Blog entry

15th Century Teenage Girls

Song Of The Day: Poor Fractured Atlas / Elvis Costello
Word Of The Day: Cruentous (alter: Cruentus) / Bloody, mixed with blood.

Apparently there are pheasants, death metal bands, and vampire societies all named after that latin word 'cruentus'. Speaking of blood, HERE'S something that indicates it was not easy to be a teenage girl in 15th century Trannsylvania.

In 1560 Erzebet Bathory was born into one of the oldest – and wealthiest – families in Transylvania. Her ancestors had assisted Vlad Dracule during his rise to power; other relatives went on to become cardinals, princes, Prime Ministers, and King of Poland. She was a healthy, energetic child, a quality found to be unique for someone of her social status. She was also vain, often boasting of her fresh complexion that she believed was her best feature. Well educated, Erzebet was able to both read and write in four languages.

At the age of 11, she was arranged in marriage to 16-year-old Ferencz Nadasdy. To Erzebet, an arrangement was not the same as a commitment and at 14 found herself pregnant after a fling with a local peasant. In order to avoid a scandal, her parents sent Erzebet to an out-lying Bathory estate under the excuse of illness until the child was born. Immediately after birth the baby, a daughter, was given away and Erzebet returned to her parent’s home.

On May 8, 1575 Erzebet and Ferencz were finally married. Erzebet took over the household concerns while Ferencz decided to assist in the Hungarian war against the Turks. Making the war his top priority, Ferencz began scoring victory after victory. His success was so great it earned him the nickname “Black Knight of Hungary.”

With her husband away for long stretches of time, Erzebet quickly grew bored with everyday castle life. Yearning for something to fill her time, she befriended people claiming to be witches, wizards and alchemists and began to dabble in the occult. She also started spending a great deal of time visiting her aunt, Countess Karla Bathory, who introduced Erzebet to the erotic pleasures of flagellation.

Erzebet had always been fascinated by torture. This enchantment probably began as a little girl when she witnessed firsthand the methods her family used to deal with political foes. On one occasion she watched as a gypsy was beaten then sewn inside a horse’s stomach and left for dead. As an adult she passed the time beating servants and whipping debtors being held in the dungeon. She favored whipping prisoners on the fronts of their nude bodies because she received great pleasure watching their faces.

On January 4, 1604, Ferencz died. In a scandalous move, Erzebet relocated to Vienna a month later. She spent time at Castle Blindoc before finally settling in Castle Csejthe. It was here that she would go over the edge.

Terrified of growing old, she became even more fixated with her looks after her husband’s death. When pricey clothing and cosmetics stopped hiding the wrinkles, she obsessed on finding a cure. One day, she believed, she found the answer she had been searching for.

A servant girl was brushing Erzebet’s hair when she did something to upset the Countess. Erzebet struck the girl causing her face to bleed, a few drops falling on Erzebet’s hand. As she furiously wiped away the blood, Erzebet noticed the skin looked younger. She was instantly convinced the blood of young girls was the key to eternal beauty.

Erzebet’s helpers began combing the countryside by the dark of night in search of worthy girls. Once they were brought to the castle, they were stripped naked and hung upside down by chains. Then their throats would be slit, the blood draining into a bath below. Erzebet would then bathe in the fresh warm blood.

She followed this routine for 5 years before she decided the results were much less than she desired. Undeterred, Erzebet rationalized that better blood was needed. In 1609, she founded an academy in the Castle taking in 25 noble girls at a time after promising their families she would properly finish the girls’ education. Little did the parents know their daughters would meet the same fate as the peasant girls.

The ease with which she could now obtain her victims caused Erzebet to act recklessly. Victims were tortured for weeks, even months, before they were murdered. They endured such tortures as having pubic hair set on fire, being cut with scissors and pricked with pins, and many more painful episodes. During on wild night of sadism, the drained bodies of 4 noble girls were tossed off the castle wall. By the time Erzebet realized that action had been a mistake, the villagers had already discovered and identified the bodies. The villagers were no positive they knew the fate of all the missing girls.

Once again intent on avoiding a scandal, the Bathory family decided to place Erzebet in a convent where she could live out the rest of her days. Unfortunately for them, the plan was too little too late. When the Hungarian Emperor, Mathias II, learned of the fate of the noble victims, he immediately filed a formal complaint before the Hungarian Parliament. The inquiry began led by Erzebet’s cousin, Count Gyorgy Thurzo. Following orders, Gyorgy raided Castle Csejthe on December 30, 1610. Once inside, they found a gruesome scene. One girl lay dead in the main room, and another was found alive, but her body had been pierced numerous times. Several more girls were found in the dungeon in the same condition. They also exhumed the bodies of 50 young women.

Two trials were held in January 1611. During the first, which began on January 2, only Erzebet’s accomplices were tried. Three were found guilty and a fourth was held pending further evidence. Of the three found guilty, two had their fingers torn out before being burned alive. The third was decapitated, then burned. Erzebet’s trial began on January 7. Though she petitioned the court to allow her to speak in her defense, Gyorgy denied her request. The family did not want the Bathory name disgraced any further. In the end the court found Erzebet guilty, but because of her noble status she could not be executed. Instead she was sentenced to be imprisoned in Castle Csejthe for the rest of her life. She was walled up in a small room with only a slot for food and some ventilation slits.

In August 1614, Erzebet Bathory, the Blood Countess of Transylvania, was found dead in her “cell.” Not even once did she express regret or sorrow for her actions.

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