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Cachtice Castle, Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, and the Murders of Vienna

Cachtice Castle is situated in the illustrious Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia. Originally it was constructed as a guard post on the thoroughfare to Moravia. Cachtice Castle gained prominence when it became the home of Elizabeth Bathory, otherwise known as the “Blood Countess” or the “Bloody Lady of Cachtice”.

Cachtice Castle is situated in the illustrious Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia. Originally it was constructed as a guard post on the thoroughfare to Moravia. Cachtice Castle gained prominence when it became the home of Elizabeth Bathory, otherwise known as the “Blood Countess” or the “Bloody Lady of Cachtice”.

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Originally, Cachtice was constructed in the Romanesque style during the 13th century by Kazimir of Hunt-Poznan, but was later renovated to both Gothic and Renaissance styles from the 15th to the 17th century. In the latter half of the 16th century, Cachtice Castle fell in to the hands of Elizabeth Bathory as a wedding present for her husband, Ferencz Nadasdy.

Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian Noblewomen and part of one of the most illustrious Protestant families in Europe. Bathory grew up at a time when women were pawns so to speak of their husbands. She was a tomboy at heart, wearing boy’s clothing and playing boy games. In 1575, at the age of 15, she married Ferencz Nadasdy, son of another prominent Protestant family, arranged to promote good breeding and extension of property lines.

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Elizabeth Bathory had some intelligence, however her husband Ferencz Nadasdy was not as fortunate. He did develop into a brilliant soldier and athlete, successfully campaigning against the Turks and gaining notable recognition. While he was on campaign, Elizabeth Bathory was in charge of running the household at Cachtice Castle. Beginning in 1585, Elizabeth Bathory started her bloody murders on peasants and servants that were employed at the Cachtice Castle, and also the daughters of the local gentry. She used what was called “Star Kicking” where a servant would have a piece of paper placed between their toes and set on fire. This would in turn make them kick and see stars. 

The Murders in Vienna

In Bathory’s Vienna Mansion, her cellar acted as a sadistic torture chamber, fashioned with a cage of spikes. The spikes could be raised or lowered by use of a pulley. Peasant girls and seamstresses with ample bosoms were locked in the cage, while Elizabeth Bathory’s maid Dorothea Szentes prodded the girls with a red hot poker. Elizabeth Bathory would shout perverse words at the girls, forcing them to be impaled upon a spike. She would later bath in their blood, believing it would preserve her youth.

Elizabeth Bathory’s sadist and psychopathic actions led her to many indiscretions, including a bisexual affair with her Aunt Clara. She also would partake in sexual horseplay with Istvan Jerzorlay, her manservant known to have exceptional sexual prowess.

Elizabeth Bathory 

After several years, Elizabeth became involved with several accomplices, their deeds gaining notoriety in the beginning of the 17th century. In 1610 Emperor Mathia ordered an investigation, uncovering hundreds of Elizabeth Bathory’s gruesome acts. Over 650 murders had been documented by Elizabeth Bathory, kept in her chest of drawers.

Elizabeth Bathory’s noble status allowed for her to be sentenced to house arrest, rather than execution. She died in 1614, four years after her sentence. In 1708, Cachtice Castle was captured by Hungarian rebels from the army of Francis II Rakoczi. For years, Cachtice Castle has continued to crumble and has fallen into ruin. The site itself represents a history of bloody murders, however flowers and rare plants continue to grow on the hill, making it a national reserve.

Count Thurzo said it perfectly whereas “You Elizabeth do not deserve to breathe the air on earth, nor see the light of the Lord”. Ironic really, as the rarest of nature grows without reserve at Cachtice Castle.

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Comments (14)

A very interesting place with a colorful ("bloody") history.

Elizabeth Bathory was one crazy person.

Elizabeth Bathory was quite tortuous, incestuous and sadistic. Very disturbing, indeed. Dark history of murder and mayhem lie within that cellar of horrors. Bathing in the blood of her victims is wicked and true horror. The castle looks very ominous, too. Mysterious and very chilling account of history, Lauren. Not sure why, but I'm gravitated to articles of this nature. Interesting write and great read.

