In This Week’s Show, episode 258, we learn about the blood countesses and where she put that flute that one time at summer plague…
Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Beef hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying Steve’s patience!
Shea’s Life Lesson
This week I learned that explaining to a child that we’re mortal and that death is inescapable is probably, for me, the hardest part about being a party clown.
Jenn’s Actual Lesson
Did you know that terrible human masquerading as a person worth respecting, Mother Teresa also had an exorcism performed on her? It was at the request of Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry D’Souza, who had noticed that Mother Teresa was increasingly agitated in her sleep.
I’m hoping it was night terrors caused by guilt of withholding care from those in need.
But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!
This Week’s Beer
Cannoneer – Pegasus City Brewery
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/51047/313204/
- Untappd: 3.67/5
- Style: Bold Amber
- ABV: 7.4%
- Aaron: 4
- Jenn: 4
- Mom: 0
- Shea: 3
- Steve: 4
This Week’s Show
Thanks for having lunch with us Marie! And for the beers of course ;)
We just released another 4 More Beers! It’s episode 32, the chronicle of the Emu Wars. It was a properly funny show with a lot of quality digression… as opposed to the usual digression. So if you want to get this week’s extra story from Shea, over an hour of 4 More Beers, and all that good extra backlog content send us a buck at Patreon.com/w4w
Best of all, we don’t even charge you for the 4 More Beers!
The Blood Countess – available now at http://patreon.com/w4w
Elizabeth Bathory been described as the most vicious female serial killer in all recorded history. Where fact ends and fiction begins in her horrible story is now impossible to determine, but in her fame as a legendary vampire she is out rivalled only by Count Dracula.
Bathory was born in Transylvania in 1560 to a distinguished family that included kings, cardinals, knights, and judges. Though she counted many luminaries among her relatives, her family tree also featured some seriously disturbed kin. One of her uncles instructed her in Satanism, while her aunt taught her all about sadomasochism. At the age of 15, Bathory was married to Count Ferenc Nádasdy, and the couple settled into Csejthe Castle in modern day Slovakia. In 1578, Nádasdy became chief commander of the Hungarian army and embarked on a military campaign against the Ottoman Empire, leaving his wife in charge of his vast estates and the governing of the local populace.
What was a wealthy socialite of the time to do? Rumors that Bathory tortured her servants began to spread. Bathory’s torture included jamming pins and needles under the fingernails of her servant girls, and tying them down, smearing them with honey, and leaving them to be attacked by bees and ants. Although the count participated in his wife’s cruelties, he may have also restrained her impulses; when he died in the early 1600s, she became much worse. It is also believed that to please his wife, her husband built a torture chamber to her specifications.
With the help of her former nurse, Ilona Joo, and local witch Dorotta Szentes, Bathory began abducting peasant girls to torture and kill. According to the reports and the stories told, Bathory burned her victims with hot irons; beat them to death with clubs; stuck needles under their fingernails; poured ice water over their bodies and left them to freeze to death outside; sewed their lips together, and bit chunks of flesh off their breasts and faces.
In addition, witnesses said Bathory liked using scissors to torture her victims. She used the instrument to cut off their hands, noses, and genitals. One of her favorite pastimes, witnesses said, was using scissors to slice open the skin between her victims’ fingers.
In 1609 or 1610 (sources are not conclusive), 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. Count Gyorgy Thurzo makes an investigative visit to Csejthe Castle in Hungary on orders from King Matthias and discovers Countess Elizabeth Bathory directing a torture session of young girls, but her title and high-ranking relatives had, until this point, made her untouchable.
At the time of Thurzó’s investigation, some accused her of cannibalism, while others claimed to have seen her have sex with the devil himself. The most infamous accusation — the one that inspired her infamous nickname, the Blood Countess, as well as the rumors that she was a vampire — alleged that Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of her young victims in an attempt to maintain a youthful appearance.
After hearing the accusations, Thurzó ultimately charged Bathory with the deaths of 80 girls. That said, one witness claimed to have seen a book kept by Bathory herself, where she recorded the names of all of her victims — 650 in total. This diary, however, appears to only be a legend; it has never been found.
When the trial ended, Bathory’s accomplices, one of whom worked as a wet nurse for the countess’ children, were convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Bathory herself was bricked up in her room at Csejte, where she remained under house arrest for four years until her death in 1614.
Show Story – A VERY grim Grimm’s Fairy Tale’s Backstory
For the 3rd October installment we’re traveling back to Medieval Europe for some fun with plague, starvation and possible mass murder and the ‘at least somewhat’ true story behind an already creepy fable: The Story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
In case you may have forgotten or had a Brothers Grimm-free childhood, here’s the basic story.
In 13th century Ye Olde grungy Germany, in the prosperous town of Hamelin, a terribly icky infestation made itself manifest. The town suddenly found itself overrun with “seas of black rats”. In addition to ruining food and grain supplies and being generally gross, black rats were also known to carry all kinds of fun diseases. So needless to say, the previously well-to-do townsfolk were not enjoying this new development and when an oddly dressed musician showed up saying he could rid the village of each and every rat, they were on board.
Thus is introduced the Pied Piper. He and the town’s Mayor make a deal that for 50,000 florins he would take care of the rodent problem. And he did! Playing his pipe he apparently zombie-led the rats out of town and into a river, where they all drowned.
