Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

Last week I started a thread on tarot and alchemy, meaning to evaluate O’Neill’s conclusions in his book Tarot Symbolism. In my first post I tried to find evidence that alchemy could have influenced tarot in the 15th century. All I could find was pictures of alchemical apparatus—cauldrons, fires, flasks, etc. that could have influenced only the Sola-Busca, a non-standard deck.

Owing to the Christmas holidays, I had not yet received on Interlibrary Loan one of O’Neill’s sources, Stanislaus Klossowski de Rola’s Alchemy: the Secret Art. It came after my posting. In that book there is a series of manuscript illustrations that makes me question my former position. O’Neill found suggestions of two tarot trumps there; I find fifteen or more.

De Rola says the manuscript is 15th century. But when in that century? That is important when considering its relationship to the 15th century tarot: if in the first third of the century, then it is before any tarot we know of. If it from the last third, then it is after the first tarot. Also, what is in the text that accompanies the pictures? I ask that because the pictures, while reminiscent of later alchemical images, also have features that make them unique. So my post divides into two parts: the manuscript and the images.


First, a summary of what I have found out so far. The manuscript is from the first quarter of the 15th century, according to Setti. The text is a moralizing Christian interpretation of the Greco-Roman gods, with no apparent reference to alchemy. No art historian I have found mentions anything about alchemy in relation to either the text or its illuminations. De Rola, in turn, makes no mention of the Christian moralizing element. Yet the illuminations are unquestionably the same. Two sources that I have not yet examined are Liebeschutz’s 1926 book-length study of the ms. (in German) and an article by Panofsky that apparently gives the date as c. 1420.

Now the details: The manuscript, as de Rola gives it, is Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Pal. Lat. 1066, In searching for information about it, I found an article on the Web by Salvatore Settis, a professor at Pisa, entitled “Danae Verso Il 1495,” in Italian. He is speaking about one illumination in particular, of the mythical princess Danae, upon whom Jupiter descended in a rain of gold:
La prima, e più diffusa, si incontra dell'illustrazione di una redazione (non quella originaria) del Fulgentius metaphoralis: così nel MS Vat. Pal. Lat. 1066, f. 228r, che è del primo venticinquennio del sec. XV. Qui un testo denso e rimato (dove Danae è "situ sublimata, menibus vallata, egestate sata, agmine stipata, prole fecundata, auro violata”) è illustrato mostrando una Danae solitaria in cima a una chiusa torre, circondata da schiere di armati, mentre riceve la piogga d’oro.
My attempt at translation: “Danae to 1495,” by Salvatore Settis. “...The first, and most diffused, is what one meets in the illustrations of an edition (not in its original form) of the Fulgentius Metaphoralis, as in MS Vat. Pal. Lat. 1066, f. 228r, of the first quarter of the XV century. Here a dense, rhymed text (where Danae is "situ sublimata, menibus vallata, egestate sata, agmine stipata, prole fecundata, auro violata" is illustrated showing a solitary Danae on top of a closed tower, surrounded by teams of armed men, while she is receiving the golden rain...”

I found a translation of the Latin rhymes in an essay entitled “Emulating sensual beauty: representations of Danae from Grossaert to Rembrandt,” by Eric Jan Sluijter, (Simiolus 1999, p. 5, http://www.jstor.org/pss/3780877): “on an elevated spot, surrounded by fortifications, in great misery, encircled by troops, pregnant with offspring, violated by gold.” He attributes the translation to Erwin Panofsky, in an article entitled “Der gefesselte Eros (Zur Geneologie von Rembrandts Danae).” Panofsky dated the manuscript to 1420, according to Sluijter.

Panofsky’s article is available on the Web (http://books.google.com/books?id=GXWSs7 ... &q&f=false), but I do not find where he mentions the date; however it may be on the page just before the illustration, which Google omits. (So I have made another Interlibrary Loan request.) Here is the illustration, which I scanned from Sluijter’s article. It is in the same style as the illustrations that de Rola uses, as will be evident, and quite different from other manuscripts on the same theme; thus it is clearly from the same manuscript.


Danae’s myth was sometimes used in alchemical texts, notably Coenders van Helpen’s Tresor de la philosophie des ancients, Cologna 1693 (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... /Danae.jpg, from Fabricius p. 42). So the illustration might well have an alchemical point, as well as illustrating the verse about Danae in the text.

So now I have two sources. Settis says that this manuscript is from the first quarter (assuming that is what “venticinquennio” means) of the 15th century. Panofsky says that his manuscript, with the same title, the same Latin rhymes about Danae, and the same illustration style, dates to 1420.

Neither, let us make clear, is the original Fulgentius Metaphoralis According to various sites on the Internet, that happened in the 14th century. The author was an English Franciscan friar named John Ridewall, or in Latin Joannes Ridevallus, who flourished c. 1330.

Checking further, I see that Ridewall cites as one of his sources a work called Mithologia Alexandri Nequam (Seznec, Survival of the Pagan Gods p. 171, at http://books.google.com/books?id=YOISgW ... &q&f=false. Seznec thinks that this Nequam, or Neckam, is identical to the “Abricus” who authored a text called the Liber ymaginum deorum, which was a source for, and included in the same manuscript (Codie Reginsensis 1290) as the De Deorum Imaginibus Libellus, whose drawings were an inspiration for the images of the planetary gods in the “Tarot of Mantegna,” as Seznec later shows. The Fulgentius Metaphoralis is a text of the same type. The illustrations to the Libellus are like those of the Fulgentius; yet the Libellus has no suggestion of alchemy. Seznec gives an example in his Survival of the Pagan Gods, his figure 68, “Apollo and the Muses,” p. 177. I will compare that one to the one in the Fulgentius in the second section.

Just to guard against confusion, I should mention that there is another manuscript of the Fulgentius Metaphoralis, Palat. Lat. 1726. Seznec gives an illustration from that one that clearly betrays the moralizing intent of the text, a “Venus-Luxuria,” his fig. 31, p. 107. The style is noticeably different.


Seznec discusses the Fulgentius Metaphoralis of concern here, Pal. Lat. 1066, in some detail. In fact, he summarizes the text that goes with one of the illuminations that de Rola says is alchemical. Seznec first states Ridewall’s general framework. He assigns different gods to different virtues. Saturn is Prudence, and since the parts of Prudence are Memory, Intelligence, and Foresight, each of these virtues gets assigned to a different one of Saturn’s children, as well as their sum, Benevolence, assigned to Jupiter. He does the same for those gods’ children. Then Seznec comments specifically on Juno, to give us a sample:
The detailed working out of this allegorical analysis is caried to fantastic extremes. For instance, Juno, as we have seen, is identified with Memory, and therefore has the following attributes: she is veiled, crowned with a rainbow, crowned with a rainbow, and perfumed; she holds a scepter, is bound by a golden chain, surrounded by peacocks, etc. All these details are explained by the very fact that the goddess represents memory.

