A masquerade ball is a formal event that is believed to originate in Italy in the fifteen century, which is also known as the fourteen hundreds, during the Renaissance period. A ball of this type would be held on very special occasions, like a marriage or other events like a kings crowning, or something that made a great impact on the upper class medieval court life. They were described as a public and very elaborate and elegant ball. When they say public though, this usually means the upper class part of the town’s people. This type of ball was most commonly seem in Venice, Italy, even though they were all over Italy, and eventually became associated with the Venetian Carnival.
More precisely, a masquerade ball is a big, formal dance. When attending this dance, it is required that you wear a mask, to conceal your identity from the other guests at the masquerade ball. Not only did the attendants wear a mask, but they also dressed in costume. This was great fun for everyone. Most people met others that they would not have usually met or talked to, but because of their masks and costumes, that hid who they really were, they were able to converse and get to know each other. Doesn’t that sounds like the plot and how two people meet in a romance novel or a romance movie.
This type of ball became very popular throughout the fifteenth century, and became really popular then started to spread in the seventeenth century. That was when the masquerade ball moved to Europe. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, it was not uncommon to see a masquerade ball erupt out of nowhere, especially in France. They were very common there, because of the Carnival, which some people now know as Marti Gras.
Sometimes, this type of ball was held as a sort if game to keep the guests entertained. People would dress even more elaborate than ever and see if people could decipher who they were. This could go on and last for hours and hours. It was a great game to the guests.
Masquerade balls are mentioned very many times throughout history and literature. They are mentioned by the famous and great Edgar Allen Poe in The Masque of the Red Death, it is also mentioned in his story The Cask of Amontillado, and danced from this type of ball was mentioned in one of his short stories hop-Frog. They are also mentioned in Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse.
A man by the name of Eugene Scribe wrote a play called Gustave III. This play was actually very true and based on an event that actually happened. Gustav III of Sweden was assassinated at a masquerade ball by a disgruntle nobleman by the name of Jacob Johan Anckarstrom . This play about the bad side of masquerade balls, was eventually turned into an opera called Un Ballo In Maschera and was written by Giuseppe Verdi.