Episode 162: Elizabeth Bathory: The Blood Countess

This episode of the Sofa King Podcast explores the dark and sadistic history of Lady Elizabeth Bathory—The Blood Countess. She is said to be the most prolific female serial killer of all time with claims of a body count as high as 650!

Born as Erzsébet on 7 August 1560, she belonged to one of the oldest noble houses in Transylvania. (Yes, this is smack dab in the middle of castle times, but a hundred years after Vlad Tepes did his thing.). Her family was made up of knights, cardinals, kings, voivodes, prime ministers, and business magnates. As such, she was raised to be amazingly educated, speaking four languages and knowing science and medicine (this at a time when many aristocrats couldn’t even read and write…).

So, what made Elizabeth Bathory so bad? Well, she did have a rough childhood. She had a health condition that led to seizures as a small girl, and when she was ten years old, she was raped by the servant of her first arranged marriage. Her future husband, the gentleman that he was, had the rapist castrated and fed to hungry dogs, and Elizabeth finally married the man: Count Ferenc Nadasdy. Nadasdy was a war hero who traveled extensively and fought wars for his king, but together they had several children and a seemingly happy life together.

He loved Elizabeth so much, he even built her a torture chamber under the castle, so she could practice her hobby. Once Ferenc died, Elizabeth went off the rails. She fell in love with a witch named Anna, and the two of them went on a horrible torture and murder spree. Their victims were all little girls, and the horrors they inflicted have to be heard to be believed (so tune in to this episode!). Eventually, they ran out of commoners to kill, so they started to figure out ways to get the little girls of royal houses to come and get tortured and killed. They were quite inventive.

So what lead to Elizabeth Bathory getting caught for the murders? What do the historians estimate the final death count to be? How were the victims killed and tortured? Why did the Countess bathe in the blood of the girls, and what dark art was it supposed to accomplish? How did Bathory eventually die (hint—it was long and drawn out). Listen, laugh, learn.

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