A masquerade ball (or bal masqué) is an event which the participants attend in costume wearing a mask. Masquerade balls were a feature of the Carnival season in the 15th century, and involved increasingly elaborate allegorical Royal Entries, pageants and triumphal processions celebrating marriages and other dynastic events of late medieval court life. The “Bal des Ardents” (“Burning Men’s Ball”) was held by Charles VI of France, and intended as a Bal des sauvages (“Wild Men’s Ball”), a form of costumed ball (morisco).
Masquerade balls were extended into costumed public festivities in Italy during the 16th century Renaissance (Italian, maschera). They were generally elaborate dances held for members of the upper classes, and were particularly popular in Venice. They have been associated with the tradition of the Venetian Carnival.