April 7, 2023

Infamous Lady: The True Story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory with Kimberly Craft

Infamous Lady: The True Story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory with Kimberly Craft

Joining me today is Professor Kimberly Craft- attorney and legal historian- to explore the life of the 16th-century "Blood Countess" of Hungary, Erzsebet Bathory. Reputed to be both a vampire and the world's worst female serial killer, she allegedly bathed in the blood of her 650 victims. Much has been written about the so-called Infamous Lady, Tiger of Csejthe, and Blood Countess, by the 21st century, the accounts of her life have becomeso fictionalised that the Countess is little more than a caricature. History has painted the Countess as an insane murderess; yet original letters, trial transcripts, and depositions indicate a far more complicated figure- the wife of a national war hero, a mother, generous benefactor, and socialite who routinely attended court and even the King's coronation, just months before her arrest. For English readers, unfortunately, much of the primary source material about the Countess has remained inaccessible with European researchers having translated it primarily into German or Slovak. Professor Kimberly Craft, has spent years researching facts on the Countess and over a year translating these original European sources into English.  Much of the material -the complete trial transcripts, depositions of 306 testifying witnesses, private letters, and the Last Will and Testament-have now been fully translated into English and are available, for the first time, to the general public. Based on this newly-found and translated source material, translated into English for the first time, we were able to dive into the actual life and trial of Countess Bathory and explore the woman, the myth and legend as well as the complexities to her nature. Links to all Haunted History Chronicles Social Media Pages, Website, Published Materials and Ways to Support the Podcast: ⁠https://linktr.ee/hauntedhistorychronicles⁠ Guest information: Website: https://www.infamouslady.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kim.craft.520/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimcraft71 --- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/hauntedchronicles/message


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Speaker A: Introducing today's episode.

Speaker B: Joining me today is Professor Kimberly Kraft, who holds a Bachelor and Master's degree as well as a jurist doctorate. Professor Kraft has served on various faculties including DePaul University and Florida A and M College of Law. An attorney and legal historian, she spent over a decade researching the life and trial of Countess Bathury and over a year translating original source material into English. The biography Infamous Lady the True Story of Countess Ershebet Pittori and its companion. Books explore the life of the 16th century blood countess of Hungary, reputed to be both a vampire and the world's worst female serial killer, she allegedly bathed in the blood of her 650 victims. Based on newly found source material translated into English for the first time, these books explore the actual life and trial of the countess through letters, documents and trial transcripts and allow you to learn the actual truth behind the legends. Professor Kraft brings a corrected history as well as new and exciting source material for the first time to an English speaking audience. Get comfortable because you're about to experience a fantastic opportunity to dive deeper into the law, the real history, the real person, the trial and aftermath, and much more as Kim shares some of that research and takes us on an incredible journey into the past.

Speaker A: Hi Kim, thank you so much for joining me tonight.

Speaker C: Hi, Michelle. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Speaker A: I can't wait to dive into the topic and the character that we're going to be looking at tonight in the podcast. But before we do that, do you want to just tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and so on?

Speaker C: Sure. My name is Kim Kraft, and normally what I do my day job, I'm an attorney and I teach law related classes. I also enjoy history a great deal and I like horror movies too. And it's sort of this coming together of all of my interests that led to learning about and then researching Countess Elizabeth Bathery, who is reputedly the world's worst female serial killer. I found the story very fascinating, and so I also found the trial transcripts from 400 years ago very fascinating and comparing them to the trial practice we have today. And it led me on a journey of discovery that I want to say has gone on for about 20 years now, not only learning more about her as a real person, but also doing a lot of work on the translation of the original source material that was originally in Hungarian, German and Latin. So it's been a lot of fun to, in a way, rediscover her for a modern audience and tell a story that I don't think has been able to be told fully because we haven't had those documents available to us. And now that we do, I like to say sometimes the real story is far more interesting than the fiction we have. So it's a pleasure to be here to talk about that.

Speaker A: And I also think sometimes whether the desire has been there to kind of dig that little bit deeper has been present because, like you mentioned, the myth that surrounds her is often something that has been so prevalent and preserved and become the popular opinion that people haven't really wanted to look beyond that because they think that's it and that's enough. But like you mentioned, there is so much more to her story, to who she was, that is far more fascinating. And I think what you've been doing is very unique and very rare and has offered something very insightful and very full and rounded in terms of who she was and kind of and doing that due diligence about her life.

Speaker C: Well, thank you so much. I think it's sort of the history detective in me that couldn't quite square these contradictions about her. She was a real person. And on the one hand, you hear these stories of her that just seem, in some ways, preposterous, that she's this blood bathing vampire who's killed over 600 people. She uses their blood as this magical beauty elixir. It goes on and on and on with these hunt where she goes hunting for girls to force them to work in her service and the torturings and the killings and the mayhem. And yet on the other side, she's a real person. She's a wife, she's a mother. She runs estates. Her husband is a national war hero. She was attending the king's coronation Parliament. The emperor was invited to her wedding. And it starts to become a little crazy, like, wait a minute, how is this the same person? If she's killing 600 people, where does she even hide the bodies? And that led me down this path of essentially the mission of my research was to find out what really happened. What is the true story of Elizabeth Bathery? Is she this psychotic, serial killing, blood bathing vampire? Is she actually a very reputable wife, mother, woman who was running huge estates? Were these stories created in order to frame her? That was something I looked into very seriously. When her husband passed away, he left her as an incredibly wealthy widow with just literally thousands of acres of land. She owned castles, towns, churches in what are five countries today. And it really started to beg the question. Everybody wanted her land. Her relatives wanted to take it from her. She was Protestant. The Catholic Hapsburgs at the time wanted to take it. The Emperor and the King owed her an incredible amount of money that she and her husband gave him to fund his wars against the Ottoman Turks. And there's also a little bit of legal history behind that, that if the King were to find her guilty of a crime, not only would he no longer have to repay his debt to her, which would be about 17 million in today's money, adjusting for inflation, he could also confiscate up to one third of her property. So then it really started to beg this question, is this in fact a conspiracy against a very wealthy, noble widow who maybe is completely innocent? I will say the truth is about halfway in between both of those. And so translating that original source material, including her letters, her last will and testament, trial transcripts, depositions, interrogatories, was very revealing. We find out that there was an inquest against her that went on for years. There were hundreds of people who were deposed to ask witnesses, what have you seen? What have you heard? This was not brought against her willy nilly. There was a lot of work that went into putting together a case against her and she had a very powerful family fighting on her behalf as well. So I won't give away any spoilers until our discussion, but I will say it's a complicated and fascinating case of who this person really is and what she really did.

Speaker A: And it's just the type of case that when you start to really understand those complexities, it just brings the hairs up on the back of your neck because it is so fascinating. There's so much more to it. Yes, like I said, I can't wait to kind of get into a bit more detail. It's the stuff that kind of makes me smile when it comes to thinking about and exploring history.

