Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

Huck: I was just using the term "World" to say which card I was talking about, through various decks. I think the Charles VI, d'Este, and Bologna cards really are about the World, namely, the task of transcending it (or mastering it, in a more materialistic interpretation). Like Ross said, you even have the four winds in the Minchiate. I think that's a picturesque way of indicating the four elements and is a transition to the four corners of the Marseille card, where winds were put on the old maps. Something like this:


For the CY and the PMB, "World" is something of a stretch, not quite encompassing enough. Yes, I forgot that the trumpeton the CY card is winged. So I have to go back and incude that information again. Originally I had her as "Glory," a word that clearly refers both to this world and the next. I wonder if in fact the word "Fama" might have been the same sort of word, more than just worldly fame, but renown inspired by Sapientia, the fame of the saints. There was the saying "Death is bitter, but fame is eternal." (And where does that come from?) One of Galeazzo's executioners in 1476 even quoted the line just before he was executed--mors acuta, fama perpetua. How could that be wordly fame, since he knew from Petrarch that worldly fame was not eternal, that it was trumped by Time? It had to be fame sub specie aeternitas, so to speak.

For the PMB, the world in the bubble is strongly not of this world--even if some might have thought it was Milan under the Sforza. The author of the "Steele Sermon" sensed the problem, when he described the card (whether the PMB or the d'Este is not clear to me) as "World--that is, God the Father" ( ... _Cum_Aliis). In the PMB the world being referred to is mainly the next world, and the cherubs point to it. In the d'Este and Charles VI, it is this world, and the lady, Sapientia, is offering Glory, transcending time and space--she's not just Fama, because Glory or Fame isn't a virtue, as suggested by the hexagonal halo. In the CY the World is both, and Glory is both in and not in our world, like the Grail Castle, and the Lady is Glory but with aspects of Sapientia. Or something like that. The Renaissance enjoyed mltiplicity of meanings.

I agree with much of the rest of what you said. Yes, the cards were for young people and had an educational function. That is my premise all along, for why the 3 moral virtues would not have been omitted. Yes, the 16 card structure was prevalent, and that is how many cards the CY had, until the conversion of the Fool to a wild card. The 14 trump structure might have also been common, in Ferrara: that's where all the evidence for 14 comes from. The PMB might have had 14 trumps at one point: 17 of the CY minus 3 theological virtues. But it quickly became 17, like the CY. Then 3 were redone and 3 new ones added, to replace the theological virtues, making 20. Multiples of 10 were also common, as in the "Tarot of Mantegna" and the 10 pip cards per suit, and 10 Hermetic virtues vs. 10 Hermetic vices (Corpus Hermeticum XIII).

Meanwhile, in Florence the deck probably started at 17 trumps, with the Fool as wild card. 16 is possible, but it is hard for me to imagine that deck without a Star card. Conceivably this card was added from Ferrara. And then 3 more were added: Wheel of Fortune (renaming the earlier "Fortune" as "World") from Milan (since our first evidence of the card is the Brera-Brambilla), and Empress and Bagatto from either Milan or Ferrara. Ross points out that there were numbers written on the Charles VI, added at some point, going up to 20. If the Fool was unnumbered, that makes 21 in all. Given these numbers on the cards, the Charles VI had to have had 20 or 21 painted trumps. Adding the Popess to standardize the deck with Milan (since the Emperor had the number 3 written on it, and after that they go in sequence), makes 22. (Some may not have accepted the Popess, and so for a while perhaps the Empress and the Popess share a number.) Milan conforms its deck to Florence by adding the Devil and the Arrow (i.e. Tower), which the "southern" cities contributed. It's hard to say when all that would have happened, but it's more or less done by the 1480's, the latest estimated time for Boiardo's poem. Some of the Sforza decks might still have left them out, by personal preference. For mass production and export purposes, 22 is a good number to stick with: all the main images are covered from the various cities; there are fortune-telling books based on the 21 combinations of 2 dice, so fortune-tellers will buy it; and Cabalists might also want it, so they can play with associating the cards with the Hebrew letters and the 10 "numerations," 10 "Kelipoi," and the En-Sof or Da'at.

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

hi Mike ...

... I don't know, what you hallucinate ... :-) ... it's ideal in a research situation, that you have to add NOTHING (and that's a very secure result). It's far more troublesome, if you have to reconstruct something to make it "somehow possible". In the case of the Cary Yale it's unavoidable to reconstruct. The deck is not complete, small arcana are missing.
In the case of the Charles VI deck it's different: 16 trumps + 1 small arcana ... the situation is likely so, that often or more or less always Trumps were produced for itself ... without small arcana. The commissioner could use any normal deck to add to the set. Expensive personal cards were probably spicked with personal heraldic, but not so the Trionfi cards. So Trionfi sets were made, which could be added to the personal cards. Likely the single additional small arcana is there to give an impression, how possible small arcana could look like.

So we have "VIII Imperatori" cards bought in 1423 and "14 figure" painted at 1.1.1441. This behaviour looks like a probable usual practice, as this special cards are expensive.

It's also nice for the 14 (68) Bembo cards, that you have add NOTHING. It's a complete version - beside the two missing small arcana, from which one was lost in this century.

There was no star.

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

Huck: My main requirement for a theory is plausibility, in relation to facts and good guesses based on facts. There are lots of facts, some are in documents, some are in art and literature, some are in the cards themselves. There is also general knowledge about the times and human nature. It gets complex. And the Renaissance loved complexity.

My reconstruction of how the decks could have evolved is just a story that I find plausible. If it isn't plausible, tell me why, and I will change it.

Speaking of facts, do you have any more about Lorenzo's interest in Hercules in 1465. Pollaiuolo's Hercules and the Hydra is c. 1475. Hercules and Deianira is c. 1470.I'm still trying to imagine how the "Strength" card could have been Lorenzo's idea in 1465. Did Pollaiuolo do them at Lorenzo's request, for example? I need more information


Meanwhile, here is my critique, of sorts, of your theory that Lorenzo purchased the Star, Moon, and Sun cards hurredly in Ferrara for Ippolita's wedding. The question that arises for me is, where did these new designs come from? They are very different from the d'Este cards that we see a little later in Ferrara, and also very different from the Moon and Sun cards in the Charles VI deck in Florence.

Let me start with the Star card. Here is the Ferrara card and also the earliest Bologna-style card, from the Rothschild collection at the Louvre (Kaplan Vol. 1 p. 129), since the Charles VI lacks a Star card:


In the d'Este, two men look up at a star. One is pointing at the star, the other in a more horizontal direction. One of the men carries star tables or a star map. I think what is going on is that the man on the right is deducing from the position of the star what direction they should travel. In the "Rothschild," probably from Bologna, there are three men. Again, they are deliberating. There is a cross on a globe at the left, just where the man had been pointing in the previous card. They are the Three Wise Men of the East, "following yonder star." One has a crown, one has a three-tiered tiara, and one, surprisingly, has the "Phyrgian cap" identifying him as Mithras or a follower! That is a detail that does not get repeated.

Now let us turn to the Milan cards, first the Hope card and then one of the new cards, called the Star:


There is a star at the top right of the Hope card, close to where it is in the Star card. The major difference is that the lady is kneeling in the one, standing and reaching out in the other. It seems to me that we can get the meaning of the Star card from the Hope card, and it is the same as for the Ferrara and Bologna cards: it is a reference to Jesus, either at the time of his birth in Bethlehem or as the "Bright Morning Star" of Revelation. But the way in which the idea is expressed pictorially in the PMB is similar to the CY and quite different from the d'Este and Charles VI.

Whoever designed the card had a new way of expressing the idea behind the Star card, less aligned with astronomy and more with the religious iconography of the CY Hope card. He had to have been familiar with the design itself, either from the card itself, from a similar card, or from an iconographic tradition of which I am not familiar.

