As abridged as this explanation is (only a monograph could do it proper justice – and I’ve certainly no time for that at the moment), it is overly lengthy for a message board post, so it is broken up into three major parts (this will run over into multiple posts due to length, so “replies” to myself): First, the Structure of Dante’s poem and its relationship to the Anghiari/Cary Yale (CY) “ur-tarot” and the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (PMB) decks. Secondly, the pivotal role of the humanist Francesco Filelfo; and thirdly, explication of Individual Trumps (some of these will come later and but for the subset I have deemed as controversial – the planets – I will provide 7 individual responses covering each of those separately). Unless noted otherwise, all translations of Dante are from Robert and Jean Hollander, Paradiso, 2007.
The earliest surviving tarot decks, one now held in the Cary Yale Library (hereafter CY) and another partially in the Pierpont Morgan Library and in Bergamo’s Accademia Carrara (jointly and hereafter PMB), and brief mentioning the ducal records of Ferrara placed the search for tarot’s origins in those two cities. In February 2012, however, Thierry DePaulis came across a mention of tarot, naibi dei trionfi (cards with triumphs), in the September 16, 1440 entry in the diary of a notary, Giusti Giusto, from Anghiari, in the 2002 publication of the same (Nerida Newbigin, ed., "I "Giornali" di ser Giusto Giusti d'Anghiari (1437-1482)" in Letteratura Italiana Antica, III, 2002, pp. 41-246, 66). Giusti’s hometown is the eponymous name of the battle on June 29, 1440, between the victorious Florentine-Papal army and the Milanese army, and thus his entry follows less than three months later. Coupled with the fact that Giusti explicitly states that he commissioned said deck in Florence (which has not survived) seems to provide the historical circumstances in which trionfi emerged. Unless an earlier reference to trionfi can be found, the conception and development of tarot is necessarily to be found in Florence in light of its relations with Milan and Ferrara in the decade of 1440-1450. The emphasis here is on development as the oldest surviving deck, the CY (and a much more fragmentary, contemporary deck presumed to be nearly identical, the Brambilla, held in Milan), in that it differs from the nearly complete PMB deck in having theological virtues – something no other tarot deck possesses. Furthermore, if the CY was to celebrate the condotte between the Duke of Milan, Filippo Visconti, and the condottiere Francesco Sforza via the marriage to his only daughter, Bianca (albeit illegitimate) along with the dowry of the towns of Cremona and Pontremoli, then proximity in time is quite close between Giusti’s Anghiari deck (procured in September 1440) and the wedding of Bianca and Sforza (October 1441) , of about a year. Therefore the assumption is that regime-specific interpretations of certain trump themes aside, the nominal subjects remained the same between the Giusti-Anghiari deck and the CY. Another assumption is that the Anghiari inception of trumps did not deviate from the existing 14 card suits (Swords, Coins, Cups and Staves – the last shown variously as staffs or arrows) - 10 ordinal pip cards followed by a Page, Knight, Queen and King - of normal playing cards. There simply was not enough time to innovate an entirely new, meaningful series in so short a time.
However, the CY deck does contain an anomaly – 6 court cards instead of the 4, so that each of suits has 16 cards instead of the expected 14. This can be explained, I believe, because of the variation of the controversial CY Love trump. The Petrarch-esque Love theme remained the same from the Anghiari deck, so it is proposed, but not how it was depicted. The CY Love trump is controversial because a man and women are clasping hands, evidentially in regard to a matrimonial-related event - the not so subtle conjugal bed that would allow the rightful consummation of the marriage, lies immediately behind them, beneath a pavilion on which are pennants displaying the Visconti biscone and the controversial red pennant quartered by a white cross, interpreted as either the flag of Savoy or of Pavia. The groom’s cape is decorated with the Sforza device of the fountain which is also found on all of the court cards in the suit of staves; in fact the 4 suits are split evenly amongst Visconti and Sforza devices – the other Sforza device of the pomegranate is on the Swords court persons’ dress while the Visconti radiate dove and palm frond/ducal crown device on the Coins and Cups, respectively. The deck then is a “merger” of sorts between two houses, equally represented. If the bridal figure was associated with Savoy surely that country’s symbols (or at least those of France, with which it was closely associated) would have been shown on two of the suits, instead of being limited to just the love card.
So why would the disputed flag be Pavia, the university town and Visconti-favoured court palace, with renowned library (where royal Visconti children were raised), located just south of Milan? Before Filippo became duke he was the Count of Pavia and thus that title could be viewed as that of the “crown prince,” much as the Prince of Wales is for the British throne. The answer then is all too simple: Filippo was expecting an heir from this union. Presumably his daughter Bianca would act as regent should Filippo die before the child was of age, and indeed he did, just six years later (a child was born in 1444, so only three at the time of Filippo’s death). This theory finds its confirmation of sorts when after claiming the Duchy of Milan for himself, Sforza has this very child proclaimed Count of Pavia (Cecilia Ady, A History of Milan Under the Sforza, 1907: 65). So much for the CY – but it would have displaced the particulars of the Florentine Anghiari deck, whose Love trump featured what?
Florence was not ruled by a titular sovereign, such as the Duchy of Milan, and would not have engaged in marrying daughters off to fellow sovereigns; ergo, the CY Love card is particularly inappropriate for Florence, especially in 1440 when the illusion of Cosimo in an official “first among equals” platitude was still being promoted as commensurate with Florence’s Republican liberty. Now that the so-called King Charles VI tarot deck is now identified as Florentine, and thus the oldest surviving from that city, that deck’s love card should point us in the right direction in regard to what the Love theme would look in that city –a crowd of people (3 dancing couples in the case of the CVI card) driven before the god of Love, such as we find in any number depictions of Petrarch’s Triumph of Love. Most noteworthy is that Anghiari happened immediately after the annual June festival of San Giovanni, not only the only location for baptisms in Florence but also the time of year when the majority of those unions that resulted in children to be baptized occurred - marriages: “If, as one preacher said, marriages would not last six months without the sacramental solemnities, Florentines obviously thought they would last longer if performed on June 24. This is behind Dati’s remark Istoria 127] that pending marital links were postponed until St. John’s ‘to honor the feast.’” (Richard Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence, 1980: 265).
