A Conversation for Elizabeth Bathory - the Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 1


I would differ with the BBC article on poor Erzsébet Báthory to give her correct name. The main article recites the calumnies accumulated legend hearsay superstitions and nonsense produced as testimony under torture.
No serious historian in Hungary credits any of these with any legitimacy as should no Briton who accepts the rule of law and the rules of evidence, namely that evidence and testimony extracted under torture is inadmissible and to be discounted as untrue.

The whole occult nonsense is simply drivel. There are no witches there are no vampires nor have ever been. Specifically in Hungary since King Bookish Coloman Könyves Kálmán the existence of witches and hence the possibility of witchcraft trials or charges have been eliminated.
They dont exist let us say no more.

Vampires are a silly fabrication of bored Englishmen scared of the dark in Transylvanian villages. Incidentally although Elizabeths family have been Kings of Poland and Princes of Transylvania she herself was all her life a resident of Royal Hungary or Upper Hungary now Slovakia.
Transylvania was an independent principality now annexed to Romania
and was famous not for vampires which they have never heard of but for the first edict of toleration in Europe that is freedom for Catholics
Lutherans Calvinists and Unitarians. Transylvania was famous for its gold mines wealth learning and as the easternmost bastion of the Renaissance Baroque and Protestantism literacy and science mainly under the Czech Comenius. It is mentioned as such by John Milton in his Areopagitica. Transylvanian students attended the universities of England and Holland. As you can see Transylvania has a different resonace in Hungarian and eastern European ears than English.
Milton would understand.

Back to poor Elizabeth of Csejte. It is of course possible that the whole nonsense has a grain of truth to it.
But nowadays it is becoming clear that all or most of it was a show trial fomented by her relatives and others who had some claim to her huge possessions. They did not like the fact that a mere woman was the most intelligent accomplished benefactress and owner of numerous castles villages and lands. Much easier to take the huge estates of a defenceless widow than reconquer lands lost to the Turk.
Her letters in Hungarian Latin Greek and presumably German are extant.
Lemme see. Read a bit of Plato in Greek about the immortality of the soul then take a bath in virgins blood, then St Pauls letter to the Corinthians from the Vulgate, then flog to death two peasnt girls, then read a few flower songs (love poems) in Hungarian, then have an orgy with some peasant lads and milk maids then torture them boil them in oil tear then apart, while we listen to a bit of cantus firmus, finally read Luthers theses and Calvins Institutions as the coup de grace are administered to the tortured victims. Indeed most plausible isnt it.
I am not writing a horror movie plot summary but being sardonic.

The blood nonsense is simply ignorant peasants fear of the standard medical treatment for two millenia. Just as Lord Byron was killed by his doctors inadvertently, as., if he is ill bleed him and if he is still ill bleed him some more until exsanguinated.
Elizabeth employed feldschers or leeches or real doctors or surgeons whose mainstay in treating the sick girls who sought her aid was venesection. No doubt many were killed by the excessive and what we now consider mostly foolish bloodletting.
Thats all. This medical intervention was witnessed in horror by some superstitious and ignorant peasant girls and the tales started spinning.

All the nonsense about epilepsy torture lesbianism satanism occult vampirism is a ludicrous modern fantasy and anachronistic fabrication.
Seems like any weird sect or weirder antireligion or cult or movement latches onto poor Elizabeth and sees her as their perverted and distorted mirror a kind of horror Rorschah blot test.

As we know from drawing and quartering in Britain and the savagery of the French Revolution several hundred years later and the use of corporal punishment even within our lifetime in our schools and the use of flogging from the colonial Royal Navy to WWII Russian army the practice of nowadays unacceptable severe corporal punishment was standard treatment throughout human history.
So one can hardly fault Elizabeth Bathory for savagely chastising her
servants or social inferiors if that was the standard pracice of the age. If she was peculiarly savage so were most of our ancestors.
Personally I dont think so.
To lovingly describe her tortures as a sort of early Marquis de Sade
is simply absurd, nearly everyone was doing it everywhere.

So with proper historical hindsight it seems all charges against Elizabeth Bathory melt into thin air.
The fiction character is another matter. It is more a sign of psychopathology in the indulgers than in their subject.

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 2


You wrote a wonderful review of the article and Elizabeth Bathory.

The facts can most likely never be determined. However, given the trends of those times and the behavior of tyrants it is most likely that this was a show trial with false reports from some notaries who had to report what the King wanted to see.

Elizabeth Bathory was a Calvinist Protestant, apparently, and the Catholic Habsburgs, including the Hungarian King Matthias, and the Lutheran ministers all would have attacked her, consistent with their documented actions towards other high level aristocrats.

