A holiday of balls and masquerades
From the end of the XIII-th century, the fame of the carnival of Nice is underlined in the local chronicles during the stay in 1294 by the count of Provence Charles II, duke of Anjou, come to Nice " to spend there the joyful days of carnival ". From
1388 (dates in which the county of Nice looks itself to Amédée VII, count of Savoy), the dukes of Savoy stayed frequently in Nice in period of carnival, as duke Emmanuel-Philibert in 1577 and 1578. The carnival preceded the period of the fast accompanied with a series of festivities: balls, masquerades, dances, fires of enjoyment, exhibitions of jugglers and mimers, tables put in streets. Unsuccessfully, the Church tries to channel the most rough and obscene aspects of the holiday. Ecclesiastical prescriptions in the XVII-th century order the priests at the risk of fine or of prison " not to dance, either in public, or in private, not look at people who dance, not to wear long hair, long beards, red or green shoes in public. Do not walk come night, not sing profane songs in streets, not execute pieces of music, not mask ". But in vain: In the town well protected inside its bulwarks, the carnival takes place happily, under the control of the property managers of the city, who, by an edict of 1539 (completed in 1612), name " abbots of the Madmen " in charge of organizing and regulating the festivals and the balls of carnival.
Balls took place right by the main centres of the urban activity: the ball of the nobility, on the place or the loggia of the ducal palace, the ball of the traders, the place of the Bishop's palace, the ball of the artisans, the place Saint-Francois, in front of municipal palace, the ball of the fishermen and the workers, place of Condamine. To circulate freely from a ball to the other one, it was necessary to be masked and " disguised suitably ", otherwise the Inhabitants of Nice were anxious to stay in the ball corresponding to their social class.
The abbots of the Madmen were in charge also of commanding the musicians of balls, of perceiving the right of tumult during remarriages and said pelota tax taken with the young couple of the year.