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Elizabeth Bathory was born in Hungary in 1560, approximately a hundred years after Vlad the Impaler died. One of her ancestors Prince Steven Bathory, was even a commanding officer who helped Vlad Dracula In 1546, when he claim the throne in Wallachia back again.

At the time Elizabeth was born, her parents George and Anna Bathory belonged to one of the oldest and wealthiest families in the country. Her cousin was the prime minister in Hungary, another relative was cardinal, and her uncle Stephan later became King of Poland. But the Bathory-family, beside the very rich and famous, also contained some very strange relatives. One uncle was known to be a devil-worshipper, and other members of the family were mental insane and perverted.

In the spring 1575, at the age of 15, Elizabeth was married to Count Ferencz Nadasdy, who was 25. The Count added her surname to his, so Elizabeth could keep her family name Bathory. After the marriage they moved to Castle Csejthe a mountaintop fortress overlooking the village of Csejthe, which lies in the north-western part of Hungary. Count Ferencz spent a great deal of time away from home, often fighting against the Turks. He was a very brave and daring soldier on the battlefield, and later in life he earned a reputation as the “Black Hero of Hungary”.

While her husband was pursuing his passion for war, throughout all the 25 years they were married, Elizabeth was often left to herself, and her life became more and more boring. To kill some time, beside admiring her own beauty in the mirror for hours, she took on young men as lovers, and onetime she even ran of with one, but she soon returned home and the Count forgave her. Another thing Elizabeth did to amuse herself while home alone, was to pay visits to her aunt Countess Klara Bathory, an open bisexual. She presumably enjoyed herself with her aunt Klara, since she visited her aunt’s estate frequently.

It was also then she began to develop an interest in the occult. An old maid named Dorothea Szentes, also called Dorka, who was a real witch, instructed her in the ways of witchcraft and Black Magic. Later Dorka became Bathory’s helping hand, when she was encouraging Elizabeth’s sadistic tendencies, like the inflicting of pain upon people. Together with Dorka, Elizabeth began the task of disciplining the female servants, and torture them in an underground chamber. In the Countess’s service, as helpers in the macabre punishments of the servants, was her old nurse Iloona Joo, her manservant Johannes Ujvary and a maid named Anna Darvula, who alleged also was Elizabeth’s lover.

With the aid of this crew, Elizabeth made Castle Csejthe to a place of pure evil. She would always find excuses to inflict punishment and torture, upon her young servant girls. She preferred to having the victim stripped naked and then whip the girl on the front of her nude body rather than the back not only for the increased damage this would do, but so that she then could watch their faces contort in horror at their most grim and burning fate. Another favorite was when she would stick pins, in various sensitive places on the victims body, such as under fingernails.

In 1600 Ferencz died and Elizabeth’s period of real terror began. First off, she sent her hated mother-in-law away. Secondly, she would have peace to enjoy a new kind of bath, that nobody was to known of. Short before her husband died something happened, that changed Elizabeth’s life. She was now close to 40 and time, had taken it’s toll on her appearance. Elizabeth tried to conceal the wrinkles through cosmetics. But this could not cover the fact, that she was getting old and close to losing her beauty.

Then one day it happened. A young chambermaid accidentally pulled Elizabeth Bathory’s hair while combing it. The infuriated Countess slapped the girl’s head so hard, that blood spurted from her nose, which splashed upon her own hand. Where the blood had touched her skin, Elizabeth immediately though it took on the freshness of her young chambermaid’s skin. She then got hold of Johannes Ujvary and Dorka to undress the young girl, upon holding her arms over a big vat, then they cut her arteries. After the young girl was dead Elizabeth then stepped into the vat, and took a bath in her chambermaid’s blood. She was now sure, she had found the secret of eternal youth through this vampirism. She had discovered that blood is life.

Over the next ten years, Elizabeth Bathory’s evil trusted helpers provided her with beautiful young girls, from some neighboring villages, upon the cover of hiring them as servants to Castle Csejthe. Back in the castle, the young girls would be mutilated and killed, so the Countess could take her blood baths. Sometimes, she would even drink their blood, to gain some sort of inner beauty. But soon Elizabeth began to realize that the blood of simple peasant girls, was having little effect on the quality of her skin. Better blood was now required. Elizabeth then started picking girls from some of the surrounding lower nobility. These noble girls were consumed in exactly the same beastly fashion as the peasant girls who preceded them.

However, with the disappearance of girls of noble birth, Elizabeth was now becoming very careless in her actions. People who lived in the neighboring villages, had already begun to talk. And soon the rumor about the horror in Castle Csejthe reached the Hungarian Emperor. The Emperor then ordered Elizabeth’s own cousin, the Count Cuyorgy Thurzo, who was governor of the province to raid the castle.

On December 30, 1610. A band of soldiers led by Elizabeth’s own cousin, raided Castle Csejthe at night. They were horrified by the terrible sights in the castle. A dead girl was lying in the main hall, drained of blood, another girl, who had her body pierced, was still alive. In the dungeon they later discovered, were several girls waiting in prison cells, some of whose bodies had been tortured. Below the castle, they found the bodies of some 50 dead girls.

During the trial 1611, a register with the names of around 650 victims, was found in the Countess’s living quarters. But the trial was largely just for show and to make the occasion “official”. A complete transcript of the trial was made at the time, and it still remains today in Hungary. All of Elizabeth’s four accomplices were sentenced to death. Only Elizabeth was not brought before a court and tried. She remained confined in her castle while her four sadistic accomplices were tried for their crimes.

But she got her punishment, when the Hungarian Emperor demanded her condemn to lifelong imprisonment in her own castle. Stonemasons were brought to her Castle Csejthe, to wall up the windows and the door to the bedchamber with the Countess still inside. Here she would spend the remaining days of her life, with only a small opening for food to be passed to her.

In 1614, four years after she was walled in, one of the Countess’s jailers found her food untouched. After peeking through the small opening in Elizabeth’s walled-up cell, he saw her lying face down on the floor. Elizabeth Bathory the “Blood Countess” was dead at the age of fifty-four.

The most infamous writer in the history of French literature, who occasionally has been hailed as “the freest spirit who has ever existed.” Marquis de Sade published erotic writings, that gave rise to the term sadism – enjoyment of cruelty, which first made it into a dictionary in 1834. His works have been seen as exploration of sexual and political freedom, and on the other hand he was a multiple rapist, torturer, and proto-murderer. In his ‘Idées sur les romans’ (1800) de Sade writes that the essence of novelistic representation lies in the writer’s incestuous relationship with nature. To be true to this relationship is to eschew all limitations, and exceed the bounds of convention and knowledge.

“But if there seems little reason for literary people to concern themselves with Sade, he has found a new lease of life among philosophers and anthropologists. Bored and uneasy with our little lives we resort to the greater amplitude of symbols. Bardot, Byron, Hitler, Hemingway, Monroe, Sade: we do not require our heroes to be subtle, just to be big. Then we can depend on someone to make them subtle.” (D.J. Enright in ‘The Marquis and the Madame’, in Conspirators and Poets, 1966)

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade was born in Paris into an aristocratic family. He was the only surviving child of Jean-Baptiste de Sade and his wife Marie-Eléonore de Maillé, a distant cousin of the Prince de Conde. His family had been ennobled in the 12th century and remained a major power-broker in the southern region of Provence. “Connected, through my mother, to all the greatest powers in the kingdom and, through my father, the most distinguished families of the provenance of Languedoc; born in Paris in the bosom of luxury and plenty, I believed, from the very first moment I could reason, that nature and fortune had collaborated to lavish me with their gifts; I believed it because people were foolish enough to tell me so, and this ridiculous prejudice made me haughty, despotic, and choleric…” (from Aline et Valcour, 1795)

Aged four, de Sade was sent to Avignon into the care of his uncle, Abbe de Sade, whose sexual life was notoriously irregular. After this period de Sade attended the Jesuit college of Louis Le Grand. From the age of 14 to 26 de Sade was in active military service, and participated in the Seven Years War. He married in 1763 Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil, the daughter of a high-ranking bourgeois family, but also began an affair with an actress and invited prostitutes to his house.

