Monday, 8 December 2014

over the seven jeweled hills, beyond the seventh fall

Once upon a time, H and I did get a chance to visit the village of Lohr am Main in Lower Franconia after going to a flea market.
We had a rather nice stroll around the little town but passed a small palace, presently housing a forestry museum, not realising that it was in fact the family home of the genuine Snow White (Schneewittchen), Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal. We will certainly make it a point to go back and investigate.  This daughter of the Prince-Elector of Bamberg and Würzburg was born into a wealthy family, whose holdings included a mirror manufacturing workshop. The remains of the factory that folded in the 1850s can still be seen in Lohr today. Tragically, as the Brothers Grimm adapted to fable, Snow White’s birth mother passed away and the bishop and industry magnate remarried to a vain and cruel woman, having no end of mirrors at her disposal, and treated her step-child in a truly awful fashion.
The account that the Brothers Grimm retell is oddly not an archetypal fairy-tale but rather a story based on actual personalities and embellished with elements typical to such folk-stories. The story itself is a much older, with variations on the same themes in many cultures, and it strikes me that this real-life Schneewittchen Schloß remains relatively unknown while Neuschwanstein, further south in the alpine foothills, itself an idyll of a king, is celebrated as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, though no historical candidate has been forth-coming. Back in Lohr, it would not be hard to imagine a traumatised young woman fleeing into the dense woods (whose history and ecology are now curated in her home) surrounding the town and sheltered by family of dwarves, later finding her happily-ever-afters.