The future King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810 and the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities on the field in front of the city gates. The wedding took place on the name day of the Bavarian King Maximilian I. The fields were named in honour of their new Crown Princess, Theresienwiese (Therese’s Meadows) and they are still called that. The decision was made to repeat the spectacle surrounding the 1810 celebrations and we now know the annual event as Oktoberfest.
Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen was born on 8 July 1792 as the daughter of Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, and Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. On 20 December 1809, the future King visited Hildburghausen, where he had the choice between Therese and her sister Louise. He picked the 18-year-old Therese and their engagement was celebrated on 12 February 1810. He wrote to her, “I’ll be happy with you my dear, dear Therese.” At the beginning of October, Therese left home.
Therese wore a floor-length empire dress with lace and silk. During the ceremony, she suffered from a terrible toothache. The ceremony took place in the evening and the city was illuminated by lights. The city celebrated with bread rolls, cheese, sausages, wine and beer and even held a horse race. As happy as he claimed he would with her, it was not to be. “Therese is distinguished by her heart, by reason, by beauty. I would not wish for a better woman, but I married without passion as it’s more profitable for the future.”
Therese and Ludwig went on to have nine children, though she suffered through his continuous affairs, such as with Lola Montez.