In 1768 de Sade held a prostitute called Rose Keller captive and abused her. The chief of the Paris vice squad warned brothels of de Sade – he was considered a mortal threat to prostitutes. In the following years de Sade was found guilty of all kinds of sexual crimes, and he managed to anger Mme. de Montreuil, his mother-in-law by seducting her younger daughter, Anne-Prospre, when she was visiting his medieval fortress at La Coste in Provence. The unabated de Sade had again an orgy, but probably he never killed anyone, except in the war.

At Aix in 1772 de Sade received the penalty of death for an unnatural crime and poisoning, but escaped to Italy with his valet Latour. After arrest he was excluded from Paris and sent to his wife’s family home in Normandy. At La Coste de Sade continued to arrange orgies from 1773 to 1777 – he had hired a harem of young girls as sexual slaves. After continuous scandals and charges de Sade was arrested and sent to round tour of 27 years in prisons, which started in the dungeon of Vincennes on February 13, 1777. Probably his imprisonment had been arranged by Mme. de Montreuil, whom he remembered in his writings: “Oh, powers from Hell, grant me Nero’s wish, that all women have but one head and that this head belong to the shrew who tyrannizes me; then grant me the pleasure of chopping it off!” At Vicennes he was sometimes fed through the bars of his cage, but he also wanted to keep up some standards and wrote in a letter: “Send me a little prune-colored redingote, with suede vest and trousers, something fresh and light but most specifically not made out of linen; as for the other costume, make it Paris Mud in hue with a few silver trimmings, but definitely not silver braid.” To overcome boredom he started to write sexually graphic novels and plays.

After escape de Sade was transferred in 1784 to Bastille in Paris, where he had a large room, sixteen feet in diameter. In the new surroundings the hard-working prisoner wrote LES 120 JOURNÉES DE SODOME, an underground classic over a hundred years. He was released from insane asylum at Charenton on April 2, 1790. Renée-Pélagie obtained a divorce. Next year, at the age of 51, de Sade published JUSTINE (1791). In the sequel, JULIETTE (1797), the heroine was Justine’s sister, who enjoys the delights of evil: “How delicious are these implements of torture, of the crime that we love.” de Sade boldly addressed a copy of the novel to Napoleon in 1803. Napoleon refused to set de Sade free. Juliette, which consisted of six volumes, was the second part of the monumental LA NOUVELLE JUSTINE (1797), nearly four thousand pages long Gospel of Evil, which manifested that vice – or the pleasures of imagination – cannot be punished by imprisonment. – See also Voltaire’s Candide (1759), Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (1857), Comte de Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror (1869).

Justine, de Sade’s most famous work, depicts graphically sexual encounters of a poor young girl. de Sade wrote an early version of the novel in the Bastille and completed it in 1791 while free. In de Sade’s philosophy God is evil and the misfortunes suffered by Justine are a result from denying this truth. de Sade himself declared Justine a work “capable of corrupting the devil” and denied his authorship. According to D.J. Enright, de Sade’s philosophy was very simple: “if you enjoy wickedness, it shows that Nature intended you to be wicked, and it would be wicked not to be.” Some 19th-century writers were inspired by de Sade’s belief that people should act on their instincts. “Irrités de ce premier crime, les monstres ne s’en tinrent pas là; ils l’étendirent ensuite nue, à plat ventre sur une grande table, ils allumèrent des cierges, ils placèrent l’image de notre sauveur à sa tête et osèrent consommer sur les reins de cette malheureuse le plus redoutable de nos mystères.” (from Les Infortunes de la Vertu, 1787)

Somehow de Sade survived through the years of the French Revolution, although many other aristocrats were executed and his name was in 1794 on a list of prisoners to be brought to trial. To secure his freedom and property he wrote an eulogy of Marat, and got elected secretary of his district in Paris. In 1801 he was again arrested and sent to Charenton, where he began to work a 10-volume novel, Crimes of Passion. During this period he also wrote and staged plays in the asylum, although Minister of the Interior issued the order, that the “greatest care [must] be taken to prevent any use by him [Sade] of pencils, pens, ink, or paper.” His last days de Sade spent under the control of an ex-abbé. After his death on December 2, 1814, his elder son burned his last and other manuscripts. de Sade’s grave was later desecrated when his skull was taken for pseudo-scientific measurements.

Although de Sade wrote many plays, they have remained largely unpublished and unproduced. However, the Marquis has securured his literary immortality. French poet Guillaume Apollinaire claimed that the writing of de Sade would dominate the 20th-century. de Sade’s work has prompted pornographic literature, academic studies, and films, including Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975) and Philip Kaufman’s Quills (2000), starring Kate Winslet, Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Caine. The film was based Doug Wright’s play from 1995.

Between the months of August and November, 1888, the Whitechapel area of London played key witness to a series of horrific murders, which remain to this day unresolved.

The unknown assailant, formerly known as “Leather Apron”, later to be referred as “Jack the Ripper”, stalked the dimly lit, fog blanketed streets of the East End with a single, brutal ambition….. MURDER MOST HORRID.

With malice aforethought, undercover of darkness he lurked within the shadows, awaiting his prey….”the street women” of Old London Town.

The despicable diary of death had begun.

FRIDAY 31st AUGUST, 1888

The Star newspaper reported “No murder was ever more ferociously and more brutally done” MARY ANN NICHOLS had been slain in BUCKS ROW. Last seen leaving the “Frying Pan” Public House in Brock Lane, drunk and looking for her next customer, “Polly” was to meet her grisly end, found lain on the old cobblestones, first victim of the beast who was to become England’s most notorious knife man.


From the back yard of number 29, Hanbury Street, Albert Cadoche was thought to have overheard the muffled sounds of an assault. Shortly before 6.00 a.m. ANNIE CHAPMAN’S mutilated body lay exposed in the dank morning air. The Mysterious monster had struck again. The police begged the question – could it be a tall foreign stranger whom “Dark Annie” was seen approaching earlier that misty morning?


A day of double murder in London. From “Leather Apron” had now spawned the cursed “JACK THE RIPPER”, a “trade name” he had aptly adopted in his alleged letter to the police, again Jack was at large, his blade “nice and sharp” and “ready to get to work”. At 1.00 a.m. in Duffield’s Yard, BERNER STREET, the body of ELIZABETH STRIDE was discovered, cut from ear to ear. Had Jack been disturbed?…..almost caught blood-red handed?….but again evaded capture, shrinking back into the shadows cast by dim gas lamps and the ice glow of a deathly full moon.

He reappeared to claim another victim in MITRE SQUARE, Aldgate. Merely 10 minutes on foot from Berner Street, through the acrid alleyways of Goodmans Fields, an area Jack knew well, with murderous intent, he struck again. At almost 1.45 a.m. CATHERINE EDDOWES bloodied corpse was found, silently slaughtered by the fearsome, and now, clearly practiced killer.

It was on this fearful night that the chalked message appeared on a wall in GOULSTON STREET next to a bloodied piece of Kate Eddowes apron. The message read “The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing” A sinister confession perhaps? A false accusation? Inspector Frederick Abberline was again left to ponder.


the month of October had passed with no further clues as to the identity of the infamous Ripper. Indeed, had the murders ceased? Sadly for MARY JANE KELLY, Jack would strike for a fifth and final time in a frenzied yet clinical assault that would shock even the most hardened criminologist. Jack had more time to indulge in his brutal blood lust this time, slaying the pretty 25 year old behind closed doors.

At number 13 MILLER’S COURT, the savaged remains of MARY KELLY were discovered. A young Irish girl, led astray by the East End way of life, of drink and prostitution, “Black Mary” was believed to be the Rippers last victim. The attack was so dreadful, police believed that the killer’s taste for macabre murder and thirst for blood had finally been satisfied.

With the last entry in the diary of death complete, the devil in disguise crept silently back into the shadows as stealthily as whence he first carved his infamy into the heart of Whitechapel.

Baffled detectives were left to puzzle over half clues and supposed suspects. Theories and arguments still rage to this day, as to the true identity of Jack the Ripper.

East End London has been left with the chilling reminder of a man who singlehandedly terrorized one of the worlds greatest cities.

His final mocking blow at the police was taunted in a letter he wrote…. “How can they catch me now? I love my work and want to start again….soon” Good Luck Yours Truly “Jack the Ripper”.


“Polly” Nichols as she was known to many, was aged 42 when Jack the Ripper’s icy hand took her life. The estranged wife of a printer, Polly had borne five children before husband William eloped with one of her friends in 1877. It was then that she became trapped in the downward spiral of drink and prostitution, her final days spent living in the squalid conditions of the “White House” doss-house on Flower and Dean Street. She was laid to rest at Ilford cemetery on September 6th 1888.


“Dark Annie” met her death on a foggy night, alone, undernourished and suffering from brain and lung diseases which would soon have claimed her if Jack’s Knife hadn’t. Annie wandered the East End Streets penniless following the death of her husband in 1886. Cruelly treated by life, Annie had two daughters, one of which died in 1882, and a son who was crippled. Living off immoral earnings and selling matches and flowers, Annie was a street hardened rogue. She was buried in secret, at Manor Park on September 14th 1888, by her family.


“Long Liz” was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in November 1843, named Elizabeth Gustafsdotter. After becoming a registered prostitute and giving birth to a still born girl, she moved to London in 1866 and married John Thomas Strise, a carpenter, supposedly living in Gower Street, London. The Strides allegedly kept a coffee shop prior to the breakdown of their marriage in 1882. long Liz was to have had eight convictions for drunkenness before her fatal appointment with Jack the Ripper. Elizabeth Stride was buried in a paupers grave in the East London cemetery aged 44 years.


Born in 1842, the daughter of a tin plate worker, Catherine Eddowes came to London’s Bermondsey district at the age of two. She returned to her native Wolverhampton, with Thomas Conway, a pensioner, who was to father her three children. The couple separated in 1880, victims of habitual drinking. “Kate” left for London once more, where she resided in Flower and Dean Street. Following a hop picking venture in Kent, Kate was sadly to embark on her final tragic journey via Bishopsgate police cells into the clutches of the evil Ripper. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Ilford on 8th October 1888, witnessed by hoards of onlookers, aged 44


“Black Mary” was unlike the other victims. At 25 she was young and attractive, and as a prostitute would have better served the prestigious West End clients as opposed to working the grim streets of the East End. Mary was born in Limerick, Ireland and moved to Wales where she married a collier who was tragically killed in a pit disaster. After turning to prostitution in Cardiff, she moved south to London where she worked in a West End brothel. “Fair Emma” came to lodge at various abodes around Dorset Street, London, the “Wicked Quarter Mile”, and it was at Millers Court that she was found brutally murdered. She was buried at Walthamstow R.C. cemetery on 19th November


The terror that befell London’s Whitechapel district in the Autumn months of 1888 remains unparalleled in the annals of crime. Jack the Ripper, a faceless predator whose infamy and guile would be renowned and feared to this day, has become virtual folklore to the people of the East End.

More than a century has passed since Jack the Ripper stalked the fog filled, cobbled streets of London, but still latter day detectives continue to speculate as to the identity of the notorious “Whitechapel Murderer”.

Only a few clues were ever unearthed by the bewildered Police Force of the 1880’s, further whetting the appetites of present day theorists in their quest for the “Mysterious Monster”.

At the time of the murders, detectives had never before experienced the apparently motiveless brutality of the world’s first serial killer. The increasingly frustrated Police Force, pressured by an angry public and QUEEN VICTORIA herself, were to arrest several suspects on flimsy evidence, only to have these lowly scapegoats committed to,lunatic asylums, in a pathetic attempt to rid the streets of the dark assailant. No-one was above suspicion…

SIR CHARLES WARREN, Chief of Metropolitan Police, was to be suspected of his involvement in a “cover up” and even Queen Victoria’s own grandson  PRINCE EDWARD, was at one stage considered to be a “Ripper Suspect”. Although time has allowed hindsight, and numerous suspects have been presented, many are too ridiculous to be considered a viable culprit. The prime suspects who are still to this day eligible for the title of “Jack the Ripper” are as follows….

Francis Thompson 1894

The book “Jack the Ripper” reveals the British Poet Francis Thompson to be the culprit responsible for the terrible murders in 1888 of at least five women prostitutes in London’s East End. Visit the web site to read/buy the book. Illustrated and of 18,500 words Jack the Ripper explains Thompson’s violent childhood his doomed medical school training and his downward drug induced spiral into vagrancy. Describing Thompson’s secret affair with a prostitute and its tragic ending bringing him to a frenzied delirium Jack the Ripper records the events of the murders and its sinister parallels to Thompson. Who was the Ripper?. What was his motive?. How did he get away with murder? Patterson’s book Jack the Ripper answers all these questions and for the first time gives readers an insight into the diabolical mind of the world’s first and most feared serial killer. Jack the Ripper examines Thompson’s morbid verse and entwines Thompson’s life with the destiny of leading writers including Robert Browning, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and D.H Lawrence.


John Pizer was a shoemaker, a Jew who just happened to fulfil the public’s view of the Murderer’s profile, that being of a butcher, slaughterman or craftsman – a man with access to 5 inch blades and in possession of a leather apron. Pizer not only had a stabbing convictions against him, but also displayed a well known dislike for prostitutes. He unfortunately fitted a dubious description which had been circulated; that of a short man with a dark beard and moustache and a foreign accent. Furthermore the press portrayed Pizer as having a “cruel sardonic look”. However, Pizer’s solid alibi ended with a compensation payment to him from the libel courts and the frustrated Police Force left once again to chase the shadows. After the death of Annie Chapman and a subsequent inquest, the findings in the pathologists report threw further light onto what was already becoming a very dark and grisly inquiry. The Coroner suggested that the murderer probably had an anatomical knowledge of dissection – this information heightened suspicions against members of the esteemed medical profession, an accusation angrily refuted by eminent surgeons to such an extreme that the Police dropped this line of enquiry. However, 3 major suspects have since been disclosed based upon this assumption….

 THOMAS NEIL CREAM, an American doctor

THOMAS CREAM had also ben arrested in connection with the poisoning of prostitutes and habitually writing to the Police giving false names and false accusations of a number of crimes. Cream was hanged by the neck for the murder of the Lambeth prostitutes in 1892. His departing words were…..” I am jack the Ri….” as the rope snapped taut and broke his neck. Suspicions of Cream were raised following revelations that an American had been making enquiries as to the availability of certain organs at medical schools in and around the Whitechapel district. Coupled with this, the letter received by the Police prior to the double killings of Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes notably contained many “Americanisms”. Unfortunately however, Cream was actually incarcerated at the time of the last Murders.

