From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

When new games appear, they either involve a rather large leap from what came before or represent an incremental step from something else, of which some of the steps might become lost over time. Chess is an example of something that developed incrementally. Most popular card games have predecessor games that can be documented. It would be surprising but not unprecedented if the game later known as trionfi and then (perhaps with a rule change) tarocchi did not have predecessors from which they developed, other than the equal suits of common cards. In fact we know one earlier game in considerable detail, Marziano's game of deified heroes, described in a treatise written before the author's death in 1425, of which more than one copy was made, one in 1449 and another probably shortly thereafter. What is not known is whether it counts as a an ancestor of the ludus triumphorum in the sense of something from which the tarot developed, perhaps with intermediaries.

Another game, Karnoffel, documented in Bavaria of 1426, shares some aspects with tarot, in that some of the cards of one suit, picked randomly at the start of the hand, functioned as trump cards and when doing so were given names reminiscent of trionfi titles: Devil, Pope, and Emperor. Karnoffel itself was the name of the most powerful card, the jack of the trump suit. The name itself seems to have had an independent existence as a pejorative term; medically it referred to a herniated testicle. One might think in this connection of the PMB Fool card.

A third game is documented in 1423 for a deck made in Florence for a court lady of Ferrara: "VIII Emperadori". Nothing more is known about this game. It is fertile ground for speculation.

There is also speculation that the Cary-Yale deck might have been a kind of intermediate deck, or a variation on an intermediate form. That is the main topic I want to explore. But first I need to say a little about Marziano's game and "VIII Imperadori", as possible ancestors to the Cary-Yale cards.

Pratesi speculated in 2016 that "VIII Imperadori" might have been an ordinary deck with 8 extra cards, all Imperials, that functioned both as cards above the Kings in the four suits and formed a hierarchy of their own (original at, my translation at ... about.html). This was in the course of dividing card games into types: games that used just cards divided into suits, with no superior powers to cards of any one suit, and games with special triumphal cards. There was also a mixed form where cards in one ordinary suit, varying from one deal to the next, took on triumphal roles. Marziano's game and possibly VIII Imperadori both fell into the triumphal type, but in a separate class from tarocchi. The difference is that in the former class were "decks with an additional series of superior cards that can be connected to the four suits", while the latter class (tarocchi) were "decks with a series of cards that cannot be connected with the four suits". He left the nature of the connection undefined.

How Marziano's trump cards relate to the four suits in his deck can be explained with reference to the following table.
In trick-taking power, the trump cards are ordered by columns from left to right, the lower the number, the more powerful the card, in the sense of being able, when played in a trick, to take any trump of a higher number as well as any ordinary suit card. In this way they function precisely like the trump suit of tarocchi.

How trump cards are connected with the ordinary suits is indicated by the rows of gods, characterized as Virtues, Riches, Continences, and Pleasures. The suits are types of birds, related to the orders of gods both in being subordinate to them and by similarity, as indicated by the following sentences.
He does not spell out the similarities, but they are for the most part not hard to imagine. The Eagle, is the bird of Jupiter, leader of the order of Virtues. The Dove is the bird of Venus, leader of the order of Pleasures. The Turtledove is a species famous for its fidelity of one mate to the other, thus suitable for Continences. How the Phoenix relates to Riches is not clear. On the one hand, it was associated with the sun, whose yellow color is that of gold. On the other hand, it was famous for burning to ashes, leaving only a worm that grew into the next phoenix. Riches are similarly subject to being reduced to almost nothing, from which they might grow again.

These allegories explain the similarities, but not the property of subordination. The writing here is rather condensed. When he says "to the order of virtues, the Eagle," I think he means "to the order of virtues, the Eagle is related by subordination and similarity". Why did he say that the birds in each suit were subordinate to the gods in the corresponding order? I can only think that he meant the trumps to be extensions of the suits, applying specifically to the rule that one must follow suit if one can in a particular trick (presa, in Italian), which would then include the four gods in the corresponding order. This means that one might be forced to play a card one would rather not use in this particular circumstance, either because the trump in question is one that one would rather save for later in the game or because it will be lost to a trump of higher power played by another player. Whether that is what Marziano intends, however, is unclear. He might just mean that the birds are subordinate to the gods in general. In imagining what the game played with the Cary-Yale cards, I will try to keep the unclarity in mnd.

It is not hard to see how the game of "VIII Imperadori" might be similar to Marziano's, with an Emperor and an Empress added onto each of the four suits for purposes of following suit, but also with the ability to take all ordinary suit cards as well as inferior Imperadori. It seems to me likely that the empires in question would have been the Roman, Greek, Persian, and Babylonian. I base this on a comment by Prof. Arne Jönsson about one of the games presented by John of Rheinfelden (Arne Jönsson, “Card-playing as a Mirror of Society. On Johannes of Rheinfelden's Ludus cartularum moralisatus,” In O. Ferm & V. Honemann (Eds.), Chess and Allegory in the Middle Ages, Sällskapet Runica et Mediaevalia, Stockholm, 2005, pp. 359-371, on p. 370):
As regards the four suits, they represent, in Johannes’ opinion, four kingdoms, namely the four successive world monarchies, Babylonia, Persia, Macedon (or Greece), and the Roman Empire. As his symbol the Babylonian king has a man’s head, the Greek king has bells, and the Roman king an eagle. Johannes tells us that he does not understand the Persian king’s symbol.
Besides John, probably in 1377 but surviving only in a later copy of 1429, there is a similar identification of empires in a 1747 century allegorical interpretation of Minchiate reported by Andrea Vitali in his 2018 essay “Note allegoriche al Giuoco delle Minchiate”, (for the English translation (click on British flag top right).
Si può assimigliare questo gran mazzo di Carte alla Catastrofe delle vicende mondane; tutte insieme è come il Genere Umano, che vive alla rinfusa su questa Terra; le 4 seguenze sono come le 4 Monarchie” (7).

