Le Roux de Lincy & Tisserand, 1867

The authority introduces the dance.
Tisserand
The four musicians were added in 1486
Musicians

The first time Guy Marchant's books were reprinted in modern times was in the book "Paris et ses historiens aux 14e et 15e siècles" by Antoine Jean Victor Le Roux de Lincy and Lazare Maurice Tisserand.

Below the image of the authority (to the left) it says, »Fac-simile héliographique / A. Durand et Le Maire«. One must admit these "heliographies" from 1867 are impressive: The images are clearly rendered, and even sharper than many of the original prints.

In fact Lincy & Tisserand had an important third party, namely the emperor's right hand. As it says on the front page: »Fondée avec l'approbation de l'Empereur par M. le Baron Haussmann, Senateur, Préfet de la Seine«. Baron Haussmann was senator in the second French Empire, and prefect of the Seine. The latter title was the highest ranking commissary in Paris, and it was Haussmann, who stood behind the radical renovation of Paris, where no less than 60% of the buildings were demolished, rebuilt or changed during only 18 years.

It was useful to have the backing of this powerful and efficient technocrat, whenever access was needed to precious works all over the empire. Tisserand tells at the beginning of the chapter (p. 289), about the first edition from 1485: "the unique exemplar, which belongs to the public library of Grenoble (No. 16.020), and which Mr. Mayor of that city was quick to make available to Mr. Prefect of the Seine".(1)

Unfortunately this copy lacks the first leaf, so it had been necessary to also use the Miroer Salutaire from 1486. Therefore this reproduction also includes those figures that Marchant had added in this second edition, viz. the four musicians (picture to the right) and the 10 new men (e.g. legate and duke).

The same can be read from the title page (after page 290): »La danse macabre reproduite textuellement d'après l'unique exemplaire connu de l'édition princeps de Guyot Marchant (Paris, 1485) et complétée avec l'édition de 1486«.

The problem is that is is simply not true.

Tisserand often deviates from the 1485- and 1486-versions. Many of these deviations are of course small (and we will return to those), but some are harder to explain. Here are a number of differences that aren't simply a letter or two. In a number of cases it is possible to find Tisserand's variant in other books.

1. Musician
Tisserand:
Vous qui par commune ordonnance
Vives en estatz tant divers
Miroer Salutaire:
Vous par diuine sentence
Qui viues en estatz diuers
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Vous qui par commune ordonnance
      Viues en estas tant diuers

3. Musician
Tisserand:
Entendez tous que ie vous dis
Miroer Salutaire:
Entendez ce: que ie vous dis.

3. Musician
Tisserand:
Vous qui vivez devant cent ans
Miroer Salutaire:
Ceulx qui viuez: deuant cent ans
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Vous qui viuez deuant cent ans

Emperor
Tisserand:
Quest ce de ce mortel demainne
Miroer Salutaire:
Quest ce de mortel demainne
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Quest ce de ce mortel demaine
Petit Laurens: Quesse de ce mortel dommaine.
Vérard: Quest ce de ce mortel demaine
Troyes, 1531: Quesse de ce mortel demaine.

Cardinal
Tisserand:
Chapeau rouge / robbe de pris
Miroer Salutaire:
Chapeau rouge. chappe de pris
Geneva, 1500: Chappeau rouge robe de pris

Legate
Tisserand:
Dieu est qui le scet seulement.
Miroer Salutaire:
Mon dieu est: qui le scet seulement.
The word "Mon" also lacks in:
Geneva, 1500: Dieu est qui le scait seullement.
Petit Laurens: Dieu est qui le scet seulement.
Troyes, 1531: Dieu est qui le scet seulement.

Death to the duke
Tisserand:
Or monstrez vostre ardiesse
Miroer Salutaire:
Monstrez cy vostre ardiesse:
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Or monstres vostre hardiesse

Death to the duke
Tisserand:
Les plus grans sont les premiers pris.
Miroer Salutaire:
Les grans souuent sont premier pris
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Les plus grans sont les premiers prys.

