Phaeded and Marco: About the PMB Devil and Tower, the problem is that they are missing from all ten 15th-16th century copies of the PMB as well, with 239 cards (including those of the PMB). The probability of that happening by chance seems low. If they were lost before the copies were made, surely the Bembo workshop would have been able to replace them. Whether those two were never made, or they were destroyed on purpose, from distaste for these cards or superstitious fear of them (or of the authorities), is something we will probably never know. Whether there are theoretical reasons having to do with the symbolism that necessitate including them in the PMB is another matter. It is not obvious to me. One would think that there would be a clear representation of Prudence in the cards, entitled as such, given its importance in relation to the virtues that are there; but there isn't.
I have been reading Dummett's FMR essay (FMR (Franco Maria Ricci) 1985, Nr. 8, "Tarot triumphant", pp. 41-60, from which p. 46-53 is Dummett) to which Michael refers in his 2007 blog entry (http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.it/2007/11/ ... cards.html). He discusses the issue of "occult symbolism" in the first paragraph. He says (p. 46l):
Here is the page in question: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cNt-HxE0kSE/U ... 600/46.jpgThe twenty-two trionfi were added to the pack so that a new card game could be played. For three and a half centuries, nobody had any idea of using the cards for other purposes. This is not to say that there was no occult symbolism inherent in the trionfi. The designs of many playing-card packs contain symbolism unrelated to the intended use of the cards, and the Renaissance was the high point for the occult sciences in Europe, which were respected by scholars and tolerated by the Church as never before or since. But any occultism in the iconography of the tarot pack was either widely overlooked or quickly forgotten.
Dummett does not deny that there was hidden (i.e. "occult") symbolism in the trump sequence. It is just that it has nothing to do with the intended use of the cards, which I presume means the intended use for which the cards were created and added to the regular pack (as it certainly acquired other uses, as "tarot appropriati" if nothing else). I have no quarrel with that statement. Some might say that if such symbolism was widely overlooked or quickly forgotten, probably it never was there in the first place. That is an inference that contradicts what Dummett says--just as in the 1996 formulation. It seems to me that just the opposite would be true. There were then numerous uses of non-obvious symbolism (a term I prefer to "occult", which is rather loaded), not only in cards but in art and literature at that time, which was not written about that we know of. To understand such symbolism, one has to look at the milieu in which it was created and enjoyed.
If the cards contain non-obvious symbolism. it seems to me that discussing what that symbolism might have been is just as much a part of tarot history as a discussion of heraldics, which also has nothing to do with the purpose for which the cards were intended. Like heraldics, if nothing else the nature of such symbolism can help to fix a particular deck in time and space. It may or may not explain a few things about particular actual cards from particular actual decks.
Dummett does not in this essay concern himself much with origins, such as what order or what city, but what he does say is interesting. His statement that the three cities with 15th century evidence are Milan, Ferrara, and Bologna is of course dated, and Florence needs to be added. What I find interesting are the reasons he would give for his "guess" that it was Ferrara:
These strike me as good thoughts about the symbolism of the early deck, too. We should not forget the Lancelot done by the same workshop as at least one of the early Milan decks. But Boiardo, Ariasto, and Tasso are all rather late. And I would include erudite humanism as part of this milieu as well.It is no coincidence that Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso were all patronized by the d'Este princes: the whole court lived in an atmosphere of romance and fantasy - the sort of atmosphere in which the trionfi were probably devised.
Dummett then goes through the cards. He does not put the Matto in one of the groups at all. If he belongs in the first group, it is not obvious enough for him. The reason seems to be the rules of play; he compares it to the Joker, while also pointing out that there is no historical relationship between the two. He characterizes the Bagatella as representing a "merchant or a mountebank" (p. 46r). A mountebank is a "person who sells quack medicines from a platform", according to the first meaning in Merriam-Webster. The second meaning is "a boastful, unscrupulous pretender". The Free Dictionary says:
Dummett sees nothing strange about the card having more than one meaning, including one that seems just a common man ("merchant"). Indeed, what we see on the Piedmontese and Sicilian cards, as I have pointed out, and what is described by Piscina, writing in Piedmont, appears to be a merchant or an innkeeper. The reason he is called "bagatella", Dummett says, is simply that he is the lowest ranking card.1. A hawker of quack medicines who attracts customers with stories, jokes, or tricks.
