January 28th 1393: Bal des Ardents


The Bal des Ardents in a 15th century work


On this day in 1393, the French King Charles VI was almost killed at a masquerade ball when the dancers caught fire; the event has since become known as the ‘Bal des Ardents’ or ‘The Ball of the Burning Men’. The fire broke out because of a flame torch, and killed four of the dancers. Charles VI, sometimes known as Charles the Mad, was in trouble as his insanity was jeopardising his legitimacy as a ruler. He had been on the throne thirteen years at the time of the ball, having ascended to power when he was only eleven. This incident did not help his reputation  as it seemed emblematic of the decadence of Charles’s court.


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