The White Lady of Kinsale: A Haunting Irish Tale of True Love Ending in Sorrow

The White Lady of Kinsale: A Haunting Irish Tale of True Love Ending in Sorrow

The White Lady of Kinsale is a famous Irish ghost story. The tragic tale takes place in Charles Fort, where people have seen the phantom of a young bride wandering the site where she and her beloved met their fate.

The History of Charles Fort

Kinsale is a seaside town situated in County Cork , in the southwestern part of Ireland. Due to its strategic location, the town played a prominent role in Ireland’s history. During the 6th century, a monastery was founded by St. Multose on the site that would eventually develop into the town of Kinsale. When the Vikings arrived in the 10th century, Kinsale was developed into a trading port, and continued to play this role when the Anglo-Normans landed in the 13th century. Kinsale continued to prosper in the coming centuries, and by the end of the Medieval period , could be counted as one of the most important towns on the south coast of Ireland.

Charles Fort. (Nigel Cox/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

In 1601, a Spanish military expedition landed in Kinsale. At that time, the Nine Years’ War (also known as Tyrone’s Rebellion , and not to be confused with the Nine Years’ War of the 1690s) was being fought by the Irish against English rule in Ireland. The Spanish supported the Irish, and the 1601 expedition was supposed to make contact with the Irish rebels in order to attack England from Ireland. This did not work out as planned, and Kinsale was soon besieged by the English. The Siege of Kinsale lasted from October 1601 till the beginning of 1602, and was won by the English besiegers. This siege was the last battle in the Nine Years’ War.

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White Lady Of Kinsale from LB Frames on Vimeo.

In the decades following the war, the English began to build fortifications on the coast to prevent Kinsale from being captured by enemies so easily in the future. Around 1677, the Earl of Orrey ordered the building of a new fort to command the Ringcurran Point on the eastern side of Kinsale Harbor. The fort was named Charles Fort, in honor of Charles II, the King of England at the time of the fort’s construction. The fort was designed by the renowned architect William Robinson, and utilized the most advanced fort design that was available at the time.

Although the fort protected the town from any attack from sea, it had one serious flaw. While inspecting Charles Fort in 1685, the military engineer Thomas Phillips pointed out that the fort was vulnerable to land attacks, as it was overlooked by higher ground. Five years later, Charles Fort was besieged for the first and last time in its history, and as one might expect, it was a land attack. Cannon batteries were established on the high ground above the fort, and after a siege of 13 days, the defenders surrendered.

The location where the White Lady of Kinsale allegedly jumped from Charles Fort. (The Speckled Bird/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

The White Lady of Kinsale Ghost Story

At some point of time in the fort’s history, a ghost story was attached to the site. The incident allegedly took place sometime during the 17th century and involved the commander of the fort, his daughter, and her husband, who was one of her father’s officers. The stories do not mention the names of these characters, though one source states that the commander was supposed to be a man named Warrender.

In any case, the commander of the fort had a daughter, who fell in love with one of the father’s officers. After a short period of courtship, the two got married . On the night of their wedding, the couple took a stroll on the fort’s ramparts and spotted a single white rose growing below. A sentry on duty volunteered to get the flower as a wedding gift for the couple, if the officer would take his place while he was gone. The officer agreed, and the sentry went off to get the rose. For one reason or another, the sentry took much longer than expected, so the officer sent his wife back in and continued to stand guard.

On the night of their wedding, the couple took a stroll on the fort’s ramparts and spotted a single white rose growing below. ( Pixabay License )

As a result of all the festivities that day, the officer grew tired and dozed off. Not long after, the commander was making his rounds and saw the sleeping officer. As was the protocol of the day, he shot the sleeping officer, realizing only too late that it was his son-in-law. Seeing what he had done, the commander committed suicide by jumping of the ramparts. When the new bride woke up, she went to look for her husband, and saw his corpse. Looking over the ramparts, she saw the body of her father as well. The bride, unable to bear her grief, jumped of the ramparts herself, and her ghost, dressed in a wedding gown , is said to haunt the fort ever since.

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Sightings of the Lady in White of Kinsale

Unlike many other ghost stories , the details of the Lady in White of Kinsale story are rather thin. For instance, characters in this tale are not even named and the date when the incident not even mentioned. Moreover, there is no other evidence to suggest that these events actually took place.

A ghost bride, like the White Lady of Kinsale. ( Pixabay License )

Nevertheless, some claim to have seen the ghost of the White Lady of Kinsale (also known as the Lady in White of Kinsale). Up until 1921, Charles Fort was in use and soldiers and their families used to live there. In one story, a nurse saw the Lady in White standing over a sleeping child. In another, the White Lady was seen looking over a bannister by the daughter of a sergeant. The girl’s father and his colleague, who were with her, however, did not see the ghost.

7 Myths and Legends You'll Only Hear in Germany

Germany’s famous black forests and early society make it the perfect magic pot for campfire stories. Sinister, comical, mysterious and mythical happenings all form the German myths, legends and folklore tales still heard today. Warm your imagination with some of these fantastical favourites.

What You Should Know About German Spookiness

Halloween is slowly becoming more popular in Germany.

Although Halloween has its roots in ancient rites from the British Isles, the holiday as we know it today stems from North America. But like so many aspects of American culture, Halloween is slowly but surely seeping into Deutschland. Especially in a large, international city like Berlin, you can easily find Halloween costumes and children trick-or-treating.

