Re: Fame riddle

If other can speculate about the origin of the Marseille Tarot from 1500 and even earlier, from the Cathars and even the Sumerians, why should it be impossible to think about an origin of the Belgian Tarot to a a little bit earlier time than Vievil c. 1650?
No problem, you can do and tell whatever you like, it's much more clear now that I see what your references and models for researches are. That being said, distorting reality and facts to fit in your theory, or mixing dates and centuries sounds like a perfect "methodology", quite radical, but then again who cares ?
This should be posted to the unicorn terrace though.

Bertrand (I'm out of here, please refrain the urge to summon me even though you can finally spell my name)

edit : sorry, I feel like I crossed the line of "tolerance and care of others" from the forum etiquette viewtopic.php?f=5&p=19#p19 - please feel free to delete my post if needed.

Re: Fame riddle

hm ...
IPCS has or had once this opinion
History [Besancon Tarot]

The rejection of the figures of the Pope and Popess in certain Tarot trump series of several countries seems to have taken place around the beginning of the 18th century or, if Hargrave's dating is correct for Mayer of Constance, even earlier. The replacements generally chosen by the cardmakers of eastern France, Alsace, Germany and parts of Switzerland were Jupiter and Juno respectively, the most striking marks of identity of this pattern. However, while retaining the composition and general features of the Tarot de Marseille (IT-1) several other lesser details became established which also differentiate the Tarot de Besançon from that pattern (see below).

Early examples emanated from Constance (c.1680), Strasbourg (1746), Mannheim (1750) and it was not until about 1800 that any quantity of these cards were made in Besançon although d'Allemagne records that not only were Tarot cards made in the early 18th century but also that many were made for export, particularly Switzerland. The most interesting variants of this pattern lie in packs adapted during the Revolutionary period, the court cards and imperial figures losing their royal regalia: examples are known from Strasbourg and Colmar. Other minor variants were made in Switzerland and Germany.

The pattern can barely have survived the early part of the 19th century, being replaced in most areas by the French-suited Tarot packs, although a successor (IT-1.41) emerged in Diessenhofen in c.1860.
... whereby I saw, that the noted "1680" was disputed elsewhere. Maybe you've other reasons, also to attack the other both dates.
... :-) ... I never claimed to be an expert of Marseille Tarot. My research is usually on objects of 14th/15th century. Actually I think, that the whole evidence for the French Tarot between 1500 - 1650 is thin with 3 surviving decks in 150 years. I don't know, how you would prove under such conditions the not-existence of an earlier Besancon or Belgian Tarot.

As far I understood Depaulis, he assumes a decline of French interest in Tarot 17th century. Further he gives arguments that Germany (what this is, is a question of definition) wasn't reached by any Tarot before c. 1750 (whereby I can't really imagine, how all the invading Huguenots should have forgotten to take some playing cards with them). It's said, that each 3rd inhabitant of Berlin was from France once long time ago.
Reflecting German history my idea would be, that Frederick II the great, who started to reign in 1740, might have inspired this new Tarot interest, as he had a big favor for French culture.

But alas ... Besancon. Dummett and McLeod:

Kaplan II p. 317-318 shows one deck Marseille style (1718) and another in Besancon style (early 18th, with the comment, that it can't be said, which is earlier) in Solothurn (150 km to Besancon), made by J. Heri.

From this Solothurn/Besancon deck our webmaster here once exclaimed:
In search of the François Heri tarot.

I’m sending out an all points bulletin in hopes that someone might have some images of the François Heri Tarot de Besançon as shown here in Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of Tarot ... ... eri-tarot/

I would say, that this looks more or less like a correct statement ... the hermit looks different. I overlooked this earlier

Well, I've again to thank you for your resistance ...

So we have in Paris at the mid 17th century 2 different decks, which later reappear in Belgium and Besancon. Whereby we in both cases not know, if the deck types of Besancon or Belgium weren't older than those of Paris. And with this possibly both would be older than the Tarot de Marseille type.


O:-) ... hi Bertrand, no problem from my side. And, please excuse my joke, it's a personal tradition to celebrate some foolish things at days, which belong traditionally to the Fool, which has such an important role in the game that we research. I hope, we can both laugh about it.

Re: Fame riddle

Very interesting, Huck and Bertrand. I was going to wait patiently for more, but I can't help myself.

Another part of the riddle has to do with Alciato, the writer with the odd sequence of tarot trumps, including the odd "cross" and "fame" as well as some strange sequencing earlier, with Justice and Strength between Priest and Love. His piece was written in 1538, Vitali tells us. So what tarot is Alciato describing? Vieville's comes the closest, at least among those listed at, because Vieville has the "fama" bit and a sequence that also has Justice and Strength out of place, but they are not quite where Alciato has them. The "Bruxelles" and "Besancon," are further away, because they have the ordinary "Marseille" order and only the visual relationship to Vieville to bring them into the discussion. So what tarot is Alciato describing?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (, Alciato returned in that year, 1538, from Bourges to Pavia. He was the son of the Milanese ambassador to Venice, studied at Pavia and Bologna, moved to Avignon in 1518, then to Bourges. The Italian cities, of course, had their tarots. Avignon was a tarot card manufacturing center in the 15th century, although what the tarot looked like there after 1518 I don't know. I'd imagine it to be like the Cary Sheet, the PMB, the "Italian cards" of Kaplan II pp. 271-285 (which I take to be Venetian), and/or the d'Este. I don't know anything about tarot in Bourges. The place has has connections to the other places mentioned so far in this thread (both in former Burgundian territory and in Northern Italy), I have no doubt, but others than I could do a better job spelling them out. It was the capital of France until Paris was liberated from the English, according to Wikipedia. Joan of Arc was from near there, too. It is in the Loire watershed, a breeding ground of French nobility then, which intermarried with the Burgundian and the Italian. Bourges was also a center of alchemy, one website says.

I had never noticed the "Fama" on the Temperance cards that Huck posted (although it's in Kaplan II p. 171, as "FAMA SOL"). Good job, connecting it with Alciato. My immediate question to myself is, what could it mean? One alternative is that you have to have Temperance to have Fama; but that doesn't seem correct. I prefer to link "Fama" with the other odd name in Alciato, "Cross," his name for the Pendu. There is indeed a cross there, formed by the man's legs. "Cross" also is what Jesus was hung on. (Yes, I know the Pendu isn't hung on a cross. I'm speaking of visual associations.) Then he died, as in the next card, Death. Jesus's death was followed by his Fame, as the one whose death brought salvation to humanity. This is specifically expressed in the Eucharist, which involves pouring water and wine together into one chalice, as one might view the Temperance card as historically represented. So the traditional activity for Temperance, which we see the lady doing on the lower left side of the Vieviel, now serves as a token of Jesus's Fama. And even if Time, symbolized by the three Luminaries, might threaten to erase Jesus's Fama from the world, he and his faithful will triumph beyond time, in Eternity. And before death, Jesus was Loving and even better, Chastely loving. So, assuming Chastity is associated with the Chariot (as others have said, and as I have argued on another thread here myself), the triumphs are in their proper order.

That is my initial take on the puzzle. Perhaps a careful historical analysis will bring out something else.

Re: Fame riddle

hi Mikeh, nice that you come on board ... .-)

but before I start to reflect your questions, I've to finish this.

Philibert of Chalon, called prince of Orange

In Thierry Depaulis "Des cartes communément appelées taraux, 2éme Partie" (IPCS 32/06, p. 244-249) the author speaks about Philibert de Chalon, who in 1527-1530 appears in connection to early notes of taraux, which appear in the diary of Philibert.
A subtitle in the article speaks of "Le Tarot en Franche Compté" and also other elements in the article give the impression, as if we would have here notes about "Tarot in France", and Depaulis speculates, that Philibert might have gotten his cards in Lyon and presents the development of the card playing production center Lyon on a whole page. A very informative part. .... but Depaulis knows, that all these new Taraux notes were written in Italy. It wasn't in Franche Compté, which at this time already had been Habsburg territory (since 1493), so somehow "Germany or German Empire", and Philibert de Chalon didn't fight in a French army, but in that of Charles V. Phlibert perhaps might have gotten his "Taraux cards" at each corner.

