Anne Rice "Wampir Lestat"
Juraj Jakubisko "Bathory" (2008)
Życiorys Erzsébet Báthory
Szlachecka rodzina Bathory wywodziła się od klanu Huna Gutkelda, którego władza szeroko obejmowała obszary wschodnio-centralnej Europy (dzisiejsze tereny Polski, Węgier, Słowacji i Rumunii) i który był stosunkowo sławny w pierwszej połowie trzynastego wieku. Porzucając swoje plemienne korzenie, jako nazwisko przybrali nazwę jednej ze swych posiadłości (Bator oznacza „mężny”). Ich siła rosła aż do połowy szesnastego wieku, kiedy to osiągnęła szczyt, później podupadła i kompletnie zanikła w roku 1658. Potężni królowie, książęta, członkowie władzy sądowniczej, jak również urzędnicy kościelni i świeccy byli wśród Batorych.
Elizabeth urodziła się w 1560 roku. Jej rodzice Jerzy i Anna Bathory należeli do jednej z najstarszych i najpotężniejszych rodzin w kraju. Jej kuzyn był premierem Węgier, inny krewny był kardynałem, a jej wuj Stefan został później królem Polski w latach 1575 - 1586. Ale oprócz tego, że rodzina Bathory była bardzo znana i bogata również miała bardzo dziwnych krewnych. Jeden z wujów był wyznawcą Szatana, a inni członkowie rodziny byli chorzy umysłowo albo zboczeni. Przyczyny tkwiły w niektórych małżeństwach, które zawierano w gronie najbliższej rodziny, co jak zwykle przy tego rodzaju praktykach prowadzi do różnych problemów i upośledzeń. Poza „zwykłymi problemami” powstało kilka bardzo ciężkich przypadków. Najbardziej znanym była właśnie ciesząca się złą sławą sadystyczna Elizabeth.
Była sprawnym fizycznie i aktywnym dzieckiem, co nie było często spotykane u dzieci w szlacheckich rodzinach. Wychowywana zarówno jako członek rodziny królewskiej i młoda pokojówka była bardzo piękna. Delikatne rysy twarzy, smukłe ciało, wysoka jak na swój wiek, nie współgrały jednak z jej osobowością. Uważała, że jej najlepszą cechą była wspaniała kremowa cera, o czym często mówiła. Mimo że inni nie byli tak zachwyceni jej raczej zwyczajną cerą, często ją chwalili, bo komplementy mogły przynieść im korzyści, jako że Elizabeth nie lubiła być niezauważana oraz była mściwa.
Na dworze swojej przyszłej teściowej, hrabiny Urszuli Nadasdy, Elizabeth wieku 14 lat urodziła nieślubne dziecko, którego ojcem był najprawdopodobniej chłopiec z pobliskiej wsi. Elizabeth była zaręczona z 21 letnim wówczas hrabim Ferenczem Nadasdy od 1671 roku. Ich ślub odbył się 8 maja 1575 roku, kiedy hrabina skończyła 15 lat; niespotykanym na owe czasy był fakt, że małżonek przyjął nazwisko swojej żony. Od tej pory Elizabeth zamieszkała wraz z teściową w zamku Csejthe w Nyitri położononym w Karpatach, na dzisiejszym obszarze centralnej Rumunii, znanym wtedy jako Transylwania. W pobliżu nie było żadnego większego miasta, zamek był otoczony jedynie wioskami prostych chłopów i rolników uprawiających pobliskie pola. Frencz Nadasdy rzadko bywał w domu – wolał pola bitewne od życia rodzinnego i dzięki swoim poczynaniom zyskał przydomek Czarnego Bohatera Węgier. Najczęściej walczył przeciwko Turkom.
W 1585 roku Elizabeth urodziła pierwszą z trzech córek, Annę.
Podczas gdy mąż hrabiny przez całe 25 lat małżeństwa ganiał za wrogami, Elizabeth często była skazana na samotność i nudę. Dla zabicia czasu godzinami siedziała przed lustrem i podziwiała swoją urodę albo sprowadzała sobie młodych mężczyzn do zamku wiadomo w jakim celu. Odwiedzała również swoją ciotkę, hrabinę Klarę Bathory, słynącą z homoseksualnych upodobań. Niejednokrotnie brała udział w kobiecych orgiach. Właśnie wtedy poznała swoje prawdziwe upodobania - zadawanie bólu pięknym, młodym dziewczętom.
Podczas nieobecności hrabiego, służący Bathory - Thoroko, zainteresował hrabinę ciemnymi mocami. Nauczał ją Czarnej Magii, umacniając tym samym jej sadystyczne skłonności. W jednym z listów do swojego męża hrabina napisała "Thoroko nauczył mnie nowego czaru: Złap czarna kurę i użyj czarnej trzciny by ja zabić. Następnie zgromadź jej krew by móc ja wsmarować w ciało wroga swego, a gdy nie nadarzy się ku temu okazja zdobądź szaty swego wroga i wsmaruj w nie krew.” ( nie wiem co dalej :( ) Gdy hrabina zaczęła się pokazywać u boku ubierającego się na czarno człowieka o bladej cerze, czarnych oczach oraz nienaturalnie ostrych zębach, wierzący w wampiry wieśniacy zaczęli się niepokoić. Gdy hrabina powracała od nieznajomego kilku poddanych twierdziło, ze na ustach Elizabeth widoczne były ślady krwi. Hrabina zafascynowała się swym służącym do tego stopnia, ze wraz z nim postanowiła uciec z zamku. Jednak po pewnym czasie wróciła i uzyskała przebaczenie męża.
Zainteresowania okultyzmem, Czarną Magią i czarami pogłębiała czarownica Dorothea Szentes, zwana również Dorką. Później stała się ona pomocną dłonią hrabiny, podsycając w niej sadystyczne tendencje do zadawania bólu ludziom. W podziemiach zamku zaczęły torturować służące. Pomocnikami w wykonywaniu makabrycznych kar była jej stara opiekunka i pielęgniarka Iloona Joo, pokojówka Anna Darvula (która była również kochanką Elizabeth), służący karzeł Johannes Ujavary Ficzko, który wkrótce stał się głównym nadzorcą tortur.
Hrabina zawsze znajdowała powody dla karania i torturowania służących dziewczyn. Kiedy ich zabrakło, dziewczyny były chwytane w pobliżu zamku i prowadzone do podziemnego lochu, zwanego Komnatą Tortur Jaśnie Pani. Były tam poddawane najokrutniejszym torturom, jakie można było wynaleźć. Pod pretekstem karania służących za drobne przewinienia, Bathory używała rozpalonego żelaza, roztopionego wosku oraz różnego rodzaju noży by przelewać ich krew. Ofiary musiały stać przed nią nagie zwrócone twarzą w jej stronę, ponieważ hrabina chciała oglądać twarze ofiar podczas ich biczowania, uwielbiała patrzeć w powykrzywiane bólem i cierpieniem oblicza. Kolejnym ulubionym rodzajem tortur było wbijanie pinezek we wrażliwe punkty ciała, na przykład pod paznokcie. Jej żądza krwi ciągle rosła. Wkrótce zaczęła atakować związane ofiary swoimi zębami odgryzając im kawałki ciała z szyj, ramion i policzków. Do tortur zaczęła używać brzytew, pochodni, oraz wykonanych przez męża szczypiec do torturowania jeńców, z których ciężko było wyciągnąć informacje. Były zrobione z utwardzanego srebra, przymocowane na końcu grubego bata i kiedy uderzało się nim ofiarę, wyrywały z niej kawałki ciała. Nawet tak okrutny człowiek jak Frencz Nasady był zdegustowany tym widokiem i zostawił przyrząd w zamku, z czego chętnie skorzystała jego żona.
Elizabeth Bathory była kobietą niespotykanej urody. Jej kruczoczarne włosy kontrastowały z jej mlecznobiałą cerą. Oczy miała koloru bursztynu a jej figura była podobno niespotykanie zmysłowa. Próżność hrabiny i samouwielbienie doprowadzały ją do coraz to nowych zboczeń.
W roku 1598 urodził się jedyny syn hrabiny, Paul. Miał trzy starsze siostry: Annę, Urszulę i Katherinę. Ilona Joo była opiekunką wszystkich dzieci.
W roku 1604 (według niektórych źródeł w 1602 roku) hrabia Frencz Nadasdy zmarł w Bukareszcie na skutek ran kłutych zadanych mu przez prostytutkę, której nie zapłacił. Elizabeth była teraz w prostej linii do objęcia polskiego tronu po królu Stefanie Batorym. Hrabina wygnała znienawidzoną teściową z zamku. Krótko przed śmiercią męża stało się coś, co odmieniło jej życie. Zbliżała się do czterdziestki, a to odcisnęło piętno na jej wyglądzie. Chciała ukryć zmarszczki dzięki kosmetykom, ale fakt, że się starzeje i jej uroda przemija był niepodważalny.
Pewnego dnia, pokojówka czesząca hrabinę przez przypadek wyrwała jej parę włosów lub za mocno je pociągnęła. Elizabeth zdenerwowała się do tego stopnia, że z całej siły uderzyła ją w twarz. Krew ze złamanego nosa pokojówki ubrudziła według różnych źródeł twarz lub dłoń hrabiny. Po zmyciu krwi spostrzegła, że niby skóra w tym miejscu stała się jędrna i świeża jak skóra młodej pokojówki. Niezwłocznie skonsultowała się z alchemikami chcąc poznać ich opinię na ten temat. Oczywiście nie mogli zaprzeczyć i wiele lat później również twierdzili, że krew młodych dziewic tak działa na skórę starszych (a zwłaszcza bogatych i hojnych) członków rodzin szlacheckich.
