We are excited to welcome back Catherine Cavendish back to Ink Heist to share a new guest post about the inspiration behind her novella Miss Abigail’s Room, which was recently re-released through Crossroads Press. Catherine’s work often uses inspiration from history and her post “Countess of Blood” focuses on a figure that is well known to horror fans as she has been the inspiration for many frightening horror stories through the years. Check out this fantastic guest post from Catherine that sheds some light on the real-life Elizabeth Bathory and be sure to pick up a copy of Miss Abigail’s Room!
Countess of Blood
By Catherine Cavendish
Her real name was Erzsebet Bathory and she was born on August 7th 1560 – the daughter of one of the most powerful noble families in Hungary. But she ended her life walled up in her bedchamber for a series of horrific and sadistic crimes for which she was never convicted.
So who was this woman? And what had she done that was so terrible, her own family incarcerated her?
More commonly known by the anglicised version of her name – Elizabeth – she was the product of generations of inbreeding and, following an unwise dalliance with a peasant, became pregnant by him. The resulting daughter was fostered and soon after, Elizabeth was married off to the son of a less distinguished family, Ferenc Nadasdy. It was hoped that marriage would settle her and, indeed, she does appear to have been a good wife to him – on the infrequent occasions he was present. But the sadistic tendencies for which she became infamous were already beginning to surface and, by all accounts, Ferenc seems to have been a willing accomplice. The Nadasdy family were known to be harsh and cruel masters and the latest members saw no reason to break with tradition.
As mistress of the Nadasdy estates around Castle Sarvar in modern day north-west Hungary, Elizabeth meted out cruel punishments to any servant who roused her displeasure. Some of her most trusted servants became her willing accomplices, dragging half-naked girls who had been mercilessly beaten and lashed by Elizabeth, out into the snow where they were left to freeze to death.
Elizabeth also took numerous lovers – both male and female – and when her husband died in 1604, from an infected wound, his widow took herself off to her family’s Castle Cachtice in an area of northern Hungary now lying in Slovakia.
Here, at some stage, possibly while beating a female servant, some of the girl’s blood is alleged to have splashed onto the Countess. Elizabeth then noticed how her skin seemed softer and younger-looking where the blood had been and a terrible idea was born.
For the next five years, encouraged by her lover, the witch Anna Darvula, Elizabeth Bathory committed her worst alleged crimes. She was said to have killed 650, or even more, peasant girls and bathed in their blood to keep her youth. Even when so ill she couldn’t leave her bed, she demanded a girl be brought to her whereupon she bit her and drank her blood. She also dabbled frequently in the dark arts with her lover and others. Her crimes went either undetected or ignored; her family’s position and wealth offering her protection. But then she committed a grievous mistake and started picking on girls from noble families – maybe believing that, as she grew older, she needed what she perceived to be their purer blood.
No longer could her perverted proclivities be tolerated. Anna Darvula had died but the rest of Elizabeth’s accomplices were arrested, tried, and all but one executed, some being burned alive after having their fingers torn out with red hot pincers.
Elizabeth’s family used all their power and influence to prevent a similar fate befalling her, but when she tried to escape, they decided enough was enough and imprisoned her in her bedchamber at Castle Cachtice with just small slits for ventilation and to enable food to be passed into her. There, three years later, in August 1614, she was found dead.
Now, all these centuries later, it is impossible to know the real extent of her crimes, or whether indeed she was truly evil or maniacally insane. But there is no doubt hundreds of girls ‘disappeared’ at her hands and for her own family to have taken such drastic action, she must have become a truly terrifying and dangerous woman. One who has now become known by a title other than the Blood Countess:
Elizabeth Bathory – Countess Dracula.
Miss Abigail’s Room Synopsis
Ghosts and demons and a room that hides many secrets. Miss Abigail’s Room. Here’s what to expect:
It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…
As the lowest ranking parlour maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence.
And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. She wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. Then when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die – and Lord Stonefleet sees her and screams as if the hounds of hell were after him.
Miss Abigail’s Room is available here:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.
Her novellas, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.
She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here: