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his year is the 250th anniversary of the events that brought

baroque splendour and deep mourning to Innsbruck: The

marriage of Archduke Leopold II with his Spanish princess

Maria Ludovica and after a 14 days period of celebrations the sudden

death of Emperor Franz Stephan.


When Maria Theresia (1717-1780) decided to celebrate the marria-

ge of her third son Leopold with Maria Ludovica of Bourbon in Inns-

bruck, this meant an enormous expense for the Viennese Court. Heaps

of carriages were sent on this exhausting journey. Finally the bride ar-

rived in Innsbruck with a delay of 14 days. The night was spent at the

so called room “Ludovicazimmer” in the Abbey of Wilten.


Although the groomwas in poor health – he suffered from a severe bowel

disease – the ceremonies were pompous. On the wedding day, the 5th of

August, it poured down with rain. So the bride had to travel fromWilten to

Innsbruck with a closed bridal carriage. The wedding ceremony took place

in the newly built baroque parish church of St. Jacob. The ceremony was

followed by a reception in the Hofburg (the Imperial Palace) with 2000

invited guests – Everyone important was let in first. The Giant Hall was

equipped with especially designed stands that made it possible to watch

the Royal family and the high nobility, while they were being served.


Such a royal wedding could take several weeks. Almost every day a

choice of operas and theatre performances was offered. The Vien-

nese Court arrived with 150 actors and singers, Grand Master Has-

se and Metastasio even composed their own operas for the event

(“Romolo&Ersilia”). The Hofburg was connected with the opera house

through a special corridor, so the ladies wearing crinoline and pointed

shoes could still walk to the opera quite comfortably.

Rich in calories

The food back then was particularly rich. Massive deliveries were done

for the court. Delicacies were as popular as southern fruits. Those we-

re delivered from the lake Gardasee, while poultry meat, beef, capons,

marmots, birds and fish came from the districts of Tyrol. A 14-cour-

se-meal was the ordinary. Exercise was avoided, as it was not rela-

xing and moving in baroque clothing was dangerous and exhausting

enough (fainting due to narrow lacing or sweating outbreaks due to

wigs was not unusual…). Scratching sticks were used to get rid of the

common vermin, while vinaigrettes were meant to prevent vomiting.


After celebrating for 14 ongoing days, something totally unexpected

occurred. Emperor Franz Stephan hadn’t been feeling so well for the

whole day, but he still went to opera that evening. He had a weird re-

action to his medicine and felt nauseous. With the help of his son Jo-

seph II and some courtiers he was able to reach the Hofburg, but he

broke down in the antechamber of Joseph’s apartment. They managed

to put him on a footman’s bed, where he died after a short time of a

stroke. Maria Theresia didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye. Her

grief was immeasurable!