 MICHAEL OSTROGG, a Russian doctor

Michael Ostrogg has came under scrutiny by the London Police and his whereabouts at the time of the Whitechapel Murders could never be satisfactorily accounted for. Ostrogg was a slippery confidence trickster who went by the numerous aliases, including that of a Dr. Grant, and also as a former surgeon in the Russian Navy. He spent much of his time in Police custody for various fraudulent and thieving offences. Clearly a compulsive rouge, Ostrogg became a high profile suspect when it was stated in the “Police Gazette” around the time of the Murders that “special attention is called to this dangerous man”, after failing to report to the Police on charges of suspicion.

 ALEXANDER PEDACHENKO, another Russian Doctor

Another Russian Doctor, ALEXANDER PEDACHENKO was tenuously linked at this time to the murders and it was suggested that “Ostrogg” was one of the many aliases used by Pedachenko. He was considered a Russian lunatic, with distinct criminal tendencies, who had trained as a barbers surgeon and he had since joined the staff of the Maternity Hospital. The Russian Secret Police Gazette, OCHRANA, described Pedachenko as “the greatest and boldest of all Russian criminal lunatics” at at time when Pedachenko was allegedly living with his sister in Walworth. Ochrana cited Pedachenko with the Ripper murders in an attempt to discredit and embarrass the Metropolitan Police. This act of propaganda appeared to have succeeded when Sir Charles Warren resigned from the Police Force. Pedachenko was subsequently smuggled back to Moscow by Ochrana, where he was promptly sent to a lunatic asylum for the murder of a woman in St Petersburg. Pedachenko died in the asylum leaving a series of aliases in his wake, but all with slim connections to the Whitechapel murders. It seems he was merely a suspect of convenience for a short time.

The 3 Doctors theories are questionable especially with regard to the first “Jack The Ripper” letter which states in the footnote “Ha, Ha, they say I am a Doctor now!” Probably the most “romantic” suspects have been PRINCE EDDIE“, the Queen’s Grandson, and SIR WILLIAM GULL, the Royal Physician. Suspicions were heightened for both the suspects following the night of the double murders in Whitechapel. SIR CHARLES WARREN had ordered the removal of the writing from the wall before Police photographers could record it, which led to many theorists believing that there was a “cover up” by the authorities to protect someone of great importance. This, coupled with Queen Victoria’s heightened interest in the case led to the inevitable accusations. “Jack The Ripper” was fast becoming the most celebrated mystery worldwide, and for Royalty to have been involved made for the most sensational storyline for the newspapers.


Prince Albert was believed to have made twilight trips to the East End to indulge in homosexual practices in a brothel in Cleveland Street. He had supposedly learned disemboweling techniques on deer hunting excursions and was alleged to have had “syphilis of the brain” thus making him mad enough to commit the Murders. The late crime theorist Stephen Knight claimed that “Prince Eddie” secretly and illegally married Annie Crook, a Catholic girl. Subsequently, to avoid a Royal scandal, the authorities had Annie locked away in a lunatic asylum. She was supposedly pregnant at the time. The key victim to link Royalty with the murders was Mary Kelly, who was evidently nursemaid to the prince and his wife at around this time. She had proposed to blackmail the government by making her story public knowledge. It was then that the Royal Physician, WILLIAM GULL, allegedly became involved and in an attempt to silence the scandal picked up all possible prostitutes whom Mary Kelly may have informed. He was to pick the women up in the Royal carriage, slaughter them inside the carriage, and then dispose of the body, hence explaining the lack of noise and blood at the scene of the murders. The Royal theories are based largely on conjecture and have only come to light in recent years.


The “JUWES” writing however led to another Jewish suspect. Warren had ordered the removal of the writing so as to avoid an uprising from the already agitated immigrant population especially with the false arrest of Pizer still fresh in the mind. Despite this, a Polish Jew AARON KOSMINSKI, a hairdresser and resident of Whitechapel since 1882, came to the fore. A man with an extreme hatred of women, especially prostitutes, he was clearly the most insane of all the suspects. Kosminski was described as having strong homicidal tendencies and a history of related crimes. Following the night of the double killings, a letter was received by George Lusk, leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, stating that the writer had fried and eaten half a kidney, removed from the body of Kate Eddowes. Clearly this man was deranged. The uneaten half of the kidney accompanied the letter in a box. The organ was found to be human and belonged to a woman in her forties suffering from Brights disease – as did Catherine Eddowes. However, the style of writing did not in any way resemble the first “Jack The Ripper” letter received by the police, and was concluded to be the crazed writings of a lunatic. Kosminski was therefore high profile. It was never proven that Kosminski was the perpetrator of these ghastly crimes but he was removed from society in 1890, and placed in the Mile End Infirmary for the insane. Following spells in Colney Hatch and Leaversden Asylums, Kosminski degenerated to the point where he was unable to answer simple questions. He died in 1919 of gangrene of the leg and was medically described as “demented and incoherent”.


Montague John Druitt was a “gentleman”, a successful college debater, keen cricketer and of “good family”. It wasn’t until 1959 that Druitt, a schoolmaster, was pronounced a probable suspect. Sir Melville Macnaghten’s case notes described Druitt as “sexually insane” and it was mooted that even “his own family suspected him of being the Whitechapel Murderer”. Druitt’s personal circumstances link him with the killings too. He had studied medicine for a time before switching profession to become a barrister and was a very educated man. Any barrister would appreciate the need for a suspect to be well away from the scene of the crime if his case were to be defended with success. Druitt was found playing cricket as far away as Dorset in South West England after the murders of Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman, although his whereabouts in the actual nights of the murders remain unresolved. The primary reason for Druitt becoming a high profile suspect was that he feared he was going insane like his mother before him, In a suicide note Druitt wrote “Since Friday I felt I was going to be like Mother and the best thing for me was to die”. The note was discovered on his person on 31st December 1888. He had drowned in the River Thames, his pockets full of stones. Druitt was seen alive on 3rd December, 1888, almost one month after the last Murder and 2 days after his dismissal from his teaching job in Blackheath. Druitt’s death remains a mystery, as does his alleged connection with the Ripper Case. It is true , however, that the Police closed the Ripper file following Druitt’s suicide. The dreadful killings perpetrated by “Jack The Ripper” were never repeated beyond Druitt’s death. Was this coincidence or conjecture?


Over the years since that ill-fated November in 1888 the media has periodically resurrected interest in this most infamous of characters….. Jack The Ripper.

Films have been made, books have been published, newspapers have been sold….. people have talked about and debated who really perpetrated these vicious and heinous crimes over 100 years ago.

In recent years… the press in the UK and indeed the world over waited with baited breath for the release of “official UK government” archives which were originally marked “Secret.. not to be opened until 1988″….. only to find that no further clues were forthcoming, and some information had mysteriously gone missing!

The truth is that we are nowhere near finding out who the culprit was than we were in 1888, perhaps we shall never know the truth.

One thing is for certain though…. the Jack the Ripper tale has lived for over 100 years and many newspapers/filmakers/writers etc have made a lot of money out of the ghost of Jack The Ripper.

Vlad Tepes was born in November or December 1431, in the fortress of Sighisoara, Romania.

His father, Vlad Dracul, at that time appointed military governor of Transylvania by the emperor Sigismund, had been inducted into the Order of the Dragon about one year before. The order – which could be compared to the Knights of the Hospital of St. John or even to the Teutonic Order of Knights – was a semi-military and religious society, originally created in 1387 by the Holy Roman Emperor and his second wife, Barbara Cilli.

The main goals of such a secret fraternal order of knights was mainly to protect the interests of Catholicism, and to crusade against the Turks. There are different reasons why this society is so important to us.

