December 27, 2013

Elizabeth Bathory and Her Family

Hey everyone. I hope all of you are enjoying the holidays. Something that I really think about during this time of year is family. Everyone has a family that they care about, even if others don’t agree with how someone shows how they care for their family. Elizabeth Bathory may have been a serial killer, but she was also a woman with a family. She was married to Count Ferenc Nadasdy of Hungary, and she had 7 children with him. They had 4 sons and 3 daughters. Elizabeth also had a daughter outside of wedlock just before she married Ferenc. The family may not have been the most typical of families, but they were a family nonetheless.

            Elizabeth was only 12 years old when she was engaged to Ferenc. When she was 13 or 14, Elizabeth was reported to have had an affair with one of the servants at her family home. The result of this affair was Elizabeth’s first child, Anastasia Bathory. Needless to say, Count Ferenc was not happy about this news. He had the servant castrated and then thrown to the dogs as punishment for sleeping with Elizabeth. He then had Elizabeth shipped off to one of his estates where birth in secret, so that no one would know about her indiscretion. Ferenc made sure that the child, Anastasia, was kept a secret. He also made sure that there was no way to connect the Nadasdy or Bathory families with Anastasia. Elizabeth was to never see Anastasia.

            In the years of her marriage to Count Ferenc, Elizabeth did fulfill her wifely duties, and she gave him 7 children of his own — three daughters, Anna, Katalin, and Orsolya, and 4 sons, Pal, Miklos, Andras, and Gyorgy. These children were raised by governesses, just as Elizabeth was. This was the responsible thing to do back in the Middle Ages. Elizabeth would have had minimal contact with her children, especially during their infancy years. The thing is, in her own mind, Elizabeth was being a good mother if she had any contact at all with her children.

            There are questions about how a woman like Elizabeth Bathory could be a good mother and still commit the crimes that she did. There are also some unanswered questions about what Elizabeth did with her children during the five year span that she was killing. It is known that the children spent quite a bit of time with family members at the different estates that the Nadasdy family owned. There is also a very good chance that the children would have spent time with Elizabeth’s family. This could mean that they may have spent time in Transylvania, since Elizabeth was a cousin of the Duke of Transylvania on her mother’s side of the family.

            Sure, Elizabeth was nowhere near eligible to win the mother of the year award, but I will say that she at least had the decency to not have her children around when she was killing young women and bathing in their blood. In this way, she showed how she cared about her children. Elizabeth definitely had her own way of showing how she loved her children. 

December 20, 2013

Transylvania and the Fae

Superstitions — there are so many out there, from not stepping on a crack to spilling salt. Transylvania is sometimes called The Land of Superstition. Many people consider Transylvania to be a mystical and magical land. There are so many beautiful natural landscapes that make it appear magical to us in this day and age. Many of us are used to seeing buildings and highways everywhere. Through modern times, Transylvania has been able to maintain a lot of its natural landscapes. Beauty in nature can sometimes help to foster fairy myths, and one of the most commonly-held superstitions in Transylvania revolves around the existence of the Fae.

            The term Fae covers a lot of species. It covers fairies, elves, trolls, sirens, goblins, phookas, elementals, imps, and many others, and these are separated into two main factions: the light and the dark. Each member of each species can usually choose which faction they join. Usually, the majority of members of a given species will follow either light or dark, but there are always cases where one or two members of a species may choose to live differently than the rest. 

            The Fae are the fairies of the world. They are not much like the fairies we hear about today. The Fae of the forests are nothing like Tinker Bell and her friends. They are tricky and devious beings. They are immortal and tend to get bored from time to time. They like to play games with humans in villages that are near where the Fae live. These are the dark Fae. They are the ones who trick people into eating and drinking Fae food, and once someone does that, they can never go home again. The dark Fae are usually the ones who come and switch human babies with their own Fae babies. 

            Then again many of the light Fae enjoy playing tricks on people as well. The dark Fae are a bit more mean-spirited in their tricks than the light Fae. Humans are more likely to survive a trick or prank played by a light Fae than by a dark Fae. 

            One of the more mischievous Fae species is the phooka. They like to destroy crops. If any part of the harvest is left after Samhain (Halloween), then it belongs to the phookas. The common belief is that if someone tried to harvest anything after Samhain, the phookas would kill one of their cows.

            Granted, not all of the Fae like to create mischief. There are those who like to be left alone and to their own devices. These ones usually like to help nature in some way. These are commonly called the elves, nature fairies, elementals, water spirits and similar names. These Fae are mainly interested in existing in harmony with nature and preserving nature for future generations. The water spirits are one of the least seen Fae. They live in ponds and lakes, and they are extremely shy creatures. They are like the caretakers for the lakes and ponds. It is not likely for someone to see a water spirit, but if you ever do, count yourself very lucky.

December 12, 2013

Elizabeth Bathory: Fact or Fiction Pt 2

Continuing in the same vein as last week’s post on Elizabeth Bathory's fact and fiction, I have found three more details that may confuse some people. The first is Elizabeth’s upbringing. The second one I found this week were facts about her love life, and information about her marriage and possible affairs. The third set of facts that I found that had some discrepancies regarding how Elizabeth was punished and killed for her crimes. As I said in last week’s post, Elizabeth Bathory’s life story seems to be more like a legend and less like a biography, and some parts of her legend may be more believable than the reality. I find it very interesting that Elizabeth’s story situation is the opposite of Dracula’s. Where his legend is really exaggerated, Elizabeth’s life is what appears to be exaggerated.

