Here is “Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377? Aragona”, by Franco Pratesi, posted on his website at http://www.naibi.net/A/515-ARAG1377-Z.pdf
. In this case I have attempted to translate his quotations, when not in English. Comments in brackets, including these translations, are mine unless otherwise specified.
Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Aragon.
The oldest reference to playing cards in Europe now generally recognized is the word naip
inserted in a 1371 Catalan dictionary, six years before the Florentine provision that had long been considered the first European testimony. In this study we examine various notices coming not only from Catalonia but also from other cities of the Kingdom of Aragon. It is a collection of testimonies that actually presents a wider framework than elsewhere for the first dissemination of playing cards in Europe and thus has a value that goes far beyond its local character. Of course we will try as always to assess as far as possible the actual reliability of the notices discussed.
2. Peter IV of Aragon
Many historians of playing cards have studied their spread in the royal and princely courts of different countries: it almost seems that without the royal courts playing cards would not have been had, especially the triumphs. It seems strange then that we have not already read about the possible involvement with playing cards of King Peter IV of Aragon (1319-1387), or his family members. Yet he was not a personage of the second rank or one of brief tenure on the throne (over half a century), even across multiple thrones. In fact he was King of Aragon as Peter IV, called the Ceremonious, King of Valencia as Peter II, King of Sardinia and Corsica as Peter I, Count of Barcelona
and other Catalan counties as Peter III from 1333, and, to make matters worse, also King of Mallorca from 1343 until his death.
Also for his family ties this king was above average, beginning with his four marriages with their offspring. In short, for those who study the connections of these environments with playing cards, it seems to me that there is a large open area for research. As
for me, I have always seen the very old playing cards more readily in the hands of common players, merchants, shopkeepers, and even more so, as unfortunately is rarely possible, in those of the their makers; so I add a portrait of the king (Fig. 1, reminding me precisely of a few playing cards), I leave the research on the Aragonese court environments in the same state, little explored however inviting, passing to environments I know better
Figure 1 – Peter IV the Ceremonious, king of Aragon, etc.
(From Wikimedia Commons)
3. Joseph Brunet y Bellet
It is not possible to speak of playing cards in Catalonia without beginning with Joseph Brunet y Bellet (Barcelona
, 1818-1905). This Catalan author was an outstanding bibliophile who collected many rare publications and wrote scholarly essays on various historical materials, including "secondary" ones on games. On his historical works the
judgment of the Grand Catalan Encyclopedia
is "erudits però mancats d’esperit crític" [erudite but lacking a critical mind] 1.
Of interest to us here is exclusively an important book of his, of 284 pages, dedicated entirely to their own playing cards 2. In 1990 a new edition of 500 copies, all bound in leather and stamped in gold, was published by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Fig. 2); I was able to consult it, and I had the impression, not unpleasant, of reading, written in Catalan, many notices and histories, even fabulous ones, I already knew from old English, French and German texts. I had never read so many pages in that language; it is easy for an Italian, but I would have preferred that the setting had been mainly Catalan, while here it ranges throughout Europe and, to make matters worse, through much of Asia. Evidently the author based himself on the main reference texts on the history of playing cards known at the time and was concerned to inform readers about what his predecessors had written in the various European languages.
Figure 2 - Cover of the book by Brunet y Bellet studied.
, p. 3]
2 J. Brunet y Bellet, Lo joch de naibs, naips ó cartas
The Catalan author supports in every way a Catalan priority for the introduction of playing cards. At the basis of his conviction is a belief that can be found in the writings of other historians, and that is that the cards were already widely used in the fourteenth century, well before "our" 1377. A strong support Brunet y Bellet finds strong support in the game of gresca, previously documented, which he interprets as a card game, an interpretation to be considered very doubtful. However, Brunet y Bellet presents something valuable from the documentary point in support of his opinion, two important references, one of 1371, one of an unspecified date but declared close to that. They are two references that also afterwards have been brought in support of a priority of Barcelonian documents.
Indeed, the importance of these two references is increased from the moment they are separated from the preceding testimonies, based on gresca. Rather curiously, what is probably the greatest contribution in all these 284 pages it is contained in four lines, at the end of a note, which, moreover, refers to a different document. Today, virtually all playing card historians recognize the validity of these documents and therefore give the Catalan notices precedence in Europe over those of Florence, Freiburg, and others previously considered the oldest. They thus agree in reading directly what Brunet y Bellet gives us, with the assistance of his archivist friends to whom he is understandably grateful.
De tots los datos recullits resulta que la paraula Naib, es lo nom mes antich donat á las cartas y que es de procedencia árabe ó judia. En catalá se donava á las cartas aquest mateix nom. En 1’inventari de Nicoláu Sarmona, negociant de Barcelona, carrer de S. Daniel, any 1380 va continuat un «Ludus de naips qui sunt 44 pecie,» (1) y en los de Miquel Zapila mercader de Barcelona, any 1401; y en altre inventari del arxiu del notari D. Jaume Thos, del any 1460, van també continuats en cada un d’ells un joch de nayps.
En los Registres de nostre arxiu municipal titolats «Bands y Ordenacions» en los documents continuats desde 1378 á 1399 se trovan edictes prohibint los jochs de daus, taules y naips, (fol. 29 y 41) y en los de 1471 á 79 (fol. 102,) va continuat lo band publicat lo primer de Mars de 1476 ... . (p. 63)
(1) Dech la comunicació de tant interessants documents á la desinteressada é inagotable complacençia de mos amichs D. Manuel de Bofarull, arxiver de la Corona d’Aragó y D. Joseph Puiggarí y D. Lluís Gaspar, arxivers Municipals, qu’á ma primera indicació s’han donat la pena de registrar los arxius
de la Corona d’Aragó y Municipal, depósits inestimables d’innumerables tresors histórichs poch coneguts y menos consultats.
En aquestos documents se trova ‘1 nom de las Cartas en Catalunya, en la forma castellana Naips, Nayps–Naipe – algun tant alterada ja en 1’ últim, lo mes modern – Nehips; pero de segur la forma primitiva, en nostra terra, era la mateixa original Naib, ab qual forma fou introduhida en Italia (de Catalunya?) Naïbi plural de Naib. Una prova d’aixó la tenim en 1’Inventari de D. Pere de Queralt, del 3 de Novembre de 1’any 1408 (1) en lo qual trovém continuat «i joch de naibs grans,» per lo que no ‘m queda cap dupte que las Cartas en Catalunya foren conegudas ab lo nom de Naibs qual nom retingueren molt temps, lo que es menester tenir present per lo que diré mes endevant. (p.65-66.)
