Monday, May 19, 2014

See below, from a BBC site: Truth and Fiction As noted above, the most common story of Elizabeth Bathory's reign of terror - that of the blood bath - is unsupported by the evidence of any of the witnesses3. Moreover, the nature of the trial renders suspect all of the evidence given there, as said evidence was largely extracted under torture or threat of torture, and was probably 'tuned' to create the most vivid impression. However, the story of the Blood Countess has been seized upon by many writers and film-makers, for whom the heady mixture of Elizabeth's beauty, sophistication, extreme cruelty and bisexuality have formed the basis for many a prurient retelling. It has become difficult to distinguish the facts from the fiction in the case of Countess Elizabeth Bathory-Nadasdy, in spite of - or perhaps because of - the wealth of documentary evidence in the case as many of the original trial records survive in Hungary to this day. After the blood baths, the most frequent embellishment is the playing up of her involvement with the occult, ranging from the simple presence of her supposed witches, through tales of the infernal rites she enacted in the company of her husband, to accounts of her maintaining a court filled with alchemists, sorcerers and satanists of every stripe as advisers. A similarly occult element brings in claims of the Countess' insistence on virgin victims. Such a stipulation is not attested to in the direct evidence, although prudence would probably have meant that most of the victims were at least unmarried. She herself is variously accused of witchcraft, vampirism and lycanthropy. As always with historical characters and historical atrocities, the great risk in these retellings is that the brutal murders of Elizabeth Bathory's victims should become just a piece of background, their role as faceless victims cemented forever. This risk is exacerbated by the 'bad-girl glamour' which invariably accompanies Elizabeth's portrayal. As modern day serial killers become twisted folk heroes and objects of adoration, so Elizabeth Bathory's fascination pervades these stories, turning a cruel and twisted woman into an intensely sensual, sexual, almost romantic figure.

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