Duke
Tisserand:
Que doy ie faire / il fault lactendre
Miroer Salutaire:
Que doy ie faire: lactendre
Found in:
Petit Laurens: Que doy ie fayre il fault lattendre
Geneva, 1500: Que doy ie faire il fault lattendre
Troyes, 1531: Que doys ie faire il fault lattendre

Patriarch
Tisserand:
Je vois bien que mondain honneur
Miroer Salutaire:
Bien apercoy que mondain honneur
Found in:
Vérard: Je voy bien que mondain honneur

Patriarch
Tisserand:
Car mes ioyes atornent en doleur
1485: Mes ioyes tornent en doleur
1486: Mes ioyes a torne en doleur
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Car mes ioyes tournent en douleur

Death to the archbishop
Tisserand:
Tout homme suyvant coste a coste
Miroer Salutaire:
Tout homme: et le suit coste a coste.
Found in:
Petit Laurens: Tout homme suiuant coste a coste
Geneva, 1500: Tout homme suyuant coste a coste
Troyes, 1531: Tout homme suyuant coste a coste

Archbishop
Tisserand:
Ou fuiray ie pour moy garder
Certes qui bien mort congnoistroit
Miroer Salutaire:
Ou fuiray ie pour moy aider:
Certes qui bien la congnoistroit
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Ou fuyray ie pour moy garder
      Certes qui bien mort congnoistroit

Canon
Tisserand:
Prebende suis en mainte eglise
Miroer Salutaire:
Prebende fus en mainte eglise
Found in:
Vérard: Prebende suis en mainte eglise:
Geneva, 1500: Prebende suis en mainte guise
Troyes, 1531: Prebende suis en mainte eglise

Carthusian (back to the soldier)
Tisserand:
Lhomme darmes plus cy narreste
Miroer Salutaire:
Homme darmes plus ne reste:
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Lhomme darmes plus cy narreste

Sergeant
Tisserand:
Malgre moy me laisse attrapper
Miroer Salutaire:
Malgre moy me laisse apper.
Found in:
Vérard: Malgre moy me laisse attrapper.

Death to the monk
Tisserand:
Ne iamais abbe ne seres.
Mourir vous fault sans plus actendre
Miroer Salutaire:
Plus hommes nespouenteres.
Apres moinne sans plus actendre
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Ne iamais abbe pas seres.
Mourir vous fault sans plus attendre

Monk
Tisserand:
Jamasse bien mieulx encore estre
Miroer Salutaire:
Iamasse mieulx encore estre
Found in:
Lyon, 1537: Jaymasse bien mieulx encor estre

Death to the suitor
Tisserand:
Gentil amoreux gay et frique
Miroer Salutaire:
Gentil amoreux gent et frique
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: Gentil amoureux gay et frisque

Death to the suitor
Tisserand:
De vous mort est peu regardee
Miroer Salutaire:
Et a morir peu regarder.
Found in:
Geneva, 1500: De vous mort est pou regardee

Death to the Franciscan
Tisserand:
A toute genre la mort est preste.
Miroer Salutaire:
A toute heure la mort est preste

Death following the hermit
Tisserand:
Qui mal dit il aura du pire:
Miroer Salutaire:
Qui mal vit il aura du pire:

Death to the halberdier
Tisserand:
Autant vault derrier que deuant.
Miroer Salutaire:
Autant vault dernier que devant.

Death to the fool
Tisserand:
Comme sen va point ne revient:
Miroer Salutaire:
Lomme sen vad point ne reuient
1486: "Lomme sen vad point"
lomme

To sum up the variants, they seem to fall into two groups. The first group are (possible) banal reading/typing errors: derrier/dernier and dit/vit. Words like "genre" and "heure" look different at first glance, but when written in old black letters, n and u can be very hard to distinguish — both for the typographer and the reader. In Tisserand's book it can in fact be totally impossible to see a difference.

Others are not quite as evident: In some old books a capital C might look like a capital L, so one could misread "Lomme" as "Comme", but this is not the case for Miroer Salutaire (picture to the right), where these two letters are very different (for the schoolmaster, Tisserand reads an L for a J: "Ja doctrine"). One can also easily confuse s and f, so "fus" becomes "su[i]s", but Tisserand does not make such a mistake elsewhere, and the odd part is that many other publishers in Paris, Troyes, Geneva and Lyon commit the same "error".

This leads us to the second group of variants: those that also appear in other publications. Unfortunately it is only an infinitesimally small fraction of the contemporary publications that have survived (and are accessible). In spite of this, almost all of Tisserand's deviations can be found in:

  1. Geneva, 1500, which doesn't include pilgrim, shepherd, halberdier and fool.
  2. Antoine Vérard, who doesn't include the four musicians or the ten men that were added in 1486.
  3. Troyes, 1531, which in principle is a reprint of Miroer Salutaire, but doesn't include the four musicians.
  4. Petit Laurens, which is a copy of Miroer Salutaire, but doesn't include the four musicians and the authority.

