I know it’s a bit of a dark subject as my first substantial post, but hear me out.
A year or so ago, I was doing research for a fantasy book I am working on and I came across mention of Elizabeth Bathory. Then, just a few short weeks ago, a video game I play and two shows I watch (Jeopardy! and True Blood) made reference to the woman who became inspiration for an evil villain in my book.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this notorious figure, Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed is believed to be the most prolific female serial killer in history.
Bathory even has a place in the Guinness World Records. Her victim count there is listed at a whopping 600 although it is a common consensus that the true number is likely to remain unknown. In fact, the unknown surrounds much of Bathory. What is known is her vicious nature and proclivity to the sadistic lead to tales of vampirism.
Bathory’s victims of choice were young, virginal women. These women, whose blood she reportedly drank as a way to maintain youthful vitality, came to her in a number of ways: by servitude, abduction, tutelage, and bribery. A number of sources, listed below, cite a multitude of sadistic torture methods that Bathory would subject her victims to including, but not limited to, stabbing, biting, scalding, cooking, branding, and even forced autocannibalism. As her dark and bloody hobby began to come to light, stories of the countess bathing in the blood of her victims became so intertwined with the details, that it is truly unknown where fact ends and fiction begins.
Bathory, along with several accomplices, was arrested in 1610. Unfortunately, her social station and family influence prevented her from being tried for her crimes although her accomplices were found guilty and executed (save one, who was sentenced to life). Instead, she was walled up in Csejthe Castle where she would spend the next four years in solitary confinement until her death at the age of 54.
Truth can often be stranger than fiction, although it’s unlikely historians will ever truly know which details are truth and which are fiction when it comes to The Blood Countess.
Guinness World Records: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-prolific-female-murderer