Sources for an understanding of dance in Europe in the Middle Ages are limited and fragmentary, being composed of some interesting depictions in paintings and illuminations, a few musical examples of what may be dances, and scattered allusions in literary texts. The first detailed descriptions of dancing only date from 1451 in Italy, which is after the start of the Renaissance in Western Europe.
The most documented form of secular dance during the Middle Ages is the carol also called the "carole" or "carola" and known from the 12th and 13th centuries in Western Europe in rural and court settings. It consisted of a group of dancers holding hands usually in a circle, with the dancers singing in a leader and refrain style while dancing. No surviving lyrics or music for the carol have been identified. In northern France, other terms for this type of dance included "ronde" and its diminutives "rondet", "rondel", and "rondelet" from which the more mod