Lübeck's Dance of Death

Dodendantz

The dance:

Prologue
Pope
Cardinal
Bishop
Emperor
Empress
King
Duke
Abbot
Crusader
Physician
Canon
Vicar
Monk
Knight
Official
Hermit
Burgomaster
Nun
Merchant
Nobleman
Maiden
Burgher
Beguine
Fool
Craftsman
Student
Peasant
Rider
Journeyman
Nurse with child

Dodendantz was printed in Lübeck in 1520. It consists of 424 lines, two thirds of which are copied more or less verbatim from Des dodes dantz from 1489. The text is also influenced by the dance of death in Berlin.

Dodendantz.
Dodendantz

The pictures are the same as in Des dodes dantz, but the picture of Death with an arrow doesn't appear, so this has apparently been lost. The text includes 30 persons since the church ward is replaced by official, priest and fool. These 3 new participants do not get a wall-and-hilly-landscape illustration.

In Dodendantz, Death speaks to the humans who answer him, but the pictures still show Death on the right page (looking left) and the humans on the left page (looking right), so the reader has to read Death's request on the right page first and then the dying person's reply on the left page.

Dodendantz, The three skulls are one of the tricks employed by the printer to make up for the missing Death-with-arrow.
Dodendantz, The canon and the parish priest

Compared to Des dodes dantz, the verses are reduced from about 30 lines to only 6. This means that the text often seems flighty - with gaps in the logic. On the other hand, it's this seeming strictness that has made some researchers wonder whether Dodendantz is older than Des dodes dantz?

Those researchers (and the books that parrot them) can never have had an actual copy of Dodendantz in their hands (Meyer used a transcript): In reality, Dodendantz is very messy. One has to read the right page opening before the left - and twice Death himself forgets this order - namely with the empress and the canon. The missing Death-with-arrow has presented great challenges to the printer who had to get along with only 3 pictures of Death (in order to see why, you must make your own dance of death). And then there's the puzzling remark about the bread that is up.

Intro-
duction

Sources

Most of the pictures are taken from Copenhagen's Dance of Death and a few are taken from Des dodes dantz. The text is from Wilhelm Mantels' Der Todtentanz in der Marienkirche zu Lübeck. But it wouldn't have been possible to reproduce the book - let alone translate it - without Timothy Sodmann's recommendable reprint from 2001.

Notice, that "u" and "v" has been interchanged at places to make the text more accessible. The same thing goes for "i", "y" and "j". Proper names (like "God") are written with initial capital and lots of punctuation has been added.

Related information:


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