1 monarchia = quella degli Assiri o Caldei, iniziata con Nino e terminata con Dario
2 monarchia = quella dei Persiani, da Ciro a Dario Codomano
3 monarchia = quella dei Greci con Alessandro Magno
4 monarchia = quella dei Romani

(One can assimilate this great deck of cards to the Catastrophe of worldly events; all together it is like the Human Genus, which lives scattered on this Earth; the 4 sequences are like the 4 Monarchies" (7).

1 monarchy = that of the Assyrians or Chaldeans, beginning with Ninus and ending with Darius
2 monarchy = that of the Persians, from Cyrus to Darius Codomannus
3 monarchy = that of the Greeks with Alexander the Great
4 monarchy = that of the Romans
The author does not observe that Cyrus conquered the Chaldeans (i.e. Babylonians), Alexander the Great conquered the Persians, and the Romans conquered the Greeks, but the mention of these conquerors should be enough. (He seems to be mistaken in thinking that Darius was a Babylonian; he was the third successor to Cyrus.)

The eagle mentioned by John of course was the bird on the Romans' standards; it was also the bird of Jupiter. Bells are the Swiss and German equivalent of Coins, which might correspond to Riches in Marziano's game. As Pratesi reasoned in his 1989 article about the four orders of gods (
At first sight, they seem to be quite original; however, if the usual interpretations of the four suits in a standard pack are considered, the originality of these orders is strongly reduced: it is not difficult to suspect denari under riches, spade under virtues, coppe under pleasures, even if the association of bastoni with virginity or even with temperance, the alternative name of the order, is to me something still unheard of.
So we Have, for Marziano:

Virtues - Eagles - Swords
Riches - Phoenices - Coins
Continences - Turtledoves - Batons
Pleasures - Doves - Cups

And for "VIII Imperadori", Emperors and Empresses. Even with the Marziano/John of Rheinfelden suit assignments, there are two possible configurations:
Of the two above, what corresponds to Marziano's matrix is the top one, as for the hierarchy among gods he goes by columns.

Cary-Yale cards in the A orders

Now I want to turn to the cards of the Cary-Yale. I pick these because they are the first known. I proposed to Pratesi that besides the 11 surviving cards, there had been 5 other trump cards: Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Time and the Wheel of Fortune (reported by Pratesi at, my translation at ... ti-di.html). Not only would the number of trumps equal the number of cards in the other suits, but these five extend in a logical way the series already present in the surviving cards. Since there were already 4 of the 7 primary virtues of the Church, it is logical that there should be the other 3. Also, 5 of the 6 Petrarchan triumphs of "I Trionfi" were present (Love, the Chariot with lady as Chastity, Death, the card with a lady with a trumpet looking down on a knight as Fame, and the "Rise to Judgment" card as Eternity), so it was logical that the 6th one would be there, too, namely Time. For the 16th card I suggested the Wheel of Fortune, because Fortune and her Wheel was a common triumphal subject in literature and art, including Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione, which has many similarities to Petrarch's poem. It is also a surviving triumph from both of the succeeding Lombard hand-painted decks. However this one is more speculative than the others.

Below: Cary-Yale Chariot (a chaste noblewoman, probably the same as on the Love card), and World (Fama, holding trumpet and crown above a knight in a miniature world)
To play the game, these cards had to be in a definite order. Pratesi proposed that of Minchiate, imagining these 16 as a core from which both Minchiate, with its 40 triumphal cards plus the Fool, and Tarocchi, with its 21 plus the Fool, derived. Considering that Minchiate has the only known sequence containing the theological virtues and Prudence, all four of which were in my proposed triumphs, this is an eminently reasonable proposal. The order, Pratesi proposed, would then be as follows: Empress, Emperor, Love, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, Wheel, Chariot, Old Man, Death, Hope, Prudence, Faith, Charity, World, Angel. My only doubt about this Minchiate-derived list was about Time: did it correspond to the Old Man in a position just before Death, or to a higher position. just before World and Angel, perhaps one of the terrestials. Petrarch's own primary image of Time was the sun.

The question now is whether these 16 are of the tarocchi-type, unconnected to suits, or of the Marziano-type, where there is a connection. The problem is to define four groups of triumphal cards that somehow link to corresponding suits "by similarity", as Marziano would say. (We need not get into the other issue, of whether these groups should be considered extensions of the existing suits.) Pratesi was not able to identify four such groups. For my part, I suggested the four cardinal virtues as ordering principles, but I was unable to see how they could function as such using the Minchiate order. I proposed a different set of groups, based on some evidence that since then has been shown (in part as a result of my attempts to find confirmation) to be false. So for now I will stick to Minchiate and a few variations on it, where I think I have made some progress.

