The Bloody Princess: The Incredible Story of a Noble Serial Killer - History Key

The Bloody Princess: The Incredible Story of a Noble Serial Killer

When it comes to serial killers, most of the times, the stories are related to men and facts from recent times. This time we will unlock for you a story of a female serial killer.

Everything starts with a name, Elizabeth Bathory. She was a Hungarian noblewoman with some strange and twisted habits, so strange that made her gain a new title beside the ones related to her noble status: the most prolific female serial killer. She was also listed for that in the Guinness World Records.

Her family, the Bathory, was very well known and respected during her life (she lived between 1560 and 1614), being part of the nobility within the Kingdom of Hungary. Her noble status and her influential family were like a shield for her, blocking any kind of accusation and transforming her into an “untouchable” figure.

Elizabeth portrait dated 1585
Elizabeth portrait dated 1585 ©

Elizabeth was born in Transylvania to a family with noble roots and political tradition if we take account that her relatives were judges, kings, cardinals, and knights. Unfortunately, there were also other figures around her, having a not so positive influence on the young Elizabeth.

One of her uncles introduced Elizabeth to Satanism at very early age, while her aunt had the great idea to explain her everything related to sadomasochism. So you would guess what were her roots for what was going to happen in her near future.

At the age of 15, Elizabeth married the Count Nadasdy and moved together in the Csejthe Castle. That was probably the moment for one of the very first clues related to her strange human nature: she asked her husband to build a torture chamber somewhere in the castle. The chamber was built after Elizabeth’s precise specifications.

Even if the marriage was more likely some sort of political arrangement, Elizabeth received the Csejte Castle as a wedding gift, so she was free to do whatever she desired in the castle.



Shortly after their marriage, her husband Ferenc Nadasdy became the commander of Hungarian troops and went to war against the Ottomans. Ferenc died in 1604 at age of 48, most probably due to a battle wound. Elizabeth became a widow but in the same time a very influential and powerful figure, considering that she was left in charge of the Nadasdy estate, including business affairs, the castle and its needed defense.

We don’t know how much her husband presence influenced Elizabeth’s behaviors, but after Ferenc’s death something changed also for the Countess and changed to worse.

It is believed that in the years following Ferenc’s death, Elizabeth killing spree started. She used to abduct peasant girls from the villages nearby the castle to torture and kill them in the most horrible ways. The Countess did not act alone but was helped by her former nurse Ilona and by a local witch named Dorotta Szentes.

The torture chamber located in the castle was well equipped, but the most terrible thing was Elizabeth’s twisted mind: she practiced a sadly wide range of tortures, including jamming needles under the fingernails of her victims, severe beatings or bitings (it is known that Elizabeth had the habit of biting her victims, ripping pieces of flesh from their bodies), burnings, mutilations or starving.

Her victims were only young girls from the castle’s surroundings, who were summoned to the castle with offers of well-paid jobs. Elizabeth was convinced that the blood coming from young, virgin women had miraculous properties, so she used to bath into a bathtub filled with virgin’s blood, convinced that the practice would maintain her forever young and healthy.


Between 1602 and 1604 the rumors related to Elizabeth’s atrocities were heard everywhere. Even with her powerful family, an investigation started after the Lutheran minister Istvan Magyari complained about her at the court in Vienna and also in public. Only a few years after Magyary’s accusations, something was done in order to find out if Bathory was truly out of her mind or not.

In 1610, King Matthias II gave to Gyorgy Thurzo the task to investigate the “Bathory situation”. Interesting to note that Gyorgy Thurzo was the one entrusted by Ferenc Nadasdy (Elizabeth’s husband) to look after Elizabeth after his death. The real problem and also the moment of decline for Elizabeth’s crazy behaviors was related to the fact that she started to abduct and kill also young girls coming from other nobles families.

For her atrocities and blood practices, Elizabeth is often compared with Vlad Dracul, the figure who inspired the famous vampire story. In fact, Bathory could have been even more suited for the vampire role, considering that her vampire tendencies were somehow confirmed: she used to bite her victims and drink their blood, besides bathing in a large amount of virgin blood.

During December 1610, Thurzo went to Csejte Castle and arrested Bathory. There isn’t a clear number related to Elizabeth’s victims, but it is believed that she tortured and killed around 650 young girls. A large number of witnesses confirmed in court many details related to Bathory’s tortures and atrocities, but Elizabeth was not sentenced to death because such punishment would have caused a critical situation within Hungarian nobility.

Instead of death, Elizabeth was confined in a windowless room from her castle, having only two small slits for air and for receiving food. After 4 years spent in complete isolation, she died in that room on August 21, 1614.

Initially, her body was buried in the Csejte church, but the villagers were not happy to have the “Blood Countess of Csejte” in their church. The body was moved to Ecsed, her birth home, and put into the family crypt. At this moment the location of her body is unknown.

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