Bathory (2008)

 

 

 

Director:     Juraj Jakubisko.

Starring:       Anna Friel (Erzsbet Bthory),  Karel Roden (Juraj Thurzo),  Vincent Regan (Ferenc Nadasdy),  Hans Matheson (Merisi Caravaggio),  Deana Horvthov (Darvulia),  Franco Nero (King Mathias II),   Antony Byrne (Pastor Ponicky),  Bolek Polvka (Monk Peter),  Jir Mdl (Neophyte Cyril),  Monika Hilmerov (Countess Czobor),  Lucie Vondrckov (Lucia),  Jaromr Nosek (Mikls Zrnyi),  Marek Majesk (Gbor Bthory),  Andrew Tiernan (Zavodsky),  Marek Vasut (Bethlen ).

Countess Elizabeth Bthory (1560-1614) of Hungary, accused serial killer, was a modern Renaissance woman

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

 

Castle of Cachtice, an unconquerable fortress that is now in ruins.  This is the story of Hungary's wealthiest and most powerful woman, Erzsebet Bathory.  The stories say that she tortured and killed beautiful virgins, and then bathed in their blood, so she could stay forever young.  

Upper Hungary,16th century.  As a young girl Elizabeth was promised in marriage to Ferenc Nadasdy.  She had a private tutor.  She marries young and starts having children. 

For centuries the Turks and Tartars plundered the Hungarian Kingdom until Protestant lords sat aside their disputes with the Catholics.  Then they could combine their forces and resist the onslaught of their enemies. Count Nadasdy became their leader.  "Hungary was the last bastion for keeping the Muslims out of Western Europe."   

The narrator of the film calls himself "poor Friar Peter".  He will tell the story of the life and death of Count Nadasdy's beautiful wife Countess Elizabeth. 

 

Part I.  Ferenc.

Catiche, 1593.  A pregnant Elizabeth, who already has two daughters, receives a visit from an ambitious man named Thurzo.  He tells her that her husband sent her a present:  an Italian painter they stole from the Turks. 

Ferenc comes home to Elizabeth extremely drunk.  She doesn't want to have sex with him because he is drunk and she is concerned four the health of her baby.  So the drunken sod rapes her.  She cries so much that her dog tries to save her by attacking Ferenc. 

When Elizabeth regains consciousness, her dog is laying beside her dead.  His blood and her blood are intermixed on the bed.  She cries and screams:  "My baby!" 

Ferenc is back in battle.  He writes an apologetic letter to Elizabeth:  "I will never forgive myself for the loss of our unborn son." 

A pretty servant named Erika poses for the Italian artist Merisi.  She wants to have sex with him, but he rejects her.  Elizabeth comes to the door and knocks and Erika slips out a back door.  The Countess tells Merisi that tomorrow he shall begin painting her and her daughters.  She wants him to conserve whatever beauty she has left.

The painting is delayed as the Countess becomes ill, but when she is well again she takes the painter to one of her mansions.  Outdoors she sits with her two daughters for the artist.  Merisi, however, is bitten by a snake.  Elizabeth takes him to her "hospital", she being responsible for the health of her peasants.  She cauterizes the wound with a red hot iron.

Elizabeth calls in Erika and scolds her for having sex with Thurzo.  Erika says that Thurzo raped her.  Elizabeth gives her a peculiar looking knife set with which to protect herself.

Battle of Esztergom, 1594.  The Hungarians are allied with the Habsburgs of Austria to fight the Turks.  It seems to the Hungarians that the Habsburgs aren't doing very much and they certainly are not following orders.  Instead, they seem to be totally engaged in chasing naked Turkish harlots (brief nudity). The Hungarians shout that the battle is not over!  Then it dawns on at least one fellow that this may be an Ottoman trap.  And sure enough, the tents of the harlots are opened up and cannon are fired at the Hungarians.