But first, how are the four virtues related by similarity to the four suits? Gertrude Moakley answered this question in 1966. She imagined, p. the four suits as though four uniformed groups of knights in a parade, She adds ( ... akley.html:
With more imagination one can see that each of these four companies of knights is devoted to one of the cardinal virtues and wears its device: the sword representing Justice, the cup of Temperance, the staff or column of Fortitude, and the coin or mirror of Prudence (1).
In a footnote she adds (my translation of the Italian in brackets):
1. Justice was usually represented as a figure with scales and a sword, Temperance as pouring liquid from one vessel into another, Fortitude with a staff or a broken column, and Prudence with a mirror by means of which she can look behind her (coins as a symbol of Prudence are rarer). The virtues are often mentioned in relation 'to the Visconti and Sforza, for one of their titles was "Conte di Virtù.” At the death of Giangaleazzo Visconti the virtues were represented as mourning him as their lord: "O chiara luce, o specchio, o colonna, o sostegno, o franca spada, the la nostra contrada mantenevi sicura in monte e in piano!" [O clear light, o mirror, o column, o supporter, o confident sword, you kept our territory safe in the high places and the flat!](Arch stor lomb, anno xv, p 792). For "mirrors" and "columns" as names for the suits of coins and staves see Chatto (Facts, p 53). His authority is Innocentio Ringhieri, Cento giuochi liberali et d'ingegno (Bologna 1551) p 132.
(original of footnote at ... 018det.jpg)
An example of Fortitude with a staff is Giotto's figure in the Scrovegni Chapel of Padua (below left). With a column, an example is the "Charles VI" Fortitude card, c. 1460 Florence ( ... titude.jpg). As for Ringhieri, his book is now online: simply enter the data supplied by Moakley. The game in question is the "Game of the King," of which I reproduce the title and introduction, followed by the part pertaining to the suits, from the next page, continuing to the end of that page:
So a relationship of suit-signs to cardinal virtues does seem to have existed during the time in question.

As it happens, if we divide the 16 into 4 groups, based purely on the Minchiate order as proposed by Pratesi, in the 4x4 matrix so constructed we do not get a cardinal virtue in each row. Here "Trombe", Trumpets, is Minchiate's name for the card otherwise known as "Angelo" or, in the Tarot de Marseille, "Jugement". Likewise Minchiate does not have an Empress or Emperor, just "papas". With Pratesi, I assume that the Empress and Emperor in the Cary-Yale are equivalent to two of the "papi" that appear in their position in the Minchiate . I give the letter "A" to designate this sequence and variations on it, because the order of virtues is that of the A region, i.e. Florence and Bologna, in Dummett's nomenclature.
But it will work if Time is put in a high position, just before Angel:
Here the order of suits, and so of virtues, is Cups, Coins, Swords, Batons. This is different from Marziano's. I do not know if this order of virtues exists elsewhere or not. Marziano's order corresponds precisely to the order of presentation in Plato's Republic. While Aquinas and Cicero put Prudence first, nobody then put Temperance first. So this Minchiate-derived matrix is not as close to Marziano's as it could be. This situation, however, could be remedied if there was one more card before Temperance. This could be achieved if instead of the Wheel, the 16th CY card was the Pope, or a third of three "papas" otherwise unnamed, as they are in Minchiate.
Here the order of virtues is that of Aquinas (Summa Theologiae vol. II part II) and Cicero.

For reference, here is a list of all the major early A orders, which I cut and pasted from Depaulis's "Early Italian lists of tarot trumps", The Playing Card 36-1 (July-Sept. 2007), pp. 44-46. It is more up to date than the one in Dummett's Game of Tarot p. 399 ( ... .35+PM.png). Where Depaulis gives the names in English, it means that the titles are not given, only the number, which is on the card, handwritten in the case of the Charles VI and printed in the case of the Rosenwald. These lists tend to leave out Minchiate's theologicals and Prudence. As already indicated, they go immediately after card XVI, in the order Hope, Prudence, Faith, Charity. In the Bolognese game of tarocchini, I would add, there were no imperials or papals as such; all four were called simply "papa", and whichever was played last in a trick had superiority.
As you can see, the main card that moves around is the Chariot. In most cases it does not affect the rows in which the cardinal virtues appear, because it just exchanges position with the next card, the Wheel. The only exception is the Bolognese order, which puts the Chariot card before instead of after the cardinals. Otherwise the order is much the same as Minchiate, except for lacking Prudence and the theological virtues. But they go between the Tower and the Angel, just like the Star, Moon and Sun. In that case, removing them and putting in Prudence and the theologicals in their Minchiate positions, we would have::
There could even have been four such "papi", as there are in Bologna, although then Time as well as the Wheel would have to be dropped to keep the list at 16. It seems to me rather extreme to drop Time as well as the Wheel. (But stay tuned to this thread; there is a way to have 4 papi as well as both Wheel and Chariot, which Dummett thought of and I will use.)

Another variable, it seems to me, is the position of Prudence. Would it have been with the theologicals early on or with the other cardinals? If the latter, then all four cardinals would be in the same row, which is a rather neat way of emphasizing them and making their position more memorable. Here is what the matrix would look like, keeping just two imperials and the Bolognese position of the Chariot:
Putting in a third "papa" would also have worked. This result is particularly attractive because the four cardinal virtues are all in the same column, highlighting them and making their position easier to remember. Also, the hierarchy of suits, when listed with their corresponding virtues is now the same as Marziano's corresponding to groups of gods.

It seems to me this is sufficient to show how the cardinal virtues might have been the connecting link between suits and triumphs, making the allegory more like Marziano's than of tarocchi. However we cannot conclude that the A order of virtues is the best candidate for a game with the CY cards inspired by Marziano's, or vice versa, until we look at the other two regions of the early tarot, especially Milan, since that is where the CY comes from. They can be adjusted in the same way that I just adjusted the Bolognese order. I will do that in later posts.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

Cary-Yale cards in the C or Lombard orders

Now I am going to see whether the known Lombard or C orders yield an order of truimphs in which the suits can be connected with the triumphal cards by way of the cardinal virtue, such that each of the four virtues appears in a different row of a Marziano-style grid. It is precisely the same process I went through for the Minchiate and Bolognese A orders.

