Füssen, The bailiff

The bailiff
Hiebeler, Bailif

Death to the bailiff

    der todt
Seitt ihr herr vogt und Amptman hie,
Kompt hehr, versuecht mein pfefferbrhue.
Mitt schanckh vnd schmieren ist eß auß
Kompt hehr mitt mir inß nobis hauß.

Are you Mr. Bailiff and civil servant here?
Come here, sample my pepper broth.
No more pouring and greasing.
Come here with me into Nobis house.(1)

The bailiff

    der Amptman.
Im Ampt hab ich nit braucht gewaltt
Daß ich thett waß in dienerß gstaltt.
Durch schankhung ward ich nit verfüert,
Doch mueß ich thon, waß dir geliebtt.

    the Bailif.
In my office I haven't used violence,
what I did was in the form of a servant.
I was not seduced by pouring(2),
but yet I must do what you want.

Basel, Executioner.
Büchel, Executioner

The dance is comparatively new — from 1602 — and in this case the word "Amtmann" actually means the same as Modern German, i.e. a civil servant. In southern Germany and Switzerland the office is akin to that of a bailiff. It's the same in Erfurt and Kienzheim.

This is in contrast to the older (and northern) dances on this site, where "Amtmann" means craftsman. (examples: Lübeck, Des dodes dantz, Dodendantz, Copenhagen and Berlin), while "amtknecht" / "amtgeselle" means journeyman / apprentice (examples: Des dodes dantz, Dodendantz and Copenhagen).

Death's first line and the bailiff's two first are copied from the executioner in Basel. The bailiff in Basel is called a "Blutvogt" - i.e. a blood bailiff.

The allusion to pepper broth is curious, but it is reminiscent of the cook in all other variants of the High German four-line dance of death than precisely Großbasel. For instance the dialogue between Death and the cook in Heidelberg's blokbook reads: »Cook, you can make good pepper sauce. […] those should you smear pepper sauce on. […] I have emptied many sacks of pepper«.

In Oberstdorf, the local scribe has misunderstood the term »nobis hauß« and instead writes: "Jn Unser Haus" (in our house). Maybe he didn't understand the expression and instead misread "nobis" as Latin "noster"?

Footnotes: (1) (2)

Nobis house . . .: means Hell, Purgatory or the abyss — just like Nobis mug ("Nobiskrug").

The origin of the word is a bit uncertain. Probably the Latin "in abysso" has lead to "in Nobis".

The pun is lost in translation. German "schenken" (Upper German: "Schanken") means to pour, e.g. pour a glass of wine, and a tavern is called "Schenke" or "Schank". From this comes the second meaning: to bestow a (substantial) gift.

And of course, "greasing" can refer to hearty, fatty meals as well as bribery.