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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

b) Festivals, evocations, and reenactments

2) The Landshut wedding 1475: to experience the Middle Ages

Dušan Zupka

Texte intégral

1The wedding of the Polish Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1457-1502) with the Bavarian Duke George the Rich (1455-1503) in 1475 in Landshut became a model example of a most lavish and extravagant wedding feast for all the later Middle Ages. The ceremony was proverbial and served as a point of reference for many princely and royal weddings taking place in the region and beyond. In the early modern period, the Landshut wedding remained virtually forgotten and out of the collective memory of the local people until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The Jagiellonians immerge out of the darkness suddenly in 1828, and rather surprisingly in a masquerade ball. Then on the 18th of September 1883 the new Landshut town hall room was opened to the public for the first time after a massive restoration; the walls of the town hall had been decorated with pictures depicting the wedding of Hedwig and George dated to 1475, masterfully reviving all the most important events and figures of this ceremonial occasion. Today the “1475 Landshuter Hochzeit” constitutes one of the most attractive summer festivals in Germany. It attracts thousands of visitors, locals as well as tourists, over four consecutive summer weekends. Its goals are twofold. On the one hand, it tries to keep local memory of the most important event in Landshut’s history intact and to hand the wedding’s reputation and importance down to new generations. On the other, it serves as a unique attempt at a rapprochement between the “real” Middle Ages and contemporary people. The focus of all of the programme—the re-enactment and all related performances—focuses on local Landshut/ Bavarian /Wittelsbach memory. Its attractiveness lies in the mixture of history, theatre and local patriotism. The original number of 250 protagonists in the first re-enactment performed in 1903 turned onto more than 2000 in the last performance in 2017. The last festival in 2017 provided a rich programme comprising the main parade, dance performances, theatrical plays, masquerades, a fencing school, a sacral Laudate Dominum, the bridal pageant, etc. The memory of the Landshut wedding that united the Jagiellonian Princess Hedwig with the Bavarian Duke George lives on also via postmodern media, such as tourist memorabilia, post cards, beer glasses, books for children, and comic books. This paper examines the rich diversity of modern medievalism present in what is commonly labelled as the most important and biggest historical festival in Europe.

Landshuter Hochzeit (photo: Wikimedia creative commons).

Landshuter Hochzeit (photo: Wikimedia creative commons).


2Dorner 2004
Niehoff 2005
Niehoff 2014

Table des illustrations

Titre Landshuter Hochzeit (photo: Wikimedia creative commons).
Fichier image/jpeg, 600k


Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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