For reference, here are the main early C orders, in a table put together in THF by Marco Ponzi, based on material in a thread initiated by Marcos Filesi, "The Order of Trumps" (It is more up to date than the list in Dummett's Game of Tarot, p. 401 ( ... .16+PM.png.)
The most popular of these orders is that of Susio, shared by Vieville and for the most part - the parts affecting the virtues - by Piscina. Putting in the theologicals plus Prudence where they are in Minchiate and removing the Celestials, the Pope, and the Popess, we get:
This configuration won't work, because there are two rows without cardinals. It also won't work in the Alciato order, where Justice and Chariot change places, or the Tarot de Marseille order, in which in addition to those Fortezza and Tempo change places.

In the case of the Minchiate order, one order that worked was that where Time was high rather than low, i.e. just before Mondo, like Sol and the other two celestials. It is the same for the C order:
It won't work in either the Alciato or Tarot de Marseille order, however, because then Justice won't be in the first row.

Another order that worked for the Minchiate was that in which Prudence was changed from being with the theologicals to being with the cardinals. In the C order, since the cardinals are not together, that move is not available. However another possible position for Prudence is one suggested by Vincenzo Imperiali's reply to Alberto Lollio's Invettiva of c. 1550, in which the card is indicated by the word "prudenza". The poem has references to each trump from high to low, starting with World. Between Death and the Old Man Imperiali says (38):
...Vien poi la Morte, et mena un’altra danza,
Et la prudenza, e la malitia atterra,
Et pareggia ciascuno alla bilanza.
Ma, 'l vecchio saggio la Fortun' afferra,
Et fa di lei, e di sua ruota un fasso,...

...Then comes Death, and brings another dance,
Prudence, and malice down here,
And makes everybody equal on the scales.
But the wise old man catches Fortune,
And makes of her and her wheel a faggot,...
I assume that the "dance" is the gallows, and that Prudence is on the part of the sovereign, reserving a shameful and miserable end for traitors. With this placement and Time low there is a cardinal virtue in every row :
Finally there is the order using the Pope card (Papa in Minchiate) instead of Ruota for the 16th CY card.:
This order works in the C order just as it did in the A order.

There is also this:
While this placement of Prudence is attested neither in Minchiate nor in literature such as the Imperiali poem, it is not unreasonable. Prudence was seen by Aquinas as in its highest form a product of the highest aquaintance with God.

So the A orders are not privileged as the only order in which a connection between suits and triumphs can be made via a correspondence of suit to virtue. However the last A order, Bolognese and Prudence with the other cardinals, has a special memorability due to its cardinals all being in the same column. Nothing approaching that is possible with the C order.

Next I will look at the Ferrara or "B" orders in this context.

Note added May 17: I have added C5since originally posting, a possibility I had not thought of (for which I thank some prodding by Pratesi, in a private communication after my original post).

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

Added note: For anyone who had read this before May 13 at 6 pm Pacific Daylight Time (3 am May 14 in Europe), please note that I have now made some changes, as I had transcribed the B order incorrectly. Fortunately it did not hurt my argument.

Ferrara orders using Cary-Yale cards

Here for reference are the typical B orders, from Dummett's Game of Tarot p. 400:

Of these the Sermones order has been established as the earliest, so that will be the order I will focus on. The others have precisely the same placements of the cardinal virtues in any case.

Like the A and C orders, the Marziano-style 4x4 matrix, with the theologicals and Prudence placed as in Minchiate, will not work:
There are two rows without cardinal virtues. It still won’t work if Time is high, or if Prudence is in the Hanged Man (Impiccato) position. That is because Justice and Temperance remain in the second row however the other two are moved around. And if one more Papa is added to put Temperance in the first row, then Fortitude is pushed up to the second row with Justice, no matter where Prudence is placed. Only if there are four papas and both Wheel and Time removed, rather improbably, will there be a space for Prudence, but even then in a place where it never occurs.
Alternatively. if Chariot and Fortitude changed places and Prudence was put in the Hanged Man position there also be a cardinal in each row (below). This does not happen in any known B order, but it is not inconceivable.
However the situation becomes much easier if the numbering goes by rows instead of columns, as in the alternate way, presented earlier, of arranging 4 Emperors and 4 Empresses in a hierarchy.
Here there is a cardinal virtue in each row of the Sermones order as it stands, without any recourse to variations. The order of virtues/suits is as in Marziano. This will work also if Time is high, and if Prudenza is in the Hanged Man position (but then not if Time is high, because Prudence is pushed into the third row).

However since this is not Marziano's way of constructing the 4x4 matrix, and the ways that do correspond (B2 and B3) are implausible, the B ordet is likely at some remove from the other ways of sequencing the CY cards. not what was immediately inspired by Marziano's game, or what immediately inspired it.

What remains is to decide between A and C. I will approach the question from another angle.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

Note added May 13, 6:45 pm: I have corrected this post in line with my corrections in the previous post, having to do with the B order. They do not affect the argument.

This is the continuation of my previous three posts in this thread.

From this perspective, which came first, A. B, or C?

Regarding the placement of the virtues in the triumph sequences, is there some way to argue that one of the three came first and the others were variations on it?

