The Nobleman

© The Trustees of the British Museum
Mouse over to remove letter Copyleft JMJ
The Holbein dagger: Death with hat.
The Holbein dagger
Mouse over for animation Copyleft by JMJ

Death uses a flail to bring on the nobleman's fall. This is a clear allusion to the peasant rebellions in the 1520's. The flail (and the same bible quote) also appears in Holbein's dance of death (picture below to the right).

Death is wearing a hat that clearly marks him as of lower station in life. It's the same hat that Death is wearing before the king (letter D), the girl (letter S) and on the Holbein dagger. The same hat appears in the middle of the crowd in All men's bones.

Holbein's dance of death, the count.
Holbein Proofs, Count

The accompanying text for this letter goes: »Wan so der mensch wurdt sterben / nimpt er nitt alle ding / noch syn glory stygt hynab mit ym«.

This is from Psalms 49,18, which in Luther's version sounds: »Denn er wird nichts bei seinem Sterben mitnehmen, und seine Herrlichkeit wird ihm nicht nachfahren«. In English: »For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him«.

Various artists

Holbein Alphabet (1524)
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: K
Wolfgang Köpphel (1526)
Wolfgang Köpphel 1526: Köpfel: K
Hans Schott (1536)
Hans Schott 1536: Schott: K
Hans Schott (1536)
Hans Schott 1536: Schott: K
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: K
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: K
Hans Schott (1545)
Hans Schott 1545: Dennmaerckische: K
Heinrich Lödel (1849)
Heinrich Lödel 1849: Lödel: K
Douce Alphabet (1858)
Douce Alphabet 1858: Douce: K

Up to Holbein's Dance of Death Alphabet