Z takimi dowodami Bathory była przekonana, że dokonała wspaniałego odkrycia, znalazła metodę na przywrócenie i zachowanie na zawsze swojej młodości. Zawołała Dorkę i Johannesa Ujvary i kazała im rozebrać dziewczynę, a następnie potrzymać jej ramiona nad dużą kadzią – wtedy przecięła jej tętnice. Kiedy pokojówka wykrwawiła się, hrabina weszła do kadzi i wzięła kąpiel w jej krwi. Hrabina sądziła, że krew jest eliksirem życia.
Przez kolejne dziesięć lat Elizabeth sprowadzała na dwór mnóstwo pięknych, młodych dziewic, które mordowała by mieć coraz więcej "szlachetnej cieczy". Krew służących była trzymana w beczkach, by Bathory mogła wykorzystać ja do kąpieli. Po takiej kuracji podobno odzyskiwała swoją młodość oraz dawny blask. Zdarzało się ze, młode dziewczyny były więzione w klatkach zawieszonych pod sufitem i przebijane ostrymi narzędziami w celu zapewnienia Elizabeth krwawego prysznica. Czasami piła nawet ich krew, aby nabrać czegoś w rodzaju wewnętrznego piękna. Jednakże niedługo hrabina zauważyła, że krew zwykłych wieśniaczek daje słaby efekt w poprawie wyglądu jej cery; potrzebna była lepsza krew. Bathory zaczęła więc zapraszać na swój dwór również piękne szlachcianki z uboższych rodów.
Przed kąpielą każda z ofiar była rozbierana do naga i wieszana do góry nogami na łańcuchach owiniętych w kostkach. Ich gardła były przecinane i krew z całego ciała spływała do kadzi zamieniającej się w basen powoli krzepnącej ciepłej krwi. Na specjalne okazje Elizabeth podobno piła krew dzieci: najpierw ze złotego pucharu, później prosto z ran, dopóki skamlące i skręcające się ciała wiszące na krokwach nie stawały się blade.
We wczesnych latach siedemnastowiecznej Transylwanii dobrze sytuowani rodzice chcieli, żeby ich córki znały etykietę i odpowiednie obyczaje, co mogło się przydać w zdobyciu odpowiednich znajomości w przyszłym życiu. Elizabeth zauważyła w tym okazję. W roku 1609 założyła akademię z zamku oferując przyjmowanie 25 dziewcząt ze stosownych rodzin w celu właściwego ukończenia ich edukacji. I rzeczywiście – ich edukacja była zakończona. Posłużyły do tych samych celów, co poprzedzające je wieśniaczki.
Zdobywanie nowych ciał było tak łatwe, że hrabina stała się nieostrożna w swoich działaniach. W ekstazie rozkazała wyrzucić cztery ciała pozbawione krwi poza mury zamku. Kiedy uświadomiła sobie swoje błędy był już za późno. Wieśniacy zauważyli ciała, zabrali je i zaczęli identyfikować zwłoki. Powód zagadkowych zniknięć setek młodych kobiet został rozwiązany.
Pogłoski rozchodziły się bardzo szybko I pewnego dnia dotarły do króla Węgier, Matthiasa II. Kiedy dowiedział się, co dzieje się na zamku Elizabeth Bathory nakazał hrabiemu Gyorgy Thurzo (który był kuzynem Elizabeth) przprowadzić najazd na zamek Csejthe. Dokonany został nocą 30 grudnia 1610 roku. Kiedy żołnierze dostali się do środka, ich oczom ukazał się przerażający widok. W jednej z komnat odnaleziono pozbawione krwi ciało kobiety, w innej znaleziono żyjącą jeszcze dziewczynę z podziurawionym ciałem. W lochach znaleziono parę uwięzionych w klatkach kobiet i kilka noszących ślady tortur. Po dłuższych poszukiwaniach wokół zamku znaleziono około 50 zwłok. W 1611 roku hrabinie wytoczono proces, nie została jednak aresztowana, ponieważ nie pozwalało na to jej arystokratyczne pochodzenie, zastosowano coś w rodzaju aresztu domowego – nie mogła opuszczać swojego zamku na czas prowadzenia śledztwa. Podczas dochodzenia w komnacie Elizabeth znaleziono rejestr z nazwiskami około 650 ofiar. Zastanawiający jest fakt, że nikt nie przywiązywał większej uwagi do tajemniczych zniknięć wieśniaczek, dopiero, kiedy hrabina wzięła się za szlachcianki zaczęto coś podejrzewać.
Ostatecznie udowodniono jej, że wraz ze swoimi pomocnikami zamordowała 600 kobiet; Bathory nigdy nie miała z tego powodu wyrzutów sumienia i ich nie żałowała. Status Elizabeth nie pozwalał na skazanie jej, za to towarzyszące jej osoby przy torturach zostały ścięte, oprócz Dorki i Iloony Joo, którym najpierw wyrwano palce u dłoni a następnie spalono żywcem. Jednak w końcu ją ukarano. Król Węgier nakazał uwięzić hrabinę w jej własnym zamku, zamurowując okna i drzwi. Zostawiono jedynie mały otwór w oknie wieży, przez który podawano jedzenie. Krwawa Dama zmarła w samotności swego zamczyska 14 lub 21 sierpnia 1614 roku.
Autor : Lord AchrimanBibliografia:
Date of premiere for Czech and Slovakian republic is set on 10th of July 2008.
Anna Friel - Erzsébet Báthory
Stage, screen and theatre actress, Anna Friel (Roz Harmison) has garnered awards and critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Following a busy 2004 in North America (opposite Rob Lowe in the CBS one off romantic comedy Perfect Strangers, winning over audiences as defense attorney Megan Delaney in Barry Levinson's gritty courtroom drama The Jury for Fox, as a heroine addict struggling with a custody battle in Gary Yates' Niagara Motel, and as Eddie Griffin's melodic Irish sweetheart in Irish Jam), Anna announced her pregnancy at the start of 2005. The first half of that year kept Anna busy in the UK filming GOAL before giving birth to a beautiful baby daughter Gracie Ellen Mary on July 9th with partner, actor David Thewlis. No rest for the wicked… GOAL 2 beckoned and Anna returned to work in Spain in the Autumn, bringing baby Gracie to her first film set. The first half of 2006 has kept Anna out of the UK again, filming the most grueling role of her career to date… that of legendary Countess Elizabeth 'Bathory', reported to be the greatest murderess in history. This was a long and arduous but expectedly highly rewarding shoot in and around the Czech Republic and the beautiful castles of Eastern Europe under the direction of iconic Slovakian director Juraj Jakubisko. Meanwhile, whilst we await the release we have a more glamorous image of the star gracing our screens in the form of the highly successful Pantene campaign currently running. GOAL 2 will be released by BVI worldwide in February 2007.
Born in 1976 in North West England, to language teaching parents, Anna grew up speaking fluent French. She first joined Oldham Theatre Workshop in 1989, performing in numerous productions in theaters across England. The following year, she was cast on the BBC series In Their Shoes, and also starred in Alan Bleasdale's critically acclaimed mini-series G.B.H.
During the next two years, the teenager amassed a long string of UK television credits that led to a gritty regular role, that of Beth Jordache, on the phenomenally popular series Brookside. During her last year on Brookside she garnered the coveted National Television Award for Best Actress, after which a number of fantastic television performances followed - including her much admired depiction of Bella Wilfer playing opposite Steven Mackintosh in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.
In 1995, Friel made her first foray into the world of feature film with Stephen Poliakoff's movie The Tribe, starring opposite Joely Richardson and Jeremy Northam. Other films followed including The Stringer, The Land Girls with Rachel Weisz and Catherine McCormack - Rogue Trader starring alongside Ewan McGregor, A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer, Sunset Strip, Watermelon, Barry Levinson's An Everlasting Piece, The War Bride, for which she was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role; the critically acclaimed Me Without You and the recent time-travel adventure for Paramount, Timeline alongside real life partner David Thewlis, Paul Walker, Billy Connoly and Gerard Butler.
In 1997, Friel returned to the stage at the Almeida Theatre in Look Europe with Harold Pinter. Two years later, she starred on Broadway in Patrick Marber's Closer, alongside Ciaran Hinds, Rupert Graves and Natasha Richardson, and was honored with a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play as well as Special Achievement Award for an Ensemble Performance. More recently she starred in the London stage play Lulu at the Almeida for which she received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2002.
Erzsebet Bathory, born in 1560, came from one of the most powerful Hungarian aristocratic families, the part of which also Polish king Stefan Bathory and Transylvanian prince Gabriel Bathory were. Her husband Ferenc Nadazdy, whom she married when she was 15 years old, held a no less important position - he served as an army advisor and commander of Emperor Rudolf II of the Habsburg dynasty. Erzsebet gave birth to five his children; daughters Anna and Katarina and son Pavel reached the adult age, but Andrej and Orsloya died when they were small children. Ferenc succumbed to his war injuries in 1604.
Erzsebet lived in the period of power and religious wars; her life was not easy, particularly after she became a widow possessing a great fortune. Hungary was divided into the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, with Bratislava as its capital. Upper Hungary included Slovakia and a part of Poland; Transylvania, ruled by Transylvanian prince and Polish king Zikmund Bathory, and his nephew Gabor later, formed its eastern part. The relation between the Habsburgs and Ottoman Empire had been rather peaceful until the beginning of the Fifteen-Year War in 1591. Erzsebet's husband Ferenc Nadasdy took an important part in Hungarian politics when the war against Turks started.
However, the original plans were a disaster; Turks could not be forced out definitely, the country was plundered after permanent war hardships, Transylvania was in chaos. In the last years (1604-1606), the civil war started as a matter of fact. That time Istvan Bocskai fought not only to end the military conflict with Turks, but also for the freedom of protestant religion, i. e. against the Habsburgs' effort to recatholicize the country. The both wars end in 1606; nevertheless, the internal struggle between the Habsburgs' followers and Hungarian nobility continues in the whole country.