It might be thought that the A method of putting the virtues all together, one after the other, is the logical way, requiring no explanation, so that the others are probably variations on it. But if we think of the game in allegorical terms, that is not necessarily true. The designer could have been thinking of particular virtues as being needed in relation to particular Petrarchan triumphs, as especially relevant tor that Petrarchan: for example, Temperance for Love, Fortitude for Chastity (the Chariot), Prudence to forestall Death, and Justice at the Universal Judgment. That would yield the Ferrara order. Or it might be Justice for Love in the sense of marriage, as the mutual obligations of the marriage contract, Fortitude for Chastity, Temperance to forestall Death, and Prudence to master Time and win Eternity. That would yield the Lombard order. Putting the virtues all in a row loses these allegorical correlations of particular virtues to particular Petrarchan episode.

But all of these approaches depend on thinking of the sequence as one long row, even if it is also broken up into segments of some kind. But if Marziano's method of arranging by columns is decisive, the relation of the virtues to the other cards is more complex, because the rows form entirely different sequences, four of them that are not segments of one long one, than the columns from left to right.

A game without virtues

One perspective that could perhaps resolve the issue of which 4x4 tarot matrix would have been directly inspired, or have directly inspired, Marziano's 4x4 matrix, is that of Michael Dummett in his 2004 essay “Where do the virtues go?” (The Playing Card 32:4, pp. 165-167, online at viewtopic.php?t=1073). Dummett proposed that the reason the virtues, unlike the rest of the cards, were in such different places in the three main orders, was that the deck at an early stage had no virtue cards at all, and that when they were added people knew what they were but not where they went. So each region inserted the virtues where they saw fit.

Such an hypothesis is in one way the precise antithesis of what I am proposing: not that there were no virtues, but that these very virtues were a major organizing principle of the early 16 triumph sequence, dividing it into groups of 4 and linking them to the 4 suits. However the very affinity of the cardinal virtues with the suits makes it possible to create a tarot without cardinal virtue cards from one that has all four. That is to say, if a suit is standardly identified with one particular cardinal virtue, and that virtue is linked with three other triumphs, then the virtue card itself is not necessary to link the three others in that row to the suit. The 4x4 matrix can be reduced to 4x3, leaving out the cardinals entirely.

However there is a problem when the matrix is by columns and the virtues aren't all in the same column. For example, here is A4 again, with and without its cardinal virtues:
Without the virtues, one card is out of order, Ruota. Other matrices fare worse. Here is C2, first with and then without its cardinal virtues:
Both Speranza and Morte are out of order. There will be much confusion if both games are played in the same city.

For the B order it is even worse. For one thing, as we have seen, there is no way that I know of to impose a known B order onto the surviving Cary-Yale cards in columns that will result in a cardinal virtue in each row. And even if we fix the situation by means of a small change in the order from anything known, the result, when reduced to 12, is an internal hierarchy that has three cards out of place. Here is B3 again, which changed the order by switching the Chariot and Fortitude:
Removing the cardinals results in:
Here Speranza, Carro, and Tempo (above as 9 Vecchio, Old Man) are out of order.

There is one situation, however, in which the cardinals can be removed without changing the order otherwise: when all four are in the same column. That occurs in case A5, given below along with the 3x4 matrix that results when the cardinals are removed:
It remains an open question whether Time is low or high. My table has it low.

To complicate matters further, there is a Minchiate variant that also has the four cardinal virtues in the same column, namely if the Pope is the 16th triumph rather than the Wheel, and Prudence is placed with the other cardinals. I didn't present this one earlier, since it was similar to the others:
To me it seems rather improbable that the very early tarot had a Pope card and no Wheel of Fortune, because the first, along with the Popess, were always frowned upon by preachers, who found it shameful that such subjects should be in a card game, while the second was ubiquitous in the Middle Ages.

So likely the tarot order that would have produced a sequence without cardinal virtues is A5, the Bolognese sequence with theologicals as in Minchiate and Prudence with the other cardinals. However the other, A6, must also be kept in mind.

Removing the four cardinal virtues from A5 we get:
Everything is in the same order as before. A6-12 is similar, except that 8 is Carro, 9 is Amore, and 10 is Papa 3. To keep my presentation from being twice as long as it is, I will not chart this alternative when it occurs, but only acknowledge the variation in my comments.

A sequence without cardinals in Ferrara

Of the three orders, the B is the least likely to have been the order closest in time to Marziano, because the 4x4 matrix cannot be set up with the Ferrara placement of virtues except in very special circumstances. If Temperanza and Giustizia are in the same row, the second (as third from the beginning and second from the end) , the matrix cannot have a cardinal virtue in each row. Only two matrices work,:that in which neither Ruota or Wheel were part the triumphs in the transition to or from Marziano, replaced by the Pope and Popess (My B2, repeated below), or else just Ruota is missing replaced by the Pope, and Fortitude and Carro exchanged places (B3). These are not impossible, but assume more than the comparable matrices in the A and C regions. As I have said, it would be a poor strategy on the part of card makers to include even the Pope, much less the Popess. Wheel and Ruota are much more likely

When the 12 cards non-virtue spread to or from B to C or A, they would have been transferred in a definite hierarchy among themselves and a definite correspondence by threes to the four suits in a definite order, that given above in A5-12. This is true whatever the order of transmission. The problem then is how to account for the different order of virtues, in this instance that of B. Why is Temperance always 13, Fortitude always 10, and Justice always 2? There could certainly be different reasons for each placement, unknown to us, but I think they can all be explained at once.

