From tournaments
to pillow fighting

© feld72

 

Over the centuries the palace courtyard served as a location for a plethora of representative court events ranging from glamorous tournaments to winterly sleigh rides, inclusive of equestrian ballets and open air theatre performances.
 

Coloured woodcut from the proper description of the wedding by Heinrich Wirrich, © Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Foto: Georg Mayer
Tournament on the occasion of the wedding of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria and Princess Mary of Bavaria, 1571

The union of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria and Princess Mary of Bavaria was celebrated with a tournament performed in the palace courtyard of the Hofburg Vienna (today’s Innerer Burghof) in 1571. As the allegoric prelude to the tournament, Europe was displayed fighting against the rest of the world. The Emperor had to take out a considerable loan in order to pay for the osten­tatious wedding celebrations which were staged in the cities of Vienna and Graz.

 

Etching based on the works of Nicolaus van Hoy, © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Bildarchiv
Representation of an equestrian ballet performed on the occasion of the wedding of Emperor Leopold and Margaret Theresa of Spain, 1667

When Emperor Leopold married Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain, who at the same time was his niece, their wedding was crowned with numerous festivities. A highlight of their celebrations marked a marvellous equestrian ballet, which was performed in the palace courtyard on January 24th 1667. Within these festive premises and amidst extravagantly designed stages and tiered grandstands, hundreds of horses and their riders presented their choreography. Emperor Leopold, too, would take to his horse and participate in the show.

Their wedding was one of the most glamorous events in the whole of Europe. For the Emperor, these celebrations served the purpose to further underpin his political claim to the Spanish heritage. Margaret Theresa was 15 years of age when she married Leopold and died after six pregnancies at the age of 22.

 

Sleigh ride of the Imperial Court which took place on the occasion of the wedding of Joseph II and Maria Josepha of Bavaria on February 7th 1765; Extract of the painting by Franz Michael Augustin Purgau and Johann Carl Auerbach, 1766, © Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie
Sleigh ride of the Imperial Court which took place on the occasion of the wedding of Joseph II and Maria Josepha of Bavaria on February 7th 1765

Horse-drawn sleigh rides were popular festive events during winter times. According to tradition, they started off with a little tour around the palace square. Male members of the court – at times, even the Emperor himself – would steer the horse-drawn sleighs, whereby they would each give a sumptuously clad women a ride. In case there was a lack of snow, hundreds of loads of snow were brought there.

 

© Stefan Schmalzbauer
International Pillow Fight Day, Innerer Burghof, 2nd April 2011

The “International Pillow Fight Day” has been celebrated since 2008. Numerous cities around the globe from New York to Madrid, and from Toronto to New Delhi organise pillow fights at the same time. For Vienna, the venue of the flash mob has been the Innere Burghof for the most part. The place could not have been chosen more wisely, for it had served as a tournament place of the Viennese court for centuries. Similarly, there are “tournament” rules for pillow fights: By way of example, it is not allowed to swing at people without pillows. Furthermore, people must not swing too hard. Finally, everybody must clean up their mess/feathers afterwards.

One of our goals is to make these unique happenings in public space become a significant part of popular culture, partially replacing passive, non-social consumption experiences like watching television, and consciously celebrating public spaces in our cities as our urban living. www.pillowfightday.com