Erzebet Bathory

Erzsebet Bathory, also known as Elizabeth Bathory, is one of the most infamous figures in history. Her crimes caused her to become a legendary and feared figure. Even after the legends have been lifted her crimes still seem unimaginable.

Bathory was born in 1560 to a well-established family. Her family had produced many powerful people in her time, including the Kings of Transylvania and Poland. She was married off for political reasons to Count Ferencz Nadasdy. Before the marriage took place she became pregnant with a child from a peasant. She was taken away to a family castle under the excuse that she was sick. She had a daughter, which was given away. She began a practice of torturing servants and was introduced into the occult while her husband was away at battle. The fascination with torture began for her as she saw her family deal with political enemies.

After her husband's death her fears of growing old began to grow more and more. When striking a servant girl for combing her hair too hard some of her blood fell on her hand. She thought the blood made her skin look younger and become convinced that blood was the secret of eternal youth. She was also convinced that blood from virgin girls would be the most effective. The maid was murdered so that Erzsebet could bathe in her blood. From here her most notorious deeds began. The tortures the girls would be put through would last for weeks, months. They were then cut in several different ways to provide blood for Bathory to wash herself with. More than six hundred women died because of Erzsebet. These women ranged from peasants to members of the nobility.

Investigations on Erzsebet's activities began in 1610. Some claim that she was investigated not because of her crimes but because of the finances involved with her family. These investigations also came only after four noble women were found murdered. Laws forbade she be put to trial because of her royal standing. These laws were removed to deal with her. Erzsebet did not admit to the crimes but she was sent to a small, walled in, room in her castle. Only a small opening to provide food was allowed. She stayed four years in that room until her death in 1614. Many of her accomplices were also found guilty and put to death but Bathory avoided that punishment due to her status.

Sometimes it is easy to concentrate on her crimes and ignore Erzsebet herself. She was very beautiful and also very intelligent. In fact she used her intelligence as a tool to get more victims as she lured noble girls to her castle under the promise of an education. It is also interesting to look at the political actions involved in this story. There are several interests involved in the prosecution of Erzsebet Bathory. Most involve the family fortune she had control over and people wanting an excuse to take it. She had the potential as being remembered as one of the best members of the Bathory family but she wound up becoming the most infamous.

Annotated Bibliography

Báthory-Kitsz, Dennis. "Erzsebet." Malted/Media Productions. <> and <> . 5 April 2005.
The page is about a opera based on Erzsebet Bathory. It deals primarily with the happenings that are portrayed in the opera but manages to give some good information in the process. The page is best for works dealing with Erzsebet in the media. More information on the opera is found in the page at this link: <>. The page has some photographs of Erzsebet's home country at this link: <> .

Blinderman, Charles. "Vampurella: Darwin & Count Dracula." Massachusetts Review 21(1980): 411-428.
The article makes for an interesting read. It does not contain as much good information as the books on Erzsebet Bathory. Not something to base a report on but it makes for good secondary information.

Krause, Jerome C. "Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory. Elizabeth Bathory" Brilliant Brief Lives. <> 5 April 2005.
A very good source of information. The page spends most of its time on Erzsebet's life saving only a couple of paragraphs for her crimes and punishment. This is a welcome change from biographies that are dominated by her crimes. The page also does a good job of giving a glimpse of her childhood and the life at the time. This page should definitely be visited if doing research, although it has, according to the author, a strong fictional content.

McNally, Raymond T. Dracula was a woman: in search of the blood countess of Transylvania. New York: McGraw Hill, 1983.
This is my favorite source for information on Erzsebet Bathory. The book begins with a background on Bathory as well as a look into the research done for the book. This is an interesting look into the research done for these projects. The book is a fascinating look into Bathory's life, trial, and the legends that have arisen in time. A very recommended book.

Penrose, Valentine, translated by Alexander Trocchi. The Bloody Countess. London: Calder & Boyars, 1970.
A look into the crimes of Erzsebet Bathory. The book is a bit old but still worth a read as it does provide much information on the subject. Definitely a source worth looking at.

Ronay, Gabriel. The Truth about Dracula. New York: Stein and Day, 1972.
The book goes heavily into the myths connected to Erzsebet Bathory. The findings in the book have been challenged in future books so its usefulness can be questioned. Still it is something to consider.

Segrave, Kerry. Women Serial and Mass Murderers: A Worldwide Reference, 1580 through 1990. McFarland and Co., 1992.
Information on Erzsebet Bathory is found in pages 20 through 23. While the book does provide some good information it's best contribution comes from its overall topic. It can be hard to believe that a person is capable of doing such horrible acts, which helps legends grow. This book shows that, unfortunately, the urge to kill or torture is not limited only to Erzsebet Bathory. Not many can equal her in numbers but far too many equal her in the desire.

Thorne, Tony. Countess Dracula: the life and times of the blood countess, Elisabeth Bâathory. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
A very new source on Erzsebet Bathory. Because of its newness there have not been much time to evaluate its contents but still worth looking at for recent information. A source that definitely should be looked at.

Sheppard, R.Z. "Gothic Whoopee." Time, 8/14/95 Vol. 146 Issue 7.
The magazine gives a review of Andrei Codrescu's The Blood Countess. It doesn't offer much information on Erzsebet Bathory herself. The article talks about the use of the non-fictional figure in the fictional work. A good source if one plans on writing about the book or on the way Bathory is presented in the media.

These sites seem to be dead:  

An Early Countess Bathory. InterVamp Viewed: 3/23/98
Not about Erzsebet Bathory directly. It is about a member of the French nobility who did a very similar crime. An interesting source for comparisons.

Biographical Notes for the Life of Elizabeth Bathory. Elizabeth Bathory Data . Viewed: 3/16/98
The page offers excerpts from The Dracula Book by Donald F. Glut. The excerpts go into a little more detail on the life of Erzsebet Bathory. They tend to ignore the very beginning and the very end, concentrating more on her crimes and what led to them. The excerpts also include descriptions of Erzsebet Bathory's presence in movies, comics, and books. A good source if one is interested in researching how she has been portrayed in the media.

Bloodlines: A Brief on the life and death of Hungary's infamous Blood Countess, Elzabeth Bathory-Nadasdy. Vampires . Viewed: 3/22/98
The page offers a good amount of information of Erzsebet Bathory. It goes into detail on the crimes Erzsebet committed as well as the circumstances of her investigation. The author also goes into the subject of how much Bram Stoker was influenced by Erzsebet when writing Dracula. The annotated bibliography in the page helped me finish this bibliography.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory c. 1560-1614. VO . Viewed: 3/16/98
The information on the page is not very specific but it does offer some interesting points about her life and punishment. Nothing to base a report on but it does offer some information that could help fill out a project. If you visit this page you may want to stop by the (very good) humor section. From personal experience, a good laugh is a good way to calm the tensions of research.

Elizabeth Bathory. Serial Killers . Viewed: 3/23/98
A brief biography of Elizabeth Bathory. It does have some interesting information on her husband's role in the formation of her habits. Worth a look if one still needs information.

Who is Elizabeth Bathory? Pathway to Darkness Viewed: 3/16/98
This section of the page offers a good, short biography of Erzsebet Bathory. The page also offers a link to a book review section ( ) that offers reviews of fiction and non-fiction books. You can buy books that you may like online. The page is a good way to get basic information before setting on more ambitious goals.


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Written by David Rodriguez, 1998
Last Revision: 5 April 2005
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