Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#1
Instead of continuing a sidebar on the Papi in the “original three trump orders” thread, I thought I’d address the problem in more depth here – referencing other threads where Papi were discussed by Ross and Alain, studies by Pratesi, etc. The general theory can seemingly be reduced to this: two each of Emperors and Popes were original to the ur-tarot, were further differentiated to be more easily read by card players – mainly by making one from each category a woman (as we in find the “Popess” and Empress in the c. 1451 PMB) – and then in some regions (Bologna and Piedmont) reverted to all males (or perhaps never changed).

Ross’s hypothesizes with Thierry on that historical development, from the Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI" thead (#184), thus: “…I’m staying with Thierry’s hypothesis of a transition period in Florence, where the Popess was removed but before Minchiate was invented.”

Even giving credence to the early 1466 Pulci mention of Minchiate and the subsequent Florentine 1471/7 regulations of that game (Lorenzo the Magnificent waxed poetic on a wide variety of subjects – e.g., sonnets on the planets – so surely it was possible that some form on Minchiate could have been elaborated on tarot during his reign), the only potential 15th century evidence for Minchiate’s subjects is the Rosenwald sheets which show a “popess” – so that trump was apparently not removed before Minchiate.

Of course the biggest problem is why - why should two emperors and two popes have been posited in the first place when there was no corresponding iconographic or textural parallels (say, the 'Three Living and the Three Dead' motif)? Furthermore Ross backs off the idea of a historically topical reason for them, leaving their original presence all the more enigmatic, especially when insisting on a timeframe. Ross again:
… my preference for this date and Florence is not because of the council or the presence of the Eastern Church. It is tempting as a background, and tempting to see my view through that lens, but that is emphatically NOT why I place my bets there. If there were no topically relevant circumstances in Florence in 1439, I would still be constrained by my reading of the evidence to put it there between 1437 and 1440….. So also for the equal-papi rule, my preference for it is not based on the Eastern-Western pope scenario, but because I think that Bologna preserves the original game, that the equal-papi rule is a "lectio difficilior" which has a hard time surviving outside of Bologna, but since it is found in the Piemonte-Savoy game, and is hinted at in Piscina's (and Anonymous IIRC) accounts, is best explained as being part of the original game, but quickly lost almost everywhere.
But what evidence for 1437-1440? ALL of the Papi evidence is from the 16th century (Minchiate rules for playing the Papi, Piscina, Anonymous Discorso, etc.), driven by an enduring belief that Bologna best preserves the original game. The only 1437-40 contemporary evidence to the posited timeframe for the genesis of the ur-tarot is Giusti’s brief note and the CY (followed by cursory regulatory and notarial references to Trionfi - without details besides the 1457 Ferrarese 70 card deck - in the next decade, culminating in what appears to be the standard tarot deck in the form of the PMB, c. 1451). And again, without the “topical circumstance” of the Councils and problem of the East-West Union (the Schism, on the other hand, only explains two [or three] popes – not two emperors), from whence the Papi? From a semi/illiterate card-playing milieu without a known culturally relevant parallel (preferably iconographic) that would have resonated meaningfully? But if the church Councils/Union as the driving impetus then why “genderize” half of the Papi when the means to distinguish them was their Byzantine dress? Byzantine Emperor John VIII had been sending distinguished envoys to the Councils as early as the one in Constance, traveling via Venice, Bologna, Ferrara, Milan, etc. – i.e., their dress was well-known; certainly by 1438:
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Besides Pisanello, see also the Florentine Picture-Chronicle: https://archive.org/details/gri_3312500 ... /page/n205

But despite the fascination with the Greek visitors, especially in Florence, there are no Byzantine details in the surviving 15th century cards, except for the PMB Time (“hermit”) trump, which was never a Papi.
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As for the best contemporary evidence for the ur-tarot, the CY (and what is left of the Brambilla), the lack of two emperors and two popes requires that the Papi get transformed almost immediately after their creation (less than 4 years, perhaps only 1, depending on the year you assume between 1437 and 1440). But why would Visconti’s learned court not know how to read a deck they commissioned, much less be driven by the common man’s ludic concerns?
But the biggest problem the CY represents for the Papi theory is the presence of Faith, an iconographical equivalence of the “Papess”/Ecclesia. To quote Ross from the Stendhal, "papesse Jeanne", and the "cojononon" thread:
So our Popess grows out of the representation of the Theological Virtue, because they were the same thing for so long and there was no need to make a distinction.....There was just no difference between 'Fides' and 'Ecclesia'. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=963&start=10
By that logic, there simply cannot be a “Popess” and a Faith card in the same deck (and I’ll avoid the tangential implications of how many trumps would have been in the CY then)…much less a conversion of a Pope from Faith.
Papi so-called of the CY.JPG
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The PMB clearly shows an extremely differentiated Empress, Emperor (that looks quite like the earlier Brambilla one), “Popess”/Ecclesia-as Clare and Pope…and its not hard to imagine these very differentiated cards follow the original impulse and that the Papi are a later summary interpretation of them, likely via Minchiate.
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Papi, so-called of the PMB.JPG
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A Reconstruction of the Origin of the Papi
I think the Papi did indeed originate in a ludic context, as a “dumbing down” of the original humanist’s design. To put it in Occam’s razor terms: the card-players saw four persons on thrones – which they associated with the Supreme Pontiff (not all rulers were enthroned in Italy, certainly not in Florence) – and called them Papi, especially if the card details were unclear due to cheap woodblock prints. Ross put this much better himself:
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
14 Jan 2019, 17:48
Don’t get hung up on the term itself, “papi”. “Papa” just has the meaning of “dad”, exactly like our “papa”. I could suggest it was a colloquial term for “grand men”, “head honchos”, “big guys”, etc. or maybe even more slangy, like “poobahs”. Historically, a more serious argument is that the term is short form of “papi ed imperatori”, so just “papi” as a catch-all.
Precisely a “dumbing down.” And the development of tarot is rife with such “dumbing downs”, for example, in Piscina (who also describes the Papi in vague detail), where various secondary details of the trumps are seized upon to redefine their overall meanings. Just one example:
Time (“Hermit”): instead of reading the tell-tale attribute of the hour-glass, as in the PMB (clearly Petrarchan in its representation) we see instead a focus on the detail of the hunchback; as Pratesi put it: “The VECCHIO GOBBO corresponds to the classical image of the Hermit. However, no direct allegory of Time is proposed here.” (http://www.naibi.net/A/04-PISCIN-Z.pdf). And with that development, the obvious association of that trump with time is lost and all subsequent decks merely focus on a hunch-backed hermit…except for the earliest surviving Florentine deck, the CVI, which does show the hour glass:
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Pratesi further argues for an undue influence on the subsequent development of the Piedmont region (home to Piscina), which presumably inherited the Papi from Bologna:
No wonder that Piedmontese tarot is the one mostly manufactured in this country, at least since the disappearance of Minchiate (for Florence, Rome and Genoa) and the demise of the different pattern characteristics of Tarocchino Milanese. Moreover, the whole territory of the Duchy of Savoy, as well as the neighbouring region more to the north, was indeed among the few countries where tarot was not just an aristocratic −or a forgotten −game, but it gained there for centuries diffusion among every social class. Thus, even admitting for the moment a Milanese origin [written pre-Guisti find], I cannot imagine that Piedmont was not to some extent responsible for the spread of tarot in the 16th century to the neighbouring French and Swiss regions (ibid).
Perhaps not for the diffusion of the Papi, but for all of the other knucklehead ideas contained in Piscina we have the diffusion point and as well as the means of production for Piedmont's undue influence on which tarot deck would be received elsewhere. Ross’s comment on this region:
The Savoy game calls them “papots”, another ludic word rather than a term applied to real popes or emperors or both (and of course historically observed the "equal papi" rule, as well as the high Angel, despite using French cards numbered like the Tarot de Marseille, so "II" to "IIII" or "IV" were equal, and "XX" was higher than "XXI". ).
It seems to me that there is an over-emphasis on the term “ludic”, as if it implies an authenticity over all the other evidence and somehow cleaves closer to the original design of tarot. An equally valid argument, and more compelling in my opinion, is that the ever-changing, regional ludic influences point to subsequent tinkerings with the original game of tarot (and in fact explain the multiple trump orders we find – that may have nothing to do with the designer’s intent but clearly have everything to do with the various ludic milieus) .