Memory does, of course, keep alive the recollection of sin; hence the veil behind which Juno may hide her shame. The recollection of sin leads to repentance, and thus to reconciliation with God; this explains the rainbow, sign of divine forgiveness. Reconciliation gives birth to spiritual consolation, which fills the soul with rapture: hence the perfumes. And having, by virtue of Memory, attained repentance and reconciliation, the soul in its new state of blessedness regains that mastery of itself which sin had caused it to lose: hence the scepter, etc. The extraordinary ingenuity of the commentary is apparent, especially when we consider that each interpretation rests upon at least one supporting authority—Cicero, St. Augustine, or Bernard of Chartres. This is without doubt our most curious monument of the application of Christian allegory to mythology.
All of this is on pp. 94-95, at http://books.google.com/books?id=YOISgW ... &q&f=false. Part of the actual Latin text on Juno is given, in Latin with English translation, on p. 106. And here is the illustration itself (omitted by Google in its copy of the page); you can see that it is the same as the one that de Rola reproduces (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... 0/iris.jpg), which I will discuss from his point of view later. Seznec observes (p. 169f) that “Iris’s rainbow” (the colors do not show) “forms an aureole on Juno that might be the halo of a saint”; i.e. the illumination carries out the Christian moralization of the Greco-Roman goddess.


Seznec finds this treatment of the Greco-Roman gods to be “most curious.” Well, de Rola gives an alchemical analysis of this same illustration. What would he make of that? And O’Neill finds tarot symbolism in other illustrations of the series. I even find it here. Where did those trashcan-like things on either side of “Juno” come from, one of which looks like the tower in “Marseille” Tower card? (It looks like alchemical apparatus. The resemblance of the Tower card to images of such apparatus has been noticed before, e.g. http://www.legends-and-myths.com/40_2.c ... utus-liber), but not, to my knowledge, in relation to images this early. Furthermore, the match-up is closer than to anything in the 1677 Mutus Liber.) What about the lantern in her hand, like the Hermit’s? Who are the King and Queen on either side, like the Emperor and Empress, or the two young people flanked by an older woman on the “Marseille” Lover card? Juno, after all, was the goddess of marriage. Then there is the relationship to the text. How could that headgear, like the Popess’s, hide her shame? Where is the “golden chain” mentioned by the text? Curioser and curioser.


Now I will present the images, along with de Rola’s short comments on each, plus my own comments on de Rola and how I find the image related to the tarot. I am presenting the illuminations in the order they occur in the text rather than that in which de Rola presents them, with the exception of 1 and 2.

(1) I am not sure which page in the manuscript comes first, 218 or 218v. De Rola puts 218v first, as his plate 53. Here it is.


De Rola comments
The nine Muses are seen here with their patron Apollo, who is sitting in his chariot and holding his bow and the arrow of the secret fire. The red colour (pl. 54) indicates the sulphur of the philosophers; the raven, the nigredo. The Tree of Life (in the chariot) is frequently associated with Apollo.
The picture, O’Neill reasonably contends, brings to mind that of the tarot CHARIOT card, especially the Noblet with its dark and light horses. The reddish and whitish horses, which many speculate are the noble and ignoble horses of Plato’s Phaedrus, are now the red and white of alchemy. The black of the raven is the third. O”Neill says that the Charioteer corresponds to the King’s Son in alchemy (Tarot Symbolism p. 278). You will notice that in this sequence of illustrations (if indeed they form a sequence) there are two men wearing crowns, one bearded and older, the other clean-shaven and younger.

Seznec (p. 170) calls the man on the horse a “postilion,” i.e. someone who guides the horses who is on one of them rather than in the chariot. One early tarot Chariot card, c. 1450, also has such people (http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/ferrasingle/, and another, the CY, is not far off, with its groom standing next to the horse (http://a-tarot.eu/test/cary-yale-chariot.jpg).

I have never before seen a pre-18th century alchemical illustration that included a chariot, except perhaps another illustration that de Rola gives, from 1480, which has all the planetary gods on chariots, but then this one is earlier than most alchemical images. The chariot was a popular motif of the times. With so many other images of chariots, the tarot did not need this picture to prompt its own: but the coincidence is suggestive.

The above picture can profitably be compared with the one in the Libellus of the same scene (Seznec p. 177).


The other picture’s suggestions of alchemy are noticeably absent here. Another difference is the drawn bow vs. his holding it at his side. The drawn bow suggests that Apollo has not yet slain the Python-dragon. It also suggests the dragon-fight to come that is often part of alchemical works.

(2) Here is the other illumination, ms. f. 218, de Rola’s plate 55.


De Rola’s comment:
The frequent alchemical references to death, burial and rebirth mean that the subject is sealed inside the Egg to decay and be reborn in glory. The philosophers have often depicted the life of Christ in this esoteric light.
At the bottom of the illumination, the tomb, at which the lady assists, is very much like the Egg de Rola mentions. There is a certain resemblance to the JUDGMENT card, although nothing that was not commonplace in the culture of the time.

At the top, the chariot may be such an Egg, but one on wheels. It is an Egg in which the Young King will undergo the fires of hell before his triumph.

This one again resembles the tarot CHARIOT. In addition, there is a red DEVIL. Again, the tarot did not need this image to inspire it, but it is one of the few actual devils I have seen in alchemical illustrations. Here the Young King is not in armor.

You will have noticed that the lady looks the same as that of “Juno” in the Seznec illustration. Since when did Juno help people out of graves?

It would be of interest to know what the text is corresponding to this image. I can deduce nothing from Seznec. Hopefully Liebeschutz’s book (another Interlibrary Loan request) will have something.

(3) Then comes the Royal Pair, on their cauldron-like throne, f. 221, de Rola’s plate 56:


De Rola says:
The Green King must die. The hideous Stymphalides (death-bringers, like the Harpies in pl. 54) are summoning him, and the Three Fates are about to end his life; Atropos cuts the thread spun by Clotho and measured by Lachesis. This king represents the root, the primordial source from which all things grow.
Clotho and her spindle are reminiscent of the Charles VI SUN card. The demons are suggestive of the ones on the “Marseille” style DEVIL card. Again, it would be nice to know what the corresponding text is.

(4) Now comes something quite different, plate 54, on f. 222 of the manuscript.


De Rola says:
It is likely that the king’s nakedness and whiteness, and the horns on his head, refer to the operation of calcination or purification, which is associated with the Zodiacal sign of Aries the Ram (see note to pl 2). The woman is wearing a red cloak trimmed with grey, the colour of Jupiter; her belt is black, the colour of Saturn. The subject is emerging from the black shadow of death, hence his victorious crown. The Harpies, offspring of Earth and Sea, were as deadly as their cousins the Sirens (pl. 46); their sister was Iris (pl. 57).
De Rola’s plate 2 is the first image of the 17th century speculum veritatis, which can be seen at http://www.labyrinthdesigners.org/wp-co ... atis-1.jpg). The wolf is on the right. A clearer picture of what he is doing is in Maier’s 1618 Atalanta Fugiens, Emblem 24, http://www.tarotgarden.com/library/imag ... s_1618.jpg. Maier’s motto for this emblem is “The wolf devoured the King and, cremated, restored him to life.”

