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Erzsebet Bathory
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  • 1560
    From the marriage of Count Gyorgy Ecsedy and Anna Bathory-Bathory-Somlyoi, both belonging to the noble House of Bathory, born Countess Erzsebet. To marry his beloved cousin, Count Gyorgy formally renounced all its princely privileges.

    Erzsebet spent his childhood at the Hungarian Ecsed castle, home of the small but splendid court of his father.

    The young Erzsebet is officially betrothed to the thirteen years old Count Ferenc Nadasdy. The marriage is arranged by their fathers in order that the fabulous inheritance of family Dragffy, of which the two offspring are randomly beneficiaries, do not go dispersing. The young and valiant Ferenc Nadasdy is the scion of one of the most powerful and richest families of Hungary, his father, Tamas, is the most powerful noble of the kingdom.

    Erzsebet is ask to move to the Sarvar castle, Nadasdy family's main residence, so that she can learn the habits and requirements of the whole ceremony of his future family. Unlike the women of the time, Erzsebet can read and write in Hungarian, Latin and Greek. His cultural background is significantly greater than women of the time: for example, the powerful countess Kanizsai, her future mother-in-law, was totally illiterate and lacking the slightest cultural formation.

    While the future Erzsebet's husband completes his training at the finest religious colleges in Vienna, Erzsebet began a relationship with the noble Laszlo Bende, from which, according to sources not yet proven, would have had an illegitimate son.

    (8 May) After four years of engagement, Erzsébet and Ferenc get married at the small castle of Vranov. Among the wedding gifts received by the rich husband, Erzsebet receives the gift of Castle Cachtice with seventeen villages surrounding; it will be the scene of her alleged crimes.

    After ten years of marriage, Erzsebet gave birth to Anna, her first daughter.

    At the small court of the young countess is recruited Anna, dark character better known by her nickname of "Dravulia" (the origin of which could result by the use of the Serbs adjective "dar", which means "a gift" and "bol", which means "pain"). Darvulia, which will soon become blind and infirm then, will be later accused by everyone that she was the true inspiration of the countess' future crimes.

    Erzsebet finally, after the untimely death of the little Andras, gives birth to the long-awaited male heir: Pal Nadasdy.

    (March) In Bratislava Ferenc Nadasdy is hit by a serious illness that affects the lower limbs.

    Ferenc Nadasdy's health deteriorates seriously.

    (3 January) After a sudden further deterioration of his health, Count Ferenc Nadasdy died. As guardian of the young Pal, Erzsebet becomes undisputed master of the endless and rich Nadasdy family holdings.

    The eldest daughter of Erzsebet, Anna Nadasdy married Count Miklos Zrinyi, descendant of an old Croatian family based in Csaktornya (today Cakovec).

    Following the invasion of some of hers territories by the troops of Count Banffy, Erzsebet Bathory wrote to his enemy: "My dear Sir, I know you did this, that you have occupied my small possessions, because you are poor, but don't think that I leave you there to enjoy them in peace. You will find in me a man." This letter proves how strong of character Erzsebet was and how she was absolutely certain of her position of privilege comparing it with the average of the Hungarian aristocracy. It is precisely this condition of privilege the reason of the Bathory's legal troubles.

    Prince Gabor Bathory, grandson of Countess Erzsebet, was elected Prince of Transylvania. The powerful Count Gyorgy Thurzo, excluded from succession to the Transylvanian throne, swears revenge against the Bathorys.

    Count Gyorgy Thurzo is elected Count Palatine of Hungary. Now his power over the Hungarian aristocracy is virtually unlimited. In an attempt to increase the prestige of his non-noble family, Thurzo takes the side of Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg antagonizing the most important Hungarian dynasties.

    (6 January) The Erzsebet youngest daughter, Kata Nadasdy married with the noble Gyorgy Homonnay Drugeth.
    (5 March) Determined to strike hard the Bathory to seize some of her possessions, Thurzo ordered the first inquiry against Erzsebet. The subject of that investigation is based on an infamous dozen anonymous complaints that accuse her of torturing some young girls from Hungarian noble families.
    (22 March) Several witnesses from the counties of Gyor, Veszprem, Bratislava, Trencin and Nitra are heard in the courts. The letters sent by Thurzo to the courts of different counties, contains for the first time explicitly accused of misdeeds for which Erzsebet will be convict: "Many young girls and virgins and other women were killed in various ways, which were in her apartment.
    (7 June) The two sons-in-law of Countess Bathory (Gyorgy Homonnay Drugeth and Miklos Zrinyi) meet secretly with Thurzo to find a way not to publish the investigation against the powerful mother-in-law.
    (19 August) Erzsebet Bathory goes with a noblewoman named Hernath at the court of Vasvar Szombathely allow her to make a voluntary statement to prove that her daughter Zsuszana is not dead by the violence experienced during the period she spent in Bathory service (as stated by some trusted Thurzo witnesses), but by a natural death. This episode demonstrates that, despite the secrecy with which they were initially conducted the investigation, Countess Bathory was well aware of the allegations of which she was subject. The statement by the widow Hernath was never taken into account neither by the courts nor by Thurzo.
    (3 September) Erzsebet Bathory, in the grip of uncertainty for her own fate, write her will. All her possessions are left to her son Pal.
    (Late October) Erzsebet ordered that all her jewellery to be sent to Cachtice, the small Slovakian castle where the countess moved her court.
    (4 November) Erzsebet ask for help to her nephew Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, asking him to send some important documents regarding the legality of her possessions. Countess Bathory by now knows that she is in danger and from Cachtice she tries to prepare her defense.
    (12 November) The Count Zrinyi Miklos, son-in-law of the countess, wrote to Thurzo reaffirming his loyalty. Erzsebet is increasingly alone.
    (30 December) Thurzo goes to Cachtice and, gathered the inhabitant of the village, he storms into the castle where he find (as he said) the Countess intent to torture her victims. Erzsebet was arrested by Thurzo's soldiers and locked in her apartment. They arrested and interrogated (after being tortured), even the four loyal servants of the Countess: Ilona Jo, Dorottya Szentes (known as Dorko), Katalin Benecka and Janos Ujvary (called Ficzko).