First, it provides an explanation for the name “Dracula;” “Dracul,” in Romanian language, means “Dragon”, and the boyars of Romania, who knew of Vlad Tepes’ father induction into the Order of the Dragon, decided to call him “Dracul.” “Dracula,” a diminutive which means “the son of Dracul,” was a surname to be used ultimately by Vlad Tepes.

A second major role of this Order as a source of inspiration for Stoker’s evil character is the Order’s official dress – a black cape over a red garment – to be worn only on Fridays or during the commemoration of Christ’s Passion.

In the winter of 1436-1437, Dracul became prince of Wallachia (one of the three Romanian provinces) and took up residence at the palace of Tirgoviste, the princely capital. Vlad Tepes followed his father and lived six years at the princely court. In 1442, for political reasons, Dracula and his younger brother Radu were taken hostage by the Sultan Murad II; Dracula was held in Turkey until 1448, while his brother Radu decided to stay there until 1462. This Turkish captivity surely played an important role in Dracula’s upbringing; it must be at this period that he adopted a very pessimistic view of life. Indeed, the Turks set him free after informing him of his father’s assassination in 1447 – organized by Vladislav II. He also learned about his older brother’s death (Mircea was the eldest legitimate son of Dracul) and how he had been tortured and buried alive by the boyars of Tirgoviste.

At 17 years old, Vlad Tepes Dracula, supported by a force of Turkish cavalry and a contingent of troops lent to him by pasha Mustafa Hassan, made his first major move toward seizing the Wallachian throne.

But another claimant, no other than Vladislav II himself, defeated him only two months later. In order to secure his second and major reign over Wallachia, Dracula had to wait until July of 1456, when he had the satisfaction of killing his mortal enemy and his father’s assassin. Vlad then began his longest reign – 6 years – during which he committed many cruelties, and hence established his controversial reputation.

His first major act of revenge was aimed at the boyars of Tirgoviste for the killing of his father and his brother Mircea.

On Easter Sunday of what we believe to be 1459, he arrested all the boyar families who had participated to the princely feast. He impaled the older ones on stakes while forcing the others to march from the capital to the town of Poenari. This fifty-mile trek was quite grueling, and those who survived were not permitted to rest until they reached destination.

Dracula then ordered them to build him a fortress on the ruins of an older outpost overlooking the Arges river. Many died in the process, and Dracula therefore succeeded in creating a new nobility and obtaining a fortress for future emergencies. What is left today of the building is identified as Castle Dracula.

Vlad became quite known for his brutal punishment techniques; he often ordered people to be skinned, boiled, decapitated, blinded, strangled, hanged, burned, roasted, hacked, nailed, buried alive, stabbed, etc. He also liked to cut off noses, ears, sexual organs and limbs. But his favorite method was impalement on stakes, hence the surname “Tepes” which means “The Impaler” in the Romanian language.

Even the Turks referred to him as “Kaziglu Bey,” meaning “The Impaler Prince.” It is this technique he used in 1457, 1459 and 1460 against Transylvanian merchants who had ignored his trade laws. The raids he led against the German Saxons of Transylvania were also acts of proto-nationalism in order to protect and favour the Wallachian commerce activities.

There are many anecdotes about the philosophy of Vlad Tepes Dracula. He was for instance particularly known throughout his land for his fierce insistence on honesty and order. Almost any crime, from lying and stealing to killing, could be punished by impalement. Being so confident in the effectiveness of his law, Dracula placed a golden cup on display in the central square of Tirgoviste.

The cup could be used by thirsty travelers, but had to remain on the square. According to the available historic sources, it was never stolen and remained entirely unmolested throughout Vlad’s reign. Dracula was also very concerned that all his subjects work and be productive to the community. He looked upon the poor, vagrants and beggars as thieves. Consequently, he invited all the poor and sick of Wallachia to his princely court in Tirgoviste for a great feast. After the guests ate and drank, Dracula ordered the hall boarded up and set it on fire. No one survived.

In the beginning of 1462, Vlad launched a campaign against the Turks along the Danube river. It was quite risky, the military force of Sultan Mehmed II being by far more powerful than the Wallachian army. However, during the winter of 1462, Vlad was very successful and managed to gain many victories.

To punish Dracula, the Sultan decided to launch a full-scale invasion of Wallachia. Of course, his other goal was to transform this land into a Turkish province and he entered Wallachia with an army three times larger than Dracula’s. Finding himself without allies, Vlad, forced to retreat towards Tirgoviste, burned his own villages and poisoned the wells along the way, so that the Turkish army would find nothing to eat or drink. Moreover, when the Sultan, exhausted, finally reached the capital city, he was confronted by a most gruesome sight: thousands of stakes held the remaining carcasses of some 20,000 Turkish captives, a horror scene which was ultimately nicknamed the “Forest of the Impaled.” This terror tactic deliberately stage-managed by Dracula was definitely successful; the scene had a strong effect on Mehmed’s most stout-hearted officers, and the Sultan, tired and hungry, admitted defeat (it is worth mentioning that even Victor Hugo, in his Legende des Siecles, recalls this particular incident).

Nevertheless, following his retreat from Wallachian territory, Mehmed left the next phase of the battle to Vlad’s younger brother Radu, the Turkish favorite for the Wallachian throne. At the head of a Turkish army and joined by Vlad’s detractors, Radu pursued his brother to Poenari castle on the Arges river.

According to the legend, this is when Dracula’s wife, in order to escape Turkish capture, committed suicide by hurling herself from the upper battlements, her body falling down the precipice into the river below – a scene exploited by Francis Ford Coppola’s production.

Vlad, who was definitely not the kind of man to kill himself, managed to escape the siege of his fortress by using a secret passage into the mountain. Helped by some peasants of the Arefu village, he was able to reach Transylvania where he met the new king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. However, instead of providing some help, Matthias arrested Dracula and imprisoned him at the Hungarian capital of Visegrad. It was not until 1475 that Vlad was again recognized as the prince of Wallachia, enjoying a very short third reign. In fact, he was assassinated toward the end of December 1476.

We do not know exactly why Bram Stoker chose this fifteenth century Romanian prince as a model for his fictional character. Some scholars have proposed that Stoker had a friendly relationship with a Hungarian professor from the University of Budapest, Arminius Vambery (Hermann Vamberger) , and it is likely that this man gave Stoker some information about Vlad Tepes Dracula. Moreover, the fact that Dr. Abraham Van Helsing mentions his “friend Arminius” in the 1897 novel as the source of his knowledge on Vlad seems to support this hypothesis. It should also be kept in mind that the only real link between the historical Dracula (1431-1476) and the modern literary myth of the vampire is in fact the 1897 novel; Stoker made use of folkloric sources, historic references and some of his own life experiences to create his composite creature. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Vlad Dracula’s political detractors (mainly German Saxons – made use of the other meaning of the Romanian word “Dracul” – “Devil” – in order to blacken the prince’s reputation). Could the association of the words “Dragon” and “Devil” in Romanian language explain an earlier link between Vlad Tepes and vampirism?

Today, as Romania opens itself to the tourism industry, many “Dracula Tours” are being offered throughout the country.

No other figure in recent Russian history has received the amount of vilification and contempt heaped upon Gregory Rasputin. The self-styled monk, who received practically little education in the intricacies of the Russian Orthodox faith, came from the rural areas of Russia and achieved great recognition as a “staretz,” or holy man in the highest circles of St. Petersburg society. From rags to social prominence the life of Gregory Rasputin holds many of the events leading to the eventual overthrow of the Russian imperial system, the dethronement of the House of Romanov and the assassination of the Imperial Family.

