Margaretha von Waldeck

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Countess Margaretha of Waldeck
Born 1533
Germany
Died 15 March 1554
Brussel
Noble family House of Waldeck
Father Philip IV, Count of Waldeck
Mother Margaret of East Frisia

Margaretha von Waldeck (1533 – 15 March 1554) (full name: Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Erthal) was a German aristocrat. She was the daughter of Philip IV, Count of Waldeck-Wildungen (1493–1574) and his first wife, Margaret Cirksena (1500–1537), daughter of Edzard I, Count of East Frisia. She is believed to be an influence for the fairy tale of Snow White.

Life[edit]

According to Bad Wildungen city documents she was famous for her beauty.[1] Since 1539 she had a very strict stepmother, Katharina von Hatzfeld (1510–1546) and perhaps soon after Margaretha was raised at Weilburg at the court of Philip III, Count of Nassau-Weilburg.

In 1545 she traveled through the Siebengebirge ("seven hills") to live with her mother's brother Johann Cirksena (1506-1572) at Valkenburg Castle, in present-day Limburg, Netherlands.[2] In 1549, her father sent her on to the Brussels court of Mary of Hungary, governor of the Habsburg Netherlands and sister of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Margaretha's presence at the court was partially meant to improve the relationship of her father with the emperor and help the release of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, who had been imprisoned in Brussels for his role in the Schmalkaldic War.[1]

The situation at the court was complicated as several high ranking personalities were striving for Margaretha, including Lamoral, Count of Egmont. Charles V's son, Crown Prince Philip, arrived at his aunt's court in 1549. Tradition has it that he pursued Margaretha during the few months he was there, though there never could be any official relationship, as she was Lutheran.[3] Three surviving letters from Margaretha to her father show that her health declined steadily over the next few years and she died at the age of 21 in March 1554.[4] In Waldeck chronicles it was suggested that she had been poisoned.

Fiction[edit]

Eckhard Sander, in his book Schneewittchen: Märchen oder Wahrheit? (Snow White: Is It a Fairy Tale?), alleged that Margaretha's life was inspiration for the tale of Snow White. Since, however, her father's second wife died in 1546 and he only remarried again in October 1554, her stepmother was not a suspect in the alleged poisoning case. Margaretha's father owned several copper mines; a majority of workers were children, and the legendary reference to the seven dwarfs is suggested to be related to child labor in the mine. The residence of the seven dwarfs has been suggested to be the former copper mining village Bergfreiheit, now a district of Bad Wildungen that calls itself Schneewittchendorf (Snow White village). Like the fairy tale's dwarfs, the child laborers there used to live in groups of about 20 in a single room house.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dekker, p. 33
  2. ^ Dekker, pp. 31-32
  3. ^ Dekker, p. 35
  4. ^ Dekker, p. 40