Evil Literature #1: Tony Thorne Countess Dracula (1997)

The myth of Elisabeth Bathory is known to us in its most twisted forms, filtered through years of mysoginistic prejudice and augmented further by gothic sensibility for horror that fascinated the minds of the 19th century. Little understood are the full cultural and historical context of the region and its political dynamics. Little is it taken into account that all records of what happened were taken under peculiar circumstances by those vested in Bathory’s demise, and that greater political forces were at work to bring her whole family down. Nor is it a neglible detail that accounts by primary servants of Bathory were extracted by the hand of a magister tortararum especially trained in the ‘art’, and that these same tortured servants were summarily executed after these ‘confessions’ were given.

Tony Thorne Countess Dracula: Life and Times of Elisabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess provides a healthy reassessment of the actual facts and context of Elisabeth Bathory’s story. The author starts by giving us a general view of the times and place: ‘nationalist’ Hungary and Transilvania at the beginning of the 17th century under the Hapsburg yoke, pressured by the Turks from the East. We are made to understand that here was a culture of cruelty, where revenge was carried out to ultimate consequences, serfs were worth less than cattle, punishments were exacted to cause pain in retribution for mistakes or transgressions, and war was a permanent, on-going reality. The beauty of Tony Thorne’s book lies in its vivid portrayal of contemporary reality in Elisabeth Bathory’s time, and specifically the reality of a noble woman in relation to the lower nobility, the serfs, and the great lords at war with the imposing military and economic might of the East.

It is equally important to understand the great folkloric imagination of the time, which has come down to us as colorful stories and legends, but which to contemporary people living in such times was an almost palpable reality. That, in the fact that, as Thorne says, imagination abhors a vacuum, have seen the tale grow out of proportion during the lifetime of Elisabeth, and in the centuries that have elapsed since then. The notion that much about what was recorded at the time by her accusers is possibly distorted by excitable imaginations, is the fact that in most cases nothing as actually seen by anybody, but everybody knew it happened. Reinforcing the stories about Bathory were parallels made with mythological folklore, which fed back into the heretical criminality of the accused.

Elisabeth Bathory was born from one of the great Hungarian families, which had a legacy of both legendary heroism and decadent madness. In a time where the European nobility could be said to have a cultural cult of heroic savagery, she was married to a contemporary war hero and tactician, Francis Nadasdy, baptised by the enemy Turks as ‘The Black Bey of Hungary’. Elisabeth was highly educated and intelligent even for a woman of her position, dwarfing most high-born men in eloquence and elegance, as can be seen from her surviving correspondance and the deeply respectful accounts of others. When her husband, the leader of the wealthy and upcoming highborn family of the Nadasdys died, he left her all his possessions. With a great, centuries-old family legacy, extensive and fertile lands to her name, and a fair share of castles to her name, the woman was an archetype of pride and independence —a feminine one to boot, and so an affront to the patriarchal warrior elite and their interests.

Even greater than the problems she might have derived from the prejudices of her time and culture, Elisabeth Bathory found herself siding with the nationalist factions of Hungary and Transilvania against the internationalist power of the Hapsburgs from Austria. The Hapsburgs were themselves an ancient powerful family, who had gotten where they were by no friendly means. Once in power, they were experts at bringing down political enemies through all sorts of intrigues, leaving outright military conflict to calculated last measures. According to Thorne, they were masters at using the black propaganda of show trials that were completely set up and decided before time, but would give a legitimacy to the destruction of enemies. In short, guilt was imputed, then assumed, which, coupled with the fact that ‘prisoners were legally dead’ meant anything could be done or anything could happen to the target of such machinations.

Tony Thorne explains black propaganda is an art, and aside from the show trials, the ruling power must also recruit historians and other respected ‘intellectuals’ and spiritual leaders to masquarade the whole charade as history. This is also done to obfuscate questionable actions by the accusers, and give the partial inventions, the torture-based confessions and summary executions the air of legitimate methods towards an irrevocable and indisputable truth. Furthermore, the accounts by supposed witnesses are usually questionable by the nature of the situation in which they find themselves, the timing, or the mixture with popular folklore and propaganda: her deeds are more often than not so horrible that they are impossible to account for, and so they never are accounted for, simply assumed to have happened beyond imagination or knowledge. Nevertheless, Thorne tells us, a pattern does emerge from under the vast heap of imaginings and fabrications.

The chief accusation leveled against Bathory by those ultimately working for the Hapsburgs was, believe it or not, mass murder. Most importantly, at the time, nobles had the right to kill serfs without any explanations given, and it was relatively normal to do so if the situation merited such retribution for perceived transgression real or otherwise. The accusation was made that Bathory had systematically tortured and killed nobleborn young women serving under her (servants to the high nobility were not serfs but low nobility). Secondary and supporting accusations at the time was that of witchcraft. Thorne takes the time here to explain how, in the conditions of the time, noble women often acted as amateur healers, in cooperation with other local, humbler women who often inherited the knowledge of their art as secret family heritage.