As for the stronger possibility that the Papi were borrowed from Minchiate (versus in the ur=tarot), the unwieldy number of Minchiate cards (97 – Thierry calls it a “monster” per Ross’s translation of his book, Le Tarot révélé, 2013: 35) would likely have played the key role in inducing the ludic milieu to create more manageable subgroups, hence Papi. This to me adequately explains the existence of the term, and the term itself points to the Pope, likely enthroned, and hence interpreting the sequence of seated “rulers” all as Papi. Seizing on the throne detail would be par for the course for the subsequent new readings of the trumps; i.e., besides the Time example already given, the allegory of the woman in the chariot is ignored, becomes male and the wagon itself giving its name to the trump: “Carro.” Moreover, the so-called Steele Sermon adds the pointless subtitle of vel mundus parvus – “or a little world” which once again seizes upon a minor detail, in this case the T-O map-like orb held by the chariot’s ruler, as in this Tarocchino di Bologna exemplar (the same on the Rosenwald sheet):
Carro, early 17th c, Tarocchino.JPG
Carro, early 17th c, Tarocchino.JPG (12.15 KiB) Viewed 3238 times

A non-ur-tarot timeline for the Papi

• 1466: An expansion of the tarot trumps to be more encyclopedia in nature under the learned regime of Lorenzo Magnificent is called Minchiate (by Pulci at least – and hopefully his letter will be found some day).
• 1471/7: Florentine regulations of this Minchiate
• 1480-1500: Rosenwald sheets (most date these closer to 1500), posited via a missing sheet to be Minchiate by Pratesi here: http://trionfi.com/rosenwald-tarocchi-sheet; the problematic “popess” is explained by Pratesi thus: “either as a preliminary stage of the pack itself of minchiate, or in order to allow the pack to be used for playing ordinary tarot games, after discarding the 20 additional minchiate cards.” The latter solution seems ridiculous - printing a card that really doesn’t belong in the deck – and so we a Popess still present in Minchiate by this date, which would be contrary to Ross/Thierry’s theory (Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI", #184 ) “of a transition period in Florence, where the Popess was removed but before Minchiate was invented.”
• 1506: earliest record of Germini (likely almost identical to Minchiate) - perhaps the use of the subgroup term ‘Papi’ emerges by now, but not ruling out that an original Minchiate set of Emperor/Empress/Pope/”Popess” were called Papi (again, all sit on thrones like “big honchos” or the popes from which they took their name). The “Popess” is naturally eliminated in the post- Savonarola moralizing atmosphere of the 16th century which sees the likes of Piscina weighing in on tarot.
• 1513: Pope Leo X, born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, became pope in 1513 (until 1521) - if there was another reason for Florence to ditch the “popess” (notably after the Rosenwald sheets), this was it. Also note that in the year before this Medici became pope he was Bologna’s papal legate in 1511, with the city reverting to being under Papal dominion with the final ouster of the Bentivoglio in 1512 (casualties of the War of the Cambrai).

Unless I’ve missed it, there is no evidence for the term “Papi” in the 15th century. There are plenty of reasons, however, for a subsequent regional variation of tarot in Bologna and then Savoy, as well as Florentine-specific reasons whereby a “Popess” would not endure (but well after the creation of an ur-tarot).

Phaeded

Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#2
I argue that two popes and two emperors were original to the game, in the context of an equal-papi rule, from two things -

1) that A was the original order (and iconography) of trumps, that it was invented in Florence, but that it is only preserved in Bologna. Where Bologna goes, the papi go.
2) that the equal-papi rule and high Angel in Piedmont/Savoy implies an early wave of the original game at least as far north and west as Piedmont; this game and style of cards was lost definitively in Lombardy during the French rule of 1499-1512. Louis XII explicitlly set out to model Milan's industries on those of Lyon. Lyon was far and away the card-making capital of Europe at that time, so I assume that the card making industry in Milan was overwhelmed by the French.

Essentially, the existence of equal-papi and high Angel in Savoy proves that there was some connection between Bologna and Savoy. Since it was not direct, it had to be indirect, via a medium. That medium was Lombardy, which means that the style of game and cards, from the Florence-Bologna axis all the way to Turin, Nice and Chambèry, was once the same. The only time they could have been the same was in the undocumented 15th century.

The papi are icongoraphically distinguished in various ways, because both artists and players like distinctions. This is how female forms the Pope and Emperor came to be, just as sometimes female valets or jacks appear and disappear from the iconography in a given region. In luxurious custom made decks, this imagery is detailed and vivid. In woodcuts, it can be vague and ambivalent. But it doesn't have to be, like in Rosenwald.

I no longer assume any particular symbolism was intended by the Popess or Empress. Anything I wrote on this before September 2013 (like what you quoted) should be taken with caution. What I began posting in December 2013 is the theory and interpretaton I've had ever since. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=975&p=14766&hilit= ... ena#p14766

This is not to deny that both the artists and players saw particular symbolism or meaning in a card like the Popess. Like' I suggested about Bembo, he was aware in painting an enthroned woman with a papal tiara that something irreligious might be inferred, so he deliberately gave her a poor habit rather than a papal cope, stole, etc. But at least one of his copyists, in the deck in Fournier collection, made her into an exact female counterpart to the Pope. The temptation to embellish the figure is irresistible, and thereby it evolves.

I don't think the Rosenwald trump sheet was part of any Minchiate. The other two Rosenwald sheets were taken from a different woodblock, made by a different artist, and form a complete pack by themselves. Franco notes my proof of this in paragraph 3 (if I remember correctly) of his paper on the subject. I accept that some kind of augmented trump sequence is implied by Germini at least by 1500, since Trionfi is mentioned separately in the same sentence (I'm only recalling this information vaguely, I'll have to look it up), but I don't know how to interpret the Pulci and Medici uses.

The point about the transition between Triumphs and Germini/Minchiate is that at some point one of the four papi was suppressed. If there were two Popes, why were not both transformed into emperors and sultans? But rather, one was suppressed, one was transformed into a secular figure, and one was turned male. Only one emperor survived intact. It seems then that there was a delay between one action and the other. That is, some Florentine deck with a Popess, Pope and Empress became popular. During a conservative turn in the 1470s or so, the Popess became offensive and was suppressed. Thus there were three "papi", two emperors and a pope, left. At some point, maybe during Savonarola's time, or before, the Pope was also deemed offensive, and was transformed. Cardmakers who wanted to stay afloat had to make cards that were not offensive, until the time that allcards became offensive, under Savonarola. But his time didn't last long. The implication for the numbering of Charles VI then is that it was done after the Popess was suppressed, in the first wave of puritanism, but before the second wave. That is, Charles VI, like Bembo's productions, originally had the card, but the deck's owner became ashamed of it and took it out when an image of the Popess became scandalous. The printing press, with the spread of texts like Boccaccio's and Forresti's Famous Women, might have helped popularize the story of Pope Joan to the point that something that might be taken to depict her was not acceptable in polite, mixed company, like Tarot games were (in the context of the Latin texts of Boccaccio and Forresti, she was (mostly) safe. But I have seen her woodcut image defaced in some of them, along with breast and genitals in others).

On the image of the hunchback, old man, or Time, my logic leads me to take the Bolognese/Minchiate allegory of old age (hunchback and crutches) combined with Tempus fugit (wings) as the original, which would help date the invention of the game, since this allegory itself is a new creation, first seen in some cassoni of the 1440s. The hourglass first appears in the allegory of Time in the 1450s - just in time for Bembo, Charles VI, and Catania (his knowledge come from Simona Cohen's work, of course). So I lean toward the unwieldy composite allegory as the original. For simplicity's sake, I can conceive of an original "simple" image of old age, a hunchback with crutches, being the intended figure after Fortune, which was later embellished with the new-fangled allegorical flourishes. So I don't think I can be completely settled on the question, except to say that the misfortunes and infirmity of old age are the core symbolic meaning. On that I am sure.
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Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#3
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
28 Jan 2019, 18:01
I argue that two popes and two emperors were original to the game, in the context of an equal-papi rule, from two things -

1) that A was the original order (and iconography) of trumps, that it was invented in Florence, but that it is only preserved in Bologna. Where Bologna goes, the papi go.
2) that the equal-papi rule and high Angel in Piedmont/Savoy implies an early wave of the original game at least as far north and west as Piedmont; this game and style of cards was lost definitively in Lombardy during the French rule of 1499-1512. Louis XII explicitly set out to model Milan's industries on those of Lyon. Lyon was far and away the card-making capital of Europe at that time, so I assume that the card making industry in Milan was overwhelmed by the French.

Essentially, the existence of equal-papi and high Angel in Savoy proves that there was some connection between Bologna and Savoy. Since it was not direct, it had to be indirect, via a medium. That medium was Lombardy, which means that the style of game and cards, from the Florence-Bologna axis all the way to Turin, Nice and Chambèry, was once the same. The only time they could have been the same was in the undocumented 15th century.

Your comments about the French seem to obliquely dance around an implicit point, that the C order found in Milan and Savoy was imposed on both by the French, otherwise all of northern Italy was originally of the A order, or as you put it, “the style of game and cards, from the Florence-Bologna axis all the way to Turin… was once the same.” But if all of northern Italy was the same, why must the “medium” be Milan, instead of say Florence, as the point of diffusion into Savoy? And if France intervened equally upon Savoy and Milan (politically this is certainly true for both at the end of the 15th century), what has that go to do with Milan transmitting something to Savoy, besides perhaps explaining why both used the C order?

In Explainingg the Tarot, your co-authored work on Piscina and Anonymous Discorso (retitled Con gli occhi et con l'intelletto in 2018?), there are these partially clarifying remarks: After noting Piscina follows the C group of Lombardy, Piedmont/Savoy, France, and the rest of Europe outside of Italy, Piedmont/Savoy shares with Bologna 2 Popes and 2 Emperors played as equal Papi,
“…these features were traditional in Piedmontese and Savoyard games as they are known from descriptions beginning in the 18th century, Dummett proposed that the regional game was introduced directly from Bologna at an early time, although the only style of cards known to have been used in Piedmont and Savoy has always been the C or Western type instead of the Bolognese pack. How and when these features entered the Piedmontese game remains one of the unresolved problems in playing card history.” (2010/18: 8)
Besides one of Dummett’s unverifiable conjectures (“introduced directly from Bologna at an early time” – without the intermediary of Milan, I might add) the above admits what is seriously flawed with the entire edifice of this argument: it is built on the foundations of 18th century sources, otherwise there are no Papi rule references nor double emperor/pope cards anywhere in the 15th century to place the Papi near the ur-tarot. Yet Piscina's text allows the Papi theory to be pushed back in Piedmont to at least 1565 when he wrote his treatise. Otherwise the argument seems to rest wholly on a geographical basis, Lombardy is between Papi-playing Bologna and Piedmont, ergo Lombardy was also Papi-playing.

