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Politics and Performance: Saxon-Danish Court Festivals 1548-1709

Mara R. Wade

The two most important continental Protestant courts - that of Electoral Saxony and that of the dual kingdom of Denmark and Norway - manifested during the Renaissance and Baroque continuous reciprocal relationships in the areas of literature, music, and the fine and performance arts which are best studied in a series of court festivals spanning the entire early modern period from 1548-1709. Together with the dynastic personal contacts of their rulers and their families, these Danish-Saxon spectacles provide the foundation of the present study, which extends from the marriage of the Saxon Elector August (1526-1586) to the Danish Princess Anna (1532-1585) at Torgau in 1548 to the festivals staged in Dresden by the Saxon Elector Friedrich August I (August der Starke, 1670-1733) for the state visit of King Frederik IV (1671-1730) of Denmark in May and June, 1709.[1] These splendid occasions were chosen as the parameters for this study, for they represent the beginning and the end of a rich era of Protestant festival culture.

The first event to be considered is the marriage of the Saxon Elector August and the Danish princess Anna in 1548. At the time of the marriage, however, August was not yet Elector, and his marriage negotiations were carefully orchestrated by the then Elector, his brother Moritz (1521-1553). This Danish-Saxon alliance was a momentous occasion in several respects. While there had been Danish-Saxon marriages before 1548, this was the first dynastic alliance between the two houses since the Reformation, uniting the two most staunchly Lutheran rulers in continental Europe.[2] The wedding between August and Anna in 1548 was also the first major dynastic event involving Denmark and Saxony since Moritz had been elevated to the rank of Elector in 1547,[3] and was Denmark's first dynastic alliance with Electoral Saxony. Most importantly, it signaled Moritz's willingness to forge new Protestant alliances even as he was being rewarded as Elector and Reichsmarschall for his armed support of the Catholic emperor in the Smalkaldic War.[4] The emperor's bestowal of these offices upon Moritz and his heirs further signified the new prestige of the Albertine vis-à-vis the Ernestine line of Saxony. While the issue of Moritz's enfiefment was decided on the battlefield near Wittenberg in June 1547, the solemn ceremonies of his endowment with these offices occurred at the imperial diet in Augsburg in spring 1548. Furthermore, the imperial enfiefment in Augsburg acknowledged August as Moritz's heir in the event that the new Elector left no heirs, which was to be the case. The negotiations for August's wedding thus assumed a critical significance. Surviving letters show that while Moritz was attending the imperial diet in Augsburg, he received letters concerning the Danish-Saxon match from his brother August, who was himself in Copenhagen.[5] The Danish king and the Saxon Elector were forging a strong new Protestant alliance with this marriage.

August reported his betrothal on 7 March 1548 in Kolding, Denmark, to his brother Moritz in Augsburg and Moritz set the wedding for 7 ,[6]October 1548 in Torgau.[7] The choice of location was highly political, as the territory around Torgau was part of the land recently acquired with Moritz's rank of Elector.[8] Moreover, Torgau had been the favorite residence of the newly ousted Ernestine Duke Johann Friedrich (1503-1554). By situating the wedding festivities in the former Ernestine lands, Moritz was sending a strong message to both the Ernestine line of Saxony and the rest of the empire.

In his letter to King Christian III of Denmark concerning August and Anna's wedding, Moritz promised to 'eyne erliche vnd solche Haimfort machen wollen, dergleichen ein Fürst von Sachssen nemlichen nicht sol gehabt haben' ('to hold such a wedding, the likes of which a Saxon prince has never yet had').[9] Moritz seems to have been true to his word, for the celebrations were more splendid than any other Saxon festivity to that time, including those marking his own elevation in rank. He and his wife, Agnes of Hessen (1527-1555), and the entire court went to Torgau on 28 September 1548. Among the high-ranking guests in attendance were the Queen of Denmark, Dorothea; Duke Hans of Holstein, brother to the Danish king; the Elector of Brandenburg; and the sister of the King of Denmark.[10] Thus the event had a strong international as well as domestic political character.

The spectacles at the castle of Hartenfels at Torgau lasted a week and included, in addition to the wedding in the castle chapel, the entry of the bride, various kinds of tournaments held every day, banquets, dancing by torch light, a scrimmage on horseback, mumming, hunts, and the mock siege of a castle concluded by fireworks on the Elbe.[11] Preserved manuscripts offer great detail about the planning and execution of the event, confirming that it was truly a splendid occasion. While few details concerning the themes of the mumming, the costumes for the pageants, etc. are available today, the sources do indicate that the festivities included an aesthetic, theatrical dimension. Noteworthy is the fact that tournaments were held each day of the week-long wedding festivities.

The ties to Denmark did not end with the Torgau wedding. Anna's brother, Duke Frederik, who in 1559 ascended the Danish throne as Frederik II, visited Saxony together with his brother Magnus in the late 1550's and in 1558 accompanied August and Anna to the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand I in Frankfurt.[12] August and Anna returned to Denmark for Frederik's coronation in 1559, and on the engraving portraying the event the Elector is portrayed riding together with the newly crowned king in the procession from the church. Thus the dynastic ties initiated with the wedding grew to be close personal ties in the last half of the 16th century.[13]

