Description of a tournament, held on 20 March 1628

Floats have long been a traditional feature in parades for festivals or special days from those in New Orléans during Mardi Gras built and operated by their crews to the spectacular displays created for the Rose Bowl Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I was a bit surprised, though, to come across images of floats in a 15th  century Italian festival book for a celebration dedicated to Grand-Duke Ferdinand II.  It included the fold-out depicting a warship float accompanied by horsemen and torch bearers.  I had no idea that “floats” had been used for so long.

Parade floats were first introduced in the Middle Ages when churches used pageant wagons as movable scenery for passion plays. Artisan guilds were responsible for building the pageant wagons for their specified craft.1

With a little further searching, I came across an oil painting of a procession with floats that was held in May 1615, titled (English) The Ommeganck2 in Brussels on 31 May 1615. The Triumph of Archduchess Isabella3 by Denys van Alsloot.

(Click on image for larger version – opens in new tab/window)


I wasn’t really looking through medieval books for any particular sort of research.  Rather, I was looking for images or patterns that could be incorporated into 21st designs for products. For instance, the image below is from the cover of the book where I found the warship float.  The image is rotated 90°.

book cover

I digitally processed the image to correct for fading and adjust saturation and contrast.


Funny, isn’t it, what you can come across online without really looking for it.

1 Float (parade)e– Wikipedia

2 Ommegang or Ommeganck (Dutch: “walk around” (the church, village or city) is the generic name for various medieval pageants celebrated in what is now Belgium, in the Netherlands, and in northern France. – Wikipedia

3 The Ommeganck in Brussels on 31 May 1615: The Triumph of Archduchess Isabella – Victoria and Albert Museum

art, history, internet, literature

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rummuser Jan 5, 2015

    The POTUS will attend our Republic Day Parade this year. It will showcase a number of floats and is quite a time consuming parade.

    Rummuser recently posted…Vishweshwar And Jaganmohan.My Profile

    • Mike Jan 5, 2015

      I think it’s great that he’s visiting India. It’s an important nation for many reasons.
      Mike recently posted…New Year ResolutionsMy Profile

  • Grannymar Jan 5, 2015

    I like the finished product from your digital playtime, a comforting mug!
    Grannymar recently posted…Sunday One liners ~ 62My Profile

    • Mike Jan 5, 2015

      Thanks. That one was a temporary design, created to demonstrate what I was looking for and one way that it could be used.

      (Speaking of comfort mugs, I think I’ll have some hot chocolate.)
      Mike recently posted…New Year ResolutionsMy Profile

  • Grannymar Jan 5, 2015

    If you want the hot chocolate made with milk, you need to ask Karen. My intolerance stretches to the smell of warm milk.
    Grannymar recently posted…Sunday One liners ~ 62My Profile

    • Mike Jan 5, 2015

      I cheat. We just get the kind that will work with hot water.

      I’m not lactose intolerant, but I am slightly allergic to dairy products. If I have too much, I start itching all over and, sometimes, develop rashes , so I reserve dairy product consumption for ice cream and cheese, and neither of those to excess. Too much bread or pasta will do the same. I keep it pretty much suppressed with over-the-counter antihistamines and, currently, am virtually rash free, including some that I thought were fungal infections that I had for way too long.
      Mike recently posted…New Year ResolutionsMy Profile

%d bloggers like this:

This site uses cookies for various nonintrusive purposes. See our Privacy Policy for how they are used. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

This notice is a European Union requirement for sites with advertising or sales. The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.