My partner had to do a piece about Elisabeth Bathory many years ago, I remember him telling me that there was little written about her and that he had a nightmare researching her.He enjoyed your article, good one.

Elizabeth Bathory must be insane.

@deep blue and Joe

She was quite crazy and very cunning, although lacking in the intelligence area a bit.

@Richard

I'm the same way. I love historical stories of serial killers, there psyche so to speak. It's always been rather an obsession of mine. lol

@DeeBee

I'm glad both of you enjoyed it. There are wiki pages about her, but I'm not too sure they're accurate. I had to dig deep, and actually found some of the content in a historical archive written years ago.

@Patrick

She was indeed. She was psychopathic.

Great historical account, Lauren, and I loved the discussion of the castle. Did you ever see the Hammer Horror movie Countess Dracula, starring Ingrid Pitt? It was based on the story of Elizabeth Bathory.

Michael I have not seen that movie, but I will now. I might be able to find it online. Thanks for the tip.

A very classic case of a blue-blooded serial killer. I loved reading every part of this! Another splendid article from you. Thanks.

Jess

I'm just not sure where you get your information from. I wish you would include your source material, because out of everything I read there was no one that actually believed the stories about her bathing in blood, or the spiked cage you describe. Have you seen the spiked cage? Do you have pictures of it? This is not a very historical account once you get to the last part "The Murders of Vienna". Not only did you just barely glance over the things that she did (some of them were truly horrible, but there were NO eye witness accounts of her bathing or showering in the blood of her victims...that was made up later), but you even got some of the names of her accomplices wrong, and failed to mention that one of them was her childrens' wet nurse! Either that or you have heard of some that I never did, or are spelling them so differently that I can't even recognize the name anymore. Elizabeth was FOURTEEN when she married Count Nadasdy - they married in May of 1575 and Elizabeth's birthday was in August. You fail to mention the fact that she herself had several children, four of whom actually survived! She was also considered by many to be a loving and doting mother, even though she used, like all other noblewomen of her time, governesses and wet nurses. She did not necessarily begin her bloody rampage in 1585...she may have started as soon as she married Ferenc, because a lot of people believe that he was the one who showed her the "art" of torture. For someone who is ranked Level 2 in European History you sure as hell didn't do your research very well!

@Jess First of all, kids read this site so I would suggest being a bit more polite in your word usage.

This isn't a book and I'm not trying to rewrite the history of her life. Many of the accounts were taken from historical archives, people I've spoken with, and research I've done. As of pictures, I mean, are you serious? Do you actually think people were taking digital photos back then?

This piece is focused on the castle itself and its history. That's where the story stemmed from. This was not a piece intended to describe the life of Bathory.

As for accomplices, I would suggest looking on the internet and Google scholar where you will find several dissertations concerning Dorothea Szentes and a published book including Istvan Jerzorlay. What accomplices are you referring to exactly?

There are also sources everywhere on the internet and in books stating her wedding took place when she was 15 years of age. There are also sources, educational not WIKI, that speak of the spiked cage.

"By today's standards, Bathory married young, she was just 15 years of age, her husband, Ferenc Nadasdy was 21. The match had been arranged when she was three years old, uniting two of the most powerful family clans of the time."~Suite 101

"Elizabeth Bathory was promised in marriage to Count Ferencz Nadasdy at the age of 11, she married the 25-year-old count at the age of 15. The Count adopted her surname, and she kept her last name"

At the age of 14 she bore the child of a peasant man. She was not married to Ferencz Nadasdy when she was 14. I suggest researching a bit more on the topics discussed in this piece, as it was not an Elizabeth Bathory article. It was a small chunk of history concerning her connection with Cachtice and its connection with Vienna.

That comment above is totally inappropriate. It's sometimes necessary to submit a few corrections to an author's article, but these should always be constructive criticisms. There's no need to be ill-mannered.

Article is worth reading.

P

Good article! That person Jess was clearly paranoid. You seem to know your facts very well (I know because I'm writing a lengthy research paper on Bathory, and your information agrees with other sources).

Cheers!

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