The dynastic union of Electoral Saxony and Denmark begun with the wedding of August and Anna in 1548 provided the foundation for a durable alliance for the next 160 years. In 1602, the Saxon Elector Christian II (1583-1611) married the Danish princess Hedevig (1581-1641) amid dazzling spectacles in Dresden. This marriage revitalized the Danish-Saxon union in the early seventeenth century and laid the foundation for future political and cultural exchange. A retinue of 1500 men on horseback, including the Elector's brothers, Dukes August (1589-1615) and Johann Georg (1585-1656) of Saxony, the Brandenburg Elector, and one of the Dukes of Lüneburg, met the bride as she entered Dresden on 10 September in a special gilt coach lined in red velvet. In the Danish entourage were the bride Hedevig, her mother the Dowager Queen Sophie, and her brother Duke Ulrich of Holstein. A special dramatic presentation on a mythological theme had been set up on the Elbe for her entry into the city. Four sirens swam upon the waters, followed by a great whale, while Neptune approached on a ship drawn by four seahorses and Glaucus sounded his conch. The pageant on the Elbe was not only a tribute to the Danish bride and guests, but also a signal of the theatrical dimension of the entertainments which were to follow. The bride and her mother entered Dresden in a coach in the form of a great ship drawn by eight gray horses.[14] On 12 September the wedding ceremony took place in the church with a sermon by the Dresden court pastor Polycarpus Leyser. On 14 September the secular festivities surrounding the wedding spectacles began, starting with a masked tournament for the running at the ring held on the open market place in the center of town, and for which 62 arches were set up. A portal embellished with figures of Roman heroes was placed at each of the four corners of the market square, while a two-story building called 'Ehrenburg', or 'Fortress of Honor', stood across from the town hall; on the upper level were the musicians and below were the tournament judges. The tournament course itself was decorated with three archways, each containing figures of the virtues, with Justitia gracing the central portal. In front of the town hall was another two-story structure with a viewing platform, decorated with splendid tapestries, for the highest ranking guests and noble women. Competitors in the guise of Roman heroes, Tartars, gypsies, four naked maidens playing musical instruments, monks and nuns, Saxon miners, Moors, Italians, Turks, pilgrims, wild men, wild women, hunters, and peasants in traditional dress, among many others, crossed the tournament course. Other events included tournaments across barriers (17 September), a fencing school, and a tournament at the newly established Stallhof, reconstructed today, which was a permanent structure erected especially for tournament events.[15]

Of particular interest here is the decoration of a public architectural space for a tournament lasting several days. The layout of the arena, the semi-permanent structures for the musicians, judges, and viewers, and the allegorical decorations for the tournament course all anticipate the construction, a century later under August the Strong, of the first, wooden Zwinger for the Danish-Saxon festival of 1709. The increased attention in the preserved festival descriptions to the theatricality of the events is also noteworthy. While we are informed in great detail about the kinds of events and the efforts that went into August's and Anna's wedding festivities, fifty years later with the nuptial celebration for Christian and Hedevig the aesthetic aspects of the spectacles receive far greater attention. The performances take place out of doors; the main event takes place in a public area, while others are held at specially designed spaces at court. In 1602 there is no mention of theater performances of any kind, however. Other than the impressive river pageant for the entry of the bride and the various masked tournaments, there were no ballets, dramas, or any other performances of traditional theater. The mumming aspect of the 1548 nuptial celebrations appears to have been absorbed by the costumed tournament pageants. While music played a very noticeable role in these festivities for the entry of the bride, for the tournament pageants, and in the church, there is no preserved evidence for other kinds of performance of music, such as at banquets and dances by the court cappella. Since music for feasts and dancing was integral to every other Saxon-Danish wedding, we must here assume that there was such music performed, but that the descriptions focus on the new, not the traditional, elements. Thus the costumes reflecting various exotic national dress and the splendid decoration of the architectural space for the celebrations received the primary attention of the descriptions.

The wedding celebrations of Elector Christian II and Princess Hedevig provided a bridge from the 16th to the 17th century in several ways. After a period in which both dynasties had experienced the absence of a strong ruler and a minority government in the late sixteenth century, the Danish-Saxon alliance was renewed. After periods of great upheaval with the Reformation and various national wars and internal strife, new rulers were installed who would guide their lands into the next century. King Christian IV of Denmark was crowned at nineteen years of age in August of 1596 in two-week-long festivities in Copenhagen, including magnificent tournament pageants, and Elector Christian II succeeded to the title in 1601 at the age of eighteen. The marriage of 1602 can thus be seen as a political and religious statement by the new rulers to renew and invigorate Protestant ties and to embark on a solid course for the future. The development of the festival culture in both lands can be seen in the cultural exchange between the two courts around 1600. For the coronation of Christian IV in 1596, the Saxon court 'lent' its primary designer of festivals, the Italian artist Giovanni Maria Nosseni to the Brandenburg court, for whom he prepared a brilliant dramatic pageant. Danish court records show that Nosseni, a pageant wagon, and several assistants traveled from Dresden to Denmark for Christian IV's coronation.[16] The resplendent European festivals continued with the wedding in 1602, and in 1603 the former Dresden court pageant designer, Georg Engelhardt Loehneyssen, now in the employ of Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, designed the grand procession for the tournament celebrating Christian IV's visit to Hamburg. Loehneyssen presented a manuscript copy of the entire tournament pageant to the Saxon Elector Christian II as a New Year's gift in 1604.[17] The first page of the manuscript depicts the magnificent emblematic pageant in which Christian IV appeared as 'Sol', the sun king. The cultural exchange initiated and renewed by the Danish-Saxon marriages was significant and enduring, continuing with the patronage of English itinerant troupes begun in the late 1580's and extending through the patronage of Heinrich Schütz, the greatest German composer of the period. The first half of the seventeenth century saw at both courts the expansion of the cappella, the development of musical theatrical forms such as ballet and musical drama, and changes in the pyrotechnic displays from the traditional storming of an enemy castle to allegorical, dramatic fireworks displays, often divided into acts and scenes.

