Bolognese sequence

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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 22 Jan 2010, 10:10

mikeh wrote:I don't see why Martiano's gods can't both belong to the four suits of virtues, riches, virginities, and pleasures, by virtue of their association with these qualities, and also form a 16 card hierarchy of their own when it comes to winning tricks. (And thanks for quoting the list, Ross; I'd forgotten.) What's the contradiction? Martiano doesn't think in either/or terms; he doesn't know anything about "trump suits." In taking tricks, the gods form a hierarchy of their own similar to the tarot trumps. On the instructional side, if for no other reason, they each also belong to one of the four suits.


I agree with what you write Mike, and think you are coming close to seeing what it is.

"why they can't be both" - this is what I meant by "The fourfold theme covers the whole deck, but it has two manifestations - as four suits of birds under kings, and as a suit of gods with its own order."

"When it comes to winning tricks" - this is what I meant by emphasizing "practical" in the structure of the game - its physical and ludic structure.

"On the instructional side" - this is what I meant by the "moral theme" and "conceptual structure" of the game - its "fourfoldness".

"he doesn't know anything about 'trump suits'" - right! But he just *invented* one, for all practical purposes, and Michelino apparently painted the pack that way.

I think the problem for Huck and Michael is to distinguish between the conceptual fourfoldness and the suits - the suits are the birds under their king; the gods are "above all the orders of birds and the ranks of kings". This is the best definition of his "trump suit" that Marziano could come up with, since there was no other term.

I still don't understand how the game was played. If someone leads a phoenix, for example, are the other players obliged to follow suit, unless they don't have any? Does that mean a person has to play Juno, for example, if that 's the only card in the suit of riches that they have? If so, Juno would be both #2 in the hierarchy and, importantly, belong to the suit of riches. And if they can't follow suit, can they still win the trick if they play a god-card, but not otherwise?
Does Marziano say anything about these situations?


No, he says nothing at all unfortunately. But I think you begin to answer your own questions in the scenario you propose. If Juno is part of the Phoenix "suit", then you *can* follow suit if Phoenixes are played - you are not "trumping". There is no point in having the gods have their own order if they are part of the suits. The suit isn't "riches", the suit is "phoenixes" - "Riches" is one of the four conceptual and moral aspects of Marziano's design, but has nothing to do with the play (as I see it). I imagine it would be played just as Tarot - if you don't have a suit card in the suit led, you must trump; if no trumps, any other card.

Edited - more on the point of no reason for the gods to have their own order. For example, if you are forced to play a "riches" trump when you have no more phoenixes, then you have to play Juno, Neptune, Mars or Aeolus (if you have them). If you play Neptune (following suit as "Riches" in your scenario), number 6, if someone plays Jupiter (the highest god), who wins? Jupiter isn't following suit, but he is higher than Neptune in Marziano's order.

If you are forced to play by the moral order "Riches" rather than by following the literal suit, Phoenixes, you would have to play Juno, Mars or Aeolus (if you have them), or another god, who very well might be higher than Neptune. If you only had Juno, you would win, because following "suit" - Riches. But if you had to follow suit with Mars or Aeolus, you would lose, making the whole point of having an order and separate strategy for the gods and heroes irrelevant.

Look at it another way in your scenario - say Bacchus is led; you have no Dove cards nor any trumps of Pleasures; you only have Jupiter and Juno; you decide to play Juno. So, if you are forced to play a trump, you would not be following suit, and would lose your Juno to a lower card, Bacchus, even though according to Marziano's numbering, Juno is higher than Bacchus. What is the purpose of the ranking of the gods then?

By these rules, Cupid could beat Pallas, Diana, Vesta or Daphne, which is very much against the moral message of the Virginities division. In fact it is literally immoral to consider it.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Huck on 22 Jan 2010, 12:14

In a usual trick taking game:
If a trump is played, the other players have to give a trump themselves, if they have some. If a suit card is played, the others have to follow this suit, if they have cards of this suit. If they don't have a card of this suit, they are in some rules allowed, to use trump (if they have) or another suit card instead, in some rules they MUST trump (if they have a trump).
In the usual trick taking game trumps are handled, as if they are an "own suit" ... but naturally each individual trump card belongs to a suit and that is in the "normal case" not a predefined trump suit (as it is the case in the usual Tarot, this is an unusual deck form).
Rules can variate, for instance: Follow-the-suit and follow-the-trump is NOT ALWAYS a rule.