(1) Jochs Florais de Barcelona de 1885. «Costums de Catalunya, per Joan Segura,» pág. 210. Dich Naib esser la paraula primitiva original Arabe ó Judaica, referintme á lo que diuhen altres, no per qu’ estigue convensut de sa exactitul perque ‘m quedan molts duptes sobre aixó com se veurá mes endevant. (p. 65.)
En lo Diccionari de la Rima de Jacme March de 1371, se trova la paraula Naip També se trova mes d’una vegada en lo «Libre de les dones,» de Jaume Roig, que á poca diferencia es de la mateixa época. (p. 65)
[From all the details gathered, the word Naib is the oldest name given to cards and comes from Arabic or Hebrew. In Catalan they are given the same name. In the inventory of Nicholas Sarmona, shopkeeper in Barcelona, St. Daniel Street. in 1380 is contained "Ludus de Naips qui sunt 44 pecie," (1) and in merchant Zapila Miquel Barcelona 4401; and in another inventory of the files of notary D. Jaume Thos., of the year 1460, also contained in each of them, joch de nayps [game of cards].
In the records of our municipal archives titled "Bans and ordinances" in documents ongoing from 1378 to 1399 are found edicts forbidding games of dice, boards and cards (fol. 29 and 41) and in 1471 to 79 (fol . 102) continued the ban released the first of March 1476 .... (P. 63)
(1) Dech [I owe?] the communication of both interesting documents to the disinterested and inexhaustible help of our friends D. Manuel de Bofarull, archivist of the Crown of Aragon and D. Joseph D. Puiggarí and Luis Gaspar, municipal archivists who have drawn my first attention to the files of the
Crown of Aragon and Municipal registries, deposits of countless priceless historical treasures little known and less consulted.]
In the Registries will be found the first name of the cards in Catalonia, in Castilian form Naips, Nayps-Naipe - these much altered in the last, Nehips the most recent; but surely the primitive form in our land, Naib, was the original, in which form it was introduced in Italy (from Catalonia?) Naibi, plural of Naib. A proof of this is in the Inventory of D. Pere de Queralt, 3 November 1408 (1) in which we find contained "i joch di naibs grans" for which there is no doubt that in Catalonia they were known by the name of Naib, a name retained for a long time, of which it is necessary to keep in mind for what will be said below. (p. 65-66).
(1) Jochs Floras of Barcelona 1885. "Traditions of Catalonia, by Joan Segura," p. 210. Said Naib being the primitive original Arabic or Hebrew word, referring to what others say, not because it was convenient but exactly because “in that many doubted about it as we shall see below. (P. 65.)
In the Dictionary of Rhymes of Jacme March of 1371, the word Naip is found. It is found also more than once in the "Book of women," by Jaume Roig, of little difference in the same period. (P. 65).]
It is precisely the last lines, added here almost by accident, that we will have to discuss again later.
4. Trevor Denning
The studies on playing cards of the Iberian Peninsula have been conducted almost exclusively by local scholars; An exception is the considerable presence among the authors of an Englishman,Trevor Denning (Birmingham 1923-2009); notices of his core activities are even found in Wikipedia, especially as an artist and professor of fine arts in its Birmingham 3. I personally, however, have known him as Editor of The Playing-Card
and remember with gratitude his encouragement and also some linguistic revision of my first articles on the subject. In his study activities in the old sector of the playing cards he also had important awards, like the Modiano Prize in 1993. His interest in the field is concentrated most on Spanish cards,
and his book on the subject is still known as a classic. 4
Of course, the first notices of Catalan origin do not escape him and are doscissed briefly in the book:
The word naip appears in a Catalan rhyme dictionary of 1371, the Llibre de Concordances, compiled by the poet Jaume March. The presence of the word in such a dictionary denotes that it was already in familiar use in that region. The Llibre de Concordances or Diccionari de Rims exists in three manuscripts – one in the Biblioteca Colombina in Seville, another in the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona and the third in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. It was written “at the request of the most high and powerful Lord Pedro by the grace of God King of Aragón and completed in the year MCCCLXXJ” (the reference is to Peter IV of Aragón and III of Catalonia). A printed edition, edited by A. Griera, appeared in Barcelona in 1921 and is one of a series of philological studies published for the Institute of the Catalan Language. Under the words ending -ip we find "Macip, felip, garip, xorip, naip, estip, dip." In Catalan, no meaning other than ‘playing-card’ has ever been attributed to the word. (p. 14.)
Denning also calls to mind the most favorable position of the Iberian Peninsula for any transfer from the Islamic world to Europe, including cards.
If plausible Saracen connections are needed, however, Spanish references appear more pertinent in that they single out types of cards rather than types of peddler. Durán-Sanpere reports that from 1380 onwards Spanish testimonies are frequent and refer to an assortment of packs – pequeñas, grandes, finas, doradas, damasquinas, moríscas, or franceses. (3) Madurell quotes descriptive notes from the fifteenth century referring to, for example,”... I joch de naips domasquins ...” and “... X jochs de naips moreschs”. (4) He seems to interpret “naips domasquins” as a reference to their quality but if the adjective is taken to literally mean ‘of Damascus’ we are precisely at the heart of the Mamluk empire from where, we now know, came the distinctive Islamic cards of which examples still survive. In those, it is easy also to see similarities to Italian cards, reminding us that we are still unclear about the precise stages by which they became transformed into the post-Islamic forms we now know. (p.15.)
(3) Augustin Durán-Sanpere, Grabados Populares Españoles (Barcelona, 1971), p. 119.
(4) José Maria Madurell Marimón, Notas Documentales de Naiperso Barceloneses (Instituto Municipal de Historia ; Barcelona, 1961), p. 59.
4. T. Denning, Spanish Playing Cards
, England, 1980.
Some additional information ise presented of particular importance, still in the Catalan environment, concerning the period after 1377, which a priori for our study is of less interest.
Several other fourteenth-century Catalan references to playing-cards may be mentioned at this point. An inventory of 1380 belonging to a Barcelona shopkeeper, Nicolás Sermona, includes unum ludum de nayps. (5) In the same year in Perpignan, one Rodrigo Borges is listed under the dual title of pintor y naipero (painter and playing-card maker). (6) In December 1382 in Barcelona, the Register of Ordinances includes a directive banning the use of dice, backgammon and playing-cards in the Corn Exchange. (7) On 23 June 1384 in Turia (Valencia), the Town Council (Consejo General de la Ciudad de Turia) put a prohibition on “un novell joch apellat dels naips” (a new game called playing-cards).(8) Finally, in 1401, the inventory of the Barcelona shopkeeper Miguel Ca-Pila included “un joch de nayps grans pintats e daurats, tots ab cubertes negres” (a pack of large cards painted and gilded, all in black wrappers). (9) (p. 16)
(5) Barcelona: Archivio Histórico de Protocolos de Barcelona: Berenguer Armengol, leg. 5, man. años 1380-1392, f. 5 v° (26 octubre 1380).