But there is another mysterious aspect to the card. There is a cliff in the card. That detail comes from the original PMB's Death card, which also has a cliff. I suspect that it is a memorial to the death of Elisabetta Sforza in 1472. Someone would have had to be familiar with the original PMB's Death card to know to repeat it here.

The card's designer, then, would be someone who worked regularly for the Sforzas, had an opportunity to see the both the CY cards, or at least their type, and the original PMB, and had an interest in the theological virtues and the trump tradition of Star, Moon, and Sun.

In fact there is more than one candidate meeting these conditions. First, of course, would be Benedetto Bembo in Cremona, as the Bembos worked regularly for the Sforzas. But another one, I discovered to my amazement tonight, is none other than Piero del Pollaiuolo. In researching his work in response to Huck, I noticed that he did a series of paintings on Hope, Faith, Charity, Temperance, and Justice. Justice is more like the lady on the Charles VI World card than anything else in these decks. The other three are quite similar to the CY cards for these virtues. There is no star in his Hope card; she is merely looking up in the same direction as on the card, praying ( The work was done in 1469-1470. He also did the famous non-resembling portrait of Galeazzo Maria Sforza ( ... gi2247c203). Based in Florence, he would have known Charles VI-style cards, including (I think) its Star card. So either he designed the new PMB cards, or he was inspired by them or the CY for his paintings.


Later on, the Minchiate, from Florence or Bologna, had both styles of card, one called "Hope" and the other called "Star." The earliest example I can find is a 18th century deck, probably from a 17th century original ( The "Hope" card is right where the Star card appears in the PMB sequence and everywhere else, after Temperance (if we ignore the Devil card, which is not in either the Charles VI or the PMB),and before the Moon The Minchiate Star card, similarly, shows someone following a kind of floating beacon, with a star overhead. He is following his Star, much as the Hope woman is following her Crown. So the Minchiate knew about the Hope-Faith connection, too.

Next comes the Moon. Whoever invented the progression Star, Moon, Sun had a good idea: the heavenly bodies come in progressively greater intensity. In the Milanese vision, however, they also recapitulate the old cards: first is the star of Bethlehem, our Hope; then Faith lights our dark world like the Moon; and finally Christ comes in full glory at the Second Coming, like the Sun. After that the destruction of the world comes in fire brighter than the sun, and then the New Jerusalem, shining so bright, according to the Book of Revelation, that the sun and moon are no longer needed (as Hurst eloquently expressed it in "Riddle of tarot,"


In Ferrara and Florence we also have the Moon and the Sun, but expressed differently. The Ferrara-style Moon card, judging from the d'Este, showed an astronomer learning projective geometry from observing the moon. The moon's crescent is one circle intersected by the circumference of a larger circle, as the shadow of the earth cuts off the light of the sun. He is learning geometry, with all its potential, from the Moon. Thereby we may calculate not only the time of eclipses, but even the circumference of the earth (a matter of some import in this Age of Discovery). The theme seems to be the dispelling of ignorance with knowledge, or darkness with light.

And what is happening on the Charles VI card? Is the yellow object the moon in the earth's shadow, or the sun partially blocked by the moon ? It is probably an eclipse, but it could be either of the sun or the moon. Huck is right about correlating the card with the Florentine eclipse-predictors of the time. Symboliucally eclipses signify temporary darkness followed by greater light. On the Rothschild card, there are two suns on either side of the moon. Are these harbingers of the light to come, the Second Coming?

Now let us turn to the Milan cards, the CY Faith and the PMB Moon.


Again there is a similarity of design between the CY and the PMB. Instead of holding a finger up in the direction of Heaven, the lady holds the Moon itself. And instead of a cross, the PMB woman holds a bow, or perhaps bow and bowstring. In Petrarch, when Chastity overcomes Love, the virgins break Cupid's arrows. The bow is not mentioned, but it is shown as broken in numerous visual representations of this section of Petrarch's poem (e.g.

Bows are also identified with Diana. If the broken bow is hers, that would explain the dejected look on her face. In Chaucer's "parliament of fowls," broken bows symbolized maidens' regret at their wasted years in Diana's service (Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, p. 346, in Google Books). A 16th century card in Kaplan's Encyclopedia of Tarot, Vol. 2, shows similar dejection but without the bow.

Let us think back to Michelino. The goddess Diana occurs on the list of gods precisely where Faith would be in the cards, the #7 spot. Although the virgins known for faithfulness were the Vestals, Diana was also a virgin, included in the suit of Turtledoves, which symbolize Faithfulness. If she is holding Cupid's broken bow, then perhaps Diana is the goddess corresponding to Faith and to the virtue of chastity, which as Faith in the Beinecke's ordering of the Cary-Yale would have been right where she was supposed to be, between Love and Death. In her new place, she is restored with Cupid's broken bow. However she does not look triumphant on the card; hence it is more likely that either she is regretting her years of chastity, or, or wht I think, is regretting giving them up for the sake of marriage. The latter would probably have been the case for 13 year old Elisabetta Sforza. In any case, this is not a Petrarchan image; but it is something that somebody who regretted forcing someone into marriage might have thought up.

Diana, whose cult center was Ephesus, was replaced by Mary, who had her cult center in the same place. John also was located there, as the place where he allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation. A Renaissance example combining Moon, Mary, and John is Bosch's St. John the Evangelist at Patmos.


Yes, Bosch was in Flanders. But Flemish artists and musicians often came to the Milanese and Ferrarese courts, and presumably went home again. They shared a similar perspective and iconography. The Moon is the image of the Virgin, who has replaced Diana as the image of feminine purity. Helped by his silvery angel, John is able to put the devil behind him in the light of the Virgin, our comforter as we wait for the Second Coming. The time of the moon is night, when it is not only visible but gives visibility to things in the darkness. It is a combination of darkness and light, and the resolution of doubt with faith. In dark times the Moon represents our faith and the paraclete, which after Christ's death and resurrection is brighter than a mere hope. (And thanks to her faith, Elisabetta is in a better place.)

My point in describing this mood of despair and faith in relation to the Moon card is to show how different the Milan card is from its equivalents in Ferrara, Florence, and Bologna. The Milan card is about faith and chastity; the others are about science and ignorance. And again there is the cliff, taken from the original PMB's death card.

Pollaiuolo's painting is a little different form its counterpart in the Cary-Yale ( It is actually closer to the PMB Moon lady. His Faith stands proud and firm, with a sword where the CY has a cross and the PMB the strange bow, and a cup where the CY lady merely points her finger, but where the PMB woman has an equally round moon.


Above we see again the early 18th century Minchiate. There the Faith card replaces the Cary-Yale cross with what looks like a mirror, except that someone has dabbed it with red, making it a torch. It is the same mirror that is traditionally associated with the virtue of Prudence. The previous card is in fact Prudence, with the mirror in a different hand and a snake companion. We get "Faith" by subtracting the snake and adding a flame to shine in the darkness. The Star card is the scientist again.

Finally let us the Sun card. Again, here is Ferrara, Florence, and Bologna:


I have already discussed these cards in the earlier post. Ferrara is Alexander asking Diogenes to be his court philosopher, and Diogenes telling Alexander to stop blocking his sun. Charles VI is Clotho spinning the thread of our lives. In Plato's "Myth of Er," she spins the entire physical universe, the 8 spheres from the moon to the fixed stars. The sun is perhaps related as the source of life and light, and also that by which we count the passage of time in our lives.


