For hundreds of years, folks all over the world have been fascinated by mysterious tales of vampires.
The Countess and Vampire of Transylvania 1560-1614, Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Báthory, was no ordinary female serial killer – it’s believed that the first version of Dracula was based on her life story.
A descendant of a high rank family in Hungary, and her father a prominent man, the Báthory family largely intermarried amongst family members to preserve their blood and keep it in the family. Some of the usual problems of this practice were evident in the family, and in the case of our pretty lady, to a much higher level of hideous psychosis.
As was often the case in the 17th century, Elizabeth was married off at a young age. At 15, she was handed over to another member of royalty. They lived at Castle Csejthe, deep in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.
But the count spent most of his time away fighting and Elizabeth quickly became bored until she discovered the occult. Then, her Aunt taught her how to torture and maim servants (or others) that displeased her.
One of her favorite pastimes was the torture of her husband’s debtors and her own servants. Using silver claws, she would pull and tear at sensitive parts of their bodies. She then preferred to whip her ‘subjects’ on the front of their nude bodies rather than their backs, to inflict more damage and to watch their faces contort in horror.
Elizabeth’s final turn to the dark side appeared to be the result of an innocent accident.
One evening, as one of her maid servants combed Elizabeth’s hair, she inadvertently pulled too hard. Elizabeth, in a state of fury, back-handed the young woman, drawing blood as her sharp ring scrapped against the girl’s delicate skin, which fell onto the back of her hand.
Convinced that the part of her own body – where the girl’s blood had dropped – looked fresher somehow; younger, brighter and more pliant, the Countess rubbed the blood into her skin and supposedly received a kind of orgasmic reaction. Wanting to feel more and see how blood might affect the remainder of her body, the countess ordered her man servant to strip the maid, slit her throat, and drain her blood into a huge vat in which she could bathe.
In order to assure a constant supply of young girls, the countess put out an announcement among the peasants that she would take ‘selected’ young ladies into her castle to work with her in a kind of finishing school atmosphere, usually as many as 25 at a time.
When back in the castle, each batch of 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.
One night, in a fit of anger, Elizabeth bit one of her victims, drawing blood into her mouth. She discovered that she liked the taste and that added to the orgasmic feel of the entire ritual.
From that time on, biting became a regular form of Elizabeth’s torture.
As Elizabeth’s sadistic tastes became more blatant, she was no longer satisfied with just killing peasants. She wondered if the blood of such insignificant mortals could give her power, what might the blood of nobles bring?
Switching her attentions from peasants to nobility proved to be Elizabeth’s downfall. Some say a victim escaped and told all, others say Elizabeth became careless and discarded bodies over the castle walls. Elizabeth’s cousin happened to be the governor to the province in which her home was located. He, after receiving orders from King Mathias of Hungary, paid a surprise visit to his cousin. He couldn’t believe what he found.
By the final count, 600 girls had vanished; Elizabeth admitted nothing. Her alchemists and witches were burned alive, but the Countess, by reason of her noble birth, could not be executed.
So, Elizabeth was damned to a death while alive. Sealed into a tiny closet of her castle – and never let out – she died four years later.
Elizabeth never uttered a single word of regret, or remorse.