My proposal is that Ferrara, not appreciating the Marziano game, did not understand why the game was so complex. Why have one sequence, by columns, governing all the trumps and another, by rows, governing what is involved in following suit? (Here I think this can be the only function of rows, to extend the suits, since the connecting link, the virtues, is now missing.) So they make the matrix go by rows instead of columns. They keep the order of suits: Spade/Denari/Bastoni/ Coppe. But since there is a virtue associated with each suit, then Justice will be in the top row, Prudence in the second row, Fortitude in the third, and Temperance i the fourth. The first and fourth rows have different virtues than the matrix they have inherited. They can be inserted, if desired, so as to make an allegorical association between virtue and Petrarchan triumph. Here it is still an open question (for us, not them) whether Time is low or high.

We start with the basic order without cardinal virtues"
A later version of this matrix might indeed have removed the cardinals, and also the three theological virtues (or hidden them in Impiccato [as in Judas, the antitype at the bottom of the CY Hope card], Papessa [Faith], and Papa [Charity]) and the world as well. In their place it would have had four new cards in appropriate places, and also, outside the matrix, Matto and Bagatella. These new cards make it even easier to remember the suit, by means of subtle and not so subtle clues:
These, coincidentally or not, are precisely the “first artist” cards of the PMB, as Huck has pointed out (at the link given above to Dummett's article). Giustizia allows a reinterpretation as Fama with the addition of the knight at the top of the card. Time is definitely low here. In this sequence, oddly, the World is missing. I have put the World card highest as the conclusion of the drama, the Last Judgment. The young man on the white horse ( ... ustice.jpg) is more this worldly; the reference is probably Rev. 19:11, in the Vulgate:
et vidi caelum apertum et ecce equus albus et qui sedebat super eum vocabatur Fidelis et Verax vocatur et iustitia iudicat et pugnat.

(And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and with justice doth he judge and fight.)
Tradition identified this rider with Christ at his second coming; it is in the Apocalypse but before the Judgment. He is also the fighter for justice in every battle, who earns glory, Fama, thereby.

This 14 card version, besides the virtues, is missing many other cards later present in Sermones list, one that was formerly present (World) and some new ones. On the scenario I am considering, it would seem that some people didn’t like a virtueless sequence and wanted the virtues back in, and that expanding the sequence somehow made the game more interesting. As it happens, the number of additional cards is precisely eight (22-14). These can be accommodated simply by extending the rows by two. Below is the matrix as usually numbered, where the lower the number, the less the power. The suits are in the same order as before and have simply disgorged their virtue, when needed, into the corresponding row. The only change is that the Angel calling people to judgment is placed before Justice, with the World, now apparently the New Jerusalem, after it.
All that remains is to renumber the cards in the matrix as they later appear, where the lower the number, the less the power. The sequence is the same.
Such an order might have been preceded by a version with the 16 cards of the Cary-Yale. Here, with the Minchiate placement of Prudenza, Tempo can be either high or low. With the Hanged Man (Impiccato) placement of Prudence, Time has to be low, to keep Prudenza from falling into the third row.
I will conclude my presentation in a later post.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

The virtueless 12 and its progeny in Milan

The same 12 virtueless cards, in order, on my hypothesis, reach Lombardy and the court of Filippo Maria Visconti. Filippo, having read Marziano's treatise, can appreciate the history of the 3x4 matrix and its relationship to a 4x4 in a hierarchy by columns. . But perhaps he can also see the logic of Ferrara's simplification. Which does he choose, rows or columns?

Filippo probably also knows that the game once contained cards of the cardinal virtues. As the "Count of Virtue" he still wants a game organized around virtue. I cannot imagine that Filippo would have just arbitrarily picked an order of suits for the 3x4 array different from that of Ferrara and Bologna, and they happened to produce the C order of virtues. More likely he picked where the virtues should go and adjusted the suits accordingly. He probably wanted the virtues to be connected allegorically with the Petrarchan triumphs, but in a different way than Ferrara. For example, he might have wanted Justice to be associated with the Empress, Emperor, and Love, to signify the marriage contract. There may have been personal issues involved: the wife he beheaded, the wife he declined to make children with.

In fact, if he knew that the cards once contained virtues, he probably also would have known where they went in the order: their going one after another is not hard for a visiting card player to remember. In that case we do not have to suppose a virtueless tarot at all, since he is changing where they go deliberately. Either way, he has a different idea than the A region's. In that case, however, the same could be said if his order of virtues were first and then "improved" by the A region. The priority of A over C is lost.

In any case, would the new arrangement have been by columns or rows?

Here is the matrix inherited from Bologna or Florence, A5 minus the 4 cardinal virtues:
But Time could also be high, so we have to examine both possibilities.

It is a matter of constructing a matrix where Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance are where we know they ended up and then adding Prudence to the row that is left, hopefully only one. I will begin with the 4x4 matrix by columns and Time low. Justizia is number 13, since Justizia in the Susio order comes right after Amore. Fortezza is at number 11, because it appears right after Carro. Temperanza is then either in the second or fourth row, and Prudenza in the remaining row. The only placement that works puts Prudenza in the Impiccato (Hanged Man) position, as in Imperiali's poem. That will put Temperanza in the second row. The result, expanding A5-12 by adding the four virtues, is the matrix I have already called C3. Suits are then assigned accordingly:
With Time high, Temperanza changes its position, and thus also Prudenza. The result is what I have called C2:
Either will work. But going to a 12 or 14 triumph game by removing the virtue cards will result either in rows that are different or cards out of order, as we say in my previous post.

If Filippo decided to go by rows instead of, or after, using columns, the matrix would also work, but with some adjustments. C2's choice of cards (with Time high and Ruota) can have a virtue in each row in a few different ways. One is below, with the Theologicals and Prudence in the Minchiate order, but put below Death. This makes good theological sense, because one is supposed to practice the theological virtues before Death in order to be saved.
This would also work if Morte were after Ruota. Then there is a strange separation of Morte and Temperanza not typical of the C order, although this separation disappears once the theologicals and Prudence are removed. If both Temperance and Morte were after Ruota, then Prudenza would have to follow Carità and the order of suits would be Denari/Coppe/Bastoni/Spade

C3 will not work at all, because the addition of the Pope in position 14 would make it impossible for any virtue to be in the bottom row. However, there is a variant on C2r:
This will also work if Prudenza is in the Hanged Man position (as in C3), and if Morte is after Vecchio. If both Morte and Temperanza were after Vecchio, then Prudenza would have to follow Carità and the order would be Denari/Coppe/Bastoni/Spade.

If desired, the cardinal virtues can be removed for a 12 or 14 card sequence, and in this case, by rows, both the rows and the order of triumphs will be unaffected otherwise.

The sequences C2r and C2r variant as given above are of some significance because of their order of suits. Pratesi informs me in a private communication of the order of suits in Italian poker. He writes:
For the order of the suits, here we have, still today, an idiom to remember it, used mostly in Italian poker: Come Quando Fuori Piove, (cuori, quadri, fiori, picche). Of course, the two red suits above the two black ones. (In bridge, the lowest suit then became the upper one.) This was different with Italian suits, where however exactly the same order was valid for the two round suits above the two long ones. A strong distinction between the two sets was the order 1 to 10 or 10 to 1 of the corresponding pip cards. The alleged reason was that clergy (coppe) was higher than merchants (ori), and then judges (bastoni) were higher than soldiers (spade). As I once said, I don’t know how far this can be pushed into the earliest times. However, I would prefer such an order to be respected in any reconstruction.
That the order of suits Pratesi describes is the same order of suits that emerges as the last stage in the linkage of suits to groups of trumps, from Marziano to A5 to the C order, is a striking coincidence, and perhaps not a coincidence at all.

So the A5 sequence can generate a valid C sequence of 16 either by columns or rows. In favor of a continuing matrix by columns, however, is what happens when the triumphs are expanded to 22. You will recall that in Ferrara expanding to 22 still had one cardinal virtue per row. In the C order, however, there is no longer a virtue in the bottom row (because the first one, Justice, is at 7, and there are 5 cards per row).
By columns, however, there is still one cardinal per row.
This last is a weak argument, however, because by the time the number has increased to 22 the suits have probably already been severed from the triumphs altogether, so that the inability to assign suits by rows is irrelevant.

We are not done with the C order, however. Our objective is to find one 3x4 matrix based on Minchiate, other A orders, and the surviving CY cards that is best able to generate the later known orders. So we have to look at what A6 produces. First, here is the 3x4 matrix, A6 with its cardinal virtues (all in one column) removed.
Time could also be high. Inserting the virtues we get what I have labeled C4 (Time low, Susio order) and C5 (Time high, Alciati order, which exchanges Fortezza and Carro)
In this last, Morte could be 6 instead of 9. I. It won’t work if Time is low, because then Temperanza would be either 7 or 4.

Finally, let us consider the two sequences by rows. They both work well.
Alciati's order is an example in which the hierarch of suits remembered by Pratesi shows up in a matrix proceeding by columns. Alciati's order is one where the order Coppe/Denari/Bastoni/Spade holds whether the matrix goes by rows or columns.

Back to the A order

In this context it is worth looking again at the A orders, once the virtues are put back into the game. Here again is the 12 card matrix:
With all four virtues added in one column, we return to A5, the Bolognese sequence with theologicals as in Minchiate and Prudence with the other cardinals. If instead the virtues are added after Amore, we get Carro and Ruota in the “Charles VI” order. If Carro and Ruota, now next to each other, are interchanged, we get their order in Minchiate. The A-6 configuration will also work, as Ruota’s absence does not enter into the equation.

It is also worth looking at how 16 become 22 in the A order. The “Charles VI” order, filling in the missing cards, can serve for those decks that lack a Prudence card. Here I put the missing cards in italics and add the handwritten numbers with Depaulis’s notations (see the chart in my first post).
I put a question mark in front of Popess is because no Florentine Popess card has been found prior to the Rosenwald, which is probably early 16th century, and the number 3 on the Imperatore admits the possibility that the Popess was absent and the Bagatella was 1 (although it could also have been unnumbered, as in Bologna).

We might wonder if any of the new cards in the last row could be a hiding place for Prudence, like the Hanged Man is in the B and C orders. The Papessa might serve, as Prudence was sometimes shown crowned (although not with a papal crown) and holding a book. With only 3 virtues and 5 in each row, it is no wonder that by now the triumphs would have been disconnected altogether from the suits.

The comparable Minchiate sequence would have 24 triumphs and the Fool, including all of the above except just one of the Papi, plus the theologicals and Prudence. To make a multiple of 4, the Bagatella would have to be dragged into the matrix as Papa 1 (as it in fact is called in Minchiate). Then Speranza would be number 16 and Prudence number 17, in the last row where it should be. Even at 6 to a row, the correlations hold in Minchiate.

What is more, since in Minchiate there are actually 16 cards between Saetta and Stella(4 elements + 12 zodiacals), this result will hold even at 10 to a row.


In this post I think some conclusions can finally reached, given the assumption of a time in the development of the tarot in which suits were correlated with virtues by row in a matrix with its own internal hierarchy by columns:

1. As far as the most likely form in which the tarot subjects would have replaced Marziano's or vice versa, what emerges, given the presence of the three theological virtues and Prudence among the surviving cards of the Cary-Yale, is a variant on Minchiate. But variants in which the virtues have Susio's Lombard placement and Time as cosmic time as opposed to that of an individual life, or with Prudence in the Hanged Man position, are not excluded as that from which the others sprang. Even the Ferrara region is not impossible, although it would require a slightly different place for Fortitude than it ended up with, and more importantly assumes the Pope card as part of this early sequence, which is more improbable than than the assumption in Lombardy that Time be understood as cosmic Time.