Speaker C: Yes, I love that too, Michelle. It's so much fun, it's so rewarding. And when you find those nuggets of, I guess I'd say truth or nuggets of something no one has ever seen before, the thrill is really unbelievable.

Speaker A: Absolutely. So do you want to start by just giving us kind of a little bit about her background, her early life and that historical backdrop to kind of understand Elizabeth's start in life, if that makes sense?

Speaker C: Yes, of course. So even her name is complicated, especially for English speaker. She is Hungarian, and in Hungarian, the last name, the surname goes first. So we would pronounce it Bathury. It's actually Battor. They don't pronounce the y. And Elizabeth in Hungarian is ershabet. So Hungarian speakers. I do apologize. I'm going to do my best. But a close rendering of her actual name would be Battor Arashabet. And for the sake of our listeners and just myself, I will refer to her from here on out, though, as Elizabeth Bathery, and I hope no one gives objection to that. She was born in the year 1560 to a very wealthy old noble family, the kind of old nobility that her very, very large family, I think, would have probably quietly kept living in this sort of peaceful medieval slumber to the present day if it weren't for things like the Industrial Revolution interfering with their lifestyle. They were very old school, old nobility, but they too were, I guess you'd say, a product or a victim of history swirling around them as comfortable as they made themselves in their fortress like castles on their vast tracks of land, they were still dealing with at the time, a number of peasant uprisings. There were social changes in the air where the people who had worked their land previously for hundreds of years were changing as politically, economically, socially, the world was changing around them. We're moving out of the High Renaissance into the early modern period. We're starting to see the first glimmers of the Industrial Revolution that in 100 years will start to become very prominent. And we're seeing also in 1560 when she's born, a Europe that's been torn apart by the Reformation. And that plays out even in her family, where she's raised in the Calvinist faith by her mother, who's a very big devotee of Calvinism, actually forms a Calvinist church, gives very generously to it. And yet when she's ten years old, she's going to be betrothed to another noble family that are sort of at the forefront of learning and this new modernity. And they're Lutherans. She's also got relatives, uncles of hers that are Catholic cardinals. So we see religion is kind of in this state of free form. Just within the same town, you might have three, four different types of churches similar to what we have today, where you have different religions, coexisting. But at the time, this is still very new. A lot of uncharted territory going on theologically. You also have the European continent is constantly under siege by the Ottoman Empire. Oh, my gosh. Given the recent earthquake in Turkey and the devastation, I almost hate to say anything about this right now. I hope I give no offense when I talk about the Ottoman Turks attacking Europe all through this time period and the Europeans attacking back, but it was going on historically, and my prayers and thoughts are certainly with the good people of Turkey today and all the suffering they're going through right now. So this is all happening. And in this world she grows up, there's also the mix of paganism, the forest witch, the herbalist. They're still very popular. Hungary does not go through an inquisition the way you see happening in Spain. For example, or in Italy or other parts of Europe, hungary is kind of laid back for the time period, and so they really permit the forest witches and the herbalists and other kinds of practices that might get someone, especially a woman, in trouble in another part of Europe. They're not a malign too, too much. And so young Elizabeth grows up with this just as easily as she grows up knowing about Calvinism and Lutheranism and Catholicism from her relatives. By all accounts, she is incredibly well educated. And this is this is unusual, you know, not only for women, but people in general. Even by the 15 or the 16 hundreds, we do indeed have Gutenberg's press. In fact, on one of her estates, Countess Bathury actually owned a gutenberg printing press, which is really remarkable for the time. But she was incredibly well read. And this is a time, to put it in perspective, when her husband's parents, just one generation removed, would be writing to each other and her father in law would be consoling her mother in law, now, you've been ill. Don't write too much because, you know, it's very physically taxing on you. You should let the servants do that. And I guess in our perspective nowadays, thinking about what's so physically difficult about writing, but I suppose if you're kind of scratching out your writing, even on the best parchment with the finest squid ink of the time, there is still a bit of a physicality that goes into it, the process that we don't quite have today. And letters amongst the nobility could be rather lengthy. It wasn't like anybody was ascribed toiling by candlelight in a scriptorium or something, but usually the nobility really often did kind of assign those tasks to their staff, their servants, usually the estate managers. Anyone on staff as part of the clergy would be handling mostly castle records and accounts. And this dates back as well, hundreds and hundreds of years. So you even see, because books are still so expensive as well, a lot of the nobility will have modest libraries, but you'll see, from their letters, they'll request books from each other or travel to get a book if they need one. And most people who are not specifically learned do not know how to read and write. So the fact that this young girl during this time can read and write perfectly by the time and write fluently not only in her native Hungarian, but also we have letters that she certainly writes fluently in Latin. And we see some notations that she's reading in certain dialects as well of her staff who are also fluent in German or Czech or Slovak or languages. Of the people who work for her, she's aware of that as well. So her learning is incredibly impressive, which.

Speaker A: For a young woman of that time is pretty unusual. It's pretty unheard of and just kind of like you mentioned, just to have that level of education, anyway, is quite unusual for that time period. It's fascinating to kind of see how she sits within all of that kind of backdrop and to kind of have that kind of glimpse into what her upbringing would have been like as someone kind of been given these tools and being kind of molded into the person that she was and the things that she had at her disposal, not only in terms of wealth and title, but upbringing, in terms of education, in terms of links and connections with other people and other noble families having that advantage. There's an awful lot of privilege there. We can see that very clearly.

Speaker C: Yes, indeed. I will say she used it. Her husband was away a great deal and the burden of running all of these estates typically fell to her. And when it comes down to its estate administration, which is very much like being a CEO of a very big corporation, she did remarkably well. I think how she also got such a wonderful education was she came to her husband's court as a very young person. Her wedding contract was entered into when she was ten years old. And then when she was eleven, she actually moved from her family's home, her parents home, to her future husband's estate. And this was very common, where the betrothed would move in with her husband's family and from there his family and staff would teach her the ways of running a household and preparing her for the duties of becoming a married noble woman. I think sometimes we think that noble ladies would just spend their time sitting around knitting or writing poetry or maybe playing the harpsichord or, I don't know, something leisurely like that. And they did. But at least in her case and many other noble women that you don't hear about very much when their husbands were away, they were in charge of running these vast estates. And as I mentioned, when you have estates that spread over five countries and your husband is rarely home because he's frequently on military campaigns, she road circuit. Meaning she would spend a certain period of time of so many. Months throughout the year, going to each of her major estates and then establishing the court there, running correspondence, making sure the lands were tended to, dealing with the staff. And so she attended parliament. She actually had a seat in Parliament that she represented her household. She did a lot. She even down to kind of a micro level where her people who lived on her estates would hold office. They would actually have elections for small local officials and her estate running management would extend even down to that level to make sure that elections were held fairly. If there were civil disputes, they would bring arguments to her. She would hold court, and that meant she would act in the capacity of a judge for her people, for all sorts of different matters. So she really used that education that she had in a very big way. And I also think where she got the education was because her husband's parents were, as I mentioned, they were very much excited about modernity art, learning the latest in theology and philosophy. They brought courtiers from around the world to their courts to bring everything that was new and exciting. And they also hired the finest tutors in the area to educate her future husband, Farence. Farence, unfortunately, who was about five years her senior when she was about eleven, he was about 1516 years old, was not a scholar, he was an athlete. And he loved the idea of war. He played war, he played army. He spent summers in army camps. His father was a knight, so that's what he loved. And his mother constantly would wring her hands about what will become of him when he grows up. So basically, when he's about 15 years old, when his soon to be bride shows up at court to learn about how to run his household, he's off. He is already heading off to start out his life as a young man with a military career ahead of him, leaving behind a court of, as I mentioned, some of the most esteemed scholars of the day who are all being paid with no one to teach. And so here's this very precocious young girl who's going to be taking over. And so it's pretty clear what we can say is that she sat down and said, well, I'm here, teach me. And they did, and they did a marvelous job with her. And in addition to learning everything that her future husband probably should have been taught, she not only learned that, she was also then learning everything, as I mentioned, that go into running a noble house and being a noble woman. So in the morning, she might have dancing lessons to learn all of these courtly dances. She may be having lessons in etiquette or sort of the etiquete of the day, and then in the afternoon she'll be having a lesson in philosophy or theology or studying a foreign language. So she had a very interesting childhood as well.