De Rola’s note to pl. 2 says
The sign of Aries corresponds to the name of the Materia Prima or subject of the Work. The grey wolf (antimony), devouring Mercury, indicates that a purification of the subject, similar to that of gold by antimony, must take place.

I would have thought that Aries signifies the King’s role as sacrificial lamb, like Jesus. It suggests to me that the King’s death and purification (at the Easter season) is about to occur, not that it has already occurred. I don’t know why the crown should indicate only victory; in the Rosarium series the King wears it before, during, and after death; it identifies him.

The lady looks to me like she’s instructing the King about something, while the deluge threatens; that is the role of the POPESS.

The lady is probably not the man’s wife/lover, since she doesn’t have a crown, and the figure on high is not a Cupid, but nonetheless the arrangement is similar to the 15th century LOVE cards, especially the CY and PMB.

The King and Queen correspond to the EMPEROR and EMPRESS cards. O’Neill makes this point in reference to later alchemical sequences (Tarot Symbolism p. 276f) and it applies here as well. Alchemy reserves the Emperor’s crown for people at the end of the sequence, as a kind of promotion after going through hell. A later illustration of the Bearded King by himself (#6 in my list) is quite close to that of the EMPEROR card, as O’Neill notes.

(5) This is f. 223, de Rola’s plate 57. It is of course the one that Seznec analyzed in detail (see first section of this post), as corresponding to the text’s account of Juno.


De Rola explains
The lady is Iris, the rainbow, Juno’s messenger, the harbinger of death to women, as Mercury is to men. To release the souls of women, in alchemy, means to sublime the volatile parts of the residue after the nigredo, thus producing the rainbow colouring which is called the Peacock’s Tail.

Is the lady in the center Iris or Juno? She looks like the Roman statues of Juno (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Juno_ ... ushkin.jpg) and coins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Denar ... C_0237.jpg), where she wears a hooded garment and stands holding a long scepter or spear. By 1420 artists probably knew to pay attention to such classical models. Iris, in contrast, had wings and a caduceus, Yet the role of this hooded figure in her various appearances in these miniatures is more that of Iris, which in the Iliad was much like that of Hermes in the Odyssey, per Wikipedia: both were conveyers of souls after death. Moreover, Seznec identifies the bearded king on the next page as Jupiter. If the king here is the same, as they appear to be, that would make the Queen Juno, and the hooded lady someone else.

I have already pointed out how the lady resembles the POPESS, the scene that of the “Marseille” LOVER card, the holding of the lantern that of the HERMIT, and the trashcan-like things like the “Marseille” TOWER. Alchemically, the trashcan-like things are simply pieces of alchemical apparatus. Here are examples in clear-cut alchemical texts, on the left 15th century, on the right 16th century (Laurinda Dixon, Bosch, p. 193, of Trinity College Library Cambridge MS 0.8.1 f. 1r and Wellcome Institute Library, London, MS 719 f. 256).


(6) This one is ms. f. 224v, de Rola’s plate 59. Seznec (p. 169) says that this image is of Jupiter (as does O’Neill at http://www.tarot.com/about-tarot/librar ... ll/emperor), and that the inclusion of “a flight of heraldic eaglets” is quite “ingenuous,” which I think is probably a mistranslation for “ingenious,” an adjective that the English translation used earlier. The eagle is of course the bird of Jupiter.


But why eight? Here is de Rola:
Here again, the king is about to meet his doom (see notes to pls. 55, 56). The eight eagles symbolize repeated sublimations. In his left hand the king holds the orb, which is a hieroglyph of the name of the subject, corresponding to the celestial sign of Aries. In this sense the death alluded to is a fixation of the volatile, whereby Water becomes Earth.
De Rola is giving an alchemical explanation of the proliferation of eagles, as signifying death by evaporation, followed by rebirth as the sublimate that sticks to the side of the container.

And here is O’Neill (Tarot Symbolism, p. 277) on this image
...the King is shown in royal state, much as he appears in early hand-painted Tarots and is even surrounded by black eagles which frequently appear on the shield of the Emperor card.

Except for the great quantity of eagles, his point is well taken. The EMPEROR card shows just one, on the shield or hat. Allowing also for the rams and the omnipresent lady, this image approximates the card.

(7) The next is ms. f. 226, de Rola’s plate 58.


De Rola says:
Saturn holds a sickle; Rhea a stone. He had castrated and deposed his father Uranus; and to avoid the same fate, ate all his own children. Once Rhea substituted a stone; and the child, Jupiter, grew up to castrate and depose his father. Myths of this kind reflect the cyclic nature of the Great Work.
You will notice the penis and testicles in the hand of the Young King, who gives it to a pair of children. I do not know what the Christianizing text makes of this scene, but for me it relates to the FOOL card. The FOOL on two early tarot cards, the d’Este and the Charles VI, is much the same as the Saturno of the “Tarot of Mantegna” (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... naFool.jpg) The children reach up on the d’Este, just as the dog-like creature does on the Noblet (http://www.tarot-history.com/Jean-Noble ... le-fou.jpg). The Old King is depotentiated, the youngsters empowered. (In alchemy, it is the fixation of the volatile and the volatilization of the fixed. See my post at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=383&start=80#p9705 and my long one preceding it on that thread.)

(8) We come to ms. f. 227, de Rola’s plate 60.


De Rola:
Mercury kills (or fixes) Argus, the hundred-eyed guardian. Argus’ charge, the cow Io, was said by the Greeks to change colour with the phases of the Moon: black, white and red. It was Argus’ eyes that went to decorate the peacock’s tail (see pl. 57). The weaponry alludes, as always, to the secret fire.
Seznec would undoubtedly say that this picture is to illustrate the god Mercury, from whom the text draws moralizing lessons. His killing of Argus is in numerous of these “Ovid moralized” texts, including the Libellus, from which the “Tarot of Mantegna” took its image of Mercury standing on Argus’s head. But in this sequence he is also the scepter-bearing Bearded King of another story.

I relate this image to both JUSTICE and STRENGTH, and perhaps also TEMPERANCE and the BAGATTO/MAGICIAN, although the correspondences are not close. The Bearded King (with a hat of Mercury similar to that in the “Mantegna”) wields the sword, while the Queen does the cooking. The alchemist had to add ingredients to his stew in precise proportions. Later alchemical illustrations would have had a scales here as well as the fiery sword (the two implements of the JUSTICE card), to get the amounts right (see e.g. the lady at the top right in an illustration from “Alchimia,” http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... apollo.jpg). Here all we have is different sized pots. Fluids had to be mixed, too, as in the TEMPERANCE card. The two personages stand in front of a table with various items on it, like the BAGATTO’s. And the slaying of Argus is Mercury’s version of the dragon-fight, as depicted with a lion in the PMB STRENGTH card.

(9) This one is f. 230v, de Rola’s plate 62. It has two scenes, one on top and the other below.


