There are records mentioning the Morris Dance dating back to 1477, and it is mentioned in Renaissance documents in France, Italy, and Spain. The term then was "moorish dance" and "Moresco", which was gradually corrupted to "Morris Dance".
In the modern day, it is commonly thought of as a uniquely English activity, although there are around 150 Morris teams in North America. The dance is also still practiced in Barcelona, Spain, where it is perfomed by girls or women.
History in England
Before the English Civil War, the working peasantry often took part in Morris dances, especially at Whitsun. The Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell, however, supressed Whitsun Ales and other such festivities. When the crown was restored by Charles II, the springtime festivals were restored. In particular, Whitsun Ales came to be celebrated on Whitsunday, as the date coincided with the birthday of Charles II.
Morris dancing continued in popularity until the Industrial revolution and its accompanying drastic social change.
Today, there are three predominant styles of Morris Dancing:
There is also Hoodening which comes from East Kent.