World's 'Greatest' Mass Murderess Bathed in Blood

Countess Elizabeth Bathory died 400 years ago

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 24, 2014 5:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Talk about a grim anniversary: Countess Elizabeth Bathory of the Kingdom of Hungary died 400 years ago, ending the world's "most prolific" recorded killing spree by a woman, CNN reports. Bathory reportedly tortured and killed up to 650 girls and bathed in their blood because she believed it kept her looking young (ergo her nickname, the "Blood Countess"). She settled in modern-day Slovakia after her husband died in 1604, and increased her killing rate to the point where she coaxed even high-born girls to the cellar of her manor house. By 1610, the Hungarian King heard rumors of her deeds and sent a high-level official to investigate. Bathory and her three servant accomplices were arrested later that year.

The servants were tortured and burned alive, while Bathory was forced to live within the walls of Cachtice Castle until her death on August 21, 1614. Today the castle ruin is open to visitors, and a local wine co-op stores barrels in her notorious manor cellar. One of the co-op's labels—"Bathory Blood"—was discontinued four years ago, but came back this year under customer pressure ("It's ruby red, of course," CNN notes). Bathory's crimes have also inspired films and books, possibly including Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. So how do locals feel about all this? "The older generation seems ashamed of her," says an 18-year-old. "There were some protests when Bathory's statue was erected in the square," but for young people "she is not important." In modern mass-murderer news, the Guardian reports that Ander Breivik's father has written a book called My Fault? A Father's Story in which he questions his responsibility in his son's murder of 77 people in Oslo, Norway, in 2011. (See how the media "can help stop" mass murders.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory.
Countess Elizabeth Bathory.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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