The most documented form of 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 modern music term "rondeau" derives. In the German-speaking areas, this same type of choral dance was known as "reigen".
In The Knight of the Cart, (probably late 1170s) at a meadow where there are knights and ladies, various games are played while:
In what is probably Chretien's last work, Perceval, the Story of the Grail, probably written 1181-1191, we find:
and later at a court setting:
Dante (1265-1321) has a few minor references to dance in his works but a more substantive description of the round dance with song from Bologna comes from Giovanni del Virgilio (floruit 1319-1327).
Later in the 14th century Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) shows us the "carola" in Florence in the Decameron (about 1350-1353) which has several passages describing men and women dancing to their own singing or accompanied by musicians. Boccaccio also uses two other terms for contemporary dances, ridda and ballonchio, both of which refer to round dances with singing.