Also illustrated on the wall of the church in Meslay-le-Grenet (see our Off the Beaten Path Tips), is the legend of the three roistering young knights who are returning from a hunt when they encounter three skeletons who speak to them with the warning "that which you are, we were". I have seen a similar depiction in a 14C mural in the Campo Santo in Pisa, except in it there is a hermit who shows the skeletons and pronounces the warning. Such artistic renderings are quite rare, Do you know of others? Or Danse Macabres? (My picture does not have all the details).
In the 14C European humanity was beset by intense widespread random death from rampaging war and pillage, plague and famine. As these events subsided in the 15C, the only places of social congregation (and amusement and distraction) were churches and some fairs. From before Roman times and continuing today, the living are exploited by exhibitions of death and mayhem (virtual or real) for a variety of purposes. In the mid 15C a popular poem appeared "The Danse Macabre" which laughed at the fact of unpredictable death for all. This was at the advent of the printing press and it was widely distributed and wood cut illustrations were also sold. The Church exploited the popular taste with Sermons and there were illustrative "plays" or "dances" on the church parvis. In a few cases the material of the poem was illustrated on the Church Walls. This must have appealed to the general populace who could delight in the equality of the frailty of all men, from the Pope (with a Tiara) the Emperor (crowned), bishop(mitred), and the various others by their dress or instruments down to the baby in the crib. Death as a skeleton carrying a scythe, pops up among the characters. This should not be confused with the "Dance of Death" , a Medieval graveyard superstition in which the dead arise before midnight and dance before going out to claim new victims to join their club.
Chartres Cathedral is well known for its stained glass windows in the middle ages, many people were not able to read. Thus windows were a sort of script cartoon. These colured glasses told the story of the bible or the saints life.
I though this was really cute - it was a place to take your dog to have them go potty - much nicer than having them go just anywhere. It even had its very own sign.
For Whom the Bell Tolls...
Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris...
Now the bell tolling softly for another says to me, Thou must die.
Listen to the Poem (Link)