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Dancing was a passtime enjoyed by women of all walks of life, from the humble farm girl who just swayed, skipped and performed simple, popular dances, to the formal dances of the Ladies of the court. It was recognised that dancing was not only an activity which was appropriate, but also had health-giving benefits.

Health handbooks like the Tacuinum sanitatus of Liege commended playing music and dancing on folio 64v saying:

Nature: To move the feet and the body in rythm with the music.
Optimum: When there is a strict correlation between the music and the movements of the body.
Usefulness: By participating, looking-on, or listening with joy and accord.
Dangers: When the accord among the musical notes is lost.
Neutralisation of the Dangers: When the accord among the musical notes is restored.

Dancing was acceptible for women from every walk of life. Peasant women danced, townswomen danced and it was also expected that noble women would dance.

Dancing was a normal part of feast days and festivities, although the church often frowned on dancing as undignified and taking away the solemnity of Christian observations.

The Goodman of Paris, a nobleman, speaks to his young wife about her girlish passtimes which he feels are entirely suitable for her position in society. He says:

Know that I take delight rather than displeasure in your cultivating rose bushes, caring for violets and making chaplets, and also in your dancing and singing; I wish you to continue to do so among our friends and peers, for it is only right and just that you should thus pass the days of your maidenly youth. Nevertheless, I do not want you to attempt to attend banquets or dances of very great lords, for that is not at all proper or becoming for your social status or mine.


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