The legend of Erzsebet Bathory depicts the countess as a cruel murderess of young virgins, bathing in their blood in her quest for eternal youth. This is not all - with help of some her maids she tortured the innocent girls with lighted candles, red-hot iron or she poured ice-cold water on them when it was freezing cold. Complaints against her got to the emperor's ear, who ordered Palatine Gyorgy Thurzo to investigate the whole matter. Thurzo, who promised his friend Ferenc to protect the family after his contingent death, contributed greatly to revealing the countess's alleged deeds. First he tried to save the large Nadasdy-Bathory fortune, and Erzsebet was forced to write a testament in the benefit of her children. But after some time he suddenly appeared at her seat in Cachtice, and then he claimed that he had caught her in the act. He immediately started investigation, which he ended as fast as it started. Many witnesses gave evidence in court, but the process against Erzsebet never took place. Her convicted assistants were executed and she was detained - interned in the tower of Cachtice castle, where she died after four years in 1614 without hearing her sentence.
Who was Erzsebet Bathory in reality? Was she really "a bloody countess" as some historians call her? Or was she an educated woman speaking several languages, with enthusiasm for healing? A noblewoman of luminous beauty, who was also so wealthy that she continuously irritated many ladies with her original tailored dresses made in Italy? A sadistic murderess or the victim of the then conditions full of dark intrigues netted by somebody powerful and longing for her fortune? A cruel, merciless countess or a vulnerable lonely widow, or possibly both?
In the place of Cachtice castle, which was said to be the most impregnable seat in Central Europe, there are only ruins nowadays. Cachtice castellet disappeared completely; there stands only the museum with a portrait of the region countess Erzsebet - a portrait of debatable quality, from which we cannot even determine her age. A sad, melancholic face looks at us sensuously; lips pressed hard together suggest that she was a vital woman, while her big eyes are a sign of her boldness and sense for romance…
Hans Matheson – Merisi Caravaggio
In a relatively short period of time Hans Matheson has interpreted an impressive range of characters. Most recently he completed shooting Juraj Jakubisko's Bathory, which shot over a seven month period in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the film Hans brings to life Merisi Caravaggio, the renowned Italian artist and father of Baroque painting whom Slovakian director Jakbuisko proposes as the would-be lover of 16th century Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, accused of murdering hundreds of her subjects.
Hans began his acting career just over 10 years ago when, at the urging of a drama-school teacher, a television audition led to a stage role as 50's rocker 'Silver Johnny' in Jez Butterworth's Mojo at the Royal Court Theatre. His early career brought mainly small-screen roles interspersed with feature film characters including the junkie boyfriend of a teenage prostitute trying to go straight in Coky Giedgoyc's Stella Does Tricks, and 'Luke Shand' the stand-in guitarist for a band in the Brian Gibson rock-n-roll resurrection flic Still Crazy, about a 1970's rock band preparing for their comeback concert.
His feature film break came with the role of 'Marius' in Les Miserables, Billie August's critically acclaimed adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic. Finding a certain equilibrium in working for both television and film, Hans followed up with a spate of small and large screen roles including: 'Mordred' in the Uli Edel mini-series The Mists of Avalon, which looks at the women behind the hero of Camelot; the title role of 'Yury Zhivago' opposite Keira Knightley and Sam Neil in Doctor Zhivago, adapted for Granada Television by Giacomo Campiotti. Feature film leads at this time include the musician 'Jeno Varga' in the romantic drama Canone Inverso and as 'Thomas' in the Ole Bornedal's Norwegian period drama I Am Dina. In "Death Watch" Hans plays Pvt. Jack Hawkstone, one of a small group of British soldiers caught behind enemy lines in the WWI drama with a psychological thriller twist directed by Michael J. Bassett.
Other roles Hans has recently brought to life for television include 'Jake' a struggling alcoholic trying to stay clean in Leo Regan's Channel 4' docu-drama Comfortably Numb; 'Nero' in Paul Marcus' Imperium: Nerone, a mini-series which covers five centuries of the Roman Empire; and 'Robert Devereux,' the flamboyant Earl of Essex in BBC's lavish production Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen. Here Hans re-teamed with Stella director Coky Giedroyc in this sweeping look at the life and loves of the queen.
Hans returned to feature films with the role of lighthouse keeper 'Angus,' opposite Demi Moore in the super-natural drama Half Light, directed by Craig Rosenberg. Hans grew up accompanying his parents to concerts and folk festivals and credits his mother with guiding him towards drama school. He is an accomplished musician and songwriter, and plays guitar, violin, piano and harmonica. He recently collaborated with his father (Ian Ado) on an album, Out On The Islands, which was released in 2003.
As in case of many other parts, Caravaggio is a real historical character. The director uses blank pages of Caravaggio's life and employs fantasy. Cachtice castle should be the place where he hides after the duel in 1592. He involuntarily spends there three years; Ferenc Nadasdy sends him as war booty to his wife Erzsebet to entertain her and have a family portrait painted. The young artist and lonely woman become close and fall in passionate love, bringing disaster upon them.
The historians view
Questions for a history expert
Countess Erzsébet Báthory
How would you describe the period in history in which Countess Báthory lived?
The turn of 16th and 17th century was a particularly complicated period for Hungary. After the Battle of Mohács in 1526 the country split and a large part of Hungary, including the southern area of present day Slovakia, became ruled by the Ottoman Empire. The borders shifted based on the military successes of one or the other enemy party. In 1593–1606 the "Long War" (also known as the Fifteen Year War) took place and practically all the Hungarian nobility participated, including Erzsébet's husband Ferenc Nádasdy and the future Palatine Juraj Thurzo.
However, peacetime years were rarely nonviolent. Poorly supplied Turkish brigades continued to plunder the country, which was also exploited by the imperial army and burdened with war expenses. Confiscation of supplies and crop failure caused repeated epidemics and famines.
On the other hand, culture boomed. Schools and printing shops were founded by aristocratic courts, books were published and patronage work was done, primarily supporting students at universities abroad (particularly in Germany).
Where did Countess Báthory live most often?
After marrying Ferenc Nádasdy, Countess Báthory lived in Sárvár and Kereszstúr castles, the most remarkable of the main nádasdy family residences. She regularly visited all the other Nádasdy's properties at least once a year and occasionally stayed in Vienna, where the family owned a house together with the Batthyányi family. During the reconstruction of the castle in Sárvár, Countess Báthory spent more time at other residences.
Why did she travel so much?
Countess Báthory had to look after the Nádasdy estates, as her husband was mostly in military camps or at political meetings. Paid clerks took care of administrative duties, but someone had to monitor their honesty and the quality of their work. In the early modern period, this task was carried out by aristocratic ladies who representing their husbands in times when the husbands were fighting a war or sitting in assemblies.
Was Countess Báthory really cruel, or was it a necessity of the time?
In medieval and early modern times, violence was a tool for survival and people were not as sensitive to its manifestations as we are nowadays. Primarily it resulted from the aristocracy-servant (superior-inferior) social structure. Second, violence was manifested in an open way from public executions to the permanent military conflicts of the region, and beating was considered a common and acknowledged upbringing method. Countess erzsébet Báthory might have been "cruel" even in that time, but it doesn't have the same meaning today.
And why is Countess Báthory said to be a heartless woman and the greatest murderess of all times?
This is a result of the legend created about the life of Countess Báthory. No other woman in history has been accused of committing and participating in so many crimes. Like other legends, this one was also bundled together with rumors, and due to fiction, films and sensationalist press, - as the proverbial saying goes about a lie repeated a hundred times, it has become the truth.
What was the relationship between the nobility and their subjects?
The social gap was, with some regional differences, common in every European country during the feudal age. As a ruling class, the nobility was at the head of political, military, social, cultural and religious life. They determined the laws and in a certain respect they were considered "almighty." However, this does not mean that subjects were completely helpless. When aware of their rights, they demanded them. The nobility profited from their work and thus had an interest in their prosperity and well being. The nobility cared about their protection, gave them exemptions from paying taxes and in meager times they offered necessary food. The sons exhibiting skills from a poor family were often educated by the nobility. The extent of goodwill shown by nobility was individual: some were said to be outspoken humanists and others were cruel and had many disputes with their subjects; therefore, they might have become the victims of revenge.
What medical treatments were used at that time?
The permitted medicine practices, surgery and traditional medicine, followed empirical findings known for several centuries. The doctor performed similar to an internist today in that he diagnosed and treated patients without operating. Surgery, including amputations, large and small operations, pulling out teeth, correcting broken limbs etc. was carried out by surgeons who studied with an older surgeon or barber-surgeon. In the countryside, the role of a doctor was performed mainly by an herbalist, based on knowledge gained from predecessors and their own experience. They often worked as midwives, too. Because of occasionally healing patients, or on the other hand failure to do so, herbalists were sometimes accused of using magic and became victims of witch-hunts. In aristocratic households, if the family was rich enough there was usually an educated doctor. These doctors often worked in towns and were called to the manor houses when needed. These households had relatively well-stocked libraries with many titles covering the subject of medicine and herbaria, which the mistress (looking after the health of the whole family and court) used for "bloodless" methods of healing, usually with the help of an herbalist or barber-surgeon. Operations carried out by barber-surgeons were particularly drastic because they were done without anesthesia, and wounds were disinfected by cauterization. Considering the insufficient hygiene, even the simplest operation could become fatally infected.
Was it possible to judge and sentence Countess Báthory for killing and torturing her subjects?
Members of nobility could be accused of killing a subject, but these disputes were hardly ever brought to court because subjects would receive a financial compensation anyway, thus it was usually solved out of court. On the other hand we should remember that noblemen did not kill their subjects as a pastime, because they would be destroying their own possessions and work force. There was also a lack of population (because of wars, epidemics, etc.) during the period in which Countess Báthory lived, so a lord killing a subject was rare. When a lord killed somebody belonging to another nobleman, the one who suffered damage could bring him to court (which he did if the problem was not settled out of court). To be specific, Countess Báthory could be brought to court if the girls purportedly taken to her were from villages belonging to other noblemen.
