Time for a little bit of history!
One integral part of Ludwigsburg's Horse Market parade - other than the horses and marching bands - are the groups displaying the town's history. Let me take you along, I promise it won't be boring :-)
The first group in the "historical" section of the parade were the Romans. Now, they were not the first people to settle in the area that is now Ludwigsburg (there were settlements of Celts/Celtics [I never know which is the correct form] here centuries before they arrived, and probably Stone Age people roamed the woods before them).
But the Romans definitely knew a good place when they saw it, and so they set up shop along the river Neckar. I wrote about Roman remains in a suburb of Ludwigsburg here, if you are interested.
We don't know all that much about the next few centuries, as there wasn't any town on the spot where Ludwigsburg is nowadays. However, the surrounding villages and smaller towns were already in existence. Some of them have officially become parts of Ludwigsburg, although being much older than the city itself. Anyway, some of the people may have more or less (rather less than more, I'm afraid) looked a bit like this:
Then came the year 1704 and Eberhard Ludwig, Duke of Wuerttemberg, decided he needed a tiny little hunting lodge for him and his friends when hunting in the woods north of Stuttgart, his official residence. The foundation for what was eventually to grow into one of the largest (if not THE largest) Baroque palaces in Germany was laid. For decades, the place was one big construction site, with only the workers and their families actually living there: (Baustelle means building site)
But with the Duke moving in, his court of course followed, and that in turn meant work for more people. To make the small settlement grow into a proper city and make moving here attractive for everyone, several decrees promised the newcomers religious freedom, tax liberation for the first 10 years, free building materials and plots of land at a very low cost.
The scheme worked, and today Ludwigsburg has just above 90.000 inhabitants, although we are not exempt from paying taxes and certainly do not get cheap land and building materials for free anymore!
Over the years and under Eberhard Ludwig's successors, the town grew in importance, reaching its pinnacle when it became a garrison. For a long time, the face of my town was mostly a military one. Uniforms were everywhere; horses and groups of exercising soldiers were the familiar sights and sounds. Around them, a healthy economy grew - the soldiers (and sometimes their families when they had them) needed food and drink, washing and cleaning, gambling and other amusements.
But the dukes did not neglect holding court at the ever-growing palace, and each one left their mark on the town.
I've briefly told you here how Wuerttemberg, which had always been a Dukedom, became a Kingdom "thanks" to Napoleon and Friedrich making a deal. Here they are, riding in a carriage together like they've in all probablity never done in real life:
Times changed, and so did fashion. The following monarchs of Wuerttemberg did not always choose Ludwigsburg as their residence; some of them only lived here during the summer months. That meant less work and money for the people of Ludwigsburg, but although the number of inhabitants shrank considerably for several decades, the town was never given up completely.
Except for the glasses and the lipstick (only ladies of a certain profession would have gone out on the streets wearing make-up in those times!), you might have come across people looking a bit like these:
Postal service all over Germany was patchy, to say the least. Mail was carried in coaches such as these, and they could also be booked for travelling from one town to the other. It may look romantic, but most of all, travelling was uncomfortable and lengthy back then.
All around Ludwigsburg, the old villages and smaller towns still existed. Many of them lived on farming, selling their produce also on Ludwigsburg's market. (I wrote about the market square here.)
As a brief skip back in time again, this group from Ossweil (today, one of our suburbs) shows how the inhabitants of this much older village may have looked over the centuries:
This man in an old conductor's uniform offers a very small glimpse into the time when Ludwigsburg and its suburbs were first being connected by a network of bus lines. I think I even remember them looking like that, at least I know they had very similar devices for coins and tickets when I was little:
After WWII, a new town emerged at Ludwigsburg's south-western edge: Pattonville, named after General Patton and built by and for the US military and their families. All during my childhood and teenage years, the US-American influence was strongly felt - not questioned by my generation, but no doubt sometimes strongly resented by the older people to whom the sight of US soldiers in our streets must have been a daily reminder of the hard times during and after the war, the guilt most Germans feel to an extent about the terrible crimes committed in the past, and the fact that Germany lost the war, having no choice but to allow the country to be split into four occupation zones between the allies.
But time moved on, and so did people. Americans and Germans became friends, and we still have groups of people holding up the traditions and pastimes they learned from their friends, such as this Squaredance group:
Today, Ludwigsburg is a bustling town. We have our share of problems, of course, but all things considered, it is a good place to live - neither too big nor too small, with enough work for (almost) everybody, many shops across all price ranges, and some unique places of interest, such as the palaces and parks I so often show you here on my blog.
We are a colourful mix of people from many different nations, as you'll see in one of my next posts about the Horse Market parade - and we only wear traditional German dirndls for special occasions :-)