Tag Archives: Fairytale

The Real Snow White: A 16th Century Countess?

Portrait of Margarete von Waldeck

Most of us associate the origins of Snow White with Willhelm and Jacob Grimm’s 19th century publication of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) which is a volume of German folklore collected by the Grimm brothers and not actually composed by the two.  So where did this tale actually come from?   Is it really just the product of an unknown story-teller’s imagination or was this famous fair-faced maiden based on historical fact?   German scholar Eckhard Sander presumes in his book Schneewittchen: Marchen oder Wahrheit? (Snow White: Is It a Fairy Tale?) that the real Snow White was in fact Countess Margarete Von Waldeck.

Margarete was daughter to Count Phillip von Waldeck-Wildungen and step-daughter to Katherina of Hatzefeld, whom Margarete did not get along with.  At the age of sixteen, Margarete was sent away to Wildungen, Brussels where she met and fell in love with Phillip the II, who would later become king of Spain.   A marriage between the Spanish prince and German countess was seen as politically disadvantageous by many and Margarete’s untimely death all-too-conveniently ended the affair.

According to Sander, Margarete did not die of some unknown illness, but was poisoned by the Spanish secret police to keep her from marrying the future king.  However, her “wicked” stepmother couldn’t have been the culprit since she was dead before Margarete’s death.  While it is unlikely that the weapon of choice was an apple, poisoned apples were given out by a man living in Wildungen who didn’t want children stealing his fruit.  And as for the seven dwarves, Maragerete’s brother owned copper mines in Wildungen which employed children who worked twelve hour days.  The children grew crooked and crippled from the work. Their hair grayed prematurely and most were dead before the age of  twenty.  Thus, they looked much like the dwarves from the Brothers Grimm’s tale.  According to Sander, the many parts of the story from this particular region were told and retold until they became the tale that the Grimm’s brothers recorded and we now know as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”

Article written by Andrea Cefalo, author of The Fairytale Keeper: a novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairytales.  To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:

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Grimm’s Cinderella: A Far Cry from Disney

Andrea CefaloAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The sequel–The Countess’s Captive—was published earlier this year.  She regularly posts about Medieval history on Facebook and Twitter.

CinderellaAs a Millenial, I was raised on Disney-fied versions of Grimm’s most famous fairytales. I loved these innocent tales with their neat, happy endings…when I was six.  As I got older,  I craved darker tales.  It wasn’t until college that I bought a leather-bound volume of Grimm’s fairytales and fell in love.

So how exactly is Grimm’s Cinderella different than Disney’s?


Aschenputal1. Not just a slave

Not only does Cinderella’s stepmother force her to tend the fires, she also tosses Cinderella’s supper of peas into the hearth, forcing her to eat the dirty peas or starve. This is how she earns her monicker.


2.
No fairy godmother

When Cinderella wants to go to the ball, there are no furry friends to help her make a dress and a fairy godmother doesn’t come to her rescue. Cinderella asks her stepmother if she can go to the ball. Her wicked stepmother says that Cinderella can go…if she can find and eat all the peas she tosses into the ashes. Birds swoop in to help Cinderella eat the peas, but the stepmother doesn’t hold up her end of the bargain. The birds lead Cinderella the to the beautiful gown that she wears to the ball. It’s hanging on a tree above her mother’s grave.  Creepy.

3. Amputations and Eye-Gougings Galore

In order to fit their gangly feet into Cinderella’s dainty slipper, the stepsisters slice off parts of their own feet. Cinderella knows she has the shoe, but stands idly by and watches the amputations. How’s that for vengeance? But there’s more. For their cruelty to Cinderella, a bird pecks out the stepsisters’ eyes. (Read Grimm’s version of Cinderella)

So if you’re sick of Poe and in desperate need of some dark Victorian Romanticism, I highly recommend giving Grimm’s fairytales a read.  Once you’ve finished, check out The Fairytale Keeper and The Countess’ Captive to see how I’ve incorporated this famous fairytale into my award-winning Medieval fiction series.

Sneak Peek at The Fairytale Keeper

Can’t wait to read it?  Want another little taste?  Check out Claire Reads Young Adult Book Blog today for the latest excerpt from The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen.