Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

BOUGEAREL Alain wrote:
mikeh wrote:

About Prince Fibbia, it is not only that the painting exists, as well as the cards with his insignia, but also Prince Fibbia himself, dying in precisely the year said in the inscription, 1419. This was not an easy fact to ascertain; Franco Pratesi confesses in a recent essay that he looked for Fibbia in the Bolognese documents and could not find him, but Andrea Vitali did. If you want to read more, see Andrea's essay "The Prince", online..

The Prince
The creator of the Ludus Triumphorum

Translation revised by Michael S. Howard, Feb. 2012

Personnal opinion : About the Prince Fibbia and Vitali's take.
Andrea is a well aware of Medieval culture. His guess, I think, is not based on fables, but on a logic that important university historians of the Middle Ages such as Cardini can at least understand - I believe so.
I am not a specialist but still, I do not understand the reason why the hypothesis of Vitali is not understood and considered as plausible.
Proving, that Prince Fibbia existed, is surely a progress in the Prince Fibbia research. But it also does surely NOT prove, that other information connected to the Prince Fibbia picture would be also necessarily true.

Soldiers of emperor Henry VII brought playing cards from their Italian adventure to Northern Europe, was an idea of Breitkopf in 1784. Without doubt one cannot deny, that Henry VII existed and with security some soldiers returned to Germany ... but adds that very much to our knowledge, if the assumption about the playing cards would be true?

The picture inscription talks about "Tarocchino" ... the word Tarocchi didn't exist in 1419, the first known use is 1505. One might think, that the word "Trionfi" stood for that, what the inscription meant .... we know, that it had become very difficult to give evidence of an existent relation between the word Trionfi and playing cards before 1440.

Andrea Vitali's article was translated in 2012, likely written around 2010.

He thought it interesting to quote Depaulis, Decker and Dummett: "Agreeing with the writer on the date of invention of the game are three leading experts: R. Decker, T. Depaulis and M. Dummett. In the book A wicked pack of cards: The origin of the Occult Tarot they write: "A lower bound for the date of the invention is harder to determine. It probably occurred around 1425; the earliest date with any claim to be plausible would be 1410".

As far the older Tarot history is concerned, in 2011-13 a revolution took place.
We have now much more documents for the early Trionfi card development then before. And we likely know the most, what DDD knew at their time. Logically we should assume, that we know probably more ... at least in the studies of the earlier time, which we made with some intensity.
I do not understand the reason why the hypothesis of Vitali is not understood and considered as plausible.
What do you think, what is not understood?

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

I have added a quote from Dummett 2007 to my comments on Moakley's Chapter 2, near the beginning of the post. It makes more specific what is missing from the source where Novati couldn't find the reference to Antonio Cigognara making a tarocchi deck, that is, precisely the year 1484, even though the table of contents indicates that the notebook, with notes on the art of one year per page, goes up to 1590.

Now on to chapter 3.

[start 35]

THE SCENES represented in the tarocchi reflect the tenor of the time in history when they attained a peak of popularity. A brief glance into this era seems an appropriate introduction to the Visconti-Sforza family for whom this particular set of cards was made.

Preachers have never liked playing cards, and it can be said that the story the cards tell is very much opposed to the basic tenets of Christianity. However, it is not an unfamiliar story at all. It is the story of our own world, this world of which, we are told, the Devil is the Prince, the same world that existed in the late Middle Ages.

With a little imagination one can see that each of the four ordinary suits in any pack of cards is a company of knights ready for one of the jousts or tourneys which were the favorite sports of medieval Europe. Each knight wears the heraldic device of his own company, but "differenced" by number, according to his rank. At the head of each company is its King-of-arms, its Queen of Love and Beauty, and its chief Knight. In the tarocchi and minchiate (another variety of tarot cards), there is also a Page.

With more imagination one can see that each of these four companies of knights is devoted to one of the cardinal virtues and wears its device: the sword representing Justice, the cup of Temperance, the staff or column of Fortitude, and the coin or mirror of Prudence (1). In northern Europe these suits became known as spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds, respectively.

"Is it so devilish then," you may ask, "for knights to go forth to battle on behalf of Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, and Prudence? Isn't this the ideal of chivalry on which Christendom depended for its very existence?"

Maurice Samuel, in his book The Gentleman and the Jew, tells how the same question presented itself to him, and how it was answered.
[note originally on p. 41]
1. Justice was usually represented as a figure with scales and a sword, Temperance as pouring liquid from one vessel into another, Fortitude with a staff or a broken column, and Prudence with a mirror by means of which she can look behind her (coins as a symbol of Prudence are rarer). The virtues are often mentioned in relation 'to the Visconti and Sforza, for one of their titles was "Conte di Virtit.” At the death of Giangaleazzo Visconti the virtues were represented as mourning him as their lord: "O chiara luce, o specchio, o colonna, o sostegno, o franca spada, the la nostra contrada mantenevi sicura in monte e in piano!" [O clear light, o mirror, o column, o supporter, o confident sword, you kept our territory safe in the high places and the flat!](Arch stor tomb, anno xv, p 792). For "mirrors" and "columns" as names for the suits of coins and staves see Chatto (Facts, p 53). His authority is Innocentio Ringhieri, Cento giuochi liberali et d'ingegno (Bologna 1551) p 132.

[start p. 36]
His parents had come from Roumania to England, and he grew up learning Jewish ideals from his parents and his Rabbi. At the same time he was introduced to the chivalric ideals of "cricket" through the English boys' books and magazines he read. "Cricket" summed up all the English ideals of fair play, honesty, courage and loyalty to king and country. He did not then know that this philosophy came indirectly from Castiglione's The Courtier, which adapted the classical Greek ideals to the Renaissance way of life. He thought it was the typical Christian ideal, and assumed that Christian church services must express it in a wonderfully intense way.

How surprised he was when he attended a Christian church service for the first time. "I was utterly confounded," he writes, "by the sermon preached from the pulpit. . . . The sermon, in which the name of Jesus appeared and reappeared with — to me —terrifying frequency, had nothing whatsoever to do, in spirit or in substance, with that gay, magnanimous, adventurous and gamesome world which I had come to hear glorified. It did not proclaim, in new and unimaginably attractive phrases, the cosmic rightness of the life of Greyfriars, The Revenge, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and the cricket team. In a most unbelievable way it rehearsed what I had been learning in cheder! It appeared that among the Christians, too, the meek and the humble were blessed. It appeared that when someone hit you, you did not answer laughingly with a straight left, and you did not invite your friends to stand around in a circle while you carried on with the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Not a bit of it! You turned the other cheek! . . . It appeared that the peacemakers, not the soldiers, not the manly, laughing killers, were the blessed." (2)

Even in the fifteenth century people must have known in their hearts that this was true. Or else why were the delights of the joust and the tourney kept for the festival times, when religion was forgotten or at least temporarily in the background? On the weekdays of the Lenten season, when Christian laymen worked at their religion and practiced special acts of humility and self-denial, some pious attention was given to the fact that hardly any virtue is fostered by going out and knocking a man down. During the rest of the year, however, the knightly combats, and the processions of knights which preceded them, held the same place in the popular mind of that day as baseball and football in ours. We may come a little closer to feeling the attractiveness of the chivalrous sports if we compare them to the bullfight, where the gallant
[note originally on p. 41]
2. The quotation from Maurice Samuel's The Gentleman and the Jew (New York, Knopf, 1950, p 20ff) is made by permission of the publisher.

[start p. 37]
torero seeks the same kind of glory, through the exhibition of his skill and courage, as did the fifteenth-century knight. (3)

It was from the chivalrous culture personified by the crusading knight as the defender of the Church that the arts of the later Renaissance flourished: the sentimentalism of courtly love with its poetry and song, the ostentatious pageant, the chivalrous romance of knight and fair lady. The writers of chivalrous literature knew well enough that their work was basically un-Christian, Thus we find Chaucer repenting in his Persones Tale [Parson's Tale] that he had written his "endytinges of worldly vanitees," among which he names his Troilus and "the tales of Canterbury, thilke that sounen in-to sinne." St Theresa of Avila, too, lamented the evil effects of her girlhood habit of romance reading, which she caught from her mother. "So completely was I mastered by this passion," she writes, "that I thought I could never be happy without a new book." This craze for romantic tales of chivalry undoubtedly came to Avila by way of Milan and Ferrara, at whose gay courts these books were as popular as the playing-cards which reflected them. Such stories particularly appealed to the womanly mind, and St Theresa's father was probably not the only male who disapproved of them. She reports that they annoyed her father so much that she and her female relatives had to be careful that he never saw them reading such literature. (4)

This is not said in utter condemnation of the chivalrous tradition. In many ways the awakening of a love for poetry, art, and romance quickened Christianity itself to a new life. As much as people loved their romances, their cards, and their tourneys, they realized inwardly that these pleasures were not quite in keeping with the devout life. After a gay and exhausting Carnival, the exuberant Italians really welcomed Lent as a chance to rest from the festive season and to prove to themselves that they were really Christians at heart. They brought their vanities (including their playing-cards) to be burned in the bonfires at the beginning of Lent with an honest spirit of aspiring to sanctity. Though, human nature being what it is, the fasting gradually became wearisome, and they were soon glad to pull a feather from the symbolic figure of Lent at the end of each week — until Holy Saturday, when it was completely plucked.