The patronage of the composer Heinrich Schütz is a pivotal example of the cultural exchange between the courts resulting from dynastic occasions.[18] Schütz, who had been in the employ of the Saxon court since 1617, was called to Denmark in 1633 as Kapellmeister for the wedding of Danish Prince-Elect Christian (1603-1647) and the Saxon Duchess Magdalena Sibylle (1617-1668) in October 1634 in Copenhagen. He remained in Denmark for nearly two years. The two-week-long nuptial festivities included an allegorical fireworks, a fireworks drama, ballet, a pair of musical comedies, spectacular emblematic and allegorical pageants for the running at the ring, dancing of various kinds, and also musical performances in the church and at banquets. As I have demonstrated elsewhere, Heinrich Schütz served, together with King Christian IV, as artistic director of the Danish wedding spectacles.[19] These lavish festivities were part of the Danish political agenda to gain a leading role in Northern Europe, particularly around the Baltic, and served as a summit meeting mid-way through the Thirty Years' War. This wedding is the high point of a cluster of weddings from 1627 to 1652 in which Denmark and Saxony strove to strengthen their German Protestant alliances, including the Saxon-Hessen wedding of 1627, the Saxon-Holstein wedding of 1630, the Saxon-Brandenburg wedding of 1638, the Danish-Braunschweig-Lüneburg wedding of 1643, the Saxon-Holstein weddings of 1650, and concluding with the Danish-Saxon wedding of 1652. Owing to the privations of the Thirty Years' War there are festival books preserved only for the Copenhagen wedding of 1634, while for the Dresden events there are only scattered published cartels and poetry. The 1634 union renewed Christian IV's attempts to establish a greater sphere of influence in North Germany in the aftermath of his defeat as leader of the Lower Saxon Circle in the battle at Lutter am Barenberg in 1627 and after the death of the Swedish King Gustav II. Adolf in 1632. The nuptial celebrations in Denmark offered an ideal opportunity for Saxon musicians and other cultural figures who were deprived of their livlihood by the war, while allowing the beleaguered Saxon Elector the chance to enhance his position among Protestant rulers after his policy not to oppose the emperor resulted in the Sack of Magdeburg in 1631. By means of the 1634 festivals, which are known in Danish as the 'store bilager', or 'Great Wedding', Christian IV of Denmark hoped to establish himself as the mediator of peace in the German empire and to assume a leading role in European affairs.

After 1648, Saxony was in a period of rebuilding and recovery, while Denmark was engaged in a war with the Swedes, to whom they nearly lost the capital Copenhagen.[20] While the 1650's saw many small festivities at both courts, such as the marriages mentioned above, and including a series of ballets and fireworks at the Danish court for the birth of the children of King Frederik III (1609-1670) and Queen Sophia Amalie (1628-1685) and various family celebrations in Saxony, such as the birthdays of the elderly Elector Johann Georg I (1585-1656) and the Electress Magdalena Sibylle (1587-1659) and a visit of four generations of the Hessian court to Dresden in 1655, another major festival was not to come until the 1660's. In 1663 the Saxon Electress Magdalena Sibylle (1612-1687)[21] accompanied her son, Johann Georg III (1647-1691), to Copenhagen where he was betrothed to the Danish princess Anna Sofie (1647-1704). Preserved today are the texts to two musical comedies performed in the open air in the forest near the castle of Frederiksborg for the betrothal: Der lobwürdige Cadmus [...][22] and Masquarada Die Waldlust[...].[23] These entertainments are typical of new trends of the second half of the seventeenth century at both courts. While the older tradition of family members dancing in court entertainments still persisted, as was the case with the masquerade Die Waldlust, more elaborate works performed exclusively by professional dancers and singers became the norm. Court entertainments in Saxony and in Denmark also began to be performed in languages other than those of the court. For the period right after the Thirty Years' War in Denmark, there are ballets not only in Danish and German, the court languages of Denmark, but also in French. The German title page of Cadmus clearly states that it was translated into Italian, and the Italian title page gives the full title - Il Cadmo introduttione d'un giocoso combattimento e Balletto, rappresentato in Musica nella selve di Friderisburgh di Girolamo Pignani. Il Cadmo is theatrically much more complicated than the masquerade, requiring singers throughout, elaborate stage machinery (a cloud machine and a grotto which opens to reveal Fama and Pallas), and concluding with a grand ballet and a fireworks display on the theme of Hercules. With Cadmus, we have the first documented performance of a full-length Italian work at the Danish court. Also noteworthy among the 1663 betrothal celebrations in Copenhagen was a tournament for the ladies' running at the ring. [24] The trend toward French and Italian theater and music was well established in Denmark and Saxony by the 1660's.

The wedding of Johann Georg III and Anna Sofie occurred in October 1666 in Denmark, and a single French text, Le Wirtschaft [...], documents one of the festivities held in Copenhagen on this occasion.[25] The entry of the couple into Dresden on 31 December 1666 provided the occasion for festivities lasting through the entire carnival season. [26] Numerous congratulatory poems are preserved today welcoming the couple in the various cities they passed through en route to Dresden, [27] a poem of thanks for their safe journey and arrival in Dresden dated New Year's Day 1667, [28] and the copious details concerning the entertainments for the bridal pair in Dresden: a tournament and pageant on the theme of the Goddess Diana [29] and a hunt, followed by a masquerade for a sledding party. [30] Such sledding parties were featured frequently in carnival celebrations in Dresden, as attested by a volume of sketches for sleds by Daniel Bretschneider from 1602, and by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sleds of Saxon provenance now in the collections of the Veste Coburg. The most sumptuous entertainments for the Dresden celebrations of the 1666 wedding were, however, the performance of an Italian opera, Il Teseo, on 27 January, [31] and the Ballet der Glückseeligkeit on 5 March 1667. [32]

Three aspects of the performance of Il Teseo are especially noteworthy: the language, the genre, and the location of the performance. Rather than the musical dramas in national vernacular languages of the previous generation, there is now the performance of Italian opera. This trend was observed at the Danish court for the betrothal celebrations of 1663. The fact that the text book to Il Teseo is printed in both Italian and German as a guide to the Dresden performance attests to the relative newness of the trend at the Saxon court, too. The scope of the Dresden work is, however, much greater than the rather modest texts for the Danish festivities. Il Teseo consists of a prologue and five acts, with ample use of stage machines, ballets, and elaborate decoration; it also required a large, professional cast. [33]

The author of the opera Il Teseo (or 'festa teatrale', as it is called on the title page) was Giovanni Andrea Moneglia, and the music was composed by Pietro Andrea Ziani (ca. 1620 - 1684). [34] While there had long been a steady cultural exchange between Denmark and Saxony on the one hand and Italy on the other from the sixteenth century onward, [35] the Elector Johann Georg II, who ruled 1656-1680, had established a large cappella of largely Italian musicians and singers. The first Italian opera performed in Dresden was Giovanni Andrea Bontempi's Il Paride (1662), which was staged for the wedding of Johann Georg III's sister Erdmuthe Sophie to the Markgrave Christian of Bayreuth. Only with the performance of Giovanni Andrea Bontempi's (1624-1705) and Marco Giuseppe Peranda's (ca. 1625-1675) Das Drama oder musikalische Schauspiel von der Dafne in 1672 do we have an Italian opera for the Dresden court for which both libretto and score are preserved today. Thus it came to be that in the decade before Schütz's death in 1672, Italian opera became the centerpiece of the court festival. Italian opera was performed in Dresden from the 1660's onwards, and it was always in the context of the court festival.