I hope that the people who repeat the stories which were not in the so-called trial testimonies will consider at least stopping those fabrications, since those stories are almost for sure false. In particular, the story of E. Bathory bathing in blood was not written till over a hundred years later, and then by a Jesuit (Catholic) priest. The counter-reformation was in full swing and accusing a Protestant of witchcraft and torture would have been consistent with the other actions of the time. The catholic Pope used to take the position that the rules of ethics did not apply when dealing with either Protestants, heretics, Moslems, or Jewish people. The Church appears to believe that it could lie, whatever, to defend the faith.

Whoever Elizabeth Bathory was she should not be used for modern day titillation, she was a historical person. She probably has living descendants. The modern age should have respect for rule by law, justice, and historical truth.

Any artist who wants to be famous should invent his own creative lies, not use her name.

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 3


I am so happy to finally encouter people who are rational about this matter.

The number of books and web sites I've seen which simply repeat the same old worn out legends as fact just sickens me.

It seems that every author makes repeated reference to diaries wherein Erzsebet describes committing acts of torture and muder and lists the names of her victims. These authors always claim that these diaries are in the possession of Hungary's National Archives, but have been kept secret or are not available to the public, or some other excuse as to why nobody has ever read them.

Maybe it was diferent in the communist era, but I sent an email to the National Archives, asking them about these diaries, and in less than twelve hours I'd received a very helpful response detailing what documents they possessed, what sections of the archives I should contact for further information, and brief instructions as how I could get copies of all these documents.

So much for the impenetrable web of secrecy and bureaucracy!

Of course there are no diaries. They exist only in the testimony of people who were trying to tell their torturers what they wanted to hear in order to make the pain stop.

The contemporary testimony, and the books which came later, describe inconsistent and ridiculously high body counts. I question whether the population of the region at that time contained enough young women to make such murder tallies possible.

In addition, some of the books and testimony describe exotic devices of torture which are implied to be unique designs that Erzsebet had made in order to slowly kill women in novel ways.

What happened to these devices? They couldn't have been overlooked or quickly discarded, during the raid. Some artifacts from Erzsebet's time have survived until the present day, why didn't these contraptions? Erzsebet's accusers certainly would have kept, and likely displayed, them if they had found them. Because, to coin a phrase from Oliver Stone, "It makes their case against the angry lone nut, that much stronger."

Indeed, if these murders took place, shouldn't there have been an overwhelming amount of physical evidence? As far as I know, it is very difficult to dispose of a body in a way that leaves little trace, and in Erzsebet's time it would have been more difficult still, especially when one considers the number of bodies that would have been involved.
With this much blood being spilled, a modern forensics team could likely still find substantive evidence in and around the castle ruins.

It seems to me that there hasn't been a speck of credible testimony or other evidence against Erzsebet.

I've toyed with the idea of trying to find like minded people and form a non-profit group to have valid research done, and maybe see if we could get Erzsebet a posthumous aquital, or get the powers that be to formally apologize to her, and declare her to have been falsely imprisoned.

After so many years of being touted as the world's most prolific serial killer, not to mention being made to seve as a sadomasochistic fetish object, it the least she deserves.

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 4


It is wonderful to hear replies which worry about simple truth. I have no idea if E. Bathory did these atrocities but would be happy to support a non-profit exploration for credible facts based in the historical period and trends. However, since there is so much more tourist money and sexual titillation in perpetuating the scandalous gossip, the facts would not sell and no one would bother to listen besides a few members of the Bathory-Facts non-profit organization.

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 5


In my opinion there are many things in this world that we (human kind) cannot understand or might not ever, so to say that there is no such thing as witchcraft or vampirism in such a harsh way that it's very dispicable and close minded to not consider the thought of outside forces. There is also the fact that the Countess Bathory really was insane, wanted to carry on the love her husband had of inflicting pain or she was just bored out of her mind and wanted to do something more than embroidery or read during her days and nights by herself. On that note, if she really was insane I would LOVE to read her diary or any origonal writings of hers just to give it some thought or phycological evaluation just to try and see what it was like to be inside her mind to see if it was sound at all.

I've also heard the speculation that the Hungarian arcives or what ever won't let the public see these documents or anything at all for some strange odd reason. Perhaps they are trying to hide something that is in those documents about the noble family of Bathory or perhaps something in the history of Hungary. Who knows? There might be some real evidence that there really is such thing as vampirism or witchcraft. It would be very interesting to find out if there would ever be the chance at all to retrieve them.

Elizabeth Bathory

Post 6


Did you ever attempt to get copies of these documents? If not can you give me the information so I may conduct my own research? I would like to do a report, as factual as possible, on E. Bathory and would love to have these articles.

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