Two things need to be mentioned in the context of the reality of Elisabeth Bathory as a great lady with supreme authority over vast expanses of land and numerous people in Hungary, and as an amateur and superstitious healer in her times. The first is that she had virtually unlimited authority, and being ruthless in the exercise of that authority was not only her right, but it what was expected of her to a certain degree. Many of the accusations of torture bear resemblance to plausible and even accounted for methods of punishment in accordance to the belief of like punishment for like transgression. The second is that most of the healing methods of the time were crude, often based on superstitions and completely erroneous conceptions, and so more often than not leading to death. The combination of these made for some real-life bloody business involving purposedly inflicted pain, strange concoctions and medicines, as well as death under circumstances mysterious or even gruesome in a time when plagues ravaged Europe.

In the final analysis, her active role in family politics and nationalist conspiracies against the international power of the Hapsburgs, supported by local rival factions, were the most plausible roots of Elisabeth Bathory’s downfall. Upon her unannounced and forceful arrest (illegal to do against any noble, especially those of high rank who could not be compelled to trial), she was never given the chance to reply to accusations or defend herself, she was declared an ‘unperson’ by others who lived “uncontroversial, unheroic lives” [1], and was imprisoned in an isolated fortress until her ‘natural’ death [2].

The art of black propaganda also counts on the fact that a vast body of people, even many of those who are leading figures and intellectuals, will be involved in a conspiracy based on loose assumptions, “whether they are aware or not”. The skillful black propagandist, furthermore, is aware that a perverted scandal is a far more efficient way to take down an opponent than rational accusations of political insurrection. Among the techniques typical of witch trials occuring during the era was the imputing of mass murder and torture as highlighted accusations, because these would cause more shock amongst the public, and a support of hatred against the accused would easily come. But the most crucial aspect of black propaganda is that it needs no fantasy, only distortions and exaggerations strategically fed and stirred in the imaginations of a people known to their manipulators by their superstitions and beliefs.

Finally, there are two sides to the psychology of those powerless to oppose such political and social events. Thorne explains the first as a singularly (to him, or to a ‘Westerner’) characteristic trait of Eastern Europe displayed in the face of show trials and their outcomes: there is no outcry, as “everyone knows decisions are taken behind closed doors”. The second is that in the midst of these great psychological tensions, the role of folklore, and the actual remnants of older pagan cults played no small part as these clashed against Christian authority. These remnants could be seen in relation to the memory of Morgan le Fay, for instance, a distorted memory of the Ancient Pagan Goddess of War, an archetype in parallel to violent Artemis and her own cult. These all played into the vilification and persecution of oustanding women deemed incorrigible and uncontrollable by a Christian patriarchal society. [3]

Tony Thorne provides all these insights in his book, and many more. His style of writing and expression is pleasant, compelling and precise, and his thought is balanced and ordered. For those interested not only in the story of Elisabeth Bathory, but in a snapshot of contemporary Hungary and Transilvania, as well as in real politik, this book is highly recommended.

Notes

[1] An ‘unperson’ or a maniac sexual deviant have also been the rulings by those commenting on her even centuries later, especially the psychotherapists and ‘safe’ people.

[2] The reasons for their keeping her alive were also strategical, and Thorne goes into these considerations in his book.

[3] In general, at different levels of society, from the highest to the lowest, witch killings seem to have been unconsciously enacted as human sacrifices to appeace collective psychological tensions.

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44 thoughts on “Evil Literature #1: Tony Thorne Countess Dracula (1997)”

  1. Lee says:

    Keep it up with this “Evil Literature”. I like it.

  2. Social Jesus says:

    This website is should be renamed cringe.org

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      And what in the last 10 articles has made you cringe, if we may ask?
      Or just in this article, to make a point of it.

      1. Satan akbar says:

        to be honest some of the last ten articles where kinda gay. but also this website seems to be moving in a safer cleaner direction some may like and some may not

        1. D.A.R.G. says:

          “Safer cleaner direction”?
          “gay”
          I would have expected more insight from one sporting such a pseudonym, “Satan Akbar.”

          “Safer,” definitely not. We aspire way beyond the cringe factor of past ANUS leadership.
          “Cleaner,” perhaps, because evil is not defined by edginess or being cringy.
          “Gay,” to those who see only surface, and who deride anything they cannot understand.

          To the commenter above:
          “Cringe,” is defined by the (lack of) insight and empathy of the beholder, it is never a part of whatever causes the “cringe.” The “cringe” is a “trigger reaction.”

