Only a year after Guyot Marchant had published the first edition of danse macabre and the extended second version from 1485/86, came the two-volumes version: Miroer Salutaire.
The front page explains how the level of ambition had been raised. The purpose of the book was no longer simply to reproduce the mural from the cemetery of St. Innocents. The new dance, La danse macabre nouuelle, was a "mirror of salvation" for all people of all estates, and of great utility and recreation with teachings in Latin and French: »Ce present liure est appelle Miroer salutaire pour toutes gens: Et de tous estatz. et est de grant vtilite: et recreacion. pour pleuseurs ensegnements tant en latin comme en francoys lesquelx il contient, ainsi compose pour ceulx qui desirent acquerir leur salut : et qui le voudront avoir. La danse macabre nouuelle«.
The two volumes are structured like this:
The author / authority introduces the dance, just like he does in the manuscripts. Above the woodcut are 8 lines in Latin. These weren't included in the 1485-version, but the new front page had promised that this book would contain useful teachings in Latin.(1)
The first 4 lines, »Discite vos Coram […] «, are included in many of the manuscripts, like for instance Lille MS. 139, so for all we know they might come straight from the mural. However, the next four lines starting, »Est commune mori«, is a mixture of various quotations, some of which are several centuries old.
The four musicians are not to be found in the manuscripts and were evidently invented by Guyot Marchant.
The 15 woodcuts with 30 men have been expanded with five additional woodcuts: Legate and duke (picture to the left), schoolmaster and soldier, promotor and jailor, pilgrim and shepherd and halberdier and fool.
Above all the woodcuts are Latin quotes.
The men's dance ends with the dead king and the authority. A new verse has been added: »Bon y fait penser […]«.
Without neither heading nor explanation a ballad is quoted, where the three first verses have 10 lines and the last verse 5 lines. The refrain is »pour bien mourir et vivre longuement«.
This ballad is named »Balade pour aprendre à bien mourir et renoncer du tout au monde« and is included in a few other collections of poems. It is attributed to George Chastelain (1415-1475) although this is doubtful.
The legend of the three living and the three dead (picture to the right).
Another ballad with 3 × 16 + 5 lines. This time the refrain is, »Homme deffait et a perdicion«.
And finally: a Latin poem of 5 lines praising the art of printing. The poem, which is attributed to Jean de Rochechouart, bishop of Saintes, begins: »Arte nova pressos si cernis mente libellos […]«.
This ends the first volume, which had been "augmented by several new persons and beautiful poems", »Cy finit la danse macabre hystoriee et augmentee de pleuseurs nouueaux parsonnages et beaux dis. et le trois mors et trois vif emsembles«.
This volume was printed in the year of the Lord 1486, 7th June, »Lan de grace mil quatre cent quatre vingz et six, le septieme iour de iuing«.
The second volume has its own frontpage, »La danse macabre des femmes / Et le debat du corps et de lame«.
The women's dance of death — like the men's — is introduced by an authority and by four musicians. It is the same two woodcuts that are used again.
The danse macabre consists of 34 women. Compared to the manuscripts that we know of (like for instance MS 25434), the dance has been expanded with an abbess and a prioress. We don't know these two women from the old manuscripts so maybe Guyot Marchant has invented them himself.
The only woodcut is the one featuring the queen and duchess (to the right).
The dance ends with the dead queen and authority (picture to the left). The reader will notice that the dead queen looks suspiciously like the dead king, who finished the men's dance, and that the woodcut has been reused.
The dead queen does not appear in the manuscripts and was presumably added by Guyot Marchant.
Yet another ballad with 3 × 13 + 5 lines. This time with the refrain, »Qui tousiours dure: et qui iamais ne cesse«.
»Le debat dun corps et dune ame«. This discussion between a body and a soul takes up five pages.
»La complainte de lame dampnee«. Two pages with the lament of the damned soul.
This ends the second volume. It was apparently printed a month later than the first volume, 7th July 1486, for it ends, »Lan de grace mil quatre cent quatre vingz et six, le septiesme iour de iuillet«.
As one can see, the book contains many different texts. Even if the men's and the women's dances are the two longest of the texts, they are far from the only ones, and the two dances do not in any way form a unified entity.
It's a bit odd that Guyot Marchant seemingly claims twice to have composed the texts. On the frontpage he writes, »compose pour ceulx qui desirent acquerir leur salut«, and at the end of the first volume, »nouvellement ainsi composee et imprimee par guyot marchant«.
This is obviously wrong: The 30 men had already danced on the wall for 60 years; most of the women appear in old manuscripts like for instance MS 25434; and the legend of the three dead and the three living is to be found in countless variants.(2)
The three ballads are not composed by Marchant either. They can be read in the manuscript MS 147 (picture to the right). Two of the ballads are on the same page as Le miroir des dames et damoiselles, while the third ballad (the one with the refrain, »Homme deffait et a perdicion«) comes a few pages earlier. These three ballads are also included in MS Français 25434, a manuscript that also contains both the men's and the women's danse macabre.
What is meant by "composee" seems to be to edit and expand. Marchant has compiled the many texts, procured the woodcuts, added the four musicians, added legate, duke and the eight other men, added abbess and prioress, added the dead queen, and maybe he has taken the title of the book, "Miroer Salutaire" fra Le miroir des dames et damoiselles.
Footnotes: (1) (2)
These Latin quotes (and many of the other changes) had already been added to the extended second edition from 1485/86.
Unfortunately a number of pages are lacking from the only existing copy, including the front page, so we don't know what promises were made in the sales blurb on the front page.
On the page about the office of the dead there are several depictions of the legend of the three living and the three dead. Incidentally, there used to be such a statue at the entrance to St. Innocents' Church.
The book L' alphabet de la mort de Hans Holbein contains five variants of the story.