De Rola says:
In a castle which represents the philosopher’s furnace, Lady Alchimia (see pl. 22) dwells in state with her consort the Athanor King. In accordance with the maxim ‘no generation without corruption’, she carries a shield with the head of Medusa, emblem of the black putrefaction which is indispensable to the alchemical process. Below she appears in the guise of Iris; and on the right Venus stands on her scallop shell, her body all roses; the red flowering out of the white.
De Rola’s plate 22 (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... 286f11.jpg), is from the same 17th century ms. as Plate 2, the Speculum veritatis. The lady is at the top. He does not say more about her.

De Rola’s expression “dwells in state” means that they are corpses in a tomb, a typical alchemical image. It does not seem to me that the lady is holding the shield. It merely flanks the tower, a symbol of death like the owl on the other side. She is suffering death, not inflicting it. Here the Queen looks very much like Juno.

On the bottom, the hooded lady would be Juno again, if Seznec is right. But between this image and the one before it, on f. 228, was the picture, omitted by de Rola, of Danae in her tower being rained on with gold (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... ae1066.jpg). Similarly, this lady is in a tower, producing gold and silver, and below her one of the peacocks, usually associated with Juno, has a tail like a shower of gold.

Notice here what I have called the “trashcan” motif, suggestive of the TOWER card. Yet it is Venus who wears the crown. She is on a clamshell, and thus she is the metamorphosized semen of Saturn’s testicles, which were shown several plates back, the Old Queen renewed. As the only naked lady in these illustrations, she corresponds to the card after the Tower, the STAR, which from the Cary Sheet on has the only all-naked lady in the tarot sequence.

(10) And finally f. 239, de Rola’s plate 61.


De Rola:
Above, Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hell, devours the subject of the Work eight times over through the agency of the secret fire. Below, the subject, stripped of impurities (see pl. 27), is ready to be cooked in the Egg until perfection is reached.
De Rola’s plate 27 is British Museum Sloan ms. 2560, f. 6, which he says is 15th century and attributes to Johannes Andreae. Wikipedia has Andreae as late 16th-early 17th century, the producer of the printed Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz, allegedly from an earlier manuscript. So I am not sure what century to give the image. The Sloan ms. shows a man and a woman in a flask facing each other holding hands, with a small child standing in the neck of the flask above them (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... loanMs.jpg).

The top scene is the repeated distillation and sublimation of the substance, relating to various cards (HANGED MAN, DEATH, TOWER, JUDGMENT). The bottom scene, where the alchemist gives out the silver coins made by the lady in the preceding scene, suggests the WORLD card: with silver, he has the material world, and with the elixir, its medical equivalent, he has eternal life.

I think by now I have mentioned every tarot trump except the MOON and WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I also need to say more about the HANGED MAN.

De Rola hasn’t given us any image corresponding to the MOON, but then he hasn’t shown us all the illuminations in the manuscript. I will look in Liebeschutz, who has them all, when I get the book. The MOON has a rather obvious correlation in alchemy, the whitening that occurs right before the solar reddening, as recounted, for example, in a spurious letter from Cosimo di Medici to Pius II, copied in a 1475 manuscript (Thorndike, History of Science and Magic. vol IV, p. 346 in the chapter starting at http://books.google.com/books?id=IbvlQF ... &q&f=false).

I am not sure what in these early texts corresponds to the WHEEL: my guess is, the repeated operations of distillation and sublimation done to purify the substance, each a going up and coming down. The nearest equivalent in what we have seen is the eight eagles. The HANGED MAN is probably more of the same, a scene of suffering and a prelude to death, such as suffered by the substance in the course of purification. An alchemical text with both (and something like the PMB Strength) is the early 15th century (first produced c. 1411-1420) Buch der heilegen Dreifaltigkeit. The relevant page, from St. Gallen’s copy, is at http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... ilegen.jpg (Laurinda Dixon, Bosch, p. 269). Similar images are in copies of the book in Dresden and Munich. For Munich, see e.g. http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db ... =4&seite=8, from a link that Huck gave on the “Fool” thread, http://www.handschriftencensus.de/werke/2246. As Huck points out (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=383&start=80), the father of Barbara of Brandenburg, Duchess of Mantua and a close friend of Bianca Maria Visconti, acquired a copy of this book in 1432. Barbara arrived in Mantua 1436/1437.

I will probably have more to say after I get the material in German, by Panofsky and Liebeschutz.

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

http://books.google.com/books?id=OUzzzn ... tz&f=false

This short article ("Anhang") calls a few names of early German alchemists, which might be of interest to follow. If you take the German search engine, and the translation tool, perhaps you get something of it.

Personally I would say, that some of the pictures, that you present, are perhaps simply "normal". An ionography of the gods wasn't developed, so in "free style" they developed their view of it.

Perhaps it helps, if you take a look at at the "echecs amoureux" pictures, which also present gods and are not alchemical inspired.

http://classes.bnf.fr/echecs/feuille/amour/index.htm ... around 1467, the text from 1398

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

Thanks, Huck. I can't seem to get the Google translation tool to produce a translation of the pages in German you referred me to. My impression, although I don't know for sure, is that Google doesn't digitalize whole pages in Google Books, just certain words, like in an index, linked to particular pages. If you do a Google-search of a specific sentence, put in quotes, that you know is on a particular page in Google Books, that page won't come up. Only certain combinations of words come up--key words, like proper names and subjects. At least that's been my experience. If sentences aren't digitalized, of course, the translation tool can't work on them.

I will study the images from "echecs amoureux," compare them to the ones in the c. 1420 manuscript, put my thoughts in order, and post a report. That may take a few days. They look like helpful, one way or another.

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

I see what you mean about "copying the names." But in the article you linked to, I cannot tell who the alchemists are, as opposed to other persons, without doing a lot of translation work first. And there are many, many alchemists. For the moment, I will stick with English-language sources for the names and use sources in other languages for details on the ones that look promising. Thanks for the suggestion of making names a focus.

In dealing with the "echecs amoureux," it would be helpful to know what the chess allegory is that is being illustrated. Hmm. I see you don't know, either. You write (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=365&p=4628&hilit=e ... ote]Evrart da Conty has a major part of the book dedicated to the description of 16 Greek/Roman gods - the passage, where he related the 16 gods to the 32 figures couldn't be found - although we had this text from the library in a modern edition. It's written in Old French, and as nobody was perfect in French this research was difficult and there is no guarantee, that this passage doesn't exist. And the book is a monster as it offers very much text ... ca. 1000 pages, written in small letters.[/quote]
I also don't know the poem that is attached to the illustrations. Well, you give me some help, in the same post.
This development was crowned by the "Echecs d'armour" of Evrart da Conty, in its length a monstrous work of encyclopedic dimensions, in which he organized as major plot a young man entering the garden of love and finding defeat in a chess game against a young girl.
I suspected as much, as "echecs amoureux" in French can mean either "chess lovers" or "failures in love." More fully, you wrote in another post (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=585&p=8719&hilit=e ... ):[quote]n the Echecs Amoureux of Evrart da Conty (ca. 1398) are used 16 gods and 32 "expanded elements" of the "Roman de la rose" to express the 32 Chess figures and Fortune is a figure in the opening, but not part of the game. "Nature" is another figure at this place, but also not part of the game. Juno appears (together with Fortune) and later Mercury together with Venus, Minerva and Juno (the Paris scene) and also present is the author. "Juno" stands likely for that, what the book is about, "wedding+marriage", Venus and Minerva are there as alternatives of the erotic life. Nature presents the force which drives the author to pair with the other gender. The author has the choice and strands in a chess game, which he loses .[/quote]
One chess analogy I see is in the first illustration on your link, where Juno gets the attribute of a a key to the treasure: I would guess that as the most powerful piece on the board, she is the key to winning. Another might be Mars as a knight making a move. Then there is Jupiter as the King staying put--except that he also flies like an eagle, not typical of the King in chess. And perhaps when Mercury kills Argus, or Apollo vanquishing monsters, that is some piece capturing another. But I am just speculating.

