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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!