Gregory Efimovich Rasputin came from solid peasant stock. Gregory Efimovich was born on January 10, 1869, in Prokovskoe, a small village in Siberia on the banks of the Tura River. As a young lad, Rasputin shocked his village by constantly finding ways to get into trouble with the authorities. Drunkenness, stealing and womanizing were activities particularly enjoyed by the dissolute young man. Rasputin in fact was developing into a rake, a man with a debauched, and endless, sexual appetite.

It was while on one of his escapades that Rasputin was first impacted by the mystical powers of the Russian Orthodox religion. At Verkhoturye Monastery Rasputin was fascinated by a renegade sect within the Orthodox faith, the Skopsty. Followers of the Skopsty firmly believed that the only way to reach God was through sinful actions. Once the sin was committed and confessed, the penitent could achieve forgiveness. In reality, what the Skopsty upheld was to “sin to drive out sin.” Rasputin, one of the biggest sinners of the province, was suddenly struck by the potential held by this theory. It was soon thereafter that the debauched, lecherous peasant adopted the robes of a monk, developed his own self-gratifying doctrines, traveled the country as a “staretz” and sinned to his heart’s content.

By the time he reached his early thirties, Rasputin had traveled to the Holy land and back. It was while in Kazan that the mysterious traveling monk made an impression among the local clergy. It was with the recommendations of these fooled priests that Rasputin headed to St. Petersburg for his first visit. While in the Russian capital, Rasputin’s presence attracted the attention of many of the country’s leading religious leaders. The staretz’ traveling tales, as well as the stories he told about his religious revival, seemed to capture the attention of the higher clergy of the Russian empire. The year was 1902.

The Tsar’s death seemed imminent as his once strong body caved under the strain of his sickness. No one would have thought that Tsar Alexander III, a giant by most accounts, would be dead before his fiftieth year. And no one was more terrified by the events unfolding at the Imperial compound at Livadia, in the Crimea, as the young heir, Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich. At the time of his father’s death in late 1894, Nicholas was an inexperienced youth wholly unprepared for the great task destiny had placed on his shoulders. Nicholas himself was terribly aware of this and upon his father’s death, the new Tsar consoled himself by asking God to give him the guidance and strength to carry out the impossible burdens of ruling the complex and vastly complicated Russian empire.

Nicholas II was barely twenty-six years old at the time of his accession. During his son’s golden youth, Alexander III did not allow his son Nicholas much participation in affairs of government. It is likely that Alexander III feared that his eldest son was not intellectually capable of handling the inheritance that was rightfully his. Therefore, the father kept postponing the son’s introduction in to the daily running of Russia. Not one person, most of all Alexander III, ever imagined that this young and inexperienced Romanov would ascend the throne as early in life as he did.

Nicholas II’s mother, the Empress Maria-Feodorovna, was largely responsible for continuing her son’s adolescence into his twenties. The Empress, a doting mother at best, refused to let her children grow. These behavior would have dire consequences in the future, particularly as the responsibilities of royal life entered the lives of her children. Not only would Nicholas marry a princess whom Maria-Feodorovna and Alexander III did not like, but also her other surviving son, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich married a twice-divorced commoner. The misfortune of her children was also extended to the imperial couple’s youngest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, who was forced to marry Duke Peter of Oldenburg, a minor German princeling whose family had settled in Russia and who was notoriously known as one of the most scandalous members of St. Petersburg society.

Alexander and Maria-Feodorovna’s opposition to Nicholas’ marriage caused the dying Tsar much distress. Years before, Nicholas had made the acquaintance of Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine who was the youngest sister of Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas’ uncle Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich. Alix was also the granddaughter of Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine, who in turn was a brother of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, mother of Tsar Alexander III. Thus, Nicholas and Alix were third cousins. More importantly, at least from a dynastic standpoint, Princess Alix was one of the favorite granddaughters of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Still, Alexander and Maria-Feodorovna saw Alix as a very poor choice for a bride and opposed Nicholas’ intentions to marry his melancholic German love.

The threat of Nicholas remaining unmarried and thus risking the imperial succession ultimately forced Alexander and Maria-Feodorovna to consent to their son’s marriage. At Coburg, during the marriage of Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine, Alix’s brother, to Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Nicholas finally obtained Alix’s consent to his marriage proposal. The developing relationship between Nicholas and Alix overshadow the wedding celebrations of Victoria Melita and Ernst-Ludwig, an affront that the Coburg bride would never forget.

Alexander III died at the age of forty-nine on October 20, 1894. He was at the imperial palace in Livadia, the Crimea, and was surrounded by his afflicted family. Nicholas and Alix, who soon after the Tsar’s death joined the Russian Orthodox church as Alexandra Feodorovna, were married within a week of Alexander’s death. The marriage took place in the midst of the overwhelming mourning that had engulfed the lives of all the members of the imperial family.

There is very little question that Nicholas and Alexandra loved each other intensely, even to the point of isolating themselves from the rest of their family and the country as a whole. They were happiest when away from society and surrounded by the seclusion of their official residence at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. Within a year of their hasty wedding, the couple became parents to a plump little girl, the Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaievna. Three more daughters were to follow: Tatiana Nicholaievna born in 1897, Maria Nicholaievna born in 1899 and Anastasia Nicholaievna born in 1901. Loving as they were as parents, Nicholas and Alexandra were deeply concerned at their inability to provide an heir to the imperial throne. After the birth of their fourth daughter, the couple desperately sought all sorts of help to insure that the next child would be a boy. The desire for Alexandra to produce a boy developed into an fixation. Mystics, faith healers and staretz’ found themselves in great demand at the Alexander Palace. Most of these people were of doubtful reputation but since they were sponsored by the Grand Duchesses Militza and Anastasia, daughters of King Nicholas of Montenegro and married to two of Nicholas’ cousins, Nicholas and Alexandra received them with intense hopes that the arrival of a son would thus be guaranteed.

By late 1903 Alexandra found herself pregnant again. Intense praying and mysticism accompanied her throughout the pregnancy, and finally on July 30, 1904, a little boy was born. Nicholas and Alexandra called him Alexis in memory of the second Romanov tsar. The heir became the center of the family’s attention as a delighted imperial couple reveled in the joy of finally having an heir they could call their own. Despite the couple’s delight, within months of Alexis’ birth a dark cloud settled over the imperial nursery. Alexis’s body, once injured, would not stop bleeding. The Tsarevich was another victim of the dreaded disease inherited from his great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Hemophilia. Nicholas accepted this new trial with stoic fatalism, Alexandra blamed herself for her son’s affliction. The Tsar’s brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander Michaelovich, once said that Alexandra “refused to surrender to fate…she talked incessantly of the ignorance of the physicians. She professed an open preference for medicine men. She turned toward religion…but her prayers were tainted with a certain hysteria. The stage was set for the appearance of a miracle worker.”

At the time of Alexis’ birth several of Queen Victoria’s descendants were sufferers of the disease. Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, wife of Prince Henry of Prussia, had two hemophiliac sons. Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, had died as a result of a bleeding. Some of the Queen’s other granddaughters, Princess Victoria of Battenberg and Princess Alice of Albany, would pass the disease to their children. Alexandra Feodorovna and her sister Irene had lost a brother to the disease as well. It seemed to many that the price for marrying into Victoria’s powerful family was running the risk of bringing hemophilia into the royal palaces of Europe.

