Countess Bathory was a bloodthirsty royal in the 1500s. Set in the 1500's, Medieval Blood details how she might have killed her victims.
Historical Fictional Story of Countess Erzsebet Bathory
Copyright © 2015 by Mary C. Blowers
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It was the spring of 1572. The trees were leafed out making her hiding place much safer. She loved to climb the tree and feel the wind in her hair and her skirts. And before the leaves appeared, she could see father than ever, to the edge of town, to the mountains beyond. When she could be alone, she could think. Changes were happening to her pubescent body and she wasn’t sure what to expect. She knew that someday she would be expected to marry and that just seemed so foreign to her. Why would she want to live with a man, to sleep with a man, and make babies? Why couldn’t things stay just as they were now, when she had free time and didn’t have to do any work?
Erzsebet Bathory was missing again for dinner. After looking everywhere, including the barn, her sister sent the stable boy out to find her, and he discovered her hiding spot. She would not come down and teased him, flashed him, pulling up her skirts. He climbed up after her, big strapping young man, and wrapped an arm around her waist and carried her down, with her fighting all the way. “What are you fighting for?” He asked her. “You know you want me.”
“Ha! That’s what you think.”
The servant brought her to the house and into the kitchen. “Found her climbing a tree,” he boasted.
“A tree?? Whatever for?” Said Lucy, the cook.
“You’re twelve years old, Erzsebet. You need to think about your reputation. Soon you will need to marry and who will have you if you’ve been climbing trees and running hither and yon across the countryside?” The servant boy winked at her. What does that mean, she thought. She remembered how his arm had felt around her waist. How she could smell his clothing on her, still. A little later, she picked at her dinner.
“Why aren’t you hungry, girl, after all that running about? Are you unwell?”
“My stomach hurts,” she lied. Her mother and the cook looked at each other. The unspoken agreement was, it’s time. She’s becoming a woman.
Her mother, Anna Bathory, came and talked to her later that evening when she had gone to her room. Anna found her sitting on her bed holding her stomach. “Are you in pain? Have you begun your moon-time?” She asked Erzsebet. “Yes,” Erzsebet replied. “You’re a woman now, dear,” her mother sighed, and carefully explained about the bleeding and the way to keep herself clean. “Let me get you a hot towel. It will help with the pain.”
Anna went to the cook and asked for a hot towel. Lucy heated a small amount of water and soaked the towel in it. Wringing it out, she gave it to Anna.
“Here,” said Anna, folding the towel to a 12” square. “Lie down and put this on your stomach.”
Erzsebet did as she was told, lying on the soft featherbed with her mother’s handmade red and gold quilt over her. She was grateful for the moist warmth. She had heard about such things but was dismayed that it was now to happen to her—and the inconvenience of the messiness. “But if it didn’t, you couldn’t ever have babies. It’s time that we start making a match for you. I have portraits of several eligible members of the Court but the best thing is to plan to go there this spring.” Erzsebet stared at the tiny painted portraits and then at the stained pantalets she wore. Her mother had obviously started the search without her. “I have to get married?” She wailed. “You do, Erzsebet. We have to match you to someone who can improve our lot. Nothing wrong with us, but your dear father’s gone now, rest his soul, and it never hurts to combine two family’s lands and holdings. An older man will be more established also, and better able to take care of you . . . and me,” she added in a whisper. “He’ll come to live here?” Erzsebet said with hopefulness. Her mother gasped audibly. “Don’t be ridiculous, girl, if things transpire for the best, we will both go to live in his castle!” Erzsebet had far too many questions in her mind, and fell silent. Rebellious though she was, she was afraid to leave her mother altogether. And she loved their home, and even their servants. She knew the acres of property blindfolded, and loved to take long walks there, feeling safe on their own land. She had never really been anywhere else. She just couldn’t imagine not having the planed wood floors, the hand hooked rugs, and the warmth of the fire in the kitchen to warm the stone walls.
Her mother began making preparations for a trip to London. The court season was approaching and she had a standing invitation to attend, so long as she was very discrete. She had once been close to the man who was now married to Queen Elizabeth. Of course the queen would be jealous if she knew, but Anna was not willing to give up even her squatter’s place at court. Miraculously she obtained fine silks and lace to fashion dresses for Erzsebet, and found one in her own closet that was not too worn and that she had not worn to court in the last few years. “Oh mother!” breathed Erzsebet. “May I wear the green silk to the first ball?” “It suits you, dear. No man will be able to resist your green eyes.”
Who cares about the men, thought Erzsebet. I want to see the castles.
On the night before their coach left for London, Erzsebet was in her chambers and was restless. She felt her life was about to change, but she wasn’t entirely clear just how. The house was silent. She slipped quietly out of her room and down the hall, not breathing past her mother’s room, and tiptoed down the stone stairs. Heading through the kitchen, she slipped out the servant’s entrance and escaped into the light of the full moon. How lovely, she thought, as she strolled along the path between the cypress trees. I would miss it so if I moved away.
“Erz!” she heard a whisper from a little distance. She looked in that direction, and the stable boy was there. He cared for the horses, helping the groomsman, and so he slept in the barn, partly to ward off horse thieves.
She held back for a moment, sorry she had come out alone. Then she ran to him to tell him of their plans to leave in the morning. She wasn’t sure how long they would be gone, and they were not unfriendly to each other, so she wanted him to know. She really was just a child and no man had touched her—yet. She had no real knowledge of such things.
