Scarlet Ryder, the main character in the Blood cloak series is a direct descendant to the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory. At the time of her reign, vampires were considered not only real, but a scientific explanation. She was obsessed with youth and beauty. Elizabeth (reportedly) believed the secret to eternal youth was to bathe in the blood of young virgins. Girls were taken in hordes to work for the countess. They never returned. Rumors began seeping out, the countess was a vampire who drank the blood of her servant girls. She was said to have a great porcelain tub she filled with the blood of ‘her girls’ each day. She was reported to shove pins and needles in her servants fingers, tie them to trees with honey all over their bodies to attract ants and bees. The most outrageous claim was a girl forced to cook and eat part of her own flesh. In 1610, after 35 years, Bathory was taken to trial where eyewitnesses testified against her. Claims included young women locked in the basement, dead, dying and disfigured. She was locked in a room and left for dead, sealed up with only a small hole for food and air. She survived for three years.
In more noble circles, Bathory was considered dangerous for much different reasons. she was intelligent, well educated and capable of running the country. There is speculation the stories of blood lust, torture and murder were designed to discredit her and keep the men in charge of the country.