The dancing death (part 3)

Basel's dance of death
The dance of death in Basel, Switzerland.

The dance continues - from the mighty rulers and all the way down society's ladder. The illustration above is from Basel, Switzerland.

Death grasps the nobleman, who drops his sword. This is one fight that the old warrior cannot win.

Must of the women are taunted for "female sins" like vanity and fondness of finery. The noblewoman is busy admiring herself in the mirror, when she sees Death, who says:

Noble lady - stop smarting yourself up,
now you must dance here with me.
I do not spare your yellow hair,
So why do you look in the clear mirror?
The baby, click to go to Lübeck's dance of death.
The maiden and the baby

The merchant has his hand in his purse - but Death will not be bribed.

The abbess must have lived immorally and has become a little pregnant. Death, ungallantly, lifts up her skirt and comments on her swelling stomach:

Merciful madam - pure abbess
Why do you have such a cute little stomach?
Still - I will not find fault with you for that,
I would sooner bite my own finger.

The dance ended with the most powerless person: the baby in the cradle. The picture to the right is from Lübeck, Germany, where the baby speaks the touching words:

Oh Death, how shall I understand this?
I must dance and I cannot walk.

The entire society takes part in the dance, rich and poor, lay and learned, young and old, man and woman. This means that dances of death are a great source for discovering the medieval state of mind. There's also quite an amount of satire and social criticism.

Today we are no longer threatened by The Black Death - but Death itself hasn't retired, and whether or not we shall die simultaneously - hand in hand as on the paintings - the mortality rate remains the same as in the Middle Ages, namely 100%. The moral of the dance of death is "prepare" and that moral is still valid.

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