Speaker A: And it can't have been kind of an easy journey from one household to another at such an age. And to take all that on and to make that transition in the way that she did. I mean, it takes great fortitude, I think, great strength and character to be able to stand up against something like that. You have to wonder how much power and autonomy she had amongst all of it.

Speaker C: That is such a wonderful point you've made. What I envision. And from what we know, this is a young girl who is now by herself, as you point out, at this strange court, surrounded by all of these adults who may be a little bit resentful, like we have to take orders from this child who is going to be our boss very soon. They do have to answer to her, and yet they're also tasked with training her. And she is very different. She's been raised in this very strict Calvinist way. And one, we kind of can put a few things together that in her household we do know that from her parents home, she was taught their ways, these very old, medieval ways, that we are the lords and ladies of the manor. The people who work for us and serve us are our slaves. And I mean that in a very literal way. Hungary did not abolish slavery until the 1840s, and being not just serfs or peasants, but slaves of the nobility, there were a number of rules for these people beneath her that things like they could not bear weapons, they could not travel without permission, they had to work a requisite number of days. Very strict rules they had to live under. And everything from punishments to meet the crime, all the way to capital punishments for any kind of an infraction that the lord or the lady above them deemed offensive could happen. And no one bad in an eye. And Elizabeth Bathury grows up in her earliest childhood years seeing this sort of medieval justice. There was nothing enlightened about it. Meted out to peasants who conducted revolts, all the way down to peasants who would pilfer something small. Even the punishment she would meet out later in life to her own staff kind of suggests that she'd learn this. For example, if a servant stole a coin, it would be very typical of her to meet out a punishment of taking that type of coin and then literally burning it into the hand of the person and then punishments could get worse from there. So we see her, she was most likely we know she had a very imperious streak. Even as a young person, she can be very polite and very courteous and cordial. But there's also the makings of someone who has grown up seeing herself almost godlike. And I can imagine that when she comes to her new court, she's got the air about her that, well, you're my servants and you're my staff and you're going to do what I tell you. And I can see all these adults looking at her thinking, well, kid, we got to have teach you some manners first. I also think she might have gone through a great deal of abuse during this time. And I say that because her husband's parents were not around when she was being raised in his court and he was not around. This was due to illness and later death. And so she's surrounded by his staff or his other relatives and she's far from her own home. And when we look at what I'm going to call the pathology that will strike her in later years, where she tends to victimize and abuse young girls in particular, roughly between the ages of eleven, to 14. I'm not a forensic psychiatrist, but those who practice in that area have told me there was most likely a very deep trauma or series of traumas, series of deep abuse that happened to her during those same ages, which is why she would reenact them on other people and gender of that same age. So even though we don't have exact records, we can speculate that some of the particular sadism she would inflict on these young girls of that age may have resulted from her own victimization and abuse at the same time.

Speaker A: You can see how she might have been the type of character needing to be brought in and reined in to have her form, in some ways, almost this Old world type thinking being merged into something, like you said, more modern, these two clashes of religion and thought. And here she is physically, mentally, being molded into something that without exterior influence from family and from her own relatives and friends, you can imagine that things went on. It would be perfectly natural, I think, of that time period and certainly does seem to, I think, like you said, maybe signpost things as to why some of the things that she then did later on absolutely is there very early on. I think you're right, yes, because it's.

Speaker C: So fascinating when we look at the crime she's accused of and the victim she's accused of torturing or killing. They're not men and they're not older women. They're not married women or women of childbearing years. They're very specifically these adolescent girls. They're not babies either. It's just almost exclusively young girls between the ages of roughly 1011 to about 14 years old. That's her target. And when she turns 15, her husband returns. Now they're getting married. She's now elevated to the position of the lady of the estate. By the time she's 16, she is running these estates, which is kind of interesting to think, I think in our postmodern culture, when you think of a 16 year old, we're thinking today we have such a sustained adolescence for young people. Our world is so complex. It's hard to imagine young people at the age of 15 or 16 nowadays in Western society getting married and having children and starting careers. Some of them can barely I'm making a little bit of a joke, but barely decide what they want to do when they grow up, when they're graduating from college nowadays. But there she is. And she's very typical of the time that at about the time that you're able to begin to conceive and bear children, that's it. That's the time. Now you're capable of getting married, starting a family. And life is much shorter, too. When you're looking at a time period when people, by the time they're in their 30s or their 40s, they're considered to be old. I think that's a little shocking for us to think about as well. Her servants, who are frequently referred to as the old women, or they will eventually become her hench. Women carrying out a lot of the torturings and the killings. When we think about in terms of, well, an old woman, what are they, 70, 80, something like that, it's like no, in those days, they were probably perhaps maybe right before menopause again, maybe late 30s or early 40s. So everything requires a little bit of a shift in thinking from our, I guess I'd say, our contemporary perspective. And then when we kind of make those paradigm shifts, the whole world starts to make more sense. Even though its ways are very different from ours, it becomes more internally consistent.

Speaker A: So in terms of her life as the mother and a wife, what kind of figure was she? What was she like as a mother and as a wife to this family that she now has at such a young age?