In general, yes, the illustrations of the gods were bent to particular purposes, depending on the text and other considerations on the artist's or patron's agenda: chess in one case, Christian moralizing using pagan sources in the other. And perhaps other purposes, unstated, as de Rola proposes for the Fulgentius Metaphoralis.

Comparing the representations of the gods in the two texts, I see much less relation to alchemy and tarot, and far less explicitly, in the "echecs amoureux" as compared with the "Fulgentius." To justify this statement, let me go through the images one by one, omitting only the "echecs" images that don't pertain to the images I have from the "Fulgentius" (i.e. Nature and Diana).


In the first illustration of Juno, the "echecs" has no rainbow, no married couple, no lantern--symbols that connect the "Fulgentius" to tarot and to alchemy. The key could possibly connect her to the tarot Popess (one of the Pope's keys).


But I see that in a later image she might connect to marriage explicitly. Above, she might, as you suggest in your post on the other thread, be giving the Actor a choice between two ladies representing vice and virtue, as in the "Marseille" lover card. Perhaps the "Marseille" card borrowed from this image. But it is not the same as the alchemical scene, in which there is no choice between partners, just two partners already chosen, to be joined in wedlock. The "Fulgentius" gives us the alchemical version, the "echecs" a different one.


In the one of Saturn, the "echecs" omits the aspect of castration altogether, and his children are adults rather than children; thus it loses the connection both to alchemy and tarot. The uroboros dragon with Saturn, in the "echecs," is an alchemical symbol, but it was also common in non-alchemical texts. The portrayal of Cybele/Rhea here is interesting. I assume she is supposed to be a goddess of the harvest. Her fruits are vaguely like the coins that "Juno" is making in the "Fulgentius." To that degree there might be a reference to alchemy, but I doubt it. I see nothing in the "echecs" portrayal of her to suggest tarot.


In the one about Mercury, the "echecs" omits both the sword, an alchemical symbol for fire, and the various cooking pots, another alchemical symbol, often represented by scales. Hence it misses the connection to the tarot Justice card as well. So no reference here to either alchemy or tarot. With no table, it also loses the connection to the Bagatto.


In the one about Mars, the chariot with the horses could be influenced by the tarot Chariot (not the other way around, as 1467 is too late). But gods on chariots, many different gods, were commonplace images. Surprisingly, I see possible alchemical references in both the "Echecs" Mars and the "Fulgentius" Apollo: red grooms, dark and white horses, yellow on the chariot. But the raven in the "Fulgentius" makes the relationship to alchemy more clear cut than on the "Echecs."


In the "Echecs" illustation about Apollo, the motif of the hero standing on the dragon (here, a webbed creature whose three heads represent past, present, and future) is a common one that was used in Christian art before it was adopted by alchemy. Apollo has his bow by his side, whereas the drawn bow is more common in alchemy. I see no relationship between this "Echecs" image and tarot. The other "Fulgentius" Apollo relates both to the Devil and Judgment cards (as well as the Chariot).


The two images featuring Jupiter are pretty comparable, although the orb in the "Fulgentius" clearly looks like a flask, unlike that of the "Echecs." As I have said, I don't see how the King as an eagle relates to chess. In relation to tarot: the Emperor is based in one place but can fly like an eagle when needed. In relation to alchemy: the prima materia is volatilized in the nigredo. The "Fulgentius" is similar to the "Echecs," but with the added suggestion of the nigredo, black death, which I don't see in the "echecs" image.

Then there is Venus of the "echecs" vs. that of the "Fulgentius":


Even with the presence of Vulcan at his fire, I see no alchemical symbolism in the "echecs" image. But the "Fulgentius"' is a different story. Instead of one rose (her flower) demurely placed on her head like a cap, the "Fulgentius" has roses all over her body, like measles--or the change of color of the elixir with continued heat, from the white to the more potent red. In addition, putting her on the scallop shell suggests an alchemical interpretation, since what has occurred on the previous page (f. 226 before f. 227) is the castration of Saturn and the depositing of his genitalia in the soup (see Saturn, above), from which, transmuted, Venus arises.


In the one about Athena, the owl and shield are attributes that I see also in the "Fulgentius" image, associating the woman there with Athena. So the "Fulgetius" image illustrates Athena,--among other things, perhaps. But there is less to suggest alchemy in the "echecs" one; in the "Fulgentius" there are the alchemical king and queen in the pot. The golden color of Athena in the "echecs" image, the last in this series, might be a reference to gold, the goal of alchemy, but more likely it was chosen to represent Wisdom. Conceivably it also refers to the Sun card, but without either a child or a pair of persons as well, the relationship to tarot is pretty speculative.

So in general, I would say that there is much less suggestion of either alchemy or tarot in the "echecs" than in the "Fulgentius." And of course the "echecs" is much later, so that if there was any relationship, we might expect more from the "echecs" than from the "Fulgentius."

While I am comparing images of the gods in 15th century manuscripts, consider the corresponding images from the Libellus, also around 1420 (per Seznec). (I get these from your post at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=463&start=50#p6315, where it is clear, from my quotes from Lazzarelli that you connected these pictures to, that Lazzarelli was basing his descriptions of the gods on these rather than on the "Mantegna" images. First, Saturn:


This reads like a combination of the "Fulgentius" and the "echecs" together in one scene. On the one hand, there is the all-important castration, which the "echecs" discreetly omitted. We also have believably childlike children. On the other hand, we have Saturn's uroboros dragon, Cybele passing out her fruit, and some adults standing around, too. I would say that the "Fulgentius" emphasized what was alchemically interesting from the Libellus, while the "Mantegna" took some of the rest.

Then here are the "Libellus's" Mars and Jupiter:



With Mars's flail and Jupiter's Ganymede, in content these are more like the "echecs" than the "Fulgentius," although the "echecs" has simplified the scenes somewhat (e.g. dropping Romulus and Remus, at the lower right of Mars). Again, the "Fulgentius" has taken the alchemically significant aspects of the Libellus and amplified them--turning Mars into the bow-readying Apollo with a raven and a red man, multiplying the eagles and dropping Ganymede (however it may be that the "Fulgentius" has a Mars of its own, which I haven't yet seen).

You also posted the "Libellus's" Mercury and a Venus (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=463&start=70#p6451), which are more of the same, again similar to the "Echecs" rather than to the "Fulgentius."