The article is very worthwhile, no doubt, and expresses the great studies, which Depaulis has made about the development of Tarot, and for which all card playing researchers should be thankful ... but why these confusions about that, what was in these times Italy and France and Germany?
The 4 notes read:



Depaulis gives then the argument, that the closer company of Philibert had been French speaking persons.


Further he points to the possibility, that Philibert might have gotten Taraux cards in Lyon during some negotiations between November 1525 - January 1426 after the French king Francois I had fallen in captivity during the battle at Pavia.

All notes of 1527 appear in a time near to the Sacco di Roma (6 May 1527), at which Philibert participated. The note of 1530 is short before his death (6 August 1530)

I personally don't see a confirmation for a Tarot production in Lyon. Naturally there could have been a production.


My information about the French contexts is not complete, I guess. So I actually could easily overlook something, but the condition, that the Roman playing card trader hadn't French Tarocchi in his sortiment gives to think.

We have Rabelais in 1534, but Rabelais had been earlier in Piedmont, as far I remember. The entry itself in a big list with other games very remarkable.

Further this ...
... a Spanish artist Juan d'Alman 1538 at the court of Francois I. He ma something with playing (or Tarot) cards, but the information is obscure.

Christian Wechel was the printer of Alciato ... hp?id=A42b

Sylvia Mann 1971:
An extremely interesting and, to me, previously unknown pack with fanciful suitmarks (Cupids, Goats, Harps and Millstones) made in 1544 by Christian Wechel of Paris, whose name is recorded in d'Allemagne as a maître cartier. The main body of the cards was filled with quotations in Latin from the works of Ovid, Seneca, Horace and Plautus.
("A Choice Collection of Playing-Cards", The Journal of the Playing-Card Society
Also ...
Yet among invented games are 'pages', in which, while being played, certain traces of learning are even found, as in Tarots, and in those which are printed together with the sentences of the sacred scriptures and philosophers, by the printer Wechel of Paris. Human desire squanders all the rest, along with those like them, where money comes in the middle, and that desire is going to be felt.
(Pierre Gregoire, Syntagma Juris Universi; Lyons, 1597;
Translated by Ross Caldwell.)
... quoted both by Michael Hurst here: ... ian+wechel

Ross said then there:
I went to see it London in 2005. The deck is unpublished, but it is in very good condition, and complete. I think this is what Grégoire was talking about, and not the emblem books. The card deck isn't an emblem book, unfortunately. It is a deck of 52 cards with four non-standard suits with maxims or aphorisms on every card.

What do we have else from France before 1559 ...

Alright, I start to look for your article.

Re: Fame riddle

Huck wrote
Christian Wechel was the printer of Alciato ... hp?id=A42b
Good idea, checking out Alciato's publisher. But Alciato wrote a lot, on various subjects, with many publishers, even one in Koln. In the link below, I asked for Alciato's publications between 1510 and 1539: ... dblist=638

As you can see, few works before 1539 were published in Paris, hence not by Wechel. Wechel published relatively few of Alciato's works, mostly various editions of the Emblemata, starting in 1536. Lyon is Alciato's favorite place of publication, not surprising given that Lyon was a center for publishing of all kinds, followed closely by "Basilius", which I assume is Basel.

For the work in question, the Parergon, the 1538 publishers are listed as Herviagius, in Basilius, and two more in Lyon: ... w=true&fq=

The Paris edition, of one volume, is 1539, I assume a reprint.

Re: Fame riddle

hi, Mike

German wikipedia seems to have had more intensive life dates and they contradict your life description: ... hp?id=A42b

Lots of Alciato books.
Shows each picture of the listed books.

But I don't find a Fama Sol.

Let's think:
For mid 17th century I saw signs of a surprising French cardinal virtue change from Fortitudo to Constantia, which took influence on the Tarocco Siciliano later. This seems to have been connected to the French queen and king's mother, Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, who then had just died in 1643 close to the death of Richelieu, leaving the regency to Anne and the cardinal Mazarin.
This was attached to this finding ..
... but also to my occupations with the Taroccho Siciliano

This was just the year, when Vievil appeared in Paris and c. 1650 is the estimated date for the Vievil Tarot production.

That looks already too good for an accidental coincidence. The Queen is in Paris, Vievil arrives in Paris. Now we have, that the 5-year-old son Louis XIIII becomes later "Sonnenkönig" Ludwig.
If the queen already touched the holy symbols of the medieval cardinal virtues, alternating Fortitudo to Constantia, why not also alternating Temperantia to "Fama Sol" for the son?

There were an interest of the young Louis in Ballets. Marolles recorded ballet sessions since 1653 and - as far I understood it - the king danced himself.


The first ballet about "Nuit" gives the impression, that the sun surely had a big role. Then Louis had been 15th year old. The Vieville deck has with 1650 only a "circa-value", not totally sure. This might have been also 1653.

So somehow there's the suspicion, that it indeed had been Vievil or Vieville, who started the Sol-Fama inscription. Perhaps he knew about Alciato, who had a rather big success in France.


Here I've a page of Alciato (Parergon) in which he uses the word Fama, Solis, Crux (crucem) and Apollo. I don't know, if this has meaning.


Re: Fame riddle

A similarity between Minchiate and Vievil deck




Older Minchiate devil from Ronciglione finding (? possibly 1600) WALKING STYLE


Minchiate 1725, frontal style


Minchiate 1790, frontal style


Minchiate style from c. 1820, deck from c. 1860 WALKING STYLE

A Fama Volat in Minchiate, a Fama Sol in the Vievil deck
Minchiate trump 40, FAMA VOLAT

Katharina of Medici and Maria de Medici (2 Italian girls as "French queens") were both "from Florence" and so an influence from Florentine Minchiate ideas on a Tarot deck in Paris can't be excluded.

FAMA VOLAT belongs to the unnumbered trumps in the Minchiate, so somebody with no further information might have considered this card as what ? ... possibly as Temperance? Fama has wings, Temperance occasionally has wings. Naturally somebody with influence on the deck might have known Alciato's poem. Fama Sol might be an iconographic reaction on the earlier Fama volat.
The question might be, why Alciato (c. 1538) used Fama at position 14 in his list?

1538 is 3 years after 1535, when Milan changed its political state. Perhaps this plays a role. A new political state might have influenced the "official playing card style", as cards were part of the impresa and the heraldic expression. Many intended changes stay "without much influence". Perhaps 14 = Fama became not of importance in Milan, but reached not expected success elsehere?
But also Florence had a political change, and that's also around this time.

Alessandro de Medici died ... 6 January 1537 ... f_Florence

Cosimo, grand duke of Toscana ...


Cosimo was born in Florence, on June 12, 1519, the son of the famous condottiere Giovanni dalle Bande Nere from Forlì and Maria Salviati. Cosimo came to power at 17, when the 26 year old Duke, Alessandro de' Medici, was assassinated in 1537, as Alessandro's only male child was illegitimate. Cosimo was from a different branch of the family, and so far had lived in Mugello, and was almost unknown in Florence: however, many of the influential men in the city favored him, several of them hoping to rule through him and thereby enrich themselves at the state's expense. However, as Benedetto Varchi famously put it "The innkeeper's reckoning was different from the glutton's." [1] Cosimo proved strong-willed, astute and ambitious, and soon rejected the clause he had signed, which entrusted much of the power to a council of Forty-Eight.
When the Florentine exiles heard of the death of Alessandro, they marshalled their forces with support from France and from disgruntled neighbors of Florence. During this time, Cosimo had an illegitimate daughter, Bia (1537 – 1542), who was portrayed shortly before her premature death in a marvelous painting[2] by Bronzino.
Toward the end of July 1537, the exiles marched into Tuscany under the leadership of Bernardo Salviati and Piero Strozzi. When Cosimo heard of their approach, he sent his best troops under Alessandro Vitelli to engage the enemy, which they did at Montemurlo, a fortress that belonged to the Nerli. After defeating the exiles' army, Vitelli stormed the fortress, where Strozzi and a few of his companions had retreated to safety. It fell after only a few hours, and Cosimo celebrated his first victory. The prominent prisoners were subsequently beheaded on the Piazza or in the Bargello. Filippo Strozzi's body was found with a bloody sword next to it and a note quoting Virgil, but many believe that his suicide was faked.
In June 1537 Cosimo was recognized as head of the Florentine state by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, in exchange for help against France in the course of the Italian Wars.
Well, this step might have changed the Tarocchi world.

