These stories have become such a massive part of our culture and traditions that most of the time, we forget to question where they originated from, who were the real-life heroes of these stories, and what inspired them. Though Grimm Brothers are often attributed to these stories, little do we realize that some of them could have been borrowed from real-life accounts of people from the past.
Margaretha Von Waldeck: The real-life Snow White
The first time Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs appeared during the 1800s, written by the Grimm Brothers. However, when you look back in history, you will see that the real Snow White was born long before the story appeared in print. The German Countess, Margarete von Waldeck, was born to Philip IV of Waldeck-Wildungen and his first wife. Like the Snow White from the story, she was an extraordinary beauty. Even as a little girl, her fair skin, dark hair, and innocent demeanour attracted everybody.
Katharina: The evil stepmother
Unfortunately, she lost her mother at a very young age and welcomed a beautiful and evil stepmother, Katharina von Herzfeld. Herzfeld was so obsessed with her beauty that Philip gave her a large mirror as her wedding gift. She loved spending long hours staring at herself in the mirror. As time went by, the children grew up to become more beautiful and more loved among their people.
However, Katharina hated them because of how much people admired her husband’s kids and how beautiful they were. Unable to deal with all the appreciation and praises any of the stepchildren gained, especially the sixteen-year-old Margaretha, Katharina sent her away to Brussels hoping that her least favourite stepdaughter would struggle at a new place and leave her in peace.
This time the knight in shining armour couldn’t save the damsel in distress
Little did Katharina know that Margaretha was as famous, if not more, in Brussels. There, she fell in love with the Prince of Spain, Philip II. However, her stepmother and the Spanish authorities were not happy with Philip’s and Margaretha’s relationship.
Every fairytale needs a good old happy ending, but there is none in this story. Instead, the twenty-one-year-old countess fell ill and never recovered; and died in 1554, still beautiful and unmarried. Most believe that she was poisoned by either of the two villains in her life: Spanish authorities or Katharina.
Also, the region where Margaretha came from was rich in copper deposits, because of which most people living there had a permanently curved spine, unable to stand straight. The people who worked in mines (co-incidentally, the Waldekcs owned seven mines!), especially children, never reached their full height because of malnutrition. Thus, the locals called them ‘dwarfs’ because of their short and bent stature.