What is also striking is the similarity of many of these c. 1420 images --for both the "Fulgentius" and the "Libellus" (but not their Mercury or Venus)--to images that later appear in the tarot. Does the resemblance suggest that the tarot should be dated to that time, c. 1420, rather than 20 years later? I think more digging is in order.

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

mikeh wrote:I see what you mean about "copying the names." But in the article you linked to, I cannot tell who the alchemists are, as opposed to other persons, without doing a lot of translation work first. And there are many, many alchemists. For the moment, I will stick with English-language sources for the names and use sources in other languages for details on the ones that look promising. Thanks for the suggestion of making names a focus.
Alright, I decided to help you a little bit ...

Albrecht III of Bavaria-Munich
http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/ADB:Albre ... BCnchen%29

John the alchemist ... already told about

Kuno of Falkenstein, archbishop of Trier, two archbishop generations after Balduin
http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/ADB:Konra ... alkenstein

Werner of Falkenstein, his nephew

Johann II of Baden
this was also a archbishop of Trier, likely he had heard from alchemical wonder stories
was cheated by an "alchemist"
http://books.google.com/books?id=FtoAAA ... ie&f=false
The biographies don't speak of alchemy, but this occupation not naturally lies at the surface.

Passau-or-Leuchtenberg-or- Grafschaft Hals circle (South-East Germany) "Alchymey teuczsch, codex. pal. Germ 597):
Niklas Jankowitch (had master function)
Michael Prapach
Michael Wülfling
a Friedrich (?)

That's just "Alchymey teuczsch" (means German Alchemy), there is a group of authors around the Leuchtenberg-family. This region is east of Ratisbon (Regensburg), not too far from Prague, not too far from Nurremberg.

Johannes von Leuchtenberg
Gerhard von Leuchtenberg
Graf "zu Hals"
Salman Teublein (a Jew)
http://books.google.com/books?id=6_JS90 ... in&f=false

That's a story of two cousins, who hired a Jew, that was an alchemist.

Paulus Eck von Sulzbach
http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/ADB:Eck_v ... bach,_Paul
writer of alchemical works
Landgraf "Wilhem von Hessen" (c. 1500)
seems to have sponsored the above eck von Sulzbach)

Bärbel von Ottenheim
(this "Bärbel" ironical had to do with a "Lichtenberg"-family, which easily might be taken to have something to do with the Leuchtenbergs, but this seems not to have been so; this is an Alsace-story)
she got the accusation to have been a witch

Hinrich von Plauen
(had to do with the Schwarzenburg, wich earlier belonged to the Leuchtenbergs)

... Schwarzenburg ... here I started to think ...

The Leuchtenbergs had a great time in 14th century, when Charles IV. had been emperor. The "Schwarzenburg" they got in ...
Nach der Landesteilung von 1331 kam die Herrschaft zum Herzogtum Heinrichs XV. des Natternbergers, dieser verkaufte die Burg aber im folgenden Jahr für 3000 Pfund Regensburger Pfennige zusammen mit Rötz und Waldmünchen an den Landgrafen Ulrich von Leuchtenberg. Er musste sich dabei verpflichten, 400 Pfund Regensburger Pfennige in die Burg zu verbauen.
... c. 1332. then the Leuchtenberger had them till ..
Die Leuchtenberger besaßen die Herrschaft Schwarzenburg-Rötz-Waldmünchen bis auf eine Verpfändung zwischen 1364 und 1367 an Georg Auer von Stockenfels bis etwa 1404, als sie die Herrschaft an Amalia Kagerin von Störnstein und ihre Söhne Hinczik und Hans die Pfluge zu Rabenstein verkauften. Unter den Pfluge, zuerst unter Hinczik, der nach 1460 verstarb, dann unter seinen Sohn Sebastian, er starb 1491/92, beide waren lange Zeit Pfleger zu Cham, und seinem Enkel Hinczik d.J., der 1495 gestorben ist, konnten sie die Rechte und Bedeutung der Herrschaft noch steigern. Zwischen 1439 und 1460 sind nicht näher bezeichnete Baumaßnahmen für 600 Gulden bekannt, sicher wurden zu dieser Zeit die drei noch erhaltenen Halbrundtürme, einer an dem turmförmigen Wohnbau der Hauptburg, einer innerhalb der Westbastion und einer neben dem erhaltenen inneren Tor der Vorburg, erbaut. Eventuell stand auch auf der gegenüberliegenden Seite des Tores noch ein zweiter Turm. Der Grund für die Verstärkung der Befestigungen dürfte wohl in der Bedrohung der Region durch die Hussitenkriege liegen. Die Schwarzenburg war 1433 Sammelplatz des unter Hinczik Pflug stehenden Heeres, das in der siegreichen Schlacht bei Hiltersried zu Bekanntheit gelangte.

1495 verkauften die Erben Hinczik d.J. für 36.000 Gulden die Herrschaft an Heinrich von Plauen, dem Burggrafen von Meißen. Heinrich war bis 1505 in Besitz von Burg und Herrschaft, er ließ umfangreiche Baumaßnahmen für 4.000 Gulden durchführen. Damals entstanden wohl die drei Bastionen, das Rondell, das Vortor der Vorburg und der ausgemauerte Halsgraben.
.. in 1404. Later in 1495 Heinrich Plauen had it till 1505 ... Heinrich von Plauen was also called an alchemist. What did he want with the Schwarzenburg, far away from his normal region Meissen? This puzzled me ... looking later for Heinrich von Plauen, I got that there were many Heinrichs von Plauens, that one, who was interested in alchemy, was the Deutschordenmeister, with strong involvement in the catastrophic battle of Tannenberg 1410, which prepared the downfall of the Deutscher Rittterorden. The Heinrich of Plauen, which, who bought the castle Schwarzenberg, was a later follower, who - curiously - got a rather successful son, who attacked the Plassenburg in Kulmbach in 1553 and died at that opportunity. Plassenburg was earlier the selected place for John the alchemist ... somehow strange.

But the idea, which initiated my interest, was ... "Schwarzenburg? Alchemy? Gun Powder?" and so I started to look for Bertold Schwarz, a famous, but somehow very legendary inventor of the black powder, which changed the world. Very much contradicting stories about him. Many have searched for him, nobody really have found him. Well, indeed an invention, which could cause some interest in alchemic experiments ... his heirs would follow these paths. The Leuchtenbergs showed a clear bundled interest in such experiments ... John the Alchemist wasn't very far. The author's of the "German alchemy" were locally near. A lot of alchemy interests just in this region. And the region is very near to Prague, and Prague had been the empire center, so this region logical had an attraction for persons with somehow scientific interests. Nurremberg was near, a city with some proven genius for invention in this time.
One, a relative plausible, story tells of a ...
Der Historiker H.J. Rieckenberg sieht in Berthold Schwarz den Konstanzer Domherrn Bertold von Lützelstetten (ein Ort bei Konstanz), der von 1294 bis 1310 Mitglied des dortigen Domkapitels war und als „magister artium Bertoldus“ in den Jahren 1329 bis 1336 vier Mal im Verzeichnis der Pariser Universität vorkommt.
.. Berthold von Lützelstetten. who was between 1294-1310 as a Dominican in in Constance and taught in the years 1329 - 1336 in Paris. The bishop of Constance, Heinrich II (died 1306), is said to have made alchemical studies or "naturwissenschaftliche Studien". So the story looks plausible.

