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:
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:
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:
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.