Proceedings of the Known World Dance Symposium 2007

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Gresley Manuscript Dances

Marie Morrison
(Fionnabhair inghean Donnchaidh Guthrie)

Pernes on gre / de 2

Source: Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 p60

Trace forthright vj singlis / ather torne o_er about et forthright vj singlis Agen /

After the end of şe trace rak both togeder and torne / then face to face vj singlis ethire ......... (contrary) oder and iij retrete Ayen / then A flowerdelice of both at onys / then change place and torne face to face / then A flowerdelice and come to geder

Talbott / de 2pß

Source: Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 p55

After the hend of the trace trett retrett and dept the / furst furthright şe second contrary hyme and turne face to face / Then brawle at onys and then come togydder / Then trett and retrett togeder with 3 singlis forth and chance handes on the same wyes again then togeder 2 doblis 2 rakis and a turne

Lebns de disinens / de 2

Source: Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 pp63-64

After the end of şe trace the first iij forth and torne while the second retrett iij bake then com togeder and ethir torne in oders plas / then şe last man iij forth et torn while the first retrett / then come togeder in such wys as şay ded afore and then either end in ther own place then trett and retrett and torn

Esparnß / de 3pß Trace / 3

Source: Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 pp54-55

Al the vj singlis wş a trett / şhen şe first man goo compas till he come behind while şe medyll retrett thre and şe last iij singlis and şe medil iij singlis levyng the last / on / the left hand and the last iij retrett et thus şe medill endyth before şe last in şe meddist / and şe ferst behind ş9 dinnce iij tymes ß calling any man as he standdith// After şe end of the trace şe first iij furth outward truşing ayen hie / face / then şe last contur hym and the meddil to şe fyrst et then şe first to his place / then the last to the medyll and şe medyll to şe last mans place / the first and the last change place while the medyll tornyth / Al at onys retrett iij bake / bak al at ons / then / the first torne whill the last torne in his own place / then al togeder thre furth


Esperans             (Master Trahaearn / Peter Durham /

A1-4       All do 6 singles, LRLRLR, then single L (trett) close.

   5-8      #1 compass steps left (1 double LRLR), then 3 doubles (LRLR) 'til in last place

                #2 do 3 singles back, LRL+ close

                #3 do 3 singles forward, LRL + close

                #2 do 3 singles forward, LRL + close

                #3 do 3 singles backward LRL + close (ENDS = #2, #3, #1)

That again (ENDS #3, #1, #2)

That again (ENDS #1, #2, #3)

B1-8       Single Hey (3 singles + close)

C1-8       #1 & #3 change places (1 double LRLR)

                #2 turn in place (LRLR) (ENDS #3, #2, #1)

D1-2       All do 3 steps backward (LRL+close, shift weight to right foot)

E1-2       All do 3 singles forward (LRL + close)

F1-3       #3 & #1 (first in line and last in line) turn single (LRL + close)

   4-6       All do 3 singles forward (LRL = close)     

If we take the 3 in the margin to mean repetitions, the entire dance is repeated 3 times until it ENDS #1, #2, #3); conversely, one rep. ends with the dancers in the order #3, #2, #1 (reversed).








Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 pp71-72


Togedder three sig=lis wişe A stop trett and rtrett then şe first ma torn in his own place whill the last torn the meddyll Abowytt  togedder Agin wişe three singlis and A stop trett and retrett then halfe A torn and torn Agayn 3 togedder then Again wişe iij (?) singlis and A stop et trett and retrett then şe first torn şe meddyll About while şe last ma torn in his own place / then every man A mevyng / then şe first And the last torn owthard go=ing forth vj singlis the 2d forth=Right torn All face to face and şe thred brayll

The toşe r two cum to hym and goo to şeer place Again / then şe 3d and 2d brayll / the meddyll cum to şem and go to his awn place Agayn / then the first and şe last lepe to=gedder şe meddyll lepe Alone/ then şe meddyll throw while other two ..........hym turnying All face to face/ All at onyc A flowrdelice the first and şe meddyl rak tell şay mett whil şe last retrett / A flowrdilice at onys   şe meddell and şe last rake whyl şay mett while the first retrett than All cum to gedder