(6) Joseph Gudiol y Conill, La Pintura Mig-Eval Catalana, II. Els Trescentistes, 2a part. Barcelona, p. 133.
(7) Barcelona: Archivio Histórico de la Ciudad de Barcelona : Registro Especial de Ordinanzas, in Manuel Llano Gorostiza, Naipes Españoles (Vitoria-Gasteiz: Rdiciones Induban, 1975), p. 201.
(8) José Sanchis Sivera, ‘Vida Intima de los Valencianos en la Época Foral’, Anales de Cultura Valenciana 14-21 (1935), p. 43.
(9) José Brunet y Bellet, Lo joch de Naibs, Naips o Cartes (Barcelona, 1886), p. 73.
5. La ciudad de Turia
This investigation does not usually dwell on notices after the year 1377, which represents a sort of watershed between completely secure testimonies and those tht are usually questionable. However the Turia document of June 1384 seemed of so great an importance that it cannot be overlooked. Often I do not hesitate to discuss these topics using the first person, but in this case I also allow myself to get down to of a personal report, practially at the level of a story.
The report begins in my imagination. I had never heard of Turia, but I knew that Valencia is both the name of a great
city of the Iberian coast and the name of the region of which the city is the capital. So I figured right away that Turia was a small inland city, and I was curious to see how far it was from the capital; not only in terms of kilometers, but also of a likely location in a mountainous inland area, with more difficult access and transit. That way one could quite easily explain the delay in the initial diffusion of card games, the better the more distant and higher had been the location of the town.
I then set about satisfying my curiosity with our powerful means of Google-Maps and Wikipedia. In the first case one finds an uninhabited location on top of a mountain, probably meaning to indicate the area of the source of the Rio Turia, the river crossing Valencia before emptying into the sea. A second indication for Turia is located in Valencia. Thus one would conclude that the city of Turia was originally a small town near the capital that was incorporated over the centuries by the expansion of Valencia. Even this hypothesis is not satisfying, because the indication of Google-Maps is not for a city district but for the name of a subway station. The only other clue, but not for an ancient city, is the Jardí del Turia (Turia Gardens) 5 created on the ancient bed of the river crossing the city, after the river itself was diverted, information, again with reference to the Rio Turia and not to a city.
At this point I could not help but disturb a Valencian historian who has written important works on the history of chess and checkers, José A. Garzón, taking advantage of our past correspondence and mutual esteem. I transcribe the following question and answer, the same day thanks to electronics and the courtesy of my interlocutor.
I am interested in understanding where and how this city was in the Valencia region. On the Internet I find Turia only as a metro station in central Valencia, or as the Rio that runs through the city. (Otherwise a Ciudad de Turia I find in Greece ....) I can imagine that at the end of the fourteenth century it was a small city that was then incorporated into the great expansion of the city of Valencia, losing even the name - but usually in these cases the name
5 http://www.guidavalencia.com/turismo-cu ... a-valencia
of the old city is the neighborhood, whereas here there is no trace. 6
La ciudad (del) Turia es la misma Valencia. Valencia se fundó junto al río Turia, en el meandro del mismo, utilizando el río como límite o frontera natural. Como consecuencia de la riada de 1957 surgió la necesidad de desviar el río, y actualmente en el antiguo cauce hay zonas verdes, deportivas, culturales, etc. 7
[The city (of) Turia is the same as Valencia. Valencia was founded on the Turia River, on a bend in the river, using the river as a natural boundary or border. As a result of the flood of 1957 it was necessary to divert the river, and now in the old river bed there are areas of greenery, sports, culture, etc. 7]
In short, the mysterious Ciudad de Turia was not at all in the mountains, where I had searched in vain, but it was right by the sea and was none other than the all-important city and port of Valencia. With this "small" change, the historical significance of the date 1384 is practically revolutionized, and we will have to discuss it again later.
6. Josep Sanchis Sivera
Josep Sanchis Sivera (Valencia, 1867-1937) was a canon and Valencian historian. He was director of the Center of Valenciana Culture from 1927 to his death. Information about his life is at his name in both the Spanish and Catalan editions of Wikipedia ,.
Estudió en el Seminario Metropolitano de Valencia, ordenándose sacerdote en 1890. Pasó a ocupar servicios de redactor del Boletín Oficial Eclesiástico de la Diócesis Valentina, en la Secretaría de Palacio Arzobispal, mientras empezaba a hacer incursiones periodísticas en el semanario Semana Católica. Fue nombrado muy pronto canónigo de la Catedral de Segorbe, e inmediatamente pasó con esta misma responsabilidad a la Catedral de Valencia. conoció el ar-chivero y canónigo de la Sede y eminente historiador Roque Chabàs Llorens, que lo guio en su formación, mayoritariamente autodicata, inculcándole el re-speto por el método científico y en el llevar trabajo a los archivos. ... Como historiador se declaraba discípulo del positivista Chabàs, interesándose sobre todo por el periodo medieval, a partir de los archivos religiosos y civiles de la ciudad de Valencia y otros visitados con ocasión de sus numerosos viajes por España y Europa, dejando una extensa obra.
Fue catedrático de historia del arte de la Universidad Pontificia Valentina y dedicó una parte significativa de sus trabajos a esta disciplina, ... También son destacables sus estudios sobre la familia Borja, sobre arte medieval valen-cia y sobre historia de la vida cotidiana, de la cual puede ser considerado un pionero con su volumen dedicado a la Vida íntima de los valencianos durante
6 F. Pratesi, email 16.06.2016.
7 J. A. Garzón, email 16.06.2016
la época foral (1932-35). [/i] 8.
[He studied at the Metropolitan Seminary of Valencia, ordained a priest in 1890. He went on to serve as editor of the Official Ecclesiastical Diocese Bulletin of the Valentina Diocese, in the Secretariat of Archbishopal Palace, while beginning to make periodic inroads into the Catholic Weekly. He was soon appointed canon of the Cathedral of Segorbe, and immediately proceeded to take on the same responsibility at the Cathedral of Valencia. He knew the archivist and canon of the see and eminent historian Roque Chabas Llorens, who guided him in his training, mostly self-taught, inculcating respect for scientific method in the work undertaken with the archives. ... As a historian he declared himself a disciple of the positivist Chabas, interested mainly in the medieval period, from religious and civic archives of the city of Valencia and others he visited during his many travels in Spain and Europe, leaving an extensive body of work.
