Saturday, 30 November 2013

A ROYAL WEDDING IN CRACOW, 1592. Were they having too much fun?

On 31 May 1592, Anna of Austria married the Polish king Sigismund II. The Polish nobility opposed this alliance. They sent a posse to guard the border and prevent Anna from entering the country, but she outfoxed them and reached Pless (Pzczyna) on 26 May. According to the Fugger Newsletters, she holed up there and “practiced Italian dance steps” in preparation for the wedding ball.

Also on the programme of festivities: A wedding masquerade that cost 50,000 ducats (about 5 Million dollars) because the participants were dressed in gold-embroidered clothes.

More extravagance: The bridal coach was pulled by six black and six white bears, which were made to dance afterwards, “so that there would be sufficient drollery”.

You thought paparazzi were a modern phenomenon, reflecting our preoccupation with the lives of the rich and famous? Read on:

The informant of the Fugger Newsletter clearly had the makings of a tabloid journalist. He snuck into the royal couple’s bedroom and provided this breathless description: “It is a very spacious chamber, with the royal bed set up in the middle thereof. The bed has velvet curtains, and is surrounded by velvet-covered chairs. On the bed lies a coverlet lined with sable furs. On the wall, there is a portrait of the Royal bride wearing a white and silver robe and looking at you with a laughing mouth, so as to make the King laugh likewise when he looks at the picture.”

Meanwhile, in Germany, Count Octavian Fugger felt that such fun was unwarranted “in these present grievous times, with death rampant, with wars, strife, and tribulation everywhere.” He had posters affixed to the church doors of his estates, “forbidding most forcibly all public expressions of joy, such as singing, whistling, dancing, masques, promenading in the street and other worldly merry-making.” He made an exception for weddings, “provided they were conducted with all modesty and the accompaniment of muted string music.”

The weddings on his estate must have been dreary affairs. No, wait, I just realize there is nothing in his injunction about getting drunk.

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