Do different names mean different things?

#1
I guess I'd like to start by asking about French versus English titles on the Courts, but this thread could certainly expand to include other differences in naming as well.

Is there a difference between a Valet and a Page?
Is there a difference between a Cavalier and a Knight?

I have a sense that a valet is more of a servent and a page is more of a messenger; and that a Cavalier is more of a... gosh.. I don't know.. Rouge Gentleman Horseman and a Knight is more of a Chivalrous Fighter.

Is there a difference in the way we might consider the "rank" of the figures on these cards based on the differences of their names? Or are they basically the same thing?
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#3
I have the feeling a page is lower in the food chain than the valet.. a valet sounds more skilled somehow.

And for some reason a Cavalier seems more independent than a Knight.. I feel like the Knight is bound to serve a particular person or idea and the Cavalier seems freer.. have no idea why but there is it.

Nicky
You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.
Tom Robbins

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#4
Hm. I get the same feeling, but perhaps that's because we're not very close to the actual social roles these characters represent.

The Pope vs. pope-looking Hierophant comes to mind.

Some decks try to fudge differences. For example, the "Secret" or "Renaisance" deck by Helen Jones and Jane Lyle (also called the "Secret" tarot: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/renaissance-2/ ) deals with the gender imbalance in the courts with "page~princess" as the lowest-ranked court card. (I trimmed those titles off--it was just too annoying.)

And what about the labeling of Coins as Pentacles? Particularly annoying with historical copies (Lo Scarabeo used to do it a lot) but maybe even still no good with Rider-Waite type decks.

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#6
Nicole wrote:I have the feeling a page is lower in the food chain than the valet.. a valet sounds more skilled somehow.

And for some reason a Cavalier seems more independent than a Knight.. I feel like the Knight is bound to serve a particular person or idea and the Cavalier seems freer.. have no idea why but there is it.

Nicky
Yes, that's pretty much my feeling as well. I wonder really if the English words get in the way sometimes of really understanding the characters depicted on the cards? Do we need to think in terms of a Valet and a Cavalier to have a better understanding of what is being pictured on the card? Or are the English words better suited to images?
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#7
Well, valet is perfectly usable in English too, it does not require translation; however its semantic range has developed a little differently in English to French in that it also came to refer to a va(r)let, that is a rogue, and thus is also cognate in some aspects of its semantic range with 'knave'.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#8
SteveM wrote:Well, valet is perfectly usable in English too, it does not require translation; however its semantic range has developed a little differently in English to French in that it also came to refer to a va(r)let, that is a rogue, and thus is also cognate in some aspects of its semantic range with 'knave'.
Ah, that's interesting Steve. I'd never have made the connection between Valet and Knave. I still get the sense that a page is a very young person, often sent to do errands, while a Valet is more mature... almost bordering on Jeeves and Wooster.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#9
Bullet has a quite a bit to say about this name in the pack of cards, Valet.

I don't think his etymological connections with "Celtic" stand anymore, but it is informative and entertaining nonetheless.

"Valet is a French word. Was, in Celtic, signifies in general a man of service. As there are two kinds of service, one which is given in the household and for domestic affairs, and the other which is given outside and in the armies, the word was, up to the ninth century, signified indifferently both domestics and warriors. Since this time, it only took the latter sense until the reign of Francis I. In olden times those who composed the armies were not bribed, as is done today. The Prince or Lord entrusted a piece of land or fief to the charge of military service. He who, on account of this land or fief, was bound to come into the army, was called vas or vassal. Since back then there were only these vassals who bore arms, they were also named milites, warriors(28). When Chivalry was instituted, those vassals who had received it were called Knights; and the sons of vassals, of the greatest Lords and even the Sovereigns, who had not yet been armed knights, were called vasselets, vaslets, valets, varlets, vallez (29). These valets were also given the name écuyers, seutarii, because they carried the écu or shield of the knight to whom attached themselves to take up their first arms. In the last years of the reign of Charles V, varlet or valet was taken both for écuyer [squire] and for domestic. It preserved these two senses (Chronicle of Petit-Jehan de Saintré) under Charles VI and Charles VII, and as long as the compagnies d’ordonnance formed by this Prince endured. At present this term signifies no more than a servant(30).

Valets, the in the pack of cards, being shown with a sword and war axe, leave no doubt that, in this game, the term was used according to its most noble signification, and that it was intended, by these personages, to designate lords, warriors. Moreover, the names of the heroes that they bear does not permit one to think otherwise.