1324 gunpowder was used in the battle of Metz, 1334 in Constance, 1337 against the Burg Eltz (near Trier) ... at least I found remarks, that this was so.


John the Blind and Baldwin of Luxembourg, his uncle belonged to the 4 attacker-groups. Baldwin was responsible for the siege of Burg Eltz 1337

... after a pause ...

Getting some rudimentary insight, what made this list of "early alchemists" is extremely difficult, as it demands a lot of building theoretical structures of early German history. Basic questions are:

1. Who are the Leuchtenbergs and what's there role in history?

2. How developed the Burggrafentum of Nurremberg?

3. How does this interact with the wealth and success of Nurremberg in the considered period?

4. What's the interaction between Leuchtenbergs and the Burggrafen of Nurremberg?

5. The Burggrafen of Nurremberg were the early Hohenzollern, who started a great line of success in 17th century, forming Brandenburg to Prussia and later dominating the Germany till the end of WWI. How does this later success interact with the earlier role as Burggraf of Nuremberg?

6. What role plays the 14th century Luxembourg dynasty in the early successes of the Leuchtenbergs and the city of Nurremberg and finally also the Burggrafen of Nurrember?

... and some more question, as for instance "what has this to do with gun-powder" and naturally this builds a sort of Tornado, in other words " not easy to understand and talk about".

Apparently the Leutenbergs play a dominant role in these German first atttempts of "alchemy in literature" as there are this book about the Heilige Dreifaltigkeit (1410 till the edition, which John the alchemist got) and the "German alchemy" of 1426. So the attempt is given to get to the base of it:

The "Heilige Dreifaltigkeit" was written first for Sigismund in 1410 by an otherwise unknown Franciscian Ulmannus and expanded later , and this was for John the alchemist. Just putting this into some "logic of the time"

Charles IV is a successful emperor from 1346-1378. He reigns from Prague (Bohemia), which logically helps regions at the border between the "usual empire" " and Bohemia a lot. So in this period the city Nurremberg (second capital), the Leuchtenberg region and the also the Burggraf of Nurremberg prosper from this development.

A big part of the success is, that the region of Bohemia wasn't hit very hard by the plague of 1348-50, naturally one may conclude, that also the region of the Leuchtenbergs and of Nurremberg didn't got the plague with full force.

In many parts of Europe Jews were killed and persecuted during the plague, but not in Prague. As for the theme "Alchemy" Jews seem to have some importance, that's a rather interesting aspects, which shouldn't be overlooked. And the role of Jews in the East-Western technology exchange should be clear, if not, start to think about it.
The influence of Jews in Prague was given for all the time till 20th century.

Charles married 4 times:
1. A French king's daughter (which says, he was interested in a good connection to France). She died 1348 and the relations cooled down.
2. A woman of Bavaria ... which says, he was interested in the relations to the regions at the border of the empire (Nurremberg, Leuchtenberg)
3. East-German woman
4. East German women ... the both latter indicate, that he was interested to get Brandenburg, which he got in 1373 - 1378

Alright, emperor Charles died and with him the lucky time of Bohemia. In 1381 there was a heavy Jews persecution even in Prague. For Tarot history relevant: The following weak king Wenzel sold the duke title to Giangaleazzo for a lot of money, but he got this way finally spo much opposition by German nobility, that he was abdicated in 1400. The new king Ruprecht (100 - 1410) was NOT of the Luxembourg dynasty, but he wasn't successful. Sigesmund (1410-37) replaced him (again Luxembourg).
In 1409 (important), at the university of Prague the German students left under protest and went to other universities.
In 1410 now we have the Heilige Dreifaltigkeit made for Sigismund.

One should see, that we have a lot of technological advance in the period of Charles IV (first university north of the Alps in Prague), then a slow down with Wenzel. Somehow in the downfall of Prague, it's logical, that the border regions jump into the new technological vacuum and attempt to fill the place (so Nurremberg advances, so the Leuchtenberg initiative, so Kulmbach advances) ... thanks to the earlier condition, that they prospered through the nearness to Prague.

So the text about the Heilige Dreifaltigkeit should be seen as a (somehow strange) side-path of a Science development. Similar the German alchemy of 1426. What happens next:
1415 council of Constance (Jan Hus of Bohemia killed), the Burggraf of Nurremberg gets Brandenburg.
Later The Hussites war, which attack German border regions.
1427 The Burggraf of Nurremberg sells regions around Nurremberg to the citizens. This had influence on two later movements
* 1449-50 : 1. Markgrafenkrieg ... smaller attempt to regain the earlier regions
* 1552-55 : 2. Markgrafenkrieg ... greater attempt and it ruined the financial stability of the city Nurremberg
Nürnbergs successful period is given as from 1470 - 1530. In this time "Nurremberg earned as much money as the whole kingdom of Bohemia" .. I don't know, if this is correct.

Then a little later this fine book for Johann the alchemist.

So let's go back to 14th century, with some realism: What's so interesting in Bohemia? Simple answer: there are mines in this period. Mining naturally develops special knowledge unknown to others and some natural interest to hide this technological knowledge.

Get here some shocking details:


http://www.radio.cz/en/section/spotligh ... ng-history

Later for 15th century we have: "Jakob [Fugger], called ‘the Wealthy’ (1459-1525) purchased copper and silver mines in Hungary, Karinthia, Spain and the Tyrol."
He became very rich, he financed, that Charles V. became emperor in 1519.

So Fugger got special knowledge about metallurgy ... in 1530 we see produced "Splendor Solis" (big alchemical work), made in Augsburg. So, what do you think, alchemy is about?

Naturally we have expect also other technological mysteries, anything, which had the potential to result in having "gold", which is just "having enough money". For instance also "gun-powder-knowledge". What's that the Hohenzollern became rich and mighty with? Wasn't that gun-powder knowledge finally? But not naturally this alone ...

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

there is a further edition ...


Neptune, avec son trident, entouré des tritons .Évrard de Conty, Le Livre des échecs amoureux moralisés Enluminures de Robinet Testard, vers 1496-1498. Manuscrit sur parchemin (51 x34 cm) BNF, Manuscrits, français 143, f. 130 v°

... from which one finds occasionally pictures in the web, for instance this more concrete Saturn-Kronos, which you missed, here twice


There is another version, from which I once had a few small pictures, but I lost them. They had stronger similarities to the older edition.

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

Alchemy in England, April 1446 (already in 1402)
http://books.google.com/books?id=lnsPAA ... VI&f=false
Fauceby, Kirkebez and Raguy (for English king Henry VI; Sir Edmond de Trafford and Sir Thomas Ashton)

already in 1402
http://syNA&hl=en&ei=YlRLTeuKF8jqOaaZ8PsP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&sqi=2&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sir edmund trafford alchemist&f=false

and earlier: Chaucer at page 81, the Canon's Yeoman Tale
http://books.google.com/books?id=r8sUAA ... &q&f=false

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

Thanks for the research, Huck. I was looking for connections to Italy. There was of course Wenceslaus. And the "Italian court" at Kutna Hora looked intriguing. I've actually been to Kutna Hora and visited the alchemy museum there, a fairly good one. There are articles about that museum at various sites on the Web, one by JMD in fact. Kutna Hora naturally was a big center of alchemy.

