On The Bricks

July 6, 2020…Who says history isn’t interesting?

Crime shows on TV are enjoyable for me to watch. But this story seems worse than those crimes shown on TV. It’s one that could give you nightmares.

This gruesome story is told in The Book of Bizarre Truth. Countess Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory was born into one of the wealthiest families in Hungary. The family had some strange tales about an uncle that was allegedly a devil worshipper and an aunt that was believed to be a witch. With a family like this, when Elizabeth started suffering from violent, uncontrolled fits of rage, it wasn’t a surprise.

By age 15, with no sign of her fits subsiding, Elizabeth married Ferencz Nadasdy and moved into his castle. By most accounts, the castle’s dungeon gave Bathory her first opportunities to experiment with torture. With her husband gone for long periods of time, she apparently began experimenting with black magic, often inviting people to the castle to take part in strange, sadistic rituals.

Legend has it that, during this time, in a fit of rage, Bathory slapped a young servant girl across the face, drawing blood. Allegedly, Bathory looked down at her hand, which was covered in the young girl’s blood, and thought the blood was causing her own skin to glow. This, according to the legend, is why Bathory believed the blood of virginal girls would keep her young forever.

In 1604, Nadasdy died, leaving Bathory alone in the castle. For a while, she traveled abroad and continued her quest to fulfill her insatiable thirst for blood.

She eventually returned and purchased her own castle. Soon after, servant girls and young girls from neighboring villages began disappearing in the middle of the night.

During this time period, villagers knew better than to speak out against nobility. When people started implying the countess was kidnapping young girls and murdering them in her castle, the villagers keep their mouths shut. Even when Bathory’s carriage would ride through town late at night with young girls in the back, villagers kept their heads down and went about their business.

Villagers awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of piercing screams coming from Bathory’s castle. It wasn’t until young aristocratic girls began disappearing that an investigation was made.

It was 1610 and King Matthias II of Hungary sent a group of men, led by Gyorgy Thurzo, to Bathory’s castle to investigate claims that local girls were being held there against their will. Thurzo stated that when the group arrived at the castle, things they found inside were so horrific and gruesome he could not bring himself to write them down.

Thurzo said inside the door they found a young girl, dead and appearing to be drained of blood. A short distance away, they found another girl, alive but near death. She also seemed to have lost a large amount of blood. Advancing down into the dungeon, they encountered several young girls being held captive. The group released them and began searching for Bathory.

In the end, Bathory and four of her servants were taken into custody. The servants were questioned and Bathory was confined to her bedroom in the castle.

Twenty – one judges presided over the proceedings that began on Jan. 2, 1611. Bathory remained in her castle while her four accomplices were questioned. One, a dwarf named Ficzko, said he personally knew of at least 37 girls the countess had killed. Bathory’s childhood nurse, Ilona Joo, states she had personally helped kill about 50 girls, using cages filled with spikes, fire pokers, and oily sheets that were placed between victims’ legs and set on fire.

The descriptions went on to include stabbings with needles and scissors, tearing off limbs, and even sewing girls’ mouths shut. It was told the countess enjoyed whipping and beating young girls until their bodies were swollen, when she would then use a razor to draw blood from the swollen areas. Rumors were that she bathed in the blood of the girls in an attempt to stay young.

In the end, the countess was found guilty of killing 80 girls. Based on the number of bodies eventually recovered at the castle, the body count was probably as high as 650.

All four of Bathory’s accomplices were put to death. But because the countess was a member of nobility, she could not be executed for her crimes. Instead, she was moved to a series of small rooms in her castle and walled inside. All the doors and windows were sealed, with only a few small holes for air and one to allow food to pass through. The countess lived in her private prison for three years before she died, still claiming she was innocent of all charges.

          Hmmm, that’s not a very fun topic. But interesting, yes? 

          This makes COVID seem to be a cake walk to get through in comparison.

          Hope you had a Fourth of July holiday filled with whatever you wanted it to be filled with. And I hope you enjoyed the nourishing rain that followed.

          See you on the bricks soon!