The Landshut Wedding
is one of the largest historical pageants in Europe. Countless visitors from all over the world have taken part, or have been spectators of the "Landshuter Hochzeit 1475", a pageant held in Landshut
Landshut is a city in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany, belonging to both Eastern and Southern Bavaria. Situated on the banks of the River Isar, Landshut is the capital of Lower Bavaria, one of the seven administrative regions of the Free State of Bavaria. It is also the seat of the...
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
). More than 2,000 participants in mediaeval costumes bring the festival to life to recreate the Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....
. It commemorates the wedding between Hedwig, the Polish King's daughter, and George, the son of the Duke of Landshut.
The original mediaeval wedding is re-enacted every four years, and everyone gets carried away with mediaeval jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...
, pageantry, feasting and wedding processions for a short period in the summer.
The festival is held in memory of the wedding between George of Bavaria, the son of the Bavarian duke, and Hedwig Jagiellon, daughter of King Casimir IV Jagiellon
Casimir IV KG of the House of Jagiellon was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440, and King of Poland from 1447, until his death.Casimir was the second son of King Władysław II Jagiełło , and the younger brother of Władysław III of Varna....
of Poland, in 1475.
The wedding was negotiated in 1474 in Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...
through legations. The marriage was important because it was seen as a strong alliance against the Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...
. At the time, most royal marriages were not entered into because of love, but because of political motivations. It took the bride two months to travel to Landshut, where she was received by princes and bishops.
The bridal pair were married in St. Martin's Church
The Church of St. Martin in Landshut is a medieval church in that German city. St. Martin's Church, along with Trausnitz Castle and the celebration of the Landshuter Hochzeit , are the most important landmarks and historical events of Landshut...
, and the service was officiated by Salzburg's Archbishop
The Archbishopric of Salzburg was an ecclesiastical State of the Holy Roman Empire, its territory roughly congruent with the present-day Austrian state of Salzburg....
Bernhard von Rohr. Afterwards the bridal procession proceeded through the Old Town to the Town Hall. Ten thousand people are said to have attended the affair and they were provided food and drink by the young duke's father.
Livestock eaten at the original festival:
- 320 bullocks
- 1,500 sheep
- 1,300 lambs
- 500 calves
- 40,000 chickens
The historic event is notable for its detailed records that yield a complete chronicle of the wedding days and which allows the re-enactment to have a touch of realism. The exact recordings can be explained from the historical context with the Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...
in 1453 which led into to a longer period of growth of the Ottoman Empire
The Growth of the Ottoman Empire is the period followed after the Rise of the Ottoman Empire in which the Ottoman state reached the Pax Ottomana. In this period, the Ottoman Empire expanded southwestwards into North Africa and battled with the re-emergent Persian Shi'ia Safavid Empire to the east...
. The marriage of the Polish princess with George "the Rich" was very profitable for the Polish king - the 32,000 Guilder
Guilder is the English translation of the Dutch gulden — from Old Dutch for 'golden'. The guilder originated as a gold coin but has been a common name for a silver or base metal coin for some centuries...
Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...
he received is worth about 6.5 million Euro in modern currency.
The original motivation for the festival dates back to the foundation of the German Reich in 1871 which furthered German national pride. In the years 1876 to 1880 the Landshut town hall was renovated and in the years 1880 to 1882 the celebration room in the town hall was given paintings depicting the Landshut Wedding of 1475, as this very room was used as the dance hall for the festivities at that time. From these images the idea arose among citizens to recreate the event and finally the restaurant owner Georg Trippel and the factory owner Joseph Linnbrunner founded a society "Die Förderer" in 1902.
The first Landshut Wedding recreation took place in 1903, only one year after the creation of the society, and largely took the form of a public play performed by 145 citizens taking on a role. The Landshut Wedding play was subsequently presented annually from 1903 to 1914 (paused during World War I) and 1922 to 1938 (paused during World War II). During this time the number of actors involved increased to 2000. The Landshut Wedding became a triennial event from 1950 to 1968 and from 1975 to 1981. Since 1985 the Landshut Wedding has taken place every four years.
The number of members of "Die Förderer" society rose from 855 to 5000 during the years 1973 to 2004. The renewed interest in medieval history made the event a major success in terms of tourism. Today the 60,000 or so inhabitants of Landshut welcome 600,000 to 700,000 visitors during the three weeks of the festivities, with some 120,000 visitors watching the bridal procession. The sponsors are able to collect money in the range of 3.5 million Euro to allow for the event to take place.
