Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth’

Elizabeth Siddal died 11th February 1862, she was an English artists’ model, a poet and painted herself. She was the model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s early paintings of women.
“Lizzie” was born into a family that were not poverty stricken, and after the moved from Hatton Garden to Southwark in Southern London, she soon given more siblings and was very close to them. All in all it seems that the family were rather close and despite there being no record of her attending school she was able to read and write. She had a love for poetry even from a young age.
For the time in which she lived Elizabeth lived a very positive life and was a strong woman for the society in which she lived. Women were still pretty much viewed as objects and possessions much like American Black Slaves were.
She was engaged to the artist Rossetti and began to study with him, in contrast to his idealized paintings hers were quite harsh but she was also given to writing poetry. Dante Gabriel Rossetti completed his peace “Beata Beatrix” one year after her death. A rather beautiful memorial to her after her death, with the way in which she is painted she seems to have an almost keen awareness of her impending death. The true love of Rossetti for his wife also deepens the meaning of the painting and because of this it is praised for the emotion depicted in it.
As Siddal had come from a working-class family Rossetti feared the day he bought her home to his parents. She was the victim of harsh criticism from his sisters and his family’s disapproval seems to have postponed the initial marriage. It also meant that Siddal worried he would replace her for a younger muse, which added to later depression and illness. At the wedding she was so ill she had to be carried to the church and down the isle, after however, once she was well enough they went to their honeymoon in France.
The ten year engagement was broken off several times and he was known to have affairs. This was likely no help to her at all. She was riddled with depression and sickness but in 1861 she was overjoyed to learn she was pregnant. She was then sadly gifted with the tragedy of a stillborn daughter, in 1862 she overdosed on laudanum shortly after becoming pregnant for a second time.
Rossetti found her unconscious and dying in bed, it was a death ruled accidental but there were rumours about a suicide note he had found. He was consumed with grief, it is suggested that he took the note and had it destroyed as at the time suicide was still considered both illegal and immoral. It would have been a scandal and prevented her from a Christian burial.
Why have I picked her for my blog? Well really I suppose it’s more about Dante. He buried poetry of hers with her in a small journal, many were the only copies he had of her poetry. He slid the book into her hair and she was interred at Highgate Cemetery (yes I should really blog about the splendid place). By 1869 Rossetti was addicted to drugs and alcohol, he was convinced he was going blind and could no longer pain so he began to write poetry once more.
For some reason before publishing his newer works he became obsessed with retrieving the ones he had put into his wife’s hair. He applied for an exhumation and it was done in the dead of night, Rossetti himself was not present. Charles Augustus Howell, the Home Secretary, handed them to her and noted that her corpse was remarkably well preserved and her beauty in tact. A worm had however gone through the book making some of them difficult to read, Rossetti then published the older ones. It is said that he was haunted by the exhumation for the rest of his life.

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.