Brussels, where Snow White is buried


Who wasn't enchanted when they were young by the world-famous fairy tale Snow White, written by the German Brothers Grimm in 1812? Although fairy tale is not quite accurate. Snow White did actually exist. What's more, she's buried in Brussels. At least that's what Belgian author Kurt Deswert claims.

'Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess with snow-white skin, scarlet-red lips and ebony black hair. Her mother died shortly after her birth and her father remarried a vain, jealous and wicked woman. When one day the new queen was told by her magic, talking mirror that her stepdaughter, Snow White, was now the fairest of them all, she was furious. She instructed a hunter to kill Snow White in the forest. However, the noble hunter let her escape and brought back the liver and lungs of a boar as 'proof' of his nefarious deed for the queen. Meanwhile, after endless wandering, Snow White had found refuge in the cottage and kitchen of seven dwarfs. Astonished, the group found her asleep in their beds after returning home from work in the mines. They all wanted the lovely girl to stay with them. When the stepmother learned about the ruse from her mirror, she set out in a disguise, armed with a poisoned apple. The naive Snow White unsuspectingly took a big bite out of the apple, dying moments later. The seven dwarves placed her body in a glass coffin in the forest, until a prince passing by brought her back to life with a kiss of love. Burning with envy, the queen made her escape'.

Now that we've refreshed our memories: the facts. Countess Margaret von Waldeck was born in the German state of Hesse in 1533, and would grow up to become a beautiful woman with jet-black hair. Her family owned rich copper mines in the region, where children had to toil in the narrow trenches and shafts, as did adult miners who were huddled together after work in cramped workers' cottages. They were sometimes mockingly called dwarves. Margaret was barely four when her mother died. Her father remarried a noblewoman. It is not known what the bond between stepmother and daughter was like, but Margaret was soon sent to the court of Mary of Hungary in Brussels, then governess of the Netherlands. The German beauty and Mary's cousin, Philip II, fell in love. But a relationship between the staunchly Catholic heir to the throne and a Lutheran lady of the court was politically out of the question. According to records and those in the know, Margaret was poisoned. In any case, her health visibly deteriorated all of a sudden. She died in Brussels in 1554, just 21 years old. No trace of an apple though. How many similarities does that make otherwise?

So where is the 'real' Snow White buried? Well, under the Brussels Stock Exchange, in the archaeological site Bruxella 1238. Here, on the former Butter Market, was the crypt of the Franciscan monastery church. Exact cemeteries were rarely left intact, so attributing remains to Margaret von Waldeck would be exceedingly difficult.