How the law and sanctioning worked those times?
Hungarian law was old customary law defined in the Code of Štefan Werbőczy in 1517. The code contained all known legal standards based on customary law and partially on leading cases. The penal code did not exist, every case was judged individually, and punishments were assessed by judges (often influenced by corruption, origin of the accused, bailsmen, property etc.). Towns had different standards based on the German town law. The subjects were in the competence of a squire, who executed it in person or he deputed it to one of his clerks.
Was there an Inquisition and were women burned to death for witchcraft?
There had not yet been an Inquisition in Hungary, which was caused by an unstable position of the Catholic Church (and strong position of Protestants) and by the danger from Turks in particular. There were some processes with witches, an average of about 4 to 5 cases per year, but nothing compared to Western Europe. The peak time of witch-hunting in Hungary was 1720–1740.
What was the position of the church compared with the power of suzerain over their land?
The Catholic Church experienced its greatest decline of power in Hungary during Countess erzsébet Báthory's lifetime. Many noblemen converted to Lutherism or Calvinism in the second half of the 16th Century, they usually had a priest of their religion in the domain. The church could not intervene into the feoffer matters; however, priests were authority and could have an influence on the suzerain.
How many years did the average women live then during the 16th Century?
There has not been elaborate study on the average length of life up to now because not enough reliable data and records exist, so we can only estimate the length. The average life expectancy of a woman is assessed to have been 45 years old. We should take into account a high death rate in younger women during childbirth, overall exhaustion of the organism after many pregnancies (some noblewoman gave birth to more than 20 children), poor healthcare and strident living conditions.
What habits and fashion were there?
The nobility paid a lot of attention meticulous to their appearance. The reports of buying expeditions and the lists of acquired textiles, haberdashery and various precious goods are valuable sources for learning about the fashion and tastes of the time. We have an image of high demand for luxury, esthetic needs and material culture.
If we look at the portrait galleries of Hungarian aristocracy, we find that the men's garments were particularly unique and differed from western fashions from the 16th to 18th century. The clothing of wealthy men and the bourgeois class was also affected by foreign styles. Mainly Turkish patterns were employed together with Italian, German and Spanish fashion for the aristocratic wardrobe. This influence first appeared in the Hungarian military garments, which adopted the lightweight, comfortable and sensible style of the Turkish cavalry's clothing in the 2nd half of the 15th century. Some experts say that in the period most important for Hungarian history (the Battle of Mohács), their fashion most resembled their irreconcilable enemy. From Ottomans they differed only in headgear – instead of the Turkish turban they wore caps (usually low ones in conic shape, decorated with feathers attached with precious pins). In the 2nd half of the 16th century, such clothing became popular especially among Protestant aristocracy, from whom the bourgeois class then adopted it.
Of course materials used, the length and decoration of dresses and accessories changed over the period. The basic style and ensembles endured, as well as decorative elements emphasizing the domestic colour and giving the Hungarian fashion a unique character stabilized. The typical features used were rich golden and silver embroidery with the Renaissance elements, decorating with braiding, strings and chenille from silk, cotton or woolen yarn and gold and silver threads, and complicated jewelries such as decorative clasps and buttons. Two lines in the development are also proved by the existence of the guilds of German tailors, making clothes for people living in towns, besides Hungarian tailors.
The men's garment consisted of a shirt, tight coat and loose overcoat. The shirts were usually made of white linen; the rich often wore even two – the undershirt worn as underwear, and a shorter embroidered shirt over it. The coat, called dolomán, usually had a narrow stand-up collar, long tight sleeves, and it buttoned with buttons and eyelets from the neck to the waist. The coat itself was very tight and from the waist down it was widened. Its oldest form got to the ankles.
Over dolomán, an overcoat called mentieka was worn. The overcoat was loose fitting and longer, usually sleeveless or with short decorative sleeves only. The collar could be stand-up or broad and pointed. Mentieks also buttoned with the traditional buttons and eyelets, but they were rather decorative – the coat usually covered the shoulders. On the chest it was fastened with precious clasps and chains. The winter mentieks were fur-lined.
Footwear is mentioned very rarely. We can be sure that Turks brought high leg boots and slippers; also ankle boots lacing from the inner side and provided with metal on the heel were imported from Turks. All shoes had silver metal spurs.
A common accessory was gloves. The material used varied – lynx, otter or musk, and textile for fingerless summer gloves or finger winter gloves.
Special attention was paid to headgear. The caps were usually made of felt; their shape was flat with bent welt. For winter caps, fur was used; sometimes also combined with felt and other expensive materials like velvet or brocade.
The women's fashion was rather Spanish in style utilizing a neckband and cuffs. The cut of a dress included a bodice with a richly frilled skirt and a splendid apron (or a simple one for casual days). Married women covered their head with a bonnet and hats were worn for special occasions. The over garment was similar to the men's overcoat, as well as the shoes. The material used and colours were also comparable to those used for men's clothing, but women wore more jewels and their clothes were embroidered with pearls, gems or gold threat.
How did Countess Báthory and her husband die?
Erzsébet Báthory died on 21st August 1614 in Cachtice, in her own residence, at the age of 54. The cause of death is unknown. It might have been heart failure or possibly also dysfunction of other organs, as shortly before death she complained she was cold and she put a pillow under her legs. She could also have had problems with her kidneys; however, it has not been proved. We are sure she died with a clear mind because according to the description of her last dialogue she fluently conversed with her guard.
Countess Báthory's husband Ferenc Nádasdy died on 14th January 1604 at the age of 49. We do not know the exact cause of death, only that he had been ill for a longer time. It might have been a result of permanent physical strain in the battles against the Turks, consequences of life in military camps, riding, injuries etc.
What happened to Countess Báthory's immense wealth?
Her property was devolved to the heirs apparent: her son Pavel and two daughters, Karatarina, who married Drugeth, and Anna, who married Zrínská. It had been passed to them before Erzsébet died, and the way of dividing her fortune was confirmed in her testament. She also bequeathed some trifles and smaller amounts of money to her servants, which was a tradition in her times.
What else should we know about the Countess Báthory?
We should mention that like many other noblemen and noblewomen of that time Countess Báthory supported the education of poor boys at universities abroad and she often defended her subjects when someone tried to hurt them or to do some harm to them. She led the typical life of noblewoman and we do not have any sources from which we could conclude that her contemporaries considered her bad or eccentric, weird. This reputation appeared after her death, not earlier.
Why was only one portrait of her preserved? Do we know something about its painter?
The pictures preserved of Countess Báthory up to now were not probably painted in that period. However, based on the style of her garments they could have been painted as copies of an original painting in the early 17th century. Unfortunately, we do not know anything about the painter.
How many children did the Countess Báthory have, and what was their fate?
We know about five children; however, it cannot be excluded that there was a child born dead or living for a very short period of time – this was typically not recorded in the written documents (letters). Daughters Anna and Katarina lived to adulthood; sons Pavel and Andrej and daughter Ursula died when they were children.
Where did the immense fortune of the Báthory family come from?
The Báthory family gained their fortune as reward for services done for their ruler – particularly in various battles and wars over several centuries, and for their support as noblemen for the king. Their property became larger and larger by inheritance, by purchase and marriage of course.
What age did Erzsébet Báthory marry and what was the reason of her marriage? Whose decision was it?
She married when she was fifteen, which was rather common at that time. The marriage was most likely arranged by their parents in advance, but at the time of wedding both Erzsébet and Ferenc (who was 20) were orphans. The reasons – possibly political and property ones – were usual in this period of history.
Do we know something about Countess Báthory's childhood and parents?
There is much literature about Nádasdy's parents; his father was educated in humanities and a particularly capable man with a wide range of knowledge. He held the highest position of the Hungarian kingdom - he was a Palatine. His wife was much younger, but their marriage was a prototype of love and understanding. They were not a husband and wife only formally, which was not so common and natural at that time (their correspondence is available and has been published).
Báthory's parents were also from the elite class. Her mother had been married for three times because she became a widow twice when she was relatively young. The father and mother both came from the Báthory family, from its two lines. We know almost nothing about erzsébet's childhood, as hardly any documents have been preserved.
What was erzsébet Báthory's education?
She was in all probability well educated (considering that period of time) – at the same level as aristocratic boys. Erzsébet could read and write in Hungarian and Latin, and some sources say she could also speak Greek and German. She must have been taught by an excellent family tutor.
And what about her hobbies and taste?
Unfortunately, we do not know anything.
What was the origin of the legend about Countess Báthory's eternal youth?
The legend was created around the year 1720 by Jesuit Ladislav Túróczi, and it was published in his topography of Hungary (Ungaria suis cum compedio data…). The story was then taken over to the book of Notitia Hungariae novae historico geographica by Matej Bel (1735-42). This book was considered credible, as it was written by someone with a high level of knowledge and therefore the story taken from the previous book by Túróczi's was not questioned.
What was Erzsébet Báhory's general state of health? Was she really anemic, as it is said?
We do not have any information about her health. Only there is mentioned in the correspondence that she had had some illnesses of temporary character, but we cannot determine them. That she was anemic is a fictive idea of some authors' as it has never been proved.
Do we know today if she had any friends and who they were?
Because there is little in the way of documentation left about Countess Báthory, many things can be only assumed. She and her husband were certainly close to some members of the Batthyányi family. Erzsébet kept in touch with them even after her husband's death, especially with Ferenc Batthyányi who advised her and help her in some economic and military issues.
Could you tell us what her usual day was like?
Like other noblewomen, she probably got up very early (around 5am) and after breakfast looked after the work at the manor house. She managed the servants, checked if all the work was done - often outside the house, – then she had to go for short trips – she also wrote letters. Around 11am she had lunch and then she did similar activities as in the morning. She also had to look after her children and nannies and tutors. Women did handcraft a lot, but also went for hunts, rode horses and paid shorter or longer visits to their neighbours and relatives. They could play a musical instrument or listen to musicians, and sometimes there was a dance party with singing. Some women read a lot. Dinner was usually served at 6pm, and if it was dark and there were no visitors they usually went to bed early. However, entertaining herself till midnight if she had a particular interest was possible.
