Born: c. 1560
Birthplace: Ecsed Castle, Translyvania (now Romania)
Best known as: The countess who bathed in the blood of virgins
A member of the Transylvanian royal family, Erzsebet (or Elizabeth) Bathory was known as the "Countess of Blood" and ultimately imprisoned in her own castle for murdering more than 600 women. Bathory was born into a prominent family who controlled much of east central Europe (from what is now Poland to Romania). She was married off and became a countess in Transylvania, where she apparently developed a practice of torturing servants and prisoners for her own pleasure. The story goes that an aging Erzsebet decided that bathing in the blood of young maidens would keep her young and attractive. Instead, her outrageous crimes overruled her status as a royal and she was imprisoned in 1610 in a room in her castle. Four years later she died. Lurid tales of her behavior have existed ever since, and there are some people who insist Bathory's crimes were an inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.
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