The events the lead to Dante’s own exile in 1302 were precipitated by Florentine internecine strife during the Saint John procession:
So we have the St. John’s Feast occurring less than a week before the Florentine Anghiari – surely they prayed to their patron saint for victory and surely the triumphal celebrations took a few symbolic nods toward the close proximity of the two events. The Lovers card, such as we find in the CVI, with 6 couples would be such a “nod.” The CVI lover’s card of three couples is closely related to the theme of couples stepping lively in Scheggia’s Admiari cassone painting: http://www.kimbellart.org/artandlove/im ... l_crop.jpgOn May 1300…the by-then traditional dress of upper-class women were disrupted when two festive brigates of the competing families of the Cerchi and Donati collided with each other while watching their virgins and matrons dance…On St. John’s vigil less than two months later, guild consuls marching in front of their organizations were attacked by a group of grandi who resented the increased prominence of civil organizations, and the demise of honorable men. The grandi too wanted to be part of the parade, and [next page] as they pummeled these representatives of the civic order, they screamed: ‘we are the ones who gained victory at Campaldino, and you have removed us from the offices and honors of the city!” ‘The city’ was no longer simply its magnates. This St. John’s procession, and all those in years to come, were fundamental statements about the nature of political order.” (ibid, 281-219).
The museum in which it is housed thusly describes it: “Their slow steps may be those of a wedding dance known as the chiarenzana to music played by the pifferi, a Florentine civic ensemble.” Baxandall’s fundamental work, Painting and Experience in 15th century Italy (1972), notes the link between the groupings of people in paintings and dance but also comments on the Bassa danza, “the slow pacing dance that became popular in Italy during the first half of the century” (77). A specific dance cannot be securely identified in either the cassone or card, but rather it is some version of the Bassa danza. The earliest known dances in treatises that appeared in the 1440s had names like ‘Cupido’ and ‘Jealousy’, the latter featuring three men and three women (78), just as in our CVI card. Just as suggestively as ‘Cupido’, Lorenzo Magnifico even wrote a Basssa danza called ‘Venus.’ There is little doubt what the Florentine CVI lovers card represents: “love” drawn to and resulting from the ritual of the dance. Most tellingly, Baldini’s engraved series of planets features a dancing couple below Eros: http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/t212 ... nusFin.jpg.Dance signified the well-governed state, just as it did a hundred years earlier in the Sienese fresco of “the Effects of Good Government on City Life”. After Anghiari, in which the Milanese enemy was aided by an exiled Florentine faction led by the Albizzi, the civic unity displayed in the St. John’s celebrations was the perfect way to gloss over the issue of civic strife. The bellicose element has been exiled and defeated – long live Florence (or some such sentiment).
The Planetary Structure of the Paradiso
Instead of randomly picking trump themes throughout the Commedia (Seabury, 1949) or Convivio (Berti, 2001, although admittedly this is a creative work of art and not a “theory”: http://www.giordanoberti.it/english/htm ... _dante.htm), or both (Campbell, 1987) the very structure of Dante’s Paradiso is adhered to – Dante himself pursues an eschatological journey via the planetary model of Macrobius’ commentary on Scipio’s Dream. To each of the 7 planetary spheres, Dante added one of the 7 Virtues and then peopled each sphere with exempli with whom he speaks, people who illuminate the exemplary theme of the given planet/virtue. Et voila: 3X7 – 7 planets, 7 virtues, 7 exempli or antitype, for a total of 21 trumps (I will argue the Fool was tacked on with the creation of the PMB and is not derived from the Paradiso ). The last category, exemplar or antitype, represents a special problem in that there is a larger set of options than the Planets and Virtues, the latter two categories being set in stone). That the fool is not present in the ur-tarot and was tacked on as a concern relevant at the time of the PMB’s creation is a supposition maintained by the evidence of the 1457 Ferrarese archival reference to a trionfi deck of 70 cards (http://www.trionfi.com/0/e/nof71/16.html) that testifies to the lingering presence of the original 14 trumps, without a Fool (14 card suits x 4 = 56 + 14 trumps = 70 ). The earlier Ferrarese reference in 1441 to the 14 images painted for Bianca Visconti in 1441 also alludes, in my opinion, to this newly introduced fifth suit” of trumps to card-playing decks - a series so new the name trionfi had not become a commonplace yet (even the phrase Giusti uses naibi a trionfi in regard to purchasing a Anghiari deck in 1440 is completely unique, a hapax, and no equivalent term for trionfi cards predates this earliest reference; also not that Ferrara was not celebrating a triumph on 1/1/1441). Again, I will discuss my reasons for the Fool and 7 planets below in depth in individual replies to this lead post.
One naturally objects here at the insistence on structure when it is well known that the Commedia’s structure is a numerical pattern of 9 plus 1: 9 circles of the Inferno, followed by Lucifer at its bottom; 9 rings of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden at the summit; and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradiso, followed by the Empyrean/God. But within this Christian eschatology are located the three groups of Christians not already consigned to hell (the condemned are no longer part of the Church proper): the Church Penitent (or Expectant, who are in Purgatory) for whom one can only pray for indulgences, the living of the Church Militant, and the Church Triumphant (the Holy Family, Apostles and Saints in heaven who can be petitioned as intercessors with God Himself). Obviously the deck was addressed to the living Church Militant who could actually benefit from the lessons of trionfi. So while the Paradiso takes place in the realm of the Church Triumphant it is experienced by a still living pilgrim from the Church Militant, Dante, in a vision of sorts and his lessons are our lessons. But if the Paradiso] is the material of our lesson, why leave out the top three spheres of the Fixed Stars, Primum Mobile and Empyrean? Because after the last planetary sphere, Saturn, one climbs a ladder to the Fixed Spheres, where Dante encounters Church Triumphant proper, but the ladder figuratively demarcates the 7 planetary spheres below from the 3 ineffable spheres above. As Dante leaves Saturn, his expectations stated in that sphere’s last canto are to meet the ‘triunfale’ (XXIII.131; the Triumphant) in the next sphere. The eschatological goal of joining the Church Triumphant is retained in the very name of tarot – trionfo. There is no arcane meaning here – no Cathars nor Kabbalah – in fact the meaning was writ large in an earlier pictorial program on the walls of the Spanish Chapel in S. Maria Novella in Florence, where Pope Eugene IV was staying during the events of Anghiari: a fresco of the Church Militant marching upwards to the Church Triumphant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_mil ... iuto_8.JPG
As for a “smoking gun” linking the Florentine triumph of Anghiari (and the presumed original creation of – trionfi – the “ur-tarot”) to Dante’s symbol of the Church Triumphant, see the poem of Anselmo Calderoni, the Florentine herald, on the occasion of the Anghiari triumphal celebration:
The White Rose is course Dante’s metaphor for the Church Triumphant in the Empyrean (the souls Dante meets in the lower spheres have ventured downward from their place in the Rose), literally depicted as such, for example, in Giovanni di Paolo’s illuminated manuscript of the Commedia, c. 1450, for King Alphonso of Naples (Yates Thompson 36): http://www.worldofdante.org/media/image ... 807-05.jpg“O Lord, we praise you, all of us singing, / together with your Mother the glorious Virgin, / and praising all the apostles / and especially the great Baptist /with all the court of heaven / portrayed in the form of a white rose, / since it is the day when he who opens the portals / of Paradise admits the Florentine people, / who were victorious by just Fortune / against the evil Niccolo Piccinino / and his followers…. (translation in Dale V. Kent, Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance: the patron's oeuvre, 2000: 280).
Now that we have limited our scope of the trionfi program to the planetary spheres’ portion of the Paradiso, two additional structural questions immediately arise: why did the ur-tarot deck of the Anghiari/CY not include the planets and why did the PMB include them (expanding from 2X7 to 3x7+fool) and at the same time why did the PMB replace the Theologicals? In both cases the answer is the same: the commissioning party’s political relationship to the Papacy.
The Ur-Tarot (Anghiari/CY) Lack of Planets
Anghiari was won by a “holy alliance” of the Church and Florence. If I had to pick a Florentine humanist behind the celebratory trionfi deck (whose only known exemplar was that of Giusti’s for Malatesta) it would be the humanist chancellor Leonardo Bruni. Given Bruni’s official position he would have been aware of any triumphal celebration in Florence and it’s hard to imagine the renowned author of The History of Florentine People not weighing in on such a triumph. His supplemental Memoirs added to the History as a means to update events through his own day, proudly proclaims his additional role on the Dieci during the culminating event of the victory at Anghiari:
Of the utmost relevance is Bruni’s elevation of Prudence to the highest virtue, something we find throughout his writings, but especially his History (e.g., James Hankins, “Teaching Civil Prudence in Leonardo Bruni’s History of the Florentine People.” In Ebbersmeyer S., Kessler E., Ethik – Wissenschaft oder Lebenskunst? Modelle de Normenbegründung von der Antike bis zur Frühen Neuzeit. Berlin: Lit Verlag; 2007. p. 143-157). The tell-tale attribute of the tarot World trump is the circular earth, sometimes show as a vignette of the political domain in question, and in this regard competes with Justice for this highest attribute (the circular world is held by Justice in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico for instance). However we find Prudence with the circular world in Ferrara, where the Church Union Council met in 1438 before relocating to Florence, in a Giotto-inspired series of the Virtues which parallels Dante’s own use of the Virtues (Prudence-as-world in Palazzo Minerbi in Ferrara: http://www.infobuild.it/infobuild/archi ... 21.jpg.jpg. The issue of prudentiais at the heart of Bruni’s Life of Dante, contrasted with a Life of Petrarch in the same work: “Petrarch possessed to a supreme degree the prudentiathat Dante so desperately lacked….Dante’s story begins with his political commitment and ends in exile. Petrarch’s begins with exile and ends with the general recognition by all the princes of Italy.” (Gary Ianziti, “From Praise to Prose: Leonardo Bruni's Lives of the Poets”, I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Vol. 10, 2005: 138; 127-148).Thus after turbulent times when I was chosen [as a member of the Dieci/Ten of War], a prosperous and joyful period finally emerged and the city was raised to great glory” (Leonardo Bruni, The History of Florentine People, Vol 3, Books IX-XII / Memoirs, Ed. And tr. James Hankins with D. Bradley, 2007: 397)
The seven virtues decorate numerous religious spaces throughout Florence (including the campanile next to the Duomo) but also dominates the most politically-charged space of the Piazza della Signoria, in the form of the large bas reliefs within trefoils carved below the parapet (by Agnolo Gaddi, c. 1385) of the so-called Loggia dei Lanzi from where public proclamations were read out. The four Cardinal virtues look out from the façade of the Loggia over the piazza while the three Theological Virtues face the Palazzo della Signoria (aka, “Vecchio” today) from across a narrow street (see my photo from a Palazzo window looking out at five of the virtues here - two of the Theologicals are out of frame to the download/file.php?id=1541). But note that Charity is singled out as the highest virtue by being placed above the cornice the others are beneath and protected by a canopy (photo from the ground looking up/west at the Theologicals: download/file.php?id=1543. Perhaps this was a nod to Florence’s strong ties to the papacy, but obviously Bruni sought to elevate Prudence instead.