The first decade of Alexandra’s life in Russia were married by the continued absence of a male heir. The second decade of her life among the Romanovs was devastated by the disease that martyred her only son. When hemophilia first manifested itself in Alexis, Nicholas wrote in his diary that “it was a dreadful thing to have to live through such anxiety.” By the time Alexis was one year old, he again was afflicted by a more serious bleeding episode. The imperial couple’s anxiety was accentuated by doctors who told them they “had to realize that the heir apparent will never be cured of this disease. The attacks of hemophilia will recur now and then…”

In the midst of this tragedy within the imperial family, Rasputin returned to St. Petersburg after a two-year hiatus. Initially, Rasputin moved prudently in the Russian capital’s aristocratic circles. He tried, unsuccessfully, to restrain his debauched, womanizing ways, yet temptation was overwhelming. Within months, Rasputin, the saintly sinner, had achieved recognition and a small following in St. Petersburg. Besides gaining the friendship of Grand Duchess Militza and Anastasia, Rasputin also gained the trust of Anna Vyrubova, Empress Alexandra’s trusted companion. It was under the recommendation of the Grand Duchesses and Anna Vyrubova that Rasputin was summoned to appear before Alexandra.

Rasputin managed to bring calm and hope into the lives of Nicholas and Alexandra. Most importantly, the staretz was capable of putting a stop to the Alexis’ bleedings. Many people have tried to explain the nature of Rasputin’s power over the poor little boy. Some have claimed that Rasputin did indeed have holy powers. Others, believe that Rasputin was able to hypnotize Alexis and therefore cause the bleedings to stop. However Rasputin managed to stop Alexis’ suffering, the truth of the matter was that he gained Nicholas and Alexandra’s undivided support.

As the monk’s star rose in St. Petersburg, so did the number of his enemies. Many of the Orthodox clergymen who had initially supported Rasputin became skeptical about his relationship with the imperial couple. St. Petersburg society also failed to understand the bonds that brought Rasputin into such close proximity to the throne. Nicholas and Alexandra had refused to inform their subjects about Alexis’ sickness, thus it baffled many to see the imperial couple in dealings with such a lecherous rake as Rasputin. Soon enough, the rumor mills of St. Petersburg accused Alexandra of being romantically, and even sexually involved with the monk. More pernicious gossips even extended the rumors to include the couple’s four daughters who supposedly had become Rasputin’s sex toys. It is inconceivable that someone as upright and unbending as Alexandra would have ever considered such vile behavior. Yet it is also inconceivable that the rumors were allowed to continued while the reputation of the imperial couple fell to pieces. No one was more responsible for the growing rumors than Rasputin himself. During his many drunken parties, the monk would boast of his exploits with the Empress and her daughters, even going as far as proclaiming that the Tsar was at his fingertips.

Nicholas’s secret police quickly informed the Tsar of these rumors. A penitent Rasputin was summoned to appear before the infuriated Tsar, but Alexandra defended the staretz. Nicholas punished Rasputin by sending him back to the provinces, but no sooner had Rasputin left when another bleeding crisis almost killed Alexis. Rasputin’s influence over the boy guaranteed the monk’s return to St. Petersburg. His position within the imperial circle was never again challenged. Alexandra grew completely dependent on the man, who not only became her son’s faith healer, but also the Empress’ confidant. The evil monk’s presence among the Tsar and his family would further alienate them from the capital and all those circles that had traditionally been the mainstay of tsarism. Nicholas and Alexandra were doomed from that point on.

On June 28, 1914, while the Russian Imperial Yacht Standart sailed along the Baltic coastline, the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Habsburg and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo. Within weeks of this vile act of regicide all of Europe was in a flurry of prewar preparations. The great moment to define European mastery had arrived. The arrival of war surprised practically everyone. At the time of Franz-Ferdinand’s assassination no one in Europe believed the act would lead to war between the great empires of the time. The Tsar continued on his cruise, the Kaiser sailed along the Norwegian coast, the French President prepared his entourage for a state visit to St. Petersburg. All along the continent European royalty visited their royal cousins in countries that were about to declare war on each other.

When Vienna decided to declare war on Serbia, using the involvement of Serbian government officials in the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand as an excuse, Russia could not stand idly by. On one opportunity when Austria had annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, Nicholas had been unable to come to the rescue of his fellow Slavs. On this new affront to Slavdom, the Tsar took a stand and geared his country for war against Austria-Hungary. Germany being Austria’s ally, a move against Vienna would mean that St. Petersburg would also have to fight Berlin. Paris and London watched hopelessly as the crowned heads of Europe forgot their family ties and recent summer visits to take up the dangerous flag of nationalism. A state of war between the Russia and Germany and Austria was declared by the first week of August.

However bellicose the Russians felt, the country was completely unprepared to fight against formidable enemies such as Germany and Austria. The Russian supply lines were inefficient, there were not enough rifles for as many soldiers as Russia had, new recruits were often sent to the front without even the proper clothing and not enough ammunition. Corruption within the Russian weapons’ supply system was rampant and several army officers made vast fortunes at the expense of the lives of hundred of thousands of Russian victims. The leadership of the Russian military forces was given to the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich, a cousin of the Tsar and the husband of Grand Duchess Anastasia, the woman responsible for sponsoring Rasputin. Grand Duke Nicholas desperately tried to reverse the initial Russian losses, but given the resources he had this was a Herculean task. Consequently, the country’s military effort continued to suffer dismal setbacks. Rasputin himself sent a note to the Grand Duke Nicholas offering t visit his headquarters to bless the troops, but the Grand Duke Nicholas, one of Rasputin’s most vehement opponents, replied “Yes, do come. I’ll hang you.”

The Grand Duke Nicholas’ reactions towards Rasputin exemplified the high level of frustration felt by the Romanov family concerning the relationship of Nicholas and Alexandra and the hated monk. As the war progressed, the Russian government simply collapsed under the weight of the enormous efforts demanded by the armies and the obtuse leadership provided by Tsar Nicholas II. It certainly did not help matters when it was discovered that Nicholas was also relying on Alexandra for the day-to-day handling of governmental affairs. And since Alexandra and Rasputin were in close contact, many believed that indeed it was Rasputin who had become the true lord of All the Russias. Nicholas’s family, even his mother, desperately tried to have the monk removed from the imperial couple’s proximity. The Romanovs, never really fond of Alexandra, constantly approached the Tsar and demanded that Rasputin be sent away. Nicholas, blinded by his love for Alexandra and fearful of risking Alexis’ life, rudely dismissed his family’s entreaties. Rasputin’s influence continued and the Imperial Family’s image continued to be tainted with opprobrium and scandal emanating from the actions of the evil monk.

Nicholas II’s biggest mistake was dismissing Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich in 1915 and assuming command of the Russian armies. Inefficient as a ruler, mainly due to his lack of preparation for the office, Nicholas II was a dismal military commander as well. Encouraged by his wife, who had a deep dislike for the Grand Duke Nicholas, the Tsar convinced himself that his place was among his troops. Consequently, Nicholas left Petrograd, as the capital was then called to avoid using a German sounding name, and headed for military headquarters. In his place, and to act in his stead, Nicholas II left none other than his beloved Alexandra. The Empress, regardless of her later martyrdom and previous suffering, was simply the most incompetent choice available to Nicholas. If Rasputin’s influence with Alexandra was checked by Nicholas prior to his departure, now that Tsar was away from Petrograd Rasputin became the Empress’ chief counsel. The Russian imperial government basically disintegrated as ministers were fired and quickly replaced by many of Rasputin’s supporters. Accountability for the growing corruption within the government simply disappeared as the country headed towards utter chaos and ruin. Regradless of the martyrdom suffered by Nicholas, Alexandra and their children, one cannot ignore the damaging role played in the demise of the Romanovs by Alexandra. Incapable of ruling, married to a husband who would have been happiest as a country squire instead of a Tsar of All the Russias, Alexandra’s attempt at single-handedly governing Russia was doomed to failure. Isolated from Russia’s realities, blinded in her devotion to Rasputin, fearful for her son’s survival, Alexandra was in no position to effectively fill the absence left by Nicholas’ decision to join his armies. Indeed, both Nicholas and Alexandra are greatly, if not solely, responsible for the ignominious end the Romanov dynasty faced in 1917-18.