He was a professor of art history at the Pontificia Valentina University and devoted a significant part of his works to this discipline, ... Also noteworthy are his studies of the Borja family, on medieval art of Valencia and on the history of ordinary life, in which e can be considered a pioneer, with his volume dedicated to the intimate life of Valencians during
the leasehold period (1932-1935). 8]
In short, a historian with a deep interest in religious art, but also in minor aspects of local history, just the ones that interest us. What is significant is his habit of providing serious documentation in the archives for a difficult sector of medieval history. The contribution of our interest is that of more of the quotation by Denning, and the book Vida intima is nowhere to be found in Italy. In truth, I had not read Wikipedia and I had not realized that one had to look for a book printed in 1935 by Imprenta Hijo de F. Vives Mora 9 (which I see reprinted in 1993), but I thought the quote was referring to an article in a journal and that's what I set out to look for. To look for a copy of the Valencian journal in Italian libraries was both easy and difficult: On OPAC for the years of interest the journal is present only in the Libary of the National Virgilian Academy in Mantua. Of course I immediately made use of today's powerful electronic means to find the article in question. The thing was not easy. Already addresses in the OPAC have proved obsolete and an initial question bounced back after a short time.
The next expedition for the right address encountered a different difficulty. The librarian of Mantua, Ines Mazzola, had the great courtesy to immediately send the requested article, which, however, concerned that the culinary habits of the Valencians in the Middle Ages. The fact is that the Denning citation read as a reference to an article of a journal was rather ambiguous; then I considered that there were mistakes and, with the help of databases available online, "decided" that the reference had to be read differently, as No. 14, 1932, pp. 229-243. And so the error was made by me.
During the same day I was able to explain what I was looking for and receive all that was necessary. Of course, the credit goes to the speed of today's electronic media, but also to the courtesy of Ines Mazzola, who has already exceeded the already high average typical of the support available from the staff of libraries and archives. The librarian told me that 1) of articles with that
9 J. Sanchis y Sivera, Vida i´ntima de los valencianos en la e´poca foral: publicados en los anales del centro de cultura valenciana numeros 14 al 21.
title of Vida intima
in the journal there was not one, as I thought, but eight, distributed in different years; 2) she sent me a copy of one that contained 43 pages (results relating to funeral customs then; 3) she also sent me a copy of an article on games, but where on page 43 and above there was no reference to the Ciudad de Turia 10. In practice she was doing the research that I was supposed to do! In conclusion, the article you are looking in the aforementioned journal now has a certain signature 11.
The article begins with series title, author, title and content of the chapter, as follows.
Vida íntima de los valencianos en la época foral
JOSÉ SANCIS SIVERA
JUEGOS Y DEPORTES
Entusiasmo por los juegos y deportes. – Juegos mas conocidos. – El vicio del juego de naipes. – Juegos prohibidos. – El juego de dados. – Casas de juego y su prohibicion. – El ajedrez. – Ordenacion de Femando el Católíco – El juego de pelota. – Abusos que se introdujeron. – Castigos a los jugadores que ocasionaban escandalos. – Disposiciones de los jurados.
[Intimate life of Valencians of the leasehold period
JOSEPH SANCIS SIVERA
GAMES AND SPORTS
Enthusiasm for games and sports. - Best known games. - The vice of the game of cards - Prohibited games. - The game of dice. – Gaming houses and their prohibition. - Chess. - Ordination of Ferdinand the Catholic - The game of ball. – Abuses tjat were introduced. - Punishments to players that caused scandals. - Provisions for jurors.
The part of our specific interest is very short, and the data to be confirmed is relegated to a footnote, as copied below.
Los juegos de naipes se introdujeron en Valencia en la segunda mitad del siglo XIV (1), y aunque parece que sólo lo jugaban los hombres, se extendió muy pronto a las mujeres, llegando a constituir un vicio, lo que motivó una seria prohibición de parte de las autoridades, que no podían consentir lo que tanto contribuía a la relajación de las costumbres, A principios del siglo XV, la pasión por el juego había llegado a un estado vergonzoso, pues, los juegos más inocentes habían degenerado en semillero de riñas, blasfemias y otros excesos. Para acabar con tales licencias y vicios, trató la Ciudad de evitarlos, y al efecto dictó una providencia prohibiendo bajo pena de veinte sueldos, que en garitos, casas particulares u otros lugares  se jugase a joch de grescha, de jaldeta, de naips, a la badalassa, ni a la riffa, ni atres bons jochs, ni a les velles, ni a cinch que no val. No sabemos qué clase de juegos eran éstos, pero es muy posible que fueran de azar por medio de dados, exceptuando el de naipes y algún otro. En 1412 volvió la Ciudad a dictar disposiciones contra el juego y las malas costumbres, que hizo públicas por medio de pregón, lo que
10 Segreteria Accademia nazionale virgiliana, email, 17.06.2016.
11 Año VI, Julio-Septiembre de 1933, Núm. 17. pp. 109-120.
prueba que las penas pecuniarias hacían poca mella en el ánimo de los jugadores. (p. 111)
(1) Entre los juegos prohibidos en el Conceil general de 23 de junio de 1384 figura un novell joch apellat dels naips (Manual de Concells, tomo XVIII, fol. 41).
[Card games were introduced in Valencia in the second half of the fourteenth century (1), and although it seems that only men played, they soon spread to women; taking it to constitute a vice led to a serious prohibition by the authorities, who could not consent to such a contributed to the relaxation of traditions. By the early fifteenth century, the passion for the game had come to a shameful state, then, the most innocent games had degenerated into a hotbed of bickering , blasphemies and other excesses. To end such license and vice, the city sought to remove them, and to that effect issued an order prohibiting under penalty of twenty sueldos, in gambling houses, private homes or other places  se jugase a joch de grescha, de jaldeta, de naips, a la badalassa, ni a la riffa, ni atres bons jochs, ni a les velles, ni a cinch que no val. We do not know what kind of games these were, but it is very possible that they were gambling by dice, except of cards and some others. In 1412 the City returned to enact measures against gambling and bad habits, made public by proclamation, which
proves that financial penalties made little impression on the minds of players. (P. 111)
(1) Among the prohibited games in the general Conceil of June 23, 1384, is included un novell joch apellat dels naips (Manual de Concells, Volume XVIII, fol. 41).
There are several points that remain to be explored. One should check whether the expression of Ciudad de Turia, which does not appear in this text, is present in the volume of 1935 that collects these items, possibly in a form revised by the author. It would also be of interest to be able to recognize a card game in addition to naips in one of the other names indicated: For a card game that date would have a much more important significance than for games of dice, already known for centuries. The point about the novell joch is important, if it is discussed again in a following section.
7. Joan Coromines i Vigneaux
After authors who have been occupied more or less on the basis of archival research precisely on playing cards, I have to add an author from the linguistic area, that here is interested exclusively in the word naipe present in the third volume of his most complete and popular vocabulary 12. Indeed , what interests us it not only the word indicted as a whole,, which contains sometimes questionable statements, also based on an overestimation of the documentary value of Brunet y Bellet. So I just limited myself to copying first the essential biographical data from Wikipedia, and then some periods of the aforementioned item that will be useful for the discussion
Joan Coromines i Vigneaux (Barcellona, 21 marzo 1905 – Pineda de Mar, 2 gennaio 1997) è stato un filologo spagnolo, autore del dizionario Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico (Dizionario critico etimologico castigliano e ispanico) che diede un forte contributo allo studio del catalano, del castigliano e di altre lingue romanze. Catalanista, repubblicano dichiarato e antifranchista, dopo la guerra civile spagnola andò in esilio in diversi paesi fino ad ottenere la cattedra dell’università di Chicago nel 1946 13.
[Joan Coromines i Vigneaux (Barcelona, 21 March 1905 - Pineda de Mar, January 2, 1997) was a Spanish philologist, author of the dictionary Diccionario crítico etymological castellano y hispánico (critical etymological Spanish and Hispanic dictionary) who gave a great contribution to the study of Catalan, Castilian and the other Romance languages. A Catalanista, called Republican and anti-Franco, after the Spanish Civil War she went into exile in various countries until obtaining a professorship at the University of Chicago in 1946 13.
12 J. Corominas, Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico
, Vol. 4, Madrid 1981, pp. 207-211.
The first parts selected from the Diccionario are of a general characer, as in the following two pieces, the first corresponding to the start of the word, the second taken from a note.
NAIPE, voz común al castellano con el portugués, y con el catalán, lengua de Oc e italiano antiguos (naïps, nàibi), de origen incierto; las varias etimologías arábigas que se han propuesto no satisfacen. 1.a doc.: h. 1400, glos. del Escorial.
Quizá no sea posible resolver este problema etimológico hasta que los eruditos se pongan de acuerdo sobre el origen del juego de naipes; en todo caso seria utilisimo para el lingüista poder partir de esta premisa. Por desgracia reina en este punto una profunda oscuridad. La China, la India, el mundo árabe, Italia, España, se han disputado el dudoso honor de esta invención, pero los más enterados y críticos vacilan; en el siglo presente se cree que no corresponde a Francia, como se había supuesto. Los indicios referentes a la China y a la India son dudosos, porque en gran parte se basan en teorías discutibles que identifican el primitivo juego de cartas, sea con el ajedrez, o con la adivinación cartomántica, o con juegos en que se empleaba papel moneda. (p. 207)
En Alemania el juego de naipes se menciona por primera vez en 1377, en Francia en 1392. De ahí la afirmación de que en los principales paises de Europa aparece casi simultáneamente. De todos modos téngase en cuenta que estas menciones se refieren a casas reales o personajes importantes; el nivel es mucho más popular en Italia y en Castilla, y sobre todo, al menos en los SS. XIV-XV, en Cataluña. (p. 210)
[NAIPE, word common to Castilian with the Portuguese, and Catalan, Occitan and old Italian (naips, naibi), of uncertain origin; various Arabic etymologies that have been proposed do not satisfy. 1st doc.: c. 1400, Glos. Escorial.
It may not be possible to resolve this problem until etymological scholars agree on the origin of playing cards; in any case it would be very useful for the linguist to be able to work from this premise. Unfortunately at this point it lies in deep darkness. China, India, the Arab world, Italy, Spain, have contended for the dubious honor of this invention, but the more aware and critical hesitate; in this century it is believed that not from France, as had been alleged. Indications concerning China and India are doubtful, because largely based on questionable theories that identify the origin of the game of cards, either with chess, or cartomantic divination, or games that used paper money. (p. 207)
In Germany the game of cards is first mentioned in 1377, in France in 1392. Hence the assertion that it appears in the major countries of Europe almost simultaneously. In all cases it must be noted that these mentions are refered to royal houses or important people; the level is much more popular in Italy and Castille, and above all, at least in the 14th-15th century, in Catalonia. (p. 210)
One can be in agreement, but to find an original contribution more useful for our purposes, we should take in particular and, above all, turn precisely to Catalonia.
En Cataluña hallamos noticias muy numerosas desde fines del S. XIV (1380, 1378-99), s.s consta allí la prohibición repetida desde 1391, y la fabricación de naipes catalanes es aludida repetidamente en el periodo 1442-1468, y mucho más tarde, aun en la América española. De Cataluña viene desde luego la mención más antigua entre las plenamente confirmadas (además de otras anteriores menos seguras) (9) la voz naip sale entre las rimas en ip en el Libro de Rimas de Jaume Marc, compuesto en 1371(10). Ahora bien: esta rima tiene verdadero interés por cuanto nos revela la antigua pronunciación naip. Que ésta seria general lo comprueba la versificación de Jaume Roig (1460): «darrerament, / per ensajar / de bandejar / los seus guarips, / joch de nayps / de nit jugávem (v. 3010), la del Canç. Satiric Valenciá de fines de este siglo (11) y la repetida grafía nahip (1382, etc.) citada por Brunet (12)... (p. 208)
(9) [commenta la gresca secondo Brunet]
(10) Le sigue de muy cerca (y aun acaso le precede) el Llibre de les Dones de F. Eiximenis (cap. 54 A f°5 41 v°b) «les dones,.. / o bé juguen als naïps». Es de los trozos en los cuales Eiximenis prosificó un poema narrativo, didáctico. Según el texto que restituyo en mi libro Entre dos llenguatges, vol. I, p. 171, el vocablo está en un octosilabo asonando en í. Si el poema era, como sospecho, del propio Eiximenis, pudo ser algo posterior a dicho año, o algo anterior si lo escribió de joven; y no se excluye que sea de un poeta anterior, de la primera mitad del siglo. (p. 210)
(11) «Jugant a nahips / ...cridant com adips / ...», p. 78. (p. 210)
[In Catalonia we find numerous notices from the late fourteenth century (1380, 1378-1399), s.s [?] there was repeated ban since 1391, and the manufacture of Catalan cards is repeatedly alluded in the period from 1442 to 1468, and much later, even in Spanish America. Catalonia certainly has the earliest mention among those fully confirmed (in addition to other previous ones less secure) (9) the word naip appears among the -ip rhymes in the Book of Rhymes of Jaume March, composed in 1371 (10). Now indeed this rhyme holds real interest in that it reveals the ancient pronunciation of naip. Generally serving as verification is the versification of Jaume Roig (1460): «darrerament, / per ensajar / de bandejar / los seus guarips, / joch de nayps / de nit jugávem (v. 3010), that of Canç. Satiric Valencian [Satiric Valencian Songs?] of the end of this century (11) and the repeated spelling nahip (1382, etc.) cited by Brunet (12)... (p. 208)]
(9) [comment on gresca according to Brunet]
(10) is followed very closely by (and perhaps even preceding) Llibre de les Dones of F. Eiximenis (chap. 54 A v f ° May 41 ° b) "les dones .. / o bé juguen als naips." It is in one of the pieces in which Eiximenis turned into prose a narrative, didactic poem. According to the text I restore in my book Between two Languages, vol. I, p. 171, the word is in an assonating octosyllable in i. If the poem was, as I suspect, by Eiximenis himself, it could be somewhat later than that year, or earlier if it was written in his youth; and it is not excluded that it is from an earlier poet of the first half of the century. (p. 210)
(11) 'Jugant a nahips / ... cridant com adips / ...', p. 78. (p. 210)
We must re-discuss these notices in the context of others already presented. I mention only the resumption of the discussion on the correct way of writing naip or naib, which already had interested Brunet y Bellet, and that here extends to discussing the different positions of the accent of the word, on the a or the i. For discussions on these names an Iberian ear seems necessary, just think the same book title by Brunet y Bellet, and the surname of the author met last, who personally preferred to write it Coromines, while his brother maintained Corominas.)
