Höfische Feste, S. 76

fred_barbarossa.jpgCourtly festivals were celebrations held by emperors at their imperial courts whose main purpose was to display the power and majesty of an emperor’s court. One such festival at Mainz, hosted by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa during Pentecost, was documented in the Hennegau Chronicle by Gislebert of Mons. Gislebert was a clerk to Count Balduin of Hennegau and documented his lord’s arrival and stay at Barbarossa’s festival. Count Balduin was one of the most prestigious guests and was even allowed to carry the ceremonial sword at the festivities. Count Balduin also participated in the tournament; assisting Barbarossa by holding his lance as the Emperor demonstrated his skill of use of his shield.

After reading the article about courtly festivals, I could relate the activities to modern society. Festivals like this are still held today by those who wish to remind the world of their wealth and/or power (though most are held without a jousting tournament and do not require guests to camp out on the host’s property). We see these activities among world leaders, Hollywood stars and other wealthy people.  I think Barbarossa’s festival was a way of “uniting” his empire while proving and justifying his ability to reign over them.

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