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.

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