    (7 January) The Countess' servants stand trial. The court sentence was issued the same evening, three servants are burned alive at the pole. The flames of justice will only saves Katalin Benecke, of which we don't know the destiny. The Countess is of a rank too high to be executed, so the court decrees imprisonment for life.
    (14 January) Thurzo receives from King Matthias of Habsburg an order requiring him to make a new investigation. Most likely, the king had ordered some private investigations obtaining very different responses from those obtained from Thurzo. However, king Matthias did not take sides openly against Thurzo because he needed his support in the difficult relations with the Hungarian aristocracy.
    (February) The second investigation starts: two hundred twenty-four new witnesses are heard.
    (17 April) King Matthias received the acts of the new investigation and he countersigned the sentence of imprisonment for life.
    (17 December) Is it at an end the last formal inquiry with the final confirmation of all charges. Twelve witnesses belonging to noble families are herad, and they are considered absolutely worthy of credibility. Erzsebet Bathory is again accused of torturing over six hundred young women practicing the most cruel tortures, from cutting the genitals to burning the hands. Countess Bathory is formally accused of multiple murder and irrevocably sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Cachtice castle.

    (16 February) Count Zsigmond Forgach, the highest judge of Hungary, wrote a letter to the Count Palatine Gyorgy Thurzo asking him to prevent his own wife (Countess Czobor) to go again at the Cachtice castle in order to plunder the Countess Bathory's coffers. In January, the wife of Thurzo had repeatedly visited the prisoner with the aim of steal some jewellery, the sale of which would allow her to pay the very high costs incurred for the lavish wedding of her daughter.

    (25 August) After three years of imprisonment, Erzsebet Bathory dies at Cachtice castle.
    (November) Erzsebet Bathory is buried in the Cachtice Parish's cemetery.

    According to some witnesses, the corpse of Bathory was exhumed and translated at the Nadasdy family crypt at Nyirbator (Poland).

    John Paget published in Great Britain an account of his travels in Europe. A full chapter of the book is about the history of Erzsebet Bathory.

    English Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould mentions the character of Erzsebet Bathory in his famous "Book of Were-Wolves".

    In Wroclaw Ferdinand Strobl von Ravelsberg public (under the pseudonym of RA von Elsberg) the essay "Die Blutgrafin (Erzsebet Bathory): Ein Sitten und Charakterbild" (meaning "The Bloody Countess Erzsebet Bathory: a study on the character and behavior).

    Slovak writer Jozo Niznansky began publishing the serial novel "Cachticka Pani" (The Lady of Cachtice). Slovakia discovers in its own history a character worthy of the best English Gothic novels.

    (7 July) The Bathory's crypt in the cemetery of Cachtice is open: there is no trace of the Countess' corpse.

    Writer Valentine Penrose published in Paris "La Comtesse sanglante", monumental historical novel that celebrates the exploits of the Hungarian countess Erzsebet Bathory. Thus began the love of French cultural circles for the figure of the Countess Bathory.

    Argentinian writer Alejandra Pizarnik wrote a story called "Acerca de la Contessa sangrienta" inspired by the insane story of an European unidentified countess victims of masochistic obsession.

    Hammer Films produced the film "Countess Dracula" (The death goes hand in hand with virgins) directed by Peter Sasdy and interpreted by the beautiful Ingrid Pitt.

    Harry Kumel films " Les lèvres rouges" (Daughters of Darkness), erotic-horror film loosely based on the character of Countess Bathory transfered in modern times.

    Jorge Grau films in Spain "Cerimonia Sangrienta" (The Legend of Blood Castle) and distributed in Italy with the bizarre title "The virgins ride the Death". The leading role of Erzsebet Bathory is given to Lucia Bose.

    Polish director Walerian Borowczyk shoots in France the film "Contes Immoraux" (Immoral Tales). In the third episode, entitled "Erzsebet Bathory", the role of the Countess is given to the beautiful Paloma Picasso, daughter of the famous painter.

    Following the success of the book of Valentine Penrose, again in Paris, is published the story "Comtesse de Sang" by Maurice Périsset.

    Raymond T. McNally writes the historical treaty "Dracula Was a Woman." In Search of The Blood Countess of Transylvania".

    In Great Britain, the American, but of Romanian birth, writer Andrei Codrescu published the successful book "The Blood Countess." The general public discovers the myth of the bloody countess.
    In the United States writer Jeanne Kalogridis begins with "The Covenant of the Vampire," the fiction trilogy that involves a Vlad Tepes' descendant to fight with a powerful vampire named Elizabeth Bathory.

    The Bathory grave at Nyirbator is open: again there is no trace of the corpse of Countess Erzsebet.
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