However, the real heroes of the "Landshuter Hochzeit" are the local citizens who act variously as bishops, aristocrats, bride and bridegroom. Without these people, the festival could not take place. The actors are chosen from a commission of the "Die Förderer". Every person who wants to become a member of this association and who wants to take part in this big event has to live near Landshut. However, it is not only the actors who delve into the medieval times. It is customary among Landshut males to let the hair grow longer in the months before the event to match the medieval fashion better. Every citizen of Landshut will dress in medieval garments during festival days (even wrist watches are frowned upon) and the city’s decoration is retrofitted to a great extent. This of course means that the city becomes a pedestrian-only zone; visitors approaching by car are informed of this at a 50 km perimeter around the town. Visitors, including media reporters, are asked to wear an outfit that fits in with what the local inhabitants wear.
Along with the growing fascination for the Middle Ages in the late 20th century the Landshut Wedding has become a well-known mediaeval festival with great impact on the region’s economics as well as its cultural traditions and aspects of living history
Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history, living history is...
The next procession is scheduled for 2013.
Time: Sunday morning
Place: Dreifaltigkeitsplatz, Altstadt, Postplatz, Bischof-Sailer-Platz, Neustadt, the same way back to the "Turnierplatz"
Around two thousand Landshut people take part in the wedding procession. The guests, such as noblemen, citizens, servants and poor people, move through the city to the church of St. Martin where the bishop of Salzburg celebrated the marriage ceremony in 1475. After that the procession ends at the Turnierplatz (Tournament place).
Games of riders and knights
Time: Sunday morning (after the wedding march)
Place: Turnierplatz (Place of challenge)
The wedding march leads to the field of challenge (Wiesmahd) on which the bride was immediately greeted by her groom. There young noblemen fight in an exciting challenge for the prize of honor which is given by the bride while the other noble guests take their places at a great table.
Life in the quarters
Time: Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening
Place: Quarters at the place of challenge
The different groups create their quarters near the Turnierplatz, where the wedding guests end the day with music and good food.
Time: evenings, Sunday morning
Place: "Rathaus-Prunksaal" (Town-Hall)
Visitors witness the preparations for the Wedding, as imagined by a group of actors. Author Leopold Ahlsen’s comedy describes the bride's difficult trip from Kraków to Landshut. Death and plague
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...
were the constant companions on the march from Poland to Germany.
Place: After the festival performances in the town hall
At the festival evening the groom and his bride meet the noble guests for dancing. Different groups perform their dances; for example, the exotic dance of the Moors.
Festival games in the nightly quarters
Time: Saturday evening
Place: Place of challenge
The day before the Wedding thousands of guests have reached Landshut after a long trip and have to pass the time until the wedding day. They are in their quarters, in bars, or are entertained by games and shows by different artists like tumblers
Acrobatics is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts, as well as many sports...
Music in 1475
Time: Saturday and Sunday morning
The "Landshuter Hofkapelle" band offers 15th century music as it used to be played in bars and especially at noble festivals.
Time: Saturday evening
Place: Church St. Jodok
A choir, called "Ad libitum", perform a concert. It focuses on works of famous composers like Pierre de la Rue
Pierre de la Rue , called Piersson, was a Franco-Flemish composer and singer of the Renaissance. A member of the same generation as Josquin des Prez, and a long associate of the Habsburg-Burgundian musical chapel, he ranks with Agricola, Brumel, Compère, Isaac, Obrecht, and Weerbeke as one of the...
, Guillaume Dufay
Guillaume Dufay was a Franco-Flemish composer of the early Renaissance. As the central figure in the Burgundian School, he was the most famous and influential composer in Europe in the mid-15th century.-Early life:From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel, in the vicinity of...
and Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...
, who was one of the most significant composers in the Middle Ages in Europe. The performance in St. Jodok also comprises short instrumental pieces.
Time: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday evenings
Place: Residenz (residence)
Musicians and dancers of Landshut are invited to an atmospheric evening in the courtyard of the Residenz
The Landshut Residence is a palace in Landshut, Lower Bavaria.-History:In 1536 Louis X, Duke of Bavaria laid the foundation stone for a new residence in the inner city of Landshut. It was begun in German Renaissance style under the architect Bernhard Zwitzel from Augsburg; this palace is today...
. They depict the history of Mr. Asinus, a farmer who became a nobleman.
Tavern in the narrow of Stecken
Time: Thursday and Friday evenings
The proprietor of the tavern offers different things to eat and good wine or beer. Comedians, called "Joculatores", celebrate an evening full of voluptuousness to put some life into the party.
Meeting in the old part of town
Time: Saturday evening and Sunday morning
Place: Old Town ("Altstadt")
At this weekend some groups liven up the old part of town with music and dancing as in former times. Comedians try to support the atmosphere with their coarse jokes.