Speaker C: Yeah, you know, what's interesting is she initially had trouble conceiving, and this seemed to cause her a great deal of stress, whether it was a personal stress because she felt like she wasn't doing her wifely duty, whether it was because she was getting pressure from her husband and his family. So she actually didn't have children until well into her 20s, which was kind of shockingly old for the time we see her writing letters and meeting with people who are herbalists or midwives, anybody to help her with this condition that she had. We know she suffered from migraines and other types of health problems. It may be there is some speculation that one of the ways she would abuse these young girls is a very particular type of torture, which had been explained, as, I guess you'd say, an old world means of performing an abortion. And I hope I don't get too graphic for our listeners. There's no way to make this very delicate, but I think it may have something to do with her own pathology, why she would do what she did and some of the abuse that she might have suffered, and also an explanation why she had so much trouble initially bearing children. There is a rumor that she was raped when she was a young girl before her wedding. And there's a lot of legend behind this. And some of the legends say she actually did have a daughter that was hastily spirited away, otherwise her whole marriage would have been in jeopardy if she were to say, I'm not a virgin. So the idea of rape would have been a palatable excuse around it. However, there are other ways in those days to perform abortions. In those days, it was not uncommon. I think modern women kind of think of the most barbaric way you can think of with coat hangers and things like that. In those days, they would heat a piece of metal, like a metal rod or like a poker for a fireplace, and insert that into the vaginal canal. To administer an abortion. And the scar tissue and the scarring that would have happened would have absolutely resulted in her difficulty in conceiving after that, since she would also inflict that type of punishment on her servant girls, which she would argue, oh, we were just performing an abortion. It wasn't a punishment. And there's a great deal of controversy about, well, was it really or was it not? We get, again, maybe a little hint or a glimmer into, again, sort of the brutality that she herself may very well have suffered as a very young person when she gets finally into her 20s. We know that she did try every technique possible, including magic spells. She tried everything, and she finally did conceive. And when she did, it seemed that having children was easier because then in succession every few years, then she did have a number of children. And by all accounts, she is an exceptional mother. We have letters of hers that remain where she's writing to her husband, who's perpetually away at war and telling him these sort of daily household things like the one child has a tooth problem. And we had to basically call the barber, who in those days also, not only did they cut hair, but they also extracted teeth and they used leeches and all matter of the latest and greatest medical and dental procedures to come and pull the child's tooth. And we say her saying, I'm still suffering from headaches and I have eye pains, and the daughter has these problems, but otherwise we're fine. And later on we see her. I don't want to jump ahead too far, but towards the end, she is doing everything she can to shore up the inheritance of her children. She's writing a will. She's bequeathing everything she has to them. She's making sure they have magnificent educations. Her son, Paul, she makes sure that he gets all the rights and titles of nobility that he can possibly get, that he's set up to take over the estates. She looks for very distinguished, noble husbands for her daughters so that they'll marry well. So by all accounts, this is the paradox of this woman that with her own children, she's sort of the beacon of motherly love. No one detected anything from amongst her friends, her family, that she was a bad mother in any way. She seemed to be extremely good with the children. Where she started to go terribly wrong was, again, not with her own children, but with the young, especially the young peasant girls that work for her. And then even later on, the young noble girls that would eventually come later to train and study under her.

Speaker A: And again, I think this is the complexity of her as a person, as a real, live, living person. There are so many different aspects to who she was, but also so many different perspectives that have been kind of created around her. So much superstition and thought and legend and folklore around her, that it's kind of hard to tease them apart. How is it that she has been presented in that legend and folklore?

Speaker C: What a great question. I think that the folklore surrounding her started right after she passed away, because even towards the end of her life, right before her arrest, as they were coming for her to arrest her, the people closest to her were still writing to each other and asking, is it true? Has she really tortured, beaten, killed all these people? Has she done these horrible things? Because they had never seen that side of her. This is a person that could serve tea to the prime minister or to the king. She could go to the highest society, parties, balls, events, and be the picture of decorum. And yet, on the carriage ride home, it seemed that putting up this facade of perfection was so much for her psychologically. It was so overwhelming that she would get in the carriage going home, surrounded in the coach by her servant girls, and all one of them had to do was utter the smallest complaint, the smallest whine cry, and she would just lose her temper in a psychotic rage where she would beat them senseless or kill them on the ride home. And in her mind, her thinking was, clean up the mess, say they died of consumption or something, bury them quickly and find me a new girl. This one is unsatisfactory. Just the rages she would go into were that that was that was the part that was so shocking and and very few people would get to see that. Only her inner circle of servants saw her rage come out. And the rage would come out at what you and I would think of would be sort of maybe simple things, not that big of a deal. But, for example, if one of her young servant girls ironed her gown improperly or didn't bring her the right kind of cup to serve tea in or just some minor infraction sewed, something with the stitches were clumsy or something that you might be expecting from a child. These are children in her service doing this work. It would enrage her. She would pick up, she would unscrew a heavy wooden leg from a chair that in heft. It would be kind of the equivalent of a cricket bat or a baseball bat. And she would go up to this girl and she would beat this girl into a ****** pulp and then just carry on like nothing happened. So that's just what's so complex about her character that she can be driven into these psychotic, murderous rages and then yet immediately collect herself publicly to put on this facade that everything's fine, I'm fine. What, to fool people? So, as I say, even in her own lifetime, there was still doubt about how did she do this? Even her own family who knew her would be saying things like, how could our mother do this? How is that possible? And yet the legends that circulated afterwards when they went up to her castle to start cleaning it out, and they started finding these dead bodies that had been brutally murdered and torn to pieces and tortured in ways that I think Hannibal Lecter would probably think, OOH, that's really creative. Why didn't I think of that? I mean, just heinous I would be doing the translating and thinking, oh, it can't really say this, right? And then I'd double check it and think, oh, no, it's even worse than that. I think from the populace, the people who live there, maybe not so much the nobility, who, when they realized, I guess I'd say, the gravity of what had been done, they banned her name from polite society, meaning striking her name from as many records as they could, as many pieces of correspondence that they could possibly destroy. They did that. Her name was not allowed to be discussed, thinking, this will make the problem go away. Historically, no one will know about her. It's so bad. But it didn't stop the local people from talking about it. And the local people who had seen a young servant girl who managed to escape from the castle and come limping into town, literally one of them had a knife in her foot, telling these tales or seeing them brutalized and then telling what happened to them. And from there we start to see, by 150 years later, the vampire craze that was, I guess you'd say, spreading through Europe, and a craze in the sense of fiction where people love by the 17 and the 18 hundreds, you get kind of in the early Romantic period, you've got Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. You've got this love of the Gothic, this love of vampires and horror stories. And that's really where you start to see the proliferation of tales that grow out of these very truthful events. But over time, they start to morph. You have the Brothers Grimm, for example, in the 17 hundreds, supposedly basing the wicked queen in Snow White on Countess Bathury, this beautiful but terribly vain woman that just cannot stand, this beautiful adolescent virgin girl who is in her care. And the Queen, using her magic mirror and her magic spells and all this sort of thing goes to certain legends or rumors that grew up around Countess Bathury. And then by the time we get into the early to the mid 18 hundreds, a number of English writers are coming up with these stories about the Countess's. Servants are combing her hair, and at one point, they pull a little too hard. They hit a snag in her hair while combing it. The Countess flies into one of her customary rages. She wears these big, heavy rings on her fingers, and she basically turns around in a rage and backhands. Her servant girl, who pulled her hair with this very sharp ring and cuts the girl's face. And from this story comes about how blood pours out of the girl's, cut in the face, and actually sprays onto the Countess's face, who then kind of with disgust is trying to wipe it all off her face. But as she does so, here comes one of the most famous legends about Countess Bathury. The blood of this young virgin servant girl acts as a magic beauty elixir. When the Countess turns to look at herself in the mirror, all of her wrinkles are miraculously gone. And at which point now the Countess, who's starting to get up in years, says, wait, come here. I need more of that blood, till we get to these kind of ridiculous stories about pretty soon she's filling entire bathtubs with the blood of these young virgin girls, because only the blood of a virgin girl will work as a magic beauty youth elixir. And you need a whole bathtub. And oh, my goodness. I did the math. At one point, it would require something like 30 or 40 bodies to fill a typical tub of the time. So then it starts going into all these tales of the bloodletting and the torturing and the bleeding out of the victim so she can fill her tub to maintain her ever youthful presence. The reality of this, by the 1930s, we've got another spate of these sort of neogothic romantic novels. Now we're bringing in we're getting more details about her torture chambers and the iron maiden and her castle. And it now starts to become almost campy, where a favorite movie of mine, 1971, is Countess Dracula, starring Ingrid Pitt, it's so bad, it's good. Which is based on Countess Bathury at this point. Now she's also a vampire, and it just becomes absurd. The real Countess Bathury had murders going on in her estates, but she was meticulous about making sure that any kind of killings were happening in kitchens or washrooms places where blood could easily be cleaned up. She did not want to be caught. And for her servants, it was an increasing burden to keep hiding bodies or arranging for burials of them with the local churches and pastors. This was someone who did not want to be caught. So there was no bloodbathing, unfortunately, spoiler alert, she was not a vampire. Although there is a story that in her rage when she was on her sick bed, this was definitely not a woman that was being preserved magically. She was frequently ill in her later years. She was constantly going to medicinal spas. She had trouble walking. It looked like when she passed away, it was probably from congestive heart failure. Given her symptoms, she was in very poor health and was just looking more and more elderly. So the real Countess Bathury was very, very different from the midst of the ever magically maintained most beautiful woman in Europe.