There is an ironic twist in this love of chivalry. Knightly exploits were the favorite sports of the upper classes, but the task of conducting actual warfare was given to the hired soldier, the condottiere with his paid army, who carried on the grim business of waging wars.
[notes originally on p. 41-2]
3. Hauser (Social, p 125) explains the high esteem in which war and hunting were held at this time, by showing that war and hunting involve skill and courage, whereas peacetime occupations need only patience, and are therefore despised and relegated to slaves.

4. See Hauser (Social, p 197-310) for chivalry as the ground of Renaissance art. Huizinga (Waning, ch IV—X) gives the same impression. Chaucer's repentance is in the last section [start p. 42] of "The Persones Tale" at the end of The Canterbury Tales. St Teresa's is in The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus . . . Written by Herself (London, T. Baker, 1924) p 7.

[start p. 38]
Francesco Sforza, the fourth Duke of Milan and the original owner of the cards we are examining, had been one of these condottieri like his father before him, Muzio Attendolo. When Muzio Attendolo died, his nickname "Sforza" was made the hereditary surname of the family by Queen Joanna II of Naples (5)

The story is told that Muzio Attendolo was chopping wood near his home town of Cotignola, when a troop of hired soldiers rode past. "Why don't you come with us?" they called to him. He aimed his axe at a nearby tree, and as he threw it replied, "If it stays, I'll go!" The axe stuck in the tree, and Muzio joined the soldiers. So began the career which led him to become a condottiere.

His military exploits won for him the respect of the rulers who employed him. In addition to financial rewards, he received the right to the several heraldic devices which together formed in heraldry what is known as the "achievement" of the Sforza family. The first of these was the quince (in Italian cotigna), given him by the anti-pope John XXIII in recognition of his rank as Count of Cotignola. He continued to use this device even when John withdrew it, somewhat as King Henry VIII of England, under similar circumstances kept the papal title "Defender of the Faith." (6)

At a later date, Rupert III, King of the Romans, gave him the right to bear on his shield a lion rampant, holding the quince in its left paw, while it challenged all comers with its right. The Sforza helmet, a winged dragon with a man's head, formed the crest. In 1409 the Marquis of Este added a diamond ring, in recognition of Muzio's triumph over the tyrant of Parma, Ottobuono Terzo. The Sforza achievement is sometimes shown with the diamond ring repeated many times, either as a whole chain of rings, or as a separate ring at the tip of each rib in the dragon's bat-like wings. Muzio's son, Francesco Sforza, eventually adopted three interlaced diamond rings as his impresa.

Muzio Attendolo maintained his army in a state of iron discipline. Cursing and gambling were forbidden in his camp. The soldier who jailed to keep his gear in perfect order was flogged, and the thief or traitor was put to death. Despite his sternness, the men in Muzio's army were proud to serve under him, and grieved when he died tragically in the year 1424. His favorite page had tumbled into a rapid stream, and Muzio dived in to save him. The current was too strong, and both were swept out to their deaths in the sea before anyone could save them. (7)
[notes originally on p. 42]
5. The biographical sketch of Sforza is based mostly on Assum (Francesco). For the change of surname from Attendolo to Sforza see p 12.

6. The legend of the axe is from Ady (History p 2). For the heraldic achievement see Litta Famiglie, vol 1, pt 1). For Muzio and the anti-Pope see notes for the trump Il Traditore, XII.

7. The discipline of Muzio's army and the story of his death are from Ady (History p 10).

[start p. 39]
On July 23 1401 a son had been born to Muzio in Florence. The romantic mysticism of the age is typified in this Story of the dream his mother, Lucia, had before his birth. She dreamt that she was in a beautiful house where there was a long and steep flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs was a painting of the Madonna with the Holy Child in her arms. The child had a golden apple in his hand. Suddenly the Madonna came to life, and the Holy Child threw into Lucia's bosom the golden apple which became her son Francesco. (8)

Under his father's training Francesco became a first-rate condottiere. In addition, he had some of the talents of a civil ruler, and by trial and error learned how to exercise those talents. As he learned, his desire to rule increased, and he was understandably eager for the chance to prove his ability. His feeling was rather like that of a man seeing someone try to disentangle a snarl of string while his own fingers itch with the knowledge that they can do it better.

Francesco Sforza finally realized his ambitions when he became the fourth Duke of Milan in 1450. The third Duke, Filippo Maria Visconti, had no male issue. Francesco knew that the man who married Filippo's only child, Bianca Maria, would have some claim to the ducal throne, slight though the claim might be. Helped by his friend Cosimo de' Medici of Florence, Francesco prevailed on the Duke to give him his daughter's hand. In 1430 the Duke promised her to him and gave Sforza the right to use the surname Visconti. From that time on we find Sforza signing himself "Franciscus Sfortia (or Sphortia) Vicecomes." The splendid betrothal ceremony of Bianca and Francesco was celebrated on February 23 1432 in the Castello di Porta Giovia. Nine years later they were married in the Church of St Sigismund in Cremona. He was forty years of age and she seventeen. Despite the great difference in age, they seem to have been a congenial enough couple, if one may judge from their portraits. One knows from history that the daughters of rulers never in their wildest dreams expected to marry for love, and a great lady knew how to be discreet about her love affairs. In this case, Bianca with her warm Milanese heart and Francesco with the sense of humor of a good soldier and ruler in all probability got along together well enough.

Six years after their marriage Duke Filippo died, and the citizens of Milan set up what they called the Golden Ambrosian Republic, and tried to resume the parliamentary government of two centuries earlier. This attempt at self-government was doomed to failure from the start.
[note originally p. 42]
8. Lucia's dream of the golden apple is from Assum (Francesco p 12). The rest of the historical material in this chapter is also either from Assum or Ady, except Bembo's claim to early partisanship of Sforza, which is from Baroni (Pittura p 107).

[start p. 40]
The centuries had sapped the democratic powers of the Milanese, and, as a further drain on their strength, Milan was at war with Venice. Several of the subject-cities of Milan immediately declared their own independence. We find later evidence of our painter, Bonifacio Bembo, reminding Sforza that he lad done and said much to keep the city of Cremona on Sforza's side during the eventful year of 1447.

At first Francesco Sforza continued to serve Milan as its condottiere. He did not, however, give up his ducal aspirations, and finally the turn of events left him free to fight for his own cause without loss of honor. A detailed account of the force 'and counter-forces at work is out of place here. Suffice it to say that the rulers of Milan, .the twenty-four elected Captains and Defenders of the "Golden Ambrosian" republic were their own worst enemies. Their blind political hysteria led them to bring about a reign of terror within the city walls. People who spoke against their regime were put to death, and those who were seen talking together in groups had to prove they were innocent of any crime against the republic. Sforza took advantage of this folly and the internal dissension by besieging the city until it was reduced to a state of famine. In the meantime he demonstrated his fairness and political ability in the surrounding cities, which he conquered one by one and ruled to the advantage of their citizens. The outcome was inevitable. There was a desperate uprising in Milan. The Captains and Defenders were, overthrown, and the excited' citizens sent an emissary to invite Sforza to be their Duke. As he had foreseen, his marriage was a factor in securing the dukedom. The Milanese were able to save their self-respect by reminding themselves that they freely chose as their ruler the husband of their fellow-citizen Bianca Visconti.

Duke Francesco ruled Milan well for the remaining sixteen years of his life. He continued the Visconti tradition, dating back at least to the time of Petrarch, of encouraging scholars and artists, including the distinguished scholar Francesco Filelfo. Filelfo planned an epic poem on the life of Duke Francesco, to be called the Sforziad, but the project was never finished.

Unfortunately, Francesco had no more success than, his friend Cosimo de' Medici in training his sons to be good rulers. Cosimo's son Lorenzo de' Medici, Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his brother, Lodovico "il Moro," were more interested in the enjoyment of pleasure than in work. However, in their time the brilliance of the court of Milan increased. In fact, Lodovico's patronage of Leonardo da Vinci and

[start p. 41]
Bramante marked the high point of the Italian Renaissance. But the days of the Sforza Dukes were numbered. In 1499 Milan was taken by the French, and Lodovico Sforza spent the few remaining years of his life as their prisoner.

We have come a long way from the imaginary knights which make up the suit cards of the tarocchi, through the factual story of the family for whom the cards were made. But before we go on to the trump cards there is one more question to' consider. Why are there fifty-six suit cards, and why are there twenty-one trumps? The answer is found when we remember that cards, as a game of chance, replaced dice almost completely. In the dice games which use three dice, there are fifty-six possible throws, and with two dice twenty-one. There are other, more fanciful, considerations which make these numbers suitable. Twenty-one is a triangular number with a base of six that is, 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1= 21. Fifty-six is a pyramidal number' with a base of twenty-one (a pyramid of fifty-six balls may be raised with the former triangle of twenty-one as its base). Add the "wild" Fool to get seventy-eight cards and you have another triangular number with a base of twelve. Take away the Fool and you have the product of seven and eleven, those numbers' symbolical of luck and dear to the dice player. (9)
[note originally p. 42]
9. It was Professor Maurice G. Kendall who pointed out to me that fifty-six is the number of throws with three dice. See Kendall ("Studies" p 1-14). He mentions the dice game of fifty-six throws which Bishop Wibold recommended to his clergy as a spiritual exercise in the year 970. Burckhardt (Civilization, p 409) mistakenly refers to this as a game of cards. The original source is Mon Germ SS. vii, p 433. The Chinese have special names for the twenty-one throws of two dice, just as we do. See British Museum (Catalogue .. . Lady Schreiber p 185) for a list of these names, which seem to be based on the picture made by the Chinese numerals, e. g. 2-2 which looks like this in Chinese: = =, is called "The bench." The term "triangular number" and "pyramidal number" are used in mathematical works of reference. Robert Graves, in his Nazarene Gospel Restored, refers to a triangular number as the "Philonian fulfilment" of its base; e. .g. twenty-one is the PhiIonian fulfilment of six. For seven and eleven as symbolical of sin see Hopper (Medieval) p 24, 87, and p. 52. (Dante took over eleven as the basis for the dimensions of Hell). In the Morgante of Pulci the giant Margutte boasts of having seventy-seven mortal sins. The trumps plus the Fool (twenty-two cards) faintly suggest the ancient "pi" formula, which was twenty-two divided by seven (The White Goddess, by Robert Graves, New York, Creative Age Press, 1948, p 191). This seemed too far-fetched to mention in the text.

