Monday, June 18, 2012
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
From the enchanteddoll.com: The Bloody Lady Elizabeth Bathory. 2010 Sold One of a kind, porcelain, ball-jointed, costumed doll. A very complex costume is assembled from 23 separate, original Sterling Silver pieces with 24k gold plating and an Indian wedding saree skirt. All clothes and accessories are removable. Face is one of a kind. Removable wig is magnetic. This doll is based on a real historical figure of Transilvanian countess Elizabeth Bathory (17 August 1560 – 21 August 1614), from the renowned Báthory family. Allegedly Elizabeth was a sadistic serial killer who tortured and murdered as many as six hundred girls in a span of 20 years. Despite going down in history as the most prolific female serial killer with a kill rate of mythological proportions, there is very little historical evidence against her. In fact, when considered in a larger historical and political context, it appears that Elizabeth was a victim of an aristocratic conspiracy with a resulting mass hysteria, and that her original accusers were politically, financially and possibly, ideologically motivated. Regardless of evidence, history appears to be infatuated with the image of this woman as a ruthless murderer, even if this image is nothing but a myth. Her presence in history is as mysterious and secretive as her enigmatic smile, which could hide either a twisted sociopath, or an innocent victim of slander. Although we will never the truth behind the Bloody Lady Elizabeth Bathory, we must consider these following historical facts before condemning her: There is the lack of the most basic proof: the victim’s names. There aren’t any official names on record of Bathory’s alleged victims, or bodies for that matter. It was said that she had killed daughters of peasantry as well as lesser nobility. But who are these missing women exactly? The logistics of murder don’t make sense either. Elizabeth was accused of killing around 600 girls in 20 years. That means she killed 30 people a year. That’s 1 murder every 12 days. How could such a visible public figure get away with such an astronomical kill rate for 20 years, in a region with a population of much less than three hundred thousand people? Where was she getting all these women and why was virtually nobody noticing except for one single minister Istvan Magyari? One would think that if daughters were going missing left and right every month in villages, there would be some sort of a public concern and even a panic. Instead, the “rumors” of murders had began to spread only after the official investigation had already started. Another interesting detail is the fact that when King Matthias of Hungary ordered the investigation into the rumors of murders, he was heavily indebted to the wealthy and influential Elizabeth Bathory. Based on flimsy, hearsay witness testimony, King Matthis had her imprisoned without any formal trial, conviction or further punishment and avoided having to repay her the large sum of money for which he lacked sufficient funds. Elizabeth Bathory’s case happened at a time of religious upheaval and hostility in Hungary. As a Transilvanian Protestant aristocrat, she was a political opposition to King Matthis, who was an Austrian Roman Catholic. My final argument in favor of Elizabeth Bathory’s innocence is that her case shows evidence not only of political conspiracy, but also of the mass hysteria phenomenon, where a runaway public fear clouds all rational judgment, leading to escalating panic and severe miscarriages of justice. Such cases and trials are often characterized by absurd accusations, unfounded witness testimony, extremely biased public opinion, coercive interrogations and incompetent investigative techniques. I see a distinct parallel between Elizabeth Bathory’s murder investigation and the of mass hysteria of the famous Salem witch trials of 1692, the Kern County Satanic ritual child abuse hysteria of 1983 and the West Memphis Three murders of 1993, where all accusations began with one person and grew out of thin air into frenzied fear and everyone conveniently forgot that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.