History knows her as “The Blood Countess.” In the early part of the 17th Century, Elizabeth Bathory was responsible for the gruesome deaths of over 600 servant girls, bathing in their blood in order to keep her young.
But were those stories a lie? There is evidence to suggest Bathory may have been framed for these crimes.
Bathory was married at age 15. By all accounts, both her and her husband, Ferenc, were both well educated and wise about money and the military. In fact, Bathory handled most of the day to day affairs of running their castle and the surrounding lands while her husband led Hungarian forces in their war with the Turks. But at age 48, Ferenc contracted a fatal disease.
That’s when the story of Bathory’s murders began to surface. A Lutheran minister gave accounts of her alleged slaughter of hundreds of young girls. The Holy Roman Emperor himself demanded an investigation. But the man who headed it, György Thurzó, was in charge of the holdings of Bathory and her husband. Many commoners and aristocrats gave testimony accusing Bathory of the bloody killings. However, there are some questions about the authenticity of these accounts. Reportedly, many servant girls testified they saw a ledger where Bathory kept track of the number of girls she killed. But most of these servants were illiterate, and the ledger itself was never presented at the trial. Another witness was also tortured to obtain her testimony. It was also known that many local aristocrats were mad over how much independence Bathory had been given in running the region.
Four of Bathory’s servants were put to death for their part in the alleged killings. Bathory was put under house arrest, and died four years later. She never admitted to the great slaughter, but the mystery remains whether she actually committed these crimes, or if she was an innocent victim framed by powerful people.