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One of Württemberg's late medieval palaces

Urach Residential Palace

The wedding, oil painting by Joseph Anton von Gegenbaur. Image: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
ITALIAN SPLENDOR IN URACH

A spectacular

wedding celebration

In 1474, Count Eberhard V the Bearded and Barbara Gonzaga von Mantua celebrated a spectacular wedding. 13,000 guests attended the wedding, all with rank and title. The celebrations lasted four days, with music and dancing, exquisite food and a fountain of wine.

Count Eberhard V von Württemberg, stained glass. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Count Eberhard V von Württemberg.

Exhaustive preparations

In November, 1473, a Württemberg marriage broker first traveled to Mantua in the Palazzo di San Giorgio. In March of 1474, Eberhard himself traveled to Révere near Mantua to get an impression of his bride, 10 years his junior. On April 12, 1474, they were formally married in the Mantua Cathedral. The marriage contract was signed and certified on April 14. In it, among other things, Barbara's travel to Urach was stipulated, which would take place in June of 1474.

Portrait of Barbara Gonzaga in a mural by Andrea Mantegna. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

The bride, Barbara Gonzaga.

Barbara en route to Urach

On June 10, 1474, Barbara began making her way from Mantua to Urach. Her escort consisted of 70 individuals, 217 horses, 30 mules and 6 carts. The retinue traveled over Verona, Trento, Brenner and Innsbruck all the way to Kempten, where it arrived 18 days later. Here, the bride was met by Eberhard's escort. On Saturday, July 2, Barbara and her entourage reached Blaubeuren, where she spent the night.

Urach Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Johanna Kugele

A palace for the new countess.

Eagerly awaited in Urach

The arrival of the magnificent bridal procession and Barbara's massive retinue joyfully anticipated was in Urach. Eberhard's residential city decked itself out for the bride and the grand, multiple-day wedding celebration. The festivities became a singular demonstration of the grooms royal identity. Eberhard's pride in his new wife and new relatives were put on display at tremendous logistical, economic and artistic expense.

View of the fortified city of Urach, watercolor, circa 1616. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Attended by 13,000 guests and 4,280 horses.

Lodging for the guests

all these people found shelter”. The entire city of Urach as well as surrounding areas of Dettlingen and Metzingen were called on to find lodging for people and animals.

Huge quantities of bread and wine

Mountains of bread were consumed during the wedding celebration. 165,000 loaves of bread, allegedly. Hectoliters of wine were also required. There was a spectacular fountain that generously dispensed wine. In all, 150,000 liters of wine were imbibed. It may seem unusual today that men and women dined at separate tables. A royal feast was had at all tables, even if the men's table is said to have been more splendidly decorated.

View of a set table in the Knights’ Hall, Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida

Banquets can be held in the palace.

Bratwurst, suckling pig and crab

On the second day, the spectacular wedding meal served at the royal table consisted of 22 courses. Thanks to Sattler, the exact menu sequence is still known today. Everything the heart could desire was served up: from bratwurst with greens, game crusted in precious pepper, roasted suckling pig, boiled trout and crayfish. The lower nobility has a slightly less lavish table: they were only served 12 courses. The staff were only served a modest six courses.

A good arrangement

Barbara and Eberhard's wedding was a good arrangement for both courts. Through Barbara, the life of an Italian Renaissance court found its way into tranquil Urach, and her influence on Eberhard was also considerable. For example, it was through her influence that Eberhard became open to the sciences. Classical education and culture became important to him and led to the foundation of the University of Tübingen, among other things.

Count Eberhard V the Bearded and Barbara Gonzaga, stained glass in the choir of the collegiate church in Tübingen, circa 1476/78. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Count Eberhard V the Bearded and Barbara Gonzaga, stained glass in the choir of the collegiate church in Tübingen, circa 1476/78.

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