Nearly three hundred depositions were made between Elizabeth’s imprisonment in the Cachtice Castle tower in 1610 (pictured below) and her subsequent death in early 1614. Most of the witnesses who testified against her were from the lower classes that inhabited the lands surrounding the Countess’ properties, but some members of the lower nobility were also questioned by the prosecutor. If we are to believe their testimonies, Bathory comes across as a Dracula-type monster who killed virgin young women for pleasure. Many argued that she viciously tortured the girls before killing them: sticking needles in their fingernails, over their body, and in their eyes; tearing out flesh with hot tongs, which she also inserted in their genitals; cutting them into pieces, etc. One witness named ‘Susannah’ on the records claimed that Szilvassy, the administrator of two of the Bathory castles, had found, in a chest that belonged to Elizabeth, the names of 650 women (written by the Countess herself) thought to be Bathory’s victims. People who accuse her cite this piece of evidence as the ultimate proof of her guilt.
Susannah’s deposition far surpasses that of others who usually estimated the number of deaths to be around thirty to eighty.
Another piece of evidence often cited by those who proclaim the Countess’ guilt is that Zavdosky, the Palatine’s secretary acting as prosecutor in the Bathory case, caught the Lady ‘in flagrante’ when he paid visit to the castle following Emperor Matthias’ order to investigate her after he heard of the rumours going round in Hungary, where countless families accused the Countess of their childrens’ disappearance or death. As soon as the prosecutor denounced his findings, Elisabeth was imprisoned.
Four of Elizabeth’s servants confessed under torture that they had been accomplices in their mistress’ crimes. Three of them were sentenced to death after being put to trial. Elisabeth was never given a trial, as she died before it could start.
The surviving records of depositions suggest that Bathory was guilty of committing heinous crimes against innocent young women. However, some digging around the context and the circumstance in which the events supposedly took place raises serious questions about the authenticity of said depositions and confessions.