Scan of pp.40-41 (notes): ... 018det.jpg

Scan of pp. 42-43 (notes): ... 019det.jpg

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

My comments on Moakley Chapter 3:

IHurst says about Moakley's fantasy about columns of knights in a parade, each wearing the insignia of one of the four cardinal virtues:
Moakley's interpretation had four main elements: Each suit-sign represented one of the Cardinal Virtues; the cards of each suit represented a company of knights; these companies of knights, representing the four virtues, were taken to accompany the procession of the trumps; and the primary allegorical meaning of the suit-signs was travestied in a ribald fashion, in keeping with the Carnivalesque nature of the game.
What is not totally clear to me is why in such a fantasy "the primary allegorical meaning of the suit-signs was travestied in a ribald fashion." Companies of men, militia-men perhaps, did march in one of the St. John the Baptist Day's parades in Florence, each under the banner of its district of the city, 16 in all. Wearing a distinctive costume or under a distinctive banner does not travesty what is being represented.

Yet I can see some basis for Hurst's word "travestied". She also in this chapter contrasts the Christian message of "turn the other cheek" with the practice of jousting, in which people were knocked off their horses, sometimes killing them, for sport, and also with the seemingly gratuitous killing portrayed in chivalric romances. What that has to do with the companies of men in parades is unclear to me. Perhaps it will be essential to her argument later, but if so I would have preferred it had gone where I could see the point.

She was writing in 1966, when the U.S. was involved in an unpopular war. Perhaps she thought it necessary to reflect on the concept of gore for the sake of glory. But that is not what the four cardinal virtues are about.

There is also her idea, in the Prelude, that Fortitude and Temperance do not have cars of their own, but are on Cupid's car. Why that should be so is not year clear. It may have something to do with Petrarch's "Il Trionfi", which will be the subject of chapter 5.

From the standpoint of further books on allegorical games, mostly written since 1966, we can imagine other ways of imagining the parade. John of Rheinfelden, probably writing in 1377, associated the number cards with different professions (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1093&hilit=Rheinfe ... =10#p16892), following Cessolis, who did the same with chess pieces, in a work that achieved wide circulation (multiple references in THF). Along that line, we might imagine the marchers not as soldiers but as members of different professions within the city: judges, lawyers, notaries, administrators, record-keepers, police, etc. under Justice and swords; the clergy under Temperance and cups; the popular militia under staves; and tradesmen under Prudence and coins.

That the virtues--7 of them--were part of triumphal parades we also know from contemporary accounts: Naples in 1444, Florence of 1452. It must be kept in mind that we are still not talking about the origin of the game, but merely about natural associations to the whole set of cards at the time of the PMB.

Neither as the banners of a group of professions nor as the group of 7 virtues is there the element of ribaldry that Moakley sees in the cards, her phallic staff of fortitude and wombish cup of Temperance. But does she hold that this is the only way of seeing the cards, or even a necessary one? So far it is being put forward only as one way.

Otherwise, the chapter is mostly about the Sforza family. She could have brought out more explicitly Francesco and Bianca Maria's commitment to Fortitude, Temperance, Prudence, and Justice in their lives, and how their sons did not do likewise. But it seems clear enough.

The numerological bit at the end is of course of interest. She has been quoted in this regard on this Forum before. The obvious unanswered question for me is, why are these mathematical facts of any explanatory value as to the number of triumphs and ordinary cards in the deck? There may be 21 throws of 2 dice and 56 combinations of 3 dice, but so what? Dice games and card games are quite different in their structure. If there were only 6 cards per suit and only 3 suits (or some multiple of 3, for successive throws), and people had to draw cards from each of 3 piles each containing shuffled members of that suit (perhaps repeatedly, using other piles of 6), I could see a similarity, but cards were never like that. The only relevance I can see is that since there were lot books at that time based on three throws of the dice, with a different fortune for each of the 56 combinations, 56 cards would make it easy to convert the dice lot-book to cards. The same would be true of a lot book with 22 combinations (the 22nd being for a misthrow), except that I don't know of any lot-books of that kind, based on two throws of the dice. In fact there is evidence that the ordinary deck was used for divination by means of lot-books at least by the 16th century, so probably earlier. There isn't any such evidence of lot-books for tarot decks.

For the tarot sequence, what seems most relevant is what she says about 21 in relation to 6:
Robert Graves, in his Nazarene Gospel Restored, refers to a triangular number as the "Philonian fulfilment" of its base; e. .g. twenty-one is the PhiIonian fulfilment of six.
That is, if 6 is a perfect number corresponding to the days of creation, then 21 is perhaps its "fulilment", and so the "New Jerusalem" at the end of time, or Adam's fulfilment in Christ. "Philonian" means "pertaining to Philo of Alexandria, according to the online dictionaries. He wrote about the Creation and the 10 commandments in Pythagorean terms.

However it seems from Andrea's quotation from Origen and from other Church Fathers, that 22 had a life of its own as a sacred number, deriving from the 22 books of the Hebrew Bible.

Graves' book is available online in snippet view only ... YJAQAAIAAJ). When I search for "Philonian" and "twenty-one" there are snippets for each individually, but not both together. Well, it is something I will have to get via Interlibrary Loan.

There is also what Moakley says about 7 and 11.
For seven and eleven as symbolical of sin see Hopper (Medieval) p 24, 87, and p. 52. (Dante took over eleven as the basis for the dimensions of Hell). In the Morgante of Pulci the giant Margutte boasts of having seventy-seven mortal sins.

On p. 24 Hopper mentions contexts in which 7 is used in the context of Lev. 26:14, "I will punish you 7 times for your sin"; but he gives many more places where it is used positively. It seems just a way of saying "a bunch" in sacred contexts. On p. 52 there is no mention of either 7 or 11, just 3 and 4; but on p. 53 the number 7 is discussed in relation to "the established order of worlds and gods". So there are 7 planets. P. 87 talks about the number 11, and it is clear that it is a number of error and sin. So a preacher could indeed polemicize against the tarot sequence, if he wanted to, as double sinfulness, or sinfulness sevenfold if one card isn't counted.

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Huck wrote:
BOUGEAREL Alain wrote:
mikeh wrote:

About Prince Fibbia, it is not only that the painting exists, as well as the cards with his insignia, but also Prince Fibbia himself, dying in precisely the year said in the inscription, 1419. This was not an easy fact to ascertain; Franco Pratesi confesses in a recent essay that he looked for Fibbia in the Bolognese documents and could not find him, but Andrea Vitali did. If you want to read more, see Andrea's essay "The Prince", online..

The Prince
The creator of the Ludus Triumphorum

Translation revised by Michael S. Howard, Feb. 2012

Proving, that Prince Fibbia existed, is surely a progress in the Prince Fibbia research. But it also does surely NOT prove, that other information connected to the Prince Fibbia picture would be also necessarily true.


The picture inscription talks about "Tarocchino" ... the word Tarocchi didn't exist in 1419, the first known use is 1505. One might think, that the word "Trionfi" stood for that, what the inscription meant .... we know, that it had become very difficult to give evidence of an existent relation between the word Trionfi and playing cards before 1440.
About Prince Fibbia and the invention of Triumphs hypothesis of Vitali.

Andrea had written :

"The person who commissioned it didn’t know the precise form of the game when the tarot was created, because it was unknown to those who wrote about it after the XVIth century. On the picture it is written that Francesco Fibbia was the inventor of Tarocchini, but we know that this represents a XVIth century variation of the game of tarot, previously existent in Bologna since the XVth century, when it had the name of Triumphs. All this means is that the author of the inscription, pointing to someone living between the XIVth and the XVth century as the inventor of Tarocchini, did not know the correct form of the game at the time of its creation, considering Tarocchini as the original form and not a later variant. The fact that the Bolognese had forgotten the word “Tarocchi” and its game of 78 cards is not surprising. On this point, Michael Dummett writes: "Although still in existence in 1588, the old form and complete pack had been completely forgotten by the mid-seventeenth century, although the name Tarocchino persisted" (11). "

Comments :
in the sixteenth century no one knew exactly when the tarot cards had been invented, and the same applies to their inventor
in the middle of the seventeenth century, after a hundred years since the creation of Tarocchino, the habitants of Bologna thought that the original form of the game were the Tarocchini and not tarot. A natural assessment for that time.
So when we read in the paint of the inventor Tarocchini- we know the reason for failure.

