I am forwarding to [log in to unmask] a recent letter
(from John.Summerscales). It contains many intriguing elements, which may
inspire further comment from those with additional knowledge of
a) Spain & the Moors,
b) Robin Hood,
c) John of Gaunt,
d) Morris dance origins & the English Fool's Dance,
e) British pubs named 'Red Lion', '3 Feathers', etc.
f) Padstow and Kingston-on-Thames traditions
g) early craft guilds, minstrels, mummers and players
etc. will perhaps wish to add their own commentaries.
> Date: Thu, 12 May 1994 13:05:12 LCL
> Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
> Sender: Morris Dancing Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
> From: "John.Summerscales [log in to unmask] Plymouth.Morris.Men"
<[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: John of Gaunt
> On Wed 20 Apr 1994, Don Ulin asked "Why John of Gaunt?". A recent
> Morris Ring Circular provides:
> In 1381, John of Gaunt set up a Court of Minstrels at Tutbury in
> Staffordshire. This was presided over by an elected King and was
> allowed to exercise authority over all the craft in five of the
> midland counties. In 1386, John of Gaunt brought back a troupe of
> Moorish dancers from Spain. The combination of their practices with
> those proper to the English Fool's Dance is said to have provided a
> basis for the Morris Dance. It was in honour of John of Gaunt,
> therefore, that the Robin Hood and Morris dancers continued to wear
> his emblem of three ostrich feathers and the Red Lion on his shield
> after his marriage with Constance of Castile provided the name of inns
> (eg Padstow and Kingston-upon-Thames) which were for centuries the
> starting point for ceremonial May Day dances. Note that although the
> name Morris may be a distortion of the word Moorish, there is not a
> direct line of descent but an intertwining of that culture with an
> older English tradition.
> Roy Dommett "What was Morris?", The [Morris Ring] Circular,
> February 1994, 23, page 3. (quoting Young "History of British Music", 1967).