Previously Published

elizabeth bathory: lessons from the blood countess

Among the ranks of the heinous is Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, and Ted Bundy. But none come close to the fetes of the Blood Countess. 650 known deaths and possibly many hundreds more are accredited to her fame.

Elizabeth Bathory was known for her beauty, lustrous black hair, and striking eyes. She changed her clothes five or six times a day, spending hours admiring herself in mirrors. She was of royal blood and well-connected: She was married to Hungary’s “Black Hero,” Count Ferencz Nadasdy and was related to princes and kings, bishops and cardinals.

It was a time when it was common for people of royalty and affluence made life miserable for the poor and working class. Elizabeth’s family was especially known for their highhanded cruelty towards the people who worked for them. She was just a child when she witnessed the torture of a gypsy, who was sewn up alive inside a horse and left to die!

Such experiences did not evoke pity or compassion in her heart. Instead, she was drawn to the morbid and the occult. She lured young girls with the promise of work and tortured and killed them for pleasure. She got her kicks placing girls in a cage too short to stand in, too narrow to sit and one that had a dozen spikes jutting into the compartment and swinging the cage to cause the spikes to tear the girl to pieces; inserting red hot pokers from the fire into nostrils or splitting mouths open with her bare hands; slitting the wrists of girls and letting the blood completely drain out to a fill a bathtub (She believed that bathing in young blood would keep wrinkles away); and biting her victims until they died.

The more she killed, the more embolden she became. She moved from killing peasant girls to those of noble birth. Finally it took the Emperor of Hungary to order Elizabeth’s own cousin, the Count Cuyorgy Thurzo, who was governor of the province to put an end to her flagrant show of power.

A trial followed and Elizabeth Bathory was found guilty. But her power and influence continued to protect her. While her accomplices were put to death, she was merely committed to house arrest until her natural death four years later.

Elizabeth Bathory had access to power and wealth to make an enormous, positive impact in her community. But she chose to use it to satisfy only her primal needs. She had the opportunity to become a leader known throughout the political world of her time. But she chose to be remembered for her inhumanness.

Leadership and influence is not measured by your power and gain; Leadership is measured by the people who follow you because they want to. Consider the powers with which Jesus lived on earth. Should he have succumbed to his powers for evil, imagine the consequences! Consider the power and influence you have as a leader and ask yourself if you are a steward of them.

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