And some people don’t like it.

Not all Germans are happy about this American import. “Der Spiegel,” one of Germany’s premier news sources, reported back in 2013 that some Germans are angry that Halloween has arrived on their shores, citing a dilution of their culture as well as the annoying aspects of Halloween traditions, such as the trick portion of “trick or treat.”

Nevertheless, you don’t have to look far to find some German spookiness.

But even though Halloween isn’t a native German holiday, you won’t have to look far to find spooky German tales. Ghost stories really do abound in this country of folktales, castles and dark forests.

For more glimpses into German ghoulishness, as well as insights into German language and culture, try FluentU.

With interactive captions that give instant definitions, pronunciations and additional usage examples, plus fun quizzes and multimedia flashcards, FluentU is a complete learning package. Check it out with the free trial!

And now, for some frighteningly good German vocab.

The Legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall

There are, as with most legends, many variations to the story of the White Witch of Rose Hall, but there are common threads that run through all versions. It is these common threads that will be used to tell the story here.

As the legend goes, Annie Palmer was born Annie Patterson, the daughter of an English mother and an Irish father. When Annie was just ten years old, the family moved to Haiti. There, Annie learned Voodoo from her Haitian nanny. When her parents later died of yellow fever, Annie was left to be raised by the nanny, under who&aposs continued tutelage she became an expert in Voodoo. At the age of eighteen, following the death of her nanny, Annie moved to Jamaica in search of a rich husband. It is here that she met and married John Palmer, who was by this time the owner of the Rose Hall estate.

Annie Palmer&aposs Bedroom at Rose Hall

Within a few months of the wedding, Annie began to tire of her husband. She started taking slaves as lovers. When John caught her at this, he beat her with a riding crop. The next day, John was dead. It was believed that Annie had killed him by poisoning his coffee.

With John dead, Rose Hall went to Annie, who now had the estate to herself. Thus began her reign of terror. She continued to take slaves as lovers, murdering them when she became tired of them. She would regularly torture her slaves and even kill those who displeased her. She set traps all around the property so that the slaves could not escape. Slaves that worked in the house and had access to the kitchen were required to whistle whenever they were around food so that she would know they were not helping themselves to any of it they could not whistle with their mouths full. If any were caught not whistling, she would cut their heads off as punishment for the supposed theft of food. Due to her extreme cruelty, and regular practice of Voodoo, the slaves took to calling her the White Witch of Rose Hall.

Annie married two more times, murdering both husbands for their money. It is said that she killed her second husband by stabbing him in the chest while he was sleeping. She then poured boiling oil in his ears to make sure he was dead. She killed her third husband by strangulation, with the help of her slave lover, Takoo.

Annie&aposs downfall began when she fell for an Englishman by the name of Robert Rutherford. Rutherford had no interest in her as he was in love with Takoo&aposs granddaughter. To get the granddaughter out of the way, Annie cast a Voodoo spell on her. Known as an "old hige," the spell was said to bring about a visit from a ghost that would cause the person whom it visited to slowly wither and die. Takoo became so angered at the death of his granddaughter that he attacked Annie and strangled her to death.

The slaves took her body and buried it in a deep hole on the estate. They then burned all her possessions, for fear they might be tainted by her spirit. Then a Voodoo ritual was carried out to insure that her spirit could not escape its deep grave. The ritual was, however, performed incorrectly, freeing Annie&aposs ghost to haunt Rose Hall.

It is believed that Rose Hall escaped the fate of most of the other great houses during the slave rebellion because the slaves believed that burning the house down would release Annie&aposs spirit from the property, freeing it to go wherever it choose. It is also said that subsequent owners of the estate met with early (and often gruesome) ends, and that this is why the great house has stood empty for more than 130 years.

This legend makes for a great ghost story and has proven a boon to Jamaican tourism, especially at Rose Hall, but a ghost story is all it is. It could not be further from the true story of Annie Palmer.

Can You Guess This Famous Book by Its Ending?

Is there anything better than curling up with a good book on a cold winter day? Escape into the pages as you absorb every word the author has so painstakingly thought of?

Can you predict how it will all turn out? Will the hero beat his enemies and get the girl? Or is it all in vain as the forces of evil overcome the good and chaos reigns?

That's what books do, don't they? They help us to let our imagination run wild. They put it right in the same situations with our heroes as we fight off the assassin or lovely kiss the heroine as the sun sets behind a beautiful mountain.

And over the centuries, authors have continued to regale us with tales that sometimes are difficult to read and take in such is their brutality. We have to be thankful that authors of the caliber of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many, many others have honed their craft to entertain us!

And when you get to the end of your favorite book and read that last line, a little bit of disappointment sets in. Did it all have to be over so quickly? But to the task at hand. Could you identify a book from its last line or paragraph?

Let's see if you can get 35 out of 35!

The Wailing Woman

The legend of La Llorona has supposedly haunted Mexico since before the Conquest. Her story is one of violence, much like the country whose suffering she is often taken to represent. Beware the woman in white .

A candlelit cemetery on the Day of the Dead, Tzintzuntzan, Mexico, 2010.

A Mexican woman, Juana Léija, attempted to kill her seven children by throwing them into the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas in 1986. A victim of domestic violence, she was apparently trying to end her suffering and that of her children, two of whom died. During an interview Léija declared that she was La Llorona.