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Speaker A: I've often wondered if some of that myth and that legend is kind of kind of coming from sparks of truth and possibilities. I mean, you mentioned her ill health and the fact that she suffered from things like migraines and things from a very young age. And we know very much at this time period, you had corpse medicine, blood medicine being used. And you have to wonder if there's an element of that as part of her history that would have absolutely been part of any noble family person's history, but also a common person's history. And so you have to wonder if there is an element of that that's become inflated and grown. And is that element and that kind of element of blood and need for blood as medicine, is that something that's transformed into this? She's this vampire, you know, vampire woman who bathes in blood and has to have blood and has to look young. You can kind of see how things merge. And that should always be my take on it.

Speaker C: I think you're very right on that, even. She was putting in orders with the local chemist, pharmacy orders for drugs like antimony, which can be extremely poisonous, and the pharmacist kind of lifting an eye like why when her servant went to basically fulfill the prescription, asking, why does your lady want this? Does anybody know that this could kill people if they took it wrongly? And there was sort of this question, is she poisoning people with it? And the answer was, well, antimony was also used in cosmetics, though. And as you were saying, with the bloodletting or the blood marrow treatments that were used at the time, she was using all kinds of herbs and medicinals and things that today we would be shocked by. But at the same time period, people were using mercury as a healing treatment as well, which we also know is highly poisonous. So, yes, medicine of the time, what people thought they were doing, they might have been doing it with very good intentions. We do know that she smoked cannabis. We have a letter in which she's yelling at one of her servants about what happened to my stash of cannabis, and you need to go find it. And they used it then as people do now, for medicinal reasons, for healing of pain, and she may very well have learned it. There was a lot of influence from turkish culture, and a lot of those kinds of healing remedies, too, would have been known to her. So I wouldn't be surprised at all, like you suggest, that these sort of what would be ordinary blood treatments have been conflated over time to turn into vampire lore. I think one vampire legend came from the fact that when she was on her sick bed, a servant approached her, and in a rage, she bit the girl. She just was so mad, she grabbed the girl, shook her, and then just bit her. It sounds kind of crazy, but that's the sort of psychotic rages she would fly into, and that very well could have led to these vampire stories, too, later on, especially if she bit the girl in the neck or the side of the face or something like that.

Speaker A: What I think is so fascinating, though, about your research is that you really do kind of allow us as the reader to understand that Elizabeth was many different people. She had this public self. She had this private self, and it could be very different not only to the wider community, but even within her own relatives and circle of friends and family, close family. This real disconnect between what she publicly showed and put out to people and then what she had harboring inside that sometimes would just be unleashed.

Speaker C: Yes, exactly. I hope this doesn't sound terrible, but I often think if it weren't for the killings, she might be historically known as something like someone great, like queen Elizabeth. When you look at her as a woman in this time period, she was trying to raise armies to protect her people. She was negotiating with leaders of the time. She was meeting with papal emissaries. She was conducting business deals with not only neighboring nobility, but with the prime minister to help her people, to save her people. She was negotiating prisoner exchanges on behalf of women in her community whose husbands had been kidnapped. She was worried about fixing the roof on her estates. She was worried about having masons come in and fix the plaster on castle walls, and again, worried about her children and making sure they were taken care of and setting up trusts for them. And and like I say, for a woman to be doing that at the time is is unheard of. So she really could have gone down historically as as just an amazing, inspirational figure. And yet again, I think because of the mental illness that she suffered from, I really do believe that she herself was abused horrifically, and it caused this horrific behavior on her own part that she would snap. And then not only a combination of believing she had a divine right to have life or death decisions over her people, I think also weirdly in a sense of economics with all the warfare plaguing her lands. This is going to sound horrible, but I try to get into the mind of this woman where she really thinks she's doing the right thing. There's a surplus of women, there's a shortage of men. And in her mind, I think she's also thinking kind of like population control. I'm doing my economy a favor. We don't need any more childbearing. Young girls populating like rabbits. We can't even our land that's been decimated by wars and pestilence, and we have no men left hardly to farm it. We don't need any more children. That's the type of head that I think we have to be brave enough to go into, to explore what, if anything, can justify, short of sheer madness. This woman, who to the very end, is insisting, I did nothing wrong, demanding, give me a trial and give me a trial by fire. Confessions in those days, whether you're innocent or guilty doesn't matter. Everybody went through it literally a trial by fire. There was torture of burning people or cutting them or doing something. The thought being in those days that, well, if we torture you, you're going to be telling the truth, because if you start lying, it's only going to get worse. And she was adamant about, put me to the fire trial, I don't care. I didn't do anything wrong. And yet there's all this evidence everywhere of people. Your servants closest to you have said, you have killed these girls. You have gone ballistic. You've done this. We've seen this. And she would argue, I didn't do it. My servants did it. Her cadre of old women, her henchmen, basically, they did this. And so then you can see just the mouths hanging open of everyone when she's saying this, just bald facedly. So they finally ask her, well, if you knew they were doing this, why didn't you stop them? And her reply is even more shocking when she says, well, even I was afraid of them.