Prenes A gard / de tribß

Source: Gresley Manuscript D77 / Box 38 pp59-60

After the end of the trace the first man lepe şe secnd lepe the iij thred torne / then / the last lepe şe secnd lepe şe first torne the first lepe şe last lepe şe medill torne / then / the medill forth iij singlis wş halfe a torne whill şe first and the last retrett / then the first torne şe last lepe / then şe medill man throth while şe first et the last et the last change place and the medill to his place agayn / then the first torne retrett et rake / whill the 2d torne rake and retrett and şe third retrett rake et torne / then / all at onys a flowrdilice et com to/geder

Eglamowr / de tribß

Gresley Manuscript D77/ Box 38 p 64*

After the end of the trace The first thre forth şe secnd şe same the 3d the same then the first ma outward on the left shoulder and goo behend şe 2d the same the 3d şe same / then the first out şe 2d out şe 3d out




££££ Banys, John; The Gresley Manuscript Derbyshire Record Office Facsimile of Ms D77M/Box 38

£££ Fallows, David; “The Gresley Dance Collection, c1500” RMA Research Chronicle Vol. 29, 1996 pp 10-20

££ O’Sullivan, Margaret; “The Derbyshire Medieval Dance Project” Journal of the Society of Archivists, Vol. 20, No. 2 1999

Nevile, Jennifer; “Dance Steps and Music in the Gresley Manuscript”  Historical Dance Vol. 3, no. 6, 1999 (Available at

Wilson, David; “Performing Gresley Dances:  The View from the Floor”  Historical Dance Vol. 3, no. 6, 1999

Da Borgia, Messer Guiseppe Francesco; “The Gresley Dance Collection” Letter of Dance, Vol. 5 (Available at (No sources cited)

Gray, Norman Hoskuld Atiasson of Iceland:  Notes on the Gresley Dance Collection (Available at and

Huggert, Robert, 2002; Dances from the Gresley Manuscript Circa 1500 (Available at

Nevile, Jennifer; “Dance in Early Tudor England:  an Italian Connection?”  Early Music, Vol. 26, no 2, May 1998

Durham, Peter; “Esperans” (Available at

Durham, Peter; “Ly Beus Dysotonys” (

Reed, Ken, 1995 “Steps for Dance Reconstruction” (

Gaita – “Eschewyinge of Idleness” (

Barony of Cynnabar:  (

Navarro, Esquivel; Discursus sobre el arte del dancado (Seville, 1642)


“Related sites” -- Minstrels’ Guild of Drachenwals – Secular Music in 15th Century England

Main Rose Moresk Links & info – The Moresk in England, 1450-1540 (The last paragraph of this article says, “Although there is no indication that Banys’ dances were moresks, they do not match other dances of the period known from Italy, Spain, France or Flanders; and, in view of what we can infer about the development of the Moresk in England around 1500, it is reasonable to restore them among “moris” lines, and to re-enact them in costume appropriate to Epiphany Revels at the country house such as Dakelow in Derbyshire.”

(see also) Forrest, John; The History of Morris Dancing, 1458-1750, 1999 University of Toronto Press


Of interest re: possible parallels to rapier in defining the steps: “tret(t), retret(t), compas, rak(e), doblis, singlis

Pugliese, Patri J. “Parallels Between Fencing and Dancing in Late 16th C Treatises”  Symposium on Historical European Swordsmanship, Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies, April 30, 2005, and in their newsletter Autumn 2005.

Martinez, Ramon (Maestro); “Spanish Fencing from the 16th-18th Centuries,” Hammertz Forum, August 1999

Negri, Cesare; Le Gratie d’ Amore (Milan 1602)

Corrsin, Stephen D.; Sword dancing in Europe : A History, 1996 Enfield Lock, Middlesex, UK

*Marozzo, Achille – Opera Nova, 1516

*Agrippa, Camillo – Trattato di Scienta D’Arme, 1553

*Italian:  diGrassi (1594), Saviolo (1595), Fabris (1606), Capo Ferro (1610)

*Spanish:  Carranza (1553), Narvaez (1599) & Thibault (1628)

*French:  Sanct Didier (1573)

*these manuscripts, and others, may be found at and