Pope and Emperor

Pope and Emperor
Guy Marchant, Pope and emperor
       Le mort

Vous qui vivez: certainnement
Quoy quil tarde ainsi danceres:
Mais quant: dieu le scet seulement
Advisez comme vous feres.
Dam pape: vous commenceres
Comme le plus digne seigneur:
En ce point honore seres
Aux grans maistre est deu lonneur

       Le pape

Hee: fault il que la dance mainne
Le premier: qui suis dieu en terre
Iay eu dignite souverainne
En leglise comme saint pierre:
Et comme autre mort me vient querre
Encore point morir ne cuidasse:
Mais la mort atous mainne guerre
Peu vault honneur que si tost passe

Now Death starts the dance of death proper. Strictly speaking it is not Death, ("la Mort"), but a dead man ("le Mort"), but one should not necessarily pay to much attention to this, because it can vary between the various editions (see: Death's Dance, or Line of the Dead?).

Death starts by addressing the living (i.e., those who contemplate the mural): »Vous qui vivez«. You who live shall certainly dance in the same manner later, but when is only known by God.

Then the Pope is called to the dance (the publisher ought to have indented the line that starts »Dam pape«). As the highest lord (»le plus digne seigneur«) he is honoured at this point: »En ce point honore seres«.

The Pope is less than pleased. He had sovereign power in the church as St. Peter (»dignite souverainne / En leglise comme saint pierre«). Now he must die like everybody else, for Death wages war against all.

       Le mort

Et vous le non pareil du monde
Prince et seigneur grant emperiere
Laisser fault la pomme dor ronde:
Armes: ceptre: timbre: baniere.
Ie ne vous lairay pas derriere
Vous ne povez plus signorir.
Ien mainne tout cest ma maniere.
Les filz adam fault tout mourir.

       Lempereur

Ie ne scay devant qui iapelle
De la mort: quansi me demainne.
Arme me fault de pic. de pelle:
Et dun linseul ce mest grant painne
Sur tous ay eu grandeur mondainne:
Et morir me fault pour tout gage.
Quest ce de mortel demainne.
Les grans ne lont pas davantage

The dance alternates between ecclesiastical and secular persons, so after the world's most powerful cleric, the Pope, comes the mightiest secular, the Emperor.

The emperor is told to leave behind his round apple of gold (orb), arms, sceptre etc. »la pomme dor ronde: / Armes: ceptre«.

The emperor realizes that he must now arm himself with a pick, shovel and shroud (»Arme me fault de pic. de pelle / Et dun linseul«). This is a very fitting description of the cadaver he is looking at. The dance of death functions as a mirror. What the emperor is, the cadaver used to be; what the cadaver is, the emperor soon will become.

Variants

Various Artists

Guy Marchant (1486)
Guy Marchant 1486: Pope and emperor
Markus Reinhart (1490)
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 01
Antoine Vérard (1492)
Antoine Vérard 1492: Pope and emperor
Petit Laurens (1495)
Petit Laurens 1495: Pope and emperor
Simon Vostre (1498)
Simon Vostre 1498: Pope
Simon Vostre (1498)
Simon Vostre 1498: Emperor
Simon Vostre (1498)
Simon Vostre 1498: Pope
Jacobinus Suigus (1499)
Jacobinus Suigus 1499: Suigus 10
Jacobinus Suigus (1499)
Jacobinus Suigus 1499: Imperator
Jacobinus Suigus (1499)
Jacobinus Suigus 1499: Papa
Matthias Huss (1499)
Matthias Huss 1499: Pope and emperor
Jean Belot (1500)
Jean Belot 1500: Pope
Jean Belot (1500)
Jean Belot 1500: Emperor
Thielmann Kerver (1509)
Thielmann Kerver 1509: Emperor
Thielmann Kerver (1509)
Thielmann Kerver 1509: Pope
Thielman Kerver (1511)
Thielman Kerver 1511: Pope
Thielman Kerver (1511)
Thielman Kerver 1511: Emperor
Guillaume Godard (1514)
Guillaume Godard 1514: Pope
Guillaume Godard (1514)
Guillaume Godard 1514: Emperor
Guillaume Godard (1514)
Guillaume Godard 1514: Block
Regnault (1519)
Regnault 1519: Emperor
Regnault (1519)
Regnault 1519: Pope
Regnault (1519)
Regnault 1519: Regnault
Oudot (1600)
Oudot 1600: Emperor
Nicolas Oudot (1641)
Nicolas Oudot 1641: Pope and emperor
Leon le Maire (1856)
Leon le Maire 1856: Border
Leon le Maire (1856)
Leon le Maire 1856: Pope
Leon le Maire (1856)
Leon le Maire 1856: Emperor
d'Aligny (1858)
d'Aligny 1858: Pope
d'Aligny (1858)
d'Aligny 1858: Emperor
Silvestre (1858)
Silvestre 1858: Emperor
Baillieu (1862)
Baillieu 1862: Pope and emperor

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