Lübeck's Dance of Death

For Remembrance, and to Honour the Antiquity

Our only witness to Lübeck's text from 1463 is Jacob von Melle who wrote down the text and published it in his books with the words "zum Gedächtnis, und dem Alterthum zu Ehren". Countless other dances of death have since disappeared without a trace - because they did not have a Jakob von Melle to record them.

Today - with the Internet full of medieval texts - there's still next to nothing about dances of death. This is a pity because dances of death are a great source for discovering the medieval state of mind - since the dance of death is a mirror of the entire society. There's also quite an amount of satire and social criticism.

We are no longer threatened by The Black Death — but Death itself hasn't retired, and whether we shall die simultaneously — hand in hand as in the paintings — or one at a time as in Holbein's dance of death — the mortality rate remains the same as in the Middle Ages, namely 100%.

Therefore this site — for remembrance, and to honour the antiquity.

The author (to the right) doing research in front of St. Mary's church in Lübeck
Research in front of St. Mary's

This site concentrates on the medieval Low German dances of death (Lübeck, Tallinn and Berlin), but as a Dane I felt obliged to describe all Danish dances of death (there's nothing about them on the Net either). The site has also been expanded with dances of death from other countries (e.g. the dances in St. Paul's in London and Basel). I tried ignoring Hans Holbein for years, but he proved to be impossible to avoid.

Comments and constructive criticism are very welcome.



Deadly yours,

Martin Hagstrøm
martinhagstrm (@) gmail.com