Vienna, 1515

By the turn of the sixteenth century, Vienna was no longer ruled by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus (1485-1490) and looked back a restive century during which it had lost its claim to be one of the biggest cities in the German Empire. Trade with Hungary had been negatively affected by repeated Ottoman invasions. The discovery of America also changed the city’s economic situation. However, by the time the double wedding was celebrated on July 22nd, 1515 at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral the imperial city had absorbed new impulses and evolved into a leading centre of humanism and learning, thanks also to the activities of the humanist Konrad Celtis (in Vienna 1497-1508) and the support by Emperor Maximilian.

The Habsburg ruler also founded the court chapel in 1498, which was led by the choir –master (Singmeister) Georg von Slatkonia (born in Leibach) (1513-1522), who was later made Bishop of Vienna; it established the city’s reputation as an outstanding musical centre. No less than 49 singers and choir boys are documented for 1509. Both science and music played an important role in the festivities organized for the double wedding of 1515, as documented in an extant detailed report compiled by Johann Cuspinian, imperial ambassador, physician, university professor and one of Vienna’s leading scientists.

German and especially Italian scientists introduced humanism to Vienna University - founded in 1365 by Rudolf IV and contributed to a flowering of publications. Three Viennese printers worked fulltime to fullfill the printing needs of the university and others scholars: Johannas Winterburger, Hieronymus Vietor, and Iohannes Singrenius.

With Cuspinian Vienna boasted one of the most prolific and important humanists in the German-speaking world, who had, like Celtis, a widespread network. As imperial ambassador he was also involved in the negotiations with the Jagiellon court at Buda that resulted in the double wedding of 1515.

Christian Gastgeber

© KHM-Museumsverband, Wissenschaftliche Anstalt öffentlichen Rechts.
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