Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377?

Updated Jan. 24, 2017:

At Franco Pratesi is posting a series of notes examining critically, country by country, old documents that seem to verify the existence of playing cards in particular places before 1377. At this time he has the following, In Itlaian on (link given) and translated by me here (link given). All are in this thread except the last one listed.

Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? – Italia
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? - Italy
in current post, below

2016-06-02 (5/12)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Polonia
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? - Poland

2016-06-07 (5/13)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377? Boemia
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Bohemia

2016-06-15 (5-14)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? – Buja
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? - Buja

2016-06-21 (5-15)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377? Aragona
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Aragon.

2016-09-24 (5-19)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Berna
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Berne.

Not in this thread, because it mostly relates to a thread recently opened here:

2017-01-18 (6/02)
Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Olanda
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Holland

Comments in brackets are mine. And I welcome any comments or corrections.

Playing cards in Europe before 1377? - Italy

The idea for this study is unusual, because at its origin is simply a quote that can be read in a book by Thierry Depaulis 1: on p. 8, about the arrival of playing cards into Europe, is the following [English translation follows].
Il est couramment admis aujourd’hui, en effet, que les premières mentions des cartes en Europe – sous le nom de naips, naibbe, naibi, etc. – se situent autour de 1370. Les premières références aux cartes à jouer nous viennent de Catalogne (1371, vers 1375), d’Italie 1370-71, puis 1377 à Florence et à Sienne; 1379 à Viterbe), d’Allemagne du sud (1377 à Rheinfelden, près de Bâle; 1378 à Ratisbonne; 1379 à Constance et à Saint-Gall), du Brabant (1379, 1380). La décennie suivante les voit mentionnées dans les Pays-Bas (1381, 1382, 1383 dans le Brabant; 1382 à Lille), en Catalogne toujours (1380, 1382 à Barcelone, 1380 à Perpignan) et en Provence (1381 à Marseille). Enfin, en France à partir des années 1390.

[It is widely accepted today, in fact, that the first mentions of cards in Europe - as naips, naibbe, naibi, etc. - are around 1370. The earliest references to playing cards come to us from Catalonia (1371 to 1375), from Italy (1370-1371, then 1377at Florence and Siena, 1379 Viterbo), from Southern Germany (1377 at Rheinfelden, near Basel. 1378 at Regensburg, 1379 at Constance and St. Gallen), from Brabant (1379, 1380). The following decade sees them mentioned in the Netherlands (1381, 1382, 1383 in Brabant, 1382 at Lille), Catalonia again (1380, 1382 at Barcelona, 1380 at Perpignan) and in Provence (Marseille 1381). Finally, in France from the 1390s.]
I must admit that more than once I was not very attentive to the flow in the period copied above, until, almost by chance, my eye happened to stop at those two years indicated for Italy, 1370 and 1371, that were new. If the author were someone else, I would not have given any weight to the news, even after discovering it, but with that signature they could not be numbers at random. Considering my decades-long friendship with the author, I was going to speak directly to him for an explanation, but it quickly came to my mind that the new source could be the collection of citations of the laws on games present in Italian town statutes edited by Alessandra Rizzi 2. That assumption proved to be correct, I think, because in that book are citations which specifically derive from those two years.

In fact, similar quotes of potential interest can be found in the same book. and we shall therefore examine more
1 T. Depaulis, Le tarot révélé: une histoire du tarot d’après les documents. La Tour-de-Peilz 2013.
2 A. Rizzi (ed.) Statuta de ludo: le leggi sul gioco nell’Italia di comune (secoli XIII-XVI). Treviso and Rome 2012.

cases that have even a slight chance of really going back in time to attest the presence of playing cards in Italy before 1377, the year of the noted provision in Florence (and of the Tractatus of Basel). In any case, it is always and only the book cited (Statuta de ludo which is at the basis of each case studied here.

The desire to find reliable notices before 1377 is felt strongly, because in Florence (and even more at Basel) playing cards, when they appear for the first time, are already in an advanced stage of their diffusion. This ends up being the main reason to investigate further any potentially usable previous notices. However, at the same time, the substrate that can be considered its preliminary is that of a dominant skepticism: a priori, none of all these documents presents itself as secure! There remains a constant doubt whether they are possible interpolations, or successive modifications. doubts that in some cases are immediately transformed into certainty, when the "old" text of interest is verified. it is less ancient than supposed, because it is known only by subsequent copies or even, much later. printed editions, In short, all the "new" news will be critically analyzed one after the other.

Non-selected cases

There are a number of cases which immediately are of very uncertain date: perhaps they could hold the data we seek, dating back to years prior to 1377, but already the manner in which they are presented in the Statuta de ludo does not encourage further study. There are in particular the cases listed below.

Borgo San Martino prob. post 1385 (al.1278-1279) sed exempl. saec. XV-XVI (prob. 1464 to 1483).
Levanto saec. XIV ex. (ed. 1773).
Moncalieri 1209-1482 (i.e. 1386).
Pinerolo 1220 prob.-1529 (i.e. 1434).
Rosignano Monferrato 1306-1342 (cum cap. usque 1444) sed exempl. 1527.
Serralunga d'Alba saec. XIV.

They are all statutes of municipalities that will not be studied here. Despite

the fact that they are excluded from any further investigation, there remains the surprising observation that they are all Piedmontese-Ligurian towns, as will be others among the municipalities to be examined later. It might initially appear a bit heavy-handed, excluding all these possibilities, which might indicate a specific region and allow one to hypthesize the most plausible connected paths; However, the value of these contributions can be easily judged by doing the math and concluding that zero even multiplied six times remains zero. It appears therefore preferable to dwell on the other cases, those which at least initially present themselves as more reliable, as will be done below.

Portovenere 1370

Portovenere does not need any introduction: for the beauty of its territory, the city has been included, along with the Cinque Terre, as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In the time of interest there had been the unification within a single set of walls of the Borgo Vecchio and Borgo Nuovo. and the harbor was under the rule of Genoa.

The ancient statutes of Portovenere were published by Emilio Pandiani more than a century ago, thanks to the scrutiny of a valuable manuscript in a private library 3. The editor not only described and professionally transcribed the manuscript, but also tracked its passage among the private collections of several noble families of Liguria.

Actually it is not a single municipal statute, but three collections of laws which present themselves as corresponding to the stages before their meeting in a single body of statutory laws. Pandiani notes that this statute is of great interest for its original character: while many statutes, mostly from later periods, present themselves as the result of a common fixed model, with only slight variations from one case to another, this specimen has its own characteristics that demonstrate the direct creation of choices effectuated by the local population in all the various subjects independently.

Also based on my personal experience arising from the reading of many similar statutes, I can confirm that this statute presents itself
3 E. Pandiani (ed.), Gli statuti di Portovenere, anno 1370. Genoa 1901.

differently from the usual case from its very beginning. The headings begin after the statement In nomine domini nostri Jesu Christi Anno MCCCLXX indicione VIII die VII Madii; The first heading is De non blasphemando, the second De non ludendo ad taxillos nec ad cartas, the third De non tenendo ludum in domo sua. A communal statute never begins that way, at least it would not do in the Florence area I know best; It could possibly be a mayor’s statute or a reform to be introduced in the text of a previous municipal statute.

