The two were devoted to each other, which I guess is proof that all you really need to do is find someone who likes the same stuff you do! Like watching people be disemboweled!
No, really, this is a bit weird, because we do a lot of Shelved Dolls who have terrible marriages. And literally every single one we’ve profiled is a better person than Elizabeth Bathory. At least, they’re better in terms of not torturing and killing people. Yet, Elizabeth and Ferencz had a really happy marriage. He was often away at war, but the two wrote each other constant letters. In them, he talked a lot about her beauty, she talked a lot about how worried she was about him being away, and then they exchanged black magic witchcraft spells they’d heard. Here’s an example from one of her letters:
“Thurko has taught me a lovely new one! Catch a black hen and beat it to death with a white cane. Keep the blood and smear some on your enemy. If you get no chance to smear it on his body, obtain one of his garments and smear it.”
They traded these incantations back and forth like scone recipes.
Thurko was her devil worshiping manservant, but that’s obvious, right?
At one point, while Ferencz was away at war, Elizabeth had an affair, but she returned to her husband almost immediately. He took her back. I keep looking for the account where he tortures her terribly as a result of her affair (something along the lines of “and it is around that time that portraits reveal Elizabeth had all her fingernails ripped off”) but no, it seems he just took her back in a pretty normal, non-torture-y way.
Elizabeth had four children with him – she was also, supposedly, a tender and caring mother – before he died in 1604, leaving Elizabeth a widow at the age of 44. A lot of accounts say that she poisoned him. Weirdly, this is the only atrocity that I don’t really believe she committed.
It seems more likely to me that, as some accounts report, he was stabbed by a tavern wench that he had abused or refused to pay. (Even accounts of accounts vary). I think, given their letters, there is no impression that Elizabeth and her husband weren’t . . . happy and well-matched.
I’m not saying this in an attempt to humanize her. I think it’s really hard to humanize people who kill other people for recreation. But I am saying this because – if you’re single, I want you to remember this the next time someone tells you that you have to become the kind of person that someone would want to love. The next time he suggests that you don’t deserve a relationship until you do charity work or find inner peace through yoga, I want you to stare him straight in the eye and say, “Elizabeth Bathory had a very happy, 30 year long marriage.”
Seriously. Terrible people can have happy relationships. It all comes down to finding someone who likes the same terrible stuff you do.