Andrea also wrote :
"The dates indicated on the picture are very near to those hypothesized for the time of the birth of the game of Triumphs, and this could not surprise us more. As the oldest known documents about the game of triumphs date back to 1440 (Florence) and 1442 (Estense Court), by historical assumption regarding the practice of use [practica d’uso], the game must date back to at least twenty/twenty-five years earlier, a period which matches with the Prince’s presence in Bologna."

Considering 1440 Anghiari as the date for the birth of Triumphs
Considering that for historians of the Middle Ages it is almost certain that to know the origin of a situation we must go back to 20/25 years ago, we have a dating circa 1410-1425.
This may well be why Dummett, Depaulis and Decker have evaluated that date of origin.
"Agreeing with the writer on the date of invention of the game are three leading experts: R. Decker, T. Depaulis and M. Dummett. In the book A wicked pack of cards: The origin of the Occult Tarot they write: "A lower bound for the date of the invention is harder to determine. It probably occurred around 1425; the earliest date with any claim to be plausible would be 1410".
in those dates Prince was in Bologna, it is plausible that the writings in the paint derived from a reading of a lost document which asserted.

Well, that's my way of understanding the hypothesis formulated by Andrea and I find it logically plausible. I do not think that Cardini, the best specialist of Medieval culture since Le Goff, would contradict me.If so, I welcome to stand corrected.

PS I forgot to answer the last question : I said what i thought about but did not precise what i did not understand.
i did not understand why the hypothesis of Andrea was not understood ...
Now I understand that for Mikeh, the hypotheis of Andrea is plausible but that the opposite is also plausible.
That for you, proving the Prince Fibbia had existed was not sufficient for the reasons you offered.

My conclusion : OPEN TOPIC

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion


Hurst appreciation
Some aspects of Moakley's understanding of Tarot have proven perfectly sound. Unlike most writers before and since, she approached Tarot as a card game from 15th-century Italy rather than an esoteric manifesto of mysterious origin and transmission. In 1980, Michael Dummett's comprehensive study of Tarot history, The Game of Tarot, confirmed and documented in great detail the correctness of those conclusions[20]. Likewise, the art-historical approach to understanding the subject matter on the cards has proven more productive than occult impositions. This approach included focusing on a specific, very early deck of identifiable provenance[nb 7][21], which enabled the identification of numerous specific Visconti and Sforza emblems on the cards.

Prince Fibbia
Prince Castracani Fibbia (1360-1419) with Tarot cards. The Queen of Batons bears the Fibbia arms.
A few conclusions she presented were mistaken. Perhaps most notably, Moakley discussed the account of Count Leopoldo Cicognara concerning 1) Antonio de Cicognara having painted Tarot cards for Cardinal Asciano Maria Sforza (son of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti) in 1484 and 2) a painting of Prince Francesco Antelminelli Castracani Fibbia, with an inscription crediting him with the invention of Tarot and discussing specific heraldry on two cards of the Bolognese standard pattern deck[22]. On the basis of earlier researchers she dismissed both of these accounts, noting in the case of the latter that Robert "Steele could find no evidence that such a painting had ever existed, or that cards with these two devices had been made." Subsequent research has left the significance of the first passage of Cicognara's account in dispute. Among the possibilities, at one extreme Leopoldo's story may simply be spurious. At the other extreme, his ancestor Antonio may actually have repaired the very deck Moakley studied, including the addition of six replacement cards. However, the second passage has been confirmed. The painting exists, with the inscription, and Bolognese cards did bear the images described[23]. Fortunately none of her other conclusions depended upon these."

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Both accounts are in dispute as well as the review of Hurst ...
Moakley could only rely on earlier researchers and one of her principal sources about Prince Fibbia , Robert Steele account of Prince Fibbia, was warranted
As for Hurst review, as Mikeh noted, it is not only that the painting exists but Prince Fibbia himself also at the precise dating given 1419.
"About Prince Fibbia, it is not only that the painting exists, as well as the cards with his insignia, but also Prince Fibbia himself, dying in precisely the year said in the inscription, 1419. T"

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Meister Ingold in 1432 claimed to have read in an old book, that playing cards came to Germany in the year 1300.

It is not believed in playing card history, that this statement is true. Meister Ingold is only about 80-100 years later than 1300, assuming, that he might have been born c. 1380. It is not believed in spite of the condition, that there are other claims of an older date than the generally accepted "c. 1370". These claims are also considered as "somehow wrong".

The author of the picture with the short prince Fibbia story lived a much longer time later than prince Fibbia. His report has a definite error in his text about "Tarocchino". Further the author is easily under suspicion to write something "too positive" about the ancestor prince Fibbia ... the whole matter might be something, which a few gamblers invented at an evening with cards and some vine and much fun about a recent funny idea.

Meister Ingold had no recognizable reason to lie about his "old book", but one never knows.

I count 3 points, in which the story of Ingold appears more reliable than the story of prince Fibbia. Both existed, definitely, in this point it's a remis. But the story of Meister Ingold is ALSO not believed ... somehow with good reasons.

Personally I believe, that there might be something true about Meister Ingold's statement. Indeed I think also, that there might be also something true about prince Fibbia.
Prince Fibbia (or his family) came from Lucca originally, and the later emperor Charles IV was in Lucca as a young man and also in his time as emperor. Lucca had special relations to German emperors since old times. Prince Fibbia might have brought "some interesting card playing ideas" to Bologna ... this makes sense, if the notes of F.L. Hübsch in 1849 are correct, who had the opinion, that playing cards in Bohemia (home place of Charles IV) were very early (c. 1340).

Further we have, that the later Lucca had a curious way to play with 69 cards, from which 13 were like Minchiate "special cards". Further there are some considerations to the Sola-Busca concept. And there are observations to the Rosenwald and to the 5x14-theory, which make it plausible, that Lucca had (possibly) a very special role in the distribution of card games in Italy.

In this context Prince Fibbia is interesting.

This is interesting, but as far I can see it, this is ignored cause of ignorance ... :-)

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

I have nothing to add to the Fibbia discussion. I see both sides.
So now chapter 4.

[start p. 43]

THE TRIUMPH, Joan Evans tells us in her book Pattern (II 14), was to the Renaissance what the sacrament had been to the Middle Ages. In Italy, this type of procession was so popular that it actually hindered the development of the drama. (1)

The triumph had three ancestors: the ancient Roman triumph celebrated to honor a victorious military hero, the medieval religious procession, and the processions of knights traditionally held in connection with jousts and tourneys. The Renaissance interest in the Greek and Roman classics revived interest in the Roman triumph. History tells us that the Roman triumph originated in Etruria, which became the modern Tuscany in which Florence lies. It seems natural, therefore, that the Renaissance triumph was a special feature of festivals at Florence.(2)

In Milan, the religious processions very early took on the dramatic quality of the triumph. At Epiphany, for example, the story of the Magi was acted out in a procession which used the whole city for a stage.(3) The three Kings from the East rode into the city on fine horses, preceded by a long cortege. Trumpets were blown. Apes, baboons, and other animals were to be seen in the procession, no doubt destined to be offered to the Holy Child as gifts, along with the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Directly ahead of the Kings a golden star moved through the air, supported on a nearly invisible wire, At the columns of St Lawrence, Herod and his scribes appeared in effigy, as a reminder of the conference between them and the three Kings. From there the procession moved on to the Church of St Eustorgius, where the Kings worshipped before the image of the Christ Child in His Mother's arms. After that they lay down to sleep, and a winged angel flew down (assisted by a cable) to warn them not to go back the way they had come, but to leave through the Roman Gate of the city.
[notes originally p. 51]
1. For the hindrance to the drama see Burckhardt (Civilization p 407).

2. For triumphs in general see Burckhardt (Civilization pt V ch 8). For the processions of knights see Evans (Pattern I 108) and Bacon (Selected), essay 37: "Of Masques and Triumphs." His essay 45: "Of Building," should also be read, for it explains why palaces built during the Renaissance have their great halls "for feasts and triumphs." For the Etruscan origin of the triumph see Beard (History p 23).

3. For the Epiphany procession at Milan see Vianello (Teatro p 18).

[start p. 44]
A procession such as this, with the gradual addition of more and more sideshows, could easily turn into the procession of triumphal cars so popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

It was the knights' processions which contributed to the triumph the exciting feature of rows of mounted men andfootmen, all dressed alike, who marched before each triumphal car. Giorgio Vasari wrote that, in his opinion, it was the Florentine painter, Piero di Cosimo, who first adapted Carnival maskings to the character of a triumph, or at least that it was he who brought them to perfection, by introducing the long trains of men all dressed to suit the character of a particular triumph. At night this made a most impressive sight. The marchers carried lighted torches which were reflected in the rich caparisons of the horses and the splendid dress of their riders. Each cavalier was attended by six or eight men, also mounted, dressed alike, and carrying torches. A triumphal car may have had as many as four hundred attendants. (4)

Sometimes, instead of passing through the streets, a procession would go around the great courtyard of a palace while the spectators sat at the windows. It was then called a carrousel. Today our amusement park merry-go-rounds still have triumphal "cars" and horses for the "knights" and are often called carrousels.