Here we have not Fama Sol, but Terra del Sole ...


... an "ideal city" made for Cosimo I, grand duke of Toscana, c. 1564. The City is very near to Forli, the grand duchy of Toscana had expanded the Florentine territory.
A large map is here: see "near Forli" ... l_1924.JPG
Report to the city:

Re: Fame riddle

Some notes to the theme, collected here and there

Stephen Mangan (kwaw) had noted the Fama question already in 2006:

Temperance holds a jug in one hand pouring liquid into a jug on the ground, in the other she holds a [butterfly headed?] sceptre [the Bodet looks like it is topped by a winged dildo Or possibly a palm branch]. She has a banner that reads Fama Sol, Alciato 1543 calls the 14th card Fama:

Mundus habet primas, croceis dein Angelus alis:
Tum Phoebus, luna, & stella, cum fulmine daemon:
Fama necem, Crux antesenem, fortuna quadrigas:
Cedit amor forti & justo, regemque sacerdos:
Flaminicam regina praeit queis campo propinat
Omnibus, extremò stultus discernitur actu."

The World has first place, then the Angel with golden wings:
Next Phoebus, the Moon, and the Star, with lightning, the demon:
Fame (before) death, the Cross before the old man, fortune (before)
the chariot:
Love cedes to the strong and the just; the priest precedes the king,
And the queen the Flaminica, and he on the field yields up
To All; the fool is set apart, outside of the sequence.
[Trans. Ross G Caldwell]

{This textual reference was first discovered and presented as far as I am aware by Ross G Caldwell on the TarotL group with the following references/links : Andrea Alciato, "[Parergon] Juris libri VII posteriores" (Lyon,
Sebastian Gryphus, 1543), bk. VIII ch. xvi (pp. 72-73)]


The Vieville too shows the inscription SOL FAMA on this card.
Ross had then 1543, Mike spoke of 1538

If I see it correct, we've in the Alciato poem Wheel (= 10) before the Chariot (= 9), that seems to be rare, according the lists of Kaplan II this appears only in Tarocco Siciliano, and that's a little bit far off for a text 1538 or 1543. In the Colonna cards we've Wheel=11 and Chariot=10 and in Minchiate we've Wheel=9 and Chariot=10.

For the strange Vievil text on two of the pip cards, which seems to summarize the names of the trumps, we have the assumption, that "Dame" means the Temperance card with Sol and Fama inscription.

Ross quoted Dummett and MCLeod in post 10 at ...

A puzzling feature of the Belgian Italian-suited Tarot packs is that their wrappers almost invariably bear the words "Cartes de Suisse".(p. 406) This is perplexing both because we have compelling reason to suppose that cards of this type were originally imported from France, and because we know no example of the Viéville-de Hautot pattern being used by Swiss cardmakers, who, so far as we know, were faithful to the Tarot de Marseille and to its offshoot, the Tarot de Besançon.
But, although the supposition does not wholly solve the puzzle, it is possible that "Cartes de Suisse" refers to the mode of play rather than the design of the cards, and hence may indicate that the form of game then played in Belgium had been learned from players from some part of Switzerland.
Well, I would really like to know this "compelling reason", which seems to make it necessary, that Belgium got their cards from France and not from Switzerland.


That's the backside of a coin of Cosimo de Medici I, grand duke of Toscana. I see two men with trumpet (this might be the presentation of Fama), a putti head with wings (?) and likely a saint. But there are other coins, where something like this happens not.

