Freydal is an uncompleted illustrated prose narrative commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I in the early 16th century. It was intended to be a romantic allegorical account of Maximilian's own participation in a series of jousting tournaments in the guise of the tale's eponymous hero, Freydal. In the story, Freydal takes part in the tournaments to prove that he is worthy to marry a princess, who is a fictionalised representation of Maximilian's late wife, Mary of Burgundy. The text was never completed, although a manuscript draft is held by the Austrian National Library. 256 miniature paintings to accompany the text were created by court painters, and 255 are preserved in an illuminated manuscript ‘tournament book’ held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. These miniatures vividly record the different types of jousts that were popular at the time as well as the court masquerades, or ‘mummeries’, that took place at the end of the day after each tournament. It is the most extensive visual record of late medieval tournaments and court masquerades that exists.
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