Ms Fr. 1186, Dances for blind, men and women

"Cy commence la dance aux aveugles": Here starts the dance of the blind.
Blind death

This manuscript contains four different texts, and no less than three of them are dances: The blinds' dance, the men's dance and the women's dance.

The dance of the blind, La dance aux aveugles, starts on page 55. This section (and only this) is illustrated with four images, the first of which is seen to the right. The text ends on page 89 by stating what year the manuscript was created: »Atant fine la dance aux aveugles.1482.«. Since the entire manuscript seems to have been written by the same hand, we can assume that the other texts in the manuscript were written in 1482 as well.

Immediately after the dance of the blind, still on page 89, the dance of the men starts: »Cy commence la dance macabre«. This dance goes on until page 98v and ends with the word, »Amen«.

Then it's the women's turn: »Cest la dance macabre des femmes«. This version from 1482 is the oldest that we know of, and there are only 30 women.

Some of the women have different titles than in later versions: The biggest difference is that the woman with crutches, La femme aux potences, is called »la vueille«; in later versions another woman has been added who takes over the title as la vieille.

The women dance on until page 107v, where the authority gets a finishing verse, but only one, for the second verse is attributed to Death, »La mort«.

The ending is a chapter on its own. In contrast to the dance of the blind, which ended by stating the year, 1482. and the men's dance, which simply ended with the word »Amen«, the women's "explicit" is an entire verse, which follows the same structure as the verses in the two dances of death, A, B, A, B, B, C, B, C:

Explicit la dance mortelle
que vng chascun appellera
cest vne dance bien nouuelle
ce dieu plest elle pourfitera
pour ce qui la regardera
de bon cuer y prengne exemplaire
et die vng aue maria
pour celle qui cy la fait faire
Amen
Gilles Corrozet was the author of the short verses under each image in Holbein's dance of death.
Holbein, Bones of All Men

Then the book is almost finished, apart from a few notes from various previous owners. It turns out that the book once belonged to Gilles Corrozet: »Ce liure appartient / a Gilles Corrozet / marchant libraire«. A later owner has crossed it out again.

On the present website we know Gilles Corrozet as the author of the quatrains for Holbein's great dance of dances and as one of those historians who visited St. Innocents' cemetery without mentioning La Danse Macabre, but he was also a booktrader.

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