past and present, The Blood Countess tells the stories of Elizabeth’s debauched and murderous reign and Drake’s fascination with the eternal clashes of faith and power, violence and beauty. Codrescu traces the captivating origins of the countess’s obsessions in tandem with the emerging political fervor of the reporter, building the narratives into an unforgettable, bloody crescendo. Taut and intense, The Blood Countess is a riveting novel that deftly straddles the genres of historical fiction, thriller, horror, and family drama.
|Countess Dracula: The Life and Times of Elisabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, Tony Thorne, 1997.
Synopsis: This is the story of Elisabeth Bathory, a 17th-century Transylvanian countess. She was tried as a vampire and became an inspiration for depraved murderers up to the present day.;Based on research conducted at archives in Eastern Europe, this account includes both the recorded truth and the legend that has grown up around her. Tony Thorne is the author of the "Bloomsbury Dictionary of Slang".
|Dandelions in the Garden, Charlie Courtland, 2009.
Synopsis: Journey into the underworld of the Blood Countess. "Dandelions In The Garden," is a historical fiction novel based on one of the most infamous female mass murderers in history, the 16th century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory. The Blood Countess was a descendant of Vlad Tepes and is undeniably connected with the vampire legends of Transylvania.
|The Hidden Will of the Dragon, Charlie Courtland, 2010.
Synopsis: In the sequel to "Dandelions in the Garden," the journey of history's most intriguing noble female murderer continues. Come following Elizabeth and Amara through the canals of Venice and high into the Carpathian Mountains to discover the inevitable. How the story of the Blood Countess really ends!
|The Bathory Curse, Renee Lake, 2015.
Synopsis: It is said that Vlad the Impaler's first wife jumped to her death rather than be with such a monster, however... Princess Cneajna of Transylvania didn’t expect to be brought back from death’s door by an ancient Pagan Goddess. She certainly never asked to be made into an immortal witch. All she wanted was to live out her life the wife of Vlad the Impaler and mother of his two sons. However, now she has a new life, and with it comes the impossible task of breaking a centuries old curse placed on the women of her family. A curse that drives each one insane. To make matters even more complicated this is a family she didn’t even know she was related to: The Bathory’s.
|Elizabeth Bathory, Edward Eaton, 2012.
Synopsis: When Elizabeth Báthory discovers that the blood of maidens will keep her young, she sets off on a bloody killing spree that lasts for years and results in the deaths of hundreds. When she is finally caught, she is walled up in her own castle. There, ever young and beautiful, she is denied the love and adoration she so craves. Then a young priest, looking for fame and advancement, comes to save her. Will her need for his flesh be stronger than his need for her soul? [A play in five scenes and based on a true story | Elizabeth Bathory is widely considered to be one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker's DRACULA.
|Elizabeth Bathory: Evil Beauty, Brian Montgomery, 2011.
Synopsis: A screenplay about the most evil woman to ever walk the Earth - Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Based on the life of Elizabeth Bathory, the Transylvanian countess who inspired the Dracula legend. Fact based fictionalized account of the woman who murdered (and drained of blood) over six hundred young girls in the late 1500's. This story follows the countess from her early years to her ultimate punishment after being caught and tried for the murder of over 600 young girls. In remaining true to the incredible true story, this script is filled with dramatic and horrific details of a story that has never been told in depth. You will be amazed that you have lived your life without ever hearing about this fascinating and gruesome tale.
Behind the Genre, a real Person and Real History
Human creativity seems boundless. It is a wonderful thing, as long as one is responsible and understands the difference between fantasy and reality. The genre that is Elizabeth Bathory is what it is - fantasy. But it grew into what it has because people did not, nor do they know her truth today. Those that do are very few. In this regard, historians past and present have failed, as it is the duty of their profession to be truth tellers not propagandists, or interpreters of historical facts. In the end, whatever the facts, it is logic and reasoning of the historical record which exposes the truth. An honest and unbiased study of her historical record can lead the student to only one conclusion, the truth. One such truth is that the myth that is Elizabeth Bathory, exists today, not because of historical facts, but because of the almost exclusive absence of it. Thus, the world is left with only the original seventeenth century trial. In the absence of much else save the folklore, Elizabeth Bathory is known to the world as an alluring, beautiful, sociopathic, deviant and erotically mythical character. Not knowing the history, or even attempting to seek it out, however, is no excuse for ignorance.