The seven virtues remained symbolically central to Florentine public life throughout the Quattrocento as evidenced by the major commission of the Mercanzia for large paintings of the seven virtues over the tribunal seats there (http://herstoryportrait.com/wp-content/ ... aiuolo.jpg (see Alison Wright, The Pollaiuolo Brothers: The Arts of Florence and Rome, 2005, 228f, especially 240 for the discussion of the seven virtues hung over the judges’ seats) as well as in more minor works such as Pesellino’s virtues with classical/biblical exempli below them on a cassone (http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/wi ... irtues.jpg. The seven Virtues and exemplars would have been a natural way to celebrate a victory with the Church, but the planets – and the theologically dubious practice of astrology that had been preached against in Florence where the Pope was still resident – not so much (see Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby, Renaissance Florence in the Rhetoric of Two Popular Preachers: Giovanni Dominici (1356-1419) and Bernardino Da Siena (1380-1444), 2001: 102f). The Milanese CY, quickly following on the heels of the Anghiari deck some 13 months later, simply did not have time for any innovations besides Visconti-friendly variations of the trump themes and the comingling of stemmi that celebrated a newly strengthened relationship – Visconti swaying Sforza away from the “Holy Alliance” of Florence and the Papacy. In short, there was a presumed Anghiari deck to Sforza (not just one for the junior condottiere, Malatesta, who was also part of the league) and Visconti one-upped that gift celebrating a Florentine condotte by issuing one himself, with his impresa, to advertise his own renewed contract with that condottiere, seemingly made permanent with the betrothal of his daughter.
Inclusion of the planets in the PMB and replacement of the Theological Virtues
Moving forward to the PMB: Sforza needs to celebrate himself in regard to taking the Duchy of Milan in 1450 via all available media, inclusive of trionfi, of which, to reiterate, he has already been a recipient (definitely the CY). But after finding the novel deck of the Michelino deck the year before in 1449, there is an impetus among his cultural advisors to create something anew for himself to advertise both his ingegno and right to the Duchy. The idea of the classical gods of the Michelino deck is connected to Dante’s original scheme easily enough since certain of the Roman gods are also planetary deities. There is the Visconti fresco cycle of the planets in their zodiacal signs at their castle at Angera, tied to the narrative frescoes below of Ottone Visconti’s triumphal entry into Milan in 1280 – a clear precedent for Sforza’s own fabled entry in March of 1450 (My photo of Saturn over Ottone Visconti’s pardoning of Napo della Torre before he enters Milan: download/file.php?id=1063). These events were recounted in Stefanardo da Vimercate’s Liber de gestis civitate mediolanensi that provides the inscriptions for the frescoes (Anne Dunlop, Painted Palaces: The Rise of Secular Art in Early Renaissance Italy, 2009: 168). A descendent, Gaspar Vimercate, of this Milanese clan would play the decisive role in getting the Ambrosian Republic to capitulate to Sforza in early 1450 ; earlier he had served both Visconti and then Sforza as a military captain, serving with the latter at the decisive defeat of Venice at Caravaggio in 1448. (Diana Robins, Francesco Filelfo Odes, 2009: 374-5; see also Ode II.10, p. 139f, dedicated to Vimercate “for liberating Milan from Tyranny”, i.e., the Republic).
But again, why are the three theological virtues replaced? Twofold: 1. Dante himself provides a rationale - the theological virtues are in fact not perfected in their respective planetary spheres but are found again perfected in the 8th sphere of the fixed star (on this point, see in particular Frank Ordiway, “In the Earth's Shadow: The Theological Virtues Marred,” Dante Studies 100 (1982): 77-92). And 2. Unlike his old friend Cosimo in 1440, Sforza is not politically aligned with the Papacy in 1450. To advertise the theological virtues, closely associated with the popes (see Donatello’s papal tomb in the Florentine baptistery, for example), would have been beyond the pale (unacceptable to friends and foe alike to have claimed those virtues for oneself, especially when one just took a city as a conquering condottiere). Cognates and/or anti-types necessarily then replace the Theologicals in the PMB. The precarious historical situation of Sforza in c. 1450 largely dictates what the replacement themes must be but even here Dante provides rationales for each choice.
