What’s known about the earliest morris in Europe?

The following is taken from a message by Mike Heaney to the Morris Dancing Discussion List on 23 Aug 1993:

For the word in Europe:

the first evidence for anything with an apparently relevant name is from 1149;

performances with similar names (moresca/moresque/moresco) spread throughout continental Europe from Spain in the following two centuries, but apparently adopt various forms in different countries;

there appears to be a florescence in the 15th century, centred (as so many elements of popular entertainment appear to do) on the Duchy of Burgundy, which included Flanders (and most of the flourishing emanated from Flanders itself);

the Flemish form of the word appears to be the most likely candidate for the English form of the word;

when “morris” and “moresque” appear in English they appear to describe slightly different things, though matters are confused by the practice of translating “morris” into a form beginning moresk-/morisk- in other languages

As regards English morris:

there’s no evidence at all before the 15th century;

there’s no sign of sticks before the late 17th century;

the evidence for blackened faces before the 19th century is negligible;

Advertisements