Not only was this spectacular work, Il Teseo, commissioned for a dynastic event, the marriage of the future Elector Johann Georg III, but its premiere also initiated the newly constructed Dresden opera house, known then as the 'Comoedien Hauß', located on the Taschenberg. (After the conversion of August the Strong to Catholicism, it became the Catholic church for the court in 1708.) No longer were large-scale theatrical performances held in the multi-purpose 'Great Hall', or 'Riesensaal', of the castle, but in an architectural space especially created for such performances. [36] The Dresden opera house, following that in Vienna (1651) and Munich (1657), was the third in German-speaking lands. [37] It was a magnificent building with a deep stage and many stage machines. The building was constructed by the court architect Wolf Caspar von Klengel (1630-1691), while the renowned artist Johann Oswald Harms designed the interior as well as the sets for many of the performances [38]. The sandstone building offered room for 2,000 viewers. From this point on, all theatrical events involving professional players and singers, particularly opera, were performed in the new opera house, with very few exceptions. Ballets and mummings, that is, theatrical performances in which the Electoral family performed, were still usually staged in the rooms of the castle, such as the 'Great Hall', that is, spaces more closely associated with the daily living quarters of the ruling family. By the time of Danish-Saxon wedding with the inauguration of the 'Comoedien-Hauß' in early 1667, a development in court entertainments thus became formalized: opera with a cast of trained, professional, mainly Italian singers was performed in a representative building erected especially for that purpose.

The performance of Italian opera was thus well established by the last grand festival to be discussed here - the state visit of King Frederik IV of Denmark at court of the Saxon Elector Friedrich August I, known as August the Strong, in Dresden in 1709. Having previously converted to Catholicism, on 15 September 1697 the Saxon Elector was crowned in the cathedral of the Wawel as King August II of Poland. After his defeat by the Swedes, August was forced to renounce the crown in favor of Stanislaw Leszczysky, who was crowned King of Poland on 4 October 1705. The celebrations surrounding the visit of King Frederik IV of Denmark to Dresden in May and June of 1709 were used as a platform for August's regaining the Polish crown, which he succeeded in doing only shortly after the festivals in August of 1709.

Two magnificent theatrical entertainments were enacted by two groups of foreign professional performers whom August had engaged specifically for this occasion. [39] One group of Italian actors came from France under the leadership of Angelo Constantini (1654-1729). [40] The French work they performed for the Danish state visit in Dresden, Le Theatre des Plaisirs, [41] consisted of three acts and included all the standard commedia dell'arte figures, including Constantini's main role as Mezzettino. [42] While there was spoken text for the comedians, numerous song and dance interludes are integrated into the text throughout the play.

The theatrical performances continued with an Italian opera, Gl' Amori di Circe con Ulisse, with text by Giovanni Battista Ancioni and music by the imperial Kapellmeister Carlo Agostino Badia (1672-1738). [43] The famous castrato Francesco Ballarini was assigned the task of mounting the performance of Badia's opera in Dresden, which was performed on 20 June 1709. [44] While Badia's opera was commissioned especially for the visit of the Danish King, another of his works, La Pace e Marte supplicanti avanti al Trono alla Gloria, an Italian serenata first performed in Vienna in 1700, was also part of the Dresden festivities. [45]

The numerous outdoor festivities for the visit of the Danish king to Dresden were also very theatrical in nature, and together with the dramatic musical works they offer a splendid overview of the European court festival in the early eighteenth century. The various events were sequenced such that the tournaments and the dramatic performances complemented each other and can, in fact, be considered continuations of each other, thus illustrating the highly theatrical nature of the pageant tournaments at the Dresden court, as can be shown by the following examples.

The so-called 'Dames-Fest' took place (6 June 1709) in the amphitheater, the wooden predecessor of the Zwinger, which had been constructed by Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann (1662-1736). [46] The placing of this part of the festivities clearly shows that the courtyard of the Zwinger was from the first conceived as a theater space. On the same evening a fireworks display set to music was set off on the Elbe. The spectacles on this day illustrate the artistic structure of the entire festival cycle in honor of the Danish king.

During the 'Dames-Fest' the ladies of the court took part in a knightly exercise, the running at the ring, which normally was reserved for the noble males. For this 'ladies' running at the ring', each of the 24 ladies was seated on a magnificently adorned triumphal coach, which was driven by a cavalier. Two other cavaliers - one on each side - ran with the coach. Each lady had three tries at the ring, and the three attempts were scored together. Each coach was assigned a separate pastel color, and all participants - lady, driver, runners, and even the horse - wore this color. Thus the royal mistress, Countess Cosel, wore the 'couleur de la rose' and her cavalier driver was none other than the King of Denmark, while King August II acted as one of her cavaliers. This lavish running at the ring was admired on all sides, partly because ladies were participating, [47] and partly because of the extraordinary color coordination for each of the 24 groups.

After the 'ladies' running at the ring', and on the same evening, an extraordinary fireworks display, which King August himself had designed, was set off on the Elbe. Prior to the fireworks, a splendid 'water music' was performed on illuminated ships close to the Dresden castle. This serenade, which served as an overture to the fireworks, presented 'La Pace e Marte' - Peace and War - in supplication before the throne of Glory, was Badia's serenata discussed above and lasted half an hour. Then the fireworks display began with the firing of many cannon and rockets, while on a fireworks castle in the middle of the Elbe the initials of the Danish king - 'F.4.R.D.' - could be seen. In the windows of the fireworks tower the emblems of the Danish Order of the Elephant blazed. After this illumination came the fireworks themselves, which were divided into three 'acts', or 'attacks'. In contrast to the fireworks displays of earlier centuries, however, this rather traditional event was thoroughly modern in its musical setting and integration into the festival program.

