The front page states that the book was printed in Rouen by Guillaume de la Mare, but there is no indication of what year.
Langlois estimates the year to be »150?« and expounds: »Cette édition, en lettres rondes, parait être du commencement de xvie siècle«,(1) while Tisserand writes »Rouen, 15..«.
At a glance the books appears to be considerably younger. The woodcuts are very reminiscent of the books that were published in Troyes around 1700 and after 1766. The typeface is also relatively modern — as Langlois remarks: »en lettres rondes«.
At any rate there can be no doubt that the source for this book was not the Parisian publications, but the books from Troyes. Just like in Troyes the woodcut of the abbess and the noblewoman is missing, and like in Troyes the problem was solved by reusing the woodcut of prioress and young woman (picture to the right) — and then to exchange the sequence of this couple and the shepherdess and the woman with crutches.
Just like in Troyes, the woodcut of spinster and Franciscan nun is missing too. In Troyes this problem was solved by reusing the woodcut of citizeness and widow, but in Rouen this woodcut was evidently missing too, so instead the woodcut of nun and witch (picture to the left) was used thrice. The result is that the Franciscan nun (and the widow) stands with a witches' broom in her hand.
The woodcuts of regent and knight's wife and newlywed and pregnant must have disappeared too, because the woodcut of the bride and darling wife (picture to the right) was used thrice.
The text also shows the mutations that we meet in Troyes 1531 and ca. 1600. Examples of textual variants common to Troyes and Rouen are:
Both cardinal and king are missing the third line, so that these two verses only consist of 7 lines (in the later versions from Troyes around 1700 and after 1766 the two verses have been rewritten and consist of 8 (new) lines).
The last verse of the dance, where Death addresses the previous hermit: »Cest bien dit […]«, is omitted.
In Death's previous verse the first half was directed back to the clerk: »Clerc: point ne fault faire refus«, but the text was changed to make the whole verse point forwards to the hermit: »Hermitte ne faictes refus«.
The halberdier is called »L'Aduanturier« and the child becomes »Le petit enfant«.
Many lines are altered or rewritten, e.g.: the 7th verse of Death to the duke, the 8th verse of the minstrel and the 7th verse of Death to the jailor (in the later versions from Troyes around 1700 and after 1766 the text has become so mutated that it's hard to compare it to anything).
The last line of Death to the female fool is changed to: »Aussi bien danse sot que sotte«.
The text also shows that Rouen is closer to the edition from ca. 1600 than to the 1531 edition. E.g. the halberdier is called »Lauenturier« in 1531, but »L'Aduanturier« in ca. 1600 and Rouen. Death's call to the hermit (which originally was directed backwards to the clerk), goes: »Hermite point ne fault faire refus« in 1531, but »Hermitte ne faictes refus« and »Hermite ne faites refus« in ca. 1600 and Rouen.
The book contains not just the men's and women's dance, but also a long row of other edifying texts, that we know from the books in Paris, Troyes and Lyon. Besides the legend of the three living and three dead (two versions), and La dance aux aveugles all three books declare on the front page that they contain "The discussion between body and soul", "The lament of the damned soul", "Exhortation to live well and die well", "The life of the evil Antichrist", "The 15 signs" and "Judgment".
This is formally correct, but the versions from Troyes ca. 1600 and Rouen also contain two texts that are not announced on the frontpage, viz.: "les signes precedens du iugements general" and "dictions et proverbs de la mort". In fact the versions from ca. 1600 and Rouen are fully identical except that some of the texts towards the end have not been illustrated with stock woodcuts.
Based on content and text we must conclude that the estimate of "the beginning of the 1500ies" does not hold water. The book is from after 1531 (and maybe even later than 1600), but at any rate closer to 1600 than to 1531.
The last page ends: »Fin de la dance Maquabré«.