1582: Live cats feature in Bruges fireworks show

William, Prince of Orange and Francis, Duke of Anjou visited Bruges in July 1582. According to contemporary reports, cited in later texts, William and Francis were officially welcomed to the city with a “grand display” of banners, bunting and displays. The highlight of the royal reception was a giant structure in the city square, built in the form of a ship and packed with fireworks. And strapped to poles beneath or alongside these fireworks were more than three dozen cats:

“The screams of the hapless creatures on the ignition of each firework produced further cheers and merriment among the happy throng.”

When all the fireworks had been detonated, the entire ship – with the cats still inside – was set alight.

Source: Various inc. Gouw, De Volksvermaken, 1871. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.