Again, the Milanese card shows quite different imagery, more related to its predecessor than to the cards of other cities. The Cary-Yale represents charity as a woman giving suck to an infant, defeating King Herod below, who slaughtered the innocents. She has given the child the gift of life and nourishment. She is also a symbol of God's overflowing charity. She holds a round object in her hand, probably a mirror. I am not sure of its significance: perhaps it a suggestion of prudence, of knowing one's limits and capacities. In the Sun card the infant has grown muscular, and he carries the round object, now become the sun. He is the "genius of the Sun," which give life and nourishment to all that lives, as an Italian mass-produced card from the 16th century also shows. But the sun is still that of God's charity, which allows us to become His children. The sun is brighter than the moon, just as God's charity makes up for our weak faith. And again, inexplicably, there is the cliff. These two cards, CY and PMB, are intrinsically related, much closer to each other than either is to the cards of the other cities. Yet at the same time there is a common thread linking them all: that of the child and the nourishment of new life.

Here Pollaiuolo's painting is similar to the CY Charity card, with the lone addition of a torch.( That torch shows up again in the Minchiate's Charity.


The Minchiate Charity card has the same woman as before, but with a larger torch. The card suggests the sun vs. the moon as much as charity vs. faith. The Sun card is a loving couple under the sun; this image is from a different tradition than the one we have been working in, the "Marseille" style cards as we know them from the 17th century. It resembles the Minchiate card for Gemini. To account for that pair, commonly seen at that time yet so unlike the Greek Gemini, would take us too far afield.

I am not sure what to conclude from all this, except that Pollaiuolo's paintings seem to derive from the CY, his Faith card is even halfway to the PMB Moon, and that he could possibly have designed the PMB "luminaries," having first seen the rest of the deck. But it seems to me that if he did so, he would have done it in consultation with the Sforzas. As I have said, they took their luxury cards seriously. And the Moon card is just too ideosyncratic to be a painter's own idea. Pollaiuolo painted Galeazzo in 1471, which is probably also when he did the "Apollo and Daphne." His Temperance is also quite like the PMB Temperance--as well as the Charles VI version and, I think, the CY's card. There isn't a Fortitude painting, but there is a Prudence. The cards still don't look like a rush job for Lorenzo to me, and they still look like a product of the 1470's. I will have to think about them and the paintings some more, as well as the PMB "Strength" card.

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II


probably the 5x16-idea as explanation for the Cary Yale fragment wouldn't exist, if not the plausibility has developed before that the PBM should be regarded as a 5x14 deck. And this was based on the observation, that two different artists painted the 20 trumps.

The Michelino wouldn't have been researched well, if not the suspicion existed, that it somehow might to relate to the other Milanese card development. With the assumption, that the Cary-Yale had 16 trumps originally, suddenly the observation made sense, that Filippo Maria Visconti had a favour for the number "16" and that gave his interests in chess and geomancy a specific meaning.

The observation of the document 1.1.1441 wouldn't have been found, if the eye wasn't trained to note the number 14 with interests, the 70 cards note of 1457 would have been a strange curiosity (if anybody took the care to note it anyway). The fact, that Marcello without hesitation called the Michelino deck a ludus triumphorum, although it hadn't 22 trumps, would have been overlooked.

Without 5x14-theory ... I'm sure about it ... wouldn't exist and without probably nobody would take early Tarocchi development serious.

The 16 trumps in the Michelino strengthened the assumption about the Cary Yale Tarocchi ... 16 trumps. The decision to see the Charles VI deck as from "before 1470" and "from Florence" (the older standard answer was "ca. 1470" and "from Ferrara"), made the assumed production time overlap with that, what already was researched (by and the answer to this period was, that at least till ca. 1465 an experimental stage of Trionfi card development had to be assumed.
It was then already more or less exspected, that some creativity started in Florence and that the visit of Lorenzo de Medici in Milan was the deciding step to change something about the Trionfi card production. So before 1465 the most plausibel suspicion had been, that decks mostly had 14 or 16 trumps (or special cards).

When it turned out, that by logical conclusion the Charles VI deck should be dated earlier, it followed naturally, that it then should be observed as a deck which hadn't a standard structure (with 22 special cards). Then the calculation arrived, that the 16 special cards should have been a complete deck.
Nearer research brought the information, that this was possible.

We have 11 trumps in the Cary Yale Tarocchi, three further trmps may be concluded by adding the missing 3 virtues. As the idea was not new, that sun-moon-star replaced spes-caritas-fides, we actually knew 14 trumps in a deck, which might be called a prolongation of the Cary Yale: the Charles VI deck.

From these exspected "14 trumps" (of 16) we really find 13 in the Charles VI. deck.

Emperor - Emperor
Empress - Empress
4 cardinal virtues - 4 cardinal virtues
love - love
chariot - chariot
death - death
judgment - judgment
theological virtues - star/moon/?
*** Fame with Towers - Tower
13 cards

Fool instead star/hope
Time (unknown in the reconstructed Cary-Yale)
Traitor (unknown in the reconstructed Cary-Yale)

So, what's about the replacement operation? Three theological virtues were dismissed, 3 other (virtues ?) are added.
The research lead to the insight, that the 3 replacements should be considered as "Florentine specialities".

The moon card shows (probably) Toscanelli and Regiomontanus. Toscanelli was a living Florentine and he worked for the Medici.
The sun card shows a spinning woman. Florence became rich with textile industry.
The Fool card presents (probably) the figure "Morgante" by the poet Pulci, a person who was very close to the Lorenzo de Medici.
and additionally the love card is transformed from 1 marrying pair to 3 pairs of lovers. 3 pairs appear in Alberti's "Philodoxus". As the prominent and already famous Alberti participated in the education of Lorenzo, his appearance in "Lorenzo's private deck" isn't surprizing.

So we have 4 specific "Florentine virtues" (or better: "demonstrations of Florentine art") inside the "Pawn row" ... we have to remember, that Cary Yale was a chess version and that in this chess version the 7 virtues + the 8th factor "love" presented the "pawn's row". And Lorenzo's deck was (naturally) also a chess version and the Florentine virtues (or demonstrations of Florentine art) replaced the theological virtues.

So there's is nothing wrong with 16 cards for the Charles VI deck. The star was missing and simply failed to exist.

The Florentines changed this old version and formed a game, which was called "Minchiate". This word appeared for the first time in a letter from Pulci to Lorenzo in the year 1466, so very near to the activity of 1463. We can't say, which game this "Minchiate of 1466 (+ 2 other appearances of thesame word in 1471 and 1477)" had been, probably we cannot assume, that it already had "41 special cards" and totally "97 cards". We have this 97-cards versions later in 16th century runninng under the name "Germini" before it returns back to get the name Minchiate again. We have no Trionfi card notes in Florence for the rest of the 15th century, but we have notes elsewhere, that Florentines "Trionfi" cards were imported, cards, which possibly had inside Florence the name "Minchiate".

We have it, that two other words starting with "Minchia-" were used by Pulci in poems ... words, about which the search engines found, that they were only used by Pulci and nobody else. So Pulci ... known as a funny poet ... made jokes with this word "Minchiate", which probably had a mockery meaning, so likely a word in sharp contrast to the heroic "Trionfi" card expression. So we have to recognize, that Florentine mind and genius in the years 1463 - 1466 transformed the media Trionfi card with an ironic attachment. And in this case, that the general Florentine genius had a private name, which was "Luigi Pulci" or somebody near to him or the whole talented kids group around Pulci and Lorenzo.

Generally one should see, that "Florentine mind" in 15th century were (often) years and decades ahead of the general Italian development, probably due to the condition, that Florence was a republic and other Italian regions not. So we have probably a higher degree of education in the population than elsewhere. Ideas were moved quickly, new forms of art developed constantly. Florence exported artists and scientists.

It's very natural, that an impulse to break off an earlier playing card tradition took its start in Florence.


Hercules ... before 1470 Lorenzo himself was not in the position to order too much art. In 1469 his father Piero died and Lorenzo arrived as head of the Medici family. So the Pollaiuola pictures are dated later ... cause other art researchers thought it plausible (with probably good reason) to give the pictures to this years.

This David ...


