Elizabeth Bathory – 1561-1614
Countess Bathory lived in the Carpathian Mountains in Hungary. Born in 1561, she was a beautiful girl with fair hair and good complexion. When she was 15, she was married to an aristocrat, and they lived together in the Castle of Csejthe. He was a soldier, and often away on campaigns. Elizabeth inevitably became bored of the days and nights alone in the gloomy castle, and soon took to witchcraft, surrounding herself with sorcerers, alchemists and witches.
Her husband died in 1603 – she was 43. She believed that she was too old and ugly to get another husband or even a lover.
One day, when she slapped a servant girl and drew blood, she noticed, or thought she noticed, that the girl’s blood on her hand made her skin fresher and younger than before. She soon became sure of the idea that bathing and drinking in the blood of young girls would make her younger.
At night, her and her brigand rode around looking for young girls. They’d take them back to the castle, drain their blood, and then Bathory would bathe in it. It took five years for her to realise that the blood cure wasn’t working. She assumed it was because she was using the blood of peasant girls, and she should instead be using the blood of virgin girls in her own class. She therefore opened a finishing school, taking in 25 girls at a time, but she grew careless with the disposal of the bodies. Corpses were thrown over the castle walls. Villagers soon took notice, and they were eventually identified. Matthias II, the Emperor, told her she must stand trial for her crimes. As it stood, she couldn’t be arrested because she was an aristocrat, so a law had to be passed so she could be arrested. It was alleged at trial that she killed at least 600 girls. The witch brigade were all burnt at the stake, but Bathory couldn’t be given the death sentence because of her class. She was confined to a small room in her castle in 1610, and died 4 years later.