But the originality does not stop there; it is mainly the text of the law that in the second rubric copied below (from p. 74 of the book cited) looks absolutely extraordinary, as the extraordinary rest presents already the title, with those unexpected cartas.
Item statuerunt et ordinaverunt quod aliqua persona non audeat vel presumet ludere ad aliquem ludum tasilorum nec ad ludum cartarum nixi ad ludum rectum pena et banno soldorum quinque Ianuinorum, Si de die fuerit et si de nocte fuerit pena et banno soldorum decem Ianuinorum salvo ad tabulas ved ad Schachos et salvo bastasii a puteis ultra.
Of course, the hardest thing to accept is the date, but there are also elements that make the full story most indigestible. Playing cards do not appear with the term of naibi that is normally there, but we could concede that we are far enough away from Florence to accept the use of the other term. The most delicate point is that while for the first time it will allow card playing, it would already document at the same time one of the games done with the cards, the ludus rectus, which we find more often with its common name of diritta, similarly also permitted, usually, in the Florentine Republic, but of course in later times.

So if this text could actually have been written in 1370 it would be concurrently the first witness for cards in Europe and also for the information that there were already more card games, including one that became traditional, diritta, which could then be assimilated with a few other games, not of cards, deemed worthy of being excluded from the prohibitions. At this point there seems to me necessary an act of faith, or credulity, and personally I do not accept it, ready to "reconsider" only if faced with confirmation arising from other documents, however, secure ones.

Buia 1371

Buja is a small town, in the province of Udine, in which the inhabitants mainly speak the Friulian language. Devastated by the violent earthquake of 1976, it has earned the Gold Medal for Civil Merit for its reconstruction efforts. Perhaps the most important event in its long history was the appearance of the Virgin Mary on a beautiful tree of apples, with frescoes and paintings stored locally in memory of the fact. The statutes of Buja Castle were published by Vincenzo Joppi "For the most auspicious wedding of lawyer Dr Vincenzo Casasola with the most choicewrthy lady Anna Lucia Broili" 4. Like typical occasional editions of the genre, it is a book of a few pages; I read 54, of which the statutes occupy only pp. 14-43. I have searched in vain for a copy in Tuscan libraries and I have not found it necessary to try to get another exemplar in libraries, especially in the Veneto, where it is present. The text of interest, as reported in the Statuta de ludo, is as follows.
Nullus de Buia et villarum subiectarum audeat... ludere ad taxillos sue cartis vel alio ludo pro pecuniis post sonum ave Marie de secundo, nec tenere in domo ludentes..., nec etiam ludentibus vel tenere seu accomodare aut vendere candellas aut aliud lumen pro ludo, sub pena marcharum denarioirum duarum applicandarum pro dimidio ecclesie Sancti Laurentii et aliud dimidium accusatori.
As we see, rather than prohibiting the game, it prohibits play at night, which suggests that during the day the game of cards was permissible. Beyond checking the accuracy of the transcript to the manuscript, we would have to figure out what the correct date might be, and if instead it clearly corresponded to a later insert, or that the whole statute is only present in copies subsequent to the original date.

Not having checked anything personally, I have little to add, except an obvious geographical observation, including the accompanying cultural and commercial aspects. Before Florence in 1377, for the transit
4. V. Joppi (Editor), Il castello di Buja ed i suoi statuti. Udine 1877.

of playing cards arriving in Italy we can possibly imagine Genoa, Pisa, Naples, Venice and a few other big cities, preferably equipped with high-traffic ports. I do not think Castello Buia satisfied the suitable requirements, unless we assume that it represented a transit stop, a staging point south of the Alps, soon after their crossing, following a land route from Austria - a supposition and provenance which also would require something like an act of faith.

Colle del Marchese 1371

The publication of the statutes of three municipalities of Normandy (a name for Italy I learned only now) was made by Giuseppe Guerrini and Mario Sensi 5. The Colle del Marchese statutes are the first in the series and are transcribed on pp. 1-64 of the book. The work shows all the signs of serious scholarship, and the historical context is reconstructed in detail. To us the seriousness and the good level of this study there is very useful... in a negative way: if it were a less serious transcription we would obliged to submit the text to a careful examination; instead, a simple note at the crucial point of this book allows us to skip all the previous and subsequent documentation, and in essence the entire reference.

On pp. 42-43 we read the transcription of the rubric on games:
[XXXIII] De pena ludentium ad ludum taxillorum.
Item statuimus et ordinamus quod nulla persona de dicto castro vel eius districtu audeat vel presumat ludere ad ludum cartarum (b), taxillorum, lumacarum et vergectarum in dicto castro et eius districtu ad penam .XX. soldorum denariorum pro quolibet et qualibet vice et valdarii teneantur et debeant et denumptiare delinquentes in predicto vel aliquo predictorum vicario et notario dicti communis, stetur et credatur accusationi et denumptiationi ipsorum et cuiuslibet ipsorum sine aliqua probatione et habeant quartam partem banni et vicarius non teneatur dare sententias sine diminutione solvi facere; et nulla persona audeat vel presumat ludentes predictos in domo sua receptare ad dictam penam.

Note (b) at the bottom of the page tells us that if we were to see the manuscript in person, the term cartarum, practically our sole interest, is "superscribed [i.e. written on top of what is there already] and by another hand" [“soprascritto e di altra mano”] And with that we can close the matter, without getting into the more general disquisitions of a local nature, from the historical and geographical points of view, which already have left us perplexed.

Norcia 1257-1526

Norcia is an Umbrian town located on a plateau near the border with the Marche, well known to many Italians, whether thanks to St. Benedict or to its precious pigs, from which derives the IGP trademark for the local ham and even the common name for a butcher, "norcino". In the era in question it was part of the Papal States.

If all the cases studied have different individual characteristics, the case of Norcia has a truly unique one: the statute under consideration is not a manuscript exemplar, or a set of copie, as is usual of the genre, but none other than a printed book published in 1526 6. Among other things, we find as its printer that Bianchino Leone who in Perugia printed the book of Nottorno Napoletano, of considerable interest for playing cards 7.

When a municipal charter can be traced to several successive manuscripts of the rules, the editor of the publication will compile a critical edition, examining the different testimonies preserved and reporting textual variants found in the various cases. Incredibly, in this case the critical edition was published in two volumes, more than 900 pages in all, by the Deputation of the History of the Homeland for Umbria, having in essence an edition already printed 8. Even from just this data it is clear that the curator, Romano Cordella, has committed himself in essence to the reconstruction of the historical context and of the importance of the reprinted text. Among other things, although a printed work, in the edition of 1526 have been preserved exemplars with some variations in the text, which are then displayed and discussed. The part of our interest is the following:
6 Liber primus [-sextus] statutorum Nursie. Perugia 1526
7 F. Pratesi, The Playing-Card , Vol. 17 No. 1 (1988) 23-33.
8 R. Cordella (ed.), Statuti di Norcia: vernacular text printed 1526 / critical edition Perugia 2011.

