Báthory (bä´tôrē), Pol. Batory, Hungarian noble family. Stephen Báthory, 1477–1534, a loyal adherent of John I of Hungary (John Zápolya), was made (1529) voivode [governor] of Transylvania. His youngest son became (1575) king of Poland (see Stephen Báthory, king of Poland) and was succeeded as prince of Transylvania by his brother, Christopher Báthory, 1530–81. Christopher married Elizabeth, sister of Stephen Bocskay.
His son and successor, Sigismund Báthory, 1572–1613, was mentally unbalanced. At first a loyal vassal of the Hapsburg king of Hungary (Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II), he crushed (1594) the pro-Turkish faction of nobles and was recognized by Rudolf as hereditary prince. In 1597, he abdicated in favor of Rudolf but returned to assume power in Aug., 1598. The following March he abdicated in favor of his cousin, Andrew Cardinal Báthory (d. 1599), but again reversed his decision and, with the help of Stephen Bocskay, returned to power as a vassal of Sultan Muhammad III. He abdicated definitively in 1602 (in favor of Rudolf) and retired to Silesia.
Elizabeth Báthory, d. 1614, a niece of Stephen Bathory, is celebrated in legend as a female werewolf. She is said to have slaughtered more than 600 virgins in order to renew her youth by bathing in their blood. She was incarcerated in 1610 and died in prison.
Gabriel Báthory, 1589–1613, a nephew of Andrew Cardinal Báthory, became prince of Transylvania in 1608. His harsh regime provoked a rebellion by the nobles, and he was murdered. By the marriage of his niece Sophia (d. 1680) to George II Rákóczy, the two families were united.
See biography of Elizabeth Báthory by V. Penrose (tr. 1970); B. Gould, Book of Werewolves (1865).
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