So it should be noted, that, behind the myth, behind these wonderful creative works of fictional Elizabeth Bathory fantasies lies a very real historical person that was once very much alive, that loved, that hated, that had very real hopes and dreams, whose life's accomplishments and tragedy also needs to be told, but in an honest, factual way. These works of fiction, while admittedly entertaining, do nevertheless, inadvertently perpetuate a centuries old elitist character assassination of a woman who simply wanted to, but failed in, liberating her people from Austrian Habsburg rule. Had she succeeded, the world today would certainly be different.
More about that another time.
Turóci, Ladislav. Ungaria suis cum regionibus, ceterisque terrae dotibus : Reges item Ungariae cum accurata singulorum genealogia compendio dati / Studio R. P. Ladislai Turoczi, e Societate Jesu Tyrnaviae : Typis academicis Soc. Jesu per Fridericum Goll. 1729.
Fear gripped the superstitious as well as pious because it was the time of the Szeged Witch Trials of 1728-1729. These took place in the city of Szeged, Hungary. The witch hunt was initiated because there was a bad drought and famine which gave rise to widespread and deadly epidemics from which thousands died. Naturally, the clergy reasoned that it must have been because some fraternized with the Devil. It became the height of the witch hysteria and was the largest witch hunt ever, culminating with the death of 14 people burnt alive at the stake.
Bél, Mátyás/Mikoviny, Sámuel. Notitia Hungariae Novae Historico Geographica Divisa In Partes Quatuor, Quarum Prima, Hungariam Cis-Danubianam; Altera, Trans-Danubianam; Tertia, Cis-Tibiscanam; Quarta, Trans-Tibiscanam: Universim XLVIII. Comitatibus Designatam, Expromit. Regionis Situs, Terminos, Montes, Campos, Fluuios, ... Singulorum praeterea, Ortus & Incrementa, Belli Pacisque Conuersiones, & praesentem Habitum. Fide optima, Adcuratione summa, Explicat Viennae Austriae. 1736.
Krejcí, Oskar. Geopolitics of the Central European Region: The View from Prague and Bratislava. VEDA Publishing House of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. Bratislava. 2005. p.279
Turóci, Ladislav. Ungaria Suis Cum Regibus Compendio Data: Dum In Aula Almae, ac Celeberrimae Archi-Episcopali Soc. Jesu Universitatis Tyrnaviensis, Annô M.DCC.XLIII. Trnava. 1743.
Turóci, Ladislav. Ungaria Suis Cum Regibus Compendio Data. Novissima Hac Editione Aucta, Elimata, Et Ad Nostram Usque Aetatem Producta. Collegii Academici Societatis Jesu. Trnava. 1768.
Mednyansky, Alois Freiherr von. Eine wahre Geschichte. Hesperus: Ein Nationalblatt für den gebildete Leser, Nro. 59. Prag: 1812. p. 470-472.
Herausgeber (Editor):Christian, Carl Andre. Abschrift des Zeugen-Verhörs in Betreff der grausamen That, welcher Elisabeth v. Bathori, Gemahlinn des Grafen Franz Nadasdy beschuldiget wird. (1611). Hesperus: Ein Nationalblatt für den gebildete Leser, Nro. 31. Prag: 1817. p. 241-248, Hesperus: Ein Nationalblatt für den gebildete Leser, Nro. 32. Prag: 1817. p. 270-272.
Paget, John. Hungary and Transylvania: With Remarks on Their Condition, Social, Political, Economical, Volume 1, London, John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1839.
Bornschein, Johann Ernst Daniel. Isidore Grafin von Nadasdi, Vicekonigin von Hungarn, zwolffache Morderin auf Eitelkeit und Liebe. Eine wahre furehtbare Begebenheit des 17 Jahrhunderts. Eisenberg.. 1852. Pages 67-70.
Baring-Gould, Rev. Sabine. The Book of Werewolves, 1854. Egregore Press, Denver, CO. 2007. p. 109, p.115-116