Elizabeth asks Merisi why didn't he paint her face?  He answers that he is waiting for her to smile.  Later Elizabeth talks with Merisi about her kingdom which stretches from Moravia down to the Adriatic Sea.  She adds that she has sixteen castles and owns one third of the land of the kingdom.  She also complains that Thurzo has been given a great piece of property, but he is always asking for more land from her husband and her.  And the man is always chasing after her ladies-in-waiting. 

Ferenc and Thurzo are captured by the Turks. 

A message arrives for Elizabeth from her uncle the Prince of Transylvania.  He wants Elizabeth and the children to come visit him. 

Elizabeth takes Merisi to a place where she pulls out a large block of ice.  Inside the ice is the frozen body of her son Andras.  She tells Merisi to paint her son, so she can return him to the earth where he belongs.  Merisi has only limited time to finish the painting, so he gets busy.  He works into the night and has to place candles all around the painting and on the brim of his hat so he can do justice to the painting.  He is interrupted by what he thinks is the voice of Erika.  He goes to check it out. Very quickly in his absence, the flames of the candles grow and soon the painting is on fire. 

Elizabeth is mad at Merisi and she threatens to give him to her uncle.  Outside, meanwhile, the authorities are burning women at the stake. 

Uncle Zsigmond greets Elizabeth and her daughters, as well as Merisi.  The visitors are introduced to his right hand man Bethlen and to Elizabeth's now grown nephew Gabor.  

At the formal dinner Merisi is presented to all the guests.  All of a sudden Thurzo comes in to the dinner.  Elizabeth asks him where is Frenec?  Thurzo is taken aback by her tone and asks:  "You don't like me, do you?"  Outside Elizabeth and Merisi play chest against Thurzo on a huge lawn chest board. Thruzo is a very bad loser and he gets very angry at Merisi, who moves the chest pieces for Elizabeth.  Elizabeth starts to leave but Thurzo tells her to wait.  He will tell her some news about Ferenc. 

Elizabeth has to leave.  She tells her relatives:  "If my husband is wounded, I must be by his side."

Sarvar, w. Hungary.  Count Ferenc is in Presburg at the orders of Hungarian King Rudolf. His wounded shoulder has healed. 

It is a night of bawdy behavior, which upsets Elizabeth who orders every maid in the castle be whipped.  She watches as her orders are carried out. 

Elizabeth tells Merisi that she is lonely. She takes off her wig and orders Merisi to kiss her:  "It's an order!"  Merisi is a bit nervous saying he has never kissed a woman.  He obeys.  Now Elizabeth decides that she wants him to paint her in the nude.  He strokes her naked body (brief nudity).  Elizabeth tells him that she is ill, that there is something wrong with her blood.  There is a big commotion outside her chambers and Elizabeth is told that they caught a man spying.  And there is a claim that there's a vampire about who killed a man.  Elizabeth has the body of the deceased brought to her.  She notices the peculiar scratches on him and knows that it was no vampire.  It was Erika.  She then cuts the body open with a knife saying that Merisi is always complaining that he doesn't know the human body well enough to produce really great art.  Elizabeth says this is Merisi's opportunity and he should take it. 

Erika tells Merisi that she thinks the Countess is a vampire.  The young girl then sees a ring that the Countess gave Merisi and she takes it. 

On a jaunt through the countryside, Elizabeth has the coach stop in an isolated area.  She makes Merisi get out of the coach and take off all his clothes.  Merisi does so, but then Elizabeth tells the driver to go on.  Poor Merisi has to quickly gather his clothing and run to catch up with the coach. 

Elizabeth gets mad at Erika for wearing the ring she gave to Merisi.  She then chases after her.  Erika goes out the window to get away from her and she falls to her death.  Elizabeth starts crying and wailing that this is not what she wanted. 

Elizabeth has a lot of nude or semi-nude women around her, while she plays the piano.  Merisi comes to her and shoos all the other women out of the room.  He asks her why is she avoiding him?  Elizabeth says that Merisi betrayed her.  To prove that he didn't betray her, he tells her all about his life.  He killed a man in a duel and was on the run for awhile.  Then the Turks captured him.  The Hungarians in turn took him away from the Turks.  He says he always signs his paintings with his last name Caravaggio.  Merisi goes on to tell Elizabeth that he loves her.  Ferenc arrives and Elizabeth tells Merisi to leave quickly. 

