Füssen, The princess

The princess
Hiebeler, Princess

Death to the princess

    der todt.
Ich tantz euch vor Fraw Fürstin fein,
Nur sprengt hernach der tantz ist mein.
Wo ist ietz vnd ewr hoffgsindt blach,(2)
Ist alß verschwunden wie der rach.

I dance before(1) you, noble Mrs. Princess.
Just dance after me, the dance is mine.
Where are your courtiers now?
All have disappeared like the smoke.(2)

The princess

    die Fürstin.
O weh vnd ach an ietz vnd immer,
Wo ist ietzund mein Frawen Zimmer.
Heut Fürstin vnd dan nimmermeh,
O angst vnd noth wie thuets so weh

    the Princess.
Oh woe and alas, for now and ever.
Where is now my band of maids(3)
Today priness, and then never more.
Oh, terror and distress. How it hurts.

An ossuary / Charnel house
La Danse Macabre of Paris.
Innocents, Ossuary

The princess should come right after her husband, the prince, but the plate with him (and the innkeeper) has been switched with the bishop (and the usurer).(4)

On the left in the painting is an ossuary, and in the entire background from ossuary to church is a long building with arcades below. It was in the same kind of buildings that e.g. la Danse Macabre was painted (pictured right).

Basel: Empress.
Büchel, Empress
Basel: Duchess.
Büchel, Duchess

The princess is a hybrid of three of the women in Basel: Death's first three lines are taken from the empress. The first half of the princess's answer is taken from the queen, and the other half is from the duchess.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4)

dance before. . .: German "Tanzen vor" means to execute the steps of the dance, so the partner or the audience can learn the dance.

Death also promises this dance to the pope and the young woman

"blach" / "rach". . .: "blach" is a "patch-word", i.e. a word which serves merely to fill up, but might just as well be omitted. It means the same as "flach", i.e. flat or plain.

When Karl Vogt published the text in 1837, he read the rhyme as "auch?" / "Rauch", but the letters in the painting are clear and unmistakable. In Oberstdorf, the painter has chosen to drop "blach" completely and to replace smoke with wind, so "Hoffgesündt" rhymes with "Windt":

Wo Jst Jetz Ewer Hoffgesündt
Ist Ales verschwunden Wie Der Windt.

Frawenzimmer. . .: The original and literal meaning of the word is "a room with women" like for instance a queen's court ladies.

This information is from Karin Riedl (Der Tod reicht allen die Hand - Totentänze des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit, footnote 190), who quotes Riedmiller from L' art macabre 5, 2004, pp. 163-167.