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

Franco now has another note in this series, "Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Berna". I translate from, posted Stpe. 20, 2016.

Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Berne

1. Introduction

In Switzerland, playing cards have had special developments that are still in use, together with more modern types: the local suits of acorns, bells, shields and roses. Only relatively recently was due attention paid to the history of these Swiss cards and some games in which they were used; their importance for the initials stages of the spread of card games in Europe, however, is noteworthy. It should be kept in mind that in the fourteenth century many of the European states did not exist, Germany and Switzerland in particular.

The act constitutive of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally considered to be the "eternal Federal covenant", signed at Rütli in August of 1291 to the initial three cantons others were gradually added over the centuries; Berne joined in 1353, shortly before the events of our interest. In particular, the dialects spoken in the Swiss cantons from which we have the first notice on playing cards were mainly Germanic. Thus Swiss cards have generally been considered a secondary derivation from German ones, also because two of the four suits are practically the same and in the various Germanic regions decks of more [most?] types of cards were adopted.

However, there are clues that suggest attributing to Swiss cards more importance and antiquity. In this respect there are various threads in the specialist literature and in part also in what will be used in this study. But here the history of Swiss cards remains marginal, inasmuch as what interests us especially is the first notice that has reached us: it is a law of the city of Berne in 1367, a date that is often considered the oldest known today for the presence of playing cards in Europe.

2. Document in discussion

The Berne document of 1367 at issue here is not preserved in a copy of the time, but in a copy made at the end of the century and in others

still later. The oldest copy we have is not preserved in Berne but in Vienna, in the Austrian National Library, in a codex that was only purchased in the nineteenth century, by the antiquarian bookseller Gräffer. The manuscript, of 104 format pages formed similar to our A4, has signature Cod. 12507, and title Der Stadt Bern Satzungen a. 1218-1429. By its dating it is seen to be of the first third of 15th century 1; in the description of the Tabulae codicum is among other things the following Latin indication.
Liber incipit privilege civitatis Bernensis dato a Fridrico II. imperator "aput Frankenfurt Anno gracie MCCXVIII, XVIj. Kal. Maii. Sex Idus "et decretis aliisque legibus Auctus ad annum 1429 2.
Basically the manuscript presents itself as a collection of laws, updated to the year 1429. In the descriptions and studies about it (also based on watermarks of pages) it is affirmed that the law of 1367 that can be read here would have been written in 1398 or in years very close to that. The manuscript has been recognized as the main source of the oldest Bernese legislation, transcribed and published with care and professionalism by Friedrich Emil Welti, and a reissue of his work 3 can also be accessed on the internet, including p. 114 containing the cap. 83 of our interest 4.

The indisputable fact that the original document was lost leaves open the choice between conflicting interpretations (cards already documented in 1367, or only in 1398, or in intermediate dates unknown), which could be easily resolved only with the finding of the original 1367 act and any other within this interval. Several historians of playing cards have tried to "read" the page written in 1367, as we shall see in the following review. We understand that the very challenging task of reading insightfully a nonexistent page has affected only those who were very interested in the peculiar history of the first playing cards in Europe; for Bernese chronology in general, and for historians that are concerned with it, the issue has never been put.
2 http://bilder.manuscripta-mediaevalia.d ... 06_jpg.htm
3 F. E. Welti (ed.), Stadtrecht von Bern I und II (Sammlung Schweizerischer Rechts-quellen). Aarau 1971.
4 ... html#p_114

3. Peter Kopp

The document in question was brought to the attention of historians by Peter Kopp, in a long article on the old playing cards of Switzerland, published in an academic journal 5. Kopp stressed, among other things, the professionalism of the scribe Konrad Justinger who three decades after the drafting of the document in question was officially in charge of records and storage in the same environment; in fact dealing with a professional in the field, it would not seem plausible for a copy of the document not to have been fully consistent with the original.

One of the points that indirectly played in favor of Kopp was the confirmation of the previous hypothesis, advanced especially by Sylvia Mann 6, that the typical symbols of roses and shields, which we meet only in decks of Swiss cards, could be significantly older than documented until then. So there would have been a kind of independent confirmation of the plausibility of a very old notice on playing cards from Berne.

The introduction of 1367 at Berne as the first date of a European document on playing cards was a very significant point for the related history. To anticipate by ten years the first known documentation is already a feat in itself worthy of appreciation. But even in that circumstance one is then able to recognize, as we shall see later, a quantum leap in the history of playing cards, in the methods for its study, and in the manner of publishing results. This circumstance was already pointed out at the time of the publication of the Swiss journal: it was an academic periodical, and cards were certainly not a frequent subject. In that case - in very exceptional way, and for the first time - an entire issue of the magazine was printed dedicated to playing cards, with two articles by Kopp and three by different authors, on Swiss playing cards of various periods.

That fact appeared extraordinary, so much so that a page was published by the editorial staff in which they pointed out among other things that in the repertory
5 P. F. Kopp, Zeitschrift für Schweizerische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, 30 (1973) 130-145.
6 S. Mann, Collecting Playing Cards. London 1966.

of objects on which to carry out academic research with scientific methods, it was suitable also to include the products of the minor arts. Playing cards were mentioned as a marginal field of art history, which until that time had not yet been studied with scientific methods (welches noch heute bis kaum wissenschaflich erforscht worden ist). The editorial ended the initial page thus: "Ihr besonderer Dank gilt dabei Herrn Dr. Peter F. Kopp, Anregung welchem die sie zu diesem Heft verdankt." Just to Kopp, thanking him, recognizing the merit of having spurred the publication of this special issue. The editors could not foresee the objections and replies that would follow, otherwise you can imagine that the scientific approach to the history of playing cards would have required several years more before making its entrance in a "serious" journal.

4. Hellmut Rosenfeld

The important article by Kopp did not go unnoticed; in particular, several of his statements were harshly criticized by another expert, Hellmut Rosenfeld. Thus began a debate longer and more intense than usual, especially for a "scientific" periodical.