Note 28: The vassals who refused the call to arms, were constrained by the seizure of their properties, in putting to their homes eaters at their own expense. These are the terms of an edict of Charles VI, which Monstrelet has preserved for us in his Chronicle (Part. I, chap. 144.)

Note 29: It is in this sense that one finds in our ancient Latin authors, and in a charter of 1204, the term vasletus.
Ville Hardouin calls Alexis, son of the Emperor Isaac Comnene, valet of Constantinople.
“Thus the envoys were sent to Germany, to the valet of Constantinople, and to King Philip of Germany” (Bk. 1.)
“And after another fortnight came also the envoys from Germany, sent by King Philip and the valet of Constantinople.”
Louis, King of Navarre, Philip, Count of Poitou, Charles, the children of Philippe-le-Bel, and some other Princes, are qualified as valets in an account of 1313 (La Roque, Traité de la noblesse.)
In a Title from 1297, Philippe-le-Bel qualifies Aiméri de Poitiers as valet and damoiseau.
A Charter of 1293 begins thus: “I, Jofreis de Lezignen, valet, seignor de Chastelachart.”
Froissart,in his Chronicle, calles Guy de Luzignan valet of the county of Poictou.
In the Romance of Rou, one reads of William the Conqueror:

William was a little valet
Fed and steadied on Fales.

In the same work it is said of Henry II, King of England:

Fifty-three years more his land justisa,
After the death of his father had left him valet.

In the Romance of Guillaume de Faucon:

IL y avait jadis un damoiseau aimable et gracieux, qui avait nom Guillaume, et l'on eût pu chercher dans vingt pays avant de trouver son pareil. Il n'était encore que simple écuyer et servait un châtelain depuis sept ans entiers, dans l'espoir d'être armé par lui chevalier.

(There once was a damoiseau gentle and gracious, who was named William, and one would have to search in twenty countries to find his like. He was yet only a simple écuyer and had served a lord for seven full years, in the hope of being made a knight by him.)

In the Doctrinal royal of Jean de Malingris:

Li valet fiert (pique) de l’éperon
…………………………..
Li roi qui voit tel abandon,
L’enfant royal prend à tenson (réprimande).
Li valet coiz (s’arretant) sans faire bond,
A roi son père quiert (demande) pardon.

Savaris, Viscount of Thoars, in a Charter of the year 1260, takes the quality of valez: “Savaris, Viscount of Thoars, valez.”

Note 30: It must be very natural to employ the same term to designate one or the other service, since it has always been in common use among us. Valet, as we have seen, signified a man of war and a domestic. Laquais had in former times both the one and the other signification. In the chronicles printed following Monstrelet, one reads under the year 1479, that Archduke Maximilian besieged a place called Malaunoy, in which there was a Gascon captain named Remonnet, “and with him seven to eight score of lacquets crossbowmen, also Gascons.” In the History of Louis XII, by Jean d’Auton, one reads (part. 2, chap. 6): “Leur transmit soixante laquais gascons, et ne leur voulut bailer gens de cheval.” Brantôme, in his Discourse on colonels of the French infantry, says that Monstrelet called the men of war who served on foot laquais. In the Vie du chevalier Bayard, one reads that at the siege of Pamplona, there was in the French army “such a great need for shoes, that a miserable pair for a laquais cost an écu.”

(Bullett, Historical Researches on Playing Cards (Lyon, 1757), pp. 61-67, my translation (except for some of the poetry which I can't quite get yet.)
Image

Re: Do different names mean different things?

#10
robert wrote: I wonder really if the English words get in the way sometimes of really understanding the characters depicted on the cards? Do we need to think in terms of a Valet and a Cavalier to have a better understanding of what is being pictured on the card? Or are the English words better suited to images?

I see two questions here. In theory, I think sure, the connotations and layers of meaning inherent in Valet and Cavalier could change the meaning in a subtle way. I would think those people who assign age or experience to determine court cards would have a shifted take on what they represent. I use astrological and/or elemental associations so it wouldn't matter as much to me.

The second part of your post seems a different question. It would depend on the deck. Many new decks use such modern imagery (hell some decks use aliens) so what difference would the connotations mean? Truly, even with Marseilles decks, the world is much different... we are in a different time from when these types of people existed.. I think using the English words may lose some of the 'romance' of the deck, but how much romance is there in a Tarot of the Dolphin Mermaid Pirates anyway?

Ross- thank you for the post...that was very interesting. It seems to go along with a valet being much more than a page.

The topic then begs, do different decks change the cards meanings? Which I am sure is elsewhere in this forum...

Nicky
You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.
Tom Robbins

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