La Llorona is a legendary figure with various incarnations. Usually translated into English as ‘the wailing woman’, she is often presented as a banshee-type: an apparition of a woman dressed in white, often found by lakes or rivers, sometimes at crossroads, who cries into the night for her lost children, whom she has killed. The infanticide is sometimes carried out with a knife or dagger, but very often the children have been drowned. Her crime is usually committed in a fit of madness after having found out about an unfaithful lover or husband who leaves her to marry a woman of higher status. After realising what she has done, she usually kills herself. She is often described as a lost soul, doomed to wander the earth forever. To some she is a bogeywoman, used by parents to scare children into good behaviour.

This folk story has been represented artistically in various guises: in film, animation, art, poetry, theatre and in literature aimed at both adults and children alike. The legend is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture and among the Chicano Mexican population of the United States.

The origins of the legend are uncertain, but it has been presented as having pre-Hispanic roots. La Llorona is thought to be one of ten omens foretelling the Conquest of Mexico and has also been linked to Aztec goddesses. In the Florentine Codex, an encyclopedic work on the Nahua peoples of Mexico completed during the 16th century by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, we find two Aztec goddesses who could be linked to La Llorona. The first is Ciuacoatl (Snake-woman), described as ‘a savage beast and an evil omen’ who ‘appeared in white’ and who would walk at night ‘weeping and wailing’. She is also described as an ‘omen of war’. This goddess could also be linked to the sixth of ten omens that are recorded in the codex as having foretold the Conquest: the voice of a woman heard wailing at night, crying about the fate of her children.

A later codex by a Dominican friar, Diego Durán, details the origin myths of the Aztec gods and discusses a goddess, Coatlicue, who is often linked to or thought to be the same as Ciuacoatl. Coatlicue (she of the snaky skirt) was the mother of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war. Durán describes her as ‘the ugliest and dirtiest that one could possibly imagine. Her face was so black and covered with filth that she looked like something straight out of Hell’. She waits for her son to return to her from war and weeps and mourns for him while he is gone. Durán also provides detail of some strange occurrences ahead of the Conquest that were purported to have troubled Moctezuma. Among these is a ‘woman who roams the streets weeping and moaning’.

Though these accounts fulfil some elements of the La Llorona legend, we need to look to another goddess in order to find the links to water and infanticide. According to the Florentine Codex, Chalchiuhtlicue (the Jade-skirted one) was goddess of the waters and the elder sister of the rain god, Tlaloc. Sahagún describes her as one who was ‘feared’ and ‘caused terror’. She was said to drown people and overturn boats. Ceremonies in honour of the rain gods, including Chalchiuhtlicue, involved the sacrifice of children. These sacrificial victims were bought from their mothers and the more the children cried, the more successful the sacrifice was thought to have been.

La Llorona has also been conflated with La Malinche, Cortés’ translator and concubine. As such she is often portrayed as an indigenous woman jilted by a Spanish lover. However, there are many similar European and Old World motifs that she could also be linked to: the ‘White Woman’ of the Germanic and Slavic tradition, the Lorelei and, of course, the banshee. The trope of the barbarian girl who kills her children after being betrayed by her lover and discarded for a woman of higher status or more ‘appropriate’ race also has roots in the Greek tradition, in the legend of Medea and Jason.

It is strange that such a pervasive myth could have such different features, but still be known by the same name. Indeed, the variations in the folk story seem to be geographical, with different regions having their own slightly different versions of the wailing woman. In addition, the legend has changed over time, seemingly to reflect the
socio-political climate. Just as a source will often tell us more about the author than the subject, we can glean a lot about the story-tellers’ points of view when examining the development of this particular legend. It is not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the folk story can be found in print. However, when we look at them, far from finding an official version, we can clearly see that many elements of the La Llorona story change over time.

La Llorona, a 1917 play by Francisco C. Neve is set during the reign of Philip II (1556-98). The protagonist is Luisa. She has a son with her lover, Ramiro, the son of Cortés, who is of much higher social status. Though they have been together for six years, Ramiro is due to marry the very wealthy daughter of a judge. Luisa is unaware of this and Ramiro believes that he can continue his relationship with her, if he marries in secret. Luisa is told of Ramiro’s impending wedding by a rival suitor and she is driven mad, not only by Ramiro’s infidelity and his decision to marry someone else for honour and status, but by his desire to take their son away from her. When he comes for their child after she breaks up their wedding, Luisa eventually tells him that he can have his son’s life and kills him with a dagger, offering Ramiro his body in a fit of delirium, saying that she killed him after Ramiro had killed her soul. Luisa is hanged for her crime in a public execution during which she is vilified as a witch. Ramiro is presented as very remorseful and dies of sorrow and grief when La Llorona appears to haunt him.

The play satirises the class system to an extent and especially masculine ideas of honour. Ramiro’s mistress and son are an open secret among court society and whispers of gossip surrounding his love life are a prominent theme at his sham wedding. He does not garner respect from his peers and courtly society in New Spain is presented as a place of back-stabbing and chaos.

The story would appear to reflect life in colonial Mexico. Although initially there was a shortage of Spanish women in New Spain, which meant that unions between indigenous women and Spanish men were quite common and not frowned upon, by the end of 16th century the population of European women was on the rise and the status of indigenous or mestiza (mixed race) women fell considerably. Upon their arrival in Tenochtitlan, the imperial rulers of the Aztecs offered women, usually their female relatives, to the Spaniards and marrying an Indian heiress became a familiar path to success. Cohabiting was also common and in some cases Spanish men would take advantage of the indigenous practice of polygamy by having a number of concubines.