Hungarian Archduke Matthias is with Ferenc for a visit.  At a celebration Ferenc tells Thurzo to send Merisi away.  Elizabeth gets a bit drunk, which irritates her husband.  Then Ferenc notices that the Italian "prick" is wearing his wife's favorite ring.  He demands to know how Merisi got the ring.  Now Thurzo sees an opportunity and tells Ferenc about a much too cozy relationship between Elizabeth and Merisi.  Ferenc becomes furious and says:  "I will kill him!"  Thurzo tells him not to make a scene in front of Archduke Matthias.  He takes some poison and mixes it in a glass of wine and tells Ferenc to get Merisi to drink the wine.

Ferenc with two glasses of wine in his hands gives the poisoned glass to Merisi and tells him to drink.  Merisi is a bit suspicious, but decides to drink it.  Being a bit drunk and feeling merry, Elizabeth rushes over and steals the wine glass from Merisi and starts drinking the beverage.  Luckily, she is stopped before she drinks it all.  But she drank enough to become really sick.  And this is how Elizabeth gets introduced to Darvulia, a healer and fortune teller.  Elizabeth believes that it was the woman's herbs and encouragement that kept her alive.

When she is better Elizabeth asks about Merisi.  She is informed that he is alive, but living in a walled-off set of rooms.  Elizabeth wants to see him so she has someone bust through a wall.  Davulio goes in first to look for Merisi, but he is not there.  She tells Elizabeth that the painter has escaped.  Elizabeth is glad that he got away.

Darvulia listens to Elizabeth about her losing her beauty.  The fortune teller says there is a way for her to have eternal beauty.  And under the tutelage of Darvulia, Elizabeth will bear a son for Ferenc and be happy for ten years.  Darvulia doesn't say what will happen at the end of the ten year period. 

 

Part II.  Darvulia.

 Things are starting to fall apart in Hungary.  Christians are fighting Christians.  And a rumor has spread that Elizabeth is under the spell of an old witch named Darvulia.  In this time of troubles, the poor Friar Peter and his very young assistant Cyril are sent by the cardinal to find out about the truth or falseness of these rumors.  Peter and Cyril discover that Hungarians are kidnapping peasants and selling them as slaves to the Turks. 

Elizabeth's daughter Anna wants to marry, but Elizabeth says no, because Darvulia does not see the time as being an auspicious one.  This makes Anna very angry and she strikes back at her mother by saying that because of Darvulia, Elizabeth has become a laughing stock.  Elizabeth says Anna will not marry, not in this time of war.  Darvulia gets very angry at Anna and breaks the wine glass in her hand.  The wine goes all over her.  At this time there is an explosion in the kitchen and there one maid starts cutting another made with a knife. 

The new pastor Ponicky comes over to talk with Peter and Cyril.  He tells them to be wary in town because one maid after another seems to end up murdered and their bodies thrown onto the streets  As they speak another dead body is thrown from a carriage and lands right in front of them.  Like the others, the girl has been mutilated.  The bodies eventually go to Elizabeth who has the bodies buried in her garden area. 

War with the Turks has been going on for 10 years now.

Siege of Buda, 1603.  The Hungarians burst through the gates of the enemy fortress.  Ferenc tells Thurzo to watch his back as he fights, but Thurzo leaves him to look for the gold that is supposed to be in the fortress. All of a sudden a cannon is fired and Ferenc is hurt. 

Ferenc is home in bed surrounded by his family.  He warns Elizabeth that the Habsburgs are trying to tear Hungary apart.  She must be prepared to protect herself.  He tells her to join forces with Bathanyi. 

Sarvar, 1604.  The funeral for Ferenc is held.  Friar Peter sends a message to the cardinal via carrier pigeon.  Thurzo chooses this inopportune time to ask Elizabeth to give him some more land.  When she says no, Thurzo says he knows all about her and Merisi.  Elizabeth slaps Thurzo hard.  She then attacks him, screaming for all to hear that the man is a bastard.  Thurzo gets out of there. 