Dechiarando le predicte cose, che nella piaza del communo de Norsia – como è signata per la cruce – et nelle piaze et vie publice delle castella et ville della dicta terra de Norsia, ad niuno sia licito iocare alli dicti iochi, alla pena predicta de libre vinticinqui de denari como è dicto.

Ancora dechiarando che niuno ioche o possa iocare ad ioco de carti o ad nivinaglia, ad deta de mani o ad barva, o ad croce et ad barva, ad pena de quaranta soldi (per ciascuna fiata) che contrafarà senza diminutione alchuna. Et lu accusatore habia la quarta parte della dicta pena et lo resto sia del communo de la dicta terra de Norsia.

Adiongendo che de dicti iochi prohibiti non se possa tenere rascione per alchuno officiale socto la dicta pena, et non vaglia petitione né processe che se faccia.

Here we read ioco de carti, which is precisely what we seek, but there are more reasons that prevent us from taking seriously the news as documentation before 1377. These laws were compiled in Latin, and the vernacular version that came to the press in 1526 was drafted on a date that cannot be determined exactly, but is of the second half of the fifteenth century. The known dates in which several successive drafts of the Norcia statutes were compiled and of significant reforms appear to be 1257, 1280, 1372, 1386, 1520. Only the statute required in 1366 by Cardinal Albornoz and approved by a prelate in 1372 could be of interest, but we have no evidence to associate with that circumstance the text of our interest.

However, there is an internal criteron that also reduces the already minimal chances to find here a useful contribution. An important finding is that the chapter on games Dello ioco delli dadi et altri iochi prohibiti. Rubrica.CXVII is much more extensive than the part copied above. In the first volume of the recent edition it occupies almost two full pages and the three short paragraphs are copied to the last chapter and follow two others, much longer, in which is presented all the essential legislative parts on games, without making mention of cards. One can easily imagine that in the previous Latin texts, if not at the time of the vernacular version, these paragraphs have been added to the end of the existing chapter. The possibility of determining how faithfully that printed in the vernacular in 1526 to the "corresponding" Latin text of 1372, or other dates, is virtually zero. Also in this case, in the end, we can safely ignore the notice.

Casorzo 1375

Casorzo is a town situated on top of a hill in Asti province on the border with that of Alexandria; not surprisingly, considering the district, the main products are wines, malvasia in particular. Casorzo has Celtic origins and memories of the communal age; in the time of interest it was under the Marquis of Monferrato (like several of the "non-selected cases" met before). The 1375 municipal statutes are still preserved in the Casorzo town hall and a photograph of the codex is visible in the official web pages of the same town 9. This manuscript was in its time studied and transcribed by Natale Caturegli 10, and I have considered sufficient for our purposes examining the relevant printed text. The manuscript is described in the introduction of the book, and on p. XI we read that it is 28x28 cm and 125 pages; what interests us most are the dates listed: it began in 1375, ended in 1590. The rubric of interest, De luxoribus, is at p. 114 of the printed edition and is reproduced below:
Item statutum et ordinatum est quod aliqua persona de Casurcio vel ibi habitans vel undecumque sit, non debeat ludere ad aliquem ludum in toto posse Casurcii – videlicet ad taxillos, ad cartas, ad borianas, ad incidendum carnes ad bechariam, ad incidendum caseum – ad appothecas Casurcii vel in posse dicti loci, nec ad aliquam scomissam, ubi denarii vel unniate currant, sub pena sol. X astensium de die; et sol. LX astiensium de nocte.

The same penalties are extended to the owner of the house and to those who make available sets of the game. The main problem facing us is what date to associate with this section on games. To reliably do that we should examine the codex well and check the spelling and any other clues. However, I personally believe it sufficient to examine the printed transcription to rule out any involvement of the text of our interest with the years previous to 1377. To be covinced of this, I rely on two observations that can be drawn from the printed book. The first is the fact that the heading on games is at p. 114 of the book, corresponding to a very advanced stage of the transcribed statute. In short, the section in question has the air of a late addition to the primitive part of the Statute. Second, and related to the first, concerns the topics of sections immediately preceding and following that of our interest. Well, our heading, De luxoribus, is preceded by De bannis ovium et aliarum bestiarum and followed by De non interficiendo bestias to bechariam absque vision earum. In short, on control of herds and slaughterhouses (with personal visual inspection of the beast before and after slaughter). These were typically, together with variations in the composition and election of municipal offices, matters on which laws were recurrently changed slightly everywhere.


The first secure notice of playing cards in Italy begins with the provision of the town of Florence in March 1377. Since the adoption of that law presupposes an already fairly advanced stage of the game diffusion, it seems useful to investigate every possible clue to reconstruct the above path. Here some variously reported cases of Italian municipal statutes of the time were examined, and for each, heavy criticism has been identified about the validity of the text, the date, or both. The path along which playing cards arrived in Florence, where in 1377 they were already widespread, still has to be identified in detail, and all the cases examined here for Italy present themselves as minimally useful to the purpose.

Franco Pratesi - 05/05/2016

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

Before Florence in 1377, for the transit of playing cards arriving in Italy we can possibly imagine Genoa, Pisa, Naples, Venice and a few other big cities, preferably equipped with high-traffic ports. I do not think Castello Buia satisfied the suitable requirements, unless we assume that it represented a transit stop, a staging point south of the Alps, soon after their crossing, following a land route from Austria - a supposition and provenance which also would require something like an act of faith.
See my response in the "Mamluk/Muslim" thread regarding the 1365 sack of Alexandria by the King of Cyprus; at the end of which I ask "why no notice of cards in Venice", if the cards were acquired in the looting of Alexandria, as Venice's fleet participated. Buia, even if the smallest transit stop, is in the Veneto and at least provides a scrap of evidence (perhaps it was the only surviving document from this region from this early period for cards).

Even without the evidence, it makes logical sense that the Italian ingress of diffusion was via the Genoese and Venetian fleets trading/marauding in the east. The cards did not just show up in Florence.


Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

I remember to have read, that the part of the card, which gave reason to believe in a very old age of the Mamluk cards, was found in Spain. The one-card-fragment showed obvious similarity to the Mamluk cards in the Istanbul Museum, which are considered to be of a later date.
... offers a view of this card-fragment:

"In 1970 another discovery took place. A Collector of Islamic art, Dr. Edmond de Unger, came across papers from the collection of a Mr. Jean Pozzi. Among the papers was one small piece, that proved to be a fragment of a small playing card, being a little more than half of the full card. This fragment is from the suit of cups, and it appears to be the four of cups. The card is remarkably smaller than the Mamluk cards and the remains of the decoration shows, that it is much simpler and sparser than the former cards. Despite the fragmentary condition experts in Islamic art were able to date this card of being late 12th century or early 13th century, and due to details in the decoration, late 12th century seems most likely. "
This source ... ... rd&f=false
... speaks of the condition, that the card-fragment was found between "Egyptian papers". "Spain" isn't mentioned.