It is said that her body cannot to be found. Is there any historically acceptable explanation?
Her remains were placed in the church in Cachtice, probably in the vault that has not been opened because of the poor structural condition of the altar. The register of dead people mentions that some bodies were buried in the vault next to hers in the 17th century, but it has not been investigated up to now and we do not know the exact place of her burial.
What religion was she?
She was a Calvinist, her husband was a Lutheran, the children were also baptized as Protestants. She did not change her religion – for Nádasdy it was not probably important and she was allowed to retain her original religion. This was common; however, sometimes brides were forced to convert to their husbands' church.
What other noteworthy personalities were there in the Báthory family?
The Báthory family included district administrators, earls, counts, provincial judges and captains, but the most remarkable character was Štefan Báthory. In addition to the Principality of Transylvania, Stefan Báthory held the title of Polish King and was one of the greatest politicians during the period of Turkish occupation. In the middle of the 16th century, the Báthory family possessed 4299 vassals' settlements in 19 regions; Stefan presided not only from an aspect of his wealth, but also his power. The family had many supporters, but on the other hand there were many envious people and enemies. The Polish King was notorious for a variety of reasons: some called him "a tyrant with bloody hands" and others declared him an "enemy of women." According to some people he died of syphilis, others say it was because of epilepsy, which occurred in his family.
Zigmund Báthory was Stefan's nephew. From his father he inherited Transylvania Principality, but he disowned it twice and finally changed it for the Countship of Oppeln. Some historians say he suffered from the family illness – epilepsy. He is also said to have struggled with impotency, but according to others he was a homosexual, which should be a reason for his behaving like a genius at times and a lunatic others, as a hero and as a coward. He was exceptionally educated, an esthete and rhetorician, he surrounded himself with Italian scholars and artists and he hated criticism. Zigmund's court was similar to Italian Renaissance courts, and his servants were mainly Italians. Zigmund's most controversial acts were the imprisonment and execution of several Transylvanian noblemen (including his own brother Baltazar) in August 1594; the reason was accusation of conspiracy that should have resulted in the assassination of Stefan. When he rationalized his order to execute the opponents, he stated he had acted in favor of the country. Zigmund died in Bohemia in 1613, forgotten and in relatively poor conditions. According to some records he died of heart attack, but there was also rumour of poison.
Today, some historians say that if he had not done it Transylvania would have fallen to the Turks. Juraj Thurzo was of the same opinion at the time. The only Hungarian aristocrat to object to Zigmund's act was Ferenc Nádasdy.
Gabriel Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, was Erzsébet's nephew. He was said to be tyrannical, cruel and sexually debauched, but his life has not been investigated sufficiently up to now. However, it is known that his successor Gabriel Bethlen accused three of Báthory's relatives of witchcraft in 1614, 1618 and 1621 – one of them was Báthory's sister Anna. The list of indiscretions included incestuous relationships, in which Gabriel Báthory played an important part. These disputes were started by Bethlen, who aimed to gain the properties of the accused women.
Gabriel Báthory became Prince of Transylvania as a successor of childless Bocskai. Gabriel Báthory died in an assassination attack together with his counselor and servants while in a carriage on their way to observe a military camp by Varadín. Báthory fought back, but was finally killed. The assassins were his own friends and supporters, whom had been given significant position and property but they betrayed him. After he was killed, they stripped him of everything and threw the body to a creek.
In modern historiography, Gabriel Báthory's "bad reputation" was partially created because of his personal relationship with Gabriel Bethlen. In fact, his short period of reign was no bloodier than that of other Transylvanian princes, was typical during cruel wartimes and a standard attitude of the time. Gabriel Báthory's debauchery is only recorded in the memories of chroniclers whose existence depended on Bethlen. Bethlen was not only the author of the above-mentioned accusations of the three family heiresses to the Báthory property, but also himself the creator of many false accusations towards Countess Báthory. It cannot be ruled out that Gabriel Báthory lived a very active life, which could have formed a breeding ground for exaggerated records of the number of his sexual relationships.
Is there something known about the relationship between Erzsébet and Ferenc? Do we have any of their correspondence?
Their personal correspondence has not been preserved, only some letters by Ferenc Nádasdy addressed to somebody else. In these letters, nádasdy talks about his wife with love, he mentions she is ill or that her state has improved. Before he died he asked Batthyányi to look after Erzsébet, which he did. A similar letter was also sent to Thurzo, who was not such a good friend of Nádasdy's, so we can conclude that Nádasdy made the request because he predicted Thurzo's career and thought his widow would need more protectors.
We do not have any objects preserved that belonged to Erzsébet Báthory, only her testament exhibited in the Regional Archive in Budapest. What are graphologists' opinions about her personality, based on investigating her handwriting?
There are different opinions about erzsébet Báthory's character, even from the same expert.
Klára Ácsová, the graphologist analyzing Báthory's signature (because there is no other known example of her writing) gave the following opinion: partially due to her decadent nature, but also as a result of sexual dissatisfaction, sadism overcame her more and more. Her sadism might have originated in unfulfilled love because she was forced to marry somebody other than whom she loved. This broke her and initiated increasing cravings for revenge in her. She was mischievous, dangerous and harming her surroundings. We can equate her with Lucrezia Borgi, but Erzsébet Báthory was more realistic and deliberate. According to her handwriting, she was not schizophrenic or mad, as some of her biographers say.
The Hungarian judge I. Szádeczky-Kardoss had another graphological done for her comprehensive study. She also asked Klára Ács, who investigated not only Báthory's signature, but the whole coherent text of the testament, which has been proved to be autographic. All the names, dates and significant data appearing in the text were blacked out, therefore the expert could not have any idea whose handwriting she was analyzing. She learned from the handwriting that its author had been a strong, determined and self-confident personality, with a logical mind and manly character. These qualities and cold character were raised in her by a strict and cold upbringing. She was realistic, critical, could not stand resistance, and stood high above the others. She was not much loved, rather respected – not due to her cruelty, but her uncompromising attitudes, strictness and frequent humiliating of the others. People were not afraid of her punishing hand, but of her eyes and mouth – there are other kinds of punishment than beating. She required order in everything. Her handwriting does not certainly show any signs of sadism or other sexual deviation, neither signs of pathology – except for occasional hysteria. However, the signature, coming from the period right before she died, i.e. after the three-year internment, bears signs of schizophrenia.
When the graphologist was repeatedly asked about signs indicating sadism or other sexual deviation, she always gave a definitely negative answer. This analysis contradicted the previous one, but it was no mystery or deception. In the first case, the graphologist worked from a poor quality reproduction of the signature, printed from the engraving. With the testament, she had access to a larger piece of text when doing the second analysis.
Another graphological analysis was carried out by Tomáš Gugenberger. His view of the personality and character of Erzsébet Báthory is completely different. She only had few good qualities: religiousness, generosity and dignity seemed to be very important for her, and sometimes she had an optimistic mood (at least when writing a letter to Erzsébet Czobor, a wife of her future judge, Palatine Juraj Thurzo). She had many bad qualities and weaknesses: she was self-contented, impatient, emotional, egocentric, distrustful, insensate, irritable, impulsive, unpredictable, indecisive and guileful. Her intellectual abilities were poor and she was controlled by strong sexual desire, cruelty and self-indulgence.
These features are present already in the letter from 1606 but, according to the graphologist, that was not all. In 1610 a tendency for criminality, cruelty, whimsicality, unstableness and perversity joined, and all these features determined her sadism. Also a mental disorder appeared.
So even the graphologists do not agree on the characteristics of Countess Báthory's personality. When the expert thought he was to analyze the handwriting of a mass killer, he looked for signs typical to such a person. Seak and you shall find, although objectivity and truth sustained a blow. Finally, there is suspicion that the writer of the letters Gugenberg examined was not Erzsébet Báthory but her scrivener.
Countess Báthory has become a symbol, a legend. Nobody would fight for the truth of her story today, as nobody did in 1610–1614. Why should we destroy such a great story? Why should we consider it from the view of presumed innocence when the then tendency has been the opposite – presumed guilt?
In connection with the legend, the underground and secret passages of Cachtice castle are often mentioned. Did they exist at all?
As in every other castle, they most likely existed in Cachtice also. Today they are destroyed and inaccessible, so we cannot give any exact information as to their length and position.
Has any archaeologist or expert on that era studied Countess Báthory's life and personality? Or is everything we know about her based on legends preserved in oral tradition?
Countess Báthory's personality became a primary focus for Irma Szádeczky-Kardossová. László Nagy, a historian specializing in armies and the military field, also wrote a lot about her in connection with her husband and legends in her family.
Was Countess Báthory ever brought to court for her alleged crimes?
No, Countess Báthory was never tried in a court of law.
And why was the trial not started?
I believe that the evidence collected by Thurzo's people was inferior and insufficient to sentence Countess Báthory. It is also said that the lack of an official judgement against her was the result of Thurzo's loyalty, but I think he was no fool and knew that he did not have enough evidence. Because the overall accusations had not been proved, Thurzo did not try to close the case.
Do you think it is possible that she killed as many women in her life as is mentioned in historical documents?
No. So many girls could not have disappeared without a trace particularly in a time when the country suffered from low population. And it would be very complicated to gather so many girls, murder them and dispose of them without noticing. Furthermore, the testimonies of alleged witnesses, or accomplices, were obtained through torturous methods and mention a much smaller number of "victims."
The Iron Maiden is often mentioned in connection with Erzsébet Báthory; however, this device has never been found. Do you think Erzsébet could have owned and used something like that?
No, I do not believe so. There is little chance that technically such a device could be used, and there is no mention of it in the documents from that period. It might be a fiction of the horrible war with the Turks.
WARS WITH TURKS
Where, why and how long were the wars with Turks?