The still young and beautiful looking Elizabeth gets a letter from Merisi.  She's very glad that he is still alive. 

The wife and mother of some of Thurzo's children wants to help Thurzo in his fight with Elizabeth. 

Another body is found.  This time the body is headless. 

Elizabeth dreams about Merisi.  In the dream she visits him and wants to have sex with him, but then the dream changes and she is on a slab next to an older woman who is also on a slab.  Elizabeth knows the woman to be Arnica and she tells Arnica that she doesn't want to end up in the flames like Arnica did.  Arnica says to Elizabeth:  "I am Elizabeth.  You are Arnica." 

Thurzo wants to speak with Elizabeth so he invites her to ride in his carriage.  She gets in the carriage.  He tells her that she must get rid of Davulia for that woman is ruining Elizabeth's name.  He also wants Elizabeth to join him in an alliance with the Habsburgs for they have the power to win the war with the Turks.   To be in with the Habsburgs, the Bathory family would have to convert to Catholicism and Elizabeth says that will never happen.  Thurzo tells her that her son Pal could possibly become Emperor.  Thurzo changes the pace by saying that he wants to have Elizabeth sexually.  Elizabeth does not want that, but he tries to force himself on her.  So she kicks him so hard that he falls out of his own coach. 

A young girl cuts the hair of Elizabeth.  She accidentally nicks an ear with the scissors and Elizabeth goes ballistic.  She kills the young girl with the hair-cutting scissors.  Then she becomes sad and tells Davulia that she wants to die. 

Another dead body is found on the street.  In church Reverend Ponicky goes after Elizabeth.  He denounces her for bathing in the blood of young virgin girls.  Peter and Cyril are running around.  Cyril sees a girl named Margita drying off with a towel after her bath.  Cyril stares at her and she notices.  She shows Cyril her breasts and Cyril is a bit nonplused.   The cardinal has instructed Peter to find proof of the evil deeds of Elizabeth. So now they are definitely going to be doing a little spying.

Elizabeth starts moaning that she wants Sara.  She is informed that she killed Sara.  Elizabeth doesn't seem to believe it.  And now Elizabeth turns against Davulia.  She instructs her servant Ficzko to take Davulia and chain her to a wall in the prison.  Davulia says:  "God forgive you, Elizabeth Bathory." 

Peter and Cyril spy on Elizabeth.  She is relaxing in a bath tub with water that looks blood red.  While the two males are spying on her, they are caught and accused of being spies.  Elizabeth is going to personally whip Cyril, but she is interrupted by the arrival of Sara's dead body.  The staff speculates that someone must have dug her up. Elizabeth goes to get Davulia to ask her what this means and what she should do, but Davulio has apparently escaped. 

Peter and Cyril are driven out of the castle.  Cyril shows Peter that he has some of Elizabeth's bath water in a container.  He says there is no blood in the water.  The red color comes from some of the herbs being used in the bath.  Cyril, who likes Elizabeth, now says he believes that Elizabeth is innocent. 

Bytca, the Thurzo family estate.  Elizabeth comes to Thurzo's estate to attend a party.  The mother of Thurzo's children escorts Elizabeth around the place.  As part of her tour, she shows Elizabeth that they have Davulia.  The woman is chained to a wall.  Thurzo's wife says that Davulia told her all of Elizabeth's secrets.  And now Davulia can't talk because her tongue has been cut out.  Elizabeth is upset about this.

Thurzo speaks to Elizabeth.  He says an "I told you so" concerning the Habsburgs.  The Habsburgs want to harm Elizabeth.  After all, Elizabeth is the most powerful Protestant standing in the way of the Catholic Habsburgs.  He goes on to say that the Habsburgs want Hungary badly. 

Elizabeth is going to take Davulio to her castle.  Her children ask Elizabeth if they can go with the Thurzo children to see the new King Matthias.  Mother Thurzo says that Caravaggio will be there.  Elizabeth agrees to go.