The Visconti and Sforza families, like the Medici of Florence, loved these elaborate processions. The first Sforza duke had refused a triumphal entry into Milan, but his descendants made up for it. Again and again in the art of their time it is a Sforza we see pictured on a triumphal car, from Battista Sforza, Duchess of Urbino, in Piero della Francesca's painting, to Bianca Maria Sforza, the Empress, in Jörg Kölderer's series of miniature paintings, "The Triumphs of Maximilian." (5)

When Costanzo Sforza married Camilla D'Aragona in 1475, the occasion was celebrated by the performance of a Triumph of Fame, with Fame sitting in a car upon a great globe, surrounded by heroes: Scipio, Alexander, and Caesar. When the bride made her solemn entrance into the city of Pesaro, she was greeted by a Triumph of Chastity. The figure of Chastity was clothed in silver, and carried a golden palm-branch in her hand. Another car carrying six ladies who represented great heroines of purity followed the triumphal car. They were all clothed in white and carried lilies. At the end of a two-day celebration in the castle, with splendid banquets and congratulatory
[note originally p. 51]
4. For Vasari's remarks see his Lives II 416.

5. The triumph of Federigo of Urbino and his wife will be found in most collections of Piero della Francesca's work. The two paintings are reproduced in miniature in Burckhardt (Civilization, the edition published by Harper, 1958, II 418-419) but they appear over the wrong captions, which have been transposed. For Kölderer's triumphs see Waetzoldt ("Jörg"). Kölderer was also responsible for the architectural design of the huge print by Albrecht Dürer and his assistants, made up of 192 separate woodblocks, "The Triumphal Arch of Maximilian." A copy of this is on permanent exhibition on the main floor of The New York Public Library, in the south corridor. Here the serpent of Milan appears among the many heraldic devices.

[start p. 45]
recitations, a confectionery piece representing this same triumph of Chastity was offered to the newlyweds. (6)

In the summer of 1481, when Catherine Sforza and her husband Girolamo Riario entered Forli, they passed through triumphal arches in streets hung with splendid tapestries. They were met by crowds of young men in white, carrying palm-branches, and a car filled with children who addressed them in song. Bands of music played while the bells of the city rang joyfully. Catherine's horse was caparisoned in cloth of silver embroidered with pearls, and the noble pair were accompanied by a group of noblemen dressed in white and gold, who carried a canopy over their heads. Here we have all the magnificence of the triumph, without the characteristic triumphal car or its allegorical figures. (7)

Chastity as the subject of a triumph was derived from Petrarch's famous poem, I Trionfi (8), the main outline of which supplied themes for decorative art and triumphal processions, and finally for the game of triumphs played with the tarocchi. There were six triumphs in I Trionfi. First was the triumph of Cupid over gods and men, even over the great god Jove, and Petrarch too, who was lovesick for his Laura. When artists illustrated this triumph (9) they showed Cupid on a great car drawn by white horses, aiming darts or arrows at the lovers who are the unhappy captives accompanying his triumph. The second triumph is that of Chastity, which celebrates Laura's refusal of Petrarch's love. The tradition of courtly love required the lover to choose a married woman for the object of his affections, and the lady to remain coldly aloof. Chastity is a silver-clad figure with ermine on her banner, who rides on a car drawn by unicorns and overcomes fickle Fortune. Fortune appears in the illustrations sometimes as a figure standing on a ball and carrying a sail, sometimes simply as a storm at sea. Chastity's chief captive is Cupid himself, for the basic formula in a series of triumphs is that the leading figure in each becomes the chief captive or victim of the triumph which follows. In tapestries we sometimes see the victim lying beneath the wheels of the next triumphal car, but Cupid does not suffer this fate. Instead, he sits on the front of Chastity's car with his bow broken and his hands bound behind his back.

Petrarch's Laura died in the Black Death, and the third triumph in his poem is the triumph of Death. Death, in the form of a skeleton, rides on a car drawn by black oxen. But Death in turn falls victim to Laura's fame, and the personified Fame rides in a car .drawn by ele-
[notes originally p. 52]
6. For Costanzo Sforza's wedding see Weisbach (Trionfi p 86).

7. For Catherine Sforza's entry see Young (Medici p 515).

8. For the popularity of Petrarch's poem see Ernest H. Wilkins, The Making of the "Canzoniere" (Roma 1954 p 370); also Masséna (Pétrarque, p_102, note 3). Though the poem was dull, the idea of the six triumphs (not Petrarch's, by the way; in the actual poem there is only one triumphal car, that of Cupid) was so attractive that everyone wanted to own a copy of the poem, preferably with illustrations. Wilkins (p 217) quotes an inscription made by the owner of one copy claiming that he wanted to have his darling Petrarch beside him in bed and at table, and to live and die with it — claiming also to have ordered the copy at a date (1370) which Wilkins calls "unreliable" (for Petrarch had not yet finished the poem then). For the use of the theme in decorative art see Hind (Catalogue, p 10) and Schubring (Cassoni, text p 21-22, 199, and many instances in the volume of plates).

9. The best source for illustrations of The Triumphs is Masséna (Pétrarque), which is profusely illustrated.

No one seems to have noticed that playing cards originated at a time when pictures in general were becoming portable, in contrast to the art of earlier times, which had been mainly mural painting and the illumination of books. As soon as you have a set of little pictures you can hold in your hand, especially if they belong to a series, a game is almost inevitable (witness the games children play with the cards given away with bubble-gum, etc). For the rise of panel painting see Hauser (Social p 264). If playing cards were brought to Europe from China, as is sometimes supposed, why were they so late in coming? Marco Polo could have brought them back half a century before we begin to hear any authentic mention of their existence in Europe.

[start p. 46]
phants, blowing her own many-mouthed trumpet. Time brings oblivion even to great fame, and so the next car, drawn by stags, carries Time, old, leaning on crutches and holding an hourglass.

The happy ending comes with the triumph of Eternity, in which Petrarch and Laura are united in everlasting bliss. Illustrators show this as an image of the Holy Trinity, mounted on a car drawn by the "four living creatures" which are symbols of the four Gospels: a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox. In the sky appear the chief captives of this triumph, the Sun and Moon, representatives of the Time which they measure. They are no longer necessary in the full light of Eternity. That is why the last of modern tarocchi trumps has the four living creatures in its four corners, and the Star, the Moon, and the Sun are three of the highest tarocchi trumps.

The ludus triumphorum, or game of triumphs, had several variations before it became fixed as the game played with twenty-one triumphs and a Fool which we find condemned in sermons of the fifteenth century. (In calling them "triumphs" we are using the English word of which "trump" is a variant form; in Italian the same word, "trionfo," is used both for triumphs and for trumps.) The earliest game of triumphs may have been the sixteen-card set which is thought to have been painted for the third Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, by Michelin da Besozzo. In this set there were four groups of triumphs, with four cards in each group. The lowest was the triumph of .the Virtues: Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Hercules. Next was the triumph of Riches represented by Juno, Neptune, Mars, Aeolus. Then the Virginities: Chastity (Pallas), Diana, Vesta, Daphne. Finally came the Pleasures: Venus, Bacchus, Ceres, and Cupid, with Cupid triumphing over all. The plot of this grouping of triumphs may have been suggested by an ironic passage in the Divinae Institutiones of Lactantius, one of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. (10)

Sometimes it is difficult to conclude whether a series of triumphs is simply a set of pictures, or whether it is a set of playing cards. The so-called "Tarot of Mantegna," for example, is a set of five triumphs with ten cards in each but so large and thin that one wonders if they should be called "cards" at all. Another set obviously not a card game is Ktilderer's "Triumphs of Maximilian," boasting of that emperor's achievements and possessions. (11) The modern minchiate cards of Florence have thirty-five numbered trumps and six unnumbered "wild" cards, which originally must have
[note 10 originally p. 52; note 11 originally p. 53]
10. For the sermons condemning the game of triumphs see the notes for VI; "The Trumps and the Fool." For the sixteen-card set see Durrieu ("Michelino"). This may be the set mentioned in Decembrio ("Philippi"), which is worth quoting in full: "Cap. LXI. De variis ludendi modis: Variis etiam ludendi modis ab adolescentia usus est, nam modo pila se exercebat, nunc folliculo: plerunque eo ludi genere, qui ex imaginibus depictis sit, in. quo praecipue oblectatus est adeo, ut integrum eorum raffle, & quingentis aureis emerit, auctore vel in primis Martiano Terdonensi eius Secretario, qui Deorum imagines, subjectasque his animalium figures, & avium miro ingenio, summaque industria perfecit."
Masséna (Pétrarque p 106-7) quotes the passage from Lactantius (liber I, cap XI) who mentions a poem about the "triumphum Cupidinis ... pompam in qua Jupiter cum caeteris diis ante currum triumphantis ducitur catenatus."

The game of triumphs must have originated among the aristocracy, for it is seldom or never legislated against, as were ordinary playing cards. Schreiber (Altesten p 76) shows that "taxillos vel naybos" were forbidden by the statutes of the city of Perugia in 1425, but triumphs were not mentioned (possibly, of course, because they had not yet been invented). In 1488 Brescia forbade "buschatia" and defined this as "omnis Indus taxilloram et cartarum exceptis ludis tabularum et rectis ludis triumphorum et seachornm." Schreiber shows also that in 1489 the city of "Salo am Gardasee," and in 1491 the city of Bergamo, passed similar laws, both excepting the game of triumphs from the prohibition. At Carnival time the prohibition was temporarily lifted (Arch stor lomb xviii (1886) 28-29).