Turkish troops penetrated Hungary in 1526 after the overwhelming defeat at Mohács. They stayed there until the end of the 17th century when the Treaty of Karlowitz was signed in 1699, liberating the whole of Hungary except Banát and Walachia. The conflicts were mainly located in the area of present-day Hungary, but because the borders shifted it also included present-day Slovakia. The Slovakian parts, while not occupied became a target for raids by Turkish cavalries who plundered the villages. They reached the mining towns, plundered the surroundings of Trenčín and Bytča, and crossed into Moravia as well. In Austria they advanced as far as Vienna.
What was the role of Countess Báthory's husband, Ferenc Nádasdy, in the previously mentioned wars?
Ferenc Nádasdy was one of the chief commanders and held the function of chief captain of the Hungarian troops. He was present at almost all battles and fought till his death in the battles of the Fifteen-Years War (which lasted 1593–1606; he died in 1604).
What was the life of a noblewoman left on her own, either because her husband was away at war or had died?
In the 16th century, the fate of a woman alone depended on her protectors. If she had powerful relatives or adult children, she could live a satisfied life on a reserved part of property. Widows often became targets of attacks aimed at their wealth; therefore younger women with smaller children often chose a new marriage. In case the husband was somewhere far away, the wife was usually respected and servants fulfilled her orders – she stood in for her husband in all matters related to living in the domain.
And what role did Juraj Thurzo play in these wars?
Similar to Nádasdy, Juraj Thurzo he was also present in the battles as a commander.
How many victims did the war claim?
The war lasted for 150 years and we cannot assume the exact number of resulting casualties.
There were heavy losses for the both sides; soldiers and civilians died in the direct conflicts, as well as from the resulting epidemics and hunger that plagued the plundered country, its damaged fields and bad crops.
JURAJ THURZO AND OTHER HISTORIC PERSONALITIES
What exactly was the function of a Palatine and what were his powers?
The Palatine was the highest positioned person in Hungarian kingdom, he was a direct deputy of the ruler and represent the king while he was absent (necessary especially after the battle of Mohács when the king's court moved from Óbuda to Vienna). The Palatine was authorized to make decisions on all state matters, the politics of the country and military issues, and he also had judicial power.
What was Thurzo's relationship to the Báthory family, especially Erzsébet and her husband?
The Thurzos and Báthorys were rather distant relatives. After Anna Nádasdy married Zrínskyi, the relational connection was strengthened because Thurzo's mother was Zrínskyi also.
Recently, new information appeared to indicate that shortly after Báthory's and Thurzo's death, Thurzo's daughter Anna was supposed to marry Paul Nádasdy, but he finally married Judita Forgách, and after her death, Judita Révay.
What was the connection between Thurzo and the Habsburgs? Which side was he on and what political role did he play?
Thurzo was brought up in Vienna as a companion of Prince Ernest Habsburg and he was a loyal supporter of the Habsburgs, despite being of different religion. Thurzo considered the Habsburgs the only viable force to defend the region against the Turks and his political role was very important. The Palatine functioned like a governor, he represented the ruler in all political matters and had judicial power and military rank as well. In the time of war with Turks and the civil war (Bocskai), continuous disputes with Transylvania and religious disturbances in the country, Palatine Thurzo was required to act tactically at all times. He was a master at this and chose the policy of compromises.
How and where did Thurzo die?
Palatine Thurzo died in his castle in Bytča on 24th December 1616 after an extended illness.
How could Thurzo, a Squire, become a Palatine?
Thurzo was not a Squire, but the Thurzo family received an aristocratic title in Hungary in the 15th century (they probably came from Austria). Their property was expanded with donations (especially from king Zigmund of Luxembourg), by marriage and with purchases. The Thurzos were one of the wealthiest families in the 15th century, and together with the Fuggers dynasty of Augsburg they owned Central Slovakian mines. Thurzo's father was a bishop in Nitra, but he was not ordained. His family line was threatened with dying out so he left the church, converted to Lutherism, married and became chairman of the Hungarian Chamber (financial and economic institution). At that time the dynasty included several family fortunes and they consolidated great wealth, particularly in the area of contemporary Slovakia (Orava, Lietava, Bytča, Spiš, Tematín etc.)
What was Palatine Thurzo's education?
As a companion of Prince Ernest Habsburg, we can suppose he received the best education. Palatine Thurzo had a good command of Hungarian, Latin, German and Slovak, was versed in the humanities and was obviously educated in law. However, he did not study at any foreign university.
What was the influence of The Renaissance on Hungary and when did it come there?
The Renaissance, the thought and art movement forming the epoch between Gothic and Baroque, was rare in the area of Hungary (including present-day Slovakia). Its biggest influence can be recorded at the turn of the 16th and 17th century, particularly in the architecture of mining towns. Italian architects came to the region and their impact is apparent in the character and exterior decoration of buildings. Bourgeois houses were reconstructed and enlarged, and grandiose Renaissance palaces like those in Banská Štiavnica were built.
The art itself was not influenced much by Renaissance though it had a slight impact on literature, particularly the works of polyhistors, e.g. Matěj Bel. We do not know much about its influence on fine arts, as there is little information on Slovak Renaissance painters. It seems natural that due to the constant conflicts with the Turks in the area, people were more occupied with the defense of their property.
What was Caravaggio like? Do we have any proof of his homosexuality?
As is obvious from his biography, Caravaggio was a man for whom establishing relationships was very difficult. We can only deduce from his stormy life that he was driven by inner tensions that caused particular displays of aggressive behavior, which he used to boost his confidence and which resulted in frequent affrays and even a murder.
The assumptions that Caravaggio was homosexual could have originated from two facts about his life: first, his period of apprenticeship when he painted in various studios. It was a strictly masculine or boyish community and women did not have access to the world of art at that time, as they were not allowed an education in this field. The only exceptions were close relatives of artists who grew up in the artistic milieu or became heiresses of artistic workshops. In that male dominated environment, various relationships perhaps originated, consider also the alleged but never proved homosexual orientation of his predecessors Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo.
Secondly, some historians attest to Caravaggio's homosexuality by the fact that in his early works he often depicted himself, which indicated a sort of narcissism typical for many homosexuals.
From the materials to which we have access nowadays, we can conclude that Caravaggio never had a long, serious relationship with a woman. His paintings display the same female faces, and these women came from a limited circle of people among whom he picked models for his paintings.
Both these theories are only hypothetical and there is no actual proof of Caravaggio's homosexuality.
Carravaggio is said to have disappeared for 4 years, and nobody knows where and why. Or have we discovered something?
There exists no solid documentation that explains what he did in 1588–1593. According to some historians, Caravaggio improved his painting in Milano or Brescia, others say he was in Venice. After extensive historical research, it is agreed that in 1590 he lived in Roma already.
How and where did Caravaggio die?
In July 1610, when he was allowed to return to Rome, Caravaggio sailed to Porta Ercole, a Spanish harbour on the borders with the papal state. Immediately after putting in he was mistakenly arrested. After being released he wanted to continue sailing, but the ship had left. He obstinately waited the whole day in the relentless summer heat for the next ship to approach the coast. He likely died of sunstroke, alone and abandoned on 18th July 1610, at the young age of 37 years.
Other historical characters
Erzsebet Bathory, born 1560, belonged to one of the most remarkable Hungarian royal family lineage, in which polish King Stephan Bathory or Prince Gabriel Bathory were members. In no less significant status, as a military advisor for Emperor Rudolph the second of Hapsburg, was her husband Ferenc Nadasdy, to whom she was married to in age of 15. She gave birth to five children, daughters Anna, Catherine and son Paul have reached adultness, Andrew, and Orsloya died in babyhood. Her husband died during year 1604 because of implications from war injuries.
Erzsebet lived in a time of wars for power and religious believes and her life, afterwards as a widow owning enormous wealth, was not easy. Hungary was divided in two empires, Hapsburgs and Osmanian realms, capitol city of Hungary was Bratislava. Slovakia and a part of Poland belonged into so called Upper Hungary, princedom of Seven castles was located in territory on east, which was ruled by a seven-castle prince and polish king Zikmund Bathory, and later his nephew Gabriel. Until the beginning of a Fifteen-year-old war with Turks in 1591 were relationships between Hapsburgs and Osmanian realm basically peaceful. Erzsebet`s husband Ferenc Nadasdy had also enacted a major part in history of Hungarian politics when war against Turks was unleashed. However, the original plan was a failure, the country was plundered by a constant war, the displacement of Turks was not successful, and Sevena-cestle was disorganized. A civil war begun during last war years (1604-1606) when Istvan Bocskai fought not only for ending of war conflict with Turks, but also for freedom of protestant belief, generally against Hapsburgs efforts for re-catholicization of the country. Both ends in year 1606, however the whole territory remains in an internal battle between followers of Hapsburgs and Hungarian royalty.
Legend about Erzsebet Bathory was introduced to the world as a cruel countess, which murdered virgins, to bath in their blood in order to preserve eternal youth. Not only that - she tortured innocent girls with burning candle, overheated iron or poured cold water on them during freezing weather with help of some of her servants.
Complains on her, reached the ear of the ruler, who ordered palatine Juraj Thurzo to investigate this matter. Thurzo himself had leaded to disclosure of these alleged crimes and promised his friend Ferenc that he will protect his family in case of his eventual death. At the beginning, he tried to protect at the date enormous wealth of Nadasdy family and Erzsebet was forced to sign a testament on behalf of her children. After some time Thurzo reappeared unannounced on her manor in Cachtice, where he caught her during committing of mentioned crimes. He immediately ordered investigation, but it ended as fast as it started. Many witness testified at court, but the court with Erzsebet never took place. Her convicted servants ended up on a place of execution, Erzsebet was locked down into some "investigational arrest", interned into the tower of Cachtice castle where she died after four years in year 1614 without ever knowing her sentence.