Actually "Fama" as a Florentine phenomenon and favored allegory is no problem, as already Lorenzo de Medici had a favor for it, and Fame was the highest trump in Minchiate, a Florentine game. It might well be, that Minchiate found some stronger development through Cosimo, who appears as Grand duke (Nr. 4) in the deck. If Cosimo really engaged in matters of the Minchiate, then a "Fame reaction" on Alciato's side might get some logic.


Here I found a praising poem for Cosimo, which contains the words Fame and Sol:


Cosimo I with Fama and Sol in poem (also Mondo) ... ma&f=false
The book is from a life description after the death of Cosimo, but the poem might be much earlier and serving just as a quote.
The author of the poem (a "fisico") appears earlier in context to Cosimo

Image ... ti&f=false

One should know more about the art of Cosimo I, impresa etc.. What I've seen so far, was not totally convincing for a Fama-Sol connection, also there's the problem how Alciato might have been linked to Cosimo (?).

  • Alciato studied in Milan, Pavia and Bologna law and the classical languages.
    1514 in Ferrara he got academical titles.
    1514 till 1517 he worked as a jurist in Milan
    Since 1519 teacher of law at Avignon university - he quitted the job 1521 cause a payment question.
    Between 1522 und 1527 he lived in Milan with French and Spanish occupation and a plague ... historical and humanistic studies. Translations of Greek authors and start on epigrams, which led to his emblem book. He attempted to get a teacher position in Padova.
    1527: Returned as teacher of law to Avignon
    1529: He got an invitation by Francois I for a teacher position in Bouges, where he lived till 1533.
    1530: De verborum significatione und Commentarii ad rescripta principum are printed in Lyon
    1533: He returned to Italy and worked as professor in Pavia (1533-37, 1541-43, 1547-50), Bologna (1537-41) and Ferrara (1543-47) at the court of Ercole d’Este.
    1450: Andrea Alciato died 1550 in Pavia.

Re: Fame riddle

If (? this is becoming messy and I get less and less where you want to go) you're looking for earlier occurences of the sentence "sol fama" check Orlando Innamorato
Dopo la morte sol fama n' avanza,
E veramente son color tapini,
Che d' aggrandirla sempre non han cura,
Perché sua vita poco tempo dura.
Belgian tarots often read "fama sol", Vieville is clearly written the other way round.
Also note "dopo la morte" = after the death (XIII), "sol fama" which is on XIIII in Vieville's tarot.

Maybe it's just a funny coincidence. Maybe not.


Re: Fame riddle

GREAT finding, Bertrand.

Somehow it still might be "just accident", but it looks suggestive. Somewhere must be a way, which leads from Boiardo to Vievil.

With GREAT luck I found this earlier discussion very quickly:

DrArcanus (Marco) once wrote ...
09-07-2005, 08:14

The first poem from the Ace of Coins and Two of Cups ( ) of the Vieville Tarot. I think it dates to about 1650. The translation is based on that provided by Ross ( )

PERE SAINCT FAIT Holy Father, grant
MOY YUSTICE DE CE me Justice (7) against this
VIELART MA E BAGA Old Man (11), Fool (0) and Juggler (1),
AMOREVX DE the Lover (6) of
CESTE DAME QVY this Lady (14). Let it
SOIT CRYE A SON DE be shout by the sound of
TROMPE PAR TOVT the Trumpet (20) in all
LE MONDE DE PAR the World (21), by
LE PAPE LA PAPESSE the Pope (5), the Papesse (2),
L ANPEREVR L INPERATRYCE the Emperor (4), the Empress (3),
LE SOLEIL the Sun (19),

LA LUNE LES ETOILLES the Moon (18), the Stars (17),
LA FOVDRE PRINS the Lightning (16). Taken
A FORCE QVY SOIT by Force (9), let him be
PENDV E TRANNAY Hanged (12) and drawn (8)
AV DIABLE to the Devil (15).

The second poem is the 1527 sonnet by Teofilo Folengo that contains a reference to each one of the Trumps. It was translated with a joint effort on this thread ( )

Amor, sotto 'l cui impero molte imprese Love (6), under whose Empire (4) many deeds
van senza tempo sciolte da Fortuna, go without Time (9) and without Fortune (10),
vide Morte su 'l carro orrenda e bruna saw ugly and dark Death (13) on a Chariot (7),
volger fra quanta gente al mondo prese. going between the people it took away from the World (21).

