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Most musical instruments of Western European culture have been studied and defined; however, no systematic study has yet been made for the instrument commonly known as the rebec (or rebeck). General reference sources and musicological studies which mention the rebec often provide discrepant, vague, and erroneous information. The current interest in the performance of Medieval and Renaissance music and the reproduction of instruments upon which this music might have been played has created a need, among performers and instrument makers, for specific, primary source information concerning the rebec. The use of the rebec in Western Europe can be documented through literary and iconographic sources from the late thirteenth through the first half of the eighteenth century. Throughout its history the rebec has been known by more than one hundred and fifty differently-spelled names in various languages. A detailed study of the orthography of these names and the development of a dictionary of rebec related terminology has revealed that some words, formerly thought to refer to the rebec, have been erroneously used. Both the orthographic and iconographic study, with which is included a chronological catalog in excess of three-hundred depictions subdivided by geographical area, yield a great deal of information concerning the morphology of the rebec. Supplementing the orthographic and iconographic examination are two short sections concerning (1) extant rebecs in major public and private collections, most of which probably passed through the hands of the unscrupulous nineteenth-century Italian musical instrument dealer, Leopoldo Franciolini, and (2) music designated to be played by the rebec, including Hans Gerle's four sixteenth-century arrangements for a consort of four klein Geiglen. The concluding chapter offers a concise overview of the history of the rebec from its origins in the thirteenth-century to its obsolescence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.