British Library logoTreasures in Full: Renaissance Festival Books
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Did you know

  • The British Library holds more than 2,000 festival books.
  • The earliest festival book in the collection dates from 1475 and describes a wedding banquet lasting eight hours.
  • Some 300 Venetians drowned during a restaging of the naval battle of Lepanto.
  • Confectioners made life-sized sugar sculptures of gods, goddesses and exotic animals as centrepieces for banquets.
  • The people of Antwerp protested at the enormous extravagance of Charles V’s entry into the city in 1549.
  • Crowds watching Henri III’s entry into Mantua were so great that 3,000 soldiers were needed to keep them back.
  • In the tournaments celebrating Henri III’s entry into Cracow in 1574, the fighting went to the death, with 16 men being killed.
  • The procession marking Henri II’s entry into Lyons was over three kilometres long.
  • Cosimo I kept two dwarves armed with crossbows to shoot at performers or stage hands who emerged from behind the scenery and spoiled the illusion.
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