Vienna, capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  In the ballroom Merisi comes to talk with Elizabeth.  He takes her to show her his latest painting. For the face of the madonna he painted Elizabeth's face.  Merisi starts kissing Elizabeth.  She says not here, so he takes her into a confessional and has sex with her (not shown).  The confessional booth keeps moving around with the motions of the couple.  Afterwards, Merisi dances with Elizabeth and presents one of his rings to her as a keepsake. 

Thurzo tells Elizabeth that King Matthias wants to see her.  Meanwhile, Davulia asks God to protect Elizabeth.   The King tells Elizabeth to tell him the secret of her eternal beauty.  Elizabeth won't tell.  A fortune teller is brought in and the woman says that Elizabeth has conspired with the devil and she's hurtling toward the flames.  Moreover, Elizabeth's end of days is surely near.  Elizabeth gets upset and runs out.  Thurzo goes after her and tells her that she will soon see what happens to her without his protection.  And, he adds, he will be second only to the king.  Elizabeth spits in Thurzo's face.  He warns her that he has the backing of the King. 

In the castle some men are starting the process of mutilating and killing two virgins.  Peter and Cyril, however, intervene to stop this.  They quickly have everyone hide the evidence of what they were going to do.  When the guards come to arrest Elizabeth and her aides, Peter and Cyril have produced a production of a happy, friend family get-together.  The guards leave. 

Darvulia is dead.  Elizabeth promises Darvulia that she will avenge her.

 

Part III.  Thurzo. 

Darvulia comes to visit Elizabeth in her dreams.  She tells her to awaken.  Just after this the alarm is shouted out that there are intruders in the house.  A man jumps out of a second story window into the snow and gets away.  Elizabeth checks on her son Pal to make sure he is okay. 

Elizabeth learns that they captured two of the would-be assassins.  They appear to be Thurzo's men.  Elizabeth takes a sword and slashes one of the assassins and beheads the other. She tells her aide to have the bodies taken over and dumped on Thurzo's doorstep. 

In a small village the word is shouted by the peasants that the Turks are attacking and burning the fields.  Gabor tells Elizabeth that he has bad news.  Carravaggio has died of a fever, alone.  This makes Elizabeth sad.  She cuts out her head on the Madonna's body of Carravaggio's painting and then burns it.  She asks:  "Why are all the people that I love leaving me?" 

Thurzo and his crew know that the atttacks was not the work of the Turks, but rather the work of Nephew Gabor done on behalf of his Aunt Elizabeth.  In fact, this is the third village burned by Gabor's men.  The feeling is that they must get Elizabeth to court immediately.  Thutzo says he has to have witnesses to some of the abominations of Elizabeth. 

Peter and Cyril see three young people killed and their bodies taken away in a carriage.  The carriage used is like the one used by Elizabeth. 

Sarvar.  Betthanyi practices his swordsmanship with Elizabeth.  She gets a message and tells Betthanyi that Thurzo has made his next move.  She will return to Cachtice. 

Margita is kissing Cyril so much that her mother tells her to stop kissing a Catholic.  Peter tells Cyril that they are no longer welcome here.  Cyril says he's fed up with being a spy, anyway.

Thurzo says that a number of witnesses have come forward to testify against Elizabeth.  He meets with Count Druget (the husband of Elizabeth's daughter Katalin) and other disgruntled members of Elizabeth's family.  They all agree to find a way to stop the Crown from grabbing Elizabeth's land and riches.  They themselves will divide the land and riches among stthemselves following Elizabeth's downfall. 

At home Elizabeth shows Pal how to use his father's sword.  Her son-in-law Zrinyi (married to Anna) comes to her saying that Anna and he are making plans for the whole family to be together at Christmas.  Elizabeth says she can't because she promised Palika that they would spend New Year's in Transylvania with the family.  And to do this they must leave before Christmas.  Zrinyi urges Elizabeth to leave after Christmas.