            When people look at information about serial killers, they usually look at the person's childhood experiences. People expect to see someone who experienced a bad childhood, and perhaps the child was abused. That is not the case with Elizabeth Bathory, though. For that time period, Elizabeth had a great childhood. She grew up in a noble family in Hungary, she had wonderful tutors and she was raised to be a smart woman. The issue seems to have grown out of an obsession with her physical appearance. Elizabeth became very vain. As with most girls of the late 1500’s, Elizabeth was told she needed to maintain her good looks in order to attract a good husband and be successful in life. It is this vanity that led to her killing spree. Elizabeth started equating success with good looks.

            As a young woman, Elizabeth was a very beautiful woman, and she did marry well. She married Count Ferenc Nadasdy of Hungary. She bore him seven children — three daughters and four sons. It appears that Elizabeth was faithful to her husband during their marriage, although she committed one indiscretion when she slept with a servant and became pregnant just before they were to be married. Ferenc was a man who fought for the kingdom of Hungary, defending the borders, and this was how he died in the end, leaving Elizabeth a widow with seven children. She sent the children away to live with other family members. This would have opened up the opportunity for Elizabeth to consort with other men, which she in fact did. She apparently had a crush on a younger man, and she became involved with this man for a period of time. Being that he was younger, he ended his relationship with Elizabeth when he married another woman. Now this is where things get a little fuzzy. There are rumours that Elizabeth became involved with another man. The story goes that this man was into BDSM and he was the submissive. This relationship could have furthered Elizabeth’s violent tendencies. We must also bear in mind that Elizabeth was a titled noblewoman. Her husband may have encouraged her to make sure that the servants showed her the respect that she deserved, and at that time it was not abnormal for a lord or lady to abuse their servants.

            The final part of the story I'd like to discuss in this post is the method by which Elizabeth was punished and killed for her crimes. Some sources claim that Elizabeth was walled up in a room, and others say those people are crazy and Elizabeth was burned at the stake. People have said that the punishment of being walled in a room, essentially buried alive, is too cruel of a punishment for anyone. The thing is, that punishment was chosen for Elizabeth. She did kill over 600 young women for her own vain purposes. There was also a law referring specifically to allowable punishments for the aristocracy. In that time period, they weren’t allowed to kill any nobles. By closing her in a room, they technically didn’t execute Elizabeth. They created a set of circumstances that caused her death. The loop hole lies in the fact that they could still say that she was alive when they last saw her. They couldn’t kill her, but they needed a punishment that fit the crime.

December 5, 2013

Elizabeth Bathory The Blood Countess of Transylvania

As with Vlad Tepes/Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory's life story contains some details that may have gotten confused in with the legend. The difference between the legends of Dracula and the Blood Countess is that the legend of the Blood Countess is still mostly based in fact, whereas the legend of Dracula is a mixture of little fact and lots of fiction. Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, is one of the most famous serial killers in history. She is a woman that history will not soon forget. Her legend doesn’t exaggerate facts as much as some people believe it does. I have found a few details that people believe but have confused, or are false altogether. Let's look at some of the details that some people may get confused.
Foremost, Elizabeth did not drink the blood of maidens. She did kill a lot of maidens from the surrounding villages, bleed out the maidens and then bathe in their blood. Elizabeth believed that bathing in a maiden’s blood had the power to restore one's youthful appearance. She first started believing this when a drop of a servant’s blood hit her hand after she had beaten the servant. Elizabeth believed that the part of her skin that absorbed the blood appeared rejuvenated, and this is why she bathed in the blood instead of drink it. She believed that her skin was absorbing the blood while she bathed, and she believed this was her key to immortality.
I believe that the story of Elizabeth Bathory has been used as a kind of bogey monster with young girls. For example, a mother might say, “Make your bed, or Countess Bathory will take you in the night.” But Elizabeth was a noblewoman. She didn’t tend to much on her own, and she never went into villages to kidnap the maidens that she would eventually kill; she actually had them sent up to her at Cachtice Castle. She decided to start a finishing school for the maidens in the surrounding villages. The parents of the maidens sent the young girls to Elizabeth at Cachtice Castle for schooling. I find really odd and interesting that the body count reached 600 before Elizabeth was caught.
            Some people that I have spoken with didn’t believe that Elizabeth Bathory was a real woman. Apparently they don’t believe that a woman of medieval nobility would ever commit such a cruel act. In conversation with one of my friends, I told the story, but I left out Elizabeth's name and the fact that she was a woman. My friend still did not believe me. My friend thought that no one would be able to kill 100 people, let alone 600 people. When I tried to explain that she got away with it for so long because she was a woman of nobility, he joined the first group, not believing a woman of nobility would commit these acts. How my friends reacted made me think of how people reacted more recently to Lizzy Borden. She was able to kill both of her parents but never answered for her crime.
            Women can be just as lethal and conniving as men. The gender of a serial killer doesn’t matter. The main thing is that they tend to think differently. They think differently in order to justify to themselves and live with what they do.