Replacement of Faith by the “Papess” Faith is in the sphere of the moon where the first soul that Dante encounters is the nun Piccarda, and it is she who must represent this virtue. Piccarda was a Franciscan Clare (before she was forcibly pulled out of her convent of Santa Chiara at Monticelli near Florence) and thus the much-debated PMB “Papess” card suddenly loses it mystery when we see this card for what it is: a Franciscan nun upon which is set the symbolic three-crowned tiara (Church Penitent-Militant-Triumphant), making her represent the collective Faith of the Church. The lack of the black wimple on the nun indicates she is a Franciscan tertiary, thus an emphasis on the inclusiveness of this trump to represent not just the Order proper but indeed the entire Church, lay persons included (e.g. Tertiaries; it is also important to remember that St. Francis was figuratively married to Lady Poverty which this trump also speaks to). For images of a Franciscan tertiary nun that match the PMB “Papess” see the Franciscan tertiary patron kneeling behind St. Francis at the foot of the Cross/Tree of Life in the Gaddi fresco in the Franciscan convent of Santa Croce in Florence http://www.ourladyofthepearl.com/images/gadditre.jpg (for additional images of Franciscan tertiaries as art patrons see plates 297, 313, and 314 [the S. Croce fresco] and especially the discussion of the same on pp. 261-65 of Catherine King, “Women as patrons: nuns, widows and rulers”, in Siena, Florence and Padua: art, Society and Religion 1280-1400, Vol II: Case Studies. Ed. Diana Norman, 1995: 243-266). Germane to Sforza’s political needs in 1450 was to at least keep the new pope neutral (Sforza was often at war with the previous pope over his former possessions in the Marche), Nicholas V, who had already involved himself with the Franciscan order at the outset of his papacy:
To put to bed any lingering doubts about this identification of the “Papess”, the conditions in Milan at the time the PMB produced explain the need for a Franciscan Tertiary in light of the one popular communal project that extended from the Visconti to the Sforza era: hospital reform. The movement to reform Milan’s corrupt charities took on momentum in earnest in under the leadership of Martino della Gazzada, a wealthy banker and merchant and member of Misercordia; after St. Francis’s visit to Milan in 1441, della Gazzada became a Franciscan Tertiary under the newly formed Observant monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Following della Gazzada’s example, by December 1442, 19 new male members from the city’s merchant class had joined the Tertiaries and in 1447 the community had more than doubled in size (Evelyn S. Welch, Art and authority in Renaissance Milan, 1995: 133). Upon the death of Visconti in 1447 the new Ambrosian Republic moved quickly to form a committee to continue the hospital reform, the Deputati sopra le Provvisioni dei Poveri, with della Gazzada taking a lead role in what proved to be one of the most popular initiatives of the Republic (ibid). When Sforza took over in 1450 his plan was not to just sanction a process already in place but closely associate his regime with it so as to take the credit for its final realization in the form of the enormous Ca’ Grande hospital, built on Bernarbo Visconti’s old palace in Porta Romana that Sforza donated for the project (ibid, 136). Although prominent Republicans such as della Gazzada were excluded and Sforza’s own secretary inserted as a lead deputy, Cicco Simonetta, the connection to the Franciscan Tertiaries was maintained, via Simonetta’s own representative who tended to day to day activities, Giovanni Caimi, a ducal courier whose “family had been closely connected to her Franciscan Tertiaries in the 1440s, and in 1446 Giovanni was charged with the administration of the Ospedale deo Poveri in Bianca Maria’s dower town of Cremona”(ibid, 141). Two Ciami women donations ensured the commencement of the Ca Grande’s construction in 1456. Thus a popular communal movement that became closely aligned with Franciscan Tertiaries that had preceded the arrival of Sforza was nevertheless coopted into an expression of his own piety. Although the hospital (1456) post-dated the PMB (c.1451), the religious sentiments of the Milanese patriciate, as well as the lower classes that formed the backbone of the Tertiary Order, would have been the apt symbol of popular piety at the time of Sforza’s investiture and thus an apt symbol of the Church in Milan. Sforza primarily courted the Milanese patriciate and Welch notes that while most wealthy Milanese men and women did not the Franciscan Tertiaries many were buried in the Tertiaries’ habits (ibid, 133).Almost immediately upon becoming Pope Nicholas V, he issued the Franciscan targeted Bulla Pastoralis officii (July 20, 1447) which had the aim of responding to the requests of the “friars of the Third Order living in Italy”, by giving them the right to possess “houses, oratories, and other places” (domus, oratoria atque loca), together with the right to found other houses “with the permission of the diocesan bishop” .… Since the first Regular Tertiaries seem to have been hermits, Nicholas V
invited them to adopt a habit which would distinguish them from simple hermits, and at
the same time from other religious Orders (from this link: http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/hland/histfranmov2.pdf )
Dante himself had a pronounced interest in the Franciscans that was reciprocated by that order; for example, in Inferno XVI and XVII the monstrous Geryon, depicted with the traits of a draconopede found as an iconographic type as tempter and Antichrist in Franciscan Spiritual prophecy, is brought to the surface from the deep by means of Virgil taking the cord around Dante’s waist and casting it into the abyss like a fishing line; the corda is depicted as a Franciscan friar’s cord (like we find on the PMB “Papess”)in a number of fourteenth and fifteenth illustrations of the Commedia (John Block Friedman, “Antichrist and the Iconography of Dante's Geryon” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 35, 1972: 118; 108-122).
Before moving on to the Hope and Charity replacements, note that Dante has Piccarda tell the tale of Empress Costanza (Constance), mother of Frederick II, of whom Dante believed the myth that she also became a nun. Thus the exemplary theme of this trump is this story of the Empress Constance (and a palatable theme for the ur-tarot in Florence in terms of the Papacy’s friction with the Holy Roman Empire, as she lay dying she selected Pope Innocent III as Frederick's guardian, thus implicitly placing the Empire under the Papacy – otherwise Florence would have absolutely no interest in the figure of the empress). And there is no other medieval series of moral allegories where I can find an Empress playing a significant role as a “stock figure”, and yet we all look as the inclusion of the Empress into the trumps as somehow naturally balancing the Emperor. But it is Dante that gives the reason for why the Empress is there at all. This also illustrates the method by which the PMB trionfi proceeds - three associated trumps within the same sphere: the “Planetary” Moon / the Virtue of Faith-Nun-Church (Piccarda in Dante) / the exemplary theme represented by the Empress (Constance). Repeat six more times for each of the other planetary spheres.
