Amy is a skeptical paranormal investigator and world traveller. In her first guest post she explores the history of Čachtice Castle and its notorious resident, the Blood Countess.
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The Blood Countess. A fierce and chilling name given to Elizabeth Bathory, a noblewoman who lived in 16th century Slovakia. Claimed to have tortured and murdered hundreds of young, beautiful girls. Why? Because she had cruel, sadistic tendencies. Plus, drinking and bathing in the blood of virgins maintained her beauty and youth.
Stories circulated about the Blood Countess may sound like a sensationalized Hollywood horror script. Yet, these stories do have some historical context. So, what is the real story behind the infamous Blood Countess? Has her supposed cruelty left behind any paranormal stains on the places she committed her heinous crimes?
Elizabeth was born into a prominent, Hungarian family in 1560. Her birth into nobility gained her a high social status, excellent education, wealth and power. Elizabeth was engaged at a young age, likely for political reasons, and was married at 15. She wed Count Ferenc Nádasdy, another noble born, wealthy Hungarian. Interestingly, since Elizabeth was higher born than her husband she retained her famed last name, Bathory.
After the wedding, the new couple received Čachtice Castle as a gift. Soon Elizabeth moved in and engaged in routine torture of her servants. Supposedly, Elizabeth’s new husband supported this habit. To the extent, he even had torture chambers fitted to her specifications in tunnels and rooms running directly below the castle.
Becoming the Blood Countess
It wasn’t until after Nádasdy’s death in 1604 that the rumors of Elizabeth’s torture and murderous behavior truly escalated. Čachtice Castle saw an influx of young peasant girls, lured there with the promise of well-paid work. These young girls wouldn’t survive long after meeting with the Blood Countess though.
The torture methods and death details of these girls were varied. They were burned with heated iron rods, pierced through the lips with needles, had fingernails removed and received beatings. More elaborate stories of the Blood Countess’ depravity also exist. Some say she would bite hunks of flesh from the girls. Furthermore, some victims were left to freeze in harsh weather and others covered in honey to be feasted upon by insects.
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The bloodlust and vampire-like behavior of Elizabeth Bathory supposedly developed during these torture sessions. The blood from one of Elizabeth’s victim’s once hit her hand during torture. She noticed her skin had been rejuvenated in the following days, with the skin in that area tightening. Following this, drinking and bathing in her victim’s blood became common practice.
The depraved nature of these crimes and their sheer scale meant it was just a matter of time before they were noticed. In 1610 Čachtice Castle was raided and the Blood Countess was caught red-handed in the act of murder. Elizabeth soon stood trial for her accused crimes. Hundreds testified against her, recounting tales of torture, murder and providing estimated death tolls. Though widely debated, Elizabeth Bathory is rumored to have murdered anywhere between 36 and 650 individuals. Securing her a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most prolific female serial killer ever documented.
The Blood Countess trial saw Bathory’s accomplices executed, yet Bathory herself spared. Her sentence was one of house arrest, likely chosen to prevent backlash for killing a noblewoman. Elizabeth spent the rest of her years bricked up inside a tower at Čachtice Castle. Fed and provided water through a small opening in the bricks. She was to die within the castle in 1614.
The Truth Behind the Blood Countess
The tales of the notorious Blood Countess are widespread and have been solidified in pop-culture. However, her crimes are probably sensationalized. Stories specific to her vampire-like tendencies didn’t appear for many years after her trial and death.
There are some theories which suggest that envious men may have created the Blood Countess legends. Believed to be in attempts to overthrow such a powerful woman, not common in that day and age. The political inclinations driving Bathory’s arrest seem fitting with the social climate of that era. Elizabeth Bathory having been captured red-handed, also remains an unsubstantiated tale.
In reality, Elizabeth Bathory was likely not a murderous vampire. This hasn’t halted superstitious tales of the paranormal forming around her legacy. There are many ghost stories that exist about the Blood Countess and her past dwellings. Some of which have even become popular destinations for paranormal investigators.
The Paranormal and the Blood Countess
One property in the heart of Vienna is famed for housing ghosts of Elizabeth Bathory’s past. The Countess herself supposedly lived within this property for quite some time. She had traveled to Vienna to be with her husband while he studied.
It is here, that the Blood Countess murder rampage supposedly started. The luring of young women to this property occurred from the local market. Death and torture did not occur in this house on quite the scale it did in contrast to Čachtice Castle. Though, many still believe stains of torment have become ingrained upon the house.
It would make sense that Čachtice Castle is a place with a few ghost stories to tell. After all, it was the place that the majority of the Blood Countess’ torture and murder was carried out. It was also Elizabeth’s prison and place of death. Many people have claimed to experience paranormal activity within this stunning mountaintop ruin. There have been countless sightings of apparitions. These are sometimes formed of black mist or described as transparent humans. Some claim to have witnessed young ladies crying, believed to be torture victims. Many more have encountered a spirit, sometimes described as being faceless, thought to be Elizabeth Bathory.
Whether there is any truth behind these gruesome tales, Elizabeth Bathory has certainly left behind quite a legacy. Her case is an interesting and mysterious one that we may never fully understand. Maybe Elizabeth’s ghost would have something to say about the tales of the Blood Countess?
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