The fates of these indigenous and mestiza women were mixed. Some enjoyed stability and enhanced status and, therefore, benefited from these unions, but more often than not they were cast aside after a few years for younger women or, more often, a Spanish wife. More alarmingly, the children resulting from the union were sometimes taken away from their indigenous or mestiza mothers in a practice that derived from a Spanish tradition of relieving so-called ‘wayward’ women of their children. The historian Karen Vieira Powers explains that ‘When this practice found its way to the New World and was applied to indigenous mothers who had borne children with Spanish men, their prescribed racial “inferiority” was combined with the “natural” inferiority of their gender to produce a generalised negative attitude toward their ability to socialise their children properly.’ This was more often the case for daughters as ‘doubts about native women’s capacity to raise their mestizo daughters were especially acute, as the Spanish emphasis on sexual purity was not valued in Mexica society.’ Generations of children were, therefore, raised as ‘Spanish’ despite their mixed heritage and taught to believe that their mothers’ indigenous culture was inferior.

The situation for indigenous and mestiza women grew worse. By the end of the 16th century the availability of Spanish women meant it was no longer necessary to create honorary Spanish wives of the mestizas and, though mixed relationships continued, their legitimation dwindled. By the 17th century even Creole women were losing the status brought from their European descent due to the arrival of so many women born in Spain. The later colonial period also saw an increasing emphasis on racial purity growing unrest and popular rebellions led to the Crown passing legislation limiting the powers of the racially mixed population. These included laws regarding segregation and legislation limiting the inheritance of mestizos from Spanish fathers.

In a 1933 version of the La Llorona story, a novel and screenplay by Antonio Guzman Aguilera, the emphasis is shifted from class difference. The screenplay is set in the 1930s and the focus is on the descendants of Cortés, who are shown to have been cursed by the goddess of death during the Conquest. La Llorona manipulates the main protagonist, Margot, and tempts her into trying to kill her son with a strain of meningitis, when she learns that her lover, the boy’s father, is set to marry an American millionaire. Like the 1917 play, the protagonist is driven mad by the thought that her lover might try to take her son, but it is the words of La Llorona that are pushing Margot to madness. In this case, La Llorona turns out to be the child’s indigenous nanny, who is killed by a doctor who then goes on to save the boy.

There are some parallels between this version and the 1917 play: the doctor who saves her son’s life had always wished to marry Margot but, in contrast to the earlier story, here they do fall in love and marry, legitimising Margot’s son. It appears to be a metaphor for the uniting of the Mexican people: the final image presented is of the ruins of Teotihuacan and an old, tired Indian man juxtaposed with an airplane flying overhead and a fast car, both of which drown out the sound of La Llorona’s cry, symbolising that the curse has now been broken.

Here we find that Cortés becomes a focus, with his son in the role of the scoundrel. This is in keeping with the rise of anti-Spanish sentiment in Mexico during the 1930s, most evident in Diego Rivera’s murals presenting the history of Mexico in Mexico City’s National Palace. The Conquest and colonial period are portrayed as a chaotic orgy of rape, pillage and destruction of the indigenous way of life. Cortés, in particular, is painted as an ugly, balding, diseased caricature with grey skin. Far from limiting the baddies to those of Spanish descent, however, we also find that this version of the story reflects upon the contemporary discord between Mexico and the US, as the post-revolutionary leaders deployed a strongly anti-imperialist and anti-American rhetoric and foreign policy that resisted US influence. Much more surprising is the use of the indigenous nanny as a villain. Nevertheless, this was reflective of policy implemented by the Cardenas government of the 1930s in particular, which sought ‘not to Indianise Mexico, but to Mexicanise the Indian’. Though, on the one hand, the glory of Mexico’s indigenous past had long been an important part of the nation’s identity, there was also a discourse that cast the Indian and Indian culture not as truly Mexican, but rather as impediments to the unification of the Mexican nation, with mestizaje touted as the solution to this problem.

Later versions of the wailing woman story present the villain as Spain and have created heroes in the mestizo and indigenous cultures. Carmen Toscano’s 1959 one-act play, La Llorona, for example, presents a harsh critique of the Conquest and colonial period, with special attention paid to the treatment of the indigenous people by the Spanish conquistadors. The spiritual Conquest is also presented as fairly shambolic and, overall, New Spain is shown to be a place of chaos with great tensions between clergy and secular authorities. The protagonist is Luisa, a mestiza, and her lover, Nuño, is a Spanish conquistador who marries Ana, a wealthy Spanish lady in secret, planning then to return to Spain. He does not appear to care for Luisa and neither are particularly interested in their children. Luisa stabs them to death and throws their bodies into the canal without much remorse. Nuño does not seem at all affected by this. Luisa is tried and hanged in the city’s main plaza, though before she is executed she gives a monologue stating that all blood is the same and that as a mestiza she does not know where she belongs or which traditions to adopt. Purity of blood is a motif throughout the play, with the conquistadors not wishing to dirty the blades of their swords with Indian blood and Luisa exclaiming that Nuño only wishes to marry Ana as they have the same blood. Luisa is glad that her children are dead so they won’t suffer like she has: having to work like a slave despite the glory of both her ancestors. She cries for her children. After her execution, Luisa takes her revenge as Nuño collapses and dies. A poet describes his sad soul and the ruins of Tenochtitlan. It would seem that the abandonment of Luisa represents the abandonment of Mexico by Spain, once its land had been exhausted of resources.

