The Fans of the Countess
Update: June 2004
Since I am receiving more art in recent times, I've decided to add a gallery of art about Elizabeth. The gallery is here.
Update: February/March 2004
William Max Miller created the portrait of Erzsébet below. It is not based on the traditional portraits or 19th century romantic renderings. It is a new re-thinking, with red hair instead of black. You can visit Miller's artwork at http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/Nightmares.htm. He writes, "All of my artwork focuses on the strange, the macabre, and the bizarre. Naturally, Elizabeth Bathory, with her allegedly vampiric/homicidal habits, fits into these colorful categories! I chose not to use her famous portrait and its several variants as a model, but turned toward my own inner vision of this sinister woman. I depicted her engulfed by the flames of her infernal passion for blood and eternal youthfulness."
There's also this piece that came in from an Erzsébet enthusiast calling himself Dead Cowboy. He created a pendant for his girlfriend (yes, it was enthusiastically received). Dead Cowbody is also a writer with a great script for a modern-day tale of Erzsébet and Vlad Dracula, and is on the hunt for a professional comic book illustrator. Drop me a note if you're an illustrator willing to collaborate with him.
This website has received millions of hits since it opened in 1996, and I have received thousands of emails.
The Erzsébet fans come from every country and write in every language. Some letters I can read, and some I can muddle through with the help of dictionaries, while others are entirely opaque.
Many ask me the obvious questions that are already answered on the website: "Are you related to her?" "Can you send me pictures?" "Will you do my research for me?" "How do I get to her castle?" One out of three asks, "Did you ever hear Cradle of Filth?" (Yes I have! Please don't ask me again!)
Others have done research of the Countess themselves, and are fascinated--as I have been--with the character of Erzsébet. Lisbet has studied the portraits for clues to her character. Sarah's artwork is influenced by what she learns. Lorraine uses the Countess as a sort of life-guide. Betty is looking for medical connections to help her family with their afflictions. In 'real life', part-time Erzsébet biographer Shyla is a professional graphics designer. Charlotte (who 'personified' the Countess for five years) is a forestry student, and Raffaella is an extraordinary electroacoustic composer who has written works with Erzsébet in mind.
Some visitors, especially the vampire expert Elizabeth Miller, help me to correct my facts, and those with Slovak heritage upbraid me for not telling their story.
Others submit stories or novels. For some reason, the Blood Countess is a special favorite in South America, where she has been the subject of stories both famous and little known. Among the former is Alejandra Pizarnik's classic La condesa sangrienta and the latter include the short novels published on this site, written by Carlos Carrillo of Peru and Carlos Pérez of Argentina (also Pizarnik's home until her death in 1972).
Court TV and MSN have drawn from the site. After finding my stories, London Weekend Television produced a special for the Discovery Channel, using an interview with me done at Cséjthe Castle. Publishers on three continents has reprinted photos, and a French vampire magazine asked me for a story.
Other site visitors ask permission to use photos and texts, and some, like Mara and Eurydice, send me their photos. Several, such as Syn and ElricWarrior, warn me who is stealing my photos or my bandwidth without permission.
Yes, too many call themselves "Elizabeth Bathory," even if their real names are Amanda or Brandy, and the occasional genuine Erzsébet Bathory is hard to spot, especially under the hailstorm of 'genealogical research' requests.
Though men are fascinated by her story, it's the young women who profess love for the Countess. Never mind that, were this 1600, they would likely be despised by the haughty noblewoman who negotiated with national leaders, spoke three languages, and commanded endless servants and massive wealth. Never mind that she was not herself a free spirit, but rather royalty constrained by politics, motherhood, and the balance of multiple religious demands. Never mind that in her single surviving portrait, she is the epitome of convention, with hardly a glimmer of contumacy. And never mind that she mercilessly tortured and murdered hundreds of young women just like them. They love her still.
After reading these thousands of emails, I realize that these young women love Erzsébet, are obsessed with her, in ways I cannot, will never, fathom. To me, she is a horrific ancestor, but one worthy of telling the story in opera.
Here is what they say:
- Charlotte: Erzsebet Bathory is very precious to me and I still want to search and to learn about her, to know her world and perhaps one day to understand it. Through my personification experience, I developed a personality: a way of moving, walking and talking, a way of thinking and observing, a way of responding to my environment, all based upon my readings and, for a large part not to be dismissed, a kind of instinct of mine.