... with a similar masculine theme was made 1473-75. Later Michelangelo repeated the theme and this David became a sort of national monument for Florence.

"Hercules" was much used in the Philodoxus of Alberti, possibly Lorenzo got his faible from him.
The question that arises for me is, where did these new designs come from?
... .-) ... The designs came from the commissioner Lorenzo, as already described ... probably realised with the help of a Ferrarese artist (these pictures are said to have been painted with "Ferrarese style"). If Lorenzo had met them painted with Florentine style, they probably would look different. Most of these 6 pictures are not very remarkable. If I abstract the motifs from the complicated elegant background, some look a little bit like the work of an amateur.
I can't imagine, that the cliff motif was adapted as late as 1472, as you suggested. It appears, as you note, already at the death card. And ... do we know for sure, that it wasn't at the Hanging Man card? And at the Fool card? At both cards it seems, that the bottom of the card is damaged. If both would have it, we would have the cliff in series at the Fool (originally 11) - Hanging Man (12) - Death 13, as far the 14 Bembo cards alone are considered.
This would make sense, as these 3 are the "dangerous cards" in the global concept of the 14 cards.

Galeazzo Maria had been in Milan in 1459 and (not confirmed) also 1460. He had opportunity to show his Milanese cards there, so Lorenzo might have remembered the cliff. Also Borso would have known the Milanese cards.

Cary Yale Hope and PMB-addition Star look not in a way similar, that the painter of the PMB-addition MUST have seen the other card. Hope in the Mantegna Tarocchi - for instance - has also a light in the corner. Theological virtues were not painted only by playing card designers.


Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

Thanks for your clarifications, Huck. With every post, I understand Trionfi's position better. This time, I understood better how Pulci fits into your theory, with Morgante as the Fool. However there were plenty of Fools already in playing cards, as you yourself have pointed out.

As far as Lorenzo remembering the cliffs from seeing Galeazzo's cards in 1459: first, the cards were pretty valuable. Would Bianca have let Galeazzo take them with him? And second, Lorenzo was only 10. The detail of the cliff is not the first thing that you notice, even if it was in three cards. I was not saying that the motif was only introduced in 1472, but that whoever designed the later cards would have seen the earlier ones. (I mentioned only Death, because that one is for sure. The others also connote death, it seems to me: that is where both the Fool--really, a deranged beggar--and the Hanged Man are headed.) Even in 1457, Borso was in his 40's, ruling Ferrara. Are you sure he took the time to play Trionfi with Milanese cards, and then remember 6-8 years later to mention the cliffs to Lorenzo? And I continue to have problems imagining the 6 cards as a wedding present to Ippolita. One of them is a fierce man wielding a club: how appropriate is that as a wedding present? She would probably understand; but it might shock some of the guests. What kind of kid is this Lorenzo, some kind of hothead like Galeazzo? Also,what was she going to do with 6 cards? She would have to leave them in Milan with the rest of the deck--what kind of present is that? And there are other considerations, having to do with the Fortitude card, which I will get to in a later post.

Since my last post, I have been improving my knowledge of Hope, Faith, and Charity iconography. I now see that Pollaiolo didn't have to have seen the Cary-Yale in order to do his own Hope, Faith, and Charity paintings (images are below, 1st and 2nd sets). The motif of praying to something in an upper corner (a star, crown, or something not seen) was standard for Hope, that of holding a cup (which becomes the moon in the PMB) standard for Faith, and the suckling baby standard for Charity. Substituting a sun (PMB) for a breast (or a torch or a purse, which were also used) is clear enough, but why Lorenzo would have changed Faith's cross to a broken bow still needs explaining (not the bow, which goes with Diana, but why it is broken and why she looks unhappy). (Readers for whom the image does not come to mind: see images at end of this post, 3rd set.)That idea, as I have said, fits much better the idea that Galeazzo did it as a memorial to his sister Elisabetta, who didn't really want to get married so soon.

You raise the question, did someone have to know the CY, in order to design the PMB added cards? For me the problem still is, how did Lorenzo know to make the Star, Moon, and Sun cards parallel to the old Hope, Faith, and Charity cards, as their replacements? For that, he needs to have seen and remembered the CY or some other deck with those cards in the right place. There is in fact a Florentine deck where that happens: the Minchiate, which has Hope, Faith, and Charity where the PMB has Star, Moon, and Sun. (See images below, 4th set) But did it exist in that form before 1465? Nobody has maintained that as far as I know. I find it easier to imagine that somebody who knew the CY was trying to combine its theological virtue images, missing so far from the PMB, with the Ferrara (and possibly Florence and Bologna) Star, Moon, Sun sequence. That someone was probably Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who was in a much better position to know all the imagery that was required. I will elaborate on that later.

But I'm not sure I have the issue thought through here. Please let me know where I haven't. And I admire Trionfi a lot; you dig for facts and put your theories out there, in an area where hard facts are fewer than we would like; the result has been very effective in challenging assumptions about the tarot. And nobody's 100% correct. I really appreciate your willingness to engage and share your knowledge.

For reference, here are the Hope, Faith, and Charity sequences in the CY, Minchiate, and Pollaiolo, followed by the the PMB Star, Moon, and Sun:





temperance and fortitude

Huck: Before we go much further, I want to finish my argument about the 6 added cards, by discussing Temperance and Fortitude. There were two ways of representing Temperance. One is the way Pollaiuolo shows her, pouring from a pitcher into a bowl ( This way of picturing Temperance shows up in the Catelin Geoffrey Temperance card, 1557. J.-M. David, in his on-line course on the Noblet, has a photo of a similar depiction at a French cathedral. The other way of representing Temperance, where she pours from one jug into another, was also apparently standard; it was on the tomb of Clement II in the 11th century (, which shows a 1747 drawing of the image):


So Lorenzo may well have commissioned the Temperance card in Ferrara. So far, it is the only one where I cannot argue with you, because it was the same everywhere.

That leaves Fortitude. Here there were three main ways of depicting that virtue. One way, as in the Cary-Yale, was as a lady with her hands on a lion’s mouth. Another way, as in the Charles VI and the “Tarot of Mantegna,” was with a lady pushing over pillars, I think a reference to Samson. Sometimes there was a lion there as well. Pollaiuolo did not do a Fortitude. The closest approximation is his two Hercules pieces, c. 1370 and c. 1475. Actually, almost any representation of Hercules would probably do for Fortitude. But in depictions of the virtues, the third way was by someone with a club. Giotto, whose images of the virtues and vices have been compared by many to the tarot, in 1305 Padua had a woman holding a club in one hand and a shield with a lion on it in the other ( ... titude.jpg).


Pisano's baptistry doors, 1330-1336 Florence, have Fortitude with a club; we can't tell if there is a lion on the shield ( (The one on the right is Temperance. Notice the hexagonal halos here, as in the Charales VI.)


In the PMB, we have a man with a club as well as a real lion either with him or against him. The closest approximation to the PMB image of Fortitude is one that Ross found (, is an image of the 26th degree of Libra in an astrological compendium entitled the Astrolabium Planum. Along with the descriptor, Ross says, "Victory in War."


This image was published in 1488 Augsburg and again in Venice 1494, during the reign of Ludovico, rather late for our card. But the book was already known in Ferrara. Ross says, "The translations and original works of Petrus de Abano (1250-1316), are considered the sources of the astrological imagery in the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua and the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara." (For a recent review of the literature establishing this point, see Il Cosmo Incantato di Schifanoia: Aby Warburg e la storia delle immagini astroloiche, Ferrara 1998, p. 49f.) Ross points out similarities between the image and the card: "such details as the shape of the man's garments and the lion's tail between its legs." The Schifanoia imagery was painted in the 1470’s. Ross gives "c. 1475" as an approximate date for the PMB card.