Here we find a return to many of the ideas expressed in the 1917 play, though the imagery is much more explicit and seems to be representative of the ideas of Nobel prize-winner, Octavio Paz. In his 1950 essay, The Labyrinth of Solitude, Paz describes La Llorona as ‘one of the Mexican representations of Maternity’ and, as such, she is presented as a symbol of Mexican identity. This identity, according to Paz, revolves around Mexicans’ view of themselves as hijos de la Chingada. Paz explains that: ‘The verb [chingar] denotes violence, an emergence from oneself to penetrate another by force … The Chingada is the Mother forcibly opened, violated or deceived. The hijo de la Chingada is the offspring of violation, abduction or deceit.’ This violation is the Conquest, the quintessential symbol of which is La Malinche, or Doña Marina, who despite having been sold into slavery and given to the conquistadors – and therefore having limited agency of her own – has been painted as a traitor to ‘her people’. This anachronistic and highly misogynistic view that lays the blame for the defeat of a civilisation at the feet of one (disenfranchised) woman has remained popular to this day. Indeed, Paz himself states that ‘the Mexican people have not forgiven La Malinche for her betrayal’. This is in the face of indisputable evidence that the Aztecs were defeated by a Spanish force aided by thousands of indigenous allies, a fact often conveniently forgotten in popular culture.

In Mexico’s creation myth, La Malinche has become Eve. In regard to her relationship with Cortés, Paz insists that ‘she gave herself voluntarily to the conquistador, but he forgot her as soon as her usefulness was over’ and so it is easy to see how she could be merged with the legend of the wailing woman. The fact that she bore Cortés a son has also fuelled this conflation: their union symbolises the birth of Mexico as a nation of forcibly mixed-race people.

The annual performance of La Llorona on Mexico City’s Lake Xochimilco most explicitly presents the importance of the legend as an expression of Mexican identity. For example, one advert for the production states that: ‘Our nation was born from the tears of La Llorona.’ This version of the play runs for two weeks at the end of October and beginning of November, overlapping with the Day of the Dead celebrations, and has been performed for over 20 years.

There are similar themes expressed in this play as in the 1959 version by Carmen Toscano. The Spaniards again are the villains and are fairly one-dimensional, whereas the indigenous ceremonies are completely sanitised and totally peaceful. Where it differs, however, is that the character of La Llorona is now an indigenous woman, rather than a mestiza. Similarly however, she is also seduced by a conquistador who then runs off with a Spanish lady. The indigenous girl is driven mad by her lover’s betrayal and drowns herself and her unborn child in the lake.

This current version of the La Llorona story is another rehashing of the Cortés/Malinche story. La Llorona is portrayed as a traitor to her people by passing information to the Spaniards, which leads to their defeat. This has now become a common element of the legend. Along with providing a nod to Doña Marina, the play also contains another element of the folk story, as it opens with an Aztec mother goddess wailing a lament for her children as a forewarning of the Conquest.

This is the fullest version of the La Llorona story. Here we find the jilted woman trope finally united with the imagery of the Aztec goddess along with the act of warning her people about their impending doom and lamenting the birth of the modern Mexican nation through the mixing of blood. It is purported by the production company to be the ‘original’ version of the legend, but the evidence does not stack up the codices in which we find the supposed origins for the folk story remained unpublished until the 19th century. Furthermore, the timing of the performance is telling.

Though in essence Mexico’s Day of the Dead is a version of the Roman Catholic feasts of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days, the festival, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, has contested origins. It is thought by some to be an indigenous tradition appropriated by the colonisers and by others as a colonial practice that has retrospectively claimed an indigenous origin in order to promote a ‘pure’ Mexican identity. According to Paz, this identity revolves around Mexicans’ distintive, jovial attitude towards death, which is bolstered by the Day of the Dead celebrations. However, the family traditions of the Day of the Dead – decorating graves and constructing altars in homes dedicated to deceased family members – are rather different to the exuberant festivities displayed in town centres for tourists to enjoy.

The Day of the Dead is seen by outsiders as the quintessential Mexican festival and has become a lucrative tourist attraction. Town councils receive state funding to put on elaborate displays, processions, exhibitions and theatrical presentations in order to attract visitors. The town of Tzintzuntzan was one of 11 that the state of Michoacán selected in the late 1970s for tourist promotion and today it has become one of the most popular destinations for Day of the Dead celebrations.

The evidence would suggest that La Llorona, as she is now known, is a fairly modern myth that has evolved over time and has been used since the late 19th century to reflect and comment upon the socio-political situation of Mexico. By presenting La Llorona during the Day of the Dead celebrations, both of which have disputed origins but are thought to be ‘quintessentially Mexican’, it can be used to present to the world a new version of Mexico’s history and an official representation of Mexican identity.

Amy Fuller is Lecturer in the History of the Americas at Nottingham Trent University. This piece was orginally published with the title ‘The Evolving Legend of La Llorona’ in the November 2015 issue of History Today.

The REAL Stories Behind These Disney Movies Will Ruin Your Childhood

When I was a kid, I loved fairy tales. I loved the idea of talking animals and brave girls and boys who overcame cruel care takers. I also really loved Disney movies. They all had happy endings what's not to love about that? I could watch "Beauty and the Beast" or "Aladdin" every single day.