Take for instance the game "Skat", in which all Unter (or Jacks) are interpreted usually as "permanent trumps", but in specific sub-games of Skat, "Null" and "Null-ouvert", they are used as usual suit cards.

That's the hierarchy:
Clubs-Jack ... highest trump
Spades-Jack ... second highest trump
Hearts-Jack ... third highest trump
Diamonds-Jack ... 4th highest trump

At the start of the game is a complicated bidding process: it is decided, which game is played, also it is decided, who plays against whom (it's a game for 3 players, 1 plays against 2)

Grand ... only the Jacks are trumps
Clubs ... all the Jacks and all Clubs are trump (but the Jacks are the highest)
Spades ... all the Jacks and all Spades are trump (but the Jacks are the highest)
Hearts ... all the Jacks and all Hearts are trump (but the Jacks are the highest)
Diamonds ... all the Jacks and all Hearts are trump (but the Jacks are the highest)
Null ... no trumps, the Jacks are suit cards
Null-ouvert ... no trumps, the Jacks are suit cards
Ramsch ... a game, if nobody gives a bidding, the Jacks are then the only trumps

So actually Skat is a platform, from which various possible different games could be played. The bidding process and its rules decide, which game is played, the formation of the trump-suit is a variable. Many trumping game have this sort of complicate structure. There are further "escalations" as part of the bidding process in Skat, "Hand" says, that you'll not use the 2 "Stock" cards, "Schneider" promises a high win, "Schneider schwarz" promises a total win, "Spitze" promises to take the last trick with the lowest trump (only, when a suit is trump).

I think the problem for Huck and Michael is to distinguish between the conceptual fourfoldness and the suits - the suits are the birds under their king; the gods are "above all the orders of birds and the ranks of kings". This is the best definition of his "trump suit" that Marziano could come up with, since there was no other term.


I don't think, that we have a problem. The declaration of Martiano makes the gods to suit cards, cause it was his way to see the cards. It's really not necessary to define it that way, but he did it.

If the Michelino deck was followed by 5x16 deck (Cary-Yale, as I and Mike assume), then really the option exists, that this 5x16-structure was also regarded as a 4x20-structure (which would then be a deck without predefined trump suit) ... but deciding it, doesn't change the world. The players play the games, which they like. And from the iconographic aspects, not enough points towards this direction, so we can leave it aside, it's not interesting.

Cards were usually not made for one game alone, various games and rules could be played with them. They are a multi-purpose-tool and could serve different interests, so for instance also chess-interests.

If Juno is part of the Phoenix "suit", then you *can* follow suit if Phoenixes are played - you are not "trumping". There is no point in having the gods have their own order if they are part of the suits. The suit isn't "riches", the suit is "phoenixes" - "Riches" is one of the four conceptual and moral aspects of Marziano's design, but has nothing to do with the play (as I see it). I imagine it would be played just as Tarot - if you don't have a suit card in the suit led, you must trump; if no trumps, any other card.


This problem is artificial, it really doesn't exist. The players define their rules, before the cards fall on the table ... Martiano's idea is only a meta-description of the game, details are discussed by the players.

I would say, that your detail obsession in this question just comes from the condition, that you didn't have enough practice at the card tables and you also don't know enough about the diversity of rules.

This is an artificial conflict .... not really worth the engagement.

Dummett made much out of the question, if trumps exist or not, but he took it as plausible, that trick-taking games were very old. The exploration of Michelino deck made clear, that trumps were known around 1425, definitely, with the trump hierarchy, which you quoted. My impression is, that also the Johannes-of-Rheinfelden text includes some passages, which make the existence and use of trumps probable.
But I've seen only a short part of the text and the description of Arne Jönssen (somewhere he states, that "triumphare" was used in the text), and it is a great pity, that the translation project of Arne Jönssen doesn't proceed and I didn't find any Latin online edition. Some progress in this direction might really change a few matters.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 22 Jan 2010, 13:18

Huck wrote:I don't think, that we have a problem. The declaration of Martiano makes the gods to suit cards, cause it was his way to see the cards. It's really not necessary to define it that way, but he did it.


