British Library Treasures in full: Renaissance festival books
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Print Civic festivals

Even where populations remained rural, cities and city-states became the most notable sites of Renaissance and Early Modern politics and culture. Festivals were usually city-based, though their subject-matter might be national or international, and their imagery pastoral.

Courts were often peripatetic (not confined to one location), as with the courts of the Valois kings of France or the Emperor Charles V, but their festivals drew on the resources of principal cities such as Paris, Brussels, Antwerp and Madrid.

Italian city-states hosted many types of festival, including:

  • the reception of visiting princes, such as Henri III at Ferrara and Mantua in 1574 [0033]
  • the meeting of rulers, such as Charles V and Pope Clement VII at Bologna in 1530 [0091]
  • princely entries to subject cities such as that of Cosimo I de’ Medici to Siena in 1560
  • the entry of affianced spouses to the city of their future husbands, as with Catherine of Austria’s entry to Turin in 1585 before her marriage to Charles-Emmanuel I
  • marriage celebrations, such as the marriage of Ferdinando de’ Medici and Christine of Lorraine in Florence in 1589. [0165]

Capital cities (Paris, London, Madrid, Copenhagen, Cracow) asserted their status through princely entries, while aiming to negotiate the relationship between rulers and citizens - for example the Magnificent Entry of James VI and I to London in 1604, or the marriage of Prince-Elect Christian to Magdalena Sibylle, Copenhagen, 1634.

View of Cracow
View of Cracow. Registrum hujus operis libri cronicarum. Hartmannus Schedel, Nuremberg (Germany), 1493.
BL 187.h.1, ff.266 - 267. Larger image