When I got a little older, I graduated from watching Disney movies to reading the Brothers Grimm. In the fourth grade, I checked out the "Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers' Grimm" from my school library and never returned it (a belated "sorry!" to my grade school library!)

I was horrified to find that the origins of many of my favorite Disney movies had much more gruesome details that Disney completely left out.

Below is a collection of horrifying details that Disney chose to leave out of all of these book/fairy tale/play adaptations. Read on only if you want to completely ruin your childhood.

"Cinderella":In the Brothers Grimm version, one of Cinderella's evil stepsisters cuts off her toes, and the other her heel so they can both fit into the tiny glass slipper. The prince is notified by little doves that there is blood on the shoe, and finally discovers that the true owner is Cinderella. Once the stepsisters realize that they should try to win favor with Cinderella (after all, she will be queen), they attend her wedding, only to have their eyes pecked out by birds. Did they deserve it? I'll let you decide, reader.

SOME OTHER SIDENOTES ON THIS STORY: Cinderella doesn't have a fairy godmother. Rather, she plants a tree by her mother's grave and prays under it every day. She finds her dresses to wear to each ball under the tree (there are three in the story, not one like in the movie). She is still helped by animals, though specifically birds, not mice. Also, she doesn't just lose her shoe because she is in a rush. The clever prince covers the steps in pitch to make her stick to them, but she only loses a shoe in the process.

"The Little Mermaid": Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale is a 180 from the Disney film. Some parts align. She does see the prince from afar in his ship, and she does rescue him from drowning and fall in love with him. He doesn't see her. She does visit the sea witch who takes her tongue in exchange for legs (and she does do it because the little mermaid has an amazing voice).

The deal is the same: The mermaid can only remain a human if she finds true love's kiss and the prince falls in love with and marries her. However, the penalty in the movie is only that Ariel will turn back into a mermaid if she fails. In the story, she will DIE if she fails. Also, while the prince remains a main motivator, the mermaid in the story is also motivated because humans have eternal souls, and mermaids don't. The Disney movie leaves out that the penalty the mermaid pays for having legs: every single step she takes will feel like she is walking on sharp shards of glass. At first, it seems like the plan is working, but then the prince ends up marrying another, a woman he THINKS is the person who saved him (the mermaid can't exactly tell him the truth, since she can't talk). She is told that if she KILLS the prince, then she can simply turn back into a mermaid and doesn't have to die. She just can't do it, though. She throws herself into the sea, and turns into sea foam (though it should be mentioned that she then becomes a 'daughter of the air,' entering a kind of purgatory where she has to do good deeds until she MAYBE earns a soul, which will take about 300 years to happen). How's that for a happy ending?

"The Fox and the Hound":The Fox and the Hound is based on a 1967 novel written by Daniel P. Mannix. In the book, the fox is raised by the dog owner's/hunter's family, but eventually returns to the wild. He occasionally returns to taunt the dogs, and flash his cunning fox skills. One of the dogs breaks his chain, and chases him. That dog ends up getting hit by a train. The hunter is devastated, and vows revenge on the fox. He becomes obsessed, but can never catch him (although he does kill the fox's first mate, second mate, and children). Eventually, Tod the fox DOES die, but of exhaustion from being chased so much. Copper (the dog from "The Fox and the Hound") is so old that he needs to be shot, and that is the end of the book. Pretty different from the movie, where a puppy and a baby fox become BFFL.

"Beauty and the Beast": Beauty and the Beast is actually pretty accurate, except for some uninteresting details (like how Belle's father used to be rich, but got himself into major debt). There is ONE unfortunate detail that the story DOES leave out. In the first believed version of the tale (by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve), Belle has two wicked sisters (lots of wicked family members in fairy tales, unfortunately). The Beast allows Belle to travel home, as long as she is only gone for a week. Her sisters are extremely jealous to hear about her luxurious life, and try to persuade Belle to stay with them longer than a week, in the hopes that the Beast will be infuriated with Belle and eat her alive upon her return. Yikes.

"Pinocchio": Disney's "Pinocchio" came from Carlo Collodi's 1883 Italian classic "The Adventures of Pinocchio." You might think Pinocchio was mischievous in the movie, but he is far more so in the book. In the book, he runs away as soon as he learns to walk. He is found by the police, who imprison Geppetto because they believe Pinocchio was abused. Pinocchio returns home, where he kills a talking cricket (sorry, Jiminy) who warns him of the dangers of hedonistic pleasures and obedience. Geppetto is released, and insists that Pinocchio goes to school. Pinocchio sells his school books for a ticket to the Great Marionette Theatre. He encounters a fox and a cat, who steal his money and unsuccessfully try to hang him. Luckily, after saving Geppetto from the terrible dogfish (you might know it better as the gigantic, angry whale from the film), Pinocchio shapes up and eventually becomes a real boy (and, you know, all that stuff about boys getting turned into donkeys and then sold to evil circuses did end up making it into the movie, surprisingly).

