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Book/Printed Material Dance of Death. Der doten dantz mit figuren, clage vnd antwort schon von allen staten der werlt

About this Item


  • Dance of Death.

Other Title

  • Der doten dantz mit figuren, clage vnd antwort schon von allen staten der werlt


  • The Middle Rhenish Totentanz (Dance of death) originated around 1450 in Mainz. It derived from the Paris Danse de macabré, but its immediate model was a German version in the form of illustrated broadsheets. In its choice of characters, it is oriented towards the townsman; in the face of the threat of plague of epidemic proportions, it is Franciscan in its pious devotion to God's mercy. It combines texts in character (each in eight lines of verse, consisting of the accusation of Death and the confession of his surprised victim) with pictures, each of which shows a Death figure and a living person who is emblematic of and criticized as the representative of a particular social class. This edition published in Heidelberg by Heinrich Knoblochtzer (1445-1500) is the first appearance of this version of the Dance of the Death in printed book form. The motif of the forced dance is accentuated in the woodcuts by the eccentric gestures of the Death figures, their musical instruments (which vary from picture to picture), and the introductory illustration, which shows a four-piece band playing for dead dancers in a dance hall. The decorative initials of this first printing, of which only four copies are known to exist, come from the defunct printing shop of Johann Zainer, the first printer in Ulm. In the 18th century this copy was owned by J.N. Weislinger, a priest of Capell. It was then in the court library of the Elector Karl Theodor in Mannheim, before it came to Munich in the early 19th century.

Created / Published

  • Heidelberg, Germany : Heinrich Knoblochtzer, [1480 to 1488]


  • -  Germany
  • -  1480 to 1488
  • -  Allegory
  • -  Dance of death
  • -  Death
  • -  Human skeleton
  • -  Illuminations
  • -  Literature, Medieval
  • -  Skeletons


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "BSB shelfmark: BSB-Ink T-398|This description of the work was written by Elmar Hertrich of the Bavarian State Library."--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 22 folios : illustrations.
  • -  Original resource at: Bavarian State Library.
  • -  Content in Middle High German (ca. 1050-1500).
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021667059

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Dance of Death. [Heidelberg, Germany: Heinrich Knoblochtzer, to 1488, 1480] Pdf.

APA citation style:

(1480) Dance of Death. [Heidelberg, Germany: Heinrich Knoblochtzer, to 1488] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Dance of Death. [Heidelberg, Germany: Heinrich Knoblochtzer, to 1488, 1480] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.