I looked for the Astrolabium on-line. I found a German manuscript from "after 1491." haven't found the Latin, but I did find a 1655 English translation. On p. 26, in the chapter on Libra, we read the following: “In the 26 degree, ascends a man beating a Lyon with a staffe. It signifies, he will be a conquerer in war.” You could not get more specific than that. Here it is not just “victory” but “conquerer.” The translation has no imagery accompanying it. That is a problem about getting too precise about the 1494 image that Ross uses. The manuscripts may not have had the same image as the printed version, if any. It is the words that count most.

Would the Sforzas have known about this book, in manuscript form, during the time the frescoes were being painted? One possibility is that Francesco Sforza, who collected astrology books, acquired a copy. The Padua frescoes, which show knowledge of the book, were done in 1425-1440 (Wikipedia). But Galeazzo had a direct link to one known source. Here I will make recourse to Vogt-Leuerssen's collection of images of the Sforza family, in particular one allegedly of Bianca Maria ( ... .html#1075). The painting is a "Santa Lucia" by Francesco del Cossa, c. 1470 ( Lucia was a patron saint of the Sforzas. Del Cossa was the artist in charge of the Schiffanoia frescoes ( Del Cossa could well have found Galeazzo the image of victory and the conqueror that he wanted.

There are additional reasons for preferring the 1470’s to an earlier date. During the time he ruled Milan, Francesco Sforza was mostly concerned about setting up alliances to ensure the status quo. The only notable warfare I have found was the battle of Troia in 1462, which was the Italian League vs. Jean d'Anjou, Sigismund Malatesta, and Giacomo Piccinino. Francesco himself was physically incapacitated starting in 1462 and did not participate. So that might not have been the best time to present him as a Hercules. He in fact stopped appearing in public in 1462; a riot erupted in Milan after a rumor spread that he was dead ( Also, he would not have wanted to appear as any kind of hero then; the battle was a joint effort. Another factor is that he had just taken over Genoa after a revolt there, but it was by manipulation more than brute force (Wikipedia again). He wouldn't want his image to go against his careful low profile there. But most importantly, he would not have wanted to send such an aggressive message to his children, the future heads of state and wives of heads of state who would be playing with the cards, especially not Galeazzo, who, as Francesesco said in 1460, "fears no one and does whatever enters his head" (Lubkin, A Renaissance Court p. 26).

We know one message that Francesco did want to send. In De Sphaera, an illuminated manuscript about the seven planetary gods, the verse for Mars is as follows, with an English translation that used to be on the Internet (the Italian can be seen on the page itself at ... r=29&pic=1#):

"Il bellicoso Marte sempre inflama
Li animi alteri ni guerregiare et sforza
Hor questo hor quello, ni satia sun brama
In l’acquistor, ma piu sempre rinforza.

(He turns men to war and violence
Now to this, now to that,
and his raging is never satisfied,
When he gets something, he only wants more.)"

The victory at Troia set the stage for Francesco's alliance with Louis XI. That alliance, added to the Italian League he had helped form, was his plan for guaranteeing the security of Milan after his death. The year 1465, the time of Ippolita's marriage, was a delicate time in negotiations and so again not one in which Francesco, an astute diplomat, would have wanted ambassadors reporting home about a painting with the message "victory in war" and conquest by force. Nor again would it have been time to sugest such a course to his children. Any gifts suggesting such a message would have been discreetly ignored at best. And as I have already remarked in my previous post, a man with a club is an easily misunderstood wedding present.

Nor would Galeazzo have been able to commission such a card then. Even though Francesco might not have noticed, Bianca certainly would have. She was as politically astute as her husband and equally as dismayed at Galeazzo's behavior.

Another time worth considering for the card is 1494, with Ludovico. 1494 was the year the Emperor finally recognized him as duke. This was preparatory to Ludovico's breaking his alliance with France in favor of Emperor Maximilian, who was Duke of Burgundy and king of Austria, Bohemia, and Germany, as well as Ludovico's niece's husband. Ludovico was flexing his muscle (with predictably disastrous results). But 1494 is rather late for our six cards, which look very much like a set; it is certainly too late for Benedetto Bembo, whose work is dated between 1462 and 1489.

So we are back to Galeazzo, after he has become duke and Bianca has died. The peace that Francesco negotiated with France and the powers of Italy did hold after his death. But later, Galeazzo decided he was powerful enough not to need such an alliance, which seemed to subordinate himself to others. In 1474 he broke with Louis XI and formed an alliance with Charles the Bold (or “Rash”) of Burgundy. Galeazzo was also styling himself the equivalent of a king. He was petitioning the emperor for “the privilege of the Duchy, etc., and on the erection of the Duchy into a Kingdom, etc.”(Lubkin p. 186, quoting the diary of Simonetta, Galeazzo’s first secretary). After Charles's 1476 military disasters, Galeazzo went back to Louis, who fortunately renewed the alliance.

But the period after the death of his sister in 1472, and especially 1474-1476, would have been a logical time for Galeazzo to commission a reminder of the Sforzas’ power, inherited from his father and continued in him. Paintings were considered talismans in that era. Botticelli's La Primavera, for example, was probably commissioned as a wedding gift (Deimling, Botticelli p. 46); it was likely, in the style of Ficino's books on magic, a fertility talisman for the couple. People today wear gemstones for similar purposes. They have psychological value if nothing else. Likewise, the PMB would be just the thing to call down the power of the 26th degree of Libra to help him and his friends.

Galeazzo probably not only commissioned the cards but actually designed them. Both the Moon and Fortitude are quite idiosyncratic, as I have already suggested; it is not likely that a painter would have done them on his own initiative. At the same time, the "three luminaries" show a familiarity with the imagery of the Cary-Yale's theological virtues. Perhaps his visit to Florence and acquaintance with Pollaiuolo stimulated his memory of those cards and gave him their basic idea.

Galeazzo regarded the artists in his employ as mere craftsmen executing his designs, which he dictated to them in minute detail Lubkin p. 108). In 1471, for example he instructed that that Alesseio Piccinino "be depicted such that a stag has thrown him from his horse, and he is raising his legs to the sky in as attractive a manner as possible"(p. 107). Such, Lubkin notes, was Galeazzo's "perverse humor." Later he asked Bonfacio Bembo, who was by then a major figure, to "retouch our Camera dei Conigli...with some millet plants and similar greenery, with some birds, that is pheasants, partridges, and quail" (p. 109). He usually gave the job to the lowest bidder.

Galeazzo's interest in trionfi-playing, which he had enjoyed as a boy, also continued. After recounting Galeazzo's jousting tournaments, Lubkins says, "Some of the games favored at Galeazzo's court were more sedentary, incluiding card games (triumphi) played with the tarot deck" (p. 92). In the Pavia fresco program that he designed, he had "Elisabetta and damsels playing cards and other games" (p. 309). Then there is a portrait that appears in a book he commissioned. Despite the title of the jpg file, the year is not likely 1464 because he was not yet duke then. I see him as posing as King of Coins ( ... _1464_.jpg):



I know that judges were required at that time to sit cross-legged, to signify their disinterestedness (Panofsky ,Durer). But I haven't seen anything so absurd since Salvador Dali’s aping of the card (http:// ... 8&o=54&g=0#). In the illumination above, the color red preponderates; Ross ( noted that color in the six added cards, adding that it was Francesco's favorite color. Galeazzo seems to have liked it as well.

There is also, as I have already said, the apparent insertion of Sforza family members into the cards: Elisabetta for the lady, Galeazzo himself for the child holding the sun, and perhaps his brother and he for the cherubs of the World card. Vogt-Leuerssen has already given examples of his family members in sacred art (and apparently they all did the same). Although I have not received my copy of her book to check the dates, Lubkin confirms that Galeazzo instructed artists to do so: "Even Galeazzo's sacred fresco commissions usually included portraits of himself and his immediate family." Lubkin adds: "Almost every ducal commission exalted the prince and his family, as they joined the heavenly to the earthly, the past to the future, and the elements of their world to one another." Even visual art without family in them managed to reflect Galeazzo indirectly; the ceiling of Porta Giovia Castle's ducal chapel "showed the Holy Trinity surrounded by singers and musicians bearing banners with a red cross, signifying the Christian kingdom and the city of Milan" (Lubkin p. 3150. What occurs to me here is the walled city of the PMB World card.