Gunpowder of course is Chinese, invented by Chinese alchemists. There is an interesting book about the history of gunpowder, which talks about the role of alchemists in the West in adapting the invention to particular applications such as guns and mining, http://books.google.com/books?id=8o8EIs ... &f=false.I don't recall the author mentioning Jews in particular as conveying the invention westward, but my memory is fuzzy. The Chinese used gunpowder in warfare a lot early on. But they apparently became so horrified by its destructiveness that by consent on all sides they banned it--as a weapon of mass destruction, I presume. Not a bad idea.

In Italy I think the use of gunpowder, which didn't dominate warfare there until after the invention of the tarot, changed the way in which the tarot court cards were drawn, especially Batons and Swords, so that instead of optimistic court figures, we have ones who look upset. A similar change in attitude toward warfare was reflected in literature, from Ariosto to Shakespeare. Pictorial art besides the tarot also picked up on the change, for example Alfonso d'Este's posturing with his cannon (in the painting by Titian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alfon ... olitan.jpg) and various impressa, a craze that Wind says was started by Frederico de Montefeltro.


It is also possible that the globe on which Opportunity is standing (school of Mantegna, below) was meant not only as something moving swiftly, as opposed to Wisdom's cube, but also as a cannon ball.


Ferrara seems to have been particularly sensitive to the role of gunpowder in changing the face of warfare, having experienced it first-hand in the Salt War. I discussed how tarot may have affected tarot imagery in my "Shakespeare and Tarot" posts. Search for the terms "gunpowder" and "cannon" at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=630&start=0.

I am aware of Jewish alchemists going back to ancient times, and active in 15th century Italy. There is a book of translations of their writings, The Jewish Alchemists, by Patai (http://books.google.com/books?id=LorvA_ ... &q&f=false). Frustratingly, it is not always clear whether these works were actually written by the authors claimed, or written later and attributed to earlier famous names. The editor/translator doesn't seem much interested in that issue.

I quoted the relevant part of Chaucer's "Canon's Yeoman's Tale" in my survey of 14th and 15th century alchemy, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=647#p9645.

Thanks for the additional "echecs" pictures. They help in clarifying what the standard iconography was. I am now perusing Liebeschutz's Fulgentius Metaforalis: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der antiken Mythologie im Mitelalter. It's hard for me to read, but there certainly are some interesting images. Later for that.

Re: Tarot-like images in a c.1420 manuscript

mikeh wrote: Gunpowder of course is Chinese, invented by Chinese alchemists.
No doubt about this ... but let's assume, that Christianity got some gun powder from the Mongols ... then they still had the problem to reproduce the material with own force. So alchemic research might have been necessary to get insight about this process.

Ferrara seems to have been particularly sensitive to the role of gunpowder in changing the face of warfare, having experienced it first-hand in the Salt War.
It's indeed Alfonso d'Este, who showed particular interest, likely since his engagement his participation in 1494/95 war.

Suddenly ... :-) ... thanks for the dialog, occasionally interesting ideas come from topics, where one wouldn't expect them.

http://www.crvp.org/book/Series04/IV-3/ ... _italy.htm
In 1508 the League of Cambrai had allied Emperor Maximilian and King Louis XII of France against the Venetians for the partition of the territory of the Republic. The League ends in 1510, setting Pope Julius II free to try to expell the French from Italy. Alfonso, Duke of Este, is at the side of the French, providing with his two famous guns, Gran Diavolo and Terremoto, the best part of their artillery. Fighting takes place all over around Ferrara. The Pope now proclaims The Holy League with Venice and Spain against the French and Ferrara -- which, by the way, had been for centuries a fief of the Vatican. The Duke of Este and General Bayard cut to pieces the Papal forces. In 1511 the Spaniards and the Papal Army enter the territory of Ferrara. Yet, the young French General Gaston de Foix moves triumphantly from one victory to the next. Joined by Alfonso's powerful artillery, Gaston de Foix fights on Easter Sunday , April 11, 1512, the bloodiest battle fought on Italian soil since the overthrow of the Goths: the battle of Ravenna, a city a short distance from Ferrara. The dead included 4,000 Frenchmen and 10,000 confederates; all Spanish and Papal leaders are captured. Gaston de Foix is killed when the fighting is almost over. Alfonso's artillery is a decisive factor in the final victory, as well as in the cruel death of thousands of people. When the fighting is over, he tries in vain to restrain the French from committing atrocities against the unarmed people of Ravenna.
Well, a strange sign of Tarot .... I was aware, that Alfonso had a lot to do with cannons, but I didn't know, that there were two cannons of special importance, and that these two had names: Gran Diavolo and Terremoto, with "Terremoto" meaning "earth quake".

Well, taking the 5x14-theory serious and also the conclusion, that the 6 added cards formed a deck with 20 special cards first, we have a Diavolo and a Lightning (Sagitta) forming the last "two added cards" at an unknown date.

Now we have two "most important Ferrarese cannons" called "Gran Diavolo" and "Terremoto" (I hope the similarity between earth quake and lightning results is accepted) from Alfonso d'Este, a dedicated specialist for cannons, who also was involved in the production of Tarocchi card ... actually the first, which had this new name "taroch".

http://www.rionesanpaolo.com/index.php? ... iew&gid=58
... this article give some information to the cannon names used by Alfonso, but the additional "named cannons" possibly didn't exist around 1509/10, when Alfonso started to become famous for his cannons, with which he occasionally decided the battles.

I've variously developed arguments in the past, that it was Alfonso, who took a deciding influence on the name change from Trionfi cards to Taroch cards, possibly even setting up some of the final steps to the form, which we know call Tarot.

The words gran diavolo and terremoto appear then in Ariost's "Orlando Furioso" (Ariost: a poet in Ferrara and the Orlando-theme: a Ferrarese product) in the description of the hero Ruggiero ...

Ruggioro's role is described here:
... we have to see, that ...
Ruggiero is the subject of two possible prophecies. His first possible fate is to convert to Christianity, marry Bradamante and sire a line of heroes that lead to the noble house of Este in Italy, but will be betrayed and killed soon after his marriage. His second possible fate is to remain a Saracen and be the cause of the downfall of the Frankish Empire. Atlante is fiercely protective of Ruggiero and keeps him hidden in an invisible castle on the top of Mount Carena in Africa.
Ruggiero is a identification figure for the d'Este in Ferrara, and the relation to Africa might reflect the real condition, that Alfonso had some moorish ancestors (by his Aragon mother) and is said to have looked a little darker than the usual Italian.

The Italian Orlando-passage is noted here:


... which seems to mean, that Ariost in common "honour to the duke" points with Ruggiero to Alfonso d'Este himself.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests