The castle became famous thanks to Elisabeth Báthory who was born in 1560. The Báthory family owned large properties in Hungary and especially in Transylvania. According to legend, their predecessor Vid killed a dragon in the swamp of Eczed and that is why the family had three dragon teeth in their Coat of Arms. In the 14th century the House of Báthory divided into two branches: Báthory of Somlyó and Báthory of Eczed. Elisabeth’s parents were George IV of the Báthory of Eczed branch and Anna Báthory of the Somlyó branch. The marriage with George was her third. For the majority of Báthory family members of both branches there were eccentrically disposed characters. More out of them had tendencies to self-conceit, pride, bullying, lust and also to sexual perversion. The Somlyó branch died out in 1635 and the Eczed branch perished by the sword in 1605 when Stephan Báthory, brother of Elisabeth, died without male heirs.
When she was 15, Elisabeth Báthory became wife of Francis Nádasdy. He was famous for being a great army leader and fighter. In fights Francis Nádasdy showed great courage and braveness. He was considerably cruel towards Turks and ordered mass executions of war prisoners. His army unit was renowned for charging into battle with the decapitated heads of the Turks. He was much respected in the Ottoman army and was known there under the nick name “Black Beg”. He participated in the main battle of Budin and Pest against the Ottoman Empire in the ranks of the main General of the army behind the Danube. His army recaptured Pest and turned away the vanguard of the Ottomans. He also fought in the Five Year War against the Turks.
Elisabeth Báthory had 5 children with Francis: Ursula and Andrew died as new-born babies. Anna, Catherine and Paul remained. Elisabeth Báthory became known for torturing young girls. This could be caused by inbreeding – the fact that her parents belonged to the same family even of different branches. It is possible that her brain degenerated and this led to the aggressive features of her character. In this torture and maltreatment of people Elisabeth Báthory was helped by her servants: John Ujváryi (called Ficko), Catherine Benecka, Dorothea Sentesz and Ilona Jó. They are alleged to have maltreated and murdered girls constantly between the years 1585 – 1610. She tortured girls with burning candles, with hot iron, poked them with needles and poured water on them when it was freezing. But they were not always killed.
Witnesses gave evidence that they saw girls so burned that they were not able to get into a carriage. Elisabeth Báthory also celebrated Christmas by torturing others and envoys of Palatine Thurzo caught her when she tortured girls right after Christmas and before the wedding of her daughter when two German maids died. She buried the dead bodies in various places – in the cemetery, in fields, in granaries. In many cases bodies were buried so carelessly that the decomposing bodies were dug out by dogs which then carried them on the courtyard.