The Countess Replies
Alright; enough is enough! What rubbish! I am as civic minded as the next member of the nobility, but my good named has been defiled for too long. 400 years too long, to be more precise. Legend, calumny, eager students, sensationalist, and just plain weirdoes have twisted the truth into 1000 Gordian knots.
Let me set your record s straight. I am the child of a Lutheran and a Calvinist, and was one of the wealthiest women in
maybe in the world, as we knew it. I was
on par with Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici. I was widowed at a fairly young age, even for
my time. That bereavement left me with
at least 27 castles and estates, with their own little fiefdoms to care
for. And, there were all the villagers
who depended on me, their homes dotted all over Europe,
many on the very edge of Ottoman aggression.
We were paying blood money to men you would call terrorists in the
modern world, as insurance that we would not be attack.
My cousins and relatives were jealous. My kinsman, the king, turned on me because he owed me money, a lot of money, and because I dared ask him to uphold his honorable promise and repay it. The money wasn’t for me; I had many mouths to feed. My letters exist and are published. Read them. All I did was write letters, constantly. I spoke several languages, but no peasant tongue or dialect. I couldn’t have ordered the servants to commit murder and mayhem even if I’d wanted to. They didn’t understand me.
My estates were kept by stewards; I tried to be vigilant, but I was alone with young children, and no family I could trust. My parents were dead. My health was frail; I’ve always suffered from toothaches, and head aches. Not “fits” or bouts with madness, though a weaker person than I would have crumbled under the responsibilities I bore. You would call it stress today.
My biggest worry was there would not be enough in the granary to feed all those under my charge. And war; if I ran out of money to pay the Ottoman thugs, we would have been attacked, and annihilated.
I understand a Catholic priest who lived at least 300 years after my time began this vampire foolishness. It’s amazing how slander of that horrific nature, once repeated, takes flight like a mad bird of prey scenting blood. Many widows were swindled as I was. There was no proof, no physical evidence, certainly none of your current “DNA” to link me with nay crime. People died in castles all the time; servants murdered each other, and superstitions ran rampant in my part of the world. Many were still pagan, or witches, but not I. I was a healer, it is true. Many women like me of the lower classes were burned for trying to battle ignorance, for trying to save lives.
Bleeding, cauterizing, home remedies; these were all we had. I had to employ all of them, and they weren’t always pleasant means to cure. But, I saved more lives, certainly I didn’t kill 650 children. We didn’t have that many in all our estates.
As lady of the manor, it was my responsibility. People died from illnesses, from starvation, from injuries and fights. Often, they were not discovered right away. We ran out of space to bury them in times of plague, and in winter, it was difficult to bury anyone in frozen ground. Take a tally at some my neighbor’s castles. See how many died there.
I never bathed in blood; it was hard enough to steal away to bathe in warm water, with soothing eucalyptus and herbs that eased my own pains and miseries.
Everything I did was under scrutiny. The old Popish priests accused me, and the Lutheran pastor was worse. He couldn’t abide women heading any household. Neither could that traitor Thurzo, my husband’s best friend.
Read my letters; see the lack of evidence, see how my poor servants were quickly silenced and murdered. Even some of my own descendants have maligned me. I sell a lot of tickets. It would seem, as an Infamous Lady, I am a useful commodity. I was denied attendance and counsel at my own trial. The papers damning me were signed, sealed, and delivered before an public proceedings. I needed a Writ of Habeas Corpus, but we didn’t have it then.
In the future, I will say more. I have to consult with my lawyer first.