"Sleeping Beauty": In Giambattista Basile's tale (which is the actual origin of the Sleeping Beauty story), a king happens to walk by Sleeping Beauty's castle and knock on the door. When no one answers, he climbs up a ladder through a window. He finds the princess, and calls to her, but as she is unconscious, she does not wake up. Well, dear reader, he carries her to the bed and rapes her. Then he just leaves. She awakens after she gives birth because one of her twins sucks the flax (from the spindle) out of her finger. The king comes back, and despite him having raped her, they end up falling in love? However, another big problem: the king is still married to someone else. His wife finds out and not only tries to have the twins killed, cooked, and fed to the king, but also tries to burn the princess at the stake. Luckily, she is unsuccessful. The king and the princess get married and live happily ever after (despite the fact that he raped her). Perrault's adaptation of Basile's updated adaptation of the story (a much tamer version) is probably what was used for the Disney adaptation, as they are much more similar.

"Tangled": I know, this is a pretty loose adaptation. But still, I think it's worth mentioning. In the Brothers Grimm version, Rapunzel gets knocked up by the prince before they escape, and the evil sorceress figures it out. The sorceress cuts off Rapunzel's hair and throws her out into the wilderness. When the prince shows up to see her, the sorceress dangles Rapunzel's cut-off hair to lure him, and tells him he will never see Rapunzel again. He jumps out the window in despair and is blinded from the thorns below. He wanders around aimlessly (he is blind). Rapunzel gives birth to twins. He is eventually guided back to her when he hears her voice. Her tears restore his sight. They return to the prince's kingdom and live happily ever after. (See? Some of these fairy tales actually DO have real happy endings, even when women have babies out of wedlock!)

"The Lion King": Oh, you didn't know that "The Lion King" was a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet"? Well, fancy that. A jealous brother kills the king, the son finds out about it and wants revenge. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, I mean, Timon and Pumba, distract him. But finally, the son kills the evil jealous brother. Well, actually, in Shakespeare's version everyone dies, not just the evil, jealous brother (formerly known as "Claudius").

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs":In the Brothers Grimm version, the evil queen stepmother asks a hunter to take Snow White into the forest and kill her (this also happens in the Disney movie). However, in the story, she asks him to also bring her back Snow White's lungs and liver. He can't kill Snow White, so brings back a boar's lungs and liver instead. The queen eats the lungs and liver, believing them to be Snow White's. Yuck. In the book, the queen tries twice (unsuccessfully) to kill Snow White. The third time, when the queen gives her the apple (just like in the movie), Snow White faints and can't be revived. She is placed in a glass coffin. A prince comes and wants to take her away (even though she is still asleep, which is pretty weird). The dwarves hesitantly allow it, and while she is being carried, the carriers trip, causing the poisoned apple to become dislodged from Snow White's throat. She and the prince, of course, get married. The evil queen is invited. As a punishment, she is forced to wear burning-hot iron shoes and dance until she drops dead.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the evil queen asks the huntsman to bring back Snow White's "heart and liver." It has now been updated to the correct "lungs and liver."

UPDATE: Additional details about the ending of Andersen's "The Mermaid" have been added to this article.

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The Proles — the lower-class people who make up the majority of Oceania's population — are largely ignored by the government. They don't face the same kind of indoctrination that the Inner and Outer Party members do and for the most part they're kept under control by rumors spread by the Thought Police and easy access to various vices.

"Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds," Orwell wrote. They're also placated with easy access to Party-produced porn and certain crimes — including prostitution, drug-dealing and racketeering — go pretty much unchecked in the prole portions of town. Basically, the idea is to keep the proles placated and distracted, so that they don't pay any attention to the political machinations moving the world around them.

Today, in a world where a naked Kardashian selfie can attract more attention than the State of the Union, it's not hard to see some parallels.

The true story of Snow White, the mirror and the evil Queen

Many of us grew up with the fable of Snow White, the mirror and the evil Queen. Now historians say the fairytale is based on a true story.

The true story behind fairytale ‘Snow White’. Source:Supplied

Many of us grew up with the fairytale Snow White: the beautiful princess, the evil stepmother, seven dwarfs, a poisoned apple and a handsome prince who saves the day and proves that love will conquer all.

It began as a rather macabre tale by the Brothers Grimm … until Disney took over the storytelling and made the story as saccharine and wholesome as could be.

For example, in the original fairytale, the Queen wants proof that Snow White is dead so she requests the hunter bring her Snow White’s internal organs. Why? So she can eat them and become the most beautiful woman in the land.

There’s no such scene in the world of Disney.

But there’s another story behind the fairytale that was long rumoured to be based on a true story.

And, like the fairytale, it’s all about a beautiful young girl who grew up in a castle.

It was 294 years ago this month that the “real” Snow White was born and, just weeks ago, the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg, Germany displayed the newly restored gravestone of Maria Sophia von Erthal.

She was widely believed to be the original inspiration behind one of the most famous fairytales of all time. But did she live happily ever after?

The Grimm Brothers. Source:News Limited

Maria Sophia von Erthal, the sister of the powerful Archbishop of Mainz, was born in 1725 in the Prince Elector’s Castle in Lohr am Main about 100kms west of Bamberg, in southern Germany.

While she wasn’t technically a princess, Maria Sophia was described in family memoirs as 𠇊n angel of mercy and kindness” and being 𠇌haritable towards the poor and the suffering in the hearts and minds of the people”. Clearly, princess material.

According to fable researcher Dr Karlheinz Bartels, Maria Sophia’s father Philipp Christoph von Erthal, might not have been a king, but he was treated like royalty by the people of Lohr.