Maybe Jean Pozzi found these "Egyptian papers" in Spain, I don't know.

The Unger Collection went to Dallas recently ... ... slamic-art

The Unger collection also runs under the name of "Keir collection" ... to-dallas/

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

The fragment you posted, Huck, is discussed by Ettinghausen in his 1974 essay ("Further comments on Mamluk Playing cards", in Gatherings in honor of Dorothy E. Miner, pp. 51-78). On p. 66 he has the same picture the one on the website you found;, his figure 21, with the caption "Fragmentary Mamluk Playing Card 12th-14th century, London, Collection of Dr. Edmund de Unger". Ettinghausen comments, p. 65:
The more recent discovery of what seemed to be an earlier fragment [than the cards in Istanbul] of an Egyptian playing card in the Edmund de Unger Collection in London (fig. 21) indicated an even longer history of the game in the Islamic world.
He has a bit more to say, about this and another fragment, his fig. 22, which he also dates earlier than the Istanbul cards, but I think the comment belongs in the "Islamic Cards" thread, where I will put it along with the two visuals he is talking about, once I get them prepared as a jpg file.

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

Well, the point is, what the information "found in Spain" (which is just in my memory, I don't know, where I had it from) has to say.
Playing cards from Egypt might have come by a usual tradeway to the kingdom of Granada in Spain, long before 1365. Surely the trade from and to Granada had gone down in comparison to earlier times, but some movement should have been still there. ... da&f=false

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

Yes, certainly. However your memory will not do as a reference, especially as Ettinghausen calls it "Egyptian" (for no clear reason, admittedly). I hope you will find your source, and that the source will give a source (given that there are many unsubstantiated claims on the Internet). Also, we cannot assume that cards went from Egypt to Granada by trade, because of official prohibitions against gambling. Actual Mamluks, as mercenaries, carrying them in their personal effects seems to me at least as likely. Once in Granada, trade from local production to Christian regions seems more likely, however; but all of this requires more research.

Added later in the day: I have written more--a lot, actually--about the fragment you posted (including why it not clearly Egyptian, given what else Ettinghausen says) and its implications for Islamic-Christian transmission at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1096&p=16877#p16877.


Here is the next in Franco's series, on Poland, translated from Besides Franco's summaries, I am indebted to a friend who is a native speaker of Polish, but not a linguist, for the translations of the passages in Polish.

In the first text Franco cites, there is reference to a game of "bones". The same word in Polish means both "bones" and "dice", and both indicate games. Bones, my friend says, is a game of skill in which the player throws a bone into the air and then has to rearrange a group of other bones on the ground in a complex geometrical pattern, then catching the bone in the air. These days the game is still played--also in Italy, Franco tells me--but in Poland at least, with stones rather than bones.

All the material in brackets (sometimes double brackets) is from me or my friend.

Playing cards in Europe before 1377? - Poland


The study presented here, related to the early history of playing cards in Europe, has a rather distant origin that can be fixed in the year 1377; in that year for the first time in Italy there was certain documentation from Florence on the spread of playing cards. For the same year we have information from Basel contained in the Tractatus of John of Rheinfelden; but in that case there is some uncertainty whether on the evidence of the existence of multiple types of playing cards, it should be attributed to 1377 (a date that some experts only allow for the original drafting of the main part of the work), or 1429, the date of the first copy known today. If we lend credence to the description in the Tractatus of playing cards already present in such a variety of types in Basel of 1377, it becomes mandatory to reconstruct as far as possible the preceding path. One possible origin has been suggested of Prague 1, based on a nineteenth century book on commerce in the kingdom of Bohemia 2. In that same book he states in particular the following:
Die ältesten zuverlässigen Nachrichten vom Gebrauche der Spielkarten in Böhmen finden sich im Jahre 1340 vor, allein da solche schön früher, wie dies Urkunden darthun, von polnischen Edelleuten zum Zeitvertreibe angewendet wurden, ....

[The oldest reliable news of the use of playing cards in Bohemia can be found in 1340, but, as documents show, already earlier they were used by Polish noblemen for pastimes ....]
Thus not only in Bohemia were games played with cards already in 1340 according to information worthy of belief, but Polish nobles would have played cards to pass the time in previous years. The plausibility, or less, of the information derived from those documents for Bohemia stands in part on examining if really they passed a long time wandering in the Kingdom of Bohemia of those years, on investigating these possibly nonexistent playing cards. Meanwhile, I can present an investigation for confirmations relative
2 F. L. Hübsch, Versuch einer Geschichte des böhmischen Handels [Attempt at an Investigation of Bohemian Commerce], Prague 1849.

only to Poland, on the basis of the writings of Polish authors who have dealt with playing cards.

We can begin our review with the oldest manual of card games among those under examination; the author published this book 3 under the pseudonym of Old Player (Stary Gracz, see Fig. 1); in recent bibliographies he has been identified as Piotr Jaksa Bykowski, but some copies printed in the same year reported the author's name as Stanislaw Kozietulski. As for us, we can definitely be satisfied with the pseudonym, save for one comment about it: after this Polish book about card games appeared another, with another pseudonym for the author. The fact that these authors were using pseudonyms (with clear reference to the first on the part of the second) does not attest fully to their reliability: writing under a pseudonym, one is freer to make questionable claims, with reduced liability. We have to bear that in mind a little when uutilizing the information that can be drawn from them.

The book under review is a manual of card games that has the advantage, important for us, of being provided with a historical introduction in which various notices are collected. I copy below what is most interesting for us.
Gra sie u nas rozpowszechnila w polowie wieku XVI, wszakze nie wzmogla sie tak, jak w innych krajach, gdzie ja scigano prawem. Satyrycy zas nasi i kaznodzieje do tej pory potepiaja koster ów, pijaków i biesiadników, ale o kartach milcz. Widocznie i u nas - koscie poprzedzily karty, bo konstytucya 1593 r. pierwszy raz nadmienia o graczach w koscie czyli t. zw. kosterach, ze ich „nigdzie zaden urzad cierpiec nie ma, ale takowych kazdego stanu po upomnieniti pierwszem i wtórem, a za truciem rózgami - bijac wygnac precz z miasta. Snadz kartownicy jeszcze sie wówczas nie rozpowsiechnili, kiedy o nich glucho w prawie i w satyrykach. Zdaje sie, iz zycie przodków lowieckie, obozowei sejmikowe, zycie gwarlhej pogadanki byloprze- - byloprzeciwnem jednostajnosci prózniaczej zabaw karcianych. Dopiero w 2-ej polowie XVI wieku, pisarze wspominaj o kartach: ... W karty grywano najpierwej u dworu. ... W XVII stuleciu gra w karty rozpowszechnila sie po calym kraju.