Who was really Erzsebet Bathory? Was she really a "bloody countess", as some historians name her? Or was she a very well educated woman mastering several languages and seriously interested natural healer? Graceful person of fine taste and at the same time so rich, that she irritated many royal women with her original robes tailored for her in far Italy? Sadistic murderess, or a victim of former relationships full of dark intrigues, which were sewed by someone powerful, lusting for her fabulous fortune? Cruel merciless mistress or a vulnerable, lonely widow, perhaps both?
From the castle of Cachtice, which had a reputation of unconquerable mansion in all Middle East Europe, only ruins remained. Chateau of Cachtice under the keep disappeared entirely. There is only a small museum in a small village, owning the only portrait of former monarch of the whole region, Erzsebet. Not even her age is possible to determine from the portrait of very questionable quality. She voluptuously looks upon us with sad eyes, face of melancholy, strictly closed lips demonstrate, that she was an energetic woman, meanwhile her big eyes are revealing her boldness and sense of romance...
Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio
"Everything in art is insignificant, unless it is taken from life."
Caravaggio (his favourite quote)
Michelangelo Merisi was born 28th of September 1573 in a village Caravaggio at Lombardi. He was not of humble origins as it was declared in a past century (probably in order to create and image of "social rebel"). His father was "leader of construction works", de facto constructor for local marquis.
After his fathers death, Caravaggio was sent by his older brother, who was convinced about his talent, to manufactory of Simon Peterzana in Milan, painter formally from Bergama. Caravaggio spend here four to five years. It is still unknown, what he was doing after leaving manufactory in 1588 until 1593, but it is admitted that he was living in a roman environment. Some historians say, that he killed one of fellow student from Peteryan’s manufactory. Although, today it seem, that this story is a part of legend about Caravaggio as "cursed" painter. It is certain, that the life he lived in Rome was very wild.
He was working in many manufactories, where he was artistically evolving when he came to Rome as a destitute young man, but still living among the poorest. Once when he became ill, poorhouse was his only shelter. After getting over illness, he began to work for a better-known painter, then were the others he worked before – it was Giuseppe Cesari. Although, he spent there only a short time, it is presumed that, this was the time when two of his early paintings were made – The boy with fruit bucket and The sick Bakchus (probably a self-portrait). He was released from Cesari’s bondage, who was known for exploiting young talents, when he was offered a shelter at house of prelate Fantin Petrignani. Almost all his biographers agree on a notion, that those were the times when paintings Bacchus, Wise woman, Rest on a runaway to Egypt, Magdalena and a boy bitten by a lizard.
His originality was displayed in selection of themes and also that he was serving reality in a completely new way. Half of a century after his death, ruled an opinion about choosing only askew themes for his paintings, which are seen only on a street and therefore offensive. With his uncompromising and vivid observing talent and his ability to embrace entirety and not only detail (in contradistinction to paintings which were sold during that time such as – "heads", "breast" or "half-figure") he seemed brutally original and unacceptable for roman quarters, who were determine taste of the era.
His early works are exceptional with exceedingly accurate presentation, coming out of careful study of structure and colors of all objects, which he had the opportunity to arrange in his atelier – seclusion of fruit and flowers, bottle of wine, furniture, clothes, swords; it is know about him that he had a couple of bird wings at home. All these objects we find in his paintings.
Painting a figure according to a live model was harder. Even if the selected models were posing in his atelier, it would be impossible to paint them in such a violent action. As experts noticed in 17th century, uncertainty during painting figures in movement was one of Caravaggio’s weaknesess. Protagonists of his paintings, in despite of exciting plot, appeal to be strangely calm, almost stiff.
Cavaraggio was a realits in choices of figures. His Magdalena’s and Catherine’s are ordinary roman girls dressed in contemporary clothes, which look like saintess only because of conventional atributes. More important is that Caravaggio left the tradition of displaying the saints as heroes. His saints have noteless clothes, they are robust, working people hardly surpass the crowd. Naturalism of this kind was according to then criteria disrespectful to religion, therefore it became usual that church authorities were returning ordered paintings to Caravaggio. On the other hand, he received many orders from churches and royalties repeatedly and he was one of the most religious painters of 17th century.
Today’s experts are lean to the opinion, that his roman period lasted untill 1596, when he probably painted his famous picture Bucket with fruit. He stylishly matured, but it did not mean that he received general recognition; his works were still hard to sell. Afterward, certain Valentino, professional tradesman with art, introduced him to cardinal del Monte, who had a exquisite taste. Painter financial trouble were over, he had a shelter and work at cardinals so he could devote himslef to work as he pleased. Probably for this patron he painted works like Fake players, Lute mussician and a shield with a threatning face of Medusa.
During period of time from 1598 till 1601 were created his famous paintings in Contranelli’s chapel in roman church San Luigi dei Francesi: St.Mathew with angel, Proffession of st. Mathew and Torture of st. Mathew. With these painting he introduced a new style. It is a monumental composition, where religious stories are told as actual events lived through by ordinarypeople, in addition captured with enourmous realism. Power of his paintings inherent in daring compositions and in very innovative play of shadows and lights, amplified by warm colors.
Simultaneously he receives a prestiguous order – paintings with religious motives for church of Santa Maria del Popolo: Crusifiction os st. Peter and Reversion of st. Paul.
Fundamental change has occured during that time. Representatives of Carracciio standing on one side and their rival Caravaggio on the other. Painters from Bologna have become founders of new "clasicism". Caravaggio stood against their decorative art with landscapes and conventional scenes with his spirit of free-liver and violator. Involuntarily, he became one of the first creators of baroque among painters, who stood in opponency against clasicism, bor in Bologna. It seems incredible, but these two counteracting tendencies have become mutually supplying each othetr.Enthusiasm reigned for creations of bologna school throughout 17th century, but it is undeniable, that the greatest painters of this era were following in certain way on Caravaggio’s work:Velásquez and Zurbarán in Spain, Rubens and Rembrandt in Northern Europe.
Although, Caravaggio became succesful at the break of century – great orders are incoming – and he was a very talented man, his biographers are often pointing out his unrestrained life. It was very hard to become his friend and not a single year has passed, in which he was not involved into some suspicious matter or some serious trouble. In 1605 he was sent to prison and once he got out, he injured a certain man, and that is why he run away from Rome and seeked refuge in Genoa. He returned afterwards but besides painting he resumed his violent way of life. In the same year he started to piant Death of Virgin Mary, the monks who he painted it for refused to take it.
The year of 1606 was fatal for the painter. He killed his associate in a street brawl, and he ran away from Rome again to seek refuge at the house of Marzio Colonna, brother in law of marqui da Caravaggio. Because he needed money, he painted Magdalena for his protector. Received rewards have allowed him to get to Naples.
Documents about his stay at Malta in 1608 we preserved as well. According to all available information that is where he painted two portraits of grand master Alof de Wignacourt, Sleeping Amor, St. Hieronym and Happines of st. John Baptist. All these works were probably a required in order to be accepted into Order of Knights of Malta. A note about his crime in Rome arrived, once he achieved it. He was arrested, but he managed to escape, for which he was immediately excluded from the order.
Faith have brought him to Syrakus, where he painted the funeral of st. Lucia for a church of st. Lucia. At the beginning of 1609 he stayed at Sicily in Messina, where he created paintings The bow of shepherds and Resurrection of Lazarus. It seems, that he was afraid of punishment from the Order of knights of Malta even in Messina, because he started to travel again. Next stop on his journey was Palermo. As a respected painter he immediately found work for - church of San Lorenzo he created painting of Birth of the lord with st. Francis and st. Laurence.
Inner restlessness brought Caravaggio back to Naples, but misfortune was awaiting him there as well. He was attacked and seriously injured in front of entrance to one German tavern. His state was so serious, that a notice about his death spread out in Rome. His supporters were saying a good word for him in Rome during first few months of year the 1610. In July of the same year he arrived on a small sailboat to Porta Ercole, Spanish port at the border of papal state. He was immediately arrested by mistake. He wanted to continue in sailing but the boat already sailed away. Not minding the enormous summer heat, stubbornly he waited all day long on seashore for another ship. He died probably on a heatstroke, alone and desolated on 18th of July 1610 at age of unfinished 37years. Thirty seven years of unrestrained, but yet enormously prolific life.
Huge response, which was caused by Caravaggio's work in art and mind of his contemporary fellows, leaded to an avoidable imitation. Even when Carraccio's and their ancestors created a group and school, artist influenced by Caravaggio were separating from each other so much, that their work is hardly summarized and evaluated.
His direct influence was so intensive, but short, limited to his direct ancestors, which most of them were foreigners creating in Rome. Although indirect influence of his creation towards European art was far reaching and unseen. Velásquez creating in Madrid and Georges de la Tour in Lotrinsk have created their most beautiful and feelingful creations in Caravaggio's style, although none of them have seen any Caravaggio's original.
Ferenc Nadasdy was born in 1555 in Sarvari in one of the most significant Hungarian families. His mother was Ursula Kanizsayi, his father was later palatine Thomas Nadasdy. At the age of twelve he left to royal manor in Vienna, he got married as a 20year old with 15years old Erzsebet Bathory. The idea of their marriage came out from their parents, property reasons were behind their decision. By the time of wedding were both orphans.
Engagement and wedding were taking place at Vranov in 1575. Newlyweds received precious gifts from ruler Maximilian and his family. There are no known details about the wedding, but 4 500 guest were reputedly present at the wedding. The wedding was probably very noble and long as it was customary at that time.
He was only 23years old when he became commander of Hungarian armies and he was already a advisor of the king himself. He was a robust person and violent person, which was even feared by Turks . They called him Black Beg. He was particularly exceeding in battles and his name was often mentioned in papers of Turkish notables. He imprinted himself into the history of Fifteen-year-old war as a very efficient commander of cavalry. He distinguished himself in battles in siege of Ostrihom, during attacking of Parkanyi (Sturovo), he was also a successful conqueror of Tata. By the age of 48 he became a commander of Danubian armies.
Nadasdy was not only a military practitioner, he gave his knowledge also a written form. In documents, which he left behind, he emphasized the need for protection of domestic people against severities of war, pointing out weak discipline which ruled among military camps. Big mistake, which he was often pointing out, was giving priority to plunder instead of final faze of victory, which in consequence often lead to reverse of situations in several battles.
His marriage with Erzsebet lasted almost 30 years, but their first baby, which grow to adulthood, was born 10 years after their marriage. Nadasdy spent most of his life far away from his wife and he died in native Sarvari in 1604. He left Erzsebet enormous wealth during time when Hungarian war against Turks was raged for 13 years and domestic political situation slowly headed to civil war.
King Mathias II.
King Mathias II. of Habsburk was born in 1557 in Vienna. Born as third son has predicated him a position in shadow of his older brothers. Succession order automatically devolved to Rudolph and second Ernest was coming into consideration in case of unexpected change of heir. Mathias was almost excluded. After the start of Fifteen-year-old war against Turks had Spanish king Filip II. called Ernest into Netherlands. This opened possibility for Mathias to apply himself in politics. Rudolph gave him a title of the highest military commander. After Ernest`s sudden death he was executing several honorable positions. As a regent of Seven-castles and also in battles against Turks in Hungary he achieved considerable achievements.
Dissatisfaction in the country and Rudolph`s inability to rule forced Habsburk`s to relieve the ruler of his powers. Representatives of Austrian and Moravian estates stood openly against Rudolph at the Hungarian parliament in Bratislava in January 1608. He in favor of Mathias recanted Hungary, Austria and Moravia. Mathias as the king of Hungary must agreed on several conditions of royalty, among other to renew the office of palatine, give religious freedom to Austrian, Czech and Silesian coats. Magnates of protesters religion have become palatines, at first Stephan Illeshazy and then Juraj Thurzo.
He got married late as 54 year old, he took his cousin Anna, but he did not have any offspring. Successor-ship had to pass to Ferdinand Stajer from a younger Tyrollean stem of Habsburks. He died in Vienna, a year after Ferdinand`s coronation in 1619.
Juraj Thurzo was born in 1567 at castle of Lietava. He came from a family of Thrzo, which were originally tradesman during 15th century, later they became mining contractors. His father died when he was just a child, he spend part of his childhood at the manor of arc-prince Ernest. His first wife was Sofia Forgac, he remarried after her death to Erzsebet Czoborov. Castle of Bytcany was his principal residence. He was very educated man of his era - he spoke latin, greek, german, hungarian and slovakian. Slovakian language was used as a official language on his manor. He created Bytca a center of humanistic intelligence, supporting schools, art and churches.
Despite his humanitarian interests he was also a hero of wars against Turks, in which he personally fought many battles. He suffered serious injury during victorious battle at Székekesfehérvári.
As a 31 year old he became an advisor of king Rudolph II., in 1602 a main commander of Front-danubian armies and a main captain of newcastle fortress.
His economic influence grew with his political power. The peak of Thurzo`s life career was his election for Hungarian palatine in December 1609. Palatine was the first man in the countray after the king during that time and he had enormous political, military, economical and court power. One of his duties was to be a rightful judge to all without regarding their origin and title of subjects. Erzsebet Bathory was his first serious case, which he was suppose to solve, never reached court. Tendency to destroy Erzsebet was, according to then conditions, probably motivated by passion for her enormous wealth. Even, after her death in 1614, Thurzo secretly supported efforts of Gabriel Bethlen for gaining of Bathory possessions, which caused several staged processes, where allegations from witchcrafts were used. The main motive of Thurzo`s actions during 17th century was a conflict with Bathory family and antagonism against it. Although he never gained their possessions. He lived only two years longer than Erzsebet, died in 1616. Five years later died his only son, and the family of Thurzo died out.
References about Cachtice pastor in historical documents were only mentioned in one connection. John Ponicky was the author of letter to Elijah Lanyi in 1611, where he accuses Erzsebet from cruelty and murders. But the information were not received directly, he got them from preaching of Nadasdy`s preacher Magyari in Sarvari church. Content of announcement is very doubtful, because not even Ponicky knew when Magyari died and he even wrote that Bathory is following him in a shape of a black cat. According to historians Ponicky`s letter acknowledges, that this Lutheran pastor could not stand Calvinistic countess Erzsebet. He had conflicts with other local nobleman- which declares that he suffered a certain form of frustration.
Cardinal Francis Forgac
Provincial and ecclesiastic dignitary, his date of birth is not exactly known, it was probably sometime around 1560. He died in 1615.
He served many ecclesiastic and government functions during his life: Ostrihom capitulary (1586), Bishop of Vestpremy (1587), Bishop of Nitra and Zupan (1587), Archbishop of Ostrihom, Zupan and a cardinal (1607), king’s chancellor (1606), kings governor (1607).
He was a prime representative of prohabsburks side and re-catholization in Hungary, although he was from evangelical family. He operated on a Polish royal manor as a young man, under the influence of this experience and his uncle Francis he converted to Catholic faith a studied theology in Rome. Jesuits, who leaded him as a member of significant and powerful family to apply for high-church functions, influenced his further orientation.
In 1604 he spend 3 months defending castle of Nitra from Bockaj`s rebels, but when the castle crew stood against him, he decided to give the castle to rebels and left to Györu. Later he took part in peace hearings between Bockaj and Osmanian realm. In 1608, he crowned King Mathias II. for king of Hungary.
He established a board of Jesuits in Trnava and establishment for education of priesthood by Jesuit residence in Sali.
In consequence of his re-catholization efforts he got into a dispute with king Mathias II. Who must accept certain compromises against Protestants royalty and that was the very thing, which Forgac opposed.
Peak of these re-catholization efforts was supposed to be a council by the end of August 1611 in Trnava. His acquisitions (renewal of strict celibacy, acceptance of sub-both etc. was suppose to renew church discipline, necessary for battle against reformation. He realized these plans only partially, his ancestor Peter Pazman continued in his work.
Gabor Bethlen, prince of seven-castles, was born in 1580 in a royal family, which never belonged to the highest royalty. His reign, lasting for 16 years, is indicated as golden age of Seven-castles. He took reign ship in 1613 – at that time only 33 years old –after Gabor Bathory. During the long Thirty-year-old war in 1620 had a parliament in elected him as a king f Hungary. When Habsburks were in 1620, strengthen their position in Europe, Gabor’s power was pushed back to East of Slovakia. Luck in war has turned in his favor: he regained most of Slovakia and strengthens his position. He was a great warlord, worse capacities of army was balanced by his diplomacy and cleverness. Thanks to marriage to Katalin, he became a brother-in-law of Swedish King Gustav Adolf II. He died suddenly in 1629.
Miklós Zrínyi was a husband of Erzsebet’s daughter Anna. However, there are only few records about him in historical recordings. His exact date of birth is unknown – it is estimated, that it could be closely or in 1570. He died in1625. His first wife was Anna Nadasdy, after her death (1615) he remarries to Anna Szechy. None of his wifes gave him a offspring, he died childless.
He was probably not executing any high functions at court, only lived on his properties and managed them. It is highly possible that he accompanied Ferenc Nadasdy to battles of Fifteen-year-old war according to his date of birth. However, this information is not historically proven.
In history of Hungaria was a much more significant character his brother Gyorgi VII, who was a miner of Croatia and a father of Miklos Zrinyi.
Erzsebet Czoborov, was after Sophia Forgac, which died in 1590 during giving birth a second wife of palatine Thurzo. She got married similarly young just like Erzsebet Bathory, some notes say in age of 14 and some say that she was nineteen. In difference to Thurzo, who was a very educated man of his time she was not originaly able to read or write, Thurzo taught her. Letter filled with love remained after their relationship. They had 8 children together, but only one son who died shortly after his father. Erzsebet Czoborov died in 1627 in poverty, when all possessions Thurzo family ended up in hands of their enemies.
Nephew of Erzsebet Bathory was bor in 1589 in Varadin, where he lived first years of his life. Later his parents moved to a family castle Somlyo, after a few years they had to escape to Poland. After their return from Poland a death of his father was Stephan Bathory from Ecsed established as his guardian, who was a local judge (brother of Erzsebet Bathory) and left him enormous riches, library, treasures and weapons. He also ensured him education, his teacher was varadine chancellor, graduate of University in Padova, Wittenberg and Heidelberg. In 1605 he came to court of his relative – Stephan Bockai, and throughout the year of 1607 he got married with Anna Horvath.
In 1608 he gained a throne of Seven-castle princedom. Seven-castles was during that period of time a buffering territory between Turks and Hungaria. Although it formally belonged to Hungary, it had a high amount of self sufficiency and therefore political influence of prince.
Within political negotiations he did not hesitate to act as a member of Protestants chucrh, other times as Catholic.
Bathory and his advisers in years 1609 - 1610 were reasoning about uniting unoccupied territories by Turks at the east of Hungary. These plans were not very realistic. The situation in Seven-castles escalated. He suffered a serious defeat at Brasov, he became a little more successful in next couple months but he was relieved of lordship in 1613 by a sultan and Gabor Bathlena was established as a new prince.
He died of after effects of assassination in 1613.
Reputedly, he excelled with enormous strength (is said that he could brake a horseshoe with his hands), he was a great at battle disciplines, according to some he was a tyrant with hands of blood, who agitated with his unrestrained life. Among his sworn enemies was Gabor Bethlen, who tried to gain Seven-castle throne. He fought against him with many allegations, for example with abuse of someone else wife and virgin, there have been even accusations from miserliness, injustice, even incest relationship with his own sister, violation of city rights, killing of townsman and many other misdeeds.
In general, there was not very short period of his rule in comparison to lordship of other Seven-castle princes no bloodier, but it responded to cruel war times and philosophy of the era.Ze strony: http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/specialy/bathory/en/history/crests/