- Sarah: I don't think E wanted death for the victim. She wanted to be the center-like god, rule over a life. It is the same power a toothache has. It will shut you down. She gets drunk on attention, the pleas, the praise, the complete control over another human being who is quivering helplessly on her whim. We don't have the full attention of others. They have agendas, opinions and moods. The only times I can think of pure attention is when we are in love or in pain. If I burn your finger you are thinking about two things, pain and the cause. That's you and me. If you kiss your wife there is also that clarity. Which one has the chance of being less intimate? Pain rules us, Love guides us.
- Lisbet: I first meet Elizabeth Bathory some years ago and what struck me was of course the silence about her, the attempted deletement from history and the fact that very few despite the enormous fiction and history potential in her terrifying story had not called her back into the daylight again. So I studied the political and national history around (the details of her crimes do not interest me, the fact that they happened and why is something different) and yes it was a time of cruelty and total power of those in financial and political power, but still for that time she was a little too much. However, I wonder whether the reasons to stop her may have been more complex than stated, because peasant life meant nothing at the time.
- Lorraine: the faint, misty light of a dying fire and scent of embers permeate erzsebet's bedroom, while the voices that plague her whisper words she can barely understand... some nights near maddening, tonight, they're enchanting - seized by an imaginary wind, she begins to dance with shadows on her wall, spinning till breathless, and falls back onto the bed while slowly, a wave of agitation and longing overcomes her. she bites down on her lower lip, knowing that at any moment she could call for one of her servants... her heart pounding, blood dripping down her chin, she finds herself near the door... flames dance in her sable eyes, which begin to smile...
- Virginia: What must her life have been like? To be a woman when women were considered property.. worth only the fortune they could bring to the marriage and their ability to bear children. That in itself would be enough to drive any self-respecting woman, who knows her own personal value, to do strange and cruel things to those around her. But those question will more than likely never be answered, since there is so little left available to the public that can be verified. Sigh... the trials and heartaches of being interested in history's misfits.
- Eurydice: Elisabeth has been an obsession of mine for the last two years. I have searched and found everything about her life. I feel her like I have been known her for ages... All of my friends find it very strange that I like her so much... I see her form in my dreams and I know that she was pretty unhappy for the fact that she would lose her beauty... Please, I would like to know more... and why do I feel her so much?
- Chris: I am in awe over this woman and am very fascinated by her.
- Hilary: When I was 14 I read about Erzsebet and since then I've been totally obsessed. I took on the handle bathory, use it everywhere.
- Veronica: Ever since I first read about this woman I've been captivated by her story. Besides the fact that she was terrifying there is a strange beauty in her that's impossible not to fall under her spell.
- Casipioa: Bathory is my every obsession. i belive that she is a great woman, and now i see those pictures, and i know, that she was torchered, when she was put there, how could they do that to such a beautiful woman, she was put there aginist her will. She should not have been locked up, but set free as the star she is.
- Rebecca: I've been in love with her for 3 years and am always trying to find whatever I can on her. I've read tons of books and novels and whatever I find at bookstores. The fact that you wrote an opera is very exciting. I heard a movie is being made which somewhat upsets me. Just thinking stupid people will be talking all about her and such. And the fact that the movie industry loves to mess with the true facts and most likely will ruin the story of her life. Plus, people who are ignorant about her will be talking and pretending to love her. I'm the only person I know at my school who even knows about her.
- Silvir: i've always found it fascinating that most of our true geniuses were in fact murderers, or clinically diagnosed somehow "insane".. ...Jack the Ripper was my favourite until i read about the Countess Bathory...whether or not she was a vampire is up to individual speculation, seeing as how the word vampire may be construed in so many different ways...i was just interested in the woman...now that i've studied her, she is definitely my favourite in her genre...i hope that you don't think me weird, but if you do i really wouldn't care too much...i'm just being honest and honestly i don't know what it is about her..i feel some sort of connection, but i don't know in what way or why...it is relatively strong, though, this connection that i feel....i do believe that i actually Understand her now...
- Melissa: I had a dream one night about living in an old castle where they spoke a language I didn't understand but could speak it. I remember being locked in what was like a closet it was dark and it had no windows. Men were laughing at me as they bricked me in. I eventually went insane. I never gave the dream a second thought until I heard about Erzsebet on a medieval castle show. People tell me it's a past life.
- Christina: I have an uncanny resemblance to the countess. My face looks as her face looks, and my eyes are the darkest of brown, sometimes they even look red. since i was i little girl i have had dreams about things that i have never seen to this day, places far away where i have never been before now in this web site i have seen these thing before, yet i have never seen your site. This is so frightening you have no idea.
- Jessica: I have an obsession with the Bathory story.