[Translator's note: Even for a native speaker, this text soon becomes difficult, with many words too archaic to identify precisely, especially in the quotation from 1593 (starting with quotation marks. My friend, not being a specialist, offers an approximation for parts using archaic wording (which includes even some of the 19th century part), but faithful to the general meaning. On the game of "bones", see my comment at the beginning of the post.]

[The game in our country spread in the mid-sixteenth century, but not as intensely as in other countries, where it was prosecuted. Satirists and preachers until now criticize kosters, drunks and revelers, but of cards stay silent. Apparently, with us - dice [or bones, koscie] preceded cards because Konstytucya [Constitution, but there was no Constitution of that date, so the law], 1593, first mentions dice [or bones] players, that is, kosters, with their “anywhere the magistrate would not endure them [would not want them] so after the first chastising and after the second chastising and after the beating [flogging] they just throw them out of town.["] Apparently kartownicy [card players] had not yet spread [multiplied] when there was no mention about them in the law and in the satirical papers. It seems that life and ancestral hunting, participating in legislative gatherings and lively discussions was the opposite from the monotonous, idle and pointless time spent playing card. Only in the 2nd half of the sixteenth century do writers mention the cards ... First card games were played in court [a word that may refer to, or include, country estates]. ... In the seventeenth century, playing cards spread all over the country.
3. Stary Gracz, Gry w karty dawniejsze i nowe dokladne sposoby ich prowadzenia, poprzedzone krótka historya kart [Old Player, The oldest card games and new ways of playing them accurately, preceded by a short history of cards.] Warsaw 1888. pp. 9-13.

Figure 1: Frontispiece of the first book studied (see, p. 3)

For times after those of our interest, in a part not copied, the author also mentions several popular song titles in which playing cards were mentioned. The fact, decisive for our research, is that the information starts with the mid-sixteenth century. The few readers who were not able to follow the entire reasoning can simply focus on the beginning and the end, claiming something of the following sort: "The game spread with us in the mid-sixteenth century. ... They played cards first at court. ...In the seventeenth century playing cards were scattered across the country. "

Wytrawny Graz 1930

After the Old Player, we arrive at the Veteran (wytrawny) Player 4, in whom I hope that the attribute is limited to emphasizing his long experience and not the possibly associated wear. Unfortunately, passing from the one player to the other, almost half a century later, historical knowledge seems to go backwards, because here we do not find information on the initial spread in Poland but vague repetitions of old legends that go back to the French court and the Gypsies.
Poczatek gry w karty siega XV stulecia, t. j. chwili przybycia cyganów do Europy. Ogólnie zas karty staly se glosnemi od chwili wprowadzenia ich jako jedyny na ówczas srodek leczniczy, uspakajacy wariacie Karola VI Szalonego. Jak nastepnie karty rozwinely nastepnie goraczke gry i zlota, najlepszem swiadectwem sluzyc moze panowanie Ludwika Swietego, który kara batogów karcil gre we Francji. W XIII juz wiec stuleciu spotykamy gre te bardzo rozwinieta. ... W Neapolu i dzis napotkac mozemy przecietnego gondoliera, który bez wachania lata calej swobody swej stawi na jedna karte.

[The beginnings of card-playing games date back to the fifteenth century, i.e. to the arrival of the Gypsies in Europe. Generally cards became famous after they were introduced as the only remedy to calm the lunatic king Charles VI the Mad. As to how then card games developed into a fever of card-playing and gold [i.e. gambling], the best testimony can be served by the reign of Louis the Holy, who imposed the punishment of lashing to chastise the players in France. Already in the thirteenth century card games already were highly developed. ...In Naples even today we may meet an average gondolier who, without hesitation puts years of his freedom [i.e. his earnings] on one card.]
The historical introduction appears in this case is completely unreliable. He begins by saying that card games began in the fifteenth century and, after some digression through the French court, at the end of the period tells us that the game is found extensively developed in the thirteenth century. The author, in a part not copied of what follows, adds a welcome nod to the origin by the Saracens and previous Chinese and Japanese games with ivory tablets. Not content with this, he even dates the players (we cannot presume the cards) back to ancient Rome, recalling episodes reported by Horace and Tacitus. The overview is rounded off by an example of his era, similarly significant, criticizing the excessive attachment to the game by a typical Neapolitan gondolier. In short, if this is history, it should at least be considered fictionalized history.
4 Wytrawny Gracz, Gry w karty polskie i obce. Najdokladniejszy przewodnik gier. [Veteran {or Consummate} Player, Card games Polish and foreign. The most accurate guide to the games]. Warsaw 1930.

Andrzej Hamerlinski-Dzierozynski 1976

The richest Polish treatise on card games that I know is that of Andrzej Hamerlinski-Dzierozynski 5; for our purposes I cannot imagine a work more suitable than this. For one thing, the book (see Fig. 2) contains an unusually high number of pages, indeed 421; but the decisive advantage over all the other studies reviewed is that this book is not a manual of card games provided with a historical introduction, but rather is dedicated entirely to the history of card games in Poland.

Figure 2 - Cover of the most complete book
5 A. Hamerlinski-Dzierozynski, O kartach, karciarzach, grach poczciwych i grach szulerskich : szkice obyczajowe z wieków [About cards, card players, kind-hearted games and shady games: moral sketches of the 15th-19th centuries]. 15.-19. Krakow 1976.

I am not in step with the times but cannot imagine that there have been major publications since then (apart from any recent reprints of even older books than those reviewed here); for those interested in Polish card games, the first obligatory reference is now the usually extraordinary site by John McLeod 6. However, I do not think a richer book than this could be released in the field of our specific interest. In short, our task is reduced to looking at this important book for information useful for the most ancient times, to which the entire first chapter is dedicated, pages 7-29. In fact, much less is sufficient for being able to do the verification, because the systematic exposition begins early in the sixteenth century, which surely does not concern us here, and continues into times still more recent to us. Everything needed is in the first two pages; which I copy below.
Jeszcze sie w Polsce nikomu o kartach nie snilo, gdy nad Renem i Sekwana, za Alpami i Pirenejami owladnela juz ludzmi szulerska namietnosc. Owladnela tak gwaltownie, ze roku 1379 sw. Bernard ze Sieny az klatwe na karciarzy
cisnal, ten i ów monarcha musial edyktem poskramiac nadmierny hazard, a dostojnicy duchowni nieraz surowe napomnienia slali do klasztorów, gdzie braciszkowie, zapomniawszy obowiazków reguly i godzin modlitwy,
bezwstydnie trawili czas na grze. Podpisywali tedy królowie i ksiazeta Kosciola potepiajace pisma jedna reka – a druga siegali do skrzyn, by nierzadko bajeczne sumy placic za talie przedziwnie piekne, zdobne filigranem gotyckich ornamentów, w mozolnym trudzie dlugich miesiecy komponowane przez najbardziej bieglych mistrzów wykwintnej miniatury, a pózniej za urzekajace swa uroda renesansowe cacka, kunsztownie malowane na malych,
sklejonych warstwami tekturkach. Gdy zas w polowie XV wieku rysunek zaczeto odbijac z drewnianej formy i takie spod stempla dobyte karty star czylo recznie juz tylko zabarwic – na zaraze zbraklo lekarstwa; rozpanoszyla sie po
calej Europie. Wtedy tez wtargnela i do Polski. Przywiezli ja ludzie, którzy najczesciej i najdluzej bywali poza krajem – dyplomaci, duchowni, kupcy. Nie tylko oni zreszta. Takze wedrowni bakalarze, scholarowie, uniwersyteckie obiezyswiaty. Bo przeciez to wlasnie z kregu krakowskiej Al-mae Matris pochodzi jedna z pierwszych u nas – jesli nie najpierwsza – wzmianka o kartach: zwiezly zakaz ich uzywania zawarty w artykule De ludorum abstinentia ogloszonych roku panskiego 1456 ustaw bursy „Jeruzalem”. Grywali wiec w karty nasi przodkowie (a raczej: karty grawali - tak sie wtedy mówilo) juz w pietnastym stuleciu. Znal je dwór wawelski, znal

