Who Was the Worst Mother of All Time?

These three mothers will give you nightmares.

Photo by Anastasia Vityukova on Unsplash

I have a tween now, so I get to hear some nasty things like you’re the worst mother EVERRRrrrhurled in my general direction at any given time. I tried to reason with my kid and explain that I’m a loving, decent, intelligent human capable of being cool and fun, to which my tween responded with severe eye-rolling. But it got me thinking, who was the world’s worst mother? She’d have to have been downright terrifying; the stuff of nightmares. So, I grabbed some coffee, fired up the Wi-Fi, and off I went spelunking down the deepest recesses of the Internet, and holy hell, you guys, there have been some horrifying mothers throughout history.

Here are the stories of three terrifying mothers that sent chills down my spine.

Photo by Public Domain on Wikipedia

Mary Ann Cotton

(b. 1832, d. 1873)

Cotton was a mother of 13 and thought to have killed upwards of 21 people, including 11 of her children, three husbands, two lovers, a friend, and several acquaintances. She did it for the insurance money, supposedly. Mary Ann moved around Northern England, and a strange trail of death seemed to follow her everywhere she went. Her first two husbands died of bizarre stomach ailments, and she quickly cashed in the insurance policies then moved on to husband number three. She would have killed all four husbands, but husband number three, James Robinson, became suspicious of her insistence that he get covered with life insurance. After a bit of snooping, he discovered that not only was she in debt but that she had convinced her kids to steal items from his house to pawn. He threw her out and was able to get full custody of their child, George, which likely saved his life.

Mary Ann’s preferred method of murder was poisonings. It’s odd how everyone in her life seemed to die of gastric fever, right? It turned out Scotland Yard thought so too so, they did some digging and discovered that Cotton was a serial killer. She was convicted and tried in an English court in 1873. Cotton was hanged on 24 March 1873, but in a twist of nasty karmic fate, she did not die from a broken neck as you might expect. Instead, the rope was cut too short, strangling her to death; indeed, a much more gruesome way to go. She only had two surviving children; George, who was saved by his dad, and a daughter named Margaret.

Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory

(b. 1560, d. 1614)

Bathory holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “most prolific female serial killer.” It is said that she killed an estimated 650 girls and women. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. It turns out she bathed in and drank their blood out of some delusional attempt to turn back the hands of time and be forever young. Some say that her insatiable appetite for human blood was so intense that she may have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, although there is no hard proof. Bathory’s story is far gorier than Dracula’s, though.

So the story goes, when Bathory was a child, she suffered from epileptic seizures. Historians believe that this could be because her parents were too closely related to each other. Inbreeding was one of those things aristocratic families did. So, Bathory eventually grew up and got married, and her husband led their troops off to war. She was left behind to run the castle and raise her six children. But at some point around 1602, rumors began to swirl in various courts as far as Vienna about the crazy Countess who was abducting, torturing, and murdering young girls.

Bathory was so wealthy and powerful that she could hide behind her title and money, making life hell for the villagers nearby. According to records, Bathory committed some truly evil acts on girls between 10 and 12 years old and some women. She severely beat, burned, cut, and tortured the girls and women. She bit the flesh off their faces and bodies and even starved some girls to death. The list of horrors goes on. In one account, she covered a girl in honey then unleashed live ants on the poor child.

Elizabeth Bathory was arrested and imprisoned in her own castle for the rest of her life. She died in her sleep at the age of 54. Scholars now believe that these stories are largely made up and that she may have been the victim of a conspiracy attracted by her immense wealth and power that others wanted.

Wikimedia Commons | Credit: Bundesarchiv

Magda Goebbels

(b. 1901, d. 1945)

You might recognize Magda’s last name; she was the wife of infamous Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Yikes. Here she is posing with her husband, children, and their pal, Adolph Hitler.

You likely already know that the Nazi’s were horrendously evil. And that they were defeated, leaving Hitler to take his own life while hiding out in a bunker. The Goebbels family was also in that bunker. And in the final days of WWII, as the Societ Red Army crossed into Berlin, the Nazi leadership was fleeing for their lives. But not Magda. She was so blindly loyal to the Nazi party that as she and her six kids hid out in Hitler’s bunker, she decided to kill her six kids.

In her own words, “The world that comes after the Führer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in, and therefore I took the children with me…” She put her children to sleep with the help of an SS dentist, who shot them up with morphine. She then took cyanide pills and crushed them in her kids’ mouths, killing them. After that, she waltzed outside, where her husband shot her before turning the gun on himself. Magda and Joeseph were both shot several times by SS guards and then set on fire.

So, I guess the next time my kid tries to guilt-trip me because I took away the PS4 for the weekend, I’ll feel just fine with my choices.

Essay Hustler | Book Writer | Rep’d by Folio Literary Management — Sign up for my newsletter here https://bit.ly/30f2dxc

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