Elizabeth Bathory Research Paper

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  • Topic: Elizabeth Báthory, Serial killer, Elizabeth Báthory in popular culture
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  • Published : November 8, 2012
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Duong Nguyen
11/14/2011
ENG 102
Platte
Position Paper
It has been widely accepted in popular culture to see Countess Elizabeth Bathory as one of the most sadistic serial killers the world has known. This infamous lady is well known for her torturing and, in some account, even bathing in her victims’ blood. The horrendous crimes, which Elizabeth Bathory was accused of, have kept many intrigued for years. They have been portrayed through movies, plays and books for centuries. However, recently, due to more evidence and revision of past information, we have been given a new insight on the crimes committed by Bathory. This information gives a new outlook on the life of the Countess, and doesn’t focus primarily on the crimes, but instead attempts to reconstruct its historiography. With this new material, we can see that there have been two different interpretation of the Countess. There is one that portrays her as a prolific, narcissistic serial killer, while the other portrays her as “a defenseless widow who owns more property than the king himself and who, as a result, becomes a victim of scheming from on high.” – Kimberly Craft The popular perception of Elizabeth Bathory as a vicarious serial killer has been glamorized through many movies, books and plays. An illustration of this is “The Bloody Countess” by Valentine Penrose, a historian who studied and wrote about Bathory during the middle of the 1990’s. Her book promotes the interpretation of Elizabeth as being merely just a sadistic killer. The author claims that the Countess first started killing her servants due to lesbian urges, which she had during her adolescences (“Blood Countess,” par. 1). As stated in the book, Bathory soon came to believe that the blood from her young victims could help to retain her beautiful porcelain skin, and thus, in the name of vanity and beauty, the Countess began torturing her slaves and draining their blood in order to bath in it. In some other books, for example “True vampires of history” by Donald Glut, Elizabeth was said to practice witchcraft and carried “a parchment on which was inscribed an incantation for protection” (Ramsland, par.1). Donald declared in his book that during the absence of her husband, Nadasdy, due to military work, the Countess still continued to practice her torture rituals and write to him about them. The image of Elizabeth as a witch and a vampire has also been shown through the book “Bathory – Memoir of a Countess” by A.Mordeaux. The book again focuses the crimes she accused of, with pages filled with stories of Countess Elizabeth Bathory torturing and bathing in her victims’ blood. Mordeaux also blames the crimes Elizabeth committed on a mixture of the inborn nature of her family, her sadistic temperament and last but not least, her lonely childhood (“Blood Countess,” par. 2). Most of the materials in those books mentioned above are perhaps written based on the testimony of the Countess’s cooperators during her trials. The witness accounts made by her accomplices before their death mostly accused Elizabeth of being extremely cruel to her servants. However, these accounts should not be taken as the absolute truth because of the fact that her accomplices were tortured into giving the accounts (“Báthory’s Accomplices,” par.3). In order to stop the pain or to escape the death sentence, they would have said anything during that trial. Furthermore, although testimonies were given by a large number of witnesses, they were mainly third hand hearsay, rumors or even gossip (Gelhaar, par.5). Moreover, Elizabeth was never allowed to defend herself or to be defended against the accusation leveled at her; hence, the truth about the crimes she committed still remains unknown (Craft 203). The background of the time of her conviction also has a great impact in whether to consider the Countess as a sadistic killer or not. At the end of the 16th century, the area where Elizabeth lived had suffered years of bloody was,...
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