Basel: The Knight

The Knight
Basel's dance of death, The knight

Todt zum Ritter:
HErr Ritter jhr sind angeschrieben,
   Ritterschafft die müssen jhr treiben,
Mit dem Tode vnd seinen Knechten,
   Es hilfft weder streitten noch fechten.

Death to The Knight
Mr. Knight, you have been written down
that you must practice chivalry
with Death and his servants.
It helps you neither to struggle nor fight

Der Ritter:
ICh alß ein strenger Ritter gut
   Hab der Welt dient mit hohem Muth:
Nun bin ich wider Ritters Orden
   An diesen Tantz gezwungen worden.

The knight.
I - as a stern knight -
have served the world well with noble mind.
Now I've been - against knights' order -
coerced to this dance.
Kleinbasel, Knight.
Büchel, Knight
Büchel, Knight.
Büchel, Knight

The dialogue is taken almost verbatim from Heidelberg's block book and other versions of the high German dance of death.

Death has put on an armour. It's not unusual for Death to imitate his victim, but if we look at the mural in Kleinbasel (to the left), Death is stark naked. The idea with Death putting on an armour in Basel must then have been a more recent addition from some later renovation.

Büchel's watercolor from 1773 is a little like the one in KLeinbasel: The knight has not bent his left (front) leg.

English translation from Beck, 1852
Death to the Knight.The Knight's reply.

Sir Knight, your name is in my list
From fighting you could ne'er desist,
But when you must with Death contend,
Your power and skill are at an end.

As true and valiant Knight I've served
The world, and ne'er from duty swerved;
But now against all Knighthood's law
Does Death to his dread dance me draw.

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

Lord knight you are written down,
Knighthood you must carry on,
With death and his rabble,
It helps neither fighting n'or battle.

I as a good and severe knight,
Have served this world with honour and might,
Now I am against knighthoodslaw,
Forced to his dance, o woe!.


Various Artists

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