I don't deny any of what Michael says, about the allegorical interpretation of the cards, or what Marco says. I don't know if the specific interpretation of the Popess as the Church is true, in its origin, since I find myself knowing little about the origin of the tarot. But I don't deny it. I don't deny the orthodox associations that Ross points to. I don't doubt that the Popess card was thought of as you describe by many at that time. I certainly agree that it is one of the six "orders of man" cards at the beginning of the deck. As to who or what she originally or even generally was intended to represent, I agree that Manfreda is not within the realm of probability. I wasn't talking about the tarot Popess in general, or originally, but the PMB in particular, on one level of interpretation, as the tarot adapted to a particular family, and seeing the card in the context of other familial associations in the deck and in their art. I freely admit that it is a speculative extension of Kirsch's theory about Visconti and Sforza art and may be of little relevance to an understanding of the Popess generally. It only applies to the PMB.
As to the origin of the Popess card in the tarot--before the PMB, I mean--for me, "Pope Joan" is still not eliminated as a possibility. My failure to eliminate that possibility stems mostly from comments by Aretino in the 16th century that seem to refer to the card as Pope Joan. However I recently saw another source that suggests either Pope Joan or a depiction of the Church as a whore. It is in a frontispiece illustration to Petrarch's De Remediis
. Michael reproduced it in color on Jan. 25, 2013, in his blog at http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/
. Michael in the sidebar says that it is from a 1503 French manuscript (although in his title for the jpg image he has it as "milan-c1400"). I posted the same image here, in black and white, on Jan. 23, 2013, at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=915&p=13484&hilit= ... iis#p13484
, with a quote from my source, Trapp's Studies of Petrarch and his Influence
, identifying it as Lombard, probably from Milan of about 1400. Here is the whole part of the page from Trapp's book, a scan to which I gave a link in my post. I post a link to a large version, if you want to look at the details.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NK2YlP3I3bY/U ... aeFig3.jpg
You will see here many of the "orders of man" in the tarot, as I pointed out, which are also reflected, less compactly, in the text of Petrarch's book. My doubt about the Popess stems, among other things (notably, as I said, Aretino's 16th century comments), from the depiction of the lady on the right, second from the end. If others in this lineup could be considered prototypes for the beginning part of the tarot, so might the woman depicted there. Here is Michael's color version, which I won't reproduce without his permission. It shows much more clearly than my image how far down the dress actually goes, with a hint of what lies beneath:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xPT34252d4w/U ... detail.jpg
Trapp calls her "a blonde woman in a long red decolletee
dress" (the whole passage is in my post). I am not sure what she has in her hands, but it might be a small book. A book would suggest that she might express a prototype for the Popess card (but they didn't think, or dare, to give her the hat). The Popess was usually shown with a book (as was Pope Joan). Her dress to me suggests loose morals. Pope Joan, of course, was exposed as a woman when, as Pope, she gave birth to a child during a procession. On the other hand, it might suggest the Popess card as the Church, as Petrarch in the book does call the Church a whore (as did Boccaccio) and (unlike Boccaccio) makes no reference to Pope Joan (or whores; Boccaccio talks about nuns as whores).
In this connection, it is possible that the PMB Popess card is meant to depict a nun who has gotten herself (with the help of a monk) pregnant, I don't know. If so, there might be a connection between the footlike thing poking out of her robe and the baby on one Pope Joan illustration, as Ross once speculated. I had forgotten about that interpretation!
About the lurid diatribe that Ross quoted, I note the date, 1503, after the fall of Lodovico. It might be part of a Dominican-driven offensive against "witches" and other supposed practitioners of diabolical arts that hit Lombardy in general and Cremona in particular after the Sforza lost control. In a post on another thread (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=932&start=20#p13671
) I have begun documenting how during the offensive against "witches" that went into full gear generally after the 1437-1438 publication of a book about them, there appears to have been almost no Inquisitorial action in Lombardy until the 16th century. The only people I have found prosecuted were a few named by "witches" in Piedmont before they were burned. Here is my paraphrase from Lea, History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages
, vol. 3, of the only thing I could find in his massive three volume book pertaining to Lombard witches in the 15th century.
I see on vol. iii p. 518 that the Inquisitor of Lombardy did manage to get five in 1474, named by witches in Piedmont before they were burned. One had the bad luck to be named Guglielmina, but the good fortune to have a rich enough peasant family to hire a lawyer, who was able to outsmart the inexperienced inquisitor. He had to transfer the case to Turin, where the outcome is unknown.
On the other hand, I haven't found out much regarding the prosecution of witches in other parts of Italy, such as Florence or Naples. (Rome is well documented.) I need to do more research.
I do see that in the early 16th century, Cremona in particular was singled out as a hotbed of "witches," with much local resistance to the Inquisition's activities. Here is Lea:
When at Cremona, in the early years of the sixteenth century, the inquisitor, Giorgio di Casale, endeavored to exterminate the numberless witches flourishing there, and was interfered with by certain clerks and laymen, who asserted that he was exceeding his jurisdiction, Julius II, following the example of Innocent VIII in the case of Sprenger, promptly came to the rescue by defining his powers and offering to all who would aid him in the good work indulgences such as were given to crusaders--provisions which, in 1523 were extended to the Inquisitor of Como by Adrian VI. The result of all this careful stimulation is seen in the description of the Lombard witches by Gianfrancesco Pico, and in the alarming report by Silvester Prierias that they were extending down the Apennines and boasting that they would outnumber the faithful.
So far I have only consulted two sources, an article in Speculum
and Lea's 1885. I will of course look at more. But from these I develop the suspicion that Bianca Maria and her husband protected these poor women who thought that their herbs and charms had magical powers. It would have been an extension of the sympathy I imagine that she had for other victims of the Inquisition and of papal authority in general. Another Sforza lady, Ginevra Sforza, later did express such sympathy publicly in Bologna, as I document in the next post (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=932&start=20#p13672
). Fortunately it didn't come to that in Cremona until later. Nowadays, of course, the medical properties of herbs are well known, as well as the "placebo effect" of belief that a certain treatment works. That wasn't known then, but many then thought that whatever these women were doing, it wasn't worth burning them at the stake for.
Note: after posting, while Michael was writing his next post, I wrote the paragraph beginning "In this connection".