INNOCENT?

Laszlo Nagy is among the most fervent defenders of Elizabeth Bathory, claiming that the widespread accusations made against her were part of an ingenious machination of the Palatine, Thurzò, to imprison a bothersome political rival. Several observations have been made by those who proclaim the Countess’ innocence:

–       Thurzò initiated motions to imprison Bathory as soon as he became Palatine of Hungary. Was he working toward a pre-planned objective?

–       In the early 1610s, Emperor Matthias was attempting to extend his control over senior Hungarian nobles with the assistance of the Palatine. Their first priority was to deal with anti-Habsburg elements. As powerful Protestants, the Bathory family certainly met the criteria for their investigation.

–       The Imperial Family owed the Countess a substantial amount of cash, which they had trouble paying due to the lack of cash flow in their coffers.  This may explain their supposed plot to eliminate her.

–       Thurzò’s correspondence, according to Tony Thorne, clearly portrays that his stumbling upon Elizabeth ‘in flagrante’ was premeditated.

–       There is evidence that suggests that Thurzò was after Bathory’s significant wealth. As soon as she was imprisoned, in fact, his wife plundered Bathory’s castle in search of the Countess’ famed precious jewelry.

–       The confessions of Bathory’s alleged accomplices was obtained through torture.

–       Witnesses from different counties adopted similar words to denounce Elisabeth’s deeds – a matter that raises suspicions of orchestration.

–       Bathory was never put to trial

–       Much of the information that points to the Countess’ supposed malignant character – namely the notion that she had no friends and lived as a social outcast, and that she was repeatedly unfaithful toward her husband and neglected her children – is unfounded.

–       As a widow after her husband died in 1604, Bathory was particularly susceptible to rumours that she was involved in the dark arts and was thus (possibly) made a scapegoat for many premature deaths that occurred during her widowhood. In fact, scapegoating widows and accusing them of consorting with the Devil was common in Central Europe during the Countess’ times.

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Overall, it is impossible to be completely confident in either proclaiming Bathory’s innocence or her guilt. Should no further evidence from the case arise, her figure will forever remain wrapped by the veil of enigma, legend, and historical speculation.

300pxBthory_Erzsbet_cmere

The emblem of the Bathory family – an inconvenient political force?

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