A medieval celebration like no other
A medieval celebration like no other
We’re back in the year 1475: The Polish King’s daughter Hedwig is marrying the Duke’s son Georg der Reiche von Bayern-Landshut. Colourful flags flutter at the windows, the town is decked out in bunting. The Emperor, princes and dukes, servants and beggars follow the magnificent procession of the Polish bride. They are heading towards the Church of St. Martin, where she will meet her bridegroom. Enthusiastic onlookers celebrate on the streets and cheer from the windows.
Every four years the town goes back to the Middle Ages
This is more or less how it all happened in the late medieval period. For Landshut, this royal wedding is still a spectacular event today. Every four years the inhabitants of the town go back in time to the Middle Ages. Since 1903 they have been celebrating the Landshut Wedding as a historical re-enactment on four weekends in the summer.
'The Landshut Wedding is one of the most beautiful events in Landshut.'
For visitors this is a unique spectacle. On each weekend, more than 100,000 spectators from throughout the world celebrate this medieval festival. Those who want to actively participate must become members of the “Patrons” association, regardless of whether they are young or old, new residents or families who have lived here for generations. The association now has more than 7,500 members, and for most of them it is a very important part of their lives. “The Landshut Wedding is one of the most beautiful events in Landshut. Being part of it and helping to put it together is fantastic! I really feel part of the history of my home town,” says Andreas Oberprieler, who is on the association’s advisory board.
The Landshut Wedding shapes the citizens and the town
The local people live and breathe their festival: “For many the Landshut Wedding is simply part of Landshut. The whole town gets together and celebrates this wonderful spectacle,” says Oberprieler enthusiastically. And what effect does the medieval festival have on the town? “I believe that the Landshut Wedding means that we pay particular attention to the upkeep of our historic town. The town forms the backdrop in front of which this spectacle is performed.”
At the Landshut Wedding it is not just the wedding procession that is celebrated by the inhabitants but also numerous individual events that showcase the Middle Ages in all their glory at different venues in the town. For example, there are riding and medieval jousting displays on the Zehrplatz where the bride first set foot on Landshut soil. Young noblemen fight here for the prize awarded by the bride. Musicians play medieval instruments in celebration of the Duke’s wedding and invite people to dance, whilst knights demonstrate their fencing skills in the castle grounds, to the delight of the enthusiastic spectators.
Authentic spectacle with attention to detail
In order to replicate this great event as authentically as possible, the association members need to demonstrate a passion for detail, patience and unlimited time. “It’s very important for the participants that they’re not putting on just any event, but a spectacle that is as authentic as possible,” says Oberprieler. “For example, no-one taking part is allowed to wear glasses and only the costumes provided by the association are permitted.” The more than 2,400 costumes are strictly modelled on medieval examples, mainly taken from altar pictures.
'It’s very important for the participants that they’re not putting on just any event, but a spectacle that is as authentic as possible.'
Whoever wants to take part in the Landshut Wedding must first appear before a selection committee. The committee checks whether the hair length is correct, as short haircuts or beards are not permitted. If there are more applicants than costumes a lottery is held to decide.
The association is also supported by gymnasts and jugglers. Dressed as jesters and travelling players, they jump through blazing hoops, build human pyramids and wield and swing powerful flags. All this requires a huge amount of practice – and a lot of time spent in rehearsals. But nothing’s too much trouble for the Landshut Wedding.
The next event is scheduled for 2021.