11. In looking through Hind (Early) one often comes upon series of pictures which might easily have served for the game of triumphs, especially a set by Nicoletto da Modena (pl 640 ff), which show Minerva, Hercules, Orpheus, Abundance, Mercury, Neptune, Venus, Ceres, Apollo, Pallas, Mars, Fortune, and Ceres. This artist actually made tarocchi (pl 68). For the "Tarot of Mantegna" see Hind (Catalogue p 17-25). For Kölderer see Waetzoldt ("Jörg"). The Sola-Busca tarocchi (shown in Hind, Early, vol iv of plates, 370 ff) are a fanciful set with twenty-one trumps representing characters of antiquity: Catullus, Nero, Nimrod, etc. The suit cards are also pictures, and are obviously the source of the more attractive suit cards drawn by Pamela Colman Smith in 1910 for A. E. Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

[start p. 47]
been the "game of the triumphs of Petrarch" which we find listed in the Rosselli inventory. All six of Petrarch's triumphs are clearly to be seen in the minchiate trumps. They show Cupid and his captives, as in the tarocchi, but with more respectable captives than the Pope and Popess; then the triumph of Chastity accompanied by Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, and her captive, Fortune. The triumphs of Death and Time are the same as in the tarocchi, except that the Hanged Man has a pair of money bags, and Time has not been changed into the Hermit of the modern tarocchi. The triumph of Fame is represented by the virtues Hope, Prudence, Faith, and Charity, each wearing Fame's curious aureole. The triumph of Time also appears in the cards representing each of the four elements and the twelve signs of the zodiac. In the six unnumbered cards appears the triumph of Eternity: the Star of the Magi, the Sun and Moon (for some odd reason the Sun ranks below the Moon in the minchiate), the World, the Angel (blowing Fame's many-mouthed trumpet, and sometimes actually going by her name, "La Renommée"), and the Fool. (12)

Often there was a sentimental softening of Petrarch's story when its theme was used in decoration, making it the story of Everyman rather than the specific story of Petrarch's love for Laura. We find this as far away from Italy as England, where Sir Thomas More's father had on his walls the "pageants" of Childhood, Manhood, Venus and Cupid, Age, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. Wedding chests, too, were frequently decorated with a selection made from the six triumphs, only those most appropriate for the occasion being depicted. (13) Shakespeare's comedy, Love's Labour's Lost, opens with lines which refer to the last four triumphs:
Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavour of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,
And make us heirs of all eternity.
The other triumphs were omitted — perhaps designedly, for in this play the speaker of these lines is suggesting to his audience such a womanless life that even Chastity would be out of place, and much more Cupid.
[notes originally p. 53]
12. For the minchiate see Hargrave (History p 228-230). The Rosselli inventory is quoted in Hind (Early vol I). Item no 72 is a set of plates for printing the "giuocho del trionfo del petrarcha in 3 pezi." Other blocks or plates for printing games are also listed: "giuoco d'apostoli chol nostro singnore, in sette pezi, di Iengno" (Hind thinks this pious game of Apostles and Our Lord shows Savonarola's influence), a "giuoco di sete virtu in 5 pezi, di lengno," and a "giuocho di pianeti cho loco fregi. [friezes], in 4 pezi."

13. For More's pageants see Evans (Pattern) I 153. She cites and quotes the passage from "Dibdin, Typographical Antiquities, ix, 431." For the wedding-chests see Schubring (Cassoni).

[start p. 48]
The tarocchi trumps are not so much a softening of the Petrarch story as they are a ribald take-off. Perhaps because, in the merry mood of Carnival, everything possible was done to make fun of the solemn story. Two of the great Cardinal Virtues are, in the tarocchi, taken out of context and made to accompany Cupid with obviously sexual and scatological reference ("inter urinas et faeces nascimur"). The Pope is given a mate, but those who wish may take the Pope and Popess for Jupiter and Juno. Chastity is banished in favor of her enemy, Fortune. Time is reduced to being an attendant of Death, and Fame is forgotten. Most impudent of all, Eternity is put on a level with the other triumphs, instead of being unnumbered and so left "out of this world" as in the minchiate pack. Undoubtedly it was this audacity and irreverence that made the tarocchi trumps so popular, in fact the game of triumphs par excellence.

The story told by the tarocchi trumps is a basic human story, and it is not surprising to find chapter headings in a recent Freudian study of history that might have been suggested by the trumps, although there is nothing to show that the author is acquainted with them: "The Problem. — Eros. — Death. — Sublimation. — Studies in Anality [much concerned with the Devil]. — The Way Out; the Resurrection of the Body." (14) Today the names of the more auspicious trumps are favorite names for magazines and newspapers: Fortune, Time, The Sun, The World. There is even a magazine which goes by the name of Eros, Cupid's Greek name.

Since the tarocchi included such universally favorite themes, it is no wonder that they attracted much interest, particularly after Time began to triumph over the Fame of Petrarch himself and his original story was forgotten. Even as early as 1550 an invective against playing cards entitled Il Traditor could ask: "What does the Popess mean, the Car and the Traitor, the Wheel, the Fool, the Star, the Sun, Strength, Death, and Hell?" (15)

Boiardo, who wrote his Orlando Innamorato less than fifty years after the Visconti-Sforza tarot cards were painted, shows more understanding of their meaning. He wrote a set of verses, two sonnets and seventy-eight terzine (one for each of the tarocchi), which were a fanciful design for a proposed new set. The suit signs were to be darts (for Love), vases (for Hope), eyes (for Jealousy) and whips (for Fear). It was customary in his time to think of the court cards in each suit as having a personal name. For his fancied set they were to be: in the suit
[notes originally p. 53]
14. Chapters in Norman O. Brown, LIfe against Death; the Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Middletown, Conn. Wesleyan Univ Press 1959).

15. The invective against cards is cited and quoted in Morley (Old p 25). I have paraphrased it somewhat.

[start p. 49]
of Love, Polyphemus for the Page, because he loved Galatea; Paris for Knight, because of his love for Helen of Troy; Venus for Queen, pictured in a car drawn by swans, as she is shown on a wall of the Schifanoia Palace at Ferrara. Jupiter would be King. In the suit of Hope, iforatius Codes, noted for his bravery, would be Page; Jason, Knight; Judith of Bethulia, Queen; and Aeneas, King, because of the hope which sustained him in his journey from Troy to Italy. Hundred-eyed Argus would be Page in the suit of Jealousy; the. Knight, Turnus, rival of Aeneas for the hand of Lavinia; the Queen, Juno, to be shown riding in a car drawn by peacocks, whose many-eyed tails are a symbol of watchful jealousy. Juno's jealousy of the amorous Jupiter was proverbial. The King of this suit would be Vulcan, jealous of Mars's success with his wife Venus. In the suit of Fear the court cards are to be Phineus, Ptolemy, Andromeda, and Dionysius, all unhappy victims of this emotion. (16)

In listing his proposed trumps Boiardo starts with the Matto, the Fool, who stands for "the world, by madmen vainly loved." The Fool is to be dressed very gaily in red and yellow adorned with bells and is to be shown riding on an ass. Here is the first evidence of the tendency of the Fool to usurp the place of the first, which we shall consider later.

A complete list of Boiardo's proposed trumps follows: I Idleness (Sardanapalus), II Labor (Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons), III Desire (Actaeon), IV Reason (Petrarch's Laura, with her ermine banner of Chastity and Cupid as her captive), V Secrecy (Antiochus), VI Grace (the three Graces), VII Disdain (King Herod, who killed his beloved Mariamne "per sdegno"), VIII Patience (Psyche), IX Error (depicted by Jacob, who found he was in error in thinking he had won Rachel through seven years' labor), X Perseverance (Penelope), XI Doubt (King Aegeus, who was in doubt about the return of his son Theseus from Crete ), XII Faith (Sophonisba), XIII Deception (Nessus), XIV Wisdom (Hypermnestra), XV Chance (Pompey ), XVI Modesty (Emilia, Scipio's wife), XVII Peril (Julius Caesar), XVIII Experience (Rhea, mother of Jove), XIX Time (Nestor), XX Oblivion (Dido), XXI Strength of mind (Lucretia, who killed herself because her honor had been violated).

Boiardo's writing also gives some rules for playing the game. The pip cards of the good suits, Love and Hope, are to rank from ten as high card to ace as lowest. In the bad suits (Fear and Jealousy) the order is to be reversed "because more love and more hope are better
[note originally p. 53]
16. See Boiardo (Tutte tx 702-716 and 748-749) for the proposed new tarocchi.

[start p. 50)
than less, and less jealousy and fear are better than more." After the play for tricks the players score the number of points they have made in the good suits, and subtract from this the points they have in the bad suits. The player who has the best score has the right to impose a forfeit on the one with the lowest. In these rules there is a kind of gallant reversal of the actual rules, for Boiardo's vases are certainly feminine symbols, yet he equalizes this suit of Hope with the masculine suits of Swords and Staves in the existing tarocchi.