And here we have the crux of the problem as I see it, con gli occhi: the 15th century evidence a doubting Thomas can touch and see that is closest to the ur-tarot - that being the CY and the PMB, neither of which has any indication of two emperors and two popes. And you gloss over these decks as “Bembo productions” as if the artist definitely came up with the idiosyncrasies of those two differing decks (ignoring the Marziano humanist precedent in Milan in which an artist, Besozzo follows a humanist’s instructions – why would tarot differ from that?). The CY’s Faith - a theological virtue which can never be considered a Papi – rules out the possibility of a Popess; but given the presence of an Empress that implies the hypothetical Papi would have already been split in to two male, two female. But the “Popess” is a cognate for 'Ecclesia' and essentially identical to Faith so there cannot be both Faith and Popess in the CY (you may separate yourself from that “ecclesia-Faith” position if you’d like but the iconographical logic is sound).

Within a couple of years of the ur-tarot, there is no sign of 2 Emperors or 2 Popes in the earliest surviving deck of the CY, nor in the closely derived PMB, which clearly “quotes” several aspects of the CY.

That leaves the Papi-Ur theory with 18th century rule-playing sources, Piscina and a hypothetical Bologna-Piedmont axis, with no concrete 15th century evidence with which to root this theory anywhere at a specific time…besides Piscina. But let’s allow the Bologna-Piedmont connection in light of Piscina, without the “axis” appendage (which unnecessarily drags Milan into the bargain). What we know: by 1565 the Papi and Papi-rule are in Piedmont. Let‘s also assume Bologna played by those rules first since there is clearly a strong tradition there (and again there is no reason to assume the Papi in tarot elsewhere – Minchiate in the 16th century yes, but that’s another game). So we are left with a Piedmont/Savoy reliance on Bologna before 1565 – that, I believe, can be stated without controversy, and without recourse to an intermediary. Separated states interacted directly with one another all the time, and certainly there must have been occasions when Savoy dealt with Bologna, and vice versa, sometime before 1565. Was it the novelty of the Papi itself that further prompted Piscina to write about the game he saw ladies playing? Or had the game been around for a least a generation? I’m not a fan of the applicable 25 year rule that tarot must have been around for before getting mentioned, but let’s posit the game took that long to be introduced and spread throughout Savoy to the point where one saw random ladies playing it. That would place us around 1540. If I may propose a significant Savoy/Bologna date just a decade earlier than that…

In March 1530, Charles V of France’s brother-in-law, Charles III of Savoy, was one of the dozen of rulers included in the peace of the Treaty of Bologna where he was jockeying to have his principality upgraded to a kingdom – a serious and noteworthy endeavor for the Dukes of Savoy. As part of his entourage’s ceremonial entry into Bologna he paid to have wife Beatrice (a Portugese princess) received in Bologna ‘con gran pompa et bella comitiva’ (Kenneth Setton, The Papacy and the Levant (1204-1571, Volume III, the Sixteenth Century, 1976: 338). I believe you have referenced this next work several times, but apparently within it (I’ve not had a chance to look this up yet) you can find an account of Beatrice’s “triumph” in Bonner Mitchell, Italian Civic Pageantry in the High Renaissance: A Descriptive Bibliography of Triumphal Entries and Selected Other Festivals for State Occasions, 1979: 19-25.

A third source that emphasizes Emperor and the pope in Bologna at this time and the significance for Bologna:
The imperial coronation of Charles V in Bologna on 24 February 1530 was one of the most importantly ceremonial events of the sixteenth century. It anointed Charles V as political leader of the Christian world, it formalized the newly established peace and collaboration between the emperor and the pope, and it provided the context for a number of political agreements that were to determine the course of European history for the reminder of the century, if not beyond….The ceremony was carefully observed by the throngs of illustrious invited guests who crowded into the basilica of San Petronio, where the central moments of the coronation were staged, as well as by the large crowd that filled the open-air spaces through which the pope and emperor passed. And it was carefully examined, at a distance, by those interested persons and governments throughout Europe who read the narrative of the event in the printed and manuscript descriptions that were circulated at the time. [perhaps influencing the papi at this time?]
For Bologna and the Bolognese, the coronation of Charles V marked the high point of that extended moment when the two most important leaders of Christendom were concurrently residing in the city.

(Konrad Eisenbichler, “Charles V in Bologna: the self-fashioning of a man and a city”, Renaissance Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, Special Issue: Civic Self-Fashioning in Renaissance Bologna: historical and scholarly contexts, DECEMBER 1999: 430-439)
I know you are averse to topical influences on deck developments, but in Savoy we have two major reasons for seeing the favorable reception of two Emperors and Two Popes directly. Regarding the latter, the earlier Duke of Savoy, Amadeus VIII, became antipope from 1439 to 1449 as Felix V, while of course the recognized pope reigned). As to why the idea of two “Emperors” might have appealed to Savoy, consider the futile yet enduring titular claims by the Dukes there to also be Kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem (nevermind Venice’s stranglehold on Cyprus from 1489 onwards, Savoy still persisted in making those claims).

So yes, Piscina’s implication of the Papi allows us to assume a Bologna->Savoy connection, but there is absolutely no reason to project that connection backwards in time beyond the 16th century – not when the surviving tarot cards/decks of the 15th century fail to suggest two emperors or two popes. I also prefer what seems like the prevailing theory that minchiate-Bologna affected one or the other in the creation of the Papi, but not tarot proper.

When did Bologna adopt the Papi? I’ve hazarded a guess elsewhere in regard to the 1460s and Bessarion’s presence there (which would be contemporary to the Pulci 1466 minchiate earliest attestation), or perhaps even as late as the 1530 Treaty of Bologna referenced above and Savoy made a play to become a kingdom? The bottom line is there is no 15th century Papi evidence and the CY and PMB do not support the Papi in the ur-tarot (nor does anything in neglected Ferrara).

Phaeded

Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#4
A general remark -

When I see a male pope and a female pope, and a male emperor and a female emperor, I see two popes and two emperors. The differentiation among them by sex is an artistic convention. There are other ways to make them distinct, including abandoning papal and imperial insignia on two of them.

The point is that I see no deeper symbolic meaning in the female pope and female emperor. The players were not expected to wonder whether the Popess was Pope Joan, Ecclesia, or the Faith, and whether the Empress was Empire or some particular famous female ruler. They started out as artistic fancy, which took on a life of their own.