8. Félix Alfaro Fournier and Manuel Llano Gorostiza
We have arrived at the last Iberian writers that I have taken into account. They are here last only because I consulted them last; if I had read them before the others I would have saved a considerable part of the effort, despite the fact that you can not just say that they discussed our question at length..
Félix Alfaro Fournier (Vitoria 1895-1989, Fig. 3) was the grandson of Heraclio Fournier, founder of the famous factory of playing cards. Succeeding his grandfather in the management of the company in 1916, Félix Alfaro Fournier gave a the beginning to the activity of playing card collecting, activities that in the course of his long life led him to create a rich collection that still constitute the main core in Vitoria of the museum of playing cards, the Museo Fournier de Naipes de Álava (Arabako Fournier Karta Museoa), one of the largest in the world in this field.
After editing a first catalog of the collection 14, Fournier republished a hardcover and large format edition, much richer in reproductions of cards and descriptions 15 (then followed by a second volume of additions in 1988). The title should be read in the sense of a history of playing cards presented by the cards themselves. In fact, the text with the general historical treatment is reduced to a short introduction. Right at the beginning, when the first notices on playing cards in Spain are discussed, we find what interests us, and it does not take much effort to copy it in full.
Figure 3 – Bust of Félix Alfaro Fournier.
In Spain, the oldest document dates from the Municipal Archives of Barcelona of 1378. (1)
(1) In the «Diccionario de la Rima» by Jaume March of 1371, according to J. Brunet, the word Naip is found.
(From Wikimedia Commons.)
14 F. A. Fournier (ed.), Museo de Naipes
. Vitoria 1972.
15 F. A. Fournier, Playing cards: general history from their creation to the present day
: Fournier Museum. Vitoria 1982.
In what follows, the author will indicate other subsequent testimonies. On the passage of our interest in the book there are no comments, but the manner in which it the note is included speaks for itself. More than a note, it appears as a parenthesis, as if to say: if one insists on digging through the uncertain information, there would have to be this addition. In short, reading between the lines more information is received than is written.
The second author is a Basque writer who was culturally formed in the universities of Valladolid and Madrid 16. A prolific writer, he has devoted his attention to a broad set of local features, from art to gastronomy, and wine in particular. On playing cards he has written a whole book, with reference to Spain 17. We as usual are only interested in the part dedicated to the early days of the initial appearance of playing cards in Spain. Unlike other authors, Llano Gorostiza here presents many legendary stories about old cards and also for Spain reminds us of some stories that are wanted to associate with the birth of playing cards or to Seville or Madrid. However, he makes it clear not to give credence to any of these legendary versions of the facts and clearly separates these from the next part: “Una cronologia rigurosa de barajas y tarots anteriores a 1500 unicamente podria desarrollarse a travès de la siguentes fechas.” [A rigorous chronology of cards and tarots before 1500 could only be developed from the following dates]. (p.17).
The "rigorous chronology" occupies pages 19-22 and begins with Father Johannes 1377, followed by 1379 Viterbo and Brabant, and 1380 Barcelona
. We are more interested in what he says about Valencia.
1384 El Consejo General de la Ciudad de Valencia prohibe con fecha 23 de junio “un novell joch apellat del naips”, lo cual nos induce a pensare en reciente implantación de los naipes, simultánea a la de Barcelona. (p. 20.)
[1384 The General Council of the City of Valencia prohibits with a date of June 23 a "joch novell apellat the NAIPS", which leads us to think of a recent introduction of the cards, simultaneously in Barcelona. (p. 20.]
Too bad I found this notice, so formulated and commented on, last; if I had found it first, and if I considered it worthy of faith, I would have saved efforts hard for me and disturbances to others. If I happen again in the future to return to the subject, I will try to do so in an impersonal way, better articulated, and also by consulting more recent studies and some mentioned that so far I have not been able to read (like those of Durán-Sanpere and Madurell Marimón).
17 M. Llano Gorostiza, Naipes españoles
. Vitoria 1975.
9. Discusson of the documents that follow 1377
I should start the discussion with the 1371 rhyming dictionary, once reasonably skipping the previous testimonies linked to the game of gresca. However, it seems more logical to start with a date out of range, the 1384. I recognize that it may seem strange and unjustified, but you will find some justification after the fact.
Denning had presented us with the “novell joch” that appeared in Turia (Valencia) and shortly thereafter he added that naibi had appeared in order of time in various cities and last quoted at 1384 corrersponding to "provincial Valencia", in short, a small town in the countryside, far away from the capital - so I'd taken it. But now we must correct the spelling of Turia (= Valencia!) And "provincial Valencia" to "Valencia city-center".
