The medieval dance of death

From the 14th to 16th centuries, Europeans were seized by a manic desire to dance – and did so in their hundreds, often until they dropped. But, asks Helen Carr, what caused this bizarre phenomenon – disease, disaster or the devil?

Outbreaks of dance mania saw sufferers foaming at the mouth and trying to beat demons out of their bodies with sticks. (Photo by The Granger Collection/Alamy Stock Photo)

This article was first published in the Christmas 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine

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