          1. Satan akbar says:

            see thats what im talking about how you guys are acting so uptight and clean and pure lately all while pushing jesus up are asses i miss the picutrewss of poop 1ft long with a rulers and hateingh on these you dont like is natural and metal stuff like that

            1. D.A.R.G. says:

              Please point out:
              1) Where we “push jesus up”, as you say
              2) “hate on what is natural”
              3) “hate on metal stuff”

              1. Kekkonen says:

                He thinks occultistic psychobabble and extravagant displays of profundity are just intellectual masturbation, therefore gay.

                1. D.A.R.G. says:

                  ” occultistic psychobabble and extravagant displays of profundity”

                  Translation: “language and references I do not understand”.

                  1. Kekkonen says:

                    This is the internet, there is bound to be some masturbatory activities unfolding. A building of tension and relief, for perpetuity.

                    1. D.A.R.G. says:

                      Instead of complaining, and uselessly making fun of what you cannot understand, you should help DMU find good underground metal bands in Estonia.

                    2. Kekkonen says:

                      The best that this place has produced doesn’t go above B-/C, depending on your standards on quality.

                      Some of the most notable bands are:

                      Metsatöll
                      Aggressor
                      Gunnar Graps Grupp/Magnetic Band
                      Loits
                      Tharaphita

            2. S.C. says:

              Perhaps they’re trying to cultivate something other than juvenile toilet humor. Something other than buzzerword reactionary propaganda. Something noble, aristocratic and elitist. And perhaps it’s time you accepted you’re none of those things and move on from DMU because it holds nothing for you and the likes of you.

              1. Kekkonen says:

                That’s harsh, bruv.

                What you listed however are nothing but empty titles at this point. The only things that are anywhere real are imposed elitism and hierarchy. Not niceties, or pacification.

        2. Kekkonen says:

          It is kinda ironic, considering this site was “liberated” from Christian oppression.

  3. ballsack melanoma says:

    >filtered through years of mysoginistic prejudice
    >These all played into the vilification and persecution of outsanding women deemed incorrigible and uncontrollable by a Christian patriarchal society.

    Yeah duuuude. Gender roles and cohesive family units are just tools of oppression and control over womyn, maaaaan.

    tfw the #1 rightosphere metal blog shills feminist propaganda

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      Please, do feel free to rationally refute either the existence of mysoginist prejudice or the fact that Christianity created a patriarchal society that fostered and fomented such mysoginism.

      There is nothing FEMINIST about this.
      These are facts.

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      You’re one of the few who’s actually caught the scent.

      Metal is about power, dessecration, torture, harshness: and that is the crude era described in this book. Elisabeth Bathory’s is a story of a woman who wielded power and cruelty, who was crushed under the fist of hungrier, more vested “monsters.”

      Evil Literature #2 will treat of a book related to, but different in tone, more subtle and fundamental, from what you have suggested here.

  4. Flying Kites says:

    ON THE PEAKS SHALL BE PROCLAIMED TO THE ENTIRE WORLD; MAN IS DEAD!
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=_5WE6pyqTSA

    Here is an essay of Joan dé Arc written by the Mad Monarchist. Joan’s memory has been spared vilification in France and Switzerland though the Anglicans still today consider her heretical. Perhaps Hungary shall mature in the near future to reign in their progeny.
    https://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-monarchist-hero-for-today.html

    What is that, the part of Turkish baptism, were Christians forced to baptise with supervision of Turkish religious men?

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      That Absurd demo is something.
      Must put Absurd on the to-write-about list.
      Thanks for that.

      How about we do a realist picture of Joan of Arc?
      The last thing we want is a Christian point of view, whether in favor or against her.

      1. Kekkonen says:

        A magical peasant girl who just happens to be an expert tactician without any formal training, or otherwise. This might sound plausible in a feel-good fictional setting. It is perhaps the most recycled trope in modern times, where the downtrodden and the disenfranchised beat their oppressor against all odds and win the game of Life. The minority/peasant/lower class who becomes astronaut/rich/famous/president (uh oh) through willpowever/magic/divine intervention/lottery.

        1. D.A.R.G. says:

          That’s why we need a realist picture of her.

      2. Flying Kites says:

        I think I get what you mean. France couldn’t procure its Anti-Pope then, though now with this SA socialist, Anti-Pope may be lurking.

        England looked like a total pussy at the time, basically being told their a good boy from the Pope for getting their asses kicked by a woman.

        1. D.A.R.G. says:

          Ironically, the most iconic iron hands of mercantile (“imperialist”) England were Queens, not Kings.

          This anti-woman rhetoric is weak and is not supported by the actual historical results.
          It appears rather that, in general, men are better and more resilient fighters, but women are better and more vengeful schemers.