Addendum

Found this argumentation from 2009, which summarizes the arguments and points for a topical interpretation of the papi as a Bolognese invention. Note the explicit mention of there being "dui papi" in November 1439 (Felix and Eugene).

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&p=4282&hilit=pedini#p4282

Cronaca B (late 15th century)
“Sì che in questo tempo erano dui papi” (bottom right of page 97)
https://archive.org/details/p1rerumital ... rd/page/96
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Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#5
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
31 Jan 2019, 10:37
A general remark -

When I see a male pope and a female pope, and a male emperor and a female emperor, I see two popes and two emperors. The differentiation among them by sex is an artistic convention. There are other ways to make them distinct, including abandoning papal and imperial insignia on two of them.
None of that explains why they are to begin with and the objection stands that the evidence for them is late and arose out of the card-playing milieu after the fact (four enthroned figures as in the PMB get uncomprehendingly grouped as "papi."). The general problem is their place in the original deck and why 2 emperors and 2 popes were meaningful in that context. Again, I don't see a meaningful "Papi" theme c. 1440 in the culture of Florence nor a larger one that would explain a deck with them in it - where's the evidence?

What I do see in Florence under Bruni's cultural leadership is an obsession with the seven virtues, in her texts (e.g., see Hankin's https://www.academia.edu/22668010/Teach ... ine_People) and on her monuments (e.g., Loggia dei Lanzi) and sure enough the nearest deck in time, the CY, has the theologicals which implies the full set of the seven virtues (albeit Prudence, Bruni's penultimate virtue, glorified as the rightly ordered dominion, and thus given the later misnomer "the World", particulars modified in Milan of course). I see only two cards missing in the CY (the Brambilla had the Wheel, so we can assume that card) - both civic virtues easily implied by the rest of the sequence - and thus Temperance and Justice are the only two missing cards. We thus have a 2X7 - virtue with corresponding exempla - for a 14 trump structure.

Left out of our discussion is the evidence of Ferrara.
* 1423 we have the precedent of cards from Florence made for a female royal (Marchesana Parisina d'Este).
* 1441 - we have 14 painted images (figure) for yet another royal female who would receive the CY deck (the visiting Bianca Visconti from Milan)
* 1447 Decembrio's vita of Visconti describes his card obsession as "played with images painted on cards” (Gary Ianziti, "Pier Candido Decembrio and the Suetonian Path to Princely Biogrpahy” in Portraying the Prince in the Renaissance: The Humanist Depiction of Rulers, Baker, Kaiser, et. al. eds, 2016; Vita citation not given, but of course looking forward to Ianziti’s forthcoming translation of Decembrio).
* 1457 - Ferrara has a 70 card tarot deck, implying 14 trumps, aligning with the 1441 inference

Your own important post (which I need to eventually engage in) about Galeazzo Sforza's visit to Ferrera in 1457 where he describes floats as "trionfi" is likened by you to how Florentines described the floats of the St. John's procession, which indeed features a carro triumphale, although they applied it to all manner of floats (and arguably cassoni, etc.). But if you look at an eye-witness description in Newbigin you also see another word to describe the themes on the floats, akin to what is on the cards - figure, as per Goro Dati in c. 1420 here: " Around the great piazza there are a hundred towers that look like gold; some carried on carts, others by porters; and these are called ceri, made out of wood and paper and wax, with gold and colours and figures [figure] in relief, and hollow inside: and inside men stand and make the ceri and the figures turn continuously." Dati on Newbigin's page: http://www-personal.usyd.edu.au/~nnew41 ... ovanni.pdf

If Decembrio checks out in using "figure" in the context of cards, there is no reason to doubt the early mentioning of a new "suit" of cards in Ferrara as "figure", especially if tarot was novel and a general name had not stuck yet.It was merely descriptive.

At all events, Ferrara is arguably more important than Bologna, especially the late evidence for the Papi. Suffice it say I don't see why Papi would be in either a 14 or 22 trump ur-tarot deck originating out of Florence.

Phaeded

Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#6
Phaeded wrote:
31 Jan 2019, 16:44
None of that explains why they are to begin with
Sure - they're worldly powers higher than kings. They represent the first and lowest group of the trump sequence. They are immediately recognizable as a group, The group of papi is apprehended instantly at the table, it doesn't require any thought at all, any more than the rule that one can beat the other if played at the right time.

Why four? That's the kind of question you'd need to have the inventor in front of you, to pick his brain. Why are there four suits in a deck of cards? Why four court cards? Why are there ten pips? Those kinds of questions don't have a real answer. We can just speculate, or, essentially, moralize.

My speculation would be that they reflect the fact of four suits, of which two are often considered feminine and ranked from Ace high to Ten low, and two masculine, ranked naturally. Two spiritual, and two physical. Perhaps the "feminine" suits inspired the idea of two female papi. Perhaps also that the game was conceived for four players, in two partnerships, so they have a way to work together. But all that is just speculation. The fact is, there are four papi.

Your question shows me that you really haven't understood what I have been arguing since December 2013. Go back to that first post, the explanation is there, with parallels.

Essentially -

The game is learned at the table.
The trump sequence is learned visually, by groups.There are no numbers or names on the cards.
Papi are a group; Virtues are a group; fateful things are a group; the heavens are a group; the set of counting cards, the two lowest and two highest, is a group.
The bare subjects are all that is necessary to understand the ranking. Everything else is decoration, whether simple or elaborate.
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Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#7
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
31 Jan 2019, 19:07
Essentially -
The game is learned at the table.

And tarot was modified at the game table, as attested by the competing orders.
Bologna retaining the ur-order is a theory, no more or less credible than my assertion that the ur-tarot was created at the time of Anghiari.

Papi are a group; Virtues are a group; fateful things are a group; the heavens are a group; the set of counting cards, the two lowest and two highest, is a group.

That’s merely descriptive (and whether that reflects 15th century ideas about the deck is certainly up for debate) and fails to explain why the entire trump set is meaningful in terms of the individual cards relationship to one another, beyond these sub-groupings.

Its not that I haven't understood what you’ve “been arguing since December 2013” its that I question your preferred methodology, which is essentially Dummett’s over-emphasis on order in regard to all of the other data points, inclusive of the concrete evidence of the 15th century (from which we have no orders – albeit the Steele sermon, with a non-Bologna order, is on the cusp and someone wrote numbers later on 15th century cards but that’s hardly the same thing). I’m not in anyway questioning your command of the evidence and 15th century historical sources, but they all take a back-seat to the theory that Bologna represents the ur-order.

