August 21, 1614
Čachtice, Kingdom of Hungary, Habsburg monarchy (present day Slovakia)
Báthory Erzsébet (also known as Elizabeth Báthory) dies at the age of 54 after 4 years of solitary confinement, bricked into her cell with only small slits left in the walls for ventilation and to allow the passage of food
Báthory, known as the Blood Countess, allegedly believed drinking the blood of girls would keep herself youthful. Reports surfaced of Báthory luring girls to her castle under the false pretense of working as maids, or even outright abducting them, before torturing and killing them. The torture included: mutilations; severe beatings; burning; biting flesh off faces, arms, and other body parts; use of needles; and eventual death by freezing or starvation. Some time after the trials associated with the tortures and murders, it was speculated Báthory also bathed in the blood of her victims, but this seems to be an embellishment rather than fact.
The number of victims ranged wildly, from 36 to over 650; official number of victims is 80. Due to Báthory’s status, she was not tried along with those who assisted her crimes. Of those accused with her, one was sentenced to life imprisonment (because she was found to have been an unwilling participant), one was simply beheaded and his body burned (he was found to be less responsible for the crimes than others), and two had their fingers ripped from their hands with hot pincers before being burned at the stake.
Báthory reportedly told her bodyguard she was cold on the evening of August 21, 1614, to which she was told “it’s nothing, Mistress. Just go lie down.” She was found dead the next day. Her body’s current location is unknown.
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Today in Horror History: August 21