In conclusion, it seems to me that during the 1470's Galeazzo was in the process of building a Sforza myth around himself, much as his father had tried to build a Visconti myth around himself. He proposed the giant equestrian statue of Francesco. He commissioned the writing of a history of the Sforzas by Simonetta, his and his father's first secretary, who in 1473-1474 was busy glorifying Fancesco's leadership in the 1462 battle of Troia (Ianziti, Humanistic Historiography uunder the Sfozas, p. 144. A fierce "Forza" card with Francesco's near-likeness would fit as a piece of this Sforza edifice, just as, I think likely, the Cary-Yale had been part of his father's Visconti edifice.

The preponderance of evidence points to the period 1468-1476, the reign of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, as the time of the six added PMB cards, most probably 1473-1475, after the death of his sister Elisabetta, just before and during his time and independence from Louis XI, and at the peak of Benedetto Bembo's time as an artist. More information may come from Vogt-Leuerssen's book when I get it.

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

Well ..

you need to make a personal evaluation, how much Trionfi decks were ever made at which time.

I prefer to chose a smaller number than Ross does,although we both know more or less the same documents.

The first document from Ferrara (which names Trionfi cards) in February 1442 is a production of 4 decks. This seems to be enough to care for the inner Ferrarese court, probably for a festivity, which should celebrate Leonello as new signore of Ferrara.

In the summer of the same year a servant is send to Marchione Burdochi to buy one Trionfi deck for the two boys in the family, 9 and 11 years old. The deck has the price of 1/8 of the earlier price for one deck for Leonello. Marchione Burdochi is a Bolognese merchant and he is known only from one other document, in which he has a business with Sagramoro (the Trionfi card painter; Sagramoro buys some items from Burdochi).

Ross assumes in his theory, that Burdochi imported Trionfi cards from an independent earlier Bolognese production, which already used "mass production" technology.

I in contrast assume, that Sagramoro made on own costs a cheaper edition of the Leonello deck, sold those, which he could sell in Ferrara and gave the rest to a merchant (Burdochi). In summer this special business was closed for Sagramoro and he hadn't more decks. But Burdochi still had some. So the servant was send to Burdochi and not to Sagramoro.

Naturally both interpretations lead to different assumptions, how many Trionfi card sets existed once ... let's say in 1443 (a point in time, at which we still have reason to assume "interest in playing cards in Ferrara").

I don't know, how much existing decks Ross assumes, I would assume that Sagramoro produced in the "cheaper edition" a number of decks between 20 - 200. The price for the "cheaper deck" bought from Burdochi was still about a 1/2 Lira Marchesana, that is "too much" for a mass market (the humble-servant salary per month was 1-2 Lira Marchesana, the noble man salary were about 20 Lira Marchesana ... but he had to pay at least some money for 2 or more servants, a horse and other necessary standard expenses, so it's difficult to say, how much "free money" was in the noble man's household for items of culture).

For other reasons I assume, that the "Trionfi game without special cards" was known before 1441, just being playable without special cards (there is no way to decide, to which degree it was known by the population, but there are indications, that it was known) . The progress of the "Trionfi cards" was only their "luxury status", not more.

I don't see a reason to assume, that the Trionfi cards in 1441/1442 were a great business success ... between 1444 and 1449 we don't have any production notes, neither Trionfi nor Imperatori cards.
I think, that this phase was a "card prohibition phase", indicated by the dominance of Pope Eugen during this time (Eugen was close to the Franciscans and the Franciscans were against playing cards). So naturally the Trionfi card development (small, as it might have been) was also brought down to a state of "bad business".

In 1449 Jacopo Antonio Marcello reports about a Trionfi deck, which appears in the camp of soldiers near Milan. The deck is detected by Scipio Caraffa, who doesn't know such cards. Scipio Caraffa is a Neapolitan in the service of Venice, but have been some time in France - to him the cards are not known, which means, that Trionfi cards can't have a gigantical distribution already. But Marcello already knows them ... which is not especially a wonder, cause Marcello belonged to the intime Sforza contacts already since 1441, probably already in 1439. So he had seen the Cary-Yale Tarocchi and possibly also Ferrarese Trionfi card products.

Best you read the letter yourself:

Ross takes the same passage as a sign of greater distribution of the cards, but I see the danger, that Marcello speaks of things, which we already know (instead of things, which we don't know).

Decembrio writes in 1447 about the Michelino deck, and to him these cards are not a "Trionfi deck" (he don't use the expression), Marcello writes in 1449 about the same cards and to him they're Trionfi cards. Polismagna ca. 1470 translates the Decembrio text and to him the Michelino cards are Trionfi cards.

This seems to mean, that Decembrio in 1447 seems not to know the expression "Trionfi cards", although he surely knows a lot of things about the world of his time. This don't speak of a larger distribution of Trionfi cards.

In 1450 we've a splendid Italian year (jubilee year) with the sad occurence, that the whole was overshadowed by a larger peste (especially with many victims in Milan, it's spoken of 30.000). It starts with Sforza's final military success and a triumphal procession, to which Leonello brings 3 humble trionfi cards, worth together very humble 3 Lira Marchesana, produced in a haste in March 1450. This doesn't speak of a large distribution of Trionfi cards ... if he had got 50 trionfi decks and brought them to Milan, it would have been a worthful gift (in money) and that would have been a clear sign of a functioning Trionfi card production.

No, he brought 3, produced in a haste. Maybe, that this was a hidden gift, as it is not clear, if there were still dominating prohibitive tendencies, which would have made this activity possibly shameful.

But it was a jubelee year and this was very good for business and many pilgrims invaded Italy and these probably brought with them their own playing cards, especially the Germans, which at home didn't knew about Italian prohibitive tendencies. The same occasion jubilee year gave reason to many local triumphal processions and festivities, times, when the normal controls of public life were reduced to a minimum. The prohibition culture suffered. Italy went "out of control" for some time - in this year. The Trionfi card results for this year were two letters of Sforza before Christmas, that he wishes to have Trionfi cards for the Christmas week (a general time used for playing and gambling). The great duke Francesco Sforza with a functioning big country isn't able to organize them quickly ... this doesn't speak of an already organized Trionfi card production. Instead of this he's offered curious playing card decks (pair of fruits ?), from which we never heard of elsewhere.

This contributes to the impression, that Italy (at least partly full of playing card prohibitions) is in 1450 confronted with foreign card productions ... and foreign playing card freedom.
In Florence we find for this year (after a period of years, in which prohibition appears as "increased") in Dember 1450 (parallel to Sforza's letter) a statute of allowance for "dritta", "vinciperdi", "trionfo" and "trenta", whereby the classification of these 4 allowed games stays dubious.
But "trionfo" is allowed, so we perhaps have to decide, that in this years Trionfi cards were produced in Florence.
Generally it appears, that the new tolerance in Florence against playing cards has a causal relation to the new alliance Florence-Milan (based on the friendship Francesco Sforza and Cosimo Medici) and the fact of the jubilee year.
Ca. 2 years later Cosimo starts to lose his dominance in Florence and parallel to this we've new wars in Italy. The wars are partly finished with the peace of Lodi (April 1454), but the influence of the political party of the Medici power is declined till ca. 1458 ... then it returns. We don't see by any note, that the Trionfi card movement of 1450 was successful during this period, actually it seems, that the conservative party regained territory (but without the power to reign totally).
In 1455 we have a Spanish pope (instead of the book-friendly Nicholas) and the appearance of the Spanish pope its an expression of the increasing power of Alfonso d'Aragon, who might be assumed to have taken position "against playing cards". As Florence surely always stood in some dependancy to the popes and also to Naples, we have to assume not too much playing card freedom in Florence - during this time.
The whole period stands under the pressure caused by the fall of Constantinople (1453), which (again) demanded a new crusade. Part of the activity is, that St. Capristanus was send to Germany and never before or later the young German playing card industry had such an negative impact (1453 - ca. 1460). Undisturbed by the negative tendencies is only Ferrara, from which we constantly have (small number) productions during this time.