From the belief that Bologna is the ur-order we get highly conjectural inferences, that since Savoy copied Bologna’s Papi it must have also shared the Bologna order in face of the different order we do know for Savoy; and since Milan must be the intermediary [because of geography?] for the diffusion into Savoy then Milan must too have the Papi and since they now have the Papi then Milan must too have originally have had Bologna’s order, although the surviving evidence says otherwise. Even more incredible than all that is the evidence for Bologna’s original order in the 15th century is also lacking, and is yet assumed from later sources to be original to something that came at least 100 years before.

My methodology places a premium on the 15th century evidence, and while my theories are equally conjectural I’m trying to fill in the details surrounding those bits of the earliest evidence we do have. Towards that end I’ll be shortly posting additional details on Giusti after slogging through his giornali.

So even though we’ve likely narrowed down the ur-tarot to a place (Florence) and time (you at least allow for 1437-1440) you seem to believe those two facts are sufficient in themselves and additional details from that time and place will prove hopelessly irrelevant…apparently because you’ve decided the order has been figured out and the order explains almost everything. The trumps are simply a given fact and how people played with them is really all that matters.

And I will continue to argue that order does not explain the selection of the trump subjects. And I will also continue to argue the CY and Ferrara evidence remain flies in the order/papi ointment.

Phaeded

Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#8
You’re right it’s a difference of methodology between us. I’m using the methods I learned academically, studying documentary history as a discipline under some very talented people. The methodology is the same no matter the period. There are artifacts, mute, and documents. You learn to read what they say, and also, equally important, what they don’t say; “reading between the lines.” Like pieces of a puzzle where most of it is missing. You have to have a light touch, make as few assumptions as possible, and see where the pieces most naturally fit, or fall. Sometimes, despite the passage of time and the loss of so much, what remains is sufficient to know what the picture is, even if the whole picture will remain forever missing.

In 1874, Giuseppe Campori published some references to carte da trionfi that he found in the ledgers of the Este princes. The two earliest came from 1442. 1442 became the lower “edge” of the puzzle for a very long time. A lot of new references were found in the following 136 years, but they were all later than 1442. It became an avalanche from the 1980s onward, after Dummett’s groundbreaking book, but all the pieces fell into place above this line of 1442. In the case of the physical evidence, the cards, all of them could be dated to after 1442 as well. Any assertion placing them before 1442, like Cicognara in 1831 did for the Visconti di Modrone, assigning it to 1428 because he imagined that the Love card referred to Filippo Maria’s wedding to Maria of Savoy, was just fantasy and guesswork, not sound methodology.

I knew all this, and when I discovered that the second of Campori’s references was to the merchant Marchione Burdochio, thanks to another groundbreaking article by Gherardo Ortalli in 1996 (I read it in 2003), I went to Ortalli’s main source, Adriano Franceschini, and discovered that Burdochio with his cheap deck of Triumph cards was from Bologna. Since the earliest reference in the Este ledgers, February 1442, was unique in naming the components of a deck of carte da trionfi – the four suits and all the figures – something never done again, I reasoned that this reference was the first time this kind of cards had been noted here. From this date onward, all references are just to the name “carte da trionfi”, and it is taken for granted what it is; it is never described again.

But Burdochio from Bologna suggested that the Este did not invent the game. If they were making four packs in February 1442, and buying a cheap one from a Bolognese haberdasher in July, it was improbable that the Ferrara invention went to Bologna, where it was picked up and made cheaply, and then brought back to Ferrara to be sold. Rather, the easiest scenario was that the game was made in Bologna, and Marchione brought this Bolognese product along with his Bolognese fabrics. Additionally, from Franceschini’s edition of the Este accounts we find that Marchione Burdochio makes his first appearance in the records in January 1442, selling fabric to Sagramoro so that he can make pennants and drapery for the funeral trappings of Nicolo d’Este, who had died in Milan a few weeks before on Christmas day. Since we know the average time to produce a deck of carte da trionfi in the Este workshop was 11 days, a number derived from the productions of the short-lived workshop of Don Domenico Messore in 1454, we can estimate that Sagramoro’s four packs of carte da trionfi had been worked on for several weeks before February 10. This puts the beginning of the project back into January at least, and perhaps, if he worked alone, as far as early January, at the same time he was buying fabric from Marchione Burdochio. Thus January 1442 may have been the time that the game was introduced to the Este court, from Bologna. Someone in the court seeing this deck, perhaps Leonello, suggested that Sagramoro make a version of it fit for princely use. This is a plausible hypothesis.

So in 2003, I already abandoned Ferrara as the likliest invention place, despite having the earliest documentary evidence and despite the earliest list of trumps – the Steele Sermon – listing the Ferrarese order. This strong evidence was not strong enough to resist the implications of Marchione Burdochio’s presence.

So, since Burdochio was Bolognese, it made sense that his deck was of the A type, and that therefore A had a strong claim of priority over Ferrara. Although both Florence and Bologna are both A, there was no way, at this time, to decide between Bologna and Florence. My reasoning was that Florence was the most extensively studied city of the Quattrocento, especially its artistic productions, but that Bologna was must less well-known, so that, on balance, I leaned to Bologna as the more likely choice. But – as Michael Hurst used to point out with this argument – why the hell are you forgetting Milan?

The final implication of Marchione Burdochio was that it seemed more likely that the game of Triumphs began as a popular game rather than as courtly invention. So Milan’s case was complicated. First, Marziano. This is exactly the courtly invention scenario. Secondly, Marziano’s is in fact a game of triumphs. Thirdly, of course the earliest surviving triumph cards are Visconti’s, from the Milanese court. Visconti had the motive and the means, so why not consider him the inventor of Tarot as well as the first triumph game? This was Tom Tadfor Little’s argument on his pioneering Tarot history page in 1999, where I first read of Marziano and determined to get his book.

Milan’s claim to priority and the courtly invention scenario seemed unassailable, both circumstantially and forensically. The transmission of the game from Milan to Ferrara is easily explained, although the connections now so well-known were not so for Tarot historians of 15 years ago, especially the events of 1441. The assumption could be that the game simply went from the Milanese court to the Ferrara court. I discovered the note about Sagramoro’s creation of 14 figures for Bianca Maria to play with in 2003, which led to discovering that Bianca Maria was actually there in Ferrara for all this time. This was not known in Tarot history circles either; no Tarot history book of the 20th century, or the first decade of the 21st (I think), mentions it. Of course this is because the really intricate theorizing about Tarot’s earliest history, and possible invention, had only just begun in the 2000s. Dummett’s extensively laid groundwork still only left him with three “original centers” of the game, and no preference among them. It was only at the very end of his life, after Franco had begun publishing his latest discoveries in Florence, that he would begin to lean towards Florence. But he never had the time to apply his brilliant mind to the complexities of the new view.

