Over the decades, fans have had countless opportunities to sink their teeth into novels, movies and TV series about vampires. The fascination has been so widespread that on more than one occasion, our curiosity has forced us to delve into history to find first hand accounts of these deadly creatures.
For years, it was assumed that Bram Stoker's infamous vampire novel Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, an excessively cruel Romanian ruler from the 15th century. Here's Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 interpretation:
Yet, what if we were to forget all the vampire stories we have ingrained in our brains -- what if I was to tell you that the real inspiration for Dracula was actually a woman?
Who was Countess Elizabeth BÃÂ¡thory?
Elizabeth BÃÂ¡thory was born into privileged surroundings on a noble family estate in Hungary in the mid 16th century but ended her life chained up in solitary confinement following a slew of heinous crimes and horrifying accusations. So where did it all go wrong? Well, essentially when Elizabeth turned into a terrifying maniac with a thirst for virgin blood.
Terror in the 16th century
After being married to Hungarian aristocrat, Ferenc NÃÂ¡dasdy, the woman abided in the NÃÂ¡dasdy castles in Hungary. Over her lifetime, as her ambitious husband was away often, she took many lovers and bore four children.
From an early age, Elizabeth had witnessed torture and was accustomed to the ideal of inflicting pain on others -- apparently, she often saw her father's officers inflict pain on local peasantry and was even a witness to a captured thief being sewn into a stomach of a dying horse.
Her fascination with the macabre continued into her adult life and word also began to spread about her own sadistic activities, especially rumors that claimed she enjoyed torturing and killing young women. At first, her victims were innocent servant girls working at her castle, but as the numbers of local peasants dwindled, she turned to those born into local gentry. But why? According to sources, it was because she believed that drinking the blood of virgins would preserve her youth.
Witness spoke of Elizabeth tirelessly stabbing her victims, biting their breasts, hands, faces and arms, mutilating them with scissors, sticking needles into their lips and eyeballs and burning them with piping hot iron rods. Many were beaten to death and even starved. The countess's notoriety was so wide-spread that there were even rumors she bathed in tub fulls of blood, earning her the nickname of the 'blood countess.'
After years of horror, a Lutheran minister mustered up the courage to go to the authorities, who began an investigation in 1610. By this time, Elizabeth was said to have killed over 600 people.
Tried and found guilty, four of her favorite servants were executed but she was spared due to her noble upbringing. She was 54-years-old when she died in 1614 in solitary confinement in a room with no windows.
To this day, nobody really knows the extent of Elizabeth's wrath and her reign of terror continues to haunt locals.