In my opinion, this is a kind of Copernican revolution. 1384 would not in itself be very important, so much so that is located beyond the range of the usual searches in this investigation. The revolution is to move from a country town or the mountains to the great city of Valencia. The port of Valencia was very active. The population had been decimated by the Black Death in the middle of the century, but it was again increased significantly due to the immigration of new inhabitants of diverse backgrounds and religions, especially Catalans but also Jews and Muslims of other backgrounds. In short, it was a big, cosmopolitan city, open to international trade and cultural exchanges.
I would like to digress a bit further out of place. From Florence, the city that has interested me most from birth, Valencia was one of the three Aragonese ports with which it had more trade, with Barcelona
and Mallorca. Florentine merchants, entrepreneurs and bankers had permanent offices in those cities with permanent staff; trade contacts were very frequent and considerable. Then, if the game of naibi in Florence noviter inolevit
in 1377, that explains how the evil becomes rather a novell joch
in Valencia only in 1384. It should explain this fact with a direction opposite to that assumed: with cards that arrive in Valencia from Florence, and not vice-versa. I apologize for the Florentine parentheses and proceed immediately to Catalonia, closer and with closer links.
Before arriving, going backward, to the dictionary of rhymes, the testimonies from the notaries and the legal systems of Barcelona
must be considered. The relevant dates,starting in 1378-1380, are varied and rather early. The seriousness of the documentation appears to me indisputable. The problem arises only in relation with Valencia: if a game was regulated several times in Barcelona
in those years, is it possible that it was still a novell joch
in Valencia in 1384? In my opinion, the answer is affirmative, after all, because novell does not necessarily correspond to a game arriving just then; even if it had arrived in the city a few years previously it could still be regarded as new ... enough. One can agree with of Llano Gorostiza as to the limit, when she speaks of “una reciente implantación de los naipes, simultánea a la de Barcelona
” [recent implantation of cards, simultaneous with that of Barcelona
In short, the cards are first documented in laws of Barcelona
and only a few years later in Valencia recorded in 1384 as a newly introduced game. Not something too strange, after all, even if Valencia we would expect something earlier; however, many more oddities are encountered considering the previous years, and compared to 1384, it appears far too distant.
10. Discussion of the documents before 1377.
A very strange thing is met with the word naip
in the 1371 rhyming dictionary. No other documents soold are known in Europe for playing cards; but who can guarantee that playing cards are even here? I understand the assertion that the word naip in Catalan was not applied to other objects or personages and thus, if it is found, corresponds to finding the cards. But until then, it was not associated even to cards - as a first occurrence for any meaning, if I suggest that in this case ir was extraordinarily referred to the lieutenant of an army or an Islamic governorate, it will not be easy to prove with absolute certainty that I am wrong. In this regard we can also remember the opinion of Rosenfeld, who reads naip
as a deformation of the poetic French naif
or legitimate 18.
In this specific case, the testimony is different from the usual, also
in regard to its control. Personally, and in a manner contrary to all my habits, I do not feel here the usefulness of a comparison of the three preserved manuscripts. I can assign a priori a very high probability that the transcript is correct, say 95%. However, it is not securely about playing cards, and thus, again in my opinion, the probability that they are not is thus high, say 54%. (I chose the two numbers for no reason other than that the overall probability is in any case higher than 50%, even if only slightly.)
The control can be done in a different way, more indicative. The historians who submitted the previous report have often accompanied it with similar others. It then becomes necessary to submit to a thorough examination also those "accessory" documents, in order to verify its reliability. The fact that the notice of the Dictionary of Rhymes
cannot be a totally isolated attestation is very important, and precisely this circumstance may also serve to convince the most skeptical.
Starting with our analysis by the notices of Brunet y Bellet, it is rather a support to the contrary, which would favor instead distrust of these notices. The Catalan author told us that the citation of Juame March’s Dictionary of Rhymes
was supported by other similar ones present more than once in a famous work of Juame Roig, of about the same date. A quote from Juame Roig can also be read above, in a statement from the Diccionario
. Unlike that of 1371, which could be in doubt, this is certainly related to playing cards; it is a pity, however that his dates, indicated also by Corominas, is of 1440. It will also, if desired, be about the same date of 1371, but the corresponding time difference is too great to make the notices useful for our purposes in this investigation. Jaume Roig, a doctor and famous writer, was born in Valencia at the beginning of the fifteenth century and died in 1478; brief biographical information on him in multiple languages is also found on the site of Catalan writers 19.
With this, the first Jaume has lost the support of the second Jaume and would remain alone and isolated if Corominas had not come to his aid, which introduces a third character on stage, Francesc Eiximenis (Gerona 1330 - Perpignan 1409), indeed with the right dates, so that his activity is attractive for us. Again the author's level is above average: a Franciscan master of theology, enjoyed by monarchs and rulers, who wrote numerous works,
19 http://www.escriptors.cat/autors/roigj/ ... d_sec=4243
many of which had a wide international circulation 20.
Corominas lets us know that the testimony on playing cards that we owe to this "new" author may be slightly later than that of Jaume March, but it may be contemporary or also earlier; moreover, if the work was done by the author in his youth, it could reasonably be placed even in the mid-fourteenth century. Then for sure one would have a real European record, if not in the world. My capacity for critical analysis comes to an end; it is not easy to control notices and for me I can safely stay here. I am glad to have left a few probabilities in addition to fifty-fifty in favor of Juan March, but in my mind the novell joch
of 1384 in Valencia remains indelible, so much will depend on ... Francesc Eiximenis.
11. Mists of the distant past
In the preceding sections we have gone further back in time than in any other discussion on playing cards in Europe. This primacy inevitably invites us to continue, to go further back in time and possibly to switch to more or less distant regions from where the cards could arrive in Aragon, and Catalonia in particular. In front of our investigation we have now opened different paths, but there is one feature that they all have in common: they are covered with a thick fog, which makes the continuation of the journey uncertain. A first junction that we encounter concerns precisely the places to study. On the one hand there is, it would say of course as known today, the Islamic world, but there is also a path that does not stray from Catalonia.
