Bathori, Or Bathory, the name of a noble Transylvanian family, several members of which have played a distinguished part in history. I. Stephen (Istvan), of the Ecsed branch of the family, a commander under King Matthias Corvinus, achieved a great victory over the Turks at Kenyermezo in 1479. II. Stephen, of the Somtyo branch, was waywode of Transylvania under John Zapolya. III. Stephen, son of the preceding, born in 1532, was elected prince of Transylvania in 1571. He was afterward elected king of Poland, and crowned at Cracow in 1576. On this event he resigned his rule over Transylvania, at the same time recommending his brother to the house of deputies as his successor. He died after a prosperous reign, in 1586. (See Poland.) IV Christopher (Kristof), elder brother of the preceding, elected prince in his stead in 1576, The Jesuits came to Transylvania during his reign, and the education of his son was committed to their charge. He died in 1581. V. Sigismnnd (Zsigmond), son of the preceding, chosen prince before the death of his father.
He was a weak-minded man, and, having married a princess of the house of Hapsburg, made an agreement with the emperor Rudolph II. that, if he should die without issue, the rule of Transylvania should be transferred to the emperor or to his successor; a compact which he, as merely an elected prince, had no right to make. He was afterward persuaded by the Jesuit Simon Genga to make over his principality to Rudolph, on the promise of being made bishop and cardinal. Notwithstanding some violent opposition on the part of the deputies, one of whom was put to death, this transfer was effected in 1598, and Bathori retired into Silesia. But, after waiting several months in vain expectation of the promised bishopric and cardinal's hat, he returned to Transylvania, reassumed the princely office, and immediately transferred the same to his uncle Andrew. He then retired into Poland, but on the death of his brother returned, and again assumed the government of Translyvania (1599). He was soon, however, compelled by the emperor to resign for the third time, and, having received from him a pension and an estate, finally died at Prague, March 27, 1613. VI. Gabriel (Gabor), a cousin of the preceding, became prince of Transylvania in 1608, was capricious and cruel, and, succumbing to a revolt, fled to Gross-Wardein, where he was killed by some malcontents in 1613. VII. Elizabeth (Erzsebet), the wife of a Hungarian count, notorious and execrated for her remorseless cruelty.
Believing that the blood of young maidens would restore freshness and bloom to her shrivelled skin, she caused a great many to be brought to her castle on various pretences, and then, to obtain the desired bath, had them bled to death by some accomplices. Her horrible practices were at last discovered, and she was brought to trial. One of her accomplices, a man, was decapitated, two females, the chief instruments of her crimes, were burned alive, and the countess herself was condemned to imprisonment for life (1611). She died in confinement a few years later.