Ersebet or Elizabeth Bathory lived in barbaric times, but her crimes still stand out as some of the most horrific and excessive of histories many characters. In the 16th century the uses and the nature of blood was relatively limited. Bathing in blood was supposed to have great healing powers for those afflicted with anything from leprosy, hysteria or epilepsy. Elizabeth was told that bathing in blood spilt from virgins would keep her youthful looks. Elizabeth was desperate to remain good looking after her husbands’ death, and it appears that she would go to any lengths.

Her catalogue of crimes revolves around four main areas of torture: Beating, cutting, freezing and burning. In most cases the servants did the work but Elizabeth took on some of the torturing herself.

The most common form of beating seems to have been beating the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet, sometimes up to 500 times. On occasions the victims’ mouths were pulled apart by fingers or pincers and torn until they bled. The most commonly reported form of torture was cutting, piercing or otherwise using knives and needles to inflict pain. Lips were pierced with needles and then sewn together. One girls’ lips and tongue were sewn to one another. Needles were forced under fingernails, into faces, shoulders and arms. Noses and lips were cut apart so wide that they could never be sewn up, one girl had her belly pierced with a rusty needle. Another girl was lashed with stinging nettles. On one occasion two girls were taken together, while one had the flesh stripped from her bottom, the other was made to eat it raw; one of these girls also had a breast stripped clean away. Sometimes girls were made to eat their own flesh after it had been cooked in front of her.

The most frequent use of freezing was to stand a girl naked in a bucket of freezing water and pour more water over her until she died. Others were buried in frost and snow; those who did not die were forced to work in the castle. Some were deprived of food and water until they were on the verge of collapse, if they complained they were made to drink their own urine.

Burning was common in two forms, being burnt with hot instruments or being forced to eat extremely hot food. Heated iron rods were applied to hands, feet, noses, lips and breasts. Hot keys were pressed into the flesh; one bar was put into a girl’s vagina. When a girl stole a cake it was heated as high as possible before she was forced to eat it. The countess was reputed to have stood on the girl’s throat to prevent her from vomiting it back up. Candles were used to burn the genitals of some girls and to burn their hair and faces.

Three girls were buried in one coffin, and it is reputed that up to five girls could be buried at any one time. They were usually buried in the neighbouring cemeteries; sometimes the local priests would be called in to help with many excuses being given each time.

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Comments
  1. Glad we live in a more civilized time.

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