So we have 2-3 lucky years 1450-1452 (including an Emperor vist, cause a marriage, with Trionfi card production in Siena ... 1452), but then a general depression in playing card production, which, however, didn't attach Ferrara.

For the lucky island Ferrara we have to observe, that between 1455 - 1460 duke Borso engages in the project of the famous Borso bible and for this reason he has the house full of artists, especially miniaturists, also he engages in the building of a Certosa ... seems to be this building ... 9&t=h&z=17

which earlier looked like this


This were major works for Borso, "pious works". Trionfi cards were only a side path of Borso's interest, Borso had taste for art. As far "Trionfi cards" were or are pious objects, one should have a suspicion on Borso's activities, at least

Borso loved Justitia and likely cause of this reason the Justitia in the Ferrarese order was high as second highest trump Nr. 20.


Borso with Justitia attributes


Justice in the Borso-bible


The final version of Tarot is rather religious, isn't it?

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II


Granted that triumph cards are "pious objects," and that Borso was interested in representing himself as Justice, I still don't see why he should have suggested a cliff to Lorenzo, to be included in the cards he allegedly was haing made for Ippolita's wedding. There was no cliff on the Ferrara cards, as far as we know. In fact, the designs were completely different, judging from the only evidence we have, the d'Este cards. Why should there be a cliff on these cards at all? And the designs for Fortitude and the Moon are so idiosyncratic, so totally different from anything in Ferrara or Florence. There is no accounting for them, from Lorenzo or 1565 Ferrara, not to mention that it would have been extremely presumptuous of Lorenzo to introduce such new designs for a Milan deck.

The most logical explanation is still that the cliffs were put there by someone quite familiar with the original PMB cards, with a propietary interest in the deck, and that they are there because of Elisabetta's death, also memorialized by the lady's image on the cards. The idiosyncratic Moon is also Elisabetta, forced to marry too soon. The idiosyncratic Fortitude seems to me best explained as from the image, or description of an image, in the Astrolabium Planum, then being used by the artist in charge of the Schifanoia in the 1470's. The commissioning of the card reflects Galeazzo's desire for victory in his upcoming alliance with Charles V and bid for a kingship. Only someone actually in charge of the deck, i.e. Galeazzo, could have made such innovations. And the reason why the lion is so small is that a large one wouldn't fit on the card, in the way Galeazzo wanted it.

Using the "edit" function on this Forum, I added a few things to my previous post: (1) the relevant sentences from the 1655 English translation of the Astrolabium Planum; and (2) the verse on Mars from De Sphaera, the illuminated illustrations of the planets commissioned by Francesco Sforza.

I have also found one more version of the Astrolabium's image of the man beating the lion, in addition to the one Ross posted on his web-page. It is from the Heidelberger Schicksalsbuch, after 1491,, on p. 63r. Here it is with the verse:


And just the image, enlarged:


Like in the version Ross posted, this lion has his tale between his legs, as in the PMB card. I am still looking for the Latin original of the words, but so far I can't find it on Google.

Between the lettering and the spelling, I couldn't figure out the German. It ends with "and victorious man," but before that I am clueless. Can you tell me what the sentences say?

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

mikeh wrote:Well...

Granted that triumph cards are "pious objects," and that Borso was interested in representing himself as Justice, I still don't see why he should have suggested a cliff to Lorenzo, to be included in the cards he allegedly was haing made for Ippolita's wedding.
There was no cliff on the Ferrara cards, as far as we know. In fact, the designs were completely different, judging from the only evidence we have, the d'Este cards. Why should there be a cliff on these cards at all?
It's clear, that the cliff is a Sforza symbol, I've read so and I've seen it myself in a Sforza manuscript. But naturally Borso would have known specialities of the Sforza heraldic. His sister was married to a Sforza, an her husband worked as diplomat ... probably especially in Ferrara.
And the designs for Fortitude and the Moon are so idiosyncratic, so totally different from anything in Ferrara or Florence.
... there is a list of households in Florence in the years 1429-32 somewhere in web and it is unbelievable, how many artists have been there ... and they surely didn't paint all in the same style. But the idea of art experts is, that the 6 cards present "Ferrarese style" ... it's not my idea, I understand not so much of Ferrarese art.
And I can't see, that this Hercules is very idiosyncratic and I don't find the moon picture very interesting.
There is no accounting for them, from Lorenzo or 1565 Ferrara, not to mention that it would have been extremely presumptuous of Lorenzo to introduce such new designs for a Milan deck.
These decks were objects for rather young persons, and they served as education tool to develop their taste.
... .-) ... you seem to be misguided and take these objects too serious. In the 20's they were taken serious, as high sums for money were paid - the artist was the "best artist of his time" and Martiano was a wise high official. So the Michelino deck is "serious" and it got an describing manuscript ... later the costs became smaller, and rich persons found them not so extravagant. It was okay, that the youth were engaged in these matters.
The most logical explanation is still that the cliffs were put there by someone quite familiar with the original PMB cards, with a propietary interest in the deck, and that they are there because of Elisabetta's death, also memorialized by the lady's image on the cards. The idiosyncratic Moon is also Elisabetta, forced to marry too soon. The idiosyncratic Fortitude seems to me best explained as from the image, or description of an image, in the Astrolabium Planum, then being used by the artist in charge of the Schifanoia in the 1470's. The commissioning of the card reflects Galeazzo's desire for victory in his upcoming alliance with Charles V and bid for a kingship.
I don't understand. Which Charles V? Charles the bold of Burgund?

Elisabetta pictures were realised in the frescoes in Pavia. She married in a haste in 1469, nearly only 13 years old, a man, who was 5x as old she was. There was not much time for her to have much character.
Only someone actually in charge of the deck, i.e. Galeazzo, could have made such innovations. And the reason why the lion is so small is that a large one wouldn't fit on the card, in the way Galeazzo wanted it.
This possibility would have existed in 1457 with document 17 ...

... probably then cards were made for Galeazzo. But Lorenzo had a reason to make 6 cards (and some precise reasons to make just these 6 cards), and he had the reason precisely at the "best moment" ... this would be then a "very strange accident" and very strange accidents are rare.

Like in the version Ross posted, this lion has his tale between his legs, as in the PMB card. I am still looking for the Latin original of the words, but so far I can't find it on Google.

Between the lettering and the spelling, I couldn't figure out the German. It ends with "and victorious man," but before that I am clueless. Can you tell me what the sentences say?
It are not very remarkable as the most sentences in this book. A man with this Horoskop will become a strong fighter and have victories.

Einer flecht einen lewen mit einem stecken
Wirdt ein streitper und sighafft mensch
One beats a lion with a baton
(he) becomes a "strong?" and victorious man (streitper is German "streitbar" ... flecht ist not used today)

Occasionally you seem to think, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck is a "single deck" ... but we have other decks, which are very similar. So there was not only a one-deck-production.

