Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful supporters! Here’s a little background on our friend Erzsebet and her marriage to Ferenc....
At the age of 11 Erzsebet was engaged to then 15 year old Ferenc Nadasdy, and four years later on May 8th 1575 they wed. Their wedding was a large affair of 4,500 guests and would have included the most powerful and influential people in the Kingdom of Hungary. Erzsebet’s social and political standing as a member of the Bathory family was greater than that of her husband and, in a serious break from tradition, she refused to take the Nadasdy name.
As a wedding gift, Ferenc gave Erzsebet Cachtice Castle, located in the Little Carpathians in what is now Slovakia. The castle and the surrounding 17 villages were transferred to Erzsebet and it was where her legendary and horrific deeds would be committed. The remains of the castle today is surrounded by villages and agricultural lands, bordered by outcrops of the Little Carpathians and looks quite similar today as it did when it was given to her.
While their marriage was most certainly a political arrangement, both Ferenc and Erzsebet were well suited to each other and seemed to have, for all intents and purposes, a happy marriage. Ferenc would go to battle and learn new torture techniques that he’d bring home to his wife. Interestingly, however he seemed to have a calming effect on Erzsebet and it was reported that when he was at the castle, the frequency of her torture and murder episodes declined.
I guess there really is someone out there for everyone.
Hi All! Thanks for your continued support both online and off! I’ve been working hard since my last update and wanted to let you know how things were going!
I want to get the whole story, even if a scene only has one sentence so far, written down. I want the bones, so speak, of the story so I can start layering on the musculature and nerve endings. What you’ve seen so far is a few bones with some atrophied muscles, so in the most recent update (Check out the NEW draft of chapter 1) you may see some subtle shifts, deletions, and additions. Knowing the larger structure of the story, I was able to tweak the opening moments of the book.
I also have been toying with overarching themes and secondary stories to enrichen the story and add depth of the characters. As I go through and edit, I’m finding that, thankfully, some of the themes are already there in the first few chapters, unknowingly written in during the early stages.
Most importantly I’ve been absorbing anything I can get my hands on. I spent a day researching Hungarian myths, supernatural beings and the traditional creation story (golden ducks diving to the bottom of the ocean), and have read about traditional Hungarian dishes and meal customs. I’ve searched Cachtice Castle on Google Earth, and looked out over the digital view from where Erzsebet once stood. I mapped the distance and terrain shifts that Kata and Erzsebet would have be subjected to as they traveled from Erzsebet’s childhood home to Cachtice, and the surrounding villages she would have known.
I’ve tried to throw myself into this world, as much as one can from across the world in modern day, not necessarily to educate, but to provide an authentic experience for the reader. So much of our lives are experienced through the thoughtless rituals and values of our society and history, and the characters I’m attempting to bring to life would have the same influences from their world.
So, thank you all so much for continuing to provide me your thoughts and encouragement! I hope to be satisfied with the next chapter soon so I can post it for you! I’ll also be working on finalizing a prologue with a neutral character observing Erzsebet as a child.
A HUGE thank you to everyone for your support. As I spend this holiday break hunched over my computer typing out the story of Erzsebet, I thought I’d share with you all a piece of history. On this day 407 years ago.....
December 30th, 1610
Rumors of Erzsebet’s violence and torture spread quickly through the Kingdom of Hungary starting in 1602, after a Lutheran Minister lodged complaints against her publicly, as well as in the Vienna courts. Unsurprisingly, Hungarian authorities were in no rush to condemn Erzsebet’s behavior as it was typical for the Hungarian ruling class to treat their servants and subjects as objects that they owned, objects to be controlled, used, and discarded as the nobles saw fit. It was not uncommon for extremely harsh punishments or torturous executions to take place all across Hungary at the time.
Erzsebet was a powerful noble, with powerful political influence and a strong family name, and the accusations of torture and murder fell into what was generally acceptable behavior for her social standing. The problem was that she was a woman with no husband and she was essentially untouchable through standard political channels.
In 1610, eight years after the complaints had started, King Matthias II ordered the Palatine of Hungary, Gyorgy Thurzo, to fully investigate the disturbing allegations. Thurzo collected evidence and testimonies with the assistance of two notaries.
On December 30th, 1610 Thurzo and his men trudged in the dark and freezing cold up the steep rocky path that lead to Cachtice Castle and arrested Countess Erzsebet Bathory. According to Thurzo, he discovered Bathory in the act of torture with two women dead or dying nearby. There is almost no evidence to support this claim. He had announced to her guests and villagers that she had been caught “red handed”, however based on court transcripts, it appeared that the bodies hidden throughout the castle grounds were not discovered until after the arrest was made. It’s more than likely that Thurzo’s eagerness to punish Erzsebet inspired him to weave a tale of finding Erzsebet soaked with the blood of her victims while they died at her feet.
Ultimately this arrest led to further investigations, arrests, and the punishments of her “accomplices” in the castle, Katarina Benicka among them.
It’s been 407 years since that fateful night, and still Erzsebet’s arrest and legacy remain bathed in mystery and conflicting stories. Transcripts from her trial are subjective at best and coerced or falsified at worst. One also can not overlook the fact that in a world were brutality was praised Erzsebet was cast as a devil to be eliminated. Erzsebet remains a mystery to us in the modern world, only a few tangible facts to cling to while our imaginations fill in the shadowy gaps…