Copenhagen's Dance of Death, Part 5

Death with scythe

FlowerThus speaks Death now to the pope.

Mr Pope follow me at once
you hold the highest place on earth
A Vicarius Christi you highest prelate(1)

You must dance in front, according to your rank
Avarice and false doctrine
have made you (for God) very un-pious.
Prebends(2) that were made for the poor priests
these have now come to your tables
A head for Christ's sheep and people
should you have been - and a good interpreter.
You have abused all this
and desecrated everything completely.
Where do you find it written
that you should have lived like this?
Marriage - that God himself commanded -
have you prohibited under the pains of Hell(3)
Therefore many people have committed adultery
and sins that are worse that any man thinks.(4)
Could it be that you are guilty of the same vice?
With your prohibitions that you bid so firmly(5)
you're ordering several days of Lent
and other equally useless pursuits.
This you have invented yourself
and violated many people with it.
St. Paul and several Apostles
they don't teach us such in the scripture.

Death with scythe Death speaks to the pope Click the little pictures to see the original pages.

If you want to see the original page, click on the little picture to the left. If you want to read the page in the original medieval Danish, select the Danish section by clicking the red-and-white flag at the top right corner of this page.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Vicarius Christi . . .: Christ's substitute.
Prelate . . .: Clergyman of high rank.
Prebend . . .: A stipend allotted from the revenues of a cathedral or a collegiate church to a canon or a member of the chapter (thank you, Mr Webster).

Naturally, the pope hasn't banned marriage as such. Death must be referring to the vow of celibacy taken by Catholic priests.

sins that are worse that any man thinks . . .: Apparently the Catholic Church had their problems with pedophile priests even then.

The Catholic pope gets a double-barrelled blast, which proves that Copenhagen's Dance of Death is from 1550 - after the Reformation. Or does it? Meyer thinks it proves that the dance of death is from about 1536 since such an attack would be futile in 1550 when the Reformation was fully implemented. As Meyer points out: Even if the remaining copy might be from 1560, it doesn't follow that there may not have been older editions.

bid . . .: In Dødedantz the word is "bind". It's possible that "biuder" might be mistaken for "binder" (since U and N looks pretty much the same with "black letters") but "bind firmly" fits with the text in Marienkirche:

Dyn losent unde bindent dat was vast
Der hoecheit werstu nu een gast
Your loosing and binding - that was firm.
The highness you will lose now.