Milan-Ferrara is not a difficult link to make. I was equally surprised to discover that, just at this time, 1439-1441, it was also easy to make the connection between Milan and Bologna. So I could just as easily envision a transmission from Milan to Bologna, as from Bologna to Milan. It could be any time during the Milanese rule of the city, but if an image is needed then the wedding of Donina Visconti to Annibale Bentivoglio in 1441 provides it. Thus, I toyed with the Milanese invention idea for a while, imagining that one of Bianca Maria’s educators, the humanist monk Antonio da Rho, invented the game for her in the late 1430s. I wrote an imagined scenario in his voice, explaining the game and the symbolism. Like Marziano’s game, it was a moral game, and the trumps were a message. But, like all the card-by-card symbolic interpretations, I couldn’t get by without forcing some of the interpretations. Something was always reaching, or ungainly, or just too topical. Ultimately the idea of a Milanese courtly deck escaping the court and being mass-produced in Bologna and elsewhere just didn’t seem right.

Then in 2006 I got the idea to compare the Charles VI to the BAR Sheet and Rosenwald, taking these two as representative of the Bolognese and Florentine trump styles respectively, and about contemporary. I found that Charles VI resembles sufficiently more the Rosenwald than the BAR, so I was comfortable in moving the attribution of those trumps from Ferrara, to which they had been given since the 1960s, to Florence. Along with the Charles Vi came the Catania and Louvre Rothschild cards, all possibly done in the same workshop (the borders are identical). The move to Florence had begun.

I told Thierry about this, and he told me about his work with Cristina Fiorini, and that they had, for completely different reasons, decided to claim the Rothschild cards for Florence as well, although they were hesitate to triumphantly declare Charles VI and Catania at the same time. Fiorini’s main purpose was to defend the idea that the Rothschild cards were painted by Giovanni dal Ponte, circa 1420.

I kicked like a horse at this dating. Thierry urged me to write a response to Cristina’s article in the Playing Card, and I did. This was the reason I first made the chart of all the evidence, cards and documents. I had to show how absolutely out of line this date was with the trend of all the known evidence. It was simply inconceivable that the game could exist for 20 years in Florence and wherever else, and there be no evidence for it at all, and then suddenly after 1442 there is a virtual explosion all over Italy. I showed that, and also tried to show that Giovanni dal Ponte’s style really didn’t match the cards.

Cristina did not respond to my critique, so my arguments in 2007 remain, as far as print goes, the last word on the subject. The cards are Florentine, but not Giovanni dal Ponte and definitely not 1420.

In making the chart, I also noticed that, taken as a whole, all evidence all over Italy, there were no gaps more than 3 to 5 years. The difference between 3 and 5 is because of the insecure dating of the Cary Yale and Brambilla cards. 1442 is the earliest date. If the cards are 1445-6, Bandera’s dating, then it could be 3-4 years without a data point; if 1447, the latest possible date, the hole would be 5 years. Now we are in a much more secure position, but the Florentine data for the 1440s was not known in 2007.
So, I took an unorthodox approach to this wholistic fact, and reasoned that if any new documentation were to be discovered earlier than 1442, that it would have to be within that 3-5 year period. That is, 1437 to 1441 inclusive.

Since nothing earlier than 1442 had been discovered since 1874, that is, in 2007, 133 years, it seemed like a safe bet that I would never win or lose. But of course you know what happened in 2010. Thierry discovered Giusto Giusti, and I won the bet.

Moreover, it was Florence, and that was the same year that I found a reference in Arnold Esch’s study of Roman customs registers that carte da trionfi were imported there in the 1460s, much earlier than previously known. I told Thierry about this and he found much more in Esch, informing Franco, who went to the manuscript sources in Florence and found the motherlode.

Franco’s discoveries show that the means of transmission of the game, in a variety of grades, was by Florentine haberdashers, just like Marchione Burdochio for Bologna. So it is possible that Burdochio’s cards were actually Florentine as well, a novelty that he brought with him to Ferrara.

And with both cards and documents, Florence has now assumed the place with the likeliest claim to invention.

So to get back to my point about having a light touch. The argument from ignorance only has weight when we have a right to expect evidence, and there is none. Otherwise we assume that things carried on in the trend that they display once they are known. That is, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence unless we can reasonably expect evidence and it is not there. This is the case with Fiorini’s dating of Rothschild to 1420, since we can reasonably expect that for 20 years, all over northern Italy, that some other evidence would exist. There was no great flood that destroyed all the documents and cards between 1420 and 1440. Plenty of documents, but no mention of carte (or naibi) da trionfi until 1440. Therefore that dating is improbable on the face of it. Now we know of course that some of the stiffener in the Rothschild cards is dated to the 1430s – if I remember correctly. So the cards must be later than that. But we didn’t need that proof, since a rational methodology already gave the correct answer. Proof is just consistent with the argumentation, which shows that we are using a good methodology, just as with the 3 to 5 years before 1442 methodology.

But for the equal papi rule and the Bolognese triumphal iconography, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, because we do not have a reasonable expectation of positive evidence. No rulebooks for any form of the game exist until the early 17th century. And the only rules we know from the 15th century are from Trotti, who remarks offhandedly that the best way to play triumphs is four people in two partnerships. We don’t even have proof, or a hint, of the Fool as “excuse” until the Steele Sermon. We cannot expect there to be a mention of the equal-papi rule, since the rules we do know are so few and so unsystematic.

So, since everything we know about Bolognese cards and the equal papi rule is consistent from the first time we hear about until now, we have every right to assume that when the lights go off and the trail goes dark, the same situation prevailed. If the path is straight when you can see, the only reasonable course is to assume it is still straight when it is dark. It is metholodogically unsound to assume that all hell breaks loose as soon as the evidence stops. More importantly, we have the Piedmontese evidence. Sure the rulebooks don’t start until 1787; in Bologna it is 1754. The first rulebook from Milan comes from 1811, and we have absolutely no detailed account of the rules for Tarot in Ferrara or Florence ( the first rulebook for Minchiate was published in 1728). So Piedmont is no different from anywhere, and Bologna, if you count the Pedini manuscript as late 16th century (so Cuppi, Dummett, McLeod, and Zorli (and me, for the record)), has the earliest rules, at the very least contemporary to the first French account, in 1637. And the Pedini manuscript has the difference that its rules for Partita simply evolved into the modern Bolognese game, while the 1637 French rule does not seem to be a direct ancestor of the game currently played .