Replacement of Hope by the Hanged Man: the latter’s meaning is clear as traitor to the state (or even to the state’s financial viability in the case of defaulting debtors) and this indeed occurred right after Anghiari with the Albizzi faction painted in infamy on the walls of the Palazzo del Podesta (known today as the ‘Bargello’) by Andrea Castagno degli impiccati. This series of ten hanged men is an argument against why the hanged man would not appear in the ur-tarot of the Anghiari as it existed in its own right as a separate work of art, on Florence’s triumphal procession route to the Duomo (passing by said Palazzo; for the public proclamation and inscriptions to be painted under each of the hanged see Appendix 4 in John Spencer’s Andrea del Castagno and His Patrons, 1991: 141-147). However for the Sforzan PMB, in 1450 Sforza is initially denied entry into Milan by the noble faction led by Trivulziano and has to subsequently pardon or punish various factions in the city who had been against him (“The figures who offered their homage to Francesco in 1450 (almost all of whom had founded the original Ambrosian Republic) had little trust in their new lord; he had little faith in their long-term loyalty” (, Welch, 46; see also Ady, 52-53 and Ianziti, 1988: 23-26). Punishment of traitors was extremely topical as the very leaders of the Ambrosian Republic that had desecrated the Visconti possessions were, as a group, committing an act of sedition in Sforza’s mind. Giotto’s vice of Despair is paired with Hope in the Scrovegni chapel and thus provides a visual precedent for replacing Hope with a hanged man (albeit not upside down), but Dante also provides numerous examples of traitors to the Roman state in this sphere of Mercury/Hope. The primary exemplar here is Emperor Justinian, [thus the Emperor trump, not paired with an empress in Dante] who details the line of Imperial Roman emperors (which oddly extends backwards in time to the Republic up through Christian monarchs such as Charlemagne); their enemies include “Arabs”/Carthaginians, Juba, Ptolemy of Egypt (who killed Pompey), and notably Brutus and Cassius (VI. 74) who are infamously consigned to the bottom tier of hell along with Judas (who of course hung himself). Of relevance is the inscription of Juda Tradit[or](?) on the robe of the king under the virtue of Hope on the CY deck, clearly alluding to Giotto’s pairings (thanks to Ross here for pointing out barely discernible CY text here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=980&p=14413&hilit=CY+Judas#p14407). Dante’s theme of the imperial destruction of enemies in this canto is even extended to that of meting out “the glory of the vengeance for His Wrath” for the crucifixion (VI.90, p. 139).
Replacement of Charity by the Pope. This is perhaps the most curious replacement of all as the Pope could seemingly be linked with any of the theological virtues. But in Par. IX, the sphere of Venus/Charity, ends its decrying of popes and cardinals corrupted by decretals and money, with a prophecy of a righteous correction in Rome (which of course would be flattering to Nicholas V as such a righteous pope): “To it the pope and his cardinals devote themselves without a single thought for Nazareth, / where Gabriel spread out his wings. / But Vatican hill and other chosen Roman palaces / that became the burial-ground / for the soldiery that followed Peter / will soon be free of this adultery” (136-142, p. 213). And “soldiery” of course leads us back to the Church Militant-aiming-for-Triumphant theme.
Whence the Planets?
A Church Militant-Triumphant theme was tailor-made for a newly made condottiere-prince for whom astrology was a given practice for initiating wars, sieges, etc. Astrology, the stars aiding mortals as God’s Providence, is the special providence of rulers. The earliest “children of the planets” scheme by Christine di Pizan, born in Venice but raised at the court of King Charles V of France as her father had been enticed there as physician and astrologer to Charles V starting in 1368. Pizan’s Othea (c. 1400), was written expressly for such a courtly audience:
It should be noted that lower orders are added in the PMB in the form of the peasantry (Fool), artisan or notarial classes (Bagatto) and even the “Hermit” who has a decidedly friar/mendicant quality, were all avoided by Pizan but included in the PMB. Why? The Ambrosian Republic that had claimed the Duchy of Milan and just reclaimed by Sforza for Visconti as his rightful heir had to openly denigrate that republic as not having “good right” to rule. At the end it was led by a trio of minor guild and tradesmen – a weaver, baker and notary – who had lead the proscriptions and beheadings of various members of the noble faction as the Republic fell apart. The crucial triumph - the second, formal ingress into Milan - that provide the real world event that would give the PMB its distinctive hues and ultimately the popular acclaim and acceding of the Duchy that would form the basis of Sforza’s right to rule:By stressing the theme of wisdom, the cycle alters the very notion that lies behind the ‘children of the planets’….the sum of the ‘children of the planets’ represents a kind of astrological macrocosm of a world in which all dispositions and occupations have a place. For Christine, who was addressing a special, limited public, only certain dispositions and occupations were relevant. When we reflect on what the patronage of the manuscripts and the meaning of the text suggest about the identity of that public – and that it was a royal one on the French court – it should come as no surprise to find that friars, farmers, joiners and cobblers are not among the ‘children’ in the Epistre. When we consider further the emphasis on wisdom at the very beginning of the Epistre in the figure of Othea, it should also come as no surprise that to encounter wisdom again as a virtue here. Early in the Epistre Christine makes clear her belief that wisdom can be acquired through the reading of good books, of which her manuscript containing Othea’s letter was an example. With this in mind, we can point to the importance of her characterization of Mercury, in whom the subcycle of the planets culminates; Mercury governs only rhetoric among the liberal arts. What Christine communicates again she brings to a close the cycle of the seven planets is her hope that her public will heed the words, the rhetoric, contained in her book.” (Sandra Hindman, Christine de Pizan's "Epistre Othéa": Painting and Politics at the Court of Charles VI, 1986: 88-89)
Francesco Sforza’s was unabashedly for astrology, as were all condottieri as a practical means planning campaigns and identifiying auspicisous days for battle. Villani’s Lives of the famous Florentines details how the count of Forli was victorious over Bologna by consulting with the most Guido Bonatti, renowned astrologer of the age along with the late Michael Scot, of whom both Dante ungenerously placed in his Inferno (XXVII); Villani also notably lectured on Dante in Florence (Talbot R. Selby, “Filippo Villani and his Vita of Guido Bonatti”, Renaissance News, Vol. 11, No. 4, Winter, 1958: 247; 243-248). Under Filippo Visconti the art had evidently undergone a decline, perhaps a result of him wanting it’s practice limited to his court, but one of his own astrologers opened his prediction for the 1430-31 with a lament of the lack of students for astronomy (Lynn Thorndike, “Three Astrological Predictions”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol 26, no 3/4, 1963: 344). Evidence of its full-fledged revivasl under Sforza is him receiving even unsolicited astrological advice from allied courts such as the Mantuan astrologer Antonio de Camera who gave the planetary specifics of Sforza’s own horoscope as well as the day of his accession:…the Szora and their followers were met by civic dignitaries, in parade that carefully defined the city’s social, political and economic divisions. Clerics were followed by the civic elite, the nobiles. Then came the two ducal councils, the Consiglio secreto and Consiglio de Giustizia, accompanies by the municipal authorities, the podesta’, the Vicar and the Twelve of Provision. Profesional groups with rights and privledges of association, such as corporations of lawyers, doctors and notaries and merchants, all appointed representatives follow behind. The minor arti, or guilds, came next while the popolo brough up the rear. The procession was an assurance that the disorder of the Ambrosian republic was over. The popolo, which had once threatened to take control, now came last; the nobility and the magistrates returned to take the lead (Evelyn Welch, Art and authority in Renaissance Milan, 1995: 46)
