You must have heard of Dracula, but have you ever heard of Elizabeth Báthory? She also was a countess as Dracula (his official name: Vlad Ţepeş) was a count, both of them lived in the Kingdom of Hungary, but these were not the only similarities between them. According to the legend, Elizabeth Báthory used to have bath in the blood of young girls previously tortured to death, just because she thought it will prevent her skin from ageing. Some 600 girls were killed by her during the ages, as stated by her prosecutors.
What is the true of all this? Historians say: nothing. This aspersion was only set up to acquire her huge fortune, since she was one of the wealthiest women in the country. She was born in a rich and powerful family in the Castle of Nyírbátor (her uncle was the Prince of Transylvania, later Polish King), but her fortune entered into the top 5 in Hungary after marrying Ferenc Nádasdy at the age of 15. His husband had enormous estates in the Transdanubia region, and he was a famous warrior of the fights against the Turkish troops invading Hungary. He was often called “Black Bay”. Unfortunately, he died in a battle and Elizabeth became widow in the age of 44. This should have given the idea to the Court – always short of money – to win the immense fortune of the woman, not any more protected by his powerful husband.
The aspiration didn’t turn out well neither for Lady Báthory, nor for the Court. Despite hundreds of witnesses were involved in the trial, no judgment was born in the end. In spite of this, Elizabeth was held in custody in one of her castles in Čachtice (in today Slovakia) until her death. Without any judgment, the Court didn’t achieve its goal of confiscation either. Only the people were richer with a popular legend.
We won’t visit the famous Čachtice castle during our tours, but will see the Castle of Sárvár where she lived for almost 30 years with her husband (or mainly without him as he often went to fight against the Turks). We will have a guided visit here on our Cycling pilgrimage on Saint Martin Way.
We will pass and visit another place in connection with her, and that is the Castle of Füzér, which is the departure point of our Saint Elizabeth tour, not named after Báthory, but after Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. This fortress also belonged to her, but was rather used for treasury of the valuables, than for living, because it was almost impregnable.