Frustrated by their inability to break down the walls built by Nicholas and Alexandra, some members of the Romanov family took events into their own hands. How many of the Romanovs were involved in the actual plotting to assassinate Rasputin will never be known for certain. What is widely accepted is that the Tsar’s cousin, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich and Prince Felix Youssoupov, husband of Nicholas II’s niece Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, were among the leaders of the plot to strike against Rasputin. The monk, always frustrated by the Romanov’s opposition to his role in Russia, was invited by Youssoupov to attend an evening gathering at his vast Petrograd palace. Felix promised Rasputin that his wife Irina would be there to greet him. The monk fell in the trap and willingly arrived at the Youssoupov palace in the evening of December 16, 1916. He did not survive the evening.

Several excellent books recount in detail the events that took place at the Youssoupov palace, among them Greg King’s “The Man Who Killed Rasputin,” Alex de Yonge’s “Rasputin,” Robert K. Massie’s monumental “Nicholas and Alexandra,” and Prince Felix Youssoupov’s “Lost Splendour.” During the fateful last evening of Rasputin’s life, the conspirators drugged, poisoned, beat and shot him. Yet the staretz survived all these and actually died by drowning when his body, wrapped in a carpet was thrown into the Moika Canal on the Neva River.

By the morrow Prince Felix Youssoupov was under questioning by the Petrograd police. So messy had been the assassins that proof of their deed was found all over the Youssoupov palace. Within hours of the report concerning Rasputin’s disappearance, the Petrograd police by orders of Alexandra, forbid the conspirators from leaving the Russian capital. As soon as he received news of events in Petrograd Nicholas boarded his train and hurriedly returned to the capital. Rasputin’s corpse was discovered under the ice of the Neva on December 19. The fury and outrage expressed by Nicholas and Alexandra knew no bounds as they sought to punish all of the conspirators. At the same time, news of Rasputin’s death caused widespread eruptions of rapture in Petrograd. Dimitri and Felix were heralded as heroes and many believed that the “alleged” German influence represented by Alexandra was going to stop.

While the Petrograd elite enjoyed their supposed liberation from Rasputin’s clutches, the vast majority of the Russian population saw the events in a completely different light. For 80% of the Russian population Rasputin was a “man of the people.” He was their hope that the imperial couple would never forget the plight of the peasantry. His assassination at the hands of aristocrats, and even members of the imperial family, robbed the upper classes of much support among the inhabitants of their estates.

In the end, Nicholas sent his two wayward relatives into exile. Ironically enough, it was this punishment what allowed Dimitri and Felix to avoid falling in the hands of Bolsheviks during the revolution. Within three months of Rasputin’s death, Nicholas lost his throne, the imperial family were imprisoned and many of the Romanov cousins arrested. In then end almost twenty members of the Romanov family were massacred by Bolshevik firing squads. No other epitaph to Rasputin’s death better exemplifies the repercussions of the monk’s death than that written by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlova, sister, in her Memoirs: “His death came to late to change the course of events. His dreadful name had become too thoroughly a symbol of disaster. The daring of those who killed him to save their country was miscalculated. All of the participants in the plot, with the exception of Prince Youssoupov later understood that in raising their hands to preserve the old regime they struck it, in reality, its final blow.”

Lizzie was born the youngest child of Andrew Jackson Borden and Sarah Morse Borden. Andrew was a well-to-do banker who owned considerable property in his home town of Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie’s mother died when Lizzie was two years old, and a few years later Andrew married Abby Durfee Grey. It was rumored that Lizzie and her older sister Emma (who was out of town at the time of the murders) never felt warmly towards their stepmother. Both sisters admitted during their testimony that there was considerable ill-feeling when, a few years prior to the crime, Andrew put a piece of property in Abby’s name. Prior to the rift, Emma Borden referred to her father’s wife as “Abby”, while Lizzie politely called her “mother”. After Andrew Borden’s first transfer of property into his wife’s name, his daughters stopped acknowledging Abby altogether. When Andrew tried to smooth the waters by giving an equal amount of property to each daughter, both showed their gratitude by henceforth referring to their stepmother as “Mrs. Borden”.


On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden discovered the body of her father at the home at 92 Second Street in Fall River. She called to the family’s maid Bridget Sullivan (who had been resting in her third floor room) to “come downstairs…father is dead…somebody got in and murdered him.” After the arrival of family friend Alice Russell and “Dr. Bowen”, neighbor Adelaide Churchill asked Lizzie where her mother was. “I don’t know,” Borden replied, continuing on “but what’s she’s been killed, too, for I thought I heard her come in.” Russell suggested that someone look for Mrs. Borden, and Sullivan and Churchill were sent to the second floor. The two returned shortly thereafter confirming that Lizzie’s stepmother was indeed upstairs and dead as well.

Both Bordens had been slain by multiple axe blows. Although the exact weapon was not named, and witnesses saw no trace of blood on Lizzie moments after the murder, a circumstantial case was mounted against her. At the inquest, a local pharmacist claimed that Lizzie attempted to purchase prussic acid from him a day before the crime. Then, at the grand jury hearing, incriminating evidence came from her friend, Alice Russell, who testified that Lizzie burned a stained dress, the defense claiming it was paint-stained, three days after the murders. But the most damning evidence came at the trial, when medical experts appeared to prove that Abby Borden was killed approximately an hour and a half before her husband, making it seem that the perpetrator was more likely to have been a member of the household than an outsider.

The preliminary hearing was held in late August 1892, and the grand jury heard testimony in late November and early December of the same year. The trial of Lizzie Borden began on June 5, 1893 and lasted two weeks. A turning point in the trial was the dramatic unveiling of the victims’ rotting skulls; Lizzie fainted and won much sympathy from the all-male jury, who acquitted her on June 20, after only 68 minutes of deliberation.

The trial received a tremendous amount of national publicity, a relatively new phenomenon for the times. It has been compared to the later trials of the Bruno Hauptmann and O.J. Simpson as a landmark in media coverage of legal proceedings.


MaplecroftAfter the trial, Lizzie and Emma split their inheritance and bought a much larger house up on the hill which Lizzie christened Maplecroft. She also changed her name from Lizzie to Lizbeth. Apparently Lizzie was a great lover of the theater, animals, and poetry. Above her fireplace in Maplecroft was emblazoned the following:

And old-time friends & twilight plays,
And starry nights, and sunny days
Come trooping up the misty ways
When my fire burns low.

Many Fall River residents still believed in her guilt. As a result, she was ostracized to some degree. More than a dozen years after the murders, she and her sister became estranged, and after Emma left Maplecroft in 1905, the two lived apart until their deaths in 1927.

Lizzie had an intense relationship with Nance O’Neil, an actress. While it has never been proven that the two were intimate—O’Neil was married at the time—the termination of the relationship was a significant loss to Borden.

Lizzie Borden died of complications from gall bladder surgery on June 1, 1927, at the age of sixty-six. Emma died nine days later. One-seventh of Lizzie’s considerable estate was left to the Animal Rescue League of Fall River and the remainder to those friends and servants who stayed loyal to her over the years.


Despite her acquittal, Lizzie Borden remains in popular imagination as a brutal murderess. This is due in part to the following:

The murders were never solved. For a number of years, on the anniversary of the murders, the more sensational press re-accused her of the crime. The infamous doggerel endured, insinuating her guilt into the public mind thereafter.