In French literature of the Renaissance the best known mention of the tarot is in Rabelais' Five Books of Gargantua and Pantagruel, where tarot is listed as one of the games played by Gargantua, and is significantly missing from the list of the various means of divination used by him. However, we know that cards were used for fortune-telling in Renaissance times. The method was based on the older system of fortune-telling with dice, and involved only one of the ordinary suits — never the tarocchi trumps. Yet one seldom or never finds cartomancy listed as one of the serious methods of divination used during the Renaissance. (17)

Further reference to the tarot is found in this curious riddle which appears in a French translation of Straparola's Facetious Nights, although it is nowhere in the original Italian work:
Ce guerrier indompte, hardy, victorieux,
Et qui, tousjours vainqueur, triomphe en toute guerre,
Sera d'un coustelas mort renversé par terre,
Et son règne detruict, jadis tant glorieux.

Après, pour un vieillard, o cruauté des cieux!
L'homicide poison secrettement s'enserre
Dans une couppe d'or ou d'argent ou de verre,
Dont en fin it mourra dolent et soucieux.

Mais le ciel pour cela n'apaisera son ire,
Car avec un baston, au premier de l'empire
Peu après l'on verra rompre et briser le chef.

Ce faint, pour peu d'argent la fortune ennemie
Le monde accablera, puis tous reprendront vie
Tant Brands comme petits, pour mourir de rechef.

(Translation by James Revak, posted by Hurst at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&start=53#p11504; my comments are in brackets, and also Ross's suggestions at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&start=53#p11507

This untamed warrior, bold, victorious,
And who, ever the victor, triumphs in any war,
Will die by a knife [I think "cutlass"] upside-down over the ground,
And his reign destroyed, once so glorious.

Next, for [I think "by"] an old man, o cruelty of the heavens!
The murderous poison secreted inside [Ross: "secretly locks/fixes/binds itself"]
In a cup of gold or silver or glass,
In [I think "of"] which he will finally die sorrowful and anxious.

But for that will heaven not mitigate its anger,
Because shortly after the beginning of the empire
One will witness the breaking and smashing of the leader with a club.

[Ross's alternative:
But for that, Heaven will not appease its anger;
For, with a club, at the beginning of the empire,
Very soon one will see it [Heaven, Ross says] break and smash the head.]

For want of [Ross, perhaps "for a little"] money, this event, adverse fortune
Will overwhelm the world [I think, the world will overwhelm]; then everyone, the great and small alike
Will live again to die from rechef [Ross "die again"].
The story goes on to say that this riddle was heard with great wonder, and no one could think what it might mean. Then the gentleman
[note originally p. 53]
17. See our bibliography for the Rabelais references. The Renaissance method of cartomancy, using only the suit of coins, is shown in Grillot de Givry (Witchcraft figs 283-284). Compare this with fig 289, which shows the sixteenth-century (and earlier) method of telling fortunes from the fifty-six throws of three dice. Grillot de Givry has a good deal to say about tarot cards, and apart from his unsupported statement that medieval sorcerers used them for divination, there is much good sense in what he says.

[start p. 51]
who had posed it revealed that the answer was nothing other than the game of tarot. Although this solution was apparently received without comment by the rest of his companions, the riddle seems rather obscure. It is true that each of the four stanzas contains the name of one of the four suits ("coustelas," "couppe," "baston," "argent"), and here and there some of the trumps seem to be hinted at. Beyond that, one can only guess at what seems to be a likely explanation. It is possible that the first stanza refers to an undaunted warrior who loses a trick in swords, and the second to an old man who loses in cups. In the third a great man loses a trick in staves, and in the last someone is able to trump because he has no cards of the suit led, which was coins. Here all the characters of the card world come to life, only to die once more. This is rather like the imaginative parables about the game of chess, where all the pieces "die" and are put away in their bag at the end of the game. (18)

We have seen that the trumps of our cards are visual representations of the popular triumphs of the fifteenth century, and that they were originally a separate game, based on the story of the three triumphs of Cupid, Death, and Eternity. Now we will look more particularly at the two characters in the triumphal procession who are the most important of them all in their relationship to the tarocchi.
[note originally p. 53]
18. The Straparola riddle was brought to my attention by Prof Archer Taylor, who is an authority on riddles as well as on many other things. See Straparola (Facétieuses II 371-372: 12th night, 7th tale).

Scan of pp. 50-51 (notes): ... 023det.jpg

Scan of pp. 52-53 (notes): ... 024det.jpg

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

My comments about chapter 4 divide into three sections: preliminaries, the main issue, and other points of interest.


1. Moakley gives two new precedents to the imagined procession: that of knights and foot soldiers under banners, and the Magi processions in Milan. It seems to me that there were also wedding processions, for Marie of savoy in 1428 and Bianca Maria Visconti in 1441.

2. The other processions she mentions are all later than the PMB, so not of interest in relation to that deck unless they are examples of practices that also occurred earlier. Except for wedding processions and processions on religious holidays, I do not know the answer to that question.

3. It is of interest that Moakley says that the tarocchi deck "had several variations before it became fixed as the game played with twenty-one triumphs and a Fool". Her only example is is the Marziano/Michelino, with 16 triumphal cards; it is discussed a lot on THF. The documents are on, ( This deck was not well known in 1966, with only one article, 70 years earlier, in French; she has done some homework. She presents Jupiter as the lowest triumphal figure and Cupid the highest; probably it is the other way around, although the text is not totally clear. Ross writes, in his analysis of the text (at
However, each of the gods will be higher than all orders of the birds and than kings of the orders (Deorum vero quisque omnibus ordinibus avium et ordinum regibus praeerit.)
The gods among themselves have to respect this law: who first is noted lower down will be higher than all the following ones. (Sed inter se dii hac lege tenebuntur, quod(?) qui prior inferius annotabitur sequentibus omnibus praesit.) [Here I am not certain of the meaning; probably, the first god to be played has to be considered as the highest card.]
I always thought that it meant that the trump with the lowest number (e.g. Jupiter as #1) beats those with higher numbers (e.g. Cupid at #16).

What I found most interesting in her summary is that she is unaware that all the triumphs in that game were linked to the suits; that would have supported her thesis about the relationship of triumphs to suits in the tarocchi. I assume that detail was not mentioned in the French article. That leads me to believe that the cataloguer of the CY was also unaware of this fact.

Main issue:

4, How she applies I Trionfi to the tarot sequence is the main topic of the chapter. In the Visconti-Sforza, she finds that the ideas of at least five of the six Petrarchan triumphs are in the poem, namely Love, Chastity, Death, Time, and Eternity. So a main inspiration for the tarot sequence is the poem.s.

Hurst raises some problems about her argument (
Moakley suggests that Petrarch’s triumphs were excerpted, simplified, and rearranged “in the merry mood of Carnival.” Some elements seem straightforward, such as Love followed by the Chariot. In the Visconti-Sforza deck, Love may illustrate a betrothal picture of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti. The Chariot has a female sovereign being pulled by winged horses, and might easily be intended to conflate the conventional Tarot Chariot with Petrarch’s Triumph of Chastity. (Unfortunately for her presentation, Moakley followed the Bertoni sequence, which inverts the order of these two cards.) Death follows eventually, but Fame appears to be completely absent. The triumph of Eternity (the Angel and World) over Time (the Moon and Sun) would complete Petrarch’s triumphs, in something close to their proper order. Among other problems with this analysis, however, in the Visconti-Sforza deck the Hermit card is clearly intended to represent Time, and therefore ruins another part of the sequence.

Moakley resolves such difficulties with speculations about possible humorous intent. Lack of fit with Petrarch’s design is taken not as a weakness of the theory but as implied satire of that design. The trumps are considered “a ribald take-off” of Petrarch’s story, blended into the context of a playful Carnivalesque procession. “Perhaps because, in the merry mood of Carnival, everything possible was done to make fun of the solemn story.” Unfortunately, there is no apparent rhyme or reason to the various mismatches, and no coherent connection with Petrarch’s design. If it were intended as a satire it fails utterly, since the object of the satire is no longer visible. Yes, there are some of Petrarch’s triumphs present in Tarot, but also some absent, some out of sequence, and many more that are simply out of place, having no reasonable analogy in I Trionfi. As Robert V. O’Neill put it in Tarot Symbolism:
I omit the alleged quote from O'Neill, in part because I do not find it in O'Neill's book (which does not use the term "mountebank") and in part because it is in support of the analogy of the Carnival King and Lent King to the Bateleur, unrelated to what Hurst has just said. I assume that there is has been an error in uploading this part. Probably the quote from O'Neill is what we read on p. 79:
The explanation is that the Tarot is not only a simplification of Petrarch's schema but also a spoof, a ribald take-off of the solemnity of the original story and in the spirit of the Carnival parade. This explanation is not acceptable simply because it allows too much freedom. Any lack of correspondence can be passed off as part of the joke. Therefore, if the cards match, it is taken as positive evidence for the theory, while any discrepancy is dismissed off-hand. This is too simplistic.
I agree that Hurst's questions cannot simply be shrugged off. Before the satire, there must be that which is satirized. How to answer his points?

First, on the absence of Fame: It seems to me that the tarot sequence does not have to follow all of Petrarch's schema, 5 out of 6 is enough to prove the point. For her all 5 are there, even if one is out of order (Chariot before Love) and another (Time) occurs in two places. All of this can be accounted for by the change of setting, from a personal poem to a popular game.