Da Camera even gives propitious days for commencing war (e.g., midday on March 30; ibid).Retracing the history of Milan from the end of the Visconti dynasty to the rise and fall of the Ambrosian Republic and Francesco’s elevation to the duchy, da Camera connected the rise of powerful historical figures to God’s will and celestial dispositions….Francesco’s nativity, he said, was ruled principally by Mars, and then by the Sun and Jupiter ‘all signifying rule, richness and victory against the enemy.’ Comparing Francesco’s nativity with his election to the duchy, moreover, da Camera was able to establish that his rise to power was particularly momentous for the history of Italy, since at the time of his election the fixed sign of Leo was ascending, and its lord (the Sun) was with Jupiter in Jupiter’s mansion (Sagittarius). Thanks to the favorable placement of the Sun, Jupiter, Mars and Venus, the astrologer predicted that the Duke of Milan would be successful against his enemies. The enemy in question was certainly Venice, against which Francesco had rallied his allies, Mantua and Florence. (Azzolini, 67)
The health of the Duke and his family was also addressed by astrologers. The court doctor Antonio Bernareggi, ducal physician since before 1440 and personal physician to Agnese and Bianca, held chairs of medicine and astrology at Pavia from 1425-1433 and 1439-1440 (see Monica Azzolini, The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan, 2013: 85-86).
In addition to war and health, astrology was of course used to help ensure that most previous of all concerns - dysnastic succession - in the form of the horoscopes of the ruler’s offspring, and here we have the evidence of Raffaele Vimercati's 1461 presentation copy of his Liber iudiciorum (Biblioteca Trivulziana Ms.1329) – a horoscope of Sforza’s son, Galeazzo Maria (named as such per the request of Filippo Visconti), whose miniature presents the kneeling author offering his text to Sforza. Vimercate image: http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/miniatur/ ... variou.jpg.
A highpoint of sorts in this astrological revival in Milan was reached in the form of the lavishly illuminated manuscript of Johannes de Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera produced c.1470 http://www.codices-illustres.it/catalogo/de_sphaera/ (Ms. lat. 209, Biblioteca Estense, Modena), which we will eximaine in more detail in the discussion of the planetary trumps, especially Mars.
The key problem here is that the art of illumination of miniatures, which is essentially what our trionfi is, in regard to the planets, a subject that had not yet undergone the classicizing revival that we witness in the second half of the Quattrocento (particularly in the hands of Duerer). Instead the available copybooks used to illustrate the likes of Aratea and Michael Scot’s Liber Introductorius were still being used in the production of illumination of those astrological works. We can’t assume the artist(s) in Cremona knew any better, no matter how detailed the direction by the humanist programmer laid out the plans for the PMB – but there is every reason to believe these trumps would have been tailored to express the specific social milieu of c. 1450, thus further obfuscating the planets as “planetary children” specific to Milan at that time (e.g., the lowest trumps of the Fool and Bagatto as those classes of people marching at the rear of the triumphal procession). The instructive source on this issue is of course the Warburg School (their online Iconographic Database here: http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/vpc/VPC_search/main_page.php ) particularly Seznec’s still relevant summary of their findings in his The Survival of the Pagan Gods; ( translated into English in 1953):
The “children of the planets” could be related to the seven ages of man, to professions related to traits of a given planet, and to the above we have already added the Visconti fresco cycle at Angera, where we see the planets in their zodiacal signs and associated with the peculiar “children” order in regard to the seven ages of man (and were laid out in a series conforming to the days of the week). None of these three types of “chiIdren” are recognizable as associated with a planet. In the PMB,however, there is no denying the influence of the Eremitani’s depiction of Venus as that deck’s “Star” which stretches a hand upwards to a star, thus making that card at least explicit. It is also clear that the nearby Giotto’s Scrovegni chapel was also a direct influence (the Fool and Justice trumps); there is every reason to link these two innovative programs together:From the fourteenth century on, the planets are not only found more frequently in manuscript paintings, but they are revived in Italy in monumental cycles as well. In Venice, they appear on the Gothic capitals of the Doge's Palace; in Padua, among the grisailles frescoed by Guariento in the choir of the Eremitani; in Florence, on the Campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore, where they occupy the second zone of bas-reliefs, just above the legendary heroes, inventors of the arts, whom we studied in the preceding chapter. Also, in Santa Maria Novella we see them ornamenting the backs of the thrones occupied by the allegorical figures of the arts in the Cappella degli Spagnuoli. And in the first years of the fifteenth century, Taddeo di Bartolo represents, in the vault leading to the Chapel of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, four mythological divinities, among them Apollo, Mars, and Jupiter. It must be admitted that in these great cycles, as well as in the contemporary miniatures, the gods often take on unwonted aspects so strange, indeed, that there has sometimes been hesitation in identifying them. They are unmistakably themselves, however, even in the most unexpected disguises, and they are once more beginning to exercise their powerful patronage over humanity. It is they who determine the humors, the aptitudes, the activities of those born under their influence and this idea, also, receives visual expression. Each planetary divinity presides, so to speak, over an assemblage of persons disposed beneath it in series or groups. These are its ''children," whose vocations it has determined.(1959: 70)
Obviously whoever laid out the program for the PMB was intimately familiar with Padua, where both of these frescoes are located (only the convent of the Eremitani, now a museum, separates the Eremitani church from the Scrovegni chapel).Since at least the tenth century in Italy, the dado in many churches marked a break between the world of the profane and sacred realities. It is a commonplace in the literature to compare the dado cycle of the Eremitani with that painted by Giotto in the Arena [Scrovegni] Chapel, as they share a similar use of grisaille technique, with both artists portraying personified figures set before a fictive marble wainscoting. (Catherine Harding, “Time, History and the Cosmos: the Dado in the Apse of the Church of the Eremitani, Padua”, in Eds. Louise Bourdua, Anne Dunlop, Art and the Augustinian order in early Renaissance Italy, 2007: 127-142, 133)
Perhaps the humanist behind the PMB would have even been familiar with the various genres of depicting the “children of the planets” – ages of man, occupations and even the medieval guises under which the planets themselves continued to appear (e.g., Mercury occasionally as a Bishop), but there is no reason he would have redirected their depictions to a clarifying, classical series. Perhaps the closest source at hand, the Visconti Hours, depicts the planets in a series in manner consistent with the earliest medieval illustrations but would have been unrecognizable to the 16th century: download/file.php?id=1038. The mid-century Quattrocento, the period for the creation of the PMB - was on the cusp of significant stylistic changes that would be made through the end of that century.
