The Blood Countess is writing her memoirs in order to help her master and lover, Anton recover from a deadly illness.
The being known worldwide as Ezsebat Bathory was born in Nyirbator, Hungary, on the 7th of August, 1560. I was the second child and the eldest of three sisters. My brother, Stephen, was the eldest. My parents were Gyorgy Bathory and Anna, who was also of the Bathory clan. Neither of my parents fussed over me or praised me. I was conceived from an infrequent act of love or perhaps it happened at the end of a drunken evening when my father turned his attention to my mother instead of a buxom peasant girl.
As for my mother—it is known to me that she had no liking for her matrimonial duties. To spread one’s legs so that the royal line continued would have been her only reason to have willingly accommodated my father. I had overheard servants’ gossip about her being raped on her wedding night as she was less than willing or at the very least frightened. Decisions had to be made as whether or not to see to her needs.
Of course, wiser heads prevailed among the staff so that no one disturbed my father on his special night. As far as my being born, the conception occurred. There is no other way to describe it than frankly say: his sex shot out of him and entered her and the baby began to grow from then on. I, Bathory, Queen of Blood There were nine months of bleeding on and off, this I learned from letters I purloined, written by my mother to her sisters. I fear to lose the child. His rage would be murderous. At the very least he would not divorce me.
Still, I would be subjected to constant humiliation as he took one peasant after another to his bed. As it is, I often hear laughter and joyful shrieks coming from his bedchamber. The bleeding must have stopped because I was a full term baby and quite beautiful, it is said. I understand I pleased my parents if for nothing else than the fact I further guaranteed the survival of their line. I wanted for nothing. My world was privileged and my parents high born, but my life was no fairy tale. I did not come from kindly or compassionate people.
Cruelty and insanity were rampant in my family despite their wealth and position. My uncle and grandfather had both been rulers of Transylvania. Our family, being so important, looked inside itself for marriage partners and because of this, there was incest; and because of the incest, there was sometimes insanity and deviancy. That insanity thrived in the family I can only attribute to hearsay. A servant told me that my grandfather was a satyr. He enjoyed nothing more than rushing into official meetings naked, ready to mount anyone who was willing. He had made all the female servants pregnant, even his own daughters.
Wise women were often consulted and the unborn child aborted. If a child was born, it was given away. Only my Aunt Klara kept her child but the girl, I think it was, did not live long. I was both amazed and thrilled by these tales a servant told. Elsa knew so much, but then something happened. She was taken away. I also recall hearing her screams as she was beaten for betraying confidences. They said she ran away but I didn’t believe it. I saw guards carrying a large bundle. They also carried torches and shovels.
There was no one to ask what had happened, not that I’d have dared. No one spoke to me. All they did was stare and whisper. I didn’t know what to think. Mystery, lies, and conjecture were all around me and always would be. There were matters of illness, too. I had suffered from fits since childhood. My mother said it was part of the curse. “Such a beauty, and she is cursed.” Those were her words.
But as young as I was, I did not believe this. This was the first time I thought of my mother as being ignorant. That view would never change. As for myself, I have believed things when you read on you will wonder at. Perhaps I thought ill of my mother because I didn’t love her. I recall being ill more often than not. The fits and dark moods were all about me then. There was no relief, or at least, to get any seemed impossible. And because of that, I grew angry.
After all, I was tired of hurting myself from the falling sickness. Often I got bruised and hurt. That is when the rages began. It was as though angry voices were urging me on. I witnessed certain things. Acts of brutality carried out by guards. I knew those acts happened on my parents’ orders. I’d watch whippings of servants and peasants. This would go on for hours as the head of our household staff questioned the victim.
There were charges of thieving. One incident I remember involved a young housemaid being questioned over the disappearance of some silverware. Not only was she whipped, she was abused by both the guards. If my presence had been noted, I’d have been in for a whipping myself by order of my parents. I knew that, yet I was drawn to stay, intrigued by what I saw. It was thrilling. Plainly arousing.
Of course, my childish mind didn’t think of it that way—not then. I only realize it as an adult. One of the guards—Trei was his name—was handsome, but for the dueling scars he had, the only corruption in his handsome features. He was always the one to lead the examination, as he called it. “We will examine the thief now,” he’d say. Then he’d start asking questions, but at the same time he’d be pulling hair. I winced and didn’t enjoy what I was watching, yet something was making me stay. It was as though I could not pull away.