Returning to Hamelin to collect his reward, the shitty Mayor and townsfolk basically had a ‘new phone, who dis?’ response. After a bit of back and to, the Mayor tossed down 50 florins and told him he should be happy with that.
Well, the pied piper was NOT happy with that and the following day he did he musical rat trick again, but instead he whammied the town’s children. He marched them to a cave at the base of the mountain and once the children were inside a landslide sealed the cave for ever and ever.
So, I’m sure we can see a couple of possibly suspect details, but looking back into history there are actually events that led to or at least inspired the fable. For example, it’s widely accepted that in June of 1284 the town lost most of its children. There are a few primary sources, but the coolest and creepiest was a stained glass window made in or about 1300 to commemorate the event. It has apparently been destroyed at some point over the years, but it was referenced and recorded in multiple contemporary sources. There was an inscription on the window as well, reading: “On the day of John and Paul 130 children in Hamelin went to Calvary and were brought through all kinds of danger to the Koppen mountain and lost”. Yikes.
In one of the oldest written recordings of the event, the Luneberg manuscript from about 1440, the story gets a little more detail, “In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and Paul on June 26, by a piper, clothed in many kinds of colors, 130 children born in Hamelin were seduced and lost at the place of execution near the Koppen.”
“According to the story, the children were last seen on one particular street in Hamelin. That street is now known as Bungelosenstrasse or the ‘street without drums.’ To this day, no one is allowed to dance or play music on this street.”
So what do historians think happen? Of course there’s always the tried and true plague, but that would be odd that only children were affected. There was also one of those fun for all ages events happening a few decades before: a Crusade. And it wasn’t unheard of for there to be an accompanying ‘children’s crusade’ where a young person would claim to have a vision from god and others would follow along, gaining more and more as they traveled (see Joan of Arc, sorta).
Some historians believe the piper was actually a ‘locator’, or a person who tried to drum up interest in towns that are struggling to send some of their citizens to other areas for colonization. There were tales that the children were whisked, alive, through the cave into, of all places, Transylvania. Surprisingly, fairy tale scholar (best job EVER) Jack David Sipes says there is actual documentation that there were visitors in the town looking to recruit people to settle in Eastern Europe.
I do doubt that ‘children only’ was not a common recruitment practice.
Adding to the creepy implications is the author William Manchester in his book ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’. Now, despite a badass name, the book is historically shaky at best. He posits that the piper was actually a wildly prolific pedophile and mass murderer, who traveled to the towns in the patchwork guise of a ‘colony recruiter’ but instead lured the children into the woods for terrible things. In the book he discusses villages that found bodies and pieces of the missing children, but speaking of missing, Manchester doesn’t cite any sources.
Part of the passage in his book:
“The Pied Piper of Hamelin . . . was a real man, but there was nothing enchanting about him. Quite the opposite; he was horrible, a psychopath and pederast who, on June 24, 1484, spirited away 130 children in the Saxon village of Hammel and used them in unspeakable ways. Accounts of the aftermath vary. According to some, the victims were never seen again; others told of disembodied little bodies found scattered in the forest underbrush or festooning the branches of trees.”
I enjoyed the very first Amazon review from Lunarian (MOON REVIEWER!) so much I had to share it: Don’t Bother: “What sensationalist, poorly researched nonsense– Anne Boleyn was not guilty of incest, Robin Hood was not a real man (he is more a composite of real people), it’s doubtful Lucrezia Borgia had a kid with her own father, and I’m pretty sure the medieval peasants must have had SOME conception of time given their raising crops and observing holy days. The self-righteous, salacious tone got old fast. I somehow managed to complete it but I would not waste your money. I wish I could get those ten dollars back.”
(Manchester is an actual historian, this wasn’t self published. I think he was just getting on in years and got tired of boring things like facts. He wrote a pretty renowned biography on Churchill called ‘The Last Lion’ and I think it broke him.)
Despite a clear historical, Hamelin is all in on this whole ‘there was a pied piper’ thing. The town still employs a town piper. It’s kinda weird, but whatever.
Next Week’s Beer
Elysian Dragonstooth Stout from Elysian Brewing Co.
Donated By: Jaded Zappa
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/700/2023/
- BA : 90 out of 100
- Style: English Oatmeal Stout
- ABV: 8.1%
Faith In Humanity Restored
Earlier this month LEGO Group announced a new project to help folks donate old, unused LEGOs to kinds in need.
LEGO Replay is a pilot program that will accept any and all used LEGO bricks and donate them to children’s non-profits in the US.
To donate your wayward blocks visit the LEGO Replay website, link in the show notes (https://www.lego.com/replay) where you can print out a free shipping label, and depending on your area schedule UPS or FedEx to come by and pick the package up.
Packages go to the Give Back Box facility where the bricks are hand sorted, inspected, and cleaned.
The effort is a collaboration with Give Back Box, Teach For America, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.
Most people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks, according to Tim Brooks, the Environmental Responsibility Vice President at the LEGO Group.
“The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren. But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”
Which, what the fuck!? Send them to me if you’re just gonna throw them out!… I mean… umm… the wee children.
“I am excited to join the LEGO Group in this pilot program,” said Monika Wiela, founder of Give Back Box. “Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me. What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?”
LEGO Replay is one of the many sustainable and philanthropic efforts the LEGO Group has announced in the past year. Recent efforts include Plants from Plants, LEGO Braille Bricks and LEGO Audio and Braille Instructions.
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