uniwersytet, znaly najwieksze miasta, Kraków zas przed innymi. A i na pierwszego wladce-karciarza nie musielismy dlugo czekac. Byl nim Zygmunt Stary.

[In Poland, no one yet dreamed of cards, when at the Rhine and the Seine, the Alps and the Pyrenees, crowds were already overtaken by the card-playing craze. A craze so sudden that already in 1379 St. Bernard of Siena hurled a curse at the gamblers, and the ruler had to restrain excessive gambling by issuing an edict; clergy and dignitaries often sent harsh admonitions to the monasteries, where the brothers, forgetting the rules of the monastery and the schedules of prayer, shamelessly spent time on the game. The kings and princes of the Church signed the condemning letters with one hand - and with the other paid often fabulous sums for beautiful decks, with gothic ornamentation, composed in the arduous toil of long months by the most skillful masters of exquisite miniatures, and later Renaissance masterpieces, artfully painted on small pieces of hard paper, glued together in layers. When in the middle of the fifteenth century they began to make woodcuts from a wooden mold and the only thing left to do was to color them by hand, there were so many decks that it was a "plague" of card playing – for this plague there was no medicine, and the plague reigned over Europe. Then the card playing craze also invaded Poland. It was brought by the people who most often traveled and stayed outside the country - diplomats, clergymen, merchants. Also itinerant bachelors, scholars, people who traveled from one university to another. Because certainly it is precisely the circle of Krakow's Alma Mater from which comes one of the first - if not the very first - mentions of cards: the concise ban on their use contained in the article "De Ludorum abstinentia", announced in the year of our Lord 1456 in the set of rules of the student residence "Jerusalem". So they played cards, our ancestors, already in the fifteenth century. The Wawel court knew the cards, the university knew them, the largest cities knew them, Krakow before others. We did not have to have to wait long for the first card player ruler. It was Sigismund the Old.]
I am bound to an uncertain literal translation but I can summarize the essentials. The beginning is not very promising because it makes the preaching of San Bernardino exactly one year before his birth, but it says that the cards (like the plague he had mentioned earlier) arrived in Poland from the west, and what happened when the game was already widely practiced in its countries of origin. It makes a distinction between the original cards, necessarily of great value to the richness of the materials and the necessary processes, and the more common ones produced using wooden molds, spreading from the middle of the fifteenth century. The cards are spread throughout the population, but more frequently among those who have more opportunities to travel abroad (diplomats, clergy, merchants, students). The first certified is precisely among the students in a circle of the University of Krakow, where a brief ban on their use is found included as De Ludorum abstinentia in the regulations of the student residence "Jerusalem" in 1456. Once the game had spread to these areas, there was not a long wait, because they had their first card player ruler: Sigismund I the Old (1467-1548).

Richard Sabela 1990

Some more readily accessible notices can be found by making another step forward in time and resorting to the study of Richard Sabela, dedicated precisely to the beginning of card games in the Polish kingdom: "Über die Anfänge der Spielkarten im Königreich Polen des XV und XVI Jahrhunderts" [On the beginnings of playing cards in the Polish Kingdom of the 15th and 16th centuries”] 7; it is an article of few pages, but it systematically collects all the notices that we are looking for. The first documented date for the playing cards in Poland is reported as 1456, corresponding to an order to the students already met for the University of Krakow. Until the year 1500 there are indicated only six testimonies tor card games in Poland; the center is again Krakow, but there are involvements by citizens of Wroclaw in 1482,
7 R. Sabela, The Playing Card , Vol. XVIII, No. 4 (1990) 121-127.

the princely Hungarian court in 1498, and the city of Neisse in Silesia as a source for two active papermakers in Krakow in 1499. The part essential for our study is reproduced below.
Die schriftlich nachweisbare Geschichte der Spielkarten in Polen beginnt 1456, also zur Zeit der dortigen Renaissance, die auf die Jahre zwischen 1450 und 1600 datiert wird. ...Krakau, die damalige Hauptstadt Polens und Sitz seiner Könige, entwickelte sich zum bedeutenden internationalen Handels- und Kulturzentrum... Eine wichtige Rolle für die wissenschaftliche und kulturelle Entwicklung Polens spielte in dieser Zeit die Jaggellonen-Universität zu Krakau. Sie entstand 1364 als zweite in Mittelleuropa, 16 Jahre nach der ersten deutschsprachigen in Prag. Im XV Jahrhundert war die Krakauer Universität schon eine international anerkannte Bildungsstätte. ...In dieser internationalen Atmosphäre konnten selbstverständlich die Spielkarten nicht fehlen. Die erste, bisher bekannte Erwähnung der Spielkarten in Polen trennen zwar von jenem berühmten Verbot aus Florenz ganze 79 Jahre, dafür aber “... in Krakau der Renaissance haben alle Karten gekloppt. Vom Monarch bis zun letzten Pauper”. ... 1456 In ‘De ludorum abstinentia’, einer Hausordnung des Studentenheims ‘Jerusalem’ der Krakauer Universität wird das Benutzen von Spielkarten verboten.

[The history of playing cards in Poland demonstrable in writing begins in 1456, during the period of the local Renaissance, which dates to the years 1450-1600. ... Krakow, the former capital of Poland and the seat of its kings, developed into a major international commercial and cultural center . ...At this time the Jaggellon University in Krakow played an important role in the scientific and cultural development of Poland.. It was created in 1364 as the second in Central Europe, 16 years after the first German-speaking one in Prague. In the 15th century Krakow University was already an internationally recognized educational institution. ...In this international atmosphere playing cards could of course not be missing. The first known mention thus far of playing cards in Poland separates it from that famous prohibition of Florence by a whole 79 years, but "... in Krakow of the Renaissance, cards have hit everyone. From the monarch to the last pauper ". ...1456 In 'De Ludorum abstinentia' of the house rules of the student residence 'Jerusalem' of Krakow University the use of playing cards is prohibited.]