There are historians who, in part also following the notices and opinions of Brunet y Bellet, believe that playing cards were born in Catalonia. I believe that the relatively most avid relatively recent supporter of a reconstruction of this kind has been Pavle Bidev (1912-1988), a Serbian-Macedonian chess fan and historian Rather than playing cards, Bidev has long studied the history of chess and has written numerous books and articles; unfortunately for him, his city of Igalo was far from any grand capital. his activities would have benefited immensely from
20 http://www.franciscanos.org/enciclopedi ... imenis.htm
current means of communication; for his expertise, passion and propensity for polemic, he would assume a leading role in more than one forum for those involved in various sectors of the history of games. On playing cards, Bidev wrote mostly page upon page of polemics to refute the hypothesis of Rosenfeld, but here his positions there only serve to anchor his discusson in Catalonia. His reconstruction accepts the opinion of Brunet y Bellet that gresca was also a card game, and thus in Catalonia the transformation had occurred early on of dice into special cards, dice-cards, illustrated only with the points of the dice, accommodating in a second interval in the same pack also picture cards of kings, horse or knight, and knave, with the subsequent addition of the queen. These court cards would enter the game starting from the figures associated with the moralization of chess by Jacopo da Cessole. Some of his ideas were refuted by none other than Michael Dummett 21, but later Bidev replied, essentially confirming and explaining his views in a typed article that perhaps remained unpublished (Fig. 4) 22.
So as to learn more about his opinions, I copy below a few excerpts from that article. The first excerpt puts the cards in the broader environment of magic and astrology, which Bidev has deepened significantly for decades, especially with regard to chess. Obviously his “PC” are Playing-Cards.
55 years prior of fr. John there is the evidence of the Jewish writer Kalonymos b. Kalonymos writing in Catalonia 1322 his book Eban Bochan /Proof-Stone/. His klemazpia is, in my opinion, rather an instrument of prevision than that of vision. In his time PC were not known in Spain in form of Naipes but only in their protoform of dice-game Grescha consisting only of 36 “eyes”-cards. The eyes are, of course, the black dots of dice from which paper cards evolueted 969 in China, and about or prior of 1300, in Spain. Both transformations of dice-eyes into numbered with pips PC are made by lovers of magic and astrology, not by common people, to serve as instruments of fortune-telling. It is an universal low that instruments for gambling and hazard-games are used at first in their primeval holy stadium in sacred religious and magical rites. Their use as games for recreation and gambling out of sacred rites is a much posterior phase in the origin and evolution of board- and card-games.
In support of my conjecture that Kalonymos mentions Grescha as a dice-
21 M. Dummett, The Journal of the Playing-Card Society
, Vol, VII, No. 3 (1979) 75-78.
22 P. Bidev, Did Playing cards originate from the Spanish four season dice-chess of 1283?
Igalo 1979. 22 p.
Figure 4 – Typewritten article by Pavel Bidev, p. 13.
eyes card-game for prevision of good or bad fortune, can serve Chinese dominoes. They are known as unique fortune-telling instrument among yellow nations, especially in China. Chinese dominoes have their progenitors either in dice or in Chinese dice-PC. (p. 12-13.)
The second passage, although with the same premises, enters more into the details of the formation of the deck of our playing cards.
I am deeply convinced that our PC originated among friars-lovers of astrology, and other in secret taught occult sciences. We are indebted to those “black Magicians”, may be among Dominican friars, for the invention of PC. ...The true PC /not the dice-PC-Grescha of 1303/ have not existed, in my opinion, prior to the year 1352. The 16 illuminated chess-pieces miniatures in the second French translation of Cessoliade by Dom.fr. John Ferron have possibly inspired after 1352 some of his colleagues to add to the pip-cards of Grescha the pictured chess-pieces. The number of 52 leaves of parchment upon which is written the second Ferron’s translation of Cessoliade, as they are preserved in the Royal Library at Stockholm, might have suggested the mind of the inventor of PC to transfer his ideas on the same number of 52 leaves of PC,
probably made of parchment in a time when paper fabrication was not in existence in Europe, in the true sense of the word. (p. 19.)
In conclusion, according Bidev, the connection with Asia is very distant and only in the broad field of primitive astrology, but the formation of the first playing cards was a purely European phenomenon, even Catalan. This reconstruction is not based on new documents brought to light recently, but on various noticess and views that have long been known, recomposing them to form a more complete picture.
As premised, this was a path full of mists; but many are encountered also on the other path, the one that leads to the Islamic world. One must admit the plausibility of what Denning, Corominas and others say about it we neglect even the possibility of the birth of playing cards in Catalonia, but, once you accept a provenance from the Islamic world, Barcelona
with its flourishing international trade becomes again a strong and prominent candidate for their entry into Europe. When entering this new path, we suffer many side paths from which to choose the continuation. In fact, to say the Islamic world is not sufficiently indicative: the Islamic world was ... half the world. Catalan merchant vessels link the port of Barcelona
with numerous ports in the "Islamic world", virtually the entire Mediterranean. The popular comment for the ports to choose from here would be: "You are too kind, Saint Anthony." [Translator’s note: Per Wikipedia, this expression is taken from a story in which a man asks St. Anthony’s help in mounting his horse. The saint helps, but now their joint exertions land him on the ground on the other side, where he utters the expression.]
Among the many possible origins I see two only slightly less foggy. The first is from Alexandria, but only thanks to the historians of playing cards have repeated to us on Islamic cards and their path to Europe; However, starting from Alexandria, Venice at least would have been a preferable destination. A second path would be possible from the Sultanate of Granada; nobody talks about it and I think that one reason is the Islamic prohibition of playing cards, and another that it was now reduced to a small enemy territory. I had said that we were entering into fog; to proceed further, assistance is essential, at least from scholars of commerce across the whole Mediterranean, with possible stops from Morocco to Syria and perhaps even beyond. Those who wish to embark on a trip like that could probably find some ideas in the map of Fig. 5. I cannot do other than stop here.
Figure 5 - Medieval commercial routes and itineraries
(From Wikimedia Commons.)
We have reviewed the oldest Aragonese notices on the origin of Aragonese playing cards, mainly from Barcelona
and Valencia, also reporting the views on the subject by historians and experts who have dealt with it.
An undeniable contrast stands out between the date of 1371 for the first mention of the word naip
and the sharpness of “novell joch apellats de naips
” in Valencia in 1384; fewer problems are created by the testimonies that come from municipal laws on games in Barcelona
, for more recent years. Also for Barcelona
, along with the known reference of 1371, the word was first introduced a second time by Jaume Roig that looked contemporary, but then is advanced to the fifteenth century. It needs further control from a second work, by Francesc Eiximenis, the date that appears indeterminable exactly, but close to 1371 and possibly of one or two previous decades. Along with that of the much cited 1371, it would be a rare testimony, before the confirmation of the presence of playing cards in Europe is presented as secure and with rapidly increasing frequency, starting from 1377.
If one tries to trace back in time still further, we meet opinions and poorly defined reconstructions, impossible now to check: some exclude an Islamic card origin; others consider it to be certain; in both cases, the kingdom of Aragon and Barcelona
are usually considered by historians as of interest as the deepest roots for the initial dissemination of playing cards in Europe.
Franco Pratesi – 21.06.2016