Frankenstein castle

Frankenstein, the real story

Every legend, every novel, has a basis of truth: “Frankenstein”, Mary Shelley's novel with a scientist as the lead character, Victor Frankenstein, is no exception to the rule.

Frankenstein, shocked by the death of his mother, dreamed of giving life to a “perfect” human being, endowed with heightened intelligence, good health and long life. The result, as we all know, was quite different from that desired and revealed to be one of the all-time most famous monsters.

Frankenstein's Castle

In real life, the Frankensteins were a Franks family established near Darmstadt, Germany, since the sixth-century a.d. The Frankensteins built the namesake castle in the 13th century, to then take part, as knights, in many wars among which one against Vlad III.

Vlad III, called “Tepes” (i.e. the Impaler), was voivode, i.e. prince, of Wallachia and son of Vlad II Dracul, both historical figures of whom already talked who inspired the character of the legendary vampire described by Bram Stoker in Dracula.

frankestein castle

Johann Conrad Dippel

Among those people who lived at the castle, btw not being a Frankenstein, one of the most disturbing figures was Johann Conrad Dippel (born August 10, 1673, died April 25, 1734), writer, preacher and theologian but even “mad scientist” son of a Luthern pastor who lived at the castle.

Dippel after his studies in theology devoted himself to the pietism movement which wanted to reform Lutheranism in a more secular sense. He served a seven-year sentence, then traveled through Europe and he graduated in medicine.

Dippel: scientist, inventor, and alchemist

Fascinated by the alchemy, Dippel returned to the Frankenstein castle to find the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life. He never found them, but came up with the Dippel's oil, produced from the distillation of bones, hair, and blood of animals (we suppose!) and realized until the end of 19th century, and the Prussian blue (or ferric ferrocyanide), then adopted as the color of the Prussian army's uniforms.

Up to here was the official story of Dippel as a scientist and alchemist, even if among his colleagues there were already rumors regarding how he tried some “evil things”, like the corpses' theft and dissection in the search of understanding the secrets of life. Does this remind you of something?


Forbidden researches

Some insisted to sustain that Dippel sectioned animals to try to create a potion against the devil and to have tried to distill a Dippel's oil variation distilling parts of human bodies in the attempt to reach the elixir of life.

Dippel never tried, until his death, to deny such rumors, also because they favored the sales of his oil.

A mysterious death at the Wittgenstein castle

He died under somewhat mystifying circumstances at the Wittgenstein castle: chronicles of times referred his body was totally blue and because of this many thought he could have ingested some Prussian blue to experiment some beneficial effects, btw we now believe he could have died because of an ictus.

Mary Shelley probably visited the Frankenstein castle and heard the legends around the alchemist, whose figure and whose actions seem ideal archetypes for the fictional story of doctor Frankenstein that has been so successful.

Tags: Unsolved mysteries, history