Unfortunately you *do* have a problem. Marziano doesn't say that Jupiter is the highest card of the Eagle suit; he is not a "court" card. Eagles are the suited part of the Virtue division, and Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury and Hercules are the god part of the Virtue division. The game has a vertical and a horizontal conceptual structure (horizontal=four passions; vertical=suits and gods), but in practical terms it looked just like a trionfi deck, i.e. five parts.

If Juno is part of the Phoenix "suit", then you *can* follow suit if Phoenixes are played - you are not "trumping". There is no point in having the gods have their own order if they are part of the suits. The suit isn't "riches", the suit is "phoenixes" - "Riches" is one of the four conceptual and moral aspects of Marziano's design, but has nothing to do with the play (as I see it). I imagine it would be played just as Tarot - if you don't have a suit card in the suit led, you must trump; if no trumps, any other card.


This problem is artificial, it really doesn't exist. The players define their rules, before the cards fall on the table ... Martiano's idea is only a meta-description of the game, details are discussed by the players.

I would say, that your detail obsession in this question just comes from the condition, that you didn't have enough practice at the card tables and you also don't know enough about the diversity of rules.

This is an artificial conflict .... not really worth the engagement.


Of course it is an artifical problem because we don't know how anyone played with these cards; put it differently, it is called a hypothetical scenario. But Mike gave some rules, and I gave some conclusions based on those rules - e.g. Cupid could beat Daphne (or Pallas), which should be out of the question.

People make up some rules when playing, especially when no rule-book is present - of course. We play a version of Brisca that my mother in law plays - I don't think she has all the "right" rules, but it works for us for a few hours on Sundays, and I don't care to check any official rules to make it better.

Dummett made much out of the question, if trumps exist or not, but he took it as plausible, that trick-taking games were very old. The exploration of Michelino deck made clear, that trumps were known around 1425, definitely, with the trump hierarchy, which you quoted. My impression is, that also the Johannes-of-Rheinfelden text includes some passages, which make the existence and use of trumps probable.


Perhaps Dummett also doesn't have much experience at the card table?

Of course trumping existed before Tarot - it must already have existed in Karnöffel, and I see no reason it couldn't go back 50 years, or more to non-European games. The point is the invention of a permanent trump suit - and more relevant to us, whether the cards chosen for this Trionfo are a meaningful allegory, intended to be a moral game with a specific message. We know Marziano's are meaningful and follow a specific hierarchy; it is logical that Tarot's should too.

But I've seen only a short part of the text and the description of Arne Jönssen (somewhere he states, that "triumphare" was used in the text), and it is a great pity, that the translation project of Arne Jönssen doesn't proceed and I didn't find any Latin online edition. Some progress in this direction might really change a few matters.


I only know Jönnsen's writings and the little that can be read from Kaplan's reproduction; I wish we could get more. Maybe some manuscript is on the web by now.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby robert on 22 Jan 2010, 14:31

Just popping in to say that I'm terribly impressed by the level of dialogue by the participants in this thread. This thread is turning into one of the most informative sources on the origin of tarot on the web today. Fascinating, scholarly, and remarkably good-natured. Thank you all for contributing, I'm learning so much.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Huck on 22 Jan 2010, 16:16

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
Unfortunately you *do* have a problem. Marziano doesn't say that Jupiter is the highest card of the Eagle suit; he is not a "court" card. Eagles are the suited part of the Virtue division, and Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury and Hercules are the god part of the Virtue division. The game has a vertical and a horizontal conceptual structure (horizontal=four passions; vertical=suits and gods), but in practical terms it looked just like a trionfi deck, i.e. five parts.

No, I don't have a problem, as I know the flexibility of card decks and plays. Well, usually Matrix-decks with structures like 4x13, 4x15, 5x14, 5x16 have vertical columns and horizontal rows, that's why I call them Matrix decks. The "practical term", as you name it, is nothing else than the "definition of the trumps" and its specific rules, when it is allowed to trump and when it is not. Let's compare it to "hardware" and "software" - that seems to be a plausible analogy.
Martiano had the "software"-idea to transfer the trump-function and a specific optical design (gods) with a "specific interpretation" ("gods reign over kings and usual persons") to a matrix-deck ("hardware"), which in its form was already known to the public. As the public was used to matrix decks, he also subordinated the gods into the usual scheme, although in the game, that he intended and that he proposed, they should reign by trumping ... later Trionfi card designer didn't follow his subordination of the trumps, but declared the independent trump suit (so, changing the hardware). Although, the subordination still existed then also, now in the form, that trumps have less points than the usual court court cards (so in the software, which means "rules").