The stubborn game simply got learned at the table for 300 or more years. In Piedmont the peculiar features of the high Angel and equal papi persisted despite their using French cards for as long as we know, from 1505 (imported from Avignon to Pinerolo). Piscina is a witness to the presence of the equal papi and high Angel rules. I follow the reasoning of Dummett and McLeod (History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack, p. 151), with the caveat that I don’t believe the game introduced directly from Bologna:

“[The equal-papi and high Angel] strongly suggest that Tarot was first introduced into Piedmont from Bologna, perhaps early in the XVI century, but was soon subject to influence from Lombardy. It seems unlikely that Piedmontese players should have retained the tradition of treating the Angel as the highest trump and as having a high point-value had they not originally been used to treating it in this manner and to playing with a form of pack in which it did not bear a lower number than the World, probably because the trumps were not numbered at all, as they were not in Bologna untl the late XVIII century.”

Since the Piedmontese deep on the Italian side were importing cards from Avignon in 1505 (in exchange for paper made there), I would guess that cards resembled what would become the “Tarot de Marseille”, which Thierry thinks should really be the Tarot de Lyon. Piscina’s deck more closely resembles this, especially striking is the World image with the four Evangelist animals. But while there may have been numbers on the cards, there were probably no names as yet, like on the Sforza Castle World card.

Why should it be controversial that I posit that Lombardy-Milan as the conduit for the original game? The relationship in Visconti’s time was far more than geographical. I don’t think the original game was any different between Florence and Bologna, so it is meaningless to say that the Piedmontese game in the 1440s may have been Florentine rather than Bolognese. My view is that the game spread fast in the first decade, played in this manner with high Angel and equal papi, but that the Lyon cards made the World the highest card and numbered them all, a style that then invaded the French territories in Lombardy and collapsed whatever centers of the original game there were remaining (also influenced the Ferrarese game). Possibly the game was not so deeply entrenched in Milan as in Savoy, in the same way that 78-card tarot did not linger in Florence. Some places it took root, others it did not. But the only way to explain Savoy’s practice is to assume that it shared the same game as played in Bologna, and that this happened well enough before the French style cards started being used there that they kept the old ways despite the numbering on the cards. This has to be a generation or two, which puts it back to the middle of the 15th century.

The point of all of this is simply to say that the iconography of the papi, that there is a Popess and an Empress, says nothing about how they were played. The equal-papi rule is unstable; most places dropped it quickly, except in Bologna and Piedmont. And in Piedmont, it died out just about everywhere known, until all Dummett and McLeod can report is that Asti keeps it. But the high Angel is a feature of A, and Piedmont has kept it despite using Tarot de Marseille cards for as long as we have evidence. The temptation to number and order the papi is strong. Dummett and McLeod observed it around Bologna itself (HGT p. 264) –

“In some twons outside of Bologna, such as Loiano, Marzabotto, Monterenzio and Sassio Marconi – but not in Porretta Terme or Monzuno – the practice has developed of inscribing the numerals 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the Moors, so as to impose a fixed sequence on them (higher-numbered Moors of course beating lower-numbered ones). This practice, disapproved of in Bologna and contrary to ancient Bolognese tradition, is a fairly recent development. The antiquity of the traditional rule is demonstrated by its adoption in Piedmont. “
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Re: Problems with positing the Papi in the ur-Tarot

#9
Phaeded wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 02:44
And tarot was modified at the game table, as attested by the competing orders.
Of course. But I would argue that something like the B ordering of Virtues suggests a thoughtful re-ordering, based on theological or moral considerations imposed on the order, rather than an organic, ludic evolution.
Bologna retaining the ur-order is a theory, no more or less credible than my assertion that the ur-tarot was created at the time of Anghiari.
Arguing for A-Bologna as the ur-order of the trumps is not the same as arguing for a topical meaning to the trump sequence. I think it is a very strong position, easy to defend. My description of learning the order at the table by means of groupings, with the specific order learned by heart after a few games, is slightly more speculative, since no account of learning the game with the unnumbered cards has come down to us. I suggest it is the most reasonable way to imagine it happening, though. But since Bologna preserved this method for over 300 years - no written rules, cards unnumbered - I believe some account of learning it at the table must survive in a private document somewhere, a diary or letter or unpublished travelogue from between 1440 and 1750.

The Pedini manuscript shows some things about how it was learned, although the author was an expert who does not mention whatever mnemonics he might have used in the first game he ever played.

First he describes the deck, as divided into four parts - Trionfi, Tarocchi, Figure, and Cartaccie.
The Trionfi are the two highest and two lowest. The Tarocchi are the remaining 18 trumps.
The trumps are listed in a straight order, highest (Angelo) to lowest (Matto).
The group of Trionfi are each worth 5 points. The papi have no ranking among them, the last played to a trick beats any other.

So that leaves 14 Tarocchi which bear no points and have no special rule. Did people just learn them by trial and error? That seems cruel; there had to be a system. I propose that they were grouped by some descriptive names, which made it easier to put them in the right relation to one another.
Papi are a group; Virtues are a group; fateful things are a group; the heavens are a group; the set of counting cards, the two lowest and two highest, is a group.
That’s merely descriptive (and whether that reflects 15th century ideas about the deck is certainly up for debate) and fails to explain why the entire trump set is meaningful in terms of the individual cards relationship to one another, beyond these sub-groupings.

So even though we’ve likely narrowed down the ur-tarot to a place (Florence) and time (you at least allow for 1437-1440) you seem to believe those two facts are sufficient in themselves and additional details from that time and place will prove hopelessly irrelevant…apparently because you’ve decided the order has been figured out and the order explains almost everything. The trumps are simply a given fact and how people played with them is really all that matters.

And I will continue to argue that order does not explain the selection of the trump subjects. And I will also continue to argue the CY and Ferrara evidence remain flies in the order/papi ointment.


I think your penultimate paragraph fairly well summarizes my point of view. Perhaps a little too concise, but good enough.

I think, and have long thought, that CY is a unique experiment, that is all. My take on the Ferrara evidence I have given some account of in the post preceding this one.
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