See, Bathory was never actually put on trial -- just locked in a tower to be forgotten. (Which we know from Disney films was the most common form of medieval punishment.) All the evidence of her bloodthirsty crimes comes from accusations made against her by ... people who wanted her stuff and/or owed her a shit-ton of money.
For context, this all took place in 1500s Europe, where being a woman didn't exactly earn you much respect. Being a powerful, wealthy woman earned you downright resentment. Being a powerful, wealthy woman without a husband meant that the peasants were already sharpening their pitchforks, and we absolutely mean that literally. So it's kind of telling that all of the accusations against Bathory began to surface around the time her husband, Count Ferencz Nadasdy, died, leaving her in control of their entire fortune.
Andreas Schlegel/fStop/Getty Images
And the first crime that entered their heads was "stabbed a bunch of virgins."
It didn't help her that the King of Hungary, Matthias, owed Bathory a substantial amount of money. Now, King typically beats Countess in most hierarchies, so we're not sure how that happened (maybe he was really bad at poker), but when rumors began to emerge that Bathory was into some shady hobbies, he didn't hesitate to ask some other noblemen to investigate. And by "noblemen," we mean relatives of Bathory who stood to inherit her estate if something were to happen to her.
Unsurprisingly, the investigation uncovered "evidence" that Bathory was slaughtering people by the hundreds. And that she was a witch. This evidence, of course, took the form of eyewitness testimony delivered under torture. And Bathory's accusing family delivered said evidence, along with an offer the King couldn't refuse: get rid of Bathory, and they would cancel his debt in return for being allowed to divide her land among themselves.
She had a castle. You'd lie for a castle.
It's not enough to vindicate the "Blood Countess," but you have to admit that it does make you wonder whether we owe her an apology for centuries of comparing her to Dracula.
History is rife with dumb lies. Like maybe Paul Revere wasn't such an American hero. See what we mean in 5 Fictional Stories You Were Taught In History Class. And while we're on that subject, check out Revere's female equivalent you never heard of in 5 Important People Who Were Screwed Out Of History Books.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the probably true story of how four presidents got their faces on a mountain in Stuff That Must Have Happened: Pitching Mt. Rushmore, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook because liking us is the same as giving a hug. And hugs are wonderful.