"Fame" in Petrarch's sense, worldly fame, is a quality achieved only by a few, and it may be questioned whether it is even desirable to strive after it, for it leads many to ruin. Petrarch's poem was a personal reflection on the part of a poet who was already famous by the time he wrote the "Triumph of Fame". A deck of cards is for many people, especially women who don't get much chance for fame. A work of art in a new setting does not have to copy its source slavishly; it is a new creation, not a mnemonic device to remember the elements of a poem. If Hurst and O'Neill's argument were true, then any time one work of art builds on another but not slavishly (I believe it was Harold Bloom who called it "creative misreading"), there is no building upon at all.

Also, Moakley does say that in one version of the tarot Fame does appear, namely minchiate, where it corresponds to "Hope, Prudence, Faith, and Charity, each wearing Fame's curious aureole." In that sense, Fame is glory in the eyes of heaven rather than of the world. Since Moakley's time, it has been noticed that the terms "germini" and "minchiate" occur in documents at regular intervals starting from 1466: 1477, then 1507. It can be hypothesized (although Moakley doesn't, that I can tell) that the minchiate might represent a version of tarocchi that goes back very early, when more correspondence with the poem might have been expected. See Franco's essays on this speculation translated at: (1) viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1086#p16686; (2) viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1086&start=20#p16716 and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1086&start=20#p16721; (3) viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1120&start=50#p18092.

Also, there is the Cary-Yale, apparently unknown to Moakley (although it was just a commuter train ride away) but which has a card of unknown title with castles and a knight on horseback. Above is a lady holding a trumpet. The trumpet is an attribute of fame. So the scene below might be a knight in the act of achieving fame. It might even be specific to Francesco Sforza, his fame, as Phaeded has suggested. Similar scenes might have been on other early Milanese decks of that type, perhaps expressing a chivalric ideal, such as that of Sir Galahad and Sir Perceval, main characters in the "Lancelot" book illustrated by the Bembo workshop in the 1440s.

A fourth solution might be that the PMB designer thought that striving for worldly fame was inappropriate, and therefore identified that Petrarchan triumph with the Devil, as a temptation to be avoided, and the Tower, referring to the Tower of Babel and other monuments done "to make a name for ourselves", as Genesis describes the motives of its builders. Moakley does not associate these cards with any Petrarchan triumph. The Devil is surely not a "captive" of Death, since he is immortal. But given that the "wages of sin is death" he might be considered a "companion" of Death, as might the "arrow" or "fire" of the Tower.

The other problem Hurst raised is that Time, represented by an old man with an hourglass, is out of order. For Moakley Time appears in two places in the sequence, once as an old man, Father Time, and once as the celestials. As the celestials it is in the place Petrarch put it. But Petrarch's poem, a personal expression, is being adapted for a larger audience. There are two types of Time, human time and cosmic time. Petrarch only drew attention to cosmic time, that over which fame fades; the tarocchi designer, at least by the time of the PMB, wants to pay attention to both, including those who aren't concerned with earthly fame, but do need to remember that the time alotted to them on earth is short. It is an adaptation of the Petrarchan structure to a new setting.

There is also the issue of what to do with the other cards besides those identified with the triumph itself. She says that besides the triumph itself, there are its "companions" and "captives". Love has the imperial and papal couples as its captives, and fortitude and temperance as its companions, but seen not as the virtues but as sexual symbols, in an "anything goes" atmosphere. This interpretation is appropriate in a carnival atmosphere, if Milan then had a history of such a thing. But she is also led to it by the odd Bertoni sequence she uses (Temperance, Chariot, Love, Fortitude), which besides being atypical and changing Petrarch's order of Love and Chastity (if = Chariot) is from another region and is also rather late. If she had used the "Steele Sermon", which is probably the earliest known list, she would not have found herself in this very awkward position, one that ignores the conventional meanings. In the "Steele Sermon" the order is: Temperance, Love, Chariot, Fortitude ( ... _Cum_Aliis). In that case, Temperance is the companion of Love, and Fortitude is the companion of the Chariot.

She gives another way of assigning Petrarchan to tarot triumphs in the discussion of minchiate. I have already mentioned Fame. In minchiate the chariot card, representing Chastity, is above Fortune (Love, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, Fortune, Chariot). Here she says Chastity has Love and Fortune as its captives, and the three virtues Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice as its companions.

This solution can be modified to fit orders where one or more of these three virtues is elsewhere in the sequence; in that case, what is left can serve as "companion". In general, each Petrarchan triumph can have its own car, one after another, and virtues can be "companions", triumphators in their own right, or simply things that follow, like the cars and marchers in a parade.

In most tarot orders, Fortune is not above the Chariot. In that case, Fortune is not chastity's captive, but the reverse. That is not a problem. If Chastity can be overcome by death, it can be overcome by fortune. Rape, for example, is a misfortune that overcomes chastity. Destitution of one's family can also lead to the sacrifice of chastity for their sake. And chastity--pudicitia, specifically, the sense of shame--is not only a virtue of women; it is more generally the avoidance of shame; loss of position or livelihood, or even a competition with others in one's trade, is a kind of shame.

O'Neill complains about the lack of symmetry in the structure: Love has four "captives", Chastity only one. But why not, if that is the way it is? The cards are not an abstract design laid out like a crystal or an image in a kaleidoscope. They simply tell an allegorical story; some characters, as in the stories about knights, have lots of captives and others fewer.

One criticism I do have is that it is not clear to me that Love has anyone captive except the lovers on the card themselves, who in fact are more parties to a contract than captives of passion (the "softening" of Petrarch). In both the Steele Sermon and Bertoni, Love is separated from the Pope, etc., by at least one card. It works better in the minchiate and the later Lombard order, but even there the connection is not compelling. There can be a ribald interpretation of the dignitaries, certainly, but the sequence is meaningful enough without that particular implication. While being "love's captive" in Petrarch's sense applies to Pope Joan, it hardly applies to Moakley's preferred Sister Manfreda. The love that goes with marriage perhaps applies to the Empress and Emperor. But given that the Pope and Popess are absent from the earlier CY, they may have been an addition added after the original sequence.

I hope this is enough to deal with the issues Hurst raised, which were good ones. I want also to call attention to chapter 5 of John Shephard's The Tarot Trumps: Cosmos in Miniature, 1985, which dealt with these issues long ago. I hope to post some of it after Moakley is sufficiently presented.

Other points of interest:

5. Moakley denies a hard and fast distinction between playing cards and small prints, which are readily enough used for games. That might apply to the Rosselli Inventory that she mentions, which Hind seemed to think included groups of prints as well as games, even though all were called "giuocho" (see Ross's post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=906&p=13237&hilit=Rosselli#p13237). I do not know what I think, except that the "giuocho del trionfo del petrarcha in 3 pezi" is surely not the tarocchi, which would have been named as such and by then was hardly recognizable as Petrarch.

6. She maintains that the game must have originated with the aristocracy because it is not forbidden, unlike other games. Actually, in Florence it was forbidden for at least 10 years. and in fact there were two arrests for it in 1444. But even in 1420, there was possibly an exception, referred to as "diritta", to which another was added later. Triumphs was legalized in 1450, probably because it, like the others, was a trick-taking game and involved skill and not simply luck. See Franco Pratesi translations at viewtopic.php?f=11&p=17881#p17880 (the convictions in 1444) and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1082#p16591 (law of 1450). For the 1420 exception and why, see (in French) For a 1437 exception of two card games, see (in English)

7. Another way the tarot departs from Petrarch, she says, is a kind of "softening" of Love, making it "Everyman" rather than specific to Petrarch and Laura. It is not clear exactly what she means. I would say that Love is softened so that it is not the curse of longing and with feelings of despair, but the honorable estate of marriage.

8. She sees the whole sequence as an account of human experience generally; even history itself can be seen in terms of the triumphs. This last is of interest because of a 22 element parade in 1452 in Florence encompassing all of human history as seen through the Bible (see translation of Pratesi note at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1092&start=30#p17993). Also, if it describes human experience generally, then many works of literature and philosophy can be seen as exemplifying the sequence, more or less, as I have said at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=995&p=15034&hilit= ... sus#p15034.

9. Boiardo is discussed numerous places on THF. The poem itself is at,_Matteo_Maria. Other informaton is at Her way of presenting his sequence certainly suggests that he was continuing the themes of the corresponding tarot trumps in many cases (perhaps Hurst and O'Neill would deny any influence, other than the number of them, because of the exceptions). Moakley's discussion of the scoring procedure adds information I didn't know; I am not sure where it comes from precisely.

10. She says that fortune-telling was done with cards in the Renaissance, but only with the suit of Coins. I had not heard this before. Is there any basis for this? I will try to get her reference.

11. In the French tarot poem, what I do not understand is how a Sword beats the Hanged Man, a Cup beats the Old Man, and a Baton beats what seems to be the Emperor. Or am I misreading? (Is it a Celestial (le Ciel) that beats the Emperor?) At the end I think it is the World card that beats the Wheel of Fortune. It is still an enigma to me, but perhaps I am asking too much.

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

mikeh wrote:
10. She says that fortune-telling was done with cards in the Renaissance, but only with the suit of Coins. I had not heard this before. Is there any basis for this? I will try to get her reference.
Can't remember the details, but if memory serves me right there was a lots type book that used the suit of coins from a pack of playing cards as the lottery device (as others used dice for example) -- it was probably this to which she refers:

There were also others that used all suits of ordinary playing cards (well German suited cards at least I recall, not sure about French suited cards)::

edited to add:,_Francesco

for other kartenlosbuch see here -
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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