Case in point of the problem before us is a Florentine depiction of the planetary deities of the whole, heretofore not identified as such due to the problems outlined above. The engraving I have in mind is not even overtly about the planets – they are incidental to the primary subject of a Triumph of Love derived from Petrarch and attributed to Baldini; image here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... orence.jpg
Baldini’s engraving is explicitly bisected by the vertical ornament on which Cupid stands and the perfectly vertical spoke of the chariot’s wheel, cleaving the image into two equal horizointal halves. In the right half, behind Cupid is an amorphous mass of people, but on the left Baldini has singled out seven persons to go before this triumphal cart. The literary source for this number, Petrarch, has seven gods driven before Eros – three goddeses (Venus, Proserpina, Juno) and four gods (Mars, Pluto, Apollo and Jupiter); but now Baldini has shifted the gender split to two women and five men. Why? This is precisely the gender split of the planets: Luna and Venus, and the five males – Apollo, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Mercuy. But is there any reason to believe Baldini would have replaced Petrarch’s seven deities (Petrarch only mentions Varro as his source) with the canonical planetary seven? Baldini’s well-known series “Children of the Planets” has an associated calendar that is datable to 1464 or 1465, close if not the same year as this Triumph of Love (1464), also attributed to Baldini (if possibly after a design by Finiguerra); not only that but specific engraved details link the two:
But without obvious planetary attributes, can each god and goddess be identified? I believe so:the seeming difference between the second Planets and the Triumphs is due to a different origin of design. Their engraving technique is fundamentally the same, as revealed by comparison of the handling of the ornament of the chariot in the Triumph of Love with that of similar details from the Planet Jupiter. (John G. Phillips, Early Florentine Designers and Engravers: Maso Finiguerra, Baccio Baldini, Antonio Pollaiuola, Sandro Botticelli, Francesco Rosseli : a Comparative Analysis of Early Florentine Nielli, Intarsias, Drawings, and Copperplate Engravings, , Harvard, 1955: 58)
Jupiter: the figure wearing an elaborate Byzantine robe and headdress (known since the days of the East-West Union Council in Florence in 1439) is obviously chief among the group and thus Jupiter.
Mercury: the figure preceding Jupiter, wearing the hat of a merchant or artisan (germane to Mercury’s “children”) and cut in half by the edge of the left plate edge, would be Jupiter’s messenger/herald – Mercury.
Apollo: on first glance there is little to choose between the two armored figures, but Petrarch provides the key here: 'l biondo Apollo / che solea disprezzar l'etate e l'arco / che gli diede in Tessaglia poi tal crollo.(“…the blond Apollo, / who once scorned the youthful bow / That dealt him such a wound in Thessaly”). Apollo is cupping a hand to his mouth and yelling up to taunt Cupid per the Ovid story of Daphne, where Cupid repays his taunt by inflicting an insane lust in Apollo for Daphne. In medieval depictions Apollo as often shown robed as a magistrate (such in the planetary series on Florence’s campanile), and we find an abbreviated version of that here in the form
of the mantle about him.
Mars: Mars is always shown armored with a helmet that is usually winged, such as in the illuminated Crivelli Sphaera, just as he is here.
Venus: of the two women it’s not difficult to guess why one of them was granted the favor of riding upon Cupid’s chariot – his mother, Venus.
Moon: Bespeaking to the bovine horns the lunar goddess sometimes wears, the woman who wears the two-horned hennin headdress is Luna.
Saturn: this planet was associated with old age, such as in the Guariento series in the Eremitani in Padua, and sure enough we have an extremely full beard on the male at the top of the frame. But also note the curious, elaborate hat he wears, perhaps also Byzantine; I have looked everywhere for a match of the PMB’s “Hermit”/Saturn’s hat (see the upper right hand corner of this webpage’s screen for that ever-present detail) and have only found it here…in a grouping of the seven planetary gods. Baldini and the Bembo studio must have been referring to commonly-derived pattern books with similar plantary god images, presumably lost (few working source books have come down to us).
The point here is even as late as 1464 we can encounter the planets in a terrestrial setting, a Florentine procession in this case, and because the plantary gods themselves are cast in iconographic terms related to their “children”, exempli that are contemporary in dress (perhaps with an attempt at a classicizing touch - e.g., Mars and Apollo’s armor), they are not obviously recognizable to us.