Several days later (10 June 1709) a foot tournament was held on the Dresden Altmarkt, representing the battle between the Horatii and the Curatii. [48] The public stage of the spectacle was again a central site in the residence city, which was decorated with green fir branches. On both sides, loges were built onto the houses to serve as green pavilions for the high nobility. One loge bore the initials of the Danish king, a shield with a crown surmounted by a helmet with four banners. The various combat teams paraded through the streets of Dresden to the Altmarkt for the tournament.

Among the most splendid of the festivities staged in the framework of the Danish state visit was without doubt the so-called 'Karussell der Vier Teile der Welt', or 'Carrousel of the Four Continents', held (19 June 1709) on the 'Reitbahn' of the Dresden castle. Like the fireworks, the 'Karussell' was opened by an impressive musical performance. [49] On a pageant wagon were seated musicians in Roman costumes, singing a 'Cantata'. There followed the four main pageant 'Inventionen', each representing a continent - Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. As leader of the Europeans, King Frederik IV of Denmark appeared, wearing a Classical costume. His pageant was fashioned as a Roman triumphal procession: triumphal wagons with victory symbols and trophies, two groups of twelve musicians each on foot, led horses, weapon bearers, and 'Avanturier' were to be seen. [50] As chief of the Asians, the ruling Duke of Sachsen-Weißenfels, Johann Georg (1677-1712) appeared, in Turkish costume. In addition to his retinue, also costumed as Turks, he also had two groups of twelve musicians each, playing Turkish music. [51] The head of the Americans was Duke Friedrich of Sachsen-Weißenfels (1673-1715), in Indian costume. He appeared with twenty musicians and four porters, the latter carrying two seated dwarves costumed as American kings. [52] The whole pageant was concluded by King August II as king of the Africans, clothed in a costly African costume. [53] In August's procession appeared not only 24 tambour players and twelve pipers, but also four festival machines - two elephants and two rhinoceroses. In the state armory collections at Dresden are to be found the pageant accouterments produced by the court jeweler Johann Melchior Dinglinger (1664-1731) to be worn by Frederik IV of Denmark as chief of the Europeans in the 'Karussell' - a helmet, a shield with an eagle on it, and a baton. [54] Contemporary sources expressly report that the Dresden 'Karussell' by far surpassed those held at the French and even the imperial courts. [55]

This spectacle represented allegorically the dominance of August and his allies over the four continents of the world. The pageant procession emphasized the hierarchical world order and August's self-proclaimed role as sovereign over a great continent. The knightly exercises which were performed after the procession - running at the ring, throwing the lance and spear, slashing with the sword and saber - highlighted the military skills of the participants and were intended as political display.

The performance of the Italian opera on the theme of Circe and Ulysses on 20 June 1709 introduced a new wave of entertainments on mythological themes. An echo of the festival traditions of August's earlier reign is found in the 'procession of the gods' (22 June 1709), during which August II, King of Poland, assumed the role of Sol, the sun god. [56] The procession paved the way mythologically for his appearance, and his role was the high point of the entire pageant. In his entourage were also four 'Poeten', 16 'Musikanten', and an additional triumphal wagon of Parnassus, on which were seated the nine Muses. Three mythological musicians - Orpheus, Arion, and Amphion - concluded this part of the festival procession. The 'Invention' mask in the form of Sol, made by Dinglinger, is still in the collections of the 'Rüstkammer' in Dresden. [57] While King August appeared as the god of the times of day and of the Muses, the Danish king's role was that of Mars, god of war.

The 'six-fold running at the ring and quintan' which followed the 'procession of the gods' was put on at the great riding course at the castle at night by the light of thousands of candles and torches, and was followed by a 'banquet of the gods' which lasted until the early morning hours. The table was adorned with pyramids, fountains (Tafelbrunnen), and other 'Inventionen', which continued the mythological allusions of the procession and the 'running at the ring of the gods'.

While the 'Karussell' of the four continents and the foot tournament of the Horatii and the Curatii were more or less historically based, the allegory of the gods was carried out on a mythological level. In his guise as Sol, King August presented himself as center of the macrocosm. The sun determines the times of day and the seasons, and therewith also the ages of man. As the sun god Apollo he led the nine Muses - an allusion to the fostering of the arts under August's dominion. By having the Danish king enter the lists as Mars, King August emphasized the power of his ally. With all the means at his disposal August strove, through a widely varied festival iconography, to assert his right to the Polish crown and to prepare the way to regaining it.

The last great festivity in the presence of the Danish king was a so-called 'Bauernwirtschaft von acht Nationen' in the Great Garden, followed by a nocturnal shooting match. The latter began on the evening of 25 June 1709, and ended the next morning. The 'Bauernwirtschaft' presented a kind of topsy-turvy world ('verkehrte Welt') in the form of a courtly masquerade game. [58] At such an entertainment the nobility disguised themselves in the dress of peasants of various origins. The 'Bauernwirtschaft' offered a variety of amusements, like a 'Kirmes' or similar village festivals. After the 'Bauernwirtschaft' another weapons contest was organized, which once again displayed the skills of the participants, this time at a nocturnal shooting match. This festivity was concluded by an Italian comedy.

After a solid month of festivities, Frederik IV of Denmark left Dresden on 29 June, and the two kings glorified in these festivities - August II of Poland and Frederik IV of Denmark - journeyed to Potsdam and Berlin, where they wanted to win King Friedrich I of Prussia as an ally against Sweden. A monument to that visit is the so-called 'alliance portrait' of the three kings preserved today at Charlottenburg in Berlin. [59] Previously, catalogued as 'three kings dancing', recent scholarship has demonstrated this portrait to represent the three royal Fredericks in Berlin: Frederik IV of Denmark; Friedrich August I, Elector of Saxony, and as August II King of Poland; and Friedrich I, King in Prussia. The three monarchs, all ceremonially robed in their exquisite coronation attire, representative of the solemn nature of the occasion, extend their hands to each another, signifying the successfully concluded alliance against King Charles XII of Sweden. Like the theatrical events in Dresden during the preceding weeks, this portrait is itself a theatrical representation of political power. While the three rulers did meet in Berlin and Potsdam in July 1709 and for several days retired for private conferences to the not yet completed castle of Charlottenburg, it is highly unlikely that the kings ever met dressed in this fashion. The painting itself is a mise en scène, a theatrical production of political alliances.