There is a certain reason for the balance between trumps and usual cards. Games, where the role of the trumps is designed too powerful, become boring ... then you cannot influence the issue of the game with cleverness. It just turns more or less to a game of luck. The player, who gets the highest trump, wins.

People make up some rules when playing, especially when no rule-book is present - of course. We play a version of Brisca that my mother in law plays - I don't think she has all the "right" rules, but it works for us for a few hours on Sundays, and I don't care to check any official rules to make it better.


The game description sounds, as if it has a little bit of Karnöffel.
Perhaps Dummett also doesn't have much experience at the card table?


Surely not ...McLeod had been a relative good go-player in the 70's and another friend and cooperator of Dummett was Matthew Madfadyen, twice European champion in Go and especially also interested in cards. Good Go-players, if they play cards, are usually good card players. Some good Go players made a second player career as Bridge players, which is considered the most difficult card game, winning great titles without too much problems. To become a good Go-player, you need very much (some years) training and you need a lot of energy for it, and after you've come so far, it's easy to have success in another fields of similar character. .. :-) ... so Dummett had no chance, he also had to play good.

Of course trumping existed before Tarot - it must already have existed in Karnöffel, and I see no reason it couldn't go back 50 years, or more to non-European games. The point is the invention of a permanent trump suit - and more relevant to us, whether the cards chosen for this Trionfo are a meaningful allegory, intended to be a moral game with a specific message. We know Marziano's are meaningful and follow a specific hierarchy; it is logical that Tarot's should too.


Well, the "meaningful allegory" - which you focus so with enthusiasm, as Michael does and many others - what is better with it than with Martiano's idea of gods, Boiardo's idea of 10 classical pairs, the Sola- Busca's collection of Roman heroes, or the (socalled) Mantegna Tarocchi, or the 27 pictures of Lazzarelli, or the model of Spirito and Bollstatter or the change to Minchiate?
All wish to tell something ... and recognizing one of them helps to understand the others - so alsoTarot.

I only know Jönnsen's writings and the little that can be read from Kaplan's reproduction; I wish we could get more. Maybe some manuscript is on the web by now.


Well, I took looks without success from time to time ...
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 22 Jan 2010, 16:30

Huck wrote:Well, the "meaningful allegory" - which you focus so with enthusiasm, as Michael does and many others - what is better with it than with Martiano's idea of gods, Boiardo's idea of 10 classical pairs, the Sola- Busca's collection of Roman heroes, or the (socalled) Mantegna Tarocchi, or the 27 pictures of Lazzarelli, or the model of Spirito and Bollstatter or the change to Minchiate?
All wish to tell something ... and recognizing one of them helps to understand the others - so alsoTarot.


Tarot isn't more meaningful than any of these, a priori. Its message is unsolved, however, to anyone's satisfaction, which makes it attractive to puzzle-solvers.

Tarot doesn't have a book explaining the inventor's intention.

Marziano has a book, Boiardo has a book, Mantegna is straightforward (and not a game anyway), Lazzarelli has a book (and his isn't a game either). Minchiate is a derivative of Tarot, and the additional cards add clear meaning to the space between the Tower and the Star - they seemed to regard this "space" as a suitable realm to stuff - the "heavens", where allegories take place.

Sola Busca has no book, and so far no explanation. Its mystery is just as deep as Tarot's, except for one thing - its structure of 22 trumps and four suits of 14 cards is based on Tarot.

It may not help to understand Sola Busca's meaning if we understand Tarot's, since the number may not mean anything - it is just a "fantasy deck" based on Tarot, telling a different story, like most new Tarots today.

So of all of these, only Tarot's meaning really remains unexplained, which makes it more interesting and challenging.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby mikeh on 23 Jan 2010, 06:45

Ross wrote
Look at it another way - say Bacchus is led; you have no Dove cards nor any trumps of Pleasures; you only have Jupiter and Juno; you decide to play Juno. So, if you are forced to play a trump, you would not be following suit, and would lose your Juno to a lower card, Bacchus, even though according to Marziano's numbering, Juno is higher than Bacchus. What is the purpose of the ranking of the gods then?