2. If there was an intermediate form without cardinal virtues, then a sequence with all four together is the most likely, and if the order of suits is to be the same as Marziano's (using Pratesi's equivalences), then Prudence would have been in the second row. Out of three variants on Minchiate with the four virtues all together (Carro after the virtues, Carro before the virtues, Pope before Amore and no Ruota) , the Bolognese placement of the Chariot before the virtues (A5, below) is the one most likely to have dropped its virtue cards and in that form spread to other cities, thus making possible their re-insertion in new ways. This is my modification of a proposal by Dummett (who did not propose two insertions of the virtues).

3. The different placements of the virtues in Ferrara can then be explained by a change in the matix from numbering by columns to numbering by rows. In Lombardy it would have been the will of whoever controlled the order, probably Filippo Maria Visconti himself, taking advantage of the opportunity to insert virtues in his own way. In Florence the jump in position of the Chariot card compared to Bologna can be explained by the reinsertion of the virtues one position lower than before.

4. The correlation of suits to virtues in the rows of a matrix can be maintained even with only three virtues, provided the Hanged Man serves that role in the B and C orders, and perhaps the Popess in the A orders.

5. With such adjustments as those in 3 for decks that lack Prudence cards, the virtue cards continue to be distributed one to a row when put in a matrix with four rows and a sufficient number of columns, with the numbering going by columns in A and C and in rows in B. This could have continued even with 22 triumphs, although by then the practice of linking suits to foursomes of triumphs via their virtue cards would probably have been abandoned.

Note: On May 17 I edited this post to include possibilities I had neglected to consider earlier. including three with an order of suits conforming to an established order in Italian poker known by Pratesi. I also added one more conclusion, the new number 1.

Note: On May 18 I realized I hadn't got two of the additions in Pratesi's order precisely right and corrected them.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

For anyone reading my third post before an hour ago, please note that I have made corrections. I had incorrectly transcribed the Sermones order into the matrix. The correction somewhat improved my argument, making a solution I wanted to reject (B3) even more improbable. For anyone reading my fourth and fifth posts, note that I have now incorporated the corrections into them and also corrected some coding errors that prevented a couple of the images from appearing.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

I have made more additions, one in post 2 (table C5), thanks to some prodding by Pratesi in a private communication), and then in post 5, incorporating C5 into the discussion of C order matrices as well as some other considerations I had not made explicit.

The gist of post 5 was to take the various possible A orders that would have the cardinal virtues all in one column, and then examine to what extent they, once that column was removed, could generate the other orders in 4x4 matarices and also 4x5 + 2, in a game in which virtues were linked to suits. There were two such A orders, A5 and A6. The result was that A5 could generate the 4x4 B matrix by rows only, and 4x5 also by rows only, while the C order 4x4 matrix could be generated by both rows and columns, and 4x5 only by rows. The result suggests a gradual shift from matrices by columns to matrices by rows, from A to C to B. Since the A order cannot accommodate matrices by rows (there can't be a virtue in each row), I conclude that the A response, probably in Florence, was to change the game by disengaging the triumphs from the suits altogether.

However I neglected to consider that there is a third A ,matrix in which the cardinal virtues are all in the same column. It is another hybrid, this one using the 4 "papi" of Bologna but otherwise that of Minchiate. While I think my conclusion (end of previous paragraph) still stands, I need to show why that is so, by exploring what can be generated in the B and C orders from that A matrix, which I think will be nothing. I will work that out in another post.

Re: From Marziano to the Cary-Yale and the Ludus Triumphorum

Here is the third possible A order with the four cardinal virtues all in a row:
Without virtues it is:

Inserting virtues in the B order, by columns, we have:
It also doesn't work with Prudence in the Hanged Man position, #8, because Temperance has to be where it is. If Prudence were #7 it would work. But I can't think of any historical justification for that.

By rows this order becomes:

In the C order by columns we get:
This doesn't work.

But it will work if Prudence is in the Hanged Man position,

And by rows:
There is no way to fix this. Temperance could go in the top row (since the theologicals will be taken out), but I can't see Prudence how Prudence can go into the bottom row.

This has the same problem.

The net result is that the 16 triumph matrix with 4 papi (A7), inherently improbable because it is missing so many early subjects, is a rather weak generator of other orders, with nothing in rows, which is we would most expect it, because in rows removing the virtues does not alter the matrix otherwise.

I have the feeling that all the tables in the preceding posts could be presented in a more perspicacious way, easier to keep track of, such that one follows after the other in a repetitive, even mechanical way. The format of THF is not conducive to such rewriting, unless there is a way I don't know about of making tables. At least in a blog one can see the tables one is inserting while one is writing, so as to be able to move them around. I will try presenting this material in blog format elsewhere. I will also try to rework the tables so that they follow the usual numbering system for truimphs (as opposed to Marziano's) with 16 as Angelo or Mondo and 1 as Imperatrice. Meanwhile if someone has a question or objection,, feel free to put it here.

Added May 19: I have moderated point 1 of my conclusion and my language earlier on, to put less emphasis on the "virtueless sequence" hypothesis, so that of the various matrices paralleling Marziano, the likelihood of A5 over C2 over B3 is a matter of degree, none being absolutely excluded as generating the others.

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