Once, I was seen. I nearly died when Trei questioned me. He warned me I wasn’t to ever watch the punishments or interviews. Then he winked at me and gave me a sweet. For the longest time, I obeyed their dictums. Even when I heard shrieks, I stayed away. However, over time, my curiosity got the better of me. I know now I wanted to watch the horror! You see this was insidious—this desire to see suffering, because my need for it would grow.
I was not well. The fits had returned almost immediately after I was seen where I wasn’t to be. I fell many times and lay undiscovered—I only knew what happened when I’d come to and feel the pain in my head or whatever part of me I had hurt. My parents never knew about my wanting to see suffering. My sisters did and I warned them not to tell. I said I’d hurt them and they believed me, especially my little sister Klara Anna, as I nearly broke her finger once when she took one of my dolls and would not say where it was. Sophia always clung to her after that. Nothing I did could ever make Sophia look kindly upon me again. I think that was when I first felt like a monster. When one feels this way, it is only a matter of time until one becomes one! Seeing fear in others’ eyes fuels the dark 16 Carole Gill desire to dominate and punish. The more fear I saw, the more I wanted to see.
There was an old servant who fell sick. My mother was annoyed with this woman as she kept dropping things. She’d always beg for forgiveness but Mother sounded angry and would order her from her room. When the old servant—Gabber, I think her name was— hobbled out in tears, I followed her to the kitchens where she went to speak with the head of the staff. Yes, Trei. She told him she was ill and unable to work. He flew into a rage. “Why do you tell me, you old cow? Do you expect pity?” She said she did not. “No, sir, not pity,” she said. “Just some bread and I will return to my village.” Trei screamed at her and started to hit her. Down she went under the rain of blows.
One of the female staff pleaded with him to stop. Instead of listening, he turned his anger on the maid. There was so much blood on the floor, long after the women stopped shrieking. From my undiscovered vantage point, I could not tell if the women were alive. As it turned out, they weren’t. After kicking them and getting no response, Trei grabbed one of the young maids and hauled her out of the house. I wanted to see what he was going to do with her, but I could not go—I’d have been discovered. So, I stayed where I was. I must have fallen asleep because it was quiet when I woke. There were only a few servants about, scrubbing pots.
Had I slept through dinner, my mother would be furious, I knew. So as soon as I was able to, I stole outside. I had decided to go in another way, hoping not to be seen. As I passed by the gatehouse, I saw Trei with a naked woman. I recognized her to be the servant. 17 I, Bathory, Queen of Blood She was crying because he was doing things to her. Things I knew had to be about intimacy. I had already seen peasants doing such things to one another. Usually I found it boring and silly, but not this time. It pains me to admit now but I found it fascinating and interesting, mostly because the girl was crying so hard! And if that wasn’t enough, seeing another man there also touching the girl seemed so remarkable to me.
He was naked as well. I could see his buttocks. When I heard Trei say, “Your Lordship,” I nearly screamed. It was my father! When I reached the dinner table, my mother looked too upset to admonish me for being late for my father’s chair was still empty! I smiled at her. How lucky I was that Father wasn’t there, I thought. That wasn’t the only time I knew my father to be involved with such things.
I witnessed other things too. I realized he liked one of the new maids quite a bit. She was a buxom, beautiful girl and I saw him kiss her. I had gotten used to hiding in cupboards and knew exactly which room Father would take her to. They went at it for quite a long time. The girl was giggling and so was Father. Mother didn’t care what her husband did. That was obvious to me.
Still, I felt the girl had disrespected my mother. So I snuck up on her when she was sleeping and beat her with a rolling pin. The sound of the pin upon her flesh was exhilarating. She was full of blood when I left her, happy in my heart I had done something to punish her for her loose ways! As for my father, he continued to do as he wished and with whomever he wanted. At least ten babies were born during my childhood. The offspring of housemaids. Most of the girls left to return to their villages. None of them were compensated, I am certain.