2. A flamboyant charlatan.
About the Papess, he endorses Moakley's theory (1985 pp. 46r-47l):
Here is a scan of the rest of that page: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RkACBgbeH-s/U ... 600/47.jpg. I am not sure why Dummett uses the word "ribald", as so-called heresy was a serious business; possibly it is from reading Moakley's source, Lea, who uses a rather flippant tone (see . Also, it isn't clear that Manfreda was "elected Pope", as opposed to being chosen to become Pope when the current hierarchy had been removed. Lea recounts the latter on p. 95; but then, when the Archbishop of Milan is asked to confirm the sentence, the testimony becomes stronger, that Manfreda habitually said that that Boniface is not pope, that a new pontiff had been created, footnote p. 99. Moakley's source is online at http://www.questia.com/read/58550861/a- ... iddle-ages, vol. 3 pp. 90-102. This one in English is fairly reliable, except for its omissions (the other, F. Tocco, I don't know). Lea says nothing about the color of the Umiliati habit that I can see, just that the sect wore "plain brown" (p. 91). For the Umiliati, she says she relied on the Storia di Milano, iv, 384. The basic documents for Moakley's thesis are from the Inquisition. Since 1985, or even 1966, there has been nothing new about these documents. The only question is whether Bianca Maria would have known about the trial document. Lea does not give a sense of where the information ultimately comes from, that it was the merest chance that it survived at all, and that it didn't surface until the 17th century. I will have to go back and see where that information comes from. I would guess it was available in 1966, but whether Moakley or Dummett would have known it or even looked for it is another matter.The papessa must have been included in a ribald spirit. The earliest surviving example of this card is from the pack painted by Bonifacio Bembo for Francesco Sforza. the duke of Milan, soon after 1450. Gertrude Moakley, in The Playing Cards Painted for the Visconti-Sforza Family (New York, 1966) has pointed out that it represents Sister Manfreda, a relative of the Visconti family who had been elected pope by the heretical order to which she belonged, and was burned at the stake in 1300. Possibly this was the first time the papessa appeared in a tarot pack; it may have replaced the missing cardinal virtue of Prudence.
Later (1985 p. 48) Dummett discusses the Cary-Yale deck, about how it diverges from the standard in having six court cards per suit, and how only eleven trump subjects survive, all standard ones except for the "additions" of Hope, Faith, and Charity. He concludes:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lSIb0lThSY8/U ... 600/48.jpg. I cannot argue with that conclusion, and I know of no new facts that count against it.It is impossible to know whether this pack was unique or represents an early stage before the composition of tarot packs had been standardized.
Incidentally, he repeats the latter possibility in stronger terms in the introduction his 1986 The Visconti-Sforza tarot cards, where he says of the Cary-Yale (1986 p. 15):
He then repeats his 24 trump idea as a possibility:The Visconti di Modrone pack dates from a time when the game of tarot was still an innovation. It may have been an isolated experiment, but it is more attractive to suppose that it represents an early stage before the tarot pack had assumed its definitive form. If so, it is likely to be earlier than the Brambilla pack, whose suits certainly had the standard composition of ten numeral and four court cards, and which is presumably datable to 1442 to 1445.
It is hard to argue with an "if" statement; I just don't think it is a necessary hypothesis. I do like his Popess = Prudence statement, however, for other reasons, in particular the attributes of book and cross. In the pages on the individual cards, Dummett repeats his endorsement of Moakley's theory. He does not use the word "ribald". Instead it is "perhaps, the most interesting card in the pack" (1986 p. 106).If the number of trumps stood in the same simple ratio of three to two to the number of cards per suit as in the seventy-eight card form, the Visconti di Madrone Pack would have had twenty-four teumps; this would leave room for all seven major virtues and allt he subsequently standard trumps subjects save one. That one is likely to have been the Popess, be far the oddest of the trump subjects, and possibly introduced for the first time--presumably at the expense of the Prudence card--in the Visconti-Sforza pack.
One thing I had not realized is that queens were not part of the standard pack then, the one that did not have trionfi (1985 p. 48). If so, it may well be that it was a special property of trionfi decks that they added female courts. If so, that might have included knights and pages early on. We have no way of knowing. Until the second half of the 18th century, Dummett points out (p. 50), the Bolognese tarot had female pages in two of the suits. (The Brera-Brambilla, however, seems to have had only male pages, as three of them are extant (http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards34.htm).)
In the second group of cards, those pertaining to the "conditions of human life", all three moral virtues are included, as in Michael's quote. He points out that the name for Fortitude was always la fortezza, not la forza, as it is now. I notice that he never uses the word "allegorical" with reference to the cards. He is merely discussing their "symbolic themes". (However both "allegoria" and "symbola" had different meanings then than they do now, as The Cambridge Companion to Allegory makes clear.)
I will discuss what he says about the third group of cards in a later post. With regard to the issues being discussed in this thread, the article seems to me a very reasonable one.