Wet nurse with child
A final summary
Copenhagen's Dance of Death is based on the two Lübeckian books Des dodes dantz and Dodendantz. Several lines are direct translations and a few lines are even copied un-translated in Low German! The 30 participants and the introduction with the Fall are the same as in Dodendantz, while other parts like for instance the concept of 4 kinds of Death are taken from Des dodes dantz.
The book is illustrated with the same woodcuts as the Lübeckian books. This is because the printer, Hans Vingaard, had bought some printing materials from the German Mohnkopf-printery,(1) which included the original wooden blocks and, presumably, a copy of the 2 German books.
The unknown author hasn't just made a Danish copy of the German books - no more than the Lübeckian books are transcripts of the painting in Marienkirche. The Catholic Church - especially the pope - are blasted in plain speaking. On the other hand, Death being a good Protestant, promises the pious parish clerk that he will go directly to "a holy city". One can sense that the Reformation is close at hand.
Copenhagen's Dance of Death is conceived as a theatre play. The prologue starts with "my dear friends" and the audience is requested to be quiet and listen. Then Death calls on people from the different classes and leads them one by one into his "castle", which we may imagine has been a prop built on stage.
There is only one single, surviving copy and this is defective with pages missing. - therefore we know neither when it was printed nor the original title. In 1896 the book was re-published by Raphael Meyer who added an introduction and annotations.
In 1634 Dødedantz was published. This book contains almost the same text (apart from minor variations in spelling). This means that we can almost re-create the missing pages in Copenhagen's Dance of Death by taking the text from Dødedantz and the illustrations from the Lübeckian books. For reasons unknown to me, Dødedantz has been unknown for centuries so this is the first time that Copenhagen's Dance of Death has been restored in any media.
I have tried translating the entire restored book into English except for the last 4 page openings, which are simply too boring. Most of the annotations are copied from Meyer. Click on the list to the right or the little pictures.