Then, when I turned ten, my father died. I had no reaction at all. It meant nothing to me. My mother acted the part of a grieving widow, as was expected of our class. She wore black all the time and took to her bed. I wondered if perhaps she had feelings for him after all. This puzzled me and still does. As I rarely saw her and had grown very distant to my sisters, I had no one as my brother, Stefan, didn’t pay attention to me at all. I felt lonely sometimes, and also bored in these years. There was little to do but play with dolls I no longer wanted—stupid, passive things with blank faces. If I squeezed them or knocked them on the floor, there was no reaction. And I wanted there to be! I shall die of boredom, I thought.
Ever resourceful, though, I discovered other pursuits. There were peasant boys I could entice with a smile and a wink. I quite liked one in particular. He’d come around with his father to do carpentry. Twice, I had gotten him alone. As we were so young, neither of us knew what to do; we only touched one another, believing we imitated what we thought adults did with regard to lovemaking. My mother’s personal maid discovered us both naked in one of the food stores. From the expression on her face,
I knew she was going to tell my mother. No amount of pleading helped. Yet, because nothing appeared to happen for the longest time, I thought possibly she didn’t tell her but then, just when I turned eleven, something did happen. I was told there was exciting news. As the eldest, I was the first to have to marry and would be united with Ferenc Nádasdy. So, just like that, I was engaged! “You are my child and it is a great honor.” Was it really? My husband would take my own name, Bathory—I thought that odd but it was our family that had the name and our family that had the money.
Yet, I knew the ugly truth even at that young age: I was being married off so as to be controlled more easily. My future mother-in-law, Countess Ursula Nasady, sent a carriage for me. My mother was filled with excitement. This was the first time I had seen her smile in ages. She made a great fuss over me as I was packed off. If only she had always been like that! I was so moved by this display of affection, I cried the entire way to Sarvar Castle. Never had I felt more hopeless. I was received with great enthusiasm by my future mother-in-law.
I am sure I hated her from that moment. It was just something about her fawning and overly emotional antics—not something I was used to. She told me constantly that I would soon meet my prospective husband. That didn’t happen for some time. What did occur proved annoying as she buzzed around me constantly. She felt it was her mission to teach me all she deemed important. I was told how to dress, write letters and even how to eat. I am sure she meant well, but it got rather irritating. As it turned out, I did not meet Frenec until several months later, just before our wedding! I will say I was not lonely for male company for I had my eyes on a peasant boy from the village.
Jan was handsome and sweet and seemed beguiled by me from the first. We had already seen one another naked and had been coupling for some time. As I had seen Jan’s manhood, which was of generous size, I wondered how big Frenec’s was. Anton, for the purposes of this memoir, I shall include some use modern day words to describe things. I find it so much easier now. 20 Carole Gill When I next saw Jan, I asked him some rather direct questions. Any knowledge of sex that I had came from over hearing servants mainly, although some guards were only too happy to whisper the most outrageous things to me.
My personality was such that I was never shocked. Still, Jan’s was only the second penis I’d ever seen, so I wondered about the variation in size from male to male. The first time I was with him, I asked, “How big will it get?” “Touch it and see.” He grinned. This I did, and lo and behold, it grew—quite a bit as it happened. When he told me to take off my underthings, I was worried. “You’ll hurt me.” He swore he wouldn’t. He didn’t mean to, I was certain, but it did hurt the first time. Still, I liked the sensation of it all and saw no reason not to meet him again in secret.
As incredible as it may seem, we had been meeting one another for three years, without anyone knowing, which made the whole thing even more thrilling. Three years and my fiancé and I had yet to meet! That was because of his military campaigns, his mother assured me. When I turned fourteen, I felt my body begin to change. My breasts were bigger, which pleased Jan and me, too. But then we both got worried. Jan started it off. “I think you are pregnant,” he said. “If you are, they will kill me and punish you.”
I was terrified. Determined to hide the pregnancy, I wore whatever worked. My mother-in-law found out and exploded with anger. She yelled at me so much, I miscarried. The blood and horror of what came out of me affected me, I know it did. If I had been cursed with fits and rages, it became worse now. Jan and his father vanished. I was told they left the country. I hope they did but I had my doubts. As for me, I was punished by being locked in my chamber. No one spoke to me, not until two weeks before my wedding, when servants came to wash and prepare me, they said. Ursula was with them.
“We will proceed from here and forget the evil and shame you brought upon yourself and our house. My son is arriving tomorrow. Your wedding will take place on the 8th of May. That is one week from today..."