Ross, I'm not sure what the rule is by which Bacchus wins over Juno in this scenario as you play it out. It's not:

“The trick is won by the highest card in the suit led, and otherwise by the highest trump.”

Because then a deuce could win over Jupiter, and there's no point in trumps at all. Is it:

"The trick is won by the highest trump in the suit led, or if none then the highest trump in any suit, and if none, then the highest card in the suit led" ?

That's a rather cumbersome rule, and indeed, leads to absurd results.

But suppose that instead, the rule is:

“The trick is won by the highest trump, and otherwise by the highest card in the suit led.”

Then in the scenario you outlined, Juno would win the trick, even if Bacchus was the highest card in the suit led. That rule also seems the simplest one consistent with Martiano's text.

Here it still makes sense to have the rule:

“Players must follow suit (including trumps belonging to that suit) unless they don’t have anything in that suit, in which case they must play a trump, and if no trumps, then any card,”

because then a player will be forced to give up a valuable trump if it is all he has left in the suit led, even when (if for example he is the last player) he knows that he will lose the trick by playing it. He will have to sacrifice the card. Here "suit" means one of the four suits;t rumps are not a suit, they are a hierarchy governing the taking of tricks.

This kind of predicament, the sacrifice of a valuable card, then might lead to another innovation, after Martiano’s game: the game will be more interesting if there is a wild card that can be played instead of the valuable card, one that belongs to every suit and none. The valuable trump is like the year-king in the old legend, who avoided being sacrificed by substituting someone else in his place, a fool who didn’t know why he was suddenly so important. Or it is like the tanks in World War II, who were preceded by foot soldiers, usually ones who had been court-martialed (I am thinking of the movie “Stalingrad”), who would blow up with their bodies any undetected anti-tank mines. Or the human decoys in any war; their sacrifice, like Jesus's (on an allegorical level), can save the day. It is an important principle for any future general or general’s wife to learn.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Huck on 25 May 2010, 08:01

The following passages in Franceschini's work contain "Marchione Burdochi" or "Da Marchione"

Adriano Franceschini, "Artisti a Ferrara in età umanistica e rinascimentale. Testimonianze archivistiche, vol. I, Dal 1341 al 1471", Ferrara-Roma, Corbo, 1993.

p. 220
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p. 221
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p. 222
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p. 223
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.... anything else of relevance ?

Naturally also
http://trionfi.com/0/e/02/

1442 [28 July – credit to Marchione Burdochi, merchant]:
E adi dicto per uno paro de carte da trionfi; ave Iacomo guerzo famelio per uxo de Messer Erchules e Sigismondo frateli de lo Signore. Apare mandato a c___,………… L. 0.XII.III [Franceschini 1996:170; cf. Bertoni 1917:220 note 3]
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 25 May 2010, 08:34

The collection of registers of the Ducal Chamber for 1456 and 1458 contain accounts of Marchione Burdochio as well -

http://books.google.fr/books?id=zk5KjCw ... ne&f=false


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/taro ... isters.jpg

Perhaps there is much more information on him there. I think if Adriano Franceschini had found anything more on Marchione and cards, even though it was not relevant to his edition, he would have shared it with Gherardo Ortalli for the 1996 Ludica.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

Postby macaroon on 18 Apr 2011, 02:28

The old coins looked very interesting. I am not sure if this is related but I am just going to include it here:

The Bolognese tarot (called also Tarocco Bolognese and Tarocchino Bolognese) is the style of tarot deck used in and around Bologna since the 15th century.

Bologna gives some of the earliest evidence for the existence of the game of "triumphs", and with Ferrara and Milan is considered one of the cities where the game may have been invented.

Bologna is home to a large number of tarot games, as well as the very old tradition of Bolognese cartomancy.

Presently the firms of Dal Negro and Modiano make this type of deck for the Bolognese market, under the name "Tarocco Bolognese".

Although one of the currently best known Tarocchino Bolognese is the Tarocchino di Mitelli created by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli around 1660-65 it is rather a variation upon the Bolognese tarot than a classical example of it. This is because, although the subjects are the same as the ones found in the Bolognese pattern, the execution of them is very different from the original.
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