Basel: The Usurer

The Usurer
Basel's dance of death, Usurer

Todt zum Wucherer:
DEin Gold vnd Gelt sich ich nicht an,
   Du Wucherer vnd gottloß Mann:
Christus hat dich das nicht gelehrt,
   Ein schwartzer Todt ist dein Gefehrt.

Death to The usurer
I don't look at your gold and money,
you usurer and godless man.
Christ has not taught you so.
A black Death is your travelling companion.

Der Wucherer:
ICh fragt nicht veil nach Christi Lehr,
   Mein Wucher der trug mir veil mehr:
Jetzt bleibt der Leiden all dahinden,
   Was hilfft mein schaben vnd mein schinden.

The Usurer.
I did not ask much for the teachings of Christ,
my usury attracted me much more.
Now all suffering is left behind.
What avails my [money]scraping and my skinning?

Merian, 1621
Merian, Usurer
Merian, 1649
Merian, Usurer

Death tells the usurer that "a black Death is your travelling companion". Originally it did not appear clearly from Merian's copper plates but for the 1649-edition, Merian did not only add clouds and hatching to the background, but also made Death darker.

Feryerabend: Usurer
Feyerabend, Usurer
Büchel, Usurer with beard
Büchel, Usurer

Coloured reproductions — like Feyerabend's to the left — also show that this Death in fact is black.

Büchel paints the usurer with a beard that's almost as long as Death's.

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

Not to thy gold my hand I stretch,
Thou Usurer, ungodly wretch;
From Christ thou didst not learn thy trade,
Therefore black death thy guide is made.

By Christ's commands, I set no store
My usury produced me more.
Now all in others hands remains,
Useless my scraping toil and gains.

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

Thy gold and cash, I don't look on,
Thou usurer and wicked man,
Christ learn'd thee this not, by his word,
A black death now, is thy consort.

Of the doctrine of Christ I car'd not much,
My usure brought me more than such,
Now must I all behind me leaving,
What help's my scraping and my sparing.


Various Artists

Büchel : Usurer
Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: Usurer
Merian (1649)
Merian 1649: Usurer
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: Usurer
Büchel (1768)
Büchel 1768: Usurer
Büchel (1773)
Büchel 1773: Usurer
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: Usurer
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: Usurer
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: Usurer
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: Usurer