Re: Ross' Bolognese-origin Theory

#41
hi Michael,
nice to meet you
mjhurst wrote: #1. Ross is not quite accurate when he suggests that I rejected his ideas without comment. The idea that he has not had any "helpful input or contrary facts to challenge" him might be a bit of an exaggeration. It may be true that all my comments, suggestions, cognate art, quotes, citations, and other leads were worthless, that all my criticisms were unhelpful, and that all my encouragement was in vain. But if so, it was not for lack of effort, literally from Day One. And Ross' comment about my rejection of his Bologna-origin theory is grossly overstated, which brings us to point #2:
... :-) ... well, I was surprised to read about your rejection (which wasn't one, as you seem to state).
#2. Ross' Bologna-origin theory is certainly the best iconographically oriented Tarot analysis since Moakley, and IMO better. I don't know why he has decided that I never took an interest in it and rejected it without comment, but for anyone who might value my actual opinion, I have been an enthusiastic supporter of this constellation of ideas since I first got a glimpse.
Best regards,
Michael[/quote]

I haven't seen it, so I've no judgment about this dimension of Ross' suggestion.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Bolognese sequence

#42
Huck wrote: What particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography makes it necessary, that it happened 1439 or around this time? The Papi or anything else?
Also the interpretation of the figure on the World card as a World Emperor. He's certainly not Christ, or any depiction of the New Jerusalem, or even a triumphant soul in glory, so I interpret him as the coming World Emperor, or World Caesar. I showed this by a fairly striking visual cognate a few posts back.

If the Star announces an advent, then in this iconography (that of the Rothschild sheet and the standard Bolognese iconography) it is not the advent of Christ, but of this Emperor (shown by the orb and imperial crown). He will reform the Church and save the world (in this context, from the Turks, and all the forces of Satan).

I reason that if the "two popes at this time" ("in questo tempo erano dui papi", as the Bolognese chronicle refers to them) really refer to a contemporary historical situation, then it has to be after the election of Amadeus VIII of Savoy as pope. This election took place in November of 1439.

The Imperial office was vacant from October 1439 to February 1440, two Emperors were dead within two years, so I take this as a "weak" time for the invention. After Frederick III was elected in February, I take it as a "strong" time, since some prophetical rumors were attached to him on account of his name, at least early on before it became clear he wasn't going to fulfill any prophecies (this took a few years though, outside of the realm of the invention of tarot).

Thus, in this interpretation, the World Emperor on the World card is the prophetical hope for Frederick III, and the invention had to happen after his election. But since Bologna was, in general, a papal city, the crisis of the papacy, especially with the new schism - it had been over 20 years since the last - would have been a far more important catalyst for the kinds of reflections I see behind the equal-papi rule than anything going on with the Empire. Bologna was not a passive observer of these events, but an active participant - Visconti declared Bologna no longer a papal city, and posted the decree of the Council of Basel deposing Eugene; Eugene responded in turn by excommunicating the city, just as he had all of the adherents of Basel. This situation would not be resolved until the summer of 1441, when Visconti and Eugene made peace (although the city still detested Eugene and didn't settle its differences with the Papacy until Eugene had died and his successor Nicolas V was in power).

This is the scenario I'm proposing. Alternative approaches that broaden the possible dating in various ways include Eugene's suspension-deposition by Basel, Jan. 1438-June 1439. This would imply that the World Emperor is then nobody in particular, just a reference to the widely known prophecies. Two Emperors can refer to the Eastern and Western Emperor, which makes 1438-9 an attractive range, given John Paleologue's presence in Italy (although Sigmund was dead and Albert never came to the Council of Ferrara-Florence, although of course his interests were represented, and in Ferrara at least the Emperor's presence was vividly present as an empty throne).

We can broaden it still further by considering that the battling of the Popes and Emperors in the equal-papi rule is merely a reference to the Conciliar controversy during Eugene's weakest period, and Basel's strongest - 1434-1439. Since I reject the lower date as improbable, I have to move it up to the range of "within 5 years", so 1437 onward. This is why I said, in this interpretation, 1437 is my lowest date, although I would be "surprised" by it, since it IS the theoretical limit, and the iconography of the trumps then loses much direct political relevance.

The political allegory interpretation relies not only on the Equal-Papi and World Emperor, but also on taking the middle section as an example of the Triumphator who fell from the heights (of worldly glory) by betrayal. The only viable candidate for this allegory, if it is one, is Julius Caesar. He was not only very much in the intellectual "news" of the day, in the literary debate between Poggio and Guarino on the relative merits of Scipio and Caesar (1436-37), but he also makes a striking appearance in the real Triumph of Alfonso V, in the Florentine part of the pageant, where he says pretty much what I am seeing in the middle section - cultivate virtue, don't trust Fortune in everything, since look at me, she betrayed me. In this instance he was also a political allegory, a warning for Alfonso to "keep Florence in liberty" and not become a tyrant (which was the claim against Caesar). I see this as a direct political allegory of either Visconti's ambitions in Bologna or a general affirmation of Bologna's wish to be free of tyrants - papal or imperial - altogether.

