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1611- Hungarian aristocrat Elizabeth Báthory goes to trial for killing and torturing hundreds of young women

January 7, 2023

On either December 26th, 1609 or 1610 (the sources are conflicting), at the behest of King Matthias, Count Gyorgy Thurzo investigated Csejthe Castle in Hungary and found Countess Elizabeth Bathory supervising a torturing session of young women. Bathory had been safe up until that point, thanks to her noble lineage and royal status, despite her legendary reputation for torturing and killing servants and peasants.

Her Disturbing History

Elizabeth Bathory was born in Transylvania in 1560 to a noble family that included judges, knights, monarchs, and cardinals. She shared ancestry with a number of well-known figures, but the family tree also contained some really unstable individuals. She learned Satanism from an uncle of hers and sadomasochism from her aunt. Bathory married Count Nadady when she was just 15 years old, and they eventually settled in Csejthe Castle. The count allegedly constructed a torture room to suit her every whim.

The Torture

Among Bathory's torture methods was the insertion of needles and pins beneath her servant girls' fingernails, binding them, coating them with honey, and then leaving them to be attacked by bees and ants. Though he shared in his wife's cruelty, the count may have helped rein in her worst tendencies; she worsened after he died. Bathory started kidnapping peasant girls with the assistance of her former nurse, Ilona Joo, and the local witch, Dorottya Szentes. She regularly ripped off chunks of her victims' flesh to consume, and she supposedly made one girl prepare and eat her own flesh.

Finally, Caught

Bathory's misdeeds went unpunished until 1610 because her family was at the top of the local administration. However, King Matthias finally took action when he learned that Bathory had begun targeting local nobles' daughters. As a result, Bathory and her accomplices stood trial on January 7th, 1611, on eighty counts of murder. All were found guilty, but only Bathory was spared the death penalty. Instead, she was locked up in a castle room with only holes in the walls for ventilation and sustenance.


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