Back to Monk's March
MONK'S MARCH. AKA and see "General Monk's Goosestep," "Lord Monk's March," "Review (2) (The)," "Belle Isle's March." English, Morris Dance Tune (4/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Carlin): AABB (x4), AA (Mallinson): AABA (x4) AA (Bacon). Kidson (Groves) says a tune by this name first appears in Playford's Dancing Master of 1665 as "The Lord Monks March"; however, it was actually introduced in the supplement to the 3rd edition of the Dancing Master (1657). It also appears in Playford's Musicks Hand-Maid: New Lessons and Instructions (1678). Later versions were printed with another part inlcuded ("The Wanders") for which see "Monk's March with the Wanders." The melody was in tradition was collected from dancers in the village Sherborne, Gloucestershire, in England's Cotswolds. It is still popular in English sessions in modern times, although considered to be a 'beginner's tune'. The dance itself is a heel-and-toe step dance which is said to be a satire on a Colonel or General George Monck , who, while he sympathized with the Royalist cause during the English Civil War, fought on the side of Cromwell's Roundheads. The story goes that Monck resolved his moral conflict by marching to battle so slowly that he missed each conflict. In fact, Monck skillfully played a political game for his entire adult life, ending up with a reputation as one of England's greatest warriors. Soon after the Restoration, Charles II raised him to the Peerage as Duke of Albemarle, Earl of Torrington, in the County of Devon.
In Wales the same tune is known as well as "Flaunting Two" (printed in 1794), and also as "Hemp Dressers (The)" and a minor key version called "The Monks March." Regarding the latter title, a note in Edward Jones's 1784 collection noted the it was "probably" the tune of the Monks of Bangor, when they marched to Chester in 603. Jones's suggestion became a certainty with later editors, who even called it "The Monks of Bangor March," and Scottish publisher George Thomson managed to get Sir Walter Scott to write a poem for the air dealing with the massacre of the monks. In fact, there is no Welsh provenance for this air, printed more than 100 years earlier in London by Playford.
Another variant of the melody is the Northumbrian "Proudlock's Hornpipe." Regarding the alternate title "Belle Isle's March," Kate Van Winkler Keller (1992) suggests it may refer to the small island of Belle-Île-en-Mer, located off the coast of Brittany, that was occupied by the British from 1761 to 1763. The march was published in a song-sheet under the "Bellisle" title to commemorate the occasion in 1763 when King George III reviewed troops in Hyde Park. Interestingly, as "Belisle March" it appears in the music manuscript book of a Revolutionary War soldier in America (see note for "Belle Isle's March"). London musician Thomas Hammersley also entered "Monk's March" into his 1790 music manuscript collection.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Bacon (The Morris Ring), 1974; p. 287. Carlin (Master Collection), 1984; No. 34, p. 31. Mallinson (Mally's Cotswold Morris Book), 1988, vol. 2; No. 9, p. 6. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 2), 1765; No. 161
Recorded sources: EMI/Harvest 7243 8 29861 2 6, Ashley Hutchings et al - "Son of Morris On" (1976/1994). Topic TSCD458, John Kirkpatrick - "Plain Capers" (1976/1992).