Speaker B: It's.

Speaker C: Like what? This is the kind of personality to her dying day. She's claiming, I've done nothing wrong. I'm an innocent victim here. And yet there's got to be a part for her that knows what she did. She didn't kill 600 people. We get that number from actually, one of the servant girls who testified at the trial, who was basically showboating in front of the court. This young girl got up and she wanted to impress people, and they asked her, all right, Susannah, that was her name. What do you know of and she well, I heard she killed 600 people. And even everybody, even the whole court was like, what most witnesses were saying 30 people, 50 people, maybe 100, but 600 and, well, all right, honey, how do you know this? Well, there's this diary she wrote where she wrote down everybody's names. To this day, people still believe some diary exists. And Raymond T. McNally, when he was alive, wrote a biography of Countess Bathury in which he talked about this diary and even made the claim that the countess would laconically write in there. She was too small. She'd put these little comments about each of her victims. So to this day, people still keep searching for this supposed diary of all the victims and their names and descriptions. And when I've had discussions about this with the folks who work at the archives in Budapest and Vienna, they all start laughing about, no, don't start with the diary. There is no diary. If there was, we do not have it in our archives. We promise we do not have it. So I can tell you that with the rest of the trial transcripts, this girl's testimony was not taken seriously. No diary was ever produced into evidence. When these trials there were two separate trials that went on for a very long time with over 300 witnesses. And so I'm fairly confident that there is no diary and 600 people did not die. But did 30 die or 50? Yes, those were the numbers that her servants put. And the servants very quickly not only blamed each other for doing it, we know they did much of the killing and the beating, but Countess Bathury herself would absolutely make her grand appearances where she would kill a few, too. And those are discussed in my book and, well, about as graphic detail as I think any reader would maybe care to know about.

Speaker A: So how did she manage to get away with it for such a long time? And what was it that was the kind of the impetus that started the trial and that kind of process of her arrest? Really?

Speaker C: Yes, that is such a good question. Because of her noble status and because she, especially in her husband's absence, could also hold courts and meet out punishments to the people who were her peasants, her serfs, literally her slaves. If peasant girls died while in her service, whether because of a criminal infraction and she would sometimes blame them for theft or just because things like cholera in a noble household even was very prevalent, that's normally what she would say would happen is that these girls would die of cholera. And the disease outbreaks were common. And at first, nobody thought anything of it. She was fairly judicious with her number of killings that went on, especially while her husband was still alive. During his lifetime, though, there started to be rumors that she and one of her servants named Anna were running a torture chamber. And Anna was a very sick woman psychologically as well. She was very close to the countess, and I think she herself really enjoyed torturing people, and she taught the countess how to do that. I would say ostensibly, she taught the Countess how to do it simply as a way to run an effective household. This sort of spare the rod spoil the child mentality was prevalent during the time, but maybe not to the severity that Anna was taking it and showing the Countess how to do it. And I think the Countess, she was actually rather petite in stature. She would wear big gowns and very high shoes to sort of puff herself up to look bigger because she herself was intimidated. She was again surrounded by people much older than her, surrounded by men as well. And she's largely responsible for running these estates as a rather small woman, especially when her husband's not there. And so she uses every means at her disposal to appear scary and intimidating. And that goes with everything from her dress, her very severe makeup that she might put on that would be scary to her peasants. If there was some myths and legends floating around that she practiced the dark arts or that she would happily torture and maybe kill somebody to keep order, that's a very powerful deterrent to misbehavior and to get that kind of respect that she sought so deeply. As things started to progress, though, we see at first the local pastor starting to castigate her from the pulpit. And that was a very dicey moment, if you can imagine. Here we are in the middle of the Sunday service, and the pastor gets up to give a sermon, and all of a sudden he's saying things like, I can't stand it anymore. My conscience won't let me keep quiet. I have to talk about the atrocities of things I've been hearing, the beatings and the torturings going on in the lady's household and the pastor's getting ready to excommunicate her servant Anna. And this is all going on in public and to the point where the Countess allegedly stands up in a huff and says, how dare you say this? And I'm writing to my husband right now. And she goes off in a huff back to the manor and with the pastor basically calling out after her, well, if your conscience is bothering you, don't blame me. We get to the point, though, there are so many deaths that keep happening that the local clergy are starting to wonder. Like every time they turn around, there's a request for another funeral. And after a while, it gets difficult to keep saying the same age range, the same demographic of person keeps dying by cholera, to the point where the local pastors all start getting together and saying, we're not going to bury them on sacred ground anymore. And at this point, when her husband passes away, I think this is really when her mental state goes downhill very quickly. This is when she now is surrounding herself by a handful of servants who are all taking their lead from Anna. And some of them are as bad as her or worse than her the Countess bribes them with money, with fancy clothing to stay in her good graces. They will do anything. And I think there are some incidences where they are doing torture and mayhem that even the Countess herself is surprised by. There is a story when the Countess comes in one time, she needs to take some girls with her when she's traveling to the spa, only to find out that the girls in her service have all been so badly starved that not a single one of them is capable of making the trip. And she throws a fit with her servants about, you took it too far, and how could you do this? And now I have no one to come with me. And she gets mad at them, then it's just insane. And as it gets more and more progressed, I think as she becomes more and more ill, the mayhem gets worse and worse around her. I think she probably made a blanket statement to them to the effect of, take care of this. I don't want any more trouble with this. Just run the estate. Take care of everything for me. And they perceive that as liberty to go and do whatever they wanted. And that's when we see this escalation, not only in torturing and killing, but a lot of sloppiness, where people start seeing dead bodies being thrown over castle walls. We start seeing dogs digging up bodies that have been sloppily and hastily buried and trotting around the castle or the town with human bones in their mouths. It's horrific. We find out about bodies being buried under floorboards, under beds. Secretly, at night, they try to sneak them into underground storage areas, tunnels into the cemeteries. There's just almost nowhere to put these people. There aren't five or 600 of them, but even trying to dispose of 50 or 100 is a huge undertaking. And then you start to get the smell. You start to get these other problems, and at that point, that's when it's so she can't contain it anymore. That's when the rumors are so bad. We start to see her own servants start turning on her, testifying against her. And that's when the inquests are starting where they're now privately asking people all over town, what do they know about her and how can they get enough evidence together to go and make the arrest?

Speaker A: Her trial must have been scandalous, really shocking. And you can kind of imagine, can't you, the kind of the rallying, possibly, of some of her family to minimize some of that damage and what it would do for them and their family's reputation?

