The Danza general de la muerte (Dance of Death) (late 14th-century) is a rhymed dialogue in Castilian in which death personified greets one victim after another. It is the earliest of 3 extant Castilian versions of the Dance of Death, which was popular across Europe in the Middle Ages. The Dance of Death gives expression to the premodern view that death is inevitable regardless of social class or religious affiliation. The Castilian version reflects the realities of medieval Iberian society, and death’s victims include Christians, Muslims and Jews. The work shows people from the highest positions, the emperor and the pope for example, to the lowest, the friar and parish priest. The figure of Death as depicted in this work may be a reflection of the multi-faith society of premodern Iberia. Death is not described in detail, but it is nowhere described as a skeleton, as it is often depicted in other European dances of death. Death has elements associated with the angels of death from the Jewish and Muslim traditions.
This unit contains an edition of the medieval Castilian text, accompanied by an introduction and notes in both Spanish and English versions:
Have you used this unit in the classroom (or elsewhere)? Please share your experience in the comments!