Snow White / Mary Margaret: Who was she?

Magic returned to ABC (or CTV for us in Canada) last Sunday, 30 Sept, after a summer hiatus from Storybrooke in Once Upon A Time (henceforth referred to as OUAT).

Now that all of Storybrooke remembers who they really are (i.e. fairytale characters or, as in the case with Emma and Henry, descendents of two of these well-known characters), it’s time to learn about why Snow White, or ‘Snow’, liked the name ‘Mary Margaret’ and came to be called Mary Margaret Blanchard in modern-day Storybrooke.

Perhaps many of you assumed it was just a catchy lovely noble-like name. According to The Dark Forest, it appears that OUAT (the writers, and Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow / Mary Margaret) was aware of the two possible historical ‘Snow Whites’.

Margarete von Waldeck or Maria Sophia Margarethe von Erthal? Type in both names, and this portrait always appears (despite the fact that her costume dates back to the Regency era, at least 100-300 years after both Margaretes!)

Margarete von Waldeck or Maria Sophia Margarethe von Erthal? Type in both names, and this portrait always appears (despite the fact that her costume dates back to the Regency era, at least 100-300 years after both Margaretes!)

Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal
(source: Snow White – Could she be Maria?)

  • Born on 15 June 1729 in Lohr am Main, Bavaria
  • Her father remarried in 1743, and her stepmother, Claudia Elisabeth von Erthal,  was presented with a ‘talking’ mirror – an acoustic toy – made in Lohr as a wedding present. (The stepmother’s mirror is housed at what is now the Spessart Museum. See Deutsche Welle‘s article here.)
  • “Presumably the hard reality of life for Maria Sophia under this woman was recast as a fairy story by the Brothers Grimm,” – Dr Bartels (Once upon a time, Snow White lived in Bavaria (independent.ie))

Margarete von Waldeck
(source: Snow White – Could She be Margarete?)

  • Born in 1533 in Waldeck, Germany
  • Her father was Count Philipp IV von Waldeck-Wildungen and her mother – Margarethe von Ostfriesland – died when her second daughter was only 4 years old. He then married Katharina von Hatzfeld.
  • She moved to Brussels at 16/17 and captured the attention of Prince Philip, later to become Philip II of Spain.
  • She became ill and eventually died in 1554 at age 21. People thought she’d been poisoned.
  • Who poisoned her? It could not have been her stepmother, who’d died 8 years before, in 1546.

So what do you think? What became of Maria Sophia Margarethe? Who poisoned Margarete?

Either way, it seems both noble ladies’ tragic lives inspired the fairytale of Snow White, otherwise known in Germany as Schneewittchen.

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