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Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Blood Countess

I write this sitting with a charcoal scrub on my face. I look a little deranged I'm sure. My hair is clipped up, and I've got this shiny, grainy, black stuff on my face. For all I know, this stuff could be giving me cancer. Or face charcoal poisoning. I don't know. There's a reason I'm not That Science Nerd. Even if charcoal sugar scrubs are proven to cause face tuberculosis, I probably wouldn't stop using it. Why? Because it works. My face is incredibly clean afterwards, and, hey, anything to be beautiful right?

This was likely painted long after her death, but
you can't deny, Elizabeth was a lovely woman.
Shame about the murder thing really.
If this sounds a tad bit insane, just know that I'm not the only one. If you're a lady, you're probably nodding along, and aren't judging, because you know how it is. If you're a dude, well, let me tell you, I'm fairly tame in the beauty routine department. Some women take it further, and that's perfectly fine. I 100% support doing most anything it takes to make them feel beautiful. That being said, when you start bathing in the blood of virgins to maintain your youthful skin, you've probably taken it a bit far.

I know that sounds just a tad over dramatic, but, I shit you not, it is actual, literal, disputed, historical fact that Countess Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins. It's claimed that she killed between 30 and 650 young females, mostly peasants, between 1585 and 1610. Guinness Book of World Records lists her as the most prolific female serial killer-- not exactly something you want to be known for.

Elizabeth is the sort of lady that would be considered a feminist icon had she not killed hundreds of people. She kept her own last name, was extremely educated, defended her husband's estates against the invading Ottomans, and intervened on behalf of women raped by the marauding Turks. She was, by all accounts, Quite the Lady, and that was even before she became a serial killer.

I'd kill for that necklace. Not like, literally though.
So, the nitty-gritty of things. Elizabeth would lure young peasant girls to her home, Csejte Castle, with promises of decent jobs as servants. Those girls would never return. Given that they were peasant girls, no one with power to do anything about it cared, until Elizabeth started picking off the daughters of local gentry, then people started to mind.

Seeing as how Elizabeth was a countess, punishing her was a tricky affair. Everyone decided that executing a member of the nobility was just a bad idea, so they placed her under permenant house arrest. They bricked her into her rooms, with only slots for ventilation and food to slide through. She died in those rooms.

Her accomplices were not so lucky. Hundreds of witnesses came forward, testifying to the gruesome tortures and murders committed by Elizabeth and her friends. Bodies were dug up, servants questioned (all but one of her servants testified against her), and eventually her accomplices were condemned to death.

The stories against Elizabeth are wild. There are claims that she would strip girls naked, then make them stand in the cold until they died of hypothermia. There are stories of her torturing girls, biting their faces off, and, of course, drinking and bathing in their blood. Elizabeth has become a part of the local Hungarian folklore, and she's closely associated with Vlad the Impaler, aka the inspiration for Dracula. Given that, there's just a small, wee chance that some of the stories may have been exaggerated. After all, bathing in blood sounds very poetic, but would probably be very messy in practice. Claims of how many people she killed varies wildly, from 30 to 650. Unfortunately, given the fact that she died over 400 years ago, we can't know for sure.

Sources and Further Reading
A Dark History: The Kings and Queens of Europe by Brenda Ralph Lewis
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Guinness Book of World Records

What do you think? Did Elizabeth really bathe in human blood?



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