Copenhagen's Dance of Death, Part 37

The Journeyman

Døden taler til Embitzsuenden.

Du EmbitzGeselle holt ved min Haand,
Du maat nu til it andet Land.

Embitzsuenden suarer.

Wat Land, wat Land skal ick vandren,
Ick quam nu kortz fra westen vt Flandren.

Nu kommer døden met sin macht
paa hannem haffde ieg ingen acht
Ieg er saa siug ieg kand icke gaa
Hielp mig Gud som alting formaa

Flower Døden Suarer.

Læg nu aff din Spanske kappe
Padder oc Orm skulle dine Tarme nappe

Enden paa denne Dødedantz(3)

The Preacher

Death speaks to the Journeyman.

You Journeyman hold on to my hand,
you must now to another land.

The Journeyman answers.

Wat Land, wat Land skal ick vandren,
Ick quam nu kortz fra westen vt Flandren.(1)

Now Death comes with his power;
I had not paid heed to him.
I am so sick, I cannot walk,
Help me God, who is capable of everything(2)

Death answers.

Now lay down your Spanish cloak.
Toads and worms shall nip your bowels.

The end of this dance of death(3)

The End of this dance of death The journeyman appears to be widely traveled. In medieval Europe it was normal for young craftsmen who had completed their apprenticeship to wander around from country to country, "on the walz", for two or three years. The English word journeyman might refer to this custom, but it is also possible that "journey" in this case means "a day's work".

Click the little picture to the right to see the original page.

One leaf is missing and the text on the left side has once again been taken from Dødedantz. The question is which picture was used in Copenhagen's Dance of Death — there's no picture of the journeyman in Dodendantz. For this reconstruction I've used the picture of the young nobleman / journeyman from Des dodes dantz. Admittedly he's a bit overdressed for being a journeyman, but craftsmen have always made good money.

In Des dodes dantz the same picture was used for both the journeyman and the young nobleman. Let's hope a table will make it clear:

Des Dodes Dantz (1489)Dodendantz (1520)Copenhagen's Dance of Death
DukeThe dukeThe dukeThe Duke
Young noblemanThe young noblemanThe young noblemanThe duke
JourneymanThe young nobleman(No picture)(page is missing)

Regarding the sequence of wet nurse and journeyman: See the note on the previous page.

Both Lauritz Nielsen and Meyer are uncertain as to whether one or two leaves are missing here, but as we can see from the short text in Dødedantz, there can only be one leaf missing. The Danish Royal Library seem to agree with me, because they have only placed one blank leaf here when they bound the volume.

The picture on the right hand side is the same as was used in the introduction. Originally it was Prologus introducing the play — now it is Epilogus closing the show. Read the comments about this woodcut in the introduction.

Members of Lübeck's council, 1913
Members of Lübeck's senate
From Copenhagen:
The Spanish mantle
Spanish mantle

The reference to a "Spanish cloak" is puzzling. In Lübeck, Spanish cloaks were reserved for the senators / members of the council (picture to the left), but this is probably irrelevant, since the "Spanish cloak" only appears in the Danish text.

Meyer's best guess (in my opinion) is the picture to the right. The Spanish cloak was also the name of a "mobile pillory": A barrel without bottom, which the miscreant was forced to carry around in the city. His crimes might be written on the barrel (in a few towns the sins was even illustrated on the barrel). The Spanish cloak is called spanischer Mantel, spanischer Kragen or Schandmantel in German.

In English it's called the Spanish mantle, the barrel pillory, or the drunkard's cloak. The latter name signifies that the barrel was used as punishment for lesser sins such as drunkenness. This is very apropos to the journeyman in Dodendantz, whose last thoughts go to the pubs The White Owl and The Red Rooster.

Other of Meyer's explanations are made less relevant, because he mistakenly thought it was the Epilogus (instead of the journeyman) that's talking. One of his suggestions is still interesting for another reason: Meyer mentions an epilogus with a mantle in a book called "Kong Salomons Hylding" (Allegiance to King Solomon) from 1585.

By the strangest coincidence, the same woodcut was used on the frontispiece of Dødedantz, 1634, a book that Meyer didn't know off, but which supplies the text for the missing pages in Copenhagen's Dance of Death.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3)

The journeyman's words (and his title, EmbitzGeselle) are in Low German and taken almost verbatim from Dodendantz. In English it means:

What land, what land shall I wander [to]
I came straight from the west from Flanders.

In Dodendantz, the journeyman longs for the alehouses he used to frequent but shall never see again: "I would rather go to inns with my companions - to The White Owl or to The Red Rooster". In contrast, the journeyman's last words in Copenhagen are a pious prayer to God.

This "censorship" is probably caused by the Danish translator interchanging the wetnurse and the journeyman. In Dodendantz the journeyman is the penultimate dancer, whereas in Copenhagen's Dance of Death he's the very last, and it won't do for a moral play to have the last dancer's last words be on the subject of pubs.

This might be an indication that the original title has been "Dødedantz".