His work as an ambassador for the archbishop of Mainz meant that he worked alongside several kings and emperors in Europe, so rubbing shoulders with royalty was close enough to him being considered royal himself, at least in the eyes of the townsfolk of Lohr.

In 1743, Maria’s mother died and her father, desperate to find a new mother for his children, married Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, also known as the imperial countess of Reichenstein.

The countess became stepmother to von Erthal’s seven children and, before too long, she built up a reputation as a domineering force inside the castle.

Venningen had two children from a previous marriage and was said to favour her natural children over her stepchildren, and that’s where the 𠇎vil stepmother” reference is believed to have come from.

‘Snow White’ is believed to be based on Maria Sophia von Erthal. Source:Supplied


Shortly after their marriage, von Erthal gave his wife a magnificent gift — a “magic mirror” which was 1.6 metres high and covered in intricate decorations. According to Dr Bartels, the mirror was made by von Erthal’s own company “Mirror Manufacture” around 1720 and can be viewed today in the Spessart Museum.

The museum insists it’s the very mirror that inspired the Brothers Grimm to give it a pivotal role in their famous fairytale. Interestingly the mirror on display in the museum carries the inscription 𠇊mour propre” (French for “pride”).

If your memory needs a push, role of the talking mirror in the fairytale sealed Snow White’s fate.

The mirror is, ultimately, the source of truth.

The 1.6 metres high ‘magic mirror’. Picture: Spessart Museum Lohr Castle Source:Supplied

When the evil Queen gazed into the glass and asked, “Who is the fairest in the land?” the mirror would always reply, “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.”

But, when Snow White turned seven and became a great beauty, the mirror tells the Queen, “You are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.”

The mirror’s truth-bomb sparked rage in the Queen who was determined to kill her beautiful stepdaughter so she could, once again, lay claim to the title “the fairest of them all”.

The Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm) wrote Snow White in 1812 but the story didn’t reach international audiences until Disney’s groundbreaking animated film in 1937.

As far as we know, Maria Sophia’s life under the gaze of her domineering stepmother was nothing quite like the nightmare of the fairytale. There’s no evidence that there was a huntsman trying to kill her for her organs to feed to the Queen.

But, according to Dr Bartels, Maria Sophia’s life would not have been terribly easy.

“Presumably the hard reality of life for Maria Sophia under this woman was recast as a fairy story by the Brothers Grimm,” Dr Bartels said.

Whether there were any dwarfs in Maria Sophia’s life isn’t really known. However, it’s been said that only “small statured men” were able to work at the nearby mines of Bieber.

According to Bartels, there were other similarities between Maria Sophia’s life and the story of Snow White.

‘Schneewittchen’ (‘Snow White’) in an illustration by von Carl Offterdinger from the late 19th Century. Source:Supplied

Maria Sophia’s father owned the mirror factory and Lohr was well known for its glassware and mirrors. The scary forest that features in the fairytale could have been based on a forest on the outskirts of Lohr that was known to be home to wild animals, as well as robbers waiting for victims to walk off the beaten track.

The Brothers Grimm wrote about Snow White running across seven hills before reaching the seven dwarf’s cottage the dwarfs worked in a mine and, just outside Lohr is a disused mine that can be reached by travelling over seven hills.

As for the origins of the poisoned apple, Bartels claims Lohr has many orchards and she managed to find out exactly which plant the poison might have come from — the Atropa belladonna/Black Cherry, which is said to have an anaesthetic effect that might have caused Snow White’s temporary death.

Illustration of ‘small statured men’. Picture: Arthur Rackham Source:Supplied


Maria Sophia died in 1796 and her gravestone was kept in a church in Bamberg. But, when the church was knocked down, it was taken to a hospital which had been founded by Maria Sophia’s brother.

The gravestone was removed once again in the 1970s and looked after by a local family before it was donated to the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg.

The long-lost gravestone of Baroness Sophia Maria von Erthal. Picture: Press Offive Archishopric Bamberg/Dominik Schreiner Source:Supplied

The museum’s director, Holger Kempkens, told the BBC the Brothers Grimm lived just 50km from Lohr am Main and were known to make literature out of the stories they heard from local people.

“There are indications — though we cannot prove it for sure — that Sophia was the model for Snow White. Today when you make a film about a historic person there is also fiction in it. So in this case I think there is a historic basis, but there are also fictional elements,” Kempkens said.

Sadly Maria Sophia’s life did not end very well. There was no magical kiss, and no handsome prince to rescue her. Following an accident, she went blind and died in a convent at the age of 71.

Restoration workers at the museum recently managed to reveal the inscription on her marble gravestone. It reads: “The noble heroine of Christianity: here she rests after the victory of Faith, ready for transfigured resurrection.”

In recent years Disney has made countless live-action remakes of its animated classics such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and, most recently, “The Lion King.” But is th.

In recent years Disney has made countless live-action remakes of its animated classics such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and, most recently, “The Lion King.” But is this trend see the end of Disney's original content?

LJ Charleston is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @LJCharleston

80. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy was the Marvel space opera heat check that ensured that the MCU would continue unfettered by mainstream audience recognition. James Gunn took some of Marvel’s most obscure characters, including a talking tree and raccoon, and created a cheeky team-up flick made from the bones of Star Wars and the best AM gold of the 1970s. Guardians of the Galaxy expertly mixes heart and humor, made Chris Pratt into a household name, and feels more like a meditation on outsiders and family than it does universe saving superheroics. – NH

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