Elizabeth Báthory in popular culture

Elizabeth Báthory in popular culture

Elizabeth Báthory was a notoriously violent and bloodthirsty 16th-17th century Hungarian Countess, who reportedly murdered hundreds of young women.

The influence of Elizabeth Báthory in popular culture has been notable from the 18th century to the present day. Since her death, various myths and legends surrounding her story have preserved her as a prominent figure in folklore, literature, music, film, games and toys.

Historical Background of the real Elizabeth Báthory

The real Elizabeth Báthory (August 7, 1560August 21, 1614) was a sadistic mass murderer, as well as a Countess in the Kingdom of Hungary, now modern day Slovakia. She is regarded as the most prolific and bloodthirsty serial killer in history [ [http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/bathory/countess_1.html Countess Elizabeth Bathory - The Blood Countess - Crime Library on truTV.com ] ] [ [http://www.bathory.org/erzstale.html Báthory Erzsébet - Elizabeth Bathory: The Story is True ] ] .

Báthory and her collaborators are reported to have abducted, imprisoned, tortured and brutally murdered as many as 650 innocent young women and girls in Čachtice Castle over a period of several decades. When her crimes were later discovered and brought before a tribunal, the community was appalled at both the number of victims as well as her exceedingly cruel and diverse methods of torture. Eventually found guilty in 1611 of over 80 sadistic killings, she was imprisoned in the tower of her own castle, permanently bricked in, where she died alone three years later at age 54 [ [http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/bathory/countess_1.html Countess Elizabeth Bathory - The Blood Countess - Crime Library on truTV.com ] ] .

Báthory's penchant for draining the blood of her victims in the belief that applying it on her skin kept her youthful was a contributing element in the evolution of vampire lore, and has inspired many stories. Perhaps the most notorious legend attributed to her (though widely believed to be fictional) is that she would fill a bathtub with the blood of her virgin female victims, then soak in it to retain her youth. A scene in Eli Roth's 2007 film was based on this alleged event [ [http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/9203 BD Horror News - Lengthy Article Introduces Elizabeth Bathory's Next Films! ] ] .

Despite numerous accounts about Báthory's perverse blood lust as a motivation for her acts, it is acknowledged that she killed primarily to satisfy her insatiable desire to sadistically torture and kill other human beings [ [http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/bathory/countess_1.html Countess Elizabeth Bathory - The Blood Countess - Crime Library on truTV.com ] ] .

Following her imprisonment and death, all records of Báthory were sealed by local authorities for more than a century, and her name was forbidden to be spoken in Hungarian society [ [http://www.bathory.org/erzstale.html Báthory Erzsébet - Elizabeth Bathory: The Story is True ] ] .

She is remembered as the "Blood Countess", "Bloody Lady of Čachtice", and several other morbid nicknames.

Elizabeth Báthory in folklore and literature

The case of Elizabeth Báthory inspired numerous stories and fairy tales. Eighteenth and 19th century writers liberally added or omitted elements of the narrative. The most common motif of these works was that of the countess bathing in her victims' blood in order to retain beauty or youth. Frequently, the cruel countess would discover the secret of blood bathing when she slapped a female servant in rage, splashing parts of her own skin with blood. Upon removal of the blood, that portion of skin would seem younger and more beautiful than before.

This legend appeared in print for the first time in 1729, in the Jesuit scholar László Turóczi’s "Tragica Historia", [in "Ungaria suis cum regibus compendia data", Typis Academicis Soc. Jesu per Fridericum Gall. Anno MCCCXXIX. Mense Sepembri Die 8. p 188-193, quoted by Farin] the first written account of the Báthory case.

When quoting him in his 1742 history book, Matthias Bel ["Notitia Hungariae novae historico geographica, divisa in partes quator, […] Tomus quartus". Vienna Austriae, Impensis Paulli Straubii Bibliopolae. Typis Iohannis Petri van Ghelen, Typographie Regii, Anno MDCCXLII, p. 468-475. Quoted by Farin, p 21-27.] was sceptical about this particular detail, […ut spectatorem primi facinoris, cognitoremque cogitationum feminae fuisse, credi posset. … [so colorful that] one might think he had watched the first crimes and known the woman’s thoughts.] he nevertheless helped the legend to spread. Subsequent writers of history and fiction alike often identified vanity as the sole motivation for Báthory's crimes.

