|The Landshuter Hochzeit
|Georg the Rich, Herzog Georg, der Reiche, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut (1455-1503) was the son of
Ludwig the Rich. Georg was a strong ally of Emperor Maximilian I and supported his campaigns in
Swabia, Switzerland, Geldern and Hungary. In 1475, he married Jadwiga Jagiellon (Hedwig von
Polen), daughter of King Casimir IV of Poland. The wedding was negotiated in 1474 with
ambassadors who had been sent to Cracow through legations and it took the 18 year old bride-to-be
two months to travel with her large escort to Landshut, where she was received by princes and
bishops. The Elector of Brandenburg referred to the union as divine ordinance ”for the benefit of
Christendom and the Empire“. The marriage was of importance, because it was seen as a strong
alliance against the Ottoman Turks.
The wedding celebration in Landshut with one of the most splendid festivals of the Middle Ages.
The pair were married in St. Martin's Church, and the service was officiated by non other than
Salzburg Archbishop Bernhard von Rohr. Afterward, the bridal procession paraded through the Old
Town to the Rathaus where the Emperor led the first dance with the bride. Ten thousand people are
said to have attended the wedding where they were entertained, feted and fed by the young duke's
father. At the original festival, some 320 bulls, 1,500 sheep, 1,300 lambs, 500 calves and 40,000
chickens were consumed. The detailed records of the festivities provide a historic chronicle of events.
The couple had five children, three sons and two daughters. However, none of their sons outlived
their father, and by Salic law in medieval Germany, their daughters could not inherit the duchy.
George tried to circumvent this by bequeathing the duchy to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband
Rupert, Count Palatine, but this led to a destructive war of succession after George's death. He was
finally succeeded by Albert IV of Bavaria-Munich and only the new duchy of Palatinate-Neuburg
passed to Rupert's sons Otto-Heinrich and Philipp.
Duke Georg's father founded the University of Ingolstadt, and in 1496, Duke Georg established the
Collegiurm Georgianum for poor students in the faculty of arts, and other foundations for similar
purposes were subsequently made. Duke Georg also had something to do with extending Bavaria's
famous beer Purity Law to the whole of Bavaria in 1516, making it the Bavarian Purity Law.
The "Landshuter Hochzeit" is a festival founded in 1902 and held in Landshut every four years. The
wedding of Duke Georg is reenacted and it is one of the largest historical pageants in Europe. The
town citizens act as bishops, aristocrats, bride, and bridegroom at the "wedding" and it is the custom
for Landshut men to let the hair grow long before the event. Every citizen of Landshut dresses in
medieval garb during the festival days. Thousands of participants dress in medieval costumes and try
to recapture the Late Middle Ages. There is jousting, pageantry, feasting and of course, beer..