The long tradition of Danish-Saxon courts festivals ended with the state visit of Frederik IV of Denmark to Dresden in May and June 1709. Owing to August's conversion to Catholicism to gain the Polish crown, there were no further marriages between these two (formerly) Protestant houses, and August later negotiated a brilliant match for his son, the future August III, with the daughter of the emperor in 1719, an occasion whose festivities surpassed everything yet seen in Dresden. The over 150-year-old cultural exchange between Saxony and Denmark can be well studied in the festivals outlined here. Moreover, as a case study of two courts, these spectacles offer considerable insights into the development of court festivities, they demonstrate the extremely important role of the festival in the political life of the courts, and they provide a clear outline of the development of Denmark and Saxony among the nation states of early modern Europe.

While the 1709 festivities projected the idealized view of Denmark and Saxony as leading powers in Europe at the turn of the 17th to the 18th century, Russia, Sweden and Prussia were to determine the course of events in the coming century. By the time of the 1709 Dresden festivals, Sweden was well established as the leading power in Scandinavia; the Swedish victory of King Charles XI in the Danish war of 1675-1679 ushered in the so-called Swedish 'Age of Greatness'. During the Caroline autocracy, Sweden also became a leading power in continental European affairs, although shortly after the splendid festivals in Dresden, Tsar Peter the Great defeated the Swedes at the battle of Poltava, and August was able to reassert successfully his claim to the Polish throne. The Saxon Electors were also king of Poland until 1763. At the time of the 1709 festivities, newly crowned King Friedrich I in Prussia also set a series of events into motion which would later position Prussia, and not Saxony, as the leading power in the German-speaking world. Prussia's rise to power was most clearly evidenced in the resounding defeat of Saxony in the Seven Years' War in 1763.


This article presents an outline of my book in progress, 'Splendid Ceremonies: The Great Spectacles of the Early Modern Period in Electoral Saxony and Denmark 1548-1709'.

[2] Dorothea of Sachsen-Lauenberg (1511-1571) married Christian III of Denmark (1503-1559) in 1525. The Reformation was introduced into Denmark in 1537.

[3] Karlheinz Blaschke, Moritz von Sachsen. Eine Reformationsfürst der zweiten Generation (Göttingen and Zürich: Musterschmidt, 1983), p. 65.

[4] In his capacity as Reichsmarschall, the Saxon Elector was the first prince of the empire in the absence of an Emperor. August was later to exercise this office three times: after the abdication of the Emperor Charles V (1556) and the deaths of Emperors Ferdinand I (1564) and Maximilian II (1576).

[5] See Jutta Bäuml, 'Die Festlichkeiten zur Hochzeit Herzog Augusts von Sachsen mit Anna von Dänemark 1548', Dresdener Hefte, 21 (1990) 19-28. Bäuml's article is the best available study on this topic. See Staatsarchiv Dresden, Loc. 10550, Der Churfürstin Anna Verheyrathung, Heimführung und Leibgedinge betrf. 1548-1554, Bl. 25.

[6] See Bäuml, 20. In the letter August asked Moritz to set a location for the event. He also included a document concerning the terms of the marriage in his letter. See Staatsarchiv Dresden, Loc. 7977, Erstes Dänisches Buch, Bl. 17.

[7] Staatsarchiv Dresden, Loc. 7977, Erstes Dänisches Buch, Bl. 50. See also Jutta Bäuml, 'Die Festlichkeiten [...]', 21.

[8] Blaschke, 65.

[9] Quoted according to Bäuml, 21. See Staatsarchiv Dresden, Loc. 7977, Erstes Dänisches Buch, Bl. 68.

[10] Anton Weck, Der [...] Residentz- vnd Hauptfestung Dresden Beschreib: und Vorstellung [...] (Nürnberg: Hoffmann, 1680), p. 350. The sister of the King of Denmark could have been either Elisabeth (1524-1586) or Dorothea (1528-1575), both Duchesses of Mecklenburg.

[11] See Bäuml, 25-28; Weck, 350; and Staatsarchiv Dresden, Loc. 10550, Schrieften.

[12] Mara Wade, Triumphus Nuptialis Danicus. German Court Culture and Denmark. The Great Wedding of 1634, Wolfenbütteler Arbeiten zur Barockforschung, 27 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1996), pp. 17-18.

[13] In fact, the funerals of the two rulers, August in 1586 and Frederik in 1588, provided the occasion for some of the earliest festival documents from Saxony and Denmark.

[14] Weck, 356. The description of the tournament area is based on Weck.

[15] Kurtzer Bericht von der Heyrath vnd Beylager/ Des Durchleuchtigsten Hochgebornen Fürsten vnd Herrn/ Herrn Christiani II. Hertzogen zu Sachsen/[...] Gedruckt im Jahr M. D. C. II.

[16] See Wade, Triumphus Nuptialis Danicus, pp. 45-47.

[17] Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Manuscript Department, H3, 'Cardell des Ringrennens, so Den 31. Octobris vnd 1. Novembris Anno 1603. Zu Hamburg ist gehalten Wordenn.' Dr. Jill Bepler, Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, kindly brought this manuscript to my attention. See Mara R. Wade, 'Georg Engelhard Loehneyss' Della Cavalleria als höfische Kunstlehre', Künste und Natur, edited by Harmut Laufhütte, Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, 35, Part I (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), pp. 577-589. See also Jesper Düring Jørgensen, 'Georg Engelhard Löhneyssen og hans ridebøger i Det Kongelige Bibliotek', Fund og Forskning, 34 (1995), 35-60 and the continuation in the same journal. Düring Jørgensen examines all aspects of Loehneyssen's books as treatises on riding.

[18] See Mara R. Wade, 'Prinz Christian von Dänemark und seine sächsische Braut Magdalena Sibylle als Mäzene von Heinrich Schütz', Schütz-Jahrbuch, 21 (1999), 49-61.

[19] Wade, Triumphus Nuptials Dancius, 221-278.

[20] In Saxony the Peace of Westphalia was celebrated with the double wedding of the Saxon princes Moritz and Christian to princesses of Schleswig-Holstein.

[21] Magdalena Sibylle (1612-1687), the Electress of Saxony and wife of Johann Georg II, traveled to Denmark with her son 1663. See Cr. Bruun, 'Kurfyrstinde Magdalena Sibylla og kurprinds Johan Georg af Sachsens Rejse til Danmark 1663', Danske Samlinger, 2cd. series, 2 (1872-1873), 144-177; here cited in a separate imprint from the same volume, pages number 1-36. There is an error in the recent list of festival publications by Helen Watanabe O'Kelly and Anne Simon: Anna Sophie was already in Denmark; she was not yet married to Johann Georg III; these were the betrothal festivities (see Helen Watanabe O'Kelly and Anne Simon, Festivals and Ceremonies. A Bibliography of Works Relating to Court, Civic and Religious Festivals in Europe, 1500-1800 (London: Mansell, 2000), p. 438).

[22] Der lobwürdige Cadmus [...] (Copenhagen: Göding, [1663]). Cadmus consists of six 'Aufzüge', or entrées. See Eberhard Thiel und Gisela Rohr, Libretti. Verzeichnis der bis 1800 erschienenen Textbücher, Kataloge der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, 14 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1970), item 1011.

[23] Masquarada Die Waldlust [...] (Copenhagen: Göde, 1663). This ballet featured dances by the royal princesses and other members of court in 15 entrées. See Thiel und Rohr, Libretti, item 1708.

[24] Bruun, 'Kurfyrstinde [...],' 162.

[25] Le Wirtschaft fait a Copenhaguen Au Mariage de Son Altesse Royale Madame Anne Sophie de Dannmarc Avec Le Sernissime Prince Electeur Jean George De Saxe Le _ d'Octobre 1666 ([Copenhagen]: n.p., [1666]).

[26] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, 'Heimführung des Chur-Printzens zu Sachßen Herrn Johann Georgens des Dritten Frau Gemahlin Frau Anna Sophien aus dem König-Reich Dennemarck 1666 u. 1667'.

[27] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, nine printed items are tucked inside the cover of the volume.

[28] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, f. 411 ff. This is a printed item bound into the manuscript volume: Christliche Danksagung/ Wegen Glücklicher Zurückkunfft/ Des Durchlauchtigsten Chur Printzens zu Sachßen [...] auff den HeiligenNeu-Jahrs-Tag Anno 1667 (Dresden: Berg, [1667]), 4 pp.

[29] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, ff. 414A-478B.

[30] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, ff. 479A-482B. Additional entertainments included shooting and fencing matches, and the wedding of a member of high nobility, Hans Siegmund von Militz.

[31] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, ff. 483A-566A. The printed text of Theseus/ II Teseo is inserted into the manuscript volume; it is bilingual, Italian left and German right.

[32] Staatsarchiv Dresden, OHMA, B, 15, ff. 734A-761A. The printed text of the Ballet der Glückseeligkeit is inserted into the manuscript volume. The cartel, the ballet, and the accompanying sonnet were by the court poet David Schirmer and the ballet was 'invented' and choreographed by the court dancing master François de la Marche (Ballet der Glückseeligkeit [...] (Dresden: Berg, 1666)).

[33] The Dresden court singers Melani and Sorlisi earned great acclaim for their performance, which was repeated twice in March. Moritz Fürstenau, Zur Geschichte der Musik und des Theaters am Hofe zu Dresden (1861-1862); rpt. 2 vols (Leipzig: Peters, 1971), I, 225-227.

[34] Moneglia signed the introduction. The text was translated into German by Johann Georg Richter as Theseus, Theatrums-Froh. See Wolfram Steude, 'Die Rolle der Musik in der Festkultur des Wettiner Hofes in Dresden von 1548 bis zur Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts', Zur Festkultur des Dresdener Hofes. Dresdener Hefte, 21 (1990), 55.

[35] Dresden und Italien, Dresdener Hefte, 40 (1994). The entire volume is devoted to Saxon-Italian cultural exchange.

[36] See Fürstenau, 227.

[37] Matthias Rank, 'Ausgewählte Daten und Fakten zur Chronik der Dresdener Oper', Oper in Dresden. Festschrift zur Wiedereröffnung der Semper Oper (Berlin: Henschelverlag, 1985), p. 107.

[38] See Steude, 55-56. See also Heinz Kindermann, Theatergeschichte Europas, 10 vols (Salzburg: Müller, 1957-74), III (1959), 548-549.

[39] See Fürstenau, II, 47-48 (French actors, dancers, and musicians) and 49 (Italian singers).

[40] 'Costantini,' Enciclopedia dello Spettacolo (Rome: Le Maschere, 1956), III, cols. 1563-1570. In France the family was known as 'Constantini'. Angelo was known for his role as Arlecchino and also developed a new commedia dell'arte style figure, 'Mezzettino'. Kindermann lists his birthdate as 1670, which appears to be an error.

[41] Le Theatre des Plaisirs Presenté a la Majesté de Frideric Auguste Second, Roy de Pologne & Electeure de Saxe par Le Sr. Ange de Constantini, Camerier intime, Tresorier des menus plasirs & Garde de Bijoux de la Chambre du Roy & representé en Presance de Sa Majesté Le Roy de Danemarck a Dresden ce _ 1709 ([Dresden]: n.p. [1709]).

[42] The text of the work was by Constantini ('Ce Diuertissement a esté joué par la Troupe des Comediens Francios [sic] entre tenüe par Sa Majesté Le Roy de Pologne & Electeur de Saxe', Le Theatre des Plaisirs [...], BiA); while the Kappellmeiser Johann Christoph Schmidt wrote the music for the songs ('Toute la Musique a esté Compotée [sic] par le Sr. Schmidt, Maitre de Chapelle de Sa Majesté le Roy de Pologne & Electeur de Saxe', Le Theatre des Plaisirs [...], BiB), and the court dance master Louis de Poitiers was responsible for the choreography ('Toutes les Dances ont esté Composées par le Sr. Louis de Poitieres Parisien & Maitre des Ballets de la Cour de Sa Majesté le Roy de Pologne & Electeur de Saxe', Le Theatre des Plaisirs [...], BiiA).

[43] Carlo Agostino Badia was engaged at the imperial court as 'Musik-Compositeur'. See Julie Anne Sadie, Companion to Baroque Music (New York: Schirmer, 1991), p. 249. The information on Badia in MGG regarding this opera and the surrounding events is wrong: '[...] erhielt er [Badia] von Joseph I. den Auftrag und die Erlaubnis, 1709 für den Dresdner Hof anläßlich des Besuchs der Königin von Schweden eine Oper (Gli amori di Circe con Ulisse) zu schreiben'. See Johann Steinecker, 'Badia, Carlo Agostino', Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Personenteil (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1994-), I (1999), cols. 1598-1601. The opera was not written for the visit of the Queen of Sweden, but for that of the King of Denmark.

[44] Herbert Seiffert, 'Die Rolle Wiens bei der Rezeption italienischer Musik in Dresden', Dresdner Operntraditionen, edited by Günther Stephan and Hans John (Dresden: Schriftenreihe der Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, 1985), pp. 96-105, p. 101.

[45] The text was by G. D. Fillipeschi. See Moritz Bodenehr, Eigentlicher Abriß und Beschreibung Des nochniemahls allhier so groß und kostbar vorgestellten Feuer-Wercks [...] (Alt-Dresden: Johann Heinrich Schwenck, [1709]). After the title page and a double-page illustration of the fireworks by the engraver Bodenehr follows the complete text of Badia's work. Following the Italian text of the serenata there is a German description of the fireworks in three acts.

[46] Dames-Fest Zu Ehren und in hoher Gegenwart Ihr. Königl. Majest. zu Dennemarck/ u.u. gehalten in Dreßden Den 6. Jun: Anno 1709 (Dresden: Johann Riedeln, [1709]). This program is a key to the ladies' tournament, listing each lady, the colors she wore, her male attendants, and male and female courtiers who attended the 'Wirtschaft'.

[47] See Helen Watanabe O'Kelly, 'Das Damenringrennen--eine sächsische Erfindung?', Zur Festkultur des Dresdener Hofes. Dresdener Hefte, 21 (1990), 307-312.

[48] According to Roman legend, under King Tullus Hostilius the struggle for dominance over Alba Longa was decided by the duel between the two sets of triplets, the Horatii (from Rome) and the Curatii (from Alba Longa). Through their victory the Horatii secured control over Alba Longa and therewith expanded the Roman empire. The metaphor of the Roman heroes who as three allies decided the struggle for their respective teams points to the alliance between the Polish King August II and the Danish King Frederik IV. The unnamed but implied third partner in this alliance was supposed to be Friedrich I of Prussia (1657-1713).

[49] Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (=SHSta), Dresden, OHMA, F, Nr. 15, f. 162B.

[50] SHSta, Dresden, OHMA, F, Nr. 15, f. 163A-164B.

[51] SHSta, Dresden, OHMA, F, Nr. 15, f. 165A-167B.

[52] SHSta, Dresden, OHMA, F, Nr. 15, f. 165A-167B.

[53] SHSta, Dresden, OHMA, F, Nr. 15, f. 168A-170B.

[54] Rüstkammer, Inv.-Nr. 164, 169, and T309. Erna v. Watzdorf has pointed out the stylistic similarity of the eagle on the pageant shield with Dinglinger's design for the Polish Order of the White Eagle. Erna von Watzdorf, Johann Melchior Dinglinger. Der Goldschmied des deutschen Barock (Berlin: Gebrüder Mann, 1962), p. 93. See also Barock in Dresden, Katalog der Ausstellung der staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden in der Villa Hügel zu Essen 1986 (Leipzig: Edition Leipzig, 1986), p. 114, no. 87.

[55] Theatrum Europaeum [...] (Frankfurt am Main: Heinscheidt, 1720), XVIII, under the year 1709, section 137b.

[56] In a similar procession for Carnival of 1695 Elector Friedrich August had been the first to enter the lists as Mercury, the messenger of the gods. See [Martin Klötzel], Der von dem [...] Churfürsten zu Sachsen [...] Hertzog Friderico Augusto, in Dero residence Dreßden/ Donnerstag den 7. Febr. 1695 [...] angestellte und gehaltenen Götter-Aufzug (Dresden: n.p. [1697]). In 1709 he appeared in the eighth of twelve 'Banden'.

[57] Dresden, Rüstkammer, Inv.-Nr. 171.

[58] See Claudia Schnitzer, 'Königreiche - Wirtschaften - Bauernhochzeiten. Zeremonielltragende und -unterwandernde Spielformen höfischer Maskerade', Zeremoniell als höfische Ästhetik in Spätmittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, edited by Jörg Jochen Berns and Thomas Rahn, Frühe Neuzeit, 25 (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1995), pp. 280-331.

[59] See Freunde der Preußischen Schlößer und Gärten, Heft 3 (1994). I would like to thank the museum at Schloß Charlottenburg for allowing me to study this painting in March 1999. See Schloß Chorlottenburg, Berlin, Museen und Schlösser und Denkmäler in Deutschland, edited by Thomas W. Gaehtgens ([Paris]: Foundation Paribas, 1995), p. 32. My thanks to Dr. Sara Smart, University of Exeter, for bringing this painting to my attention.

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Aurifex, Department of English & Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, SE14 6NW, UK

Copyright © Goldsmiths College, 2003