Elizabeth Bathory may have had a secret love child
At the age of 11, Elizabeth’s family betrothed her to 15-year-old Ferenc Nadasdy, the son of the then Palatine of Hungary. As was the custom, the young bride to be left her own home once the betrothal was official and the family of her fiance took over her education. By this time, Tamas Nadasdy, Ferenc’s father was dead. His mother, Orsolya died just before or after Elizabeth arrived at the Nadasdy estate of Sarvar. Ferenc himself was also absent at school. So, the Nadasdy family retainers became responsible for their future mistress.
Elizabeth Bathory’s life at this time is not well documented. However, it seems the Nadasdy servants did not attend to her particularly well. There is a rumor that she became pregnant at 13, while at the Nadasdy estate of Trnava, on the River Danube by a servant or minor noble named Ladislav Bende. Local records confirm Bende’s existence and his name. Some sources claim that once Ferenc Nadasdy discovered the indiscretion, he had Bende castrated and torn apart by dogs. Meanwhile, the child, a girl reputedly named Anastasia was sent away and brought up in Transylvania.
The Bathory- Nadasdy wedding went ahead when Elizabeth was 15 and Ferenc 19. Whatever may have occurred, the marriage had to take place to save face and preserve the alliance between the two families. However, there is the possibility that Bende raped Elizabeth Bathory. A document exists, signed in front of church officials, were the Countess claims she was abducted and drugged- and forced by Bende. The trouble is, the document is dated to 1609 when the Countess was 50 years old- 37 years after the event.
Whatever the truth, Elizabeth Bathory’s pride and confidence were unabated. She insisted on keeping her maiden name after her marriage, signing all her correspondence as ‘Lady Bathory.’ Her reasoning was hers was the older, more distinguished family. This degree of self-assurance is a testament to the strong will of the Countess. However, it was not respected by all around her. Many nobles insisted on referring to Elizabeth as âLady Nadasdy’ despite her noted name preference. Even at a young age, Elizabeth Bathory was flouting convention- and ruffling the feathers of the establishment.