Ross
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Re: Ross' Bolognese-origin Theory

#43
Hi Michael,

Thanks for summarizing our years of successful cooperation and your enthusiasm for many of my ideas. I have never denied it, but maybe I haven't publically acknowledged it enough. Thank you again for all your comments, careful consideration, library excursions and scanning, summaries, detailed iconographical analyses, and words of encouragement and criticism over the years.

But this thread is not about the dating of the invention of tarot to a narrow range, which I know you find persuasive, and you said as much in your response to the dating post on my blog. In fact I acknowledge it in the quote you just used:
mjhurst wrote: I have been asked (politely) offlist about my "out-of-hand rejection" of Ross's "Bolognese Theory". Shame on me!

This struck me as quite odd, as I didn't know I'd made any rejection of his theory, much less an "out of hand" dismissal. So I took a look at some recent posts here. Apparently what prompted the question was this comment from Ross in the Bolognese Sequence thread:
Ross wrote:So far I have not received any discussion of my theory at all - no review, no critique, nothing except an out-of-hand rejection from Michael, you, and others.

On the dating issue I have won you (for the name "trionfi", which is all I am arguing, although we don't agree on what that name signifies) and Michael, and at one point it seemed Thierry, but he refuses to really commit. So, again, there has been no discussion of my position, nor any coherent critique explaining why it should be rejected.
"On the dating issue I have won Michael." Yes, I clearly acknowledge it, even if you would rather say that it has been obvious since 1980.

But the "theory" I'm talking about is the meaning of this thread - an interpretation of the Bolognese sequence, using the oldest iconography, in the context of that narrow dating. This theory you have rejected out of hand. Or rather, sorry, with a very few brief remarks on drinking Cologne water and how such an interpretation of the Star is just to "prove my manhood", not to mention, having "gone insane".

I think such a dismissal deserves to be called "out of hand", if not "with the back of the hand."

I clearly distinguish, in that quote above, between the theory you reject, and the dating issue, which I admit you accept. It had nothing at all to say about our years of cooperation, and your tremendous enthusiasm for and help in developing many of the ideas.

If you would really like to discuss this interpretative theory, this reading of the sequence, I'd love to hear it. At least if it is done without the hysterics, and a lot less sarcasm.
This statement seems worth responding to publicly. First, let me say that this appears to refer to Ross' Bologna-origin Theory, broadly conceived in terms of both the historical and iconographic perspectives. Above those quotes in the same post was this:
Ross wrote:I am working under the hypothesis that it did "drop from heaven" - or rather, came out of the mind of an inventor at a particular place and time, in Bologna. This is my theory, it doesn't contradict any facts, but it demands a particular interpretation of the Bolognese iconography. It could be wrong, I'm not claiming it's proved, but so far I like it.
Sure enough, that sounds like a reference to the overall Bologna-origin theory, (rather than the infinitely narrower question which was being beaten to death in much of the thread, and which he treated separately in that quote). That Bolognese-origin theory is something I've wanted to talk about for nearly three years now, since January 3rd, 2007 when I first learned about it, so this is as good a time as any.
I'm not sure what the "infinitely narrower question" is here, unless you mean the subject of the thread, which is in fact the interpretation of the Bolognese sequence, given the narrow dating. There are no more Tarot-facts before 1442 - we have to use other methods if we care to try to interpret the meaning. Nobody has to care, you can reserve judgment and just say "I don't know and there is no way to know, at least until more direct evidence emerges". That's a respectable position. But if you dare to create a theory and hold it up for ridicule or praise, as the case may be, you have no choice but get as close as you can with the facts using a broadly acceptable methodology (in this case my plotting of the evidence leading to a range of "within 5 years" of invention), and then cross the threshold into conjecture. Hopefully it is sophisticated conjecture, conveys a sense of probability, and makes plausible use of circumstantial evidence.

The dating issue is settled for me, it brought a focus of within 5 years. Five years is pretty fuzzy, but it is better than 10 years or more. In five years, you can begin to make out some shapes and colors that suggest further investigation is warranted. The lens of the established facts can't resolve the focus any further than five years for the question of provenance or even design, which is a problem I alluded to in my blog post on the dating issue:
Thus it is impossible to use the chart to determine which is the most likely place of invention among Ferrara, Milan, Florence or Bologna.
However, historical and art-historical considerations make some places more likely than others, and other models (like a diffusionary model) might help make a decision easier.
In other words, looking at the extant decks and trying various scenarios on for size, while at the same time looking for plausible points of transfer in a diffusionary model. I will never be rigidly dogmatic about any of this, but it is nice to have reference points around which to arrange ideas.

In the end I came to Bologna, even though at the time I still considered Milan and the courtly invention scenario the most probable - I could feel a tug in Bologna's direction, and I suspected it would lead to some hardening of opinions in all the camps actively involved in this research - not something I wanted to do.
#1. Ross is not quite accurate when he suggests that I rejected his ideas without comment. The idea that he has not had any "helpful input or contrary facts to challenge" him might be a bit of an exaggeration. It may be true that all my comments, suggestions, cognate art, quotes, citations, and other leads were worthless, that all my criticisms were unhelpful, and that all my encouragement was in vain. But if so, it was not for lack of effort, literally from Day One. And Ross' comment about my rejection of his Bologna-origin theory is grossly overstated, which brings us to point #2:
This is completely wrong. This thread and the "out of hand" comment had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with our years of cooperation. It only, ONLY, had to do with this particular theory, the subject of this particular thread. Is that clear?

It is a theory - only a theory. It is interpretative, it is "ekphrasis", a lovely word you introduced to me. If you don't want to discuss it, or if you feel you can't, that's fine. I would like to, but that's up to you.
#2. Ross' Bologna-origin theory is certainly the best iconographically oriented Tarot analysis since Moakley, and IMO better. I don't know why he has decided that I never took an interest in it and rejected it without comment, but for anyone who might value my actual opinion, I have been an enthusiastic supporter of this constellation of ideas since I first got a glimpse.
Thanks very much, if I understand you correctly. I'm not sure I do. I still see my musings of the last few months, since July, to be a natural evolution of what we were doing since 2007 (and earlier in some ways). These are presumably the ideas you consider "insane", but I have only traded one theoretical and interpretative model for another. Instead of speculum principis, I see political allegory. I don't know if they can be considered related in this tarot-context, I haven't tried. Instead of a single unified Triumph, with a single subject, I have come closer to your model of interpretation, seeing the three parts as distinct triumphs, although with Love as the first triumph and Eternity as the last. All of the triumphs are unified in showing concerns of the present - the messed-up world, a warning to would-be tyrants, and the way things *should* be, or will be, in the future. The present, the past (as example), and the future.

In any case, these are all theoretical consderations, and don't merit severing communication and cooperation. Ad hominem abuse, however, does.

Best regards,

Ross
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#44
One issue that should be addressed in any "Ur-Tarot" (Original Tarot) theory, of which this is one, is how reliable the reconstruction upon which the interpretation is based is. This is apart from questions of dating the appearance of Tarot, which do not need to offer any iconographic hypothesis. However, it is obvious that if a city or region is settled upon as the likely place of origin, that city's tradition will be privileged.

We don't have the Ur-Tarot, so it must be regarded as either irretrievable, or retrievable through reconstruction. Since I've settled upon Bologna, I have two sets of early examples to use to help establish the iconography I might want to interpret, that is, reconstruct it. There is little actual reconstruction to be done, I believe. I think the Bolognese trumps, allowing for the nicks, scratches, cracks and other abuses of time, are a relatively faithful reflection of the Ur-Tarot.

Bologna is solidly in the A or Southern family, along with Florence. We have early examples of this type in a few luxury Tarots, such as the Charles VI, Catania, and Rothschild (Louvre). Florence has emerged recently as the likely place of origin of all of these sets. Their dating should be in the 1450s or 60s, although Cristina Fiorini has argued for a date of early 1420s for the Rothschild, which everyone here will know I do not accept and have published against (with a good deal of help from Michael Hurst). I have not had any formal response to my critique of Fiorini's work, so as far as I am concerned, it stands. The Rothschild is from the same time and area as the Charles VI and Catania.

Although these cards are Florentine, then, they bear a clear relationship to the later printed versions of A type cards, the Rosenwald sheets and the Beaux-Arts and Rothschild sheets. These sheets are dated around 1500. There is therefore a broad continuity of iconography between c. 1450 and c. 1500., despite some differences of detail (which are obviously telling us something, we just have to determine what). More importantly, in the printed sheets, we can distinguish the two southern traditions of Bologna (BA-Rothschild) and Florence (Rosenwald), which we couldn't do with the painted cards alone. By comparing the painted cards with the printed sheets, I noted more similarities between the painted cards and the Rosenwald sheet, than with the BA-Rothschild sheets. Later Thierry Depaulis affirmed this and added the Charles VI Fante of Swords to Florence's ambit, based on one of the Rosenwald sheets in Dummett's Game of Tarot. It seems clear then that the Rosenwald sheet is a direct descendant of the earliest Florentine tradition.