In particular, Rosenfeld published in the Swiss journal a contrary point of view, in which among other things he suggested that even in this case it would be a matter of an interpolation of card games added by the copyist to those of dice present in the original 7; in fact various copies with an addition of this kind are known, perhaps even in the same original document where a note was inserted later in the margin or above the line. Rosenfeld in reconstructing also takes strength from parallel legislation of the canton of Saint Gallen, where in the same period the same prohibition of dice games was repeated several times (1364, 1373, 1377), without the appearance of playing cards before 1379, which is already an early date but easier to relate to other European notes in locations near and far.
7 H. Rosenfeld, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, 32 (1975) 179-180.

The controversy between Kopp and Rosenfeld ended up involving various issues, for us of other interest, but on one of those points you have to give full marks to Rosenfeld, when Kopp ventured to affirm that the testimony of the Florentine 1377 was less secure than that of Berne of 1367. The Florentine public documents in 1377 on naibi are stored in several registers, with copies completed within a few days, kept intact and in good condition. To argue that the reliability of the 1398 testimony for 1367 is higher than that of Florence in 1377 to 1377 seems to me even paradoxical.

Finally, the academic journal had to accept one last reply by Kopp, accompanied by an editorial note that the debate in that forum should be considered closed 8. On that occasion Kopp reported new opinons confirming his formulation, from the editors of the Schweizer Idiotikon, a dictionary that already in 1931 had cited the law in Berne of 1367.

Rosenfeld also had the opportunity to return to the subject 9; in his new analysis of the text of the law, reported now in full with commentary, he lingered more than before on stylistic and grammatical details that would prove that it was a later interpolation; However, it seems that these deductions are then found to be fully convincing only to the one who had proposed them.

5. Stuart Kaplan

A contribution on the subject is also due to Stuart Kaplan; actually to him must be recognized a particular merit for the subsequent history of the tarot, on which he managed to collect the largest possible amount of information and reproductions, even publishing them in an encyclopedia in several volumes. Here we are interested in only the first of those volumes 10, where the 1367 Berne document appears on p. 24 as the first of a list that occupies about ten pages, with the oldest documents on playing cards in general listed in chronological order. Here is how Kaplan presents the document in question.
8 P. F. Kopp, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, 33 (1976) 67-68.
9 H. Rosenfeld, Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1975, 353-371.
10 S. Kaplan, The Encyclopedia of Tarot. New York 1978.

Bern, 1367. In a list of legal documents dating from about the end of the fourteenth century for the canton of Bern, there is reference to a prohibition against playing cards in the year 1367. The prohibition, believed to have been written by Konrad Justinger, is presently housed at the Osterreichische Nationalbibhothek, Vienna.
Kaplan’s merit, however, goes far beyond this simple presentation: the next page of the book also presents a photographic reproduction of the manuscript page with the chapter of the Law on games, in which appear clearly a couple of later additions. The author also helps us to decipher the text, indicating that the prohibition against various games includes playing cards (kartenspil) in the fifth line from the top, while the date MCCCLXVII is reported as present in the ninth line.

All this useful presentation is not accompanied by a discussion on the validity of the document, but the very fact of its presence on this list assures us that Kaplan considered it a sure testimony; other uncertain documents in which playing cards did not yet appear are in fact listed later in the book.

6. Michael Dummett

The notice of playing cards presented in Berne in 1367 could not escape Michael Dummett, and it is very useful for us to know his authoritative opinion also in this particular case 11. In reality, that opinion is expressed in a manner unusually cryptic for this great author, habituated to analyzing the various issues with all the necessary detail; when he reports the notice, he accompanies it with the following comment.
A shift of ten years in the chronology is in itself of minor importance; but if a decade elapsed between the first known reference and the second, then perhaps playing cards had been in use in some localities for ten or even twenty years before the first reference occurred, and the many references from 1377 onwards are evidence only of their wider diffusion rather than of their invention or introduction.
11 M. Dummett, The Game of Tarot. London 1980, pp.10-11.

In essence, one would say that he suspends judgment on the merits and only takes into consideration the consequences of considering if it is a valid document. However, one of his most transparent judgments is found on the previous page, where the date for Berne is the only one to appear with "perhaps". Not only that; in fact, that "perhaps" is not applied to 1367 as would be expected, but to a year that appears evidently to proceed by analogy with that of the same laws known for two other Swiss cantons. is a list of places from which we know of fourteenth-century references to playing cards, together with the dates of the earliest known reference: Florence (1377); Paris (1377); Basle (1377); Siena (1377); Regensburg (1378); Viterbo (1379); Brabant (1379); St Gallen (1379); Berne (between 1367 and 1398, perhaps in 1379); Constance (1379); Barcelona (1380); Nuremberg (1380); Perpignan (1380); Marseilles (1381); Lille (1382); Valencia (1384); Sicily (between 1377 and 1391); Zurich (1389); Venice (1390); the County of Holland (1390); Augsburg (1391); Frankfurt-am-Main (1392); Ulm (1397); Leyden (1397).
If it were not for the "suggestion" from the other Swiss cantons, I imagine that Dummett would not have written that year even with "perhaps", and - like for Sicily - would have limited the dating to the entire interval between 1367 introduced by Kopp and the 1398 date of the copy. With this, the Solomonic judgment of Dummett is, however, as explicit as if in discussing the issue he had devoted a couple of pages.

7. Detlef Hoffmann

Very important in this discussion is the way in which the subject is then resubmitted by Detlef Hoffmann, who in his turn has been one of the historians of playing cards who has addressed all the material thoroughly and at a high academic level. Hoffmann has addressed the issue on several occasions, but we can limit ourselves to considering his contribution in 1998, which reviews the opinions of many authors who have been occupied with clarifying (or confusing) the first times

of card games in Europe, starting with the problem of reconstructing the very origin of playing cards themselves 12.

As for the plausibility of the presence of playing cards in the law in 1367 in Berne, to Hoffmann Kopp’s vision appears confirmed, and on that date based some of his reflections. An explicit reason why the acceptance of various interpretations of Rosenfeld by Dummett in his 1980 book appears outdated is that when he wrote that part of the book he did not yet know Kopp’s reply. The reply itself was evidently rather convincing for Hoffmann, seeing that he concludes that today we should say that "Berne 1367" has a high probability (Heute wird man sagen müssen, dass "Bern 1367" eine hohe Wahrscheinlichkeit hat.) Note that already Kopp had spoken of "größter Wahrscheinlichkeit" for his proposal, a probability more than likely high.

Now in the physical sciences, too, results are often found valid only in probabilistic terms; we have to get used to it. Thinking in traditional deterministic terms for the truth, one would conclude that the reply of Kopp is not shown to be decisive. The same Detlef Hoffmann in his rich and well documented book 13 still began the list of the appearance of cards in Europe with dates in 1377 and limited himself to enter then, just as an aside, "Möglicherweise gibt es sogar ein Verbot von 1367 aus Bern". [There may even be a Prohibition of 1367 in Berne.”]

According to Hoffmann and other authors, one must, however, presuppose something not yet supportable by documents: on the one hand, in order to arrive at the point of requiring prohibitions, the game must have exceeded a more or less long period of more circumscribed and less exposed practice; on the other hand, to emerge so rapidly and in the same years in many European cities located at significant distances, it must be assumed that already a mass production method of playing cards was in use, made possible by a simultaneous introduction of printmaking techniques.
12 D. Hoffmann (ed.), Schweizer Spielkarten 1: Die Anfänge im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. Schaffhausen 1998.
13 D. Hoffmann, Kultur- und Kunstgeschichte der Spielkarte. Marburg 1995, p. 48.

8. Reconstruction of the historiography

In the work cited by Hoffmann we find also a concise reconstruction of the early history of playing cards themselves, in which Swiss are included as a special case. It is worthwhile to consider this part, which fits the first Swiss cards better, with due importance to the broader historical context. In his brief review of the literature, Hofmann reminds us that the earliest authors reasoned improperly, utilizing the criteria of the nation states France, Germany, Switzerland, as if they also existed in the late Middle Ages, and as if they corresponded to really distinct nations (which at least in the case of Switzerland would still be improper).

The description begins already with the contributions of the authors of the eighteenth century, the essential data of which can be summarized as follows. Early French writers of the eighteenth century (Menestrier 1704, Daniel 1710, Bullet 1757) attributed, not surprisingly, the introduction of playing cards to France; later, however, the Abbe Rive (1780) preferred Spain. Towards the mid-nineteenth century, with Leber and Chatto (1842 and 1848), there appeared new theories that began to focus attention on the Orient, while then Merlin (1869) introduced among the candidates also Italy, with the hypothesis of a linear propagation to the regions north of the Alps. In the twentieth century, also Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber, most authoritative scholar of mid-century, in his important work published postumously 14, while bringing much new information, stuck to a spread in Europe that would occur linearly toward the north, as claimed later by Rosenfeld (1956), which, however, insisted on a previous transit from the Islamic world. All these perspectives relegated maps of Switzerland to the background, until Sylvia Mann, in the book mentioned above, advanced the hypothesis that it could be the oldest and most important, as precisely Kopp set himself to show in this issue of the Swiss journal.

A significant part of Hoffman’s more general discussion, with 1367 always in the background, concerns the formulation of the possible paths followed by playing cards in their first difficusion in
14 W. L. Schreiber, Die Spielkarten ältesten und die auf das Kartenspiel Bezug habenden Urkunden des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts. Straßburg 1937.

Europe. The lines guiding the spread of the cards would have been in a linear fashion from the southern states to the northern ones and secondly from the larger to the smaller (from Germany to Switzerland in this case). To this view was opposed one, expressed by Marianne Rumpf 15 and shared by Hoffmann, of a spread in parallel, not linear, even with possible moves in countercurrent with respect to those previously assumed.

Of particular interest is the reporting of significant changes in the history of playing cards in the seventies. For some time there were studies by amateurs and collectors who had published catalogs illustrating the cards in their possession; entire monographs,on playing cards were also published, but as a rule they contained historical reconstructions with little critical scrutiny, with legendary versions mixed with facts and verifiable documentation. In the early seventies the situation changed. On one side there was a renewal in the active participation of collectors, with valuable initiatives put in place especially by Sylvia Mann, with the foundation of an international association, the IPCS, with its official organ open to studies that improved our knowledge of the field.

In parallel, precisely the 1973 issue of the Swiss journal could really be considered as the prototype of a rising interest in playing cards also from academia and related journals. Personally, I am not in a condition to sufficiently express an impartial judgment on which of the two contributions has proved more profitable during the years following. But it seems to me that the distinction between the two sectors is not so clear after all, even if it is true that overall the history of playing cards has made leaps and bounds since then. Nor is it easy to distinguish who among Kopp and Rosenfeld was most qualified from an academic point of view; as a first approximation, one can equate them. The distinction would then turn by introducing into the environment a single person, when playing cards interested one Michael Dummett, at the maximum possible level of both the academy and of amateur authors
15 M. Rumpf, Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde, 72 (1976) 1-32.

9. further developments?

The discussion that had developed between Kopp and Rosenfeld has also affected many experts, including today. Also in forums on the net topics of the discussion are repeated, for or against. In particular Huck has recently provided Internet users extracts of studies and reproductions from the manuscripts in question.16; of particular interest is the re-proposal by Ross Caldwell and Thierry Depaulis from a previous report, when they reported the article of a Swiss scholar 17, stressing the fact that the date of 1367 was marked with a question mark. The reaction of the two leading experts was: "So the question remains open".

In fact the article mentioned gives a brief review of the history of various popular games in Switzerland over the centuries, and card games in truth appear with a question mark for the starting date of 1367. No specific reason was given to explain why that question mark and thus it can be assumed that it is only in view of the present discussion about it in the literature (which has also been summarized here). I also have been able to get the news directly from the author of the article, who confirmed that the question mark was used just as a precaution, since the written text is later, that Hoffmann did not give a certainty, and that in another manuscript containing the chapter with playing cards the date was not given 18.

To complete the study I sent requests for information on the manuscript and on the question under examination to Vienna at the National Library and to Berne, both to the Burgerbibliothek and the Staatsarchiv (Canton of Berne State Archive). The main result of the assistance obtained is a confirmation of the importance and validity of the manuscript preserved in Vienna and the same Konrad Justinger as a very reliable reporter and editor. To me they have reported several pubblications (but not usually consultable in Italian libraries), and in particular the recent dissertation by Kathrin Jost dedicated precisely to
16.http: // F = 11 & t = 1097 & p = 16885 & hilit = Justin-ger # p16885
17 C. Engler, Board Games Studies, 7 (2004) 119-125.
18 email 09/22/2016.

Justinger 19. However I have not been made aware of any recent study in which "our" problem of the year 1367 was discussed in particular, which, understandably, can be considered a serious problem only by historians of playing cards.

10. Probabilistic evaluation

The authority of Kopp and Hoffmann does not seem to me sufficient to decide in favor of a documentation of playing cards in Berne in 1367. Similarly, I fail to be convinced by those experts who readily accept the date of 1367 because for them it is one of the rather numerous testimonies (but all fundamentally uncertain!) from an era in which they are firmly convinced that card games were already long in circulation. Anyone persuaded that in 1367 the cards were for decades in Europe has no reason to exercise his critical analysis of the plausibility of yet another proof of a theory, already regarded as sufficiently proven.

Personally I have not found new elements to derive a criterion by which to make a secure choice to identify the correct reading of the document. I would be ready to accept 1367 for Berne - obviously - if original texts were found, or copies from a few years later. However I remain prejudicially skeptical regarding all European testimonies before 1377 and would love it if any discovery of this kind was based not on late copies but on writings of the time, just as are those from 1377 in Florence (a year which in its turn is also not demonstrable as year zero for playing cards in Europe).

If I were to hazard my assessment, I would propose a probabilistic one, following Hoffmann and even Kopp, but for the probability or Wahrscheinlichkeit of Berne in 1367 lower still: not only from the "größte" Kopp to the "hohe" Hoffmann, but down to a "geringe” [little], with, however - if one wants – a "the question remains open".

But I must point out an underlying condition of this assessment: the existence of a question of method in the reading of the text, which
19. K. Jost, Konrad Justinger (ca. 1365-1438): Chronist und Finanzmann in Berns grosser Zeit (Vorträge und Forschungen, Sonderband 56). Ostfildern 2011

was also emphasized to me by an experienced archivist of Berne. If one reads in the manuscript of playing cards in 1367 and takes it as given correctly there is nothing to justify. A "justification" is however necessary if one hypothesizes that there was a copying error: in any case, that the cards were not written in the original of 1367 remains a hypothesis and not a fact. Now, if I accept the interpretation of Rosenfeld, it does not mean that I recognize his authority and I decide for it automatically in his wake. My opinion is based on similar cases that I encountered in my research, and I think I would have arrived independently at the same conclusion ... however I have to acknowledge that it remains speculative.

The manuscript preserved in Vienna looks like a "service" book kept at the disposal of facilities for examination; Even in the chapter of our interest in the Vienna manuscript there are a couple of additions inserted at different times. If a secretary later had copied this text into a new book, he would not make a distinction between the original text and the two additions. Similarly, I suppose Konrad Justinger had copied from a preceding "service" book in which playing cards had been added at a later time to the text of the Law of 1367, leaving the rest unchanged.

This laborious reading between the lines, however brings down a barren decision; It is not of the essence (or on the other hand even possible) to pinpoint the percentage of probability of this 1367. The question becomes much more important only if it is transferred to the points mentioned above, also discussed by Hoffmann: How did the "explosion" of European documentation on playing cards that occurred from 1377 come to be, with the unusual features of new products appearing in significant quantities, in a very short time, in locations far apart?

11. Conclusion

This note can be viewed as one step in a process undertaken to look for confirmation on the testimonies of card games in Europe before 1377. Previously there had been expressed strong doubts about the documents of other cities and regions. Here the testimony of Berne has been critically analyzed; it would be the year 1367 but it is preserved in later copies of which the oldest is located in Vienna in the Austrian

National Library; the date indicated for the transcription of the law of interest is 1398. In the canton of Saint Gallen, there was similar legislation to that of Berne in the same period, with a repetition of the law against gambling for a few years, but without any trace of card games until 1379, the year in which the playing cards are also forbidden in a law of another Swiss city, Constance.

In this study the main positions have been investigated. As a result it seems that also this witness for 1367 is similar to others reported in Europe before 1377: all or almost all impossible to prove surely false, but also none completely reliable. In this case it seems necessary to consider the hypothesis, advanced among others explicitly by Rosenfeld, that the original document of 1367 really existed, but only referring to games of dice and adding playing cards at a later date.

Franco Pratesi – 24.09.2016

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

I want to make some comments on Pratesi’s note. They are mostly in the form of questions. For me one of its merits is that it allows me to formulate some questions I hadn't been able to before.

One, which I hope Wikipedia has answered for me, is whether Constance is or ever has been a Swiss city. Wikipedia’s answer is no. It is precisely on the border; it wanted to join but was refused. It was an independent Imperial city for centuries (1192 to 1548), including the time in question. Charles V revoked its Imperial charter in 1548 after it became resolutely Protestant, and it was taken over by Austria, which forcibly brought it back to the Roman fold. In 1806 it became part of the Duchy of Baden, which became part of the German state in 1871.

More to the point is what Constance has to do with Berne. It is on the other side of Switzerland from Berne. Constance is close to Saint Gallen, which would explain why the same year for playing card prohibition, 1379. It is also close to Regensberg, for which the date is 1378.

More relevant to Berne is Basel, which is on the same trade route, from the north, as Berne. Basel is given for 1377, but not in a prohibition, but rather in the allegorical work by Brother John, in which, Dummett says, he “explicitly” states “that playing cards had been introduced in the very year in question”, (Game of Tarot p. 11). That much is from the beginning of John’s preface: (I get this from Hurst, ... ribus.html):
Hinc est quod quidam ludus, qui ludus cartarum appellatur, hoc anno ad nos peruenit, scilicet anno domini m.ccc.lxxvii.

(Hence it is that a certain game, called the game of cards, has come to us in this year, viz. the year of our Lord 1377.)
It would be surprising if John only knew about cards in 1377, if they were there in Basel, on the way to Berne, since 1367. We have discussed the reliability of this date 1377 at length. It seems fairly secure.

Added next day: On the other hand, John may not have written the work in Basel, but in Freiburg im Bresgau, where he was from, according to Pratesi in other notes (see, most recently, "1450 ca: Firenze – Trionfi e carte da gioco", at, which however gives no argument for this position.)

If John was indeed in Basel in 1377, I would speculate that somebody in Berne might have miscopied the year, rather than interpolating the “and playing cards”: writing 1367 instead of 1376 or 1377. The same could be true if he was in Freiburg, although there is not as close an association with Berne. Is such a mistake unlikely, given what else is on the page? (1)

This question leads to others. (2) What actually is written on the page, at least up to the point where the date is given? After that the handwriting gets smaller, as though a space had been left for something but that something turned out to be longer than the writer thought. Any additions on the page seem to be ones planned for, in that space was allotted for them.

Here is my scan of the photocopy, from Kaplan p. 25:

The seems to be MCCCXLVIJ, in other words, in Roman numerals rather than written out. I don’t know what follows it. The next line, just by the fact that it is smaller, would seem separate.

And once we have what is there, where did Rosenfeld find evidence of interpolation, and what is “fully convincing only to the one who had proposed them” about it Dummett, in a passage that Franco did not cite, thought Rosenfeld “had the better of the argument” (Game of Tarot p. 12). It is true that Dummett did not see Kopp’s last reply, but what was so important about it for Hoffmann? Surely it was more than just a citation of the opinion of the editors of the Idiotikon (not a bad title for our humble thread). So that is my next question: (3) What are Rosenfeld’s best arguments and how does Kopf argue against them? Huck has generously supplied copies, but they are rather long and my German is not as good as his, obviously.

Then there is the issue of what to make of what seem to be additions in the archival copy. My suspicion is that any additions, even those above the line, are corrections to a copy that proved to the writer to have been incomplete. Back when I used a typewriter to write university essays, I used to type my afterthoughts above the line, to be consternation of my professor. It could well be like that.

So what was the procedure for making corrections, e.g. finding out later, when checking the original, that cards were prohibited as well as dice? Why would there be any need for corrections at all, if the archivist were simply copying what he saw in the original? I will call both questions my number 4.

Related to this is the larger question , what was the archived material used for, if indeed it was a “service” document? (5a) My guess would be that it would be consulted by lawyers and judges to argue and settle legal cases pertaining to situations involving the years archived. They needed to know what the law was then, when the alleged mistake or crime on someone’s part was said to have been done. If so, it would be of the utmost importance to have an accurate copy of the exact wording of the statute. A legal decision would be riding on its accuracy. And an archivist’s job would surely depend on such accuracy as well. If so, then corrections and additions put into the text would have to distinguish one archivist from another. How was this done, if at all? (5b) Perhaps the specialist in Vienna could answer these questions.

But what if the original was missing, and the archivist used a later copy instead? Would the fact and the date of the copy have been noted, so that the archivist escapes liability? (6a) That is a matter that probably can be ascertained from the in Vienna. If there is no such indication, then can it be assumed that the archivist’s copy is based on the original? (here a and b seems to me the same question asked in different ways). That would be the point of the specialist’s remark that if a statement is there in the record, given who the archivist was, then its accuracy does not need further justification, even allowing for the possibility of missing originals, because such omissions would have been noted. But for sure this hypothesis needs confirmation by a specialist such as the one Franco consulted.

Franco’s main argument against the reliability of the archivist is that he has seen cases where what was in copies of originals was in fact false and the result of interpolation. But are the cases really parallel? (7a) What are some particular examples, and how do we know that what is written in the archive is false? (7b).

Finally, how could 1367 possibly be right? What trade routes would lead to Berne so early and not other places with prohibitions known to be ten years later or more. How would it work? (8a) Or did someone from Berne pick up the game somewhere else, where it wouldn't be banned for a decade or more, bring it to Berne, skipping the trade routes, then producing it himself and causing such a ruckus that, ten years before anywhere else, they felt a prohibition was necessary? (8b). If Hoffman had something worked out, I'd like to know it. (Note: this last paragraph was rewritten a day later.)

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

The situation of Bern was, that it was on the way from Prague to Arles in 1365 and that emperor Charles IV stayed a few days there.
Likely enough time and opportunity, to leave the card game there, if he had a sort of internal circle of knights, who knew it and who played it ... occasionally. We have various insecure signs from Bohemia, that the card game was there earlier and we have from it also connected references to other locations with similar suspicions. We have also related sure reports after 1377, for instance John of Rheinfelden with a 60 card deck, that has similarities to the Hofämterspiel, a production of Bohemia much later (1455).

And Bern belongs to these relations (as a rather sure, but still insecure place with early playing card activities):


http://regesta-imperii.digitale-sammlun ... b1877_0814

The journey from Prague to Avignon 1365, Bern isn't noted, but Bern is not far from the route Basel - Schamiaco (the location seems to be unknown, but is possibly near to Besancon). And ..


... Bern has a document related to 5th of May, 1365, though this is disputed by contradicting reports (one using 1363 as date of the journey - clearly wrong, the other speaking of 1373 and another action).

Image ... rn&f=false

The journey back to Germany leads through Lausanne to Bern, where he likely didn't stay long.

Emperors didn't travel alone, if he was accompanied by 1000 persons, this wouldn't have been an extraordinary number (I have no number for the participants of this journey). Likely visitors from regions nearby visited the traveler community on the way to get attention from the emperor and possibly some privileges. The document of 5th of May 1365 might have been received by a delegation of Bern, who joined the group on the march.

Bohemia in 14th century had a big problem with dice games long time, in 1372 an event is given for Mainz, when parts of the empire delegation got serious trouble about a gambling (dice) question (the Bohemians were accused to have cheated). A fight broke out, some victims. ... 750f#rinav
Karl IV. - RI VIII n. 5076a
1372 iun. 00, ....

Tumult, veranlasst dadurch, dass die böhmischen begleiter des kaisers die Mainzer im würfelspiel betrogen hatten. Domino imperatore existente in Maguntia, quidam sui curienses lusores taxillorum in ludo huiusmodi fecerunt insolentiam contra aliquos de civitate, qui in iram provocati subito congregatis banderiis irruerunt in istos et fugientes ad hospitium imperatricis persecuti sunt hostiliter et unum ex nostris, qui ad lectum domine imperatricis confugerat, ibidem in lecto interfecerunt. Alios etiam plures vulneraverunt et pervenerunt usqne ante hospitinm d. imperatoris cum tumultu huiusmodi. Tandem venientes maiores civitatis compescuerunt cum difficultate plebeios et vindictam postmodum magnam in suos fecerunt. Et d. imperator similiter repulit lusores huiusmodi de curia sua. Et cives gratiam d. imperatoris et dominae imperatricis cum difficultate maxima vix impetraverunt. Beness 417. Vgl. aber auch Chronici Mogunt. fragmenta ap. Böhmer Fontes 4,372. ‒ [Die zeitbestimmung macht schwierigkeit. Nach der letzteren quelle hielt der erzbischof Johann von Mainz quadam feria quinta seinen einzug in die stadt und eodem die, quo fuit susceptus, de vespera ortus est magnus tumultus in civitate contra Bohemos, der im wesentlichen übereinstimmend mit Beness geschildert wird. Unde imperator et imperatrix multum indignati sunt; altera die summo mane recesserunt. Da nun die abreise des kaisers iedesfalls nicht schon am 4. iuni stattfand, so müsste man den tumult auf den nächsten donnerstag, den 10., die abreise auf den 11. iuni setzen, womit stimmt, dass noch eine urk. Karls aus Mainz fer. vi. post Bonifacii = iun. 11 datirt ist. Andererseits sprechen die urkk. vom 9., 10. und 11. iuni aus Eltvil im Rheingau, Coblenz und Wittlich zwischen Coblenz und Trier, die unter sich genau harmoniren, für eine frühere abreise Karls am 8. oder 9. iuni.]

Perhaps the deciding persons (Charles IV and his helpers) were insecure, if it would be a good idea, to distribute playing cards in an aggressive manner, perhaps early social reactions warned them, that playing cards might just add to the already existing gambling problems. Perhaps the production processes had to be improved, before one could think of a larger export. All such things could take a longer time.

The opinion of Dummett is realistic (Franco's quote):
A shift of ten years in the chronology is in itself of minor importance; but if a decade elapsed between the first known reference and the second, then perhaps playing cards had been in use in some localities for ten or even twenty years before the first reference occurred, and the many references from 1377 onwards are evidence only of their wider diffusion rather than of their invention or introduction.
But I guess, it's a little bit more than 10-20 years.

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

Going to your link for the first page you posted, I could not find it. It was to the second page, which seems to me not very relevant, because in going between Basel and Besancon you wouldn't go through Berne. That's the logical way to go to Avignon, by way of Besancon, to hit the Rhone River going downstream, as your second page shows..

I couldn't tell what the first page was. It doesn't seem to be an itinerary, because the period covered is the same as the second one, which does seem to be an itinerary. I need more explanation. How does the appearance of "Berne" that you boxed in red show that he spent a few days there in June of 1365?

Also, Charles IV seems to have visited a lot of places in 1365 and 1363, probably also in 1364, and other years, too. Why does only Berne show up as the one place where his visit, with his thousand knights giving out decks of cards, caused such an early prohibition to be made? What is special about Berne?

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

mikeh wrote:Going to your link for the first page you posted, I could not find it. It was to the second page, which seems to me not very relevant, because in going between Basel and Besancon you wouldn't go through Berne. That's the logical way to go to Avignon, by way of Besancon, to hit the Rhone River going downstream, as your second page shows..

I couldn't tell what the first page was. It doesn't seem to be an itinerary, because the period covered is the same as the second one, which does seem to be an itinerary. I need more explanation. How does the appearance of "Berne" that you boxed in red show that he spent a few days there in June of 1365?

Also, Charles IV seems to have visited a lot of places in 1365 and 1363, probably also in 1364, and other years, too. Why does only Berne show up as the one place where his visit, with his thousand knights giving out decks of cards, caused such an early prohibition to be made? What is special about Berne?
I mixed the pictures. I repaired it, underlining the number of the years, which "by contradicting documents" cause some contradiction in the reconstruction. I only assume, that the location with the strange name is "near to Besancon", but it's logical. I agree, that the shortest way between Basel and Besancon leads not via Berne. But one document is dated 5th of May and seems to indicate, that it was in Berne. A solution for this problem might be, that a delegation of Berne accompanied the emperor on the journey from Basel to Besancon, and got the document during the journey. On the way back the emperor issued another document in Berne, but not related directly to Berne. So he was there. How long, I can't say, it can't be very long.

Charles IV was crowned as king of Burgundy, so the journey had political importance and had representative character, not business as usual. And he met the pope. The number of accompanying persons likely was higher as usual.


Checking it again, I find a more intensive report, which has the document at 3rd of May (not 5th of May) Bern im Uchtland, which should be identical to the usual "Bern", and the emperor is in "Bern im Uchtland". Various documents are given.

3rd of May 1365 (journey to Avignon)

http://regesta-imperii.digitale-sammlun ... b1877_0397 ... c017#rinav

June 1365 (journey back) ... 8932#rinav
1365 iun. 00, Berne

Aufenthalt. Die stadt Bern, welche diesmal wie bei der hinreise die kosten trag, gab bei 3000 pfund dafür aus. Justinger l. c. 126, wo auch angaben über die vom grafen von Kiburg und herrn Antonius vom Thurne gegen die stadt Bern erhobenen klagen.
Ii isn't precisely datable, Bern payed a lot of money for both visits (3000 pfund)

The strange city name has disappeared in this list, likely it's a modernized version, according better research results.

Perhaps there were different groups of travellers, which caused confusion in the reports. One took a shorter way, another with emperor might have followed the direct political interests on the journey.
Why does only Berne show up as the one place where his visit, with his thousand knights giving out decks of cards, caused such an early prohibition to be made?
Well, perhaps the communication didn't work always the same way. Maybe there were other locations, which got some cards and others not. And not every action ended with a prohibition of cards. Many possible reasons, why we don't have more records about playing cards as we have. From 15th century we've also not very much Trionfi card notes, if we consider, that there were likely 50.000 or more or much more decks produced (if we take the import list to Rome as a base for a rough estimation and also consider, that we have much more writing persons in 15th century as in 14th century).

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

Franco alerts me that I made a mistake translating one of his sentences, leaving out the rather important word "not" in it. The sentence makes sense either way,, but the sentence as he wrote it serves to emphasize that what he thinks most likely is a hypothesis, not something he is claiming as fact.

It is the second whole sentence on p. 13. Here are the first two sentences on the page, as they should be, except that I have put the omitted word in bold. My mistake was leaving out the first "not" n the second sentence, i.e. the "not" in "that the cards were not written" :
If one reads in the manuscript of playing cards in 1367 and takes it as given correctly there is nothing to justify. A "justification" is however necessary if one hypothesizes that there was a copying error: in any case, that the cards were not written in the original of 1367 remains a hypothesis and not a fact.
Looking at my own comments, I don't think my translation mistake affects anything there.

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

Thanks for the extra post, Huck, with the right links. The links in your earlier post are still mixed up, starting with the first one, but it's not so critical, since you give them in the next one. I will have to think about your explanation for the lack of other c. 1367 prohibitions. It is possible that the gambling prohibitions for those years didn't survive for the surrounding area, but it would be better if we knew. It doesn't bother me so much that St. Gallen has prohibitions that mention dice but not cards, because it's far enough away that Charles didn't visit them on that trip, when he was in the mood to pass out cards. However Basel, Solothurn, Lausanne, or other places en route (some on previous pages, but I can't exactly tell what they are) would bother me.

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

I have some more thoughts, but I've held off posting them due to other things.

ne of the underlying issues in the spread of playing cards to Europe has to do with whether it was south-north only or involved multiple routes--including routes of Imperial travels, I should add.. It seems to me that the "scientific" approach would be to look for patterns, i.e. not just one instance to be explained by a hypothesis, but several, also instances of the hypothesis when put it a general way of which "our" instance is just one. And that way there can also be disconfirming instances, which then have to be accounted for.

Cards are one type of game and one type of organized recreational activity--so is there a pattern about how such things were spread, from Asia to Europe? The example I thought of was chess. Here is one site (
How Chess Arrived in Europe: The names of the pieces and the rules of the game show that the common ancestor of European chess was the Arabic / Moslem game called Shatranj. There are at least four paths by which chess arrived in Europe. It arrived in Spain and Italy by conquest, in the Balkans via the Byzantine Empire centered on Constantinople (Istanbul), and in Russia and Scandinavia via the Volga River trade route from the Caspian Sea. Vikings spread the game in the Baltic Sea and beyond.
Then there is the question of what the basis for such a claim is: what makes them think that there were all these routes? After all, the Vikings traveled everywhere, so why couldn't the flow have been south-north only?

I couldn't find much on that question! I found only one helpful site, ... candinavia
The Vikings travelled a lot and had many contacts, so chess could have arrived in many ways in Scandinavia. The Byzantine emperors in the 9th century liked to have Norse guardsmen and so chess may have been introduced to Scandinavia. However there are no pieces known with Byzantine features. Abstract Arab pieces are found regularly, however how they got there is not known. Since the Scandinavians also had direct contact with the Arabs, via the Russian trade roads. An abstract rock crystal chess piece dated 11th or 12th century has been found in Lund, an urban center during the life of King Cnut. (Kluge-Pinsker Catalog A41).
Chess pieces, unlike cards, don't disappear in wet climates. It is apparently the abstract designs on the surviving pieces that suggest the route through Russia. The Christians--I assume the Carolingians as well as the Byzantines--tended to want them to be representations of something.

I had not realized that Muslim chess pieces, at least some of the time, had only abstract designs. But this is said elsewhere, too ( ... lture.html):
There was much opposition to chess and aspects of it; the most important being the ban on displaying realistic figures in chess pieces. The Sunni Muslims took a strict interpretation of one passage in the Koran, which states: “Believers, wine and games of chance, idols and divining arrows, are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid them, so that you may prosper”. So strict were their followings to their religion that they took the passage as a ban on all representations of animals and humans, forcing them to portray even chess pieces in abstract shapes. (6-7) Even to this day, most Islamic countries (save Turkey) continue to portray abstract chess sets....
... When brought to Russia, the queen piece is still based off the Arabic vizier. Funnily enough, Russians still kept the abstract chess pieces for many years. A few examples of Islamic influences on chess that still linger to this day.
In the case of cards, it seems that no early cards with purely abstract suit-signs survived, if any existed. But we do have representational designs that are quite different, Northern Europe vs. Southern Europe.

I conclude that multiple routes are not exceptional, and that one clue is via differences in how the game pieces looked. But it is hard to know what to make of the cards' differences between north and south, because it could have had any number of causes--pure experimentation, for example. And even Mamluk cards weren't purely abstract, so it is hard to compare north vs. south with that criterion in mind.

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


Pax Mongolica
World trade system[edit]

The Silk Road was a system of trade routes connecting East and West

The 13th century world-system
Before the Mongols' rise, the Old World system consisted of isolated imperial systems.[9] The new Mongol empire amalgamated the once isolated civilizations into a new continental system, and re-established the Silk Road as a dominant method of transportation. The unification of Eurasia under the Mongols greatly diminished the amount of competing tribute gatherers throughout the trade network and assured greater safety and security in travel.[10] During the Pax Mongolica, European merchants like Marco Polo made their way from Europe to China on the well-maintained and well-traveled roads that linked Anatolia to China.

On the Silk Road caravans with Chinese silk; pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg came to the West from the Spice Islands via the transcontinental trade routes. Eastern diets were introduced to Europeans as well.[11] Indian muslins, cottons, pearls, and precious stones were sold in Europe, as well as weapons, carpets, and leather goods from Iran.[11] Gunpowder was also introduced to Europe from China. In the opposite direction, Europeans sent silver, fine cloth, horses, linen, and other goods to the near and far East.[11] Increasing trade and commerce meant that the respective nations and societies increased their exposure to new goods and markets, thus increasing the GDP of each nation or society that was involved in the trade system. ?any of the cities participating in the 13th century world trade system grew rapidly in size.[12]

Along with land trade routes, a Maritime Silk Road contributed to the flow of goods and establishment of a Pax Mongolica. This Maritime Silk Road started with short coastal routes in Southern China. As technology and navigation progressed these routes developed into a high-seas route into the Indian Ocean. Eventually these routes further developed encompassing the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and the sea off East Africa.[13]

Along with tangible goods, people, techniques, information, and ideas moved lucidly across the Eurasian landmass for the first time.[14] For example, John of Montecorvino, archbishop of Peking founded Roman Catholic missions in India and China and also translated the New Testament into the Mongolian language.[14] Long-distance trade brought new methods of doing business from the far East to Europe; bills of exchange, deposit banking, and insurance were introduced to Europe during the Pax Mongolica.[15] Bills of exchange made it significantly easier to travel long distances because a traveler would not be burdened by the weight of metal coins.[16]

Islamic methods of mathematics, astronomy, and science made their way to Africa, East Asia and Europe during the Pax Mongolica.[17] Methods of paper-making and printing made their way from China to Europe. During the Pax Mongolica rudimentary banking systems were established, and money changing and credit extension were common, resulting in large amount of merchant wealth.[18]
King Ottokar of Bohemia ... (reigned 1251 - 1278) ...
... competed with Alfonso the wise and Richard Cornwall for the role of the future emperor. He participated in a good functional trade to the east successfully and in the decision for the election of a German king the 7 Kurfürsten (electors) decided against the powerful Ottokar and for the weak Rudolf of Habsburg, cause they wished to have NOT such a strong German king. Rudolf of Habsburg hadn't so much territory.
How much Ottokar's good trade depended on the phenomenon "Pax Mongolica", is a good question, I would say. Bohemia was then - fo a short time - larger than in earlier and later times:

The large Bohemia was finished in 1278, when Ottokar lost a battle against king Rudolf of Habsburg. And Ottokar died.

The Habsburger had their original (small) castle Habsburg in the Aargau and the distance between this Habsburg and the city Bern is about 80 km, rather close. Once (1415) the Habsburg was lost, curiously by a military action of the city Bern.

Bern, so I've read, once was called the largest city state north of the Alps. I don't know precisely, when this was a true statement (the source says 16th century) and how large Bern was in 1365, the date, which interests us.


Habsburger possession "around 1200":


In 1218 Bern (founded about 30 years before) becomes a free city.

Habsburger possession (red) 1782 (after battle against Ottokar II 1278) (the map-designer seems to have forgotten the region around Strassburg):


Full map ... tories.jpg

In 1291 king Rudolf I died. The legendary begin of the Eidgenossenschaft is given to the same year (cause the weakness of the Habsburger at this time).
The following King was Adolf von Nassau, not from Habsburg. He was abdicated 1291.
The following king was Albrecht, again von Habsburg. He was killed in 1308.
It followed Henry VII, the first king of the Luxemburger dynasty. He became emperor and died in Italy 1313.
Two kings were chosen 1314: King Louis the Bavarian (Wittelsbacher) and Frederick the Fair of Habsburg. They competed a long time. In 1315 (as part of the conflict) the Eidgenossenschaft attacked the Habsburger.

Habsburger Western possessions after battle at Morgarten (1315):


Full map: ... H_1315.png

In 1353 Bern joined the Eidgenossenschaft, which then included "8 old cities"
1291–1332 III Orte: Uri, Schwyz und Unterwalden
1353–1481 VIII Orte: Luzern, Glarus, Zürich, Zug, Bern


Full map ... ung-CH.png

Bern can't have been very big, as long it was limited to this place (roughly 1100 x 500 square meters) ...


Full map ... anBern.jpg
Google.maps view ... 4d7.459631

1365 ...
about the wars between Habsburg and Eidgenossenschaft. ... rgerkriege
" Während König Karl IV. gegen die Habsburger einen Konflikt um die Herrschaft über die Grafschaft Tirol austrug, bemächtigte sich Schwyz 1364/65 der Stadt Zug. Im Thorberger Frieden von 1368 anerkannten die Habsburger Herzöge Albrecht III. und Leopold III., die nach dem Tod Rudolfs IV. im Jahre 1365 gemeinsam herrschten, die Zugehörigkeit Zugs zur Eidgenossenschaft. Zug lieferte jedoch weiter Abgaben an die Habsburger. 1370 festigte der sogenannte Pfaffenbrief, der einen ersten Schritt in Richtung einheitlicher Gesetzgebung darstellte, den inneren Zusammenhalt der Eidgenossenschaft."
Emperor Charles IV had trouble with the Habsburger about the possession of Tirol. The city Schwyz conquered the city Zug, which was in possession of Habsburg. This happened 1364/65, so somehow in the context of the journey to Bern in 1365.
A similar cooperation between Eidgenossenschaft and Luxemburger dynasty took place in 1415 (the year of the council of Constance), king Sigismund stimulated the attack of the Eidgenossenschaft on the Habsburg and the Aargau ... a successful operation. (I've read so, I hope it's right).

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