Re: "The 5x14 Theory: An Investigation" part II

Most of our early entries about Trionfi cards are from Ferrara and from the reign of Borso ... thanks to the surviving Ferrarese account books and thanks to the interest of art history, which cared to research matters of art in the books with great interest.
A comparable research we have in Italy only in the person of Franco Pratesi, who took for himself the attempt to look at a big mountain of old paper of the Florentine region and sort them in the hope to find something about playing and Trionfi cards. He had to care with his personal energies (and was exhausted anyway later with the feeling "no archive work anymore" later) and threw a lot of things (which might interest us now) to the category of "no interest" ... nonetheless he got a lot of stuff out of it ... just by doing and searching.

So there are other notes and if we would know about them, a picture would change ... but researchers are missing and rare. Naturally also a lot of things are simply lost, and there is no way to recover them as document.

So looking at the state of documents alone, Borso has a dominant position.

For Milan we have 3 decks (or deck types) from the Filippo Maria Visconti period (Michelino, Cary-Yale Tarocchi, Brera-Brambilla), and actually only 3 different deck types from the far longer (and later) period of the Sforza time (Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo and similar, Rosenthal Tarocchi and similar, and the two cards in the Kestner Museum - which possibly have a relation to the marriage of Bianca Maria Sforza to the emperor Maximilian), additionally we have not too much documents. Summarizing we have "more interest" documented about Filippo Maria Visconti (although "shorter period" and although "much earlier" and although much of his documents got lost, when the Milanese castle was destroyed) than from his followers.
So we cannot construct from the documents a great Milanese creativity in matters of Trionfi cards in the later period.

In contrast we have Borso: August 1451 - 1 game ... perhaps in relation to Borso's plans to become duke of Reggio and Modena (but the price is only "usual" - although higher than in March 1450) February 1452 - Printing color paid for the production of Imperatori cards by the "Mantovani in Sassuolo"
(possibly an activity in relation to the Emperor visit ?)

Trionfi production 1454 February 1454 - an expensive deck (12 Lira) with gold, but it's not called Trionfi deck (but it's assumed, that it was one) - possibly this was the model for the later productions in the same year,
See also a note not referring to Trionfi cards, but to woodcut blocks in January 1454, which is summarized in the entry of 1459 ( ) 13th of April 1454 (after at 9th of April had passed the peace of Lodi) - card backside painting (repairing action ?, together with some heraldic on a box ... possibly a preparation for diplomatic meetings with card playing payment August 1454 - very small "mass production" of Trionfi cards, possibly made for the marriage between Beatrice d'Este and Tristano Sforza the same year (or the exspected peace of Lodi), totally 11 decks are produced between February - April 1454 by two painters 1454 - " 1454 - "

Critique and juristic answer 1455 - a preacher's critique at trionfi cards in Padova (as Padova is not very far from Ferrara, the critique might aim at Ferrarese cards) 1456 The Ferrarese jurist Trotti refers to a game "Trionfi", which is a "mixed game" (so at least partly a game of skill, not a game of simple luck).
Unluckily we don't know this text good enough, but it seems, that it defends the game Trionfi for "juristic reasons". The author Arcangli seems to have seen it:
"Arcangeli simply remarks, for example, that Ugo Trotti’s De ludo (1456) contains a thorough discussion of gambling and its legal obligations, and that a treatise by Ambrogio da Vignate is a rich survey which could serve as a useful comparison with De ludo and treatises by later Iberian canonists and theologians." ... =firefox-a

Ross luckily knew, that the text is meanwhile online ... detailed study, what this text really is about is still missing. ... jp2Res=.25

The passage about Trionfi cards is at folio 14 and only short. It's of importance, that the Trionfi cards are a game of skill (and only partly luck) and not of simple luck. According the author Hübsch (1850) already in the times of Emperor Charles VI this discussion about games with skill (so "positive games" and not prohibited) and "simple luck games as dice variants (so "negative games" and prohibited) took place ... so it seems, that the jurist Trotti defends playing cards with the aim to keep them allowed, possibly refering to older .

Sagramoro / Gherardo da Vicenza change - great creativity 1456 ... the last Trionfi card deck from Sagramoro, with a rather high price - so expensive (Sagramoro retires after this or around this time). 1457 ... the "70 cards" note, 2 decks from Gherardo da Vicenza, also expensive, made (with high probability) for the visit of Galeazzo 1457 ... a second playing card activity during Galeazzo's visit; a page painted cards and the colors are paid to Gherardo da Vicenza - at this opportunity Galeazzo might have wished, how "his cards" should look like

Later decks 1458 ... 4 packs for an usual price by Gerardo da Vicenza 1459 ... a note, which relates (possibly) to notes from January 1454 and 1494; about woodcut blocks 1460 Jan. 2 packs (cheaper than usual price) from Gherardo da Vicenza 1460 Apr. 1 pack (expensive ... with doubts) from Gherardo da Vicenza ... (? error ? at least insecure ... might be a years summary) 1460 Jul. 1 pack (cheaper than usual price) from Gherardo da Vicenza 1460 Nov. 2 packs (cheaper than usual price) from Gherardo da Vicenza 1460 Dec. --- money is paid for the decks from Juli and November 1461 Jan. 1 pack (cheaper than usual price) from Gherardo da Vicenza 1463 31 of Dec. ... probably a Christmas production, 4 decks (cheaper than the usual price)
Borso got a cheaper price since 1460, which repeats in the different notes. The one expensive price is doubtful, it might be a summary, cause the price is very similar to the price, which was finally paid in December, so possibly the entry of April (which is very short) might be only a price suggestion.

Much later 1469 Nov. ... this is a recent detection, made by Ross. It's another painter, Federico di Bonacossi, and the price is in the category "expensive". It seems to be a "Christmas deck", as we have another entry at 25th December, which relates to the game of "Ronfa".

The usual paid price was 4 Lira Marchesana (or near to it) - this was already paid by Leonello in 1442
5 Lira per pack

So we have 3 price categories, which appear in all Ferrarese documents (cheap, usual, expensive):

August 1442 - the boys deck (about 1/2 Lira)
March 1450 - Leonello's decks for his Milan visit

Leonello's deck 1442
all ca. 4 Lira - decks made by Borso
in these decks the term gold and silver is not mentioned (in the case I overlooked nothing).

February 1454 - Sagramoro's deck at the start of the Ferrarese serial production ... 12 Lira 10 Soldi ... gold is mentioned
also the follow decks of this year are expensive, though the price is not really clear - they should have gold on them.
1456 - Sagramoro's final deck ... 11 Lira 10 Soldi ... gold and silver is mentioned
1457 - Gherardo da Vicenza first deck ... 12 Lira 12 Soldi ... gold is mentioned
1460 Apr. - probably an error (?) 10 Lira 10 Soldi
1469 - Bonacossi deck 11 Lira 4 soldi ... it's not clear, if we have the complete document text

Occasionally a sort of tax is involved and that is curious, as it happened not always. One example are the three decks of Leonello in 1450:
Maestro Jacomo called Sagramoro, painter, having the 16th day of March for the making and expense of painting, at his expense, three packs of triumph cards, painting the backs of two packs of green called azure… black with oil, and the back of one pack of brazil… of that called brazilwood, checkered in black with oil. Requesting the said Master Jacomo 1 lire, 10 soldi marchesane per pack, and Galeoto taking tax 1 lire marchesane per pack…………………………………. L. III."
This is especially curious, cause the calculation isn't correct:
The price is 1 Lira 10 soldi and Galeoti taking tax 1 lire per pack and that what the painter got are 3 Lira ???? Either he got 1 Lira 10 nSoldi or he paid 1 1/2 lira taxes. 1 Lira 10 soldi times 3 are 4 1/2 Lira. Maybe there is an error in the translation.
Generally one should see, that a tax of 1/2 or 1 Lira is very high.

Summarizing it seems, that only decks with gold/silver were in the category "expensive". And this were very few decks.
Unluckily we don't can recognize details about the motif changes, which surely occasionally happened ... one idea would be, that "golden cards" were an indication for changed cards. However, we've not enough information to conclude this with any security.

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