The funeral of Ladislaus the Posthumous: between the profane and the sacred.


The present study is devoted to both sacred and profane elements of late medieval royal funerals in the Bohemian kingdom, using the funeral of Bohemian and Hungarian King Ladislaus the Posthumous as an example. The ceremony took place in Prague on 25 November 1457, two days after his unexpected death. Like royal coronations, the funeral of a monarch was one of the most important rituals of monarchical power, though unlike coronations, no normative source on the proceedings—an Ordo exsequiarum—was ever written in the Kingdom of Bohemia or anywhere else in Christian Europe. This study emphasizes the elements of a profane nature, manifested in the breaking and destruction of emblems of monarchical power (the crown, sceptre, imperial apple, seal, flags and banners). An analysis of the sources preserved in relation to this funeral, as well as the funerals of other Czech kings of the 14th and 15th centuries, reveals that the funeral of Ladislaus the Posthumous was not exclusively a sacral affair; secular elements played a significant role, and in some aspects, even dominated over the sacred elements.