The King

The King
Basel's dance of death, The king

Todt zum König.
HErr König Ewr G'walt hat ein End,
   Ich führ euch hie bey meiner Hend,
An diesen dürren Brüder-Tantz,
   Da gibt man euch deß Todes-Krantz.

Death to The king
Mr. King,your power has an end,
I lead you here by my hand
to this dance with dry brothers.(1)
There they'll give you the death-garland.(2)

Der König.
ICh hab gewaltiglich gelebt,
   Vnd in hohen Ehren geschwebt:
Nun bin ich in deß Todtes Banden,
   Verstricket sehr in seinen Handen.

The king.
I have lived powerfully
and hovered in high honour.
Now I'm in Death's bond,
caught in his hands.

English translation from Beck, 1852
Death to the King.The Kings reply.

Your power, o King, has ceased, my hand
Must lead you and my word command;
Here all are brothers dry and bare,
My diadem alone you'll wear.

I lived in power and majesty,
My throne was set in honour high;
Yet now by death's strong hand I'm bound,
His chains and cords my heart surround.

Translation from Hess, 1841
Death to the King.Answer of the King.

Sir king, your power has an end,
I lead you now, here by my hand,
To this meager brother's dance,
There one gives you the death's garland.

I have lived in great power,
And strove ever, for great honour
Now I am in death's bands,
Much entangled in his hands.


Various Artists

Scharffenberg (1576)
Scharffenberg 1576: King
Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: King
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: King
Büchel (1768)
Büchel 1768: King
Büchel (1773)
Büchel 1773: King
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: King
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: King
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: King
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: King

Footnotes: (1) (2)

Dry brothers. . .: This seems to be a new alteration. The dancing brothers are black brothers in Kleinbaseldise schwarchen broder dantz«) and in Heidelberg's block bookdesir swarczen brudertancz«).

The question then is whether these "black brothers" are monks (benedictines and dominicans) or cadavers. In Heidelberg, the child calls Death »Eyn swarczer man«, but this black man has also become »Ein dürrer man« with the child in Basel.

death garland. . .: a garland that adorned the dead in the grave. See Merians Memento Mori - or compare with the nun in Dodendantz, who were hoping for a virgin crantz.