Speaker C: Absolutely.

Speaker A: I mean, what was her trial like? You mentioned, trial by fire. Did she testify or was it something that was kind of kept out of as much as possible?

Speaker C: She begged to be able to testify and even to undergo the torture, the trial by fire, to testify, her son in particular, and her sons in. Laws were the ones that embarked on a frenzy of letter writing campaigns to the Prime Minister, who had been put in charge of the criminal proceedings, georgie Thurzo. He's a very fascinating man himself. He was a family friend. The Countess, and he got along very, very well. They referred to each other lovingly as cousin. Just a few months before the trial, countess Bathury had attended Thurzo's daughter's wedding. So here's the same man, that is a dear family friend, who had been entrusted by the countess's dying husband to take care of his soon to be widow and family. This very same man is now put in charge of the trial proceedings. So, of course, her family is begging him, please don't bring disrespect. And this tragic, this horrific, these horrible stories against our family, it's going to ruin us. We haven't done anything. And so he's really in a bind because he's got the Emperor, he's got the King, who both owe this woman a lot of money and want to see her convicted, probably want to take part of her land as the law would have allowed. If she's convicted. They're constantly pressuring Thurzo to get a conviction. They want her beheaded. They're very clear about what they want. And yet he's being implored by her entire family, who also behind. We're not sure if they bribe him. One son in law kind of makes a suggestion, I'm in your debt. Anything we can do for you, let us know. We might read between the lines that there could be a little bit of bribery going on. We're not aware too much, other than we do know Thurzo's wife, during the countess's imprisonment, actually went and Thurzo's wife helped herself to all of the Countess's jewelry. We do know that because the countess was writing to Thurzo and some of the other legal officials that, how dare this woman pilfer my jewels? So I think that there was a little bit of pocket lining going on, but for the most part, before the walls came down on her, the Countess knew she was under investigation and she was very clever because she went and she transferred all of her ownership in her property into trusts that she had set up for her children and also disposed of it in her will. So I guess if there was a victory over her, it was a pyrrhic victory. The Emperor and the king did not get a third of her property. No one really did, because it had already been before any kind of conviction, it had already been given to her children in the will and the trust, and that would supersede any sort of other proceedings. So her children did get all of her property, especially her son. I think in an ultimate karmic irony, when I think about how much work his mother did to preserve this huge estate for the benefit of her children and especially her son, the daughters died relatively early so her son amassed almost everything. He was the worst spendthrift ever. He was a guy that loved to go hunting and spending money on furnishings and paintings. He had a very mischievous staff member who basically embezzled much of the money from him. And I won't say that her son died a pauper. He didn't. But the wealth was squandered. In basically a few decades, it was all gone, the way this guy lived. So it's kind of ironic and kind of sad, but I guess it's kind of played out.

Speaker A: She had to be so savvy to do that, to kind of have that state of mind and ability to see what was coming, know what was coming, plan for it, do all of the things that she needed to do to kind of pull these threads together, to ensure this safe passage of everything that she built up and worked so hard for. And then, like you say, just to get squandered away would have been.

Speaker B: I.

Speaker C: Know, it's really awful. It's kind of like I say, sort of this Karmic justice.

Speaker A: Her trial was a fair one then, given all of this going on around her, this trial.

Speaker C: We have all the transcripts and they're all in the book. There were two of them that went on. She was never permitted to testify. She never appeared at it. She was basically locked away the entire time again, because of the letter writing and the scandal that would be associated, not only having a woman of this noble stature being put on trial or tortured. In the end, the judgment against her was life imprisonment. She was consigned to life living within her castle. I think the trial, when you read through it, I think the people of the time did the very best that they could. I approach it being a lawyer. I look at it, of course, through the lens of today and our system of justice today. So you see in the early modern period, this is all happening around 1610, 1611, there's further legal repercussions into 1612. So we've got some early modern trial practice going on that is similar to what we have today, where we have witnesses being interrogated, we see witnesses being deposed, we see testimonies, we see this sort of back and forth of a prosecution and a defense going on. So that is in place, as we would understand it. And yet we also have a question to the Church. Would the Church like to weigh in on any possible witchcraft proceedings? And the Church takes a pass. No, we're not interested. We don't think we see witchcraft enough to basically bother with that. So witchcraft is left out, which is kind of interesting because a lot of people like to say about the dark arts that the Countess practiced and the magic she dealt with and so on. But I'm not saying she didn't. And we know for a fact that there was a servant that she had that was very much a forest witch, very much into practicing the pagan arts and what we would consider the dark arts as well, who was convicted, tried and executed for doing that, but the Countess herself was not. So I think the kind of blame went to the servants for practicing the dark arts, not so much to her. And I would say if the church would have had a chance to bring a witchcraft trial against her, they would have and they didn't. So for those who really insist on how much she herself was into these sorts of practices, I'll just say that she and her husband gave a little bit too generously to the Lutheran church, to Lutheran scholars. She was a church going woman. I think it was hard to bring that case against her, given the public persona that she had with not a whole lot of evidence to the contrary privately. But, yeah, I think they did the best with what they could. This notion of trial by fire or the notion that you have to be tortured to guarantee a true testimony is something foreign to us today. But it was part of the practice. And I will say it sounds kind of brutal, but there wasn't a whole lot of people who shut up and wouldn't say a word. I hate to say it, but a little bit of torture. And everybody was immediately talking about admitting what they did and admitting what everybody else they knew was doing. And they were all talking, her servants all were talking about what each other did and mentioning her. So I think in a weird way, when they're all interrogated privately the way we would do today, and then, of course, on the stand, they also testify to the same. So I have the feeling, since they all say the same thing and agree on many points, that what they were saying was true. They did a lot of the mischief, but she got her hands dirty with more than a few.

Speaker A: So you kind of mentioned that Elizabeth was sentenced to life in her castle post sentencing. What happened to her servants that were involved? Did they have the same punishment or did they end up with something very different at the end of it?

Speaker C: They her main cadre of servants. There was one who we don't really know what became of her. She was probably the most, I guess I'd say innocent of the servants. She did the least amount of harm and everyone agreed on that. She was in prison, but we don't really know whatever became of her. There are no records. So I would say it would be likely that eventually she was just set free. We do know the worst of her servants, though. They were all executed in a very horrific way. They were either well, the forest witch was burned at the stake. That was a done deal. There was no question about that. One, the other women that participated, the other two had their for the crimes that they committed. Their fingers were literally torn out of their hands and then their bodies were thrown onto the fire. And then her youngest servant, who was we don't really know exactly how old he was, but he was said to be a lad or a young man who participated a lot. He was actually beheaded because of his youth. But, yeah, it was very gruesome. And so this was all conducted publicly as a message that justice was meted out. And it's probably very likely that where this went placed. The Countess might have been able to see it from where she was in prison in her castle, I'm quite sure, with the sort of fanfare for the dramatic that they would have in those days, they would have made it possible for her to watch in some way if she wanted to. I don't know if they necessarily forced her to watch, but there's no record that she was physically present. It does say she was still in prison at that time, but she would have known about that's.

Speaker A: The difference in the class system, again, just because of her status, it's not an ending that you would have ever really seen happen to somebody of her position and nobility, really. And that's a big difference here, I think, that plays out and that we can see in terms of this woman and everything that happened to her, how did she end her days, what happened to her post the trial in the prison? What was life like for her in her final years?

Speaker C: There is one thing. I don't put this in the book, but I have privately speculated about something. We know that the night she was arrested, she was giving a dinner party. It was Christmas time, and this would be not surprising. She was at her manor and giving a dinner party when literally the party was interrupted. And at that point, we know she was taken up to the castle. We know that she was imprisoned within it, and there she remained until she died in 1614, in the summer, in August. And I've often thought about her life there, because when you think about how women dressed in those days and they would have these very elaborate gowns with these oh, my gosh. The corsets and the stays and the things that all had to be tied from behind, this would require a team of servants to help her not only get into her clothing, but get out of her clothing. And I've often thought about this, how she was wearing this elaborate dress as part of this dinner party she was giving, then taken up and imprisoned. And there's records that people visited her in prison, but there's no record of what she had available to her or what she was allowed to do, necessarily. And I've often wondered if part of her punishment, she was left to have to live out the remainder of her years, first of all in this dress that she could not physically get herself out of. I've often wondered that if ever anybody was allowed in to help her get out of it and change, I don't know. But I have thought about it and we do know at first her daughters would come and bring her food, candles, writing implements. She embarked on a furious letter writing campaign in the early days of her imprisonment. She threatened that her cousin who was a duke in Transylvania, would lead an army and avenger. This never happened and eventually she was forgotten. The lands were transferred to her children and over the years she was forgotten. The last letter we know of when she died is Georgie Thurzo's relative wrote to him and kind of on the side, said, did you hear that? She passed away? And recounted that she was in her prison cell the night before, telling her guard that she felt very cold and that her legs were hurting her. And he said, oh, you'll be fine, just, I don't know, put a pillow under your legs, basically. And the jailer recounted that she started singing hymns and that she sang very beautifully. And then sometime that night, probably around two in the morning, is when it's believed that she passed away.

Speaker A: Kind of a sad ending to her story really, isn't it? When you think about this really rather magnificent life that she had and how everything about her was grand and magnificent and kind of over the top in some ways, even who she was as a person, to then have very quiet, silent, secluded ending out of the public eye.

Speaker C: It really is. Yes, it's very ironic. And to this day we have never found her tomb either. I'd like to think that there's the castle where her husband and his parents are buried. She may be buried there with him. I'm not sure if anyone has ever invested that would be at the lock in house castle but in the bathury crypt. We've never found her in the local cemeteries of her property. We know the priests there, the people there did not want her buried there. So it's even a mystery where her tomb is. So she has a lot of mysteries, even to this.

Speaker A: She really does. And I think it's a mystery that hits so many notes the history, her character, the myth and the legend and the law that surrounds her. But also then if you think about the analysis that has taken place in the last however many decades, when you look at serial killers and how she fits into that because she really is in many ways different to what you expect from a typical serial killer. She kind of stands alone. And that's where, again, you have this mystery and intrigue as to, well, what did motivate her? What did drive her to do the things that she did, which were cruel, which were horrible. Exactly. How could she be that person, yet also the loving, kind, caring person that she was? It's a total dichotomy.

Speaker C: Exactly. And we do have the records where we see both sides of her. She's not all good and she's not all bad. When people try to argue, oh, she's this innocent victim that was persecuted for being a woman, it's like, no, not exactly. But then when people say, well, she's this monstrous, blood bathing soulless demon, it's like, not exactly that either. She's not easy to quantify. I think that's why I just leave it to the readers. Here's what we have, here's what we know.

Speaker A: And this is where I think anybody who hasn't come across your books and your material really do need to have a look and have a read because they're fascinating and they offer so much insight and research and information and just completely open your eyes to things that I just don't think are particularly well known. And so for anybody listening, we'll make sure that we get all of your details and so on and put them in the podcast description notes and on the website so people can easily come and read your books and find your Facebook page and your website and all of those things to help signpost to some great material if they're interested.

Speaker C: Well, thank you so much. Yeah, she's just such a fascinating character in history, and we have so many people from around the world that have helped me with the research, the scholarship. I mentioned their names in the books, but they go on and on. And we have a very thriving community. If anybody's interested on Facebook, do come and join us. It's the community of Bathury scholars and enthusiasts. Come join us. We have members from around the world, and everybody is very serious about the research, separating the myth and the legends from what really happened. And it's really a great group of people that just want to get down to the heart of the matter and find the truth, if we can. 400 years later, do you have any.

Speaker A: Future plans and projects just to kind of finish off?

Speaker C: Kim you know, people are always asking, when is the third edition of the book coming out? And I think I'm probably at the point that I could put it together, because since the second edition came out on the anniversary of the Countess's death in 2014, on the 400th anniversary of her death, the second edition of Infamous Lady was released. And since that time, we've had even more scholarship and more things come to light that I think it would be time, perhaps for a new, expanded third edition. I just have to get a little less busy in life so I can actually sit down and write that. But if I were to say, what are my plans in the next two to five years? That would be a wonderful goal to expand on what we already know and share some well, if you have the.

Speaker A: Kind of the desire to sit down and do that, I will be one of the first to be there.

Speaker C: I will send you a copy. Honestly, thank you so much, Michelle. This this is just so great. Thank you. I could talk to you for hours.

Speaker A: And hours and hours on this. I just think it's fascinating, and you are so knowledgeable and so and offer such insight that it really has been an absolute pleasure. So thank you so much for your time.

Speaker C: Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate it. And thanks to everyone for listening to this.

Speaker A: And I'll say you bye, everybody.

Speaker B: If you've made it to the very end of the podcast and value what content and guests I try and put out, please could you help take part in the following challenge to help celebrate our 100th podcast episode? I need your help. If you listen on Apple or have never listened to the podcast over there but are able to, please head on over, listen to an episode or several, and please leave a review over the month of April to celebrate our 100 episodes. I'm hoping we can achieve 100 reviews on the Apple platform. If we do, then I'm looking to set up some live question and answer calls, along with some other events to help celebrators achieving this target. Haunted history. Chronicles. Podcasts needs you. Thank you.

Kimberly L CraftProfile Photo

Kimberly L Craft


Kimberly L. Craft holds bachelor and master's degrees as well as a juris doctorate. She also received a Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache from the Goethe Institut in Munich. Prof. Craft has served on various faculties, including DePaul University and Florida A&M College of Law. An attorney and legal historian, Craft has spent over a decade researching the life and trial of Countess Báthory and over a year translating original source material into English.