Per qual giustizia, disse, a te si rese She asked: no Pope (5) nor Papesse (2) was ever won
nè Papa mai, nè s' è papessa alcuna? by you. Do you call this Justice (8)?
Rispose: chi col sol fece la luna Love answered: Him who made the Sun (19) and the Moon (18)
tolse contra mie forze lor diffese. defended them from my Strength (11).

Sciocco, qual sei, quel foco, disse Amore, What a Fool (0) I am, said Love, my Fire (16),
ch' or angiol or demonio appare, come that can appear as an Angel (20) or as a Devil (15),
temprar sannosi altrui sotto mia stella. can be Tempered (14) by others who live under my Star (17).

Tu imperatrice ai corpi sei, ma un cuore You are the Empress (3) of bodies. But you cannot kill
benchè sospendi, non uccidi, e un nome hearts, you only Suspend (12) them. You have a name
sol d' alta Fama tienti un bagatella. of high Fame, but you are nothing but a Trickster (1).

Sol d' alta Fama ... We've here another meeting of Sol and Fame in a Tarocchi poem by Folengo, maybe writing nearly 50 years after Boiardo.


Folengo was born of noble parentage at Cipada near Mantua, Italy.

From his infancy he showed great vivacity of mind, and a remarkable cleverness in making verses. At the age of sixteen he entered the monastery of Sant'Eufemia near Brescia, and eighteen months afterwards he became a professed member of the Benedictine order. For a few years his life as a monk seems to have been tolerably regular, and he is said to have produced a considerable quantity of Latin verse, written, not unsuccessfully, in the Virgilian style. About the year 1516 he forsook the monastic life for the society of a well-born young woman named Girolama Dieda, with whom he wandered about the country for several years, often suffering great poverty, having no other means of support than his talent for writing.

His first work, under the pseudonym Merlino Coccajo, was the macaronic narrative poem Baldo (1517), which relates the adventures of a fictitious hero named Baldo ("Baldus"), a descendant of French royalty and something of a juvenile delinquent who encounters imprisonment; battles with local authorities, pirates, shepherds, witches, and demons; and a journey to the underworld. Throughout his adventures Baldo is accompanied by various companions, among them a giant, a centaur, a magician, and his best friend Cingar, a trickster. Baldo blended Latin with various Italian dialects in hexameter verse. Though frequently censured, it soon attained a wide popularity, and within a very few years passed through several editions and was later expanded by Folengo. The work was a model for Rabelais. An English translation was published for the first time in 2007 by Ann E. Mullaney as part of The I Tatti Renaissance Library.

Folengo's next work was Orlandino, an Italian poem of eight cantos, written in rhymed octaves. It appeared in 1526, and bore on the title-page the new pseudonym of Limerno Pitocco (Merlin the Beggar) da Mantova. In the same year, wearied with a life of dissipation, Folengo returned to his ecclesiastical roots; and shortly afterwards wrote his Caos del tri per uno, in which, partly in prose, partly in verse, sometimes in Latin, sometimes in Italian, and sometimes in macaronic, he gives a veiled account of the vicissitudes of the life he had lived under his various names.

We next find him about the year 1533 writing in rhymed octaves a life of Christ entitled L'Umanità del Figliuolo di Dio; and he is known to have composed, still later, another religious poem upon the creation, fall and restoration of man, besides a few tragedies. These, however, have never been published.

Some of his later years were spent in Sicily under the patronage of Don Fernando de Gonzaga, the viceroy; he even appears for a short time to have had charge of a monastery there. In 1543 he retired to Santa Croce de Campesio, near Bassano; and there he died on the 9th of December 1544.

Folengo in his life has some relation to Boiardo (his Baldo of French origin seems to have been an Orlando caricature, his Orlandino indirectly relates to Orlando), to Rabelais (who was influenced according wiki), to Mantova and Gonzaga, who are under suspicion to have influenced the French Tarot development.

The distance between Alciato and Folengo might be not far.

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