Modern historians Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally have concluded that the theory Báthory murdered on account of her vanity sprung up from contemporary prejudices about gender roles. Women were not believed to be capable of violence for its own sake. However, while popular prejudice of the time is noted, these scholars' view is neither the only, nor the most accepted interpretation of the actual events.

While there is no doubt today that Báthory was responsible for the death of many young girls, the vanity motivation has been in doubt for some time in serious academic circles. At the beginning of the 19th century, the vanity motif was first questioned, and sadistic pleasure was considered a far more plausible motive for Báthory's crimes. [ [Alois Freyherr von Mednyansky] Freyherr von M-y: "Elisabeth Báthory" in "Hesperus", Prague, October 1812, vol. 2, No. 59, p. 470-472, quoted by Farin, p. 61-65] In 1817, the witness accounts (which had surfaced in 1765) were published for the first time, ["Hesperus", Prague, June 1817, Vol. 1, No. 31, p. 241-248 and July 1817, Vol. 2, No. 34, p. 270-272 ] demonstrating that the bloodbaths or blood seeker for vanity aspect of Báthory's crimes were legend rather than fact.

The legend nonetheless persisted in the popular imagination. Some versions of the story were told with the purpose of denouncing female vanity, while other versions aimed to entertain or thrill their audience. Some versions of the story incorporated even more elaborate torture chamber fantasies than recorded history could provide, such as the use of an iron maiden, which were not based on the evidence from Báthory's trial. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose name inspired the term masochism, was inspired by the Báthory legend to write his 1874 novella "Ewige Jugend" ("eternal youth") ["Ewige Jugend. 1611." in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch: "Ewige Jugend und andere Geschichten", Berlin: R. Jacobsthal 1886, pp 5-43.]

Elizabeth Báthory and the vampire myth

The emergence of the bloodbath or blood seeker for vanity myth coincided with the vampire scares that haunted Europe in the early 18th century, reaching even into educated and scientific circles. The strong connection between the bloodbath or blood seeker myth and vampiric myth was not made until the 1970s. The first connections were made to promote works of fiction by linking them to the already commercially successful Dracula story. Thus a 1970 movie based on Báthory and the bloodbath or blood seeker for vanity myth was titled "Countess Dracula".

Some Báthory biographers, McNally in particular, have tried to establish the bloodbath myth and the historical Elizabeth Báthory as a source of influence for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, pointing to similarities in settings and motifs and the fact that Stoker might have read about her. This theory is strongly disputed by author Elizabeth Miller. [Miller, Elizabeth: "Dracula - Sense and Nonsense". Desert Island Books 2006. ISBN 190532815X] Meanwhile Báthory has become an influence for modern vampire literature and vampire films. [Bonnie Zimmerman: "Daughters of Darkness -Lesbian vampires", "Jump Cut", no. 24-25, March 1981, pp. 23-24, available as [http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC24-25folder/LesbianVampires.html online essay] ]


* [http://www.hung-art.hu/frames-e.html?/english/c/csok/muvek/index.html Painting of Elizabeth Báthory by Hungarian artist István Csók] .


* "Báthori Erzsébet" by Hungarian poet János Garay.
* "The Blood Countess, Erzsébet Báthory of Hungary (1560-1614: A Gothic Horror Poem of Violence and Rage)" by Robert Peters.


* [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1439201749/ "Bathory: Memoir of a Countess] " is a novel by A. Mordeaux.
* Báthory is a major character in the alternative history/fantasy novel "This Rough Magic" by Eric Flint, Dave Freer and Mercedes Lackey.
* Báthory is the ancestor of protagonist Christopher Csejthe in the Half/Life series of novels by Wm. Mark Simmons and figures prominently in the second book, "Dead On My Feet" with a plot twist that hinges on the questionable innocence of Katarina Beneczky (Katalin Benick) among the Countess' collaborators.
* Báthory is a major character, depicted as a half-breed vampire, in "Daughter of the Night" by Elaine Bergstrom.
* "The Blood Countess" is a novel by Andrei Codrescu.
* "The Bloody Countess" by argentinian writer Alejandra Pizarnik was a short gothic work of fiction (1968, reprinted in "The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales", ed. Chris Baldick)
* In the science fiction short story "Rumfuddle" by Jack Vance, a baby who would have grown up to be Elizabeth Báthory is taken to a different time and place in history.
* In the novel "" by Julio Cortázar, the countess and her story are recurring themes.
* In David Eddings series The Elenium a character appears who revels in the killing of young women. This character is a significant villain, serving to forward the story.
* Colombian writer Ricardo Abdahllah has written several pieces of short fiction around Bathory's myth.
* In the novel "Daughters of the Moon" by Joseph Curtin, she is portrayed as coming back to life as a vampire, and is also called Lizabet Bazore. She also preys upon a guitarist for an upcoming rock band, GloryDaze, named Vinnie "the Razor" Rosario.
* In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer book "Tales of the Slayer vol. 1", she is the villain in the story "Die Blutgrafin".
* The 2006 novel "The Blood Confession" by Alisa M. Libby
* Báthory's legend is used as a basis for the Japanese anime Ghost Hunt's seventh file/case mystery "Blood-Soaked Labyrinth", shown from episode 18-21.
* Báthory is a prominent character in "Lord of the Vampires", the final volume of "The Diaries of the Family Dracul" by Jeanne Kalogridis.
*In the novel "Anno Dracula" Báthory appears as a relative of Dracula.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=w7qkAAAACAAJ&dq=The+Trouble+with+the+Pears&client=firefox-a "The Trouble with the Pears"] by Gia Bathory Al Babel.
* The 2007 Brazilian novel "O Legado de Bathory" by Alexandre Heredia.
*She appears, 'resurrected' as a vampire, in the latter books of The Vampire Huntress Legend Series by L.A. Banks


There have been several films about or referring to Elizabeth Báthory:

* 1970 - "Necropolis" (Franco Brocani)
* 1970 - "Countess Dracula" (Peter Sasdy) (with Ingrid Pitt)
* 1971 - "Les Levres rouges/Daughters of Darkness" (Harry Kümel)
* 1973 - "Ceremonia sangrienta/Blood Castle" (Jorge Grau)
* 1973 - "El Retorno de Walpurgis/Curse of the Devil" (Carlos Aured)
* 1974 - "Contes Immoraux/Immoral Tales" (Walerian Borowczyk) (with Paloma Picasso)
* 1975 - "Alžbeta Hrozná alebo Krw story/Elisabeth the Terrible" or "The Krw Story" (Stanislav Štepka)
* 1980 - "Krvavá pani/The Bloody Lady" (Viktor Kubal)
* 1980 - "El Retorno del Hombre-Lobo/Night of the Werewolf" (Jacinto Molina)
* 1981 - "Zsarnok szíve, avagy Boccaccio magyarországon/Tyrant's Heart, or Boccaccio in Hungary" (Miklós Jancsó)
* 1988 - "The Mysterious Death of Nina Chereau" (Dennis Berry)
* 1999 - "Bloodbath" (Dan Speaker, Kim Turney)
* 2000 - "Bathory" (Brian Topping)
* 2000 - "Alguien mató algo (Jorge Navas)
* 2000 - "La historia de Elizabeth Bathory" (Leonardo Carreño)
* 2002 - "Killer Love" (Lloyd A. Simandl)
* 2004 - "Tomb of the Werewolf" (Fred Olen Ray)
* 2004 - "Eternal" (Wilhelm Liebenberg, Federico Sanchez)
* 2005 - "The Brothers Grimm - (Ehren Kruger, Terry Gilliam)
* 2005 - "Night Fangs - (Ricardo Islas)

* 2006 - "Stay Alive" (William Brent Bell)
* 2006 - "Demon's Claw" (Lloyd A. Simandl)
* 2006 - "Metamorphosis" (Jenő Hódi)
* 2007 - "" where a "Mrs. Bathory" victimizes a girl by slicing her back, throat, and erotically bathing in her blood.
* 2007 - "Blood Scarab (Donald F. Glut)
* 2007 - " - (Kath Soucie)
* 2008 - "Bathory" (Juraj Jakubisko)
* 2009 - "The Countess" (Julie Delpy)

Unproduced films

Recently, several filmmakers expressed interest in doing a film on the Bathory tale. Other than Juraj Jakubisko's film, none of these came to fruition as of 2007.

Čachtická paní

Czech film director Zdeněk Troška apparently worked on the idea of the Báthory movie since 1990s. He wrote a screenplay based on a novel by Jožo Nižňánsky. In summer 2005 after Jakubisko's movie was announced, Troška complained, accusing Jakubisko of copying (stealing) his idea. Jakubisko's company refused accusations, claiming that their screen play is genuinely original and it has nothing to do with the novel. Troška stated also that he had no intention to start a lawsuit. His project was suffering from the lack of finances and its current status is unclear.

Báthory Erzsébet szerelmei

Hungarian film director Márta Mészáros has expressed interest in making a film about Elizabeth Báthory but has not been able to secure the needed funds for the project from the Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary for it to be classified as a Hungarian production. Six million euros have been acquired from various production companies so far including 20% funding from András Hámori's Canadian company H20 Motion Pictures. Funding has also been provided by Slovak Producer Rudolf Biermann, Turkish producer Aydin Sayman, and Austrian producer Dr. Veidt Heiduschka from Wega Films.

The script for the film, titled, "Báthory Erzsébet szerelmei", (The Loves of Elizabeth Báthory), is written by Éva Pataki and Pál Bokor who is also one of the film's producers.Various foreign actresses have expressed interest in the leading role according to Hungarian entertainment sources. Some of the names mentioned to play Elizabeth Báthory include Tilda Swinton, Angelina Jolie, and Nicole Kidman. If the film is made it will be shot on location in Hungary and Austria at the historic castles of Sárvár and Lockenhaus once inhabited by Elizabeth Báthory. Other locations planned will be in Turkey for the battle scenes and the Orava castle in Slovakia.

No further details on this project have appeared since July 2005.


* [http://www.axel.hu/cikk/axel.hu/39535 Hungarian article on possible actresses for leading role]
* [http://www.dunaujvaros.com/bulvaria.php?show=1&rid=421 Article in Hungarian on Nicole Kidman's interest in the role of Elizabeth Bathory]
* [http://www.magyar.film.hu/object.50252ae2-b5ed-4821-b05e-9f3c88c096c1.ivy Hungarian article on the film]
* [http://www.hungarianfilm.com/object.67CA300C-F074-4080-AF21-0CBB7592386A.ivy Brief mention of Jakubisko's and Mészáros's films in English from a Hungarian film site]

tage plays

* 1865 - "Báthory Erzsébet: Történeti szomorújáték, 5 felvonásban" (Erzsébet Báthory: An Historic Tragedy in Five Acts), by Hungarian poet Zoltán Balogh.
* 1985 "Báthory Erzsébet" by Hungarian playwright András Nagy.
* 1994 - "In the Service of Beauty" by Melbourne playwright Sam Sejavka, exploring the final days of the Countess after she has been imprisoned in her castle.
* 2000 - "Bathory" by Canadian playwright Moynan King.
* 2004 - "Erzsebet" by Michael Stever and Amy LeBlanc. [http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=5814688 Link]
* 2007 - "Bathory: The Blood Countess", written by John DiDonna and produced by [http://emptyspacestheatre.org The Empty Spaces Theatre Co] . [http://www.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment/stage/theater/orl-bathory1907oct19,0,7603680.story Link to Article]


The bloodbath myth served as a major component of some games:
*In the VCR/DVD boardgame "Atmosfear": a playable character portrayed as a vampiress
*In the video game "", Bathory is a major character, though her name is mistranslated as Elizabeth Bartley in the American version.
*In the MMORPG "Ragnarok Online", Bathories are witch-like enemies fought on the 4th level of Clock Tower.
*In the MMORPG "DarkEden," Lady Elizabeth Bathory is a game "boss" alongside Lord Vlad Tepes who players are able to kill in an instanced level known as a "lair".
*The Countess of Blood is a super unique monster from Blizzard Entertainment's popular dungeon-crawler "Diablo 2". The following passage is read in a rotting tome and initiates the quest:"...And so it came to pass that the Countess, who once bathed in the rejuvenating blood of a hundred virgins, was buried alive... And her castle in which so many cruel deeds took place fell rapidly into ruin. Rising over the buried dungeons in that god-forsaken wilderness, a solitary tower, like some monument to Evil, is all that remains. The Countess' fortune was believed to be divided among the clergy, although some say that more remains unfound, still buried alongside the rotting skulls that bear mute witness to the inhumanity of the human creature."
*In the video game "Vampire Hunter D", the main antagonist addresses herself as "Elizabeth Bartley Carmilla"
*The Butcheress from the video game Bloodrayne claims to be a descendent of her.
*In the video game Ninja Gaiden 2, the female villain named Elizabet is similar to Bathory in that in one scene in the game, she is seen bathing nude in a pool of blood and her demonic power seems to be that of using blood to attack her foes.


Báthory is featured in McFarlane Toys 6 Faces of Madness series, a collection of action figures, including Rasputin and Vlad the Impaler. Báthory is depicted bathing in blood while the heads of some of her victims are impaled in a candelabrum. Bathory was also made as a doll in the Living Dead Dolls series.


* The Ohio hardcore/thrash band, Erzsebet Bathory, take their name from Elizabeth.
* The Heavy metal band Murder Rape make reference to "Elizabeth Bathory" in their song "Mistress Of The Gloomy Nights" from their only album "Evil Shall Burn Inside Me Forever (2001)"
* "Countess Bathory" by the English black metal band Venom from their highly influential album Black metal, released in 1982
*"A Bestia: Báthory Erzsébet véres legendája" (The Beast: The Bloody Legend of Erzsébet Báthory), is a Hungarian rock opera by Béla Szakcsi-Lakatos and Géza Csemer.
*"Erzsébet": Elizabeth Bathory: The Opera, is by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz (he claims he may be related to her) [http://bathory.org/ - Elizabeth Bathory: The Opera; includes many FAQ sections about the woman herself and topics about her]
* The influential Swedish black metal band Bathory take their name from Elizabeth, and mention her in songs such as "Woman of Dark Desires".
* The band Cradle of Filth dedicated their album "Cruelty and the Beast" (1998) entirely to her, telling her story with a certain degree of artistic license but keeping the main details of her story intact.
* The German band Untoten made a concept album about her, called "Die Blutgräfin".
* French singer Juliette (Nourredine) mentions "La Bathory" in her song "Tueuses" from her 1996 album "Rimes Féminines" along with numerous famous female criminals.Songs about Elizabeth Báthory include:
* "Elizabeth" is a song by progressive power metal band Kamelot comprised of three parts - Part I: Mirror Mirror, Part II: Requiem for the Innocent, and Part III: Fall From Grace, from their 2001 album Karma.
* "Elisabeth Bathory" by Hungarian black metal band Tormentor, which was covered by Swedish black metal band Dissection
* "Bathory's Sainthood" by American hardcore band Boy Sets Fire (2003)
* "Bathory Erzsebet" by experimental doom metal band Sunn O))) A cover of A Fine Day To Die by Bathory
* "Countess Erzsebet Nadasdy" by Finnish black metal band Barathrum
* "Villa Vampiria" by death metal band God Dethroned
* "Transylvanian Pearl" by Russian metal band Nocticula
* "The Sonology Of Sex II (Le Comtesse De Sang)" by the British industrial band Clock DVA
* "Erzsebet" by dance-punk artist Jay Tea (2007)
* "Resurrection" and "Schwarzer Engel" by Spanish Gothic metal band Forever Slave tell the story of Erzsebet Bathory whos' life and names are similar to Elizabeth Bathory.
* "Bathe In Blood" by Evile (taken from 2007's Enter the Grave).cite web|title=“Armoured Assault” - Evile frontman Matt Drake hails gargantuan Thrash masterpiece "Enter the Grave"
author=Morgan, Anthony|publisher=Lucem Fero|date=2007-10|url=http://www.lucemfero.com/evile102007.php|accessdate=2008-05-03
* "ROSE OF PAIN" from the album BLUE BLOOD by X JAPAN
* The song "An Execution", a b-side on the "Cities in Dust" single by Siouxsie and the Banshees, was based on the "myth" of Countess Bathory. Banshees guitarist John Valentine Carruthers states, "She (Siouxsie) was reading this book about Countess Bathory, called "Was Dracula A Woman?" or something. She used to (sic.) bath in the blood of virgins in the vain hope it would keep you young". [ [http://www.thebansheesandothercreatures.co.uk/tinderboxsingles.htm Tinderbox Singles ] ]

ee also

*Elizabeth Báthory
*Most prolific murderers by number of victims

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/bathory/countess_1.html Detailed Crime Library article on the true story of Erzsébet Báthory]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=2meKu7qQNIs&session=8fyqE2WBifx8Gsllpog-OjkVn6CjHQMfILqw7W1gAbQDC2I0Snnh2_6EYqD-gpUpFJkP4jToSVhGKRLx_TAPGJpO9b2rH-LmX6ftQa0Ff8EQhghI-kEPOllR6Odl6TqQdm7i_tHYiUUc0Gh8vRmLNNGqNpTKOE5DRlwuHyy3VGhrCJivbD3LSN4I3NCFupDfsAd0hHapqsUhGq3Wu9FhFlcSymQ-9SiXWtBJdpS0deHkCDR0jjBMQi8e57ies0pC Bathory (2008 film) trailer on YouTube (9 min.)]

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