Investigations into the Countess’s activities only began when nobles died
No one called into question Elizabeth Bathory’s alleged activities until 1602, when the Lutheran minister of Sarvar, Istvan Magyari began to question the unusual number of bodies of young female servants coming from the castle for burial. The Countess claimed they were the victims of cholera but the sheer numbers were making the clergyman suspicious. So were the rumors of sealed chambers, out of bounds to all but the Countess’s most trusted servants.
The rumors also whispered that Lady Bathory was torturing and killing her serving girls in these rooms- in the cruelest ways. She reputedly whipped them, beat them, burned them, gouged out their flesh and even bit them. Tales of many of the incidents seem to suggest they were a combination of chastisement and irrational rage.
The ‘punishments’ were initially designed to fit the ‘crime.’ Girls the Countess accused of theft, for instance, had a heated coin pressed into their flesh. The violence then escalated as the Countess became carried away by her rage.
Magyari complained to the authorities. Nothing, however, was done as the girls were only serfs. If they wished to raise a complaint, they or their families needed to bring it to the attention of Ferenc Nadasdy- or his wife. They were hardly likely to do so considering the Countess was the alleged abuser. So nothing was done. However, the authorities started to take notice in 1610, when Lady Bathory opened a Gynaeceum or finishing school for noblewomen. Suddenly, young, noble girls were dying in alarming numbers. So their families took the matter to Matthias II, King of Hungary.