But the similarities of the painted cards with the BA-Rothschild sheets are not negligible, and in some cases are greater than with the Rosenwald sheets. This comparsion had to be done because of those very similarities - Charles VI was briefly considered Bolognese. But in the end it seemed that the BA-Rothschild sheets are the earliest witness to the Bolognese tradition. What is striking about them is their similarity to the later printed Bolognese cards - in fact similarity is too weak a word - except for being far more elegant, they are almost identical. The differences between 1500 and 2000 are either cosmetic or explicable by historical forces - such as the (in)famous law forcing Bolognese cardmakers to change the Papi to Mori in 1725. The only other significant difference is the appearance of the Devil, who between BA-Rothschild and the 17th century became less fearsome looking. The Bolognese printed tradition is clearly the most conservative long-running tradition. Even the C or Western Cary Sheet, dated c. 1500, which is clearly related to the Tarot de Marseille tradition, shows more significant differences between it and its presumed descendants or later cousins, whichever the case may be.

In any case for C orders, the earliest painted cards from the home of the C tradition in Italy, the Visconti and Sforza Tarots, do not resemble at all the later printed C traditions, whether Tarot de Marseille or Viéville or non-standard like Catelin Geoffroy. Only A has this intimate iconographic continuity between the painted and printed versions.

Given the demonstrated continuity of 500 years in the Bolognese cards, I believe it is not foolhardy to think that just as few, if any, changes happened in the prior 60 years, back to the presumed date of invention, c. 1440. But if a little in the iconography may have changed, there is no reason to think anything changed in the order of the cards. I think I can get widespread agreement on that point.

So I take the BA-Rothschild sheets as a reliable witness to the earliest Bolognese tradition. Not all of the trumps are present, but the ones that are missing - Love, the Papi, Bagato, Fool and the three Virtues, are not likely to upset an interpretation very much, even in the unlikely case that they have differences from the later iconography. Only the Papi might be interesting to see, since everyone will want to know if there is a Popess, or a Cardinal, or an Empress. But in this case, given the demonstrated conservatism of the tradition, I expect it would be two Popes and two Emperors (distinguished somehow, as in Mitelli's later designs), and the earliest rules, dating possibly as early as the mid-16th century, also just use the traditional name "papi" without distinguishing them further.

Therefore I have used the BA-Rothschild sheets and the next earliest standard Bolognese Tarocchino - from the 17th century - to base my interpretation on, as shown in the first post of this thread.

Ross
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Never mind...

#45
Hi, Ross,
Ross wrote:But the "theory" I'm talking about is the meaning of this thread - an interpretation of the Bolognese sequence, using the oldest iconography, in the context of that narrow dating. This theory you have rejected out of hand. Or rather, sorry, with a very few brief remarks on drinking Cologne water and how such an interpretation of the Star is just to "prove my manhood", not to mention, having "gone insane".
So this is a totally new interpretation, unrelated to the one we discussed many times since January 2007?

Oops! My bad.

So, you've not only thrown out the actual meaning of the Bolognese Star card, (which any eight-year old in a Sunday school class could correctly identify as the Star of Bethlehem and the Three Wise Men), but you've thrown out your entire interpretation? And created a new one?

Well, gosh.... my apologies. I didn't know you'd changed everything.

If none of our discussions of the last three years are relevant, then that is a totally different matter. Since I didn't know this new interpretation even existed, I obviously could not have given you any feedback on it. Likewise, if your current views are unrelated to what you were proposing and we were discussing in 2007 and 2008, and if you now reject what was your central thesis, (i.e., a Mirror for Princes interpretation of Tarot's genre, in the context of "Third Advent" entry processions), then I have no basis on which to comment.

My apologies. (And my regrets -- it's a real loss.)

For the record, I did mock some specific, seemingly crazy things you've said recently. For example, when you reject the obvious meaning of some image, like the Bolognese Star card, and impose an unlikely political allegory just because it feeds your desire for a tighter and earlier timeline for Bolognese Tarot, well hell. That might not be "insane" for most Tarot enthusiasts... in fact, it's typical. But it seems like lunacy coming from you, someone who knows better. If you aren't rejecting the obvious just to prove you can get away with it, to demonstrate that you can cheat just like all those other Tarot experts, then what explains such a wild leap from your usual good senses?

It's just silly, and yes -- I laugh and point at really silly things.

In any case, I certainly did not mean to associate the effusive praise of the previous post with some theory I haven't even seen. If you insist that this thread is talking about something which we have never discussed, then I apologize again for the intrusion.

Either way, of course, your statement about me is still false. I remain a fan of your old interpretation, which we discussed many times, and I have not rejected it. Conversely, if you have abandoned that interpretation, then I have no idea what your new interpretation is, and I certainly haven't rejected it either.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Never mind...

#46
Hi Michael, and Huck (if you are still interested),
mjhurst wrote: So this is a totally new interpretation, unrelated to the one we discussed many times since January 2