Studying the treatise of John of Rheinfelden and then the book of Hübsch, it was not enough to pass from the Rhine to Bohemia; Another ancient kingdom has been brought up, that of Poland, which brings us to another area in the East of Europe; by itself, that cannot disturb [us], because just to the East, even in Asia, it is known that playing cards originally were born and propagated. In this area, however, something contrasting is met. Nobles called Polish are summoned in the cause because they could live in comfort and possibly use the cards to stave off boredom; but these nobles were the same who boasted of their superior culture, closer to South-central Europe than to that of the East, starting with their mastery of the Latin language. In our specific case, however, it is not, as is usual, to find a country that had privileged commercial and cultural contacts with Western Europe, so as to be able to reproduce before others some fashions popular in the higher layers of the population. Here intermediate regions are sought

for a possible propagation in the opposite direction, from east to west, and Poland should be seen rather as an intermediate region nearer to Central Asia.

To me it seemed decisive to examine what Polish authors wrote who are also interested in the history of card games: they do not communicate to us any official document, nor any memory handed down in popular accounts of the time of our interest in time, i.e. the years of the third quarter of the fourteenth century, or even of ones before 1340, as indicated by Hübsch. Indeed, despite some diversity in the related information, they are all in agreement in considering the entry of cards into their ancient kingdom as rather late, with no testimony before the mid-fifteenth century.

Once the late entry of the cards in Poland is agreed, the task of verifying the strange notices for the previous century can be considered exhausted. However, regardless of Prague and similar uncertain references, it would still be a point to understand the role of the court in the early spread of cards in Poland during the Renaissance:. We find conflicting signs of the two possible ways, from top to bottom and from bottom to top. According to some authors the court circles would be the ones to introduce cards into Poland, according to others (that convince me most), the first Polish king who played with the cards would have only continued an already widespread use, at least in sections of the population with increased contacts with foreign countries.

Turning to the previous century, we would need to think that like the oldest traces of playing cards in Nuremberg, and even in France, those from Poland would also have left some traces, [if] only in Prague, and traceable only by Hübsch in the mid-nineteenth century, neither before nor after; at this point the acts of faith truly become too many and too unreasonable. For us it becomes inevitable to trace back the route taken: we arrived in Krakow starting from Prague, but now Krakow can be deleted. We must go back to Prague, but with increased uncertainty about the validity of the information. It is a little as if we had found a tree to prune and instead of trimming the branches cut a root: in the end, if we continue, the whole tree.falls.


Some rather uncertain notices led us to a kind of "line of credit" for scrutinizing the situation of the first card games to arrive in Poland. The idea is derived from a citation of Polish nobles who routinely played with cards before 1340. That date if it were true would be considered extremely early and explainable only by an arrival of cards in Poland directly from the eastern territories of Europe by way of a land route even from Asia (where, however, we know that playing cards originated).

None of Polish authors who have dealt with the matter gives us a minimum of support in such circumstances, so that we are forced to consider invalid the news from which we began. Playing cards are documented in Poland only from more than a century later! We can score a point against the reliability of the source that gave rise to this research, the book by Hübsch, which now will be reviewed in particular for its news on Bohemia from which we started

Franco Pratesi – 02.06.2016

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

Depaulis in his quote ...
Il est couramment admis aujourd’hui, en effet, que les premières mentions des cartes en Europe – sous le nom de naips, naibbe, naibi, etc. – se situent autour de 1370. Les premières références aux cartes à jouer nous viennent de Catalogne (1371, vers 1375), d’Italie 1370-71, puis 1377 à Florence et à Sienne; 1379 à Viterbe), d’Allemagne du sud (1377 à Rheinfelden, près de Bâle; 1378 à Ratisbonne; 1379 à Constance et à Saint-Gall), du Brabant (1379, 1380). La décennie suivante les voit mentionnées dans les Pays-Bas (1381, 1382, 1383 dans le Brabant; 1382 à Lille), en Catalogne toujours (1380, 1382 à Barcelone, 1380 à Perpignan) et en Provence (1381 à Marseille). Enfin, en France à partir des années 1390.
... didn't mention this older document (1378), once (2006) published in the IPCS journal.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=761&p=10875&hilit= ... urg#p10875

Also he didn't mention "Paris 1377", which was often earlier noted, for instance here: ... 77&f=false
I remember, that Ross doubted the relevance of this note, perhaps there was a final conclusion, that this was an error.

Depaulis also didn't note the prohibition of Bern 1367, though it's widely accepted by the German language contributors. For instance ...
Selected early playing card notes from the Schweizerisches Idiotikon

Year 1367, Bern
Image ... 3/mode/1up
Bd. X. Sp. 184
The well-known playing card prohibition of Bern

Detlev Hoffman (1998, Schweizer Spielkarten) expresses, that 1367 is very probably a trustworthy date ...



Hoffmann speaks of a dispute between the researchers Kopp and Rosenfeld, from which Dummett only got the argumentation of Rosenfeld, but not the reply of Kopp. In Hoffmann's opinion Kopp seems to have had the better arguments.
I don't know, where and when this dispute took place (which took place after Kopp's first note in 1973), cause I've only a reduced copy of Hoffmann's text.

I got a copy of a part of Rosenfeld's work (but it doesn't include the the 1367 case) ...


... the work mentioned as from Rosenfeld in this Snippet (I assume), and there's another work of Kopp mentioned, but I think, that this also another work.

Rosenfeld was a very engaged researcher, disputing very much, often with good arguments, but occasionally a little too engaged. He disputed the "Nayp document 1371" in Spain, and he also disputed, that the Italian "naibi" came from Spain. With right he didn't accept Grisca and Riffa (dice games) as expressions for card-playing.



The green-framed part is the discussion for the Nayp in the Spanish wordbook 1371. Rosenfeld thinks, that the Catalan Nayp is a modified form of the French poetical word "naif", which means "echt, legitim", something like "true, legitime" in English. As the wordbook is a text for the use of poets to find their rimes, the poetical naif-Nayp has some right to be the true explanation.
The other part discusses Grisca and Riffa and the argumentation is widely accepted, also in Spanish literature.

In the following snippets Rosenfeld opposes the opinion, that the Italian "naibi" word would be part of a word import from Spain. Rosenfeld is very resolute in this question (he calls the opinion "absurd"), if his ideas are right or not I can't say.



Hellmut Rosenfeld has a lot works at worldcat ... ... owc_search
... a lot of them are about playing cards.

He had been an "außerplanmäßiger" professor at the university in Munich for 27 years (without salary). ... 1987_P.pdf
... biographical details at number 20-87

He had worked on a theory, that the playing cards developed from the 4-players-chess (Chaturaji).


Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

Thanks for finding the Hoffmann, Huck. I wish I knew what it says.

