The Bal des Ardents
(Ball of the Burning Men
) was a masquerade ball
held on 28 January 1393 in Paris
at which Charles VI of France
performed in a dance with five members of the French nobility
. Four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, Charles' brother Louis, Duke of Orléans
. Charles and another of the dancers survived. The ball was one of a number of events intended to entertain the young king, who in the previous summer had suffered an attack of insanity. The event undermined confidence in Charles' capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and his brother Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide
and sorcery, into offering penance for the event.
The event was chronicled by contemporary writers such as the Monk of St Denis and Jean Froissart, and illustrated in a number of 15th-century illuminated manuscripts by painters such as the Master of Anthony of Burgundy.
Joan of Arc
, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans
" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans
), is a folk heroine
of France and a Roman Catholic saint
. She was born a peasant
girl in what is now eastern France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War
, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France
. She was captured by the Burgundians
, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon
for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy", and was burned at the stake
when she was 19 years old.
Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is – along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux – one of the patron saints of France. Joan said that she had visions from God that instructed her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.
To the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization.