The Cardinal, one the highest officials in the Catholic Church, is shown as a corrupt ecclesiastic. He is selling off indulgences, special dispensations which during a dark era in the Church were often sold to those who could pay for them, rather than those who deserved them. Dispensations amounted to supposed licenses or permissions to do what would otherwise be forbidden by church law, or spiritual indulgences such as purported absolution of sins or exemption from various religious duties. They were sold to the highest bidder, though often they were used to also extract coins from the gullible lower classes.
Even as the cardinal is about to enjoy his ill-gotten gains, death is sitting beside him.
Next: The Empress
The Dance of Death is an important allegory commenting on human mortality and the passing transience of life. It depicts Death as a fairly jovial skeleton armed with a scythe, who invites his victims to a dance which invariably ends in their demise. The point of the allegory is that no one can refuse its invitation to the dance: hgh church officials, kings or paupers, all must dance and eventually die.