Huck wrote,
I don't know, where and when this dispute took place (which took place after Kopp's first note in 1973), cause I've only a reduced copy of Hoffmann's text.
Dummett says that Rosenfeld's argument against Kopp is (note 6 p. 12 of Game of Tarot)
6. In ‘Zu den fruhesten Spielkarten in der Schweiz: eine Entgegnung', Zeitschrift fur Schweizerische Archaeologie und Kunstgeschichte, vol. 32, 1975, pp. 179-80, and, in a more general context, in ‘Zur Datierbarkeit fruher Spielkarten in Europe und im nahen Orient’. Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 1975, pp. 353-71.
I get this from your post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1094#p16817, cutting and pasting from an old post of mine.

Huck wrote,
there's another work of Kopp mentioned, but I think, that this also another work.
It would be good if you got us a copy of that other work. Where does Hoffmann say it is, if that is part of the "reduced" copy you have?

Perhaps there is something in the following, a reference I get from Jonssen's English-language essay on John of Rheinfelden.

Kopp, Peter F. (1977). Basler spielkartenfunde. Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Aktertumskunde 77, pp. 37 sqq.

Also, it would be good to know why Hoffmann sides with Kopp, so we can benefit from any additional insights he has. I can't figure it out. On the face of it, a citation in a compilation made in 1398, if there is only one mention of playing cards in 1367 or in Bern, is suspect.

It would be good to see the arguments, or at least statements (if there are no arguments!) back and forth, if not translated into English then at least transcribed in a form that can easily be inserted into Google Translate. I could do it myself, but I'm rather busy with other translation projects, and it would be much slower going for me than for you.

And I have no idea what the snippet from idiotikon says or who that site represents. Again, it needs to be transcribed, like Franco does, even with languages he doesn't understand much of (e.g. Polish).

Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377

The text of Hoffmann leads to a Anm. 148 ("Anmerkung" with number). It leads to this snippet in ... ... q=kopp+148


Hoffmann says, that there were a longer discussion, which possibly knew not only the works of Kopp-1973 and Rosenfeld-1975. The discussed object is a very small detail "X" or "LX".
The snippet is not complete.
The whole is at page 64. I don't have a picture of p. 64.

Ross wrote this in 2010:
Here is the "state of the question" on Bern, 1367, when I posed it to Thierry last year -

"Indeed this date has been much disputed. It was first brought to our attention by the Swiss scholar Peter Kopp, in his article "Die frühesten Spielkarten in der Schweiz", Zeitschrift für schweizerische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte (ZSAK), vol. 30, 1973, p. 130, quoting F.E. Welti, Die Rechstquellen des Kantons Bern, I-2, Aarau, 1939. (So apparently Kopp had not seen the real document.)

In fact the Bern Law Book is known in four mss. (one is in Bern, another one in Vienna, etc.), and according to who reads what, views are different.
Helmut Rosenfeld (who seems to have seen the Vienna ms.) explained the ms. was compiled in 1398 from older and more recent sources (H. Rosenfeld, in ZSAK, 32, 1975, pp. 179+ and Gutenberg Jahrbuch 1975, pp. 353-75). Dummett (GT, 1980, pp. 11-2) follows him.

In 1976 Kopp replied to Rosenfeld, with "Erwiderung auf H. Rosenfelds Entgegnung", ZSAK, 33, 1976, p. 67+ and from his explanations Hoffmann (1998, p. 12 n9 et n148 p. 64) thought Kopp's dating was correct.

However, a lady from the Bern Staatsarchiv has published an article in Board Game Studies where she mentions the four mss. and cautiously writes "1367?" (Claudia Engler, "Karten-, Würfel- und Brettspiel im spätmittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen Bern", BGS, 7, 2004, p. 119-125). So the question remains open.

I tend to be skeptical. It is a very early date for the word 'kartenspil'. The quote reads: "Item daz nieman mit wurfeln spilen noch kartenspil triben sol". Of course, 10 years later we know John of Rheinfelden spoke about the 'ludus cartularum', but it's in Latin, not in German. (However, in the next year, the council of Ratisbon forbade to "spilen mit der quarten" (Schreiber 1937: 48).)"

I remember (dark), that somebody spoke of the condition, that the 1367 quote was repeated later in other texts (I remember, that somebody spoke of 4 different versions). Maybe I have a hallucination, I'm not sure about it.

Kaplan has presented a picture of it (Encyc. I, p. 25). It's the Vienna edition, that Rosenfeld saw, made at the end of the century, as Kaplan states. The date is in line 9, the word "Kartenspil" in line 5.

I repeat the Idioticum picture, which didn't come complete in the quote-format

BStR likely means Berner Stadt Recht = city rights of Bern. The text, as I see it now in a new way, is not identical to that what is recognizable at the Kaplan-Vienna picture, which Rosenfeld knew. Kaplan has "in unser Stadt nit Kartenspil noch nit ?Würffeln? spilen", as far I can read it, and that's not the same as in the Idioticon.


Kaplan's picture


the passage, that I could read "in unser Stadt nit Kartenspil noch nit ?Würffeln? spilen"


the date


I can read the "anno" and the "CCC" in MCCCLXVII ... with the rest I've difficulties.

The Idioticum refers clearly to 1367 and to Kartenspil, but it is not the same text. So my "dark memory" about 4 references is possibly not a hallucination, but simply it's right, that there are different versions and the whole thing is rather complicated.


I detected a part of the discussion .... Rosenfeld after some private contacts with Kopp takes up a publical "Entgegnung" against a publication of Kopp in Spring 1974. Rosenfeld is rather emotional. ... 2::366#189

You mentioned this text. I've read it, but it's very complicated to evaluate without knowing Kopp's texts. Rosenfeld knows, that the Idioticon had the passage before Kopp published about it (already in 1931). Rosenfeld knows the difference between the Idioticon and the Vienna text (Justinger version). Rosenfeld interprets, that Justinger reworked the text and added the Kartenspil later. But the Idioticon version, which I presented, has the Kartenspil, and Rosenfeld's Idioticon version of 1931 must have had no Kartenspil, otherwise Rosenfeld somehow would have had a very bad argument with Justinger's later addition. Cause the modern Idioticon text is NOT Justinger's text.


Here is the text of Claudia Engler (2007), mentioned by Ross in his earlier comment ... :50::237#9

She gives the date 1367 with a "?".

Well, perhaps one finds also the texts of Kopp.


Added: taking a second look I detect my error.

"Kartenspil" appears twice in the text, and the first appearance is in line 2, which I overlooked and that's the passage, that was quoted by the Idioticon. Kaplan had only written about the Kartenspil in the 5th line and that was the passage, which I deciphered.


1st and 2nd line of the playing card text.

This seems to be a headline, and it follows a short chapter, which ends in the 13th line.


The green frame gives the short chapter with a headline. Inside this part the word "spil" or "spilen" appears variously.
Below this part appears a text, which has another theme.

So far Rosenfeld's opinion looks justified, at least in this point. My "four versions" are still just a hallucination.

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