But as she babbled on to him, he suddenly grasped her head and swept his arm around her waist. He stopped her chatter with a kiss, and hungrily ravished her mouth. “Stop!” she said weakly. A hot feeling rose up in her as she thought she should slap him, but she didn’t really want to. He took her hand and led her into the barn with his other hand over her mouth, until she made him realize she would not scream. Climbing to the loft, where he slept on soft hay, he released her. “You sleep here?” she questioned. She kissed him back, a long and yet eager kiss. Her moist lips tasted delicious in his mouth. Leading her to the hay, he laid her there and pulled up her skirts. Taking care to be sure she wanted him, and that she was ready for him, he entered her. Her eyes rolled back as she gasped with the sensation. She thought, So this is what all the excitement is about-but it’s my first time. What do I know. No one had told her what to expect as she was, after all, quite young for her to become intimate with anyone. He was thrusting and thrusting, and Erzsebet tried to see what was above them in the filtered moonlight. She suddenly felt dirty, lying here in the hay; perhaps there were rats watching them nearby. She shuddered at the thought, he mistook the shudder for her passion, and suddenly he moaned and it was over.
“What is this?” She accused him, feeling the wetness of his passion. It had hurt a little, but it was titillating to be near him and with him. “Don’t you know anything?” He asked in return. “How old are you, really?” “Thirteen,” she lied. He felt his first pang of guilt. “You should go,” he counseled her. She ran back to her room and hid wide awake under the covers, in tears, thinking he hated her, but thinking of him and what had just happened with him.
The next morning she got up and there was a tiny bit of blood in her panties. She assumed it was her monthly time; the moon time, her mother had called it. How could she bleed every month and not run out? Maybe that is what killed women, the constant blood loss. She made a pact with herself to find out, and to find out how to make sure it never happened that she lost too much blood. She packed everything her mother told her, and she and her mother took a hired carriage and traveled to London. It took over a month and by the time they got there they were exhausted. Along the way, they stayed with friends and relatives when they could. Traveling alone was of course risky for women so they avoided rented rooms when possible. When they arrived in London, they were tired, stiff, and bedraggled. In the London rooming house, they slept for two days straight after cleaning up. Then they began the pleasure of all the self-care they’d neglected on the road. They bathed, shaved, shook the dust out of the clothing in their bags and sent the ball gowns to be cleaned. They went for beauty treatments—facials and hair softeners, foot and hand softeners, everything that was blessedly available in the city. Finally it was the night of the first ball. The green silk dress came out of the box, and a blue one for Anna, who did a few quick stitches with the needle and thread she carried. Cologne was lavishly sprayed and brand new silk undergarments were worn for the special occasion. Erzsebet’s hair was curled into an elaborate style and piled on top of her head, and then she stepped into the ocean of green silk. She marveled at the way the new clothing felt on her body, and how the silk rustled as she swished the skirt around her.
How beautiful she was, with her hair curled, and precious kohl from India smudged around her eyes. Her mother handed her a carved sandalwood fan from which to flirt behind, and the transformation was complete. Erzsebet gazed at herself in the reflection in the mirror, and waited for her mother. Her stomach was nervous but she passed it off to the excitement of the evening to come.
The ladies in the street oohed and aahed to see Erzsebet looking so lovely, and murmured their approval. The moment they arrived at court and were presented at the ball, Erzsebet was the talk of the evening, or at least among the top subjects. Also being hotly discussed was the Church of England and the rebellion which sought to restore Catholicism. She was introduced to the royal family itself, and so many other people she could not remember all their names. She watched the dancing for a bit until she was confident the steps were just like what she had learned in her training. If only she had paid closer attention. But the wine was flowing and no one seemed to care if she fumbled a little, since she was also so young.
Erzsebet had had a glass of wine once or twice before their court visit, so that she would seem to be mature and not wrinkle her nose at its taste. But she had never had free access to its pleasures. Over and over she visited the wine table, and the hosts took care not to fill her glass too full, since she was so young. She did find that it loosened her tongue and she had to take care not to appear too forward with the wrong people.
During a break she asked her mother, “Who am I supposed to marry? You showed me some pictures. Are those men here?”
Her mother tried to point out the men she wanted to introduce her to, from the little portraits she had seen at home.
“There is a fine prospect.” A prince from Germany.
Erzsebet wrinkled her nose. “He has red hair.” She thought men with red hair looked juvenile.
“Then what about that one? He is only a barrister here in London but very wealthy. Some say he works for all the royalty.”
“He’s so old!” Whispered Erzsebet. “I can see hair growing out of his ears from here.”
“If he’s old then he would die sooner,” teased Anna. “And you would inherit his estate, providing you gave him a son. Really your son would inherit it, but you would have control of it until he grew up.”
“Really mother! Such an old man. And how you talk!”
“The Count from our home country of Hungary then. He has a fine estate in Budapest and is still quite attractive. He is a bit older than you are as well.” Erzsebet, with all of her 12 years, was not so sure. “He has fine features, my dear, and as you grow up you will appreciate that. His stability and experience make him a worthy catch. Just think, you could be entertaining heads of state at balls just like this one in your own castle.”
It did sound exciting, she thought. But would she have to make babies with him? She had lain with the stable boy the one time, but could not imagine doing that often, or with any of these men for that matter. She pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind as the Count walked over to her mother. Kissing her hand and running his hand up her arm, he made Anna blush and giggle like a girl. “You look ravishing, my dear Anna. But who is this charming young creature with you?”