Friar Peter tells Elizabeth that there must be a spy on her staff for they knew in advance that she was leaving the castle.  He also tells her that Thurzo and his men have the castle completely surrounded.  Elizabeth sends a pigeon with a note, but Thurzo's men are able to shoot it down. 

Cachtice, December 29, 1610.  Elizabeth's close aide Dorottya may be the spy for she listens intently to the conversation between Elizabeth and the young girl Lucia from a hiding place.  For Christmas Elizabeth gives Lucia freedom for herself and for her family.  

Someone grabs Lucia as she leaves the castle.  Peter and Cyril hear her screams and run to investigate.  They follow the girl snatchers into the dungeons.  Peter asks what is the royal guard doing in the dungeons?  Cyril says he thinks Ficzko has to be the traitor inside Elizabeth's camp. 

Zrinyi knocks on the gate to the castle.  The gate is opened for him. 

Peter and Cyril find a lot of young girls chained up in the dungeons and they release them. 

Zrinyi and Thurzo's men rush in through the now open gate and start killing Elizabeth's guards. 

A bald man and Dorottya come into the dungeon bringing Lucia along with them.  The two are totally surprised that all the chained-up girls are now gone.  With the consequent confusion, Peter grabs Lucia and leads her out of the dungeon.  Lucia says she must get to Elizabeth to warn her.  Peter also gets out of the dungeons.  He sees Thurzo and says about him:  "That swine."  Peter falls through a grate and is trapped for awhile.

Thurzo bursts into the room where Elizabeth sits at the head of a long table.  Thurzo tells her: "Elizabeth Bathory, I arrest you in the name of the King for imprisoning, torturing and murdering girls in the dungeons of your castle."  He adds that he has caught Elizabeth red-handed.  He orders that Elizabeth be taken to the dungeons. 

In the dungeons they expected to find girls tied up and tortured, but all they find is Ficzko whipping Dorottya for betraying Elizabeth.  Thurzo demands to know where are all the girls?  Dorottya tells him that the girls all ran away, but it wasn't her and her accomplice's fault, because they did everything Thurzo asked them to do.  Thurzo and his men check out the red bath water, but find no blood in it.  Thurzo says to Elizabeth that the people prefer the legends to the truth anyway. 

Elizabeth grabs a sword and puts it to the throat of Thurzo, while Ficzko points a pistol at Thurzo's head.  Elizabeth orders Ficzko to go get Pal in the secret chamber.  Elizabeth is going to use Thruzo as her hostage so she can escape. 

Ficzhko goes to the secret chamber, but finds a swordsmen there, not Pal.  He shouts out:  "Countess, You've been betrayed."  And then he is run through with the sword.  At this time the soldiers grab Elizabeth.  Pal and Lucia come out.  Elizabeth is very happy to see him and tells him that they will always be there for each other. 

As "evidence" against Elizabeth, the soldiers dig up the graves of the girls buried in the garden and say the graves are proof of Elizabeth's crimes.  Friar Peter watches Thurzo and his men take inventory of the riches owned by Elizabeth.  Peter takes jots down the inventory as they call out what they find in the chests.  Later Peter and Cyril come across the dead body of Lucia, who was killed by Thurzo's men when she tried to escape. 

Bytca, January 2, 1611.  The accomplices of Elizabeth are tried, including Dorottya.  The sentence is that all the fingers of the convicted are to be chopped off.  The two women, minus Katalin, are then to be burned at the stake.  Fiszko has a lesser punishment because he will be beheaded and then his body will be burned. 

The King is mad at Thurzo.  He tells Thurzo that Elizabeth was convicted without having a chance to defend herself.  And all the witness against her are peasants.  There were no witnesses of noble birth and this is supposed to be a no-no.  Moreover, all the possible witnesses for Elizabeth were all killed at such great speed that it can only raise suspicions. 

In search for support for his position, Thurzo goes to speak with the cardinal.  The cardinal says the church will help him with the case against Elizabeth, but then the church must be get a share of the land, jewels and other treasures once belonging to Elizabeth Bathory.  Thurzo has to agree. 

Friar Peter visits Elizabeth during her house arrest.  He says that Thurzo has only one goal and that is the dispossession of her family of all their wealth.  And there is more bad news.  Her nephew Gabor was killed by his own people at the bidding of Thurzo.  Furthermore, the Habsburgs are now gaining in strength.   Pal is with Zrinyi and pressure is being placed on the boy to denounce his own mother.  Elizabeth tells Peter that he must not let Thurzo win. 

After Peter leaves, she lays down on her bed, surrounded by burning candles, and prays.  Soon the candles start igniting the areas around them and her "house arrest" turns into her funeral pyre. 

Reverend Ponicky tells Thurzo that Elizabeth committed suicide.  This upsets Thurzo. 

Two years after Elizabeth's death, Thurzo dies.  His widow dies in poverty and loneliness.

Pal Nadasdy's line continues until this very day. 

Because of the work of Thurzo, Elizabeth Bathory is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest murderess of all times.

 

This film is interesting historically because it challenges the commonly accepted belief that Elizabeth Bathory was the greatest murderess of all times.  The film is basically saying that Elizabeth was framed by a very nasty fellow known as Thurzo, who wanted her lands and jewels as she was the most wealthy woman in Hungary.  The film doesn't say she was an angel.  For instance, she did kill one of the peasants for nicking her ear when she was cutting Elizabeth's hair.  The Wikipedia article does not indicate that she was framed (see below).  In researching the film, the most interesting thing I learned was the importance of Hungary for beating back the further advance of the Ottomans into Europe.  (But no wonder I didn't know, because the world histories barely even mention the Ottoman Empire and when they do, it is only in relation to the European nations.) 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

 

Hungarian Middle Ages (859-1526)

1352-1354  --  Byzantine Civil War. 

1354  --  Gallipoli falls to the Ottomans.  This opened the way for the Ottomans conquest of the Peloponnese, Greece, Serbia and Hungary.

1389 -- Battle of Kosovo was fought, June 15, between the Serbian principality led by Lazar Hrebeljanovićc and the invading army of the Ottoman Empire under the leadership of Sultan Murad I. The Ottomans won the battle. Serbia reduced to a vassal state of the Ottomans. Serbian nobles had to pay tribute and supply soldiers to the Ottomans.

1396-1526  --  Ottoman-Hungarian Wars.  

1396 the Battle of Nicopolis. The opponents were the Ottoman Empire versus an allied force from the Kingdom of Hungary, France, the Knights Hospitaller, and the Republic of Venice. The place was the Danubian fortress of Nicopolis (in todays Bulgaria). It was a decisive victory for the Ottomans.

1428 the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary achieve a temporary peace by establishing the Serbian Despotate as a buffer state.

1432 Sultan Murad II began raiding into Transylvania (now in Romania).

1435-1436  --  the Kingdom of Hungary saves Albania from a total knockout by intervening against the Ottomans. 

1440 Murad besieges but fails trying to take Hungary's main border fortress at Belgrade. Murad is forced to return to Anatolia.

1443-1444 Crusade of Varna; a string of events between the Kingdom of Hungary, the Serbian Despotate, and the Ottoman Empire, in which Hungary badly lost the Battle of Varna on November 10, 1444.

1453  --  the Fall of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, after a siege by the Ottoman Empire (under Sultan Mehmed II). 

1456  --  Battle of Belgrade. Ottoman sultan Mehmed II goes after the Kingdom of Hungary. He attacks the border fort at Belgrade. Hungarian leader John Hunyadi forces the wounded Sultan Mehmet II to lift the siege and retreat.

1458 15 year old Matthias Corvinus (John Hunyadi's son) is crowned in Buda.

1479 Battle of Breadfield. A huge Ottoman army, on its return home from ravaging Transylvania, is annihilated at Szszvros (modern Orăaşstie).

1480 Matthias recaptures Jajce, drives the Ottomans from northern Serbia and reconquer parts of Bosnian territory.

1481 the Pope asks Matthias to get back Otranto in the Kingdom of Naples, and he sends Hungarian general, Balzs Magyar, who recovers the fortress there.

1488 Matthias takes Ancona under his protection, occupying it with a Hungarian garrison.

1520 Suleiman the Magnificient resumes the war against Hungary by taking the city of Belgrade.

1526 Suleiman the Magnificient launches an invasion of Hungary and receives very little resistance. The Ottomans crush the Hungarian army at Mohcs. King Louis II of Hungary perishes along with 14,000 foot soldiers. The result is that the eastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary (mainly Transylvania) ceased as an independent power. Instead it became an Ottoman tributary state.

The war continued with the Habsburgs now asserting primacy in the conflict with Suleiman and his successors. The northern and western parts of Hungary remain free, but the Kingdom of Hungary, under Matthias I, becomes divided and engages in constant war with the Turks.

 

Early Modern Age, 1526-1700

 

1541 the Turks conquer Buda. Hungary is divided into three parts:

1) north-west section (present-day Slovakia, western Transdanubia and Burgenland, western Croatia and parts of north-eastern present-day Hungary) remains under Habsburg rule;

2) eastern part of the kingdom (Partium and Transylvania) becomes at first an independent principality, but gradually turns into a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire; and 

3) central area (most of present-day Hungary), including the capital of Buda, became a province of the Ottoman Empire. Most small Hungarian settlements disappeared.

1556 until this date the Ottomans continue their expansion in southern Hungary.

1560 Elizabeth Bthory is born on a family estate in Nyrbtor, Hungary.

1572-1608  --  reign of King of Hungary Rudolf I. 

1575 Elizabeth marries Ferenc Ndasdy as a result of a political arrangement. There were 4,500 guests at the wedding. Elizabeth moves to Ndasdy Castle in Srvr. She spends a lot of her time alone as her husband studies in Vienna.

1578 Ndasdy becomes the chief commander of Hungarian troops. He goes to war against the Ottomans.

1585 Elizabeth has a daughter, Anna. A second daughter, Ursula, and her first son, Andrew, both died at an early age.

1585-1610 in this period it has been speculated that Elizabeth was responsible for the deaths of 650 girls. Why did she engage in such brutalilty? One possible reason is that she got sadistic pleasure from inflicting pain on young girls.

1593-1606 during the height of the Long War, Elizabeth takes charge of the defense of her husband's estates, which lay on the route to Vienna.

1594 Elizabeth has a daughter Katherine.

1597 Elizabeth has a son Paul. He is followed by another son, Mikls.

1602-1604 Lutheran minister Istvn Magyari complains about atrocities said to have been inflicted by Elizabeth.

1604-1711 series of anti-Austrian, and anti-Habsburg uprisings take place in the Habsburg state of Royal Hungary (in present-day Slovakia and western and central Hungary). There were also anti-Catholic uprisings across the lands of Hungary.

1604 Elizabeth's husband dies at age 47 from an injury sustained in battle. The couple were married for 29 years.

1608-1619  --  reign of Matthias II.

1610 King Matthias II appoints Gyrgy Thurzo, the Palatine of Hungary, to investigate the reports of atrocity.  A decision is made to put Elizabeth under strict house arrest. She is placed in a walled-off area until she dies four years later. 

1611 Elizabeth is not put on trial but her associates are brought to court at Bicse.  Dorka, Ilona J and Ficzko are found guilty and put to death on the spot by being thrown into a fire.  Ficzko is beheaded before being thrown into the fire. Katarna Benick is sentenced to life imprisonment.

1614  --  death of Elizabeth

second half of the 17th century  --  the Great Turkish War.

1686  --  a renewed European campaign starts; the Holy League's army reconquers Buda.

1687 second Battle of Mohcs. Turks decisively defeated. In the next few years, almost all of the former Hungarian lands were taken from the Turks.

end of the 17th century Transylvania becomes part of Hungary again.

1699 Treaty of Karlowitz officially recognizes the land changes.

1718 entire Kingdom of Hungary is removed from Ottoman rule.

 

 

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