          1. Flying Kites says:

            That must explain why the staff at the Vatican are such freaks for boys. ONLY ROTBART IS REAL!

      3. Flying Kites says:

        Here are a lot of those songs played in concert in ’92.

        https://youtube.com/watch?v=avj01XNa9bM#

  5. I thought for a moment I’d entered the Bizarro World when I saw this deathmetal.org article unironically use the phrase “misogynistic prejudice” in the opening sentence.

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      Yeah, in a more mature era, we do not shy away from the usage of terms to describe facts just because we are afraid of ideological reprissals.

      We are not feminists, but let’s call a spade a spade.

  6. whatever is dead says:

    a couple of good books:

    The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom
    Homo, 99 and 44/100% Nonsapiens by Gerald Lorentz

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      I’ve seen The Lucifer Principle recommended among extreme realists. The other one as well. Thank you for the suggestions. Have you read them?

      1. bombastus says:

        The Lucifer Principle is not an excellent book. It’s negative, for sure, but not excellent.

        1. whatever is dead says:

          I wouldn’t call it excellent either. But I would call it well written and interesting. The last excellent thing I read was the short story “Mr. Squishy” by David Foster Wallace in his collection of stories called “Oblivion”.

          1. bombastus says:

            well written, sure. The book is in my collection and I didn’t throw it away. Bloom is a smart guy too. Last book I read was Pure War by Paul Virilo. Interesting stuff. Btw check out Bond of Supremacy by the Lucifer Principle – good song!

      2. whatever is dead says:

        I’ve read the Lucifer Principle and found the writing fluid and concise, and the ideas well organized. Most of the chapters are only a few pages long, which makes it an easy book to pick up for a bit at a time. Helpful if you’re not a history buff, as there is a lot of historical information to digest. The “Lucifer Principle” itself that the author writes about is a sort of acknowledgement of the existence of forces greater than the individual, and Bloom dives particularly into the subjects of how genes determine individual behavior, memes determine group behavior, and how the needs of the “superorganism” (group of humans) determines what kind of memes arise, and how all these factors play into the constant struggle for supremacy that we see in the human sphere, on the individual and group levels.

        Anyway without getting into it too much I found it very interesting and I highly recommend it. I got turned into it by reading the collection of Boyd Rice writings called Standing in Two Circles, where he mentions it. That’s another good book.

        As for the latter by Lorentz, I’ve only read the first couple of chapters but so far it paints an unblinking brutal picture of man, with a lot of examples from history from all over the world, a la Lucifer Principle. Also mentioned in the Boyd Rice book.

        1. D.A.R.G. says:

          Would you be willing to develop these outstanding comments into a, say 700-word review, and send it to us to include in this series?

          1. whatever is dead says:

            sure

  7. JewKiller666 says:

    You should do one about Dostoevsky’s Demons. It’s a classic book and the situation it presents is deeply analogous to the Norwegian black metal myth. (a bunch of nihilist dilettantes shoot the shit in the house of a wealthy aristocrat’s mum and their beliefs escalate them progressively towards an increasingly dark and tragic state of affairs. There’s one genuine death-worshipper there who gets sucked in by their rhetoric and kills himself, and it’s a great book for anyone interested in the finer details of the black metal ideology) It’s Russia just before the revolution so they’re factory-burners rather than church-burners rather than churches, but Dostoevsky presents a deep perspective on the spiritual and social implications of nihilism.

    but yeah,

    1. D.A.R.G. says:

      Wow. Thanks for this. I must definitely put this one on the list.

      1. mysterious G says:

        Any Arktos books?

        1. D.A.R.G. says:

          I’ve only read a few of their books.

          They are correct, scholarly, high-minded, but never actually in revolution, in great revelation, or against the grain —not even in subtle ways. At least for my taste, they don’t go far enough. They seem quite “proper”. That is why they are Ernst Junger buffs, but they won’t touch the “extremists”. :) This in itself is reason enough to leave ARKTOS out of metal, although one can learn a lot from reading them. They’re for the IDEAL not for the REAL, in my impression. Even when the REAL is touched, they seem distant from it: cultured, knowldegeable somehow, but there is no “involvement” transmitted through their writings.

          1. Kekkonen says:

            Isn’t Linkola published by them? Isn’t he a bit radical for your typical soft values, family friendly rightism? I’ve seen some kneejerk “criticism” of his works from the Christian right to make believe this.

            1. D.A.R.G. says:

              Linkola would be an exception.
              I think they only coincidentally published him because someone in their circle pushed his name, and because he is a “real conservative” “on steroids”.

              Are you familiar with Linkola’s writings?

              1. Kekkonen says:

                Only superficially. I know he’s Finn, so thats cool, totta kai.

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