Serial killers have always been around; Jack the Ripper is a well-known example, even though he only killed between 5 to 11 women. His name might only be remembered because his identity was never cleared up, and that may be because it has always been rumored that he was a member of the British royal family. To ensure you that the world is not getting much worse, here is the story of a serial killer from way before Jack the Ripper, born in the 1500s, and who had a non-typical childhood, just as the killers mentioned in previous posts did. She was probably the wealthiest serial killer of all times. I chose to write about the “The Blood Countess” because I happened to be sightseeing Slovakia at the time of this writing.
The Countess Elizabeth Bathory was born in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1560. As far as I know, Count Dracula is the only historical serial killer who outrivals her. The countess was educated, good looking, and her wealthy family ruled Transylvania as a virtually independent principality inside the kingdom of Hungary. Her family was distinguished and it included kings, as well as cardinals, knights, and judges. However, there were also some seriously disturbed family members. One of her uncles instructed her in Satanism, while her aunt taught her all about sadomasochism. It is known that as a child, Elizabeth was taken witness peasants being tortured, and public punishment was a norm of the times.
It is also known that Elizabeth was not a calm child; she was prone to temper tantrums. When Elizabeth was a child, she suffered from seizures, and they were probably caused by epilepsy, which in turn may have been caused by the inbreeding of her parents and past relatives. At that time, one of the ways to treat seizures was to rub blood from a person who didn’t have the ailment on the lips of the person having the fit. They would also medicate the person having a seizure with blood of a healthy person, mixed with a piece of human skull. We can only imagine where they got a piece of a healthy skull. It could be that the taste for blood kind of grew the countess.
Countess Elizabeth had a mind of her own. When she was only 10 her family arranged her engagement with a boy from another aristocratic family. Perhaps they didn’t consult her, because a year or two later she had a baby who was fathered by a lower-class man. Her fiancé is said to have had him castrated and then ordered him torn to pieces by dogs. The baby, a girl, was hidden away and the wedding to this young man from the “good” family was held when Elizabeth was 14. There were 4,500 guests present. Elizabeth’s social rank was higher than her groom’s, and she refused to change her name to his, so instead, he changed his name to her family name, becoming Count Bathory. The teenage couple set up housekeeping in what today is Slovakia. The 19-year-old husband was still studying in Vienna, and away most of the time. Later, he became an ambitious soldier and fighting the Turks also kept him away from their castles. Elizabeth learned to run their estates, had four children, and also took various lovers. To make up his absences, Elizabeth’s husband reportedly built a torture chamber to her specifications.
The countess began to torture and kill servants in her castles, replacing them by inviting local peasant girls to work for her, and still later attracting girls from a better class to come to her castles to learn good manners. For her sick amusement, she would stab or stick the girls with needles or scissors, especially under their nails, sometimes burn them to death. Her crimes were often seasonal; the countess would freeze them in the winter and tie them down, smear them with honey, and leave them to be attacked by bees and ants in the summer. Or, sometimes she would simply starve them to death. She believed that drinking their blood would preserve her youthfulness. Some say that she also bathed in the blood of the young virgins. Her husband, the count, sometimes participated, but it is thought that he also restrained her somewhat; after all, she did have four children to bring .
However, after the count died in the early 1600s, the countess began to take her entertainment habits to an even higher level. Elizabeth Bathory is said to have killed about 650 girls. There were a lot of gossip and rumors circulating the kingdom, and it wasn’t fake news. King Matthias II finally heard about what the noblewoman was doing, and sent his highest-ranking official to investigate. He got lucky and caught her in the act. She was arrested, along with four of her favorite servants who were also her accomplices. Three of her servants were tried and executed and the fourth was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two of the servants had their fingers ripped off their hands with hot pincers just before their executions, and the third, who had been deemed less culpable, was simply beheaded, and then his body was burned. After the executions, a red gallows was put near the castle to show the public that justice had been done. Kings, just like politicians, have a need to show their public that they are on top of things.
But even in those days, the rich got off easier than the lower classes when it came to punishment. The king and his authorities decided not to bring the countess to trial, as the publicity would have negatively affected the noble class. She was spared public humiliation, but they did figure out a non-public, torturous punishment for the countess. They shut her up in one of her castles, in a single room with walled-in windows. The room had only small slits for ventilation and the passing of food. She lived for 4 years in that room, until her death at age 54 in 1614. It would be hard to find a modern TV series or a movie to outdo the atrocities of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. The castle where she committed most of her torture is in Čachtice, and that is also the castle where she was imprisoned. You can visit the castle ruins, but you won’t find her gravestone, because the townspeople were too afraid of her to leave her body in a marked grave. But who knows? Her body might be walled inside the castle.
FYI is an acronym, and an acronym is a word formed by combining the first letters of each word of a name, such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) that is frequently seen in the news. Another one you probably know is AIDS, which is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Sometimes acronyms are pronounced as a word as in NATO and AIDS, and sometimes the letters are pronounced individually, such as FYI (for your information). And most of the time they are not even pronounced, as they are used mostly in social media, business communication and Internet. But we do hear CNN (Cable News Network) reporters saying ASAP frequently, which means As Soon As Possible and is hard to pronounce.
Sometimes acronyms become words, such as the word scuba. Everybody knows that word, but few know it started out as an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Another acronym that became a word is laser, which began as the acronym Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Most of us are very pleased that these two words became acronyms.
For now, try to incorporate FYI and ASAP into your daily communications, and don’t spend too much time remembering what AIDS and LASER and SCUBA really mean. But you should be able to recognize NATO as it has become a big issue in North America and Europe.
Here are six business acronyms that you should know if you are a businessperson, and maybe aspire to if you are in middle management. Which one would be the lowest stress and the highest salary?