There's no mistaking Lincy & Tisserand's words: They have used the 1485-edition, the only copy of which resides in Grenoble, and they have used the 1486-edition from the Imperial library. They reproduce both colophons, which state that the books were printed 28th September 1485 and 7th June 1486 respectively. Thus there is no possible doubt that they have used those very two copies that today are online accessible at the Bibliothèques Municipales de Grenoble and the Gallica respectively. Still there's no way around the fact that they, no matter what they write, have looked in other than these two books, and that they for inscrutable reasons have preferred these variants.

We cannot know why Lincy & Tisserand have done so and why they haven't told about it. On the other hand we can make a guess about which other book they have used: It turns out that Lincy & Tisserand have simply copied the text that Louis-Catherine Silvestre published in 1858. We can find all these variants in Silvestre's book, including the type-o derrier/dernier.

Silvestre. Lomme or Comme?
lomme

Silvestre had used the 1486-version, the 1491-version, a version by Vérard, an unknown version, that might be by Marchant, and a version from Geneva 1503. It was apparently in the latter book that Silvestre found most of the variants that we have just seen, and which Lincy & Tisserand uncritically have copied.

This also explains one of the other errors. As mentioned, it's impossible to mistake a C for an L in Miroer Salutaire, but evidently Lincy & Tisserand haven't looked in this book. They have copied from Silvestre's book, where those two letters can easily be confused (picture to the right).

There are many variants where Lincy & Tisserand deviate from the 1486-version and seemingly follow the 1485-version. The two first examples are when Death in 1486 says to the cardinal: »Suiuons les autres tous emsemble / Rien ny vault ebaissement.«. Both Tisserand and the 1485-version in contrast writes: »Suiuons les autres tous ensemble / Rien ny vault esbaissement.«. The two next examples are when Death in 1486 says to the king: »Lesseres: vous neste pas seul. / Peu ares de vostre richesse.«, whereas Tisserand and the 1485-version read: »Lesseres: vous nestes pas seul. / Peu aures de vostre richesse.«. But Silvestre has the same variants and we know positively that Silvestre hasn't used the 1485-version. These changes are simply due to the fact that Silvestre has corrected a few linguistic oddities.

And just for the record, there's a greater number of instances, where Tisserand deviates from the 1485-edition. Here is a list from the same page (i.e. four verses): Cardinal: "faictez"/"faitez", "se"/"ce", "venuee assallir"/"venue assaillir", "chappe"/"robbe". King: "Venes"/"Venez", "de proesse"/"proesse", "haultesse"/"hautesse", "Laisseres"/"Lesseres", "veoir"/" bien veoir", "sauuage"/"sauvaige", "lignage"/"lignaige", "maindre"/"mendre" (the seven cases where u and v have been interchanged are not included here). This is only to be expected when neither Silvestre nor Tisserand have used the 1485-edition.

If we compare Silvestre and Tisserand for the same four verses and once again ignore interchanges of "u" and "v" (like for instance in "enuironne"/"environne"), there is not a single difference. The two texts are quite identical. Even the punctuation is the same. The interested reader might take a look at a comparison of the entire text.

The incredible part is that Lincy & Tisserand claim their text was based on the 1485-version, but the 1485-version is not used at all in the text, which they have copied.

It seems that the "unique exemplar", which Mr. Mayor of Grenoble had been so quick to make available to Mr. Prefect of the Seine, has only been used to make a copy of the colophon.

 

Tisserand's (or Silvestre's) text later became the base for Valentin Dufour's books about La Danse Macabre. In 1945 Edward Frank Chaney reprinted the text in "La danse macabré des charniers des Saints Innocents à Paris" and translated it to English.

Resources

Further Information

Footnotes: (1)

Paris et ses historiens aux XIVe et XVe siècles, page 289: »Quant aux éditions françaises, elles ont pour point de départ le volume de Guy ou Guyot Marchant, exemplaire unique qui appartient à la bibliothèque publique de Grenoble (n° 16,020), et que M. le Maire de cette ville s'est empressé de mettre à la disposition de M. le Préfet de la Seine«.

I thought at first that "M. le Maire" was the same person who has put his name under the image of the authority (»A. Durand et Le Maire«), but Tisserand has an almost identical text on page 523, where the mayor of Grenoble has once again been quick to make another unique copy available to »le Sénateur Préfet de la Seine«, and this time "maire" is written in lowercase (even if "Sénateur" and "Préfet" are capitalized).


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