Scherz stated (Investigator #29) that Countess Bathory bathed in the blood of her victims presumably to keep herself young. Not only is this the stuff of myths, it is in itself a myth.
McNally (1983) traced the beginning of this legend to 1720 when it first appeared in a history (in Latin) of Hungary written over a century after the death of the Blood Countess. From there it found its way into a German collection of articles on "philosophical anthropology" published in the late eighteenth century and thence into Western folklore.
The theory falls flat, however, because the complete records of both the investigation of Elizabeth Bathory and her accomplices are extant. Although her cruelty is adequately documented therein, there is no mention whatsoever of bathing in blood or, as the later version of the legend would have it, the blood of virgins.
Bathing in blood (especially that of virgins) has a certain romance to it and, no doubt it has been done somewhere or other over the years. But in the case of Elizabeth Bathory it is but a legendary addition to a story that requires no embellishment to accentuate its innate horror.
McNally also clearly illustrated that, although the name "Dracula" is derived from the sobriquet given to Vlad Tepes (who is incidentally a Romanian national hero) the Dracula of recent fame is based to a large degree on Elizabeth Bathory.
Reading of Stoker's book Dracula (1897) gives a wealth of historical and genealogical detail that shows the Count is modelled on Countess Bathory and not on Vlad the Impaler.
This has led, in 1993, to a libel suit with a difference.
English law renders it virtually impossible to libel one who is dead but the French Civil Code has provision for protecting family honour — a concept unknown to the Anglo-American Common law tradition.
Not having taken this into account Francis Ford Coppola has recently produced a film entitled "Bram Stoker’s Dracula" which is supposedly the most accurate rendition of Stoker’s book yet made. This it certainly is not for the prologue to the film makes it emphatically clear that Count Dracula is none other than Vlad Tepes.
This film has been a commercial success but has fallen foul of Princess Alexandria Caradja who is the closest surviving relative of Vlad Tepes. A member of the Romanian nobility who lives in exile in Paris the Princess has enjoyed many Dracula films — but not the only one that has defamed her illustrious ancestor. And so she has launched a major legal action in the French jurisdiction against Coppola.
A wealthy woman in her own right anything she obtains as a settlement will be donated to an orphanage in Bucharest that she is involved in building — a worthy aim in itself. For a concept that is alien to Anglo-American law it is impossible to foresee the outcome of the case but the family that once impaled Turkish prisoners on wooden stakes is quite prepared to impale American film producers on the law.
The Advertiser (Adelaide) March 1993 "Dracula Bites Back"
Encyclopaedia Britannica (1988) Volume 3 "Defamation" Volume 28 "Torts"
McNally, Raymond T (1983) Dracula Was a Woman
Scherz, W ( 1993) "Werewolf and Vampire" Investigator No. 29
Stoker, Bram (1897) Dracula
Author: Lana De Winter
Source: The March 29, 1993 issue of Investigator.