Lübeck's Dance of Death

Dødedantz (1634)

Dødedantz, part 1, click for an HTML-version.
Dødedantz, click to see the page

Dødedantz was printed in Copenhagen 1634. The only existing copy is in Karen Brahe's Library in Odense.

Dødedantz has only two pictures and they appear in the introduction. On the other hand, the text is almost the same as in Copenhagen's Dance of Death and using this book it has been possible for the first time in several centuries to complete Copenhagen's Dance of Death. This has never been done before since Dødedantz - strangely - has been unknown for centuries, so what is presented on this site is no less than a world premiere.

The spelling in Dødedantz reflects the century that separates it from Copenhagen's Dance of Death and sometimes a few words are changed to make the meter of the verses scan better. I have listed the main differences, but the important fact is that there are no substantial differences between the two texts. For instance you might assume that since Dødedantz was published 98 years after the Reformation, the publisher would have updated the attacks on the (Catholic) pope, but this is not the case.

Since the two texts are so equal, we have no qualms about using Dødedantz to replace the missing pages in Copenhagen's Dance of Death.

Dødedantz, part 2, click for an HTML-version.
Dødedantz, click to see the page

Dødedantz starts with a picture of a herald. This shows that the dance of death was conceived as a play. In the Middle Ages it was common for plays to start with a "prologus" or herald who introduced the play and asked people to listen: "Therefore pay attention to this play where Death will catch everybody".

At the end of the book, after the dance of death, there's a long (and boring) admonition to the audience. Lauritz Nielsen postulates that Copenhagen's Dance of Death has originally consisted of 40 leaves but doesn't tell what he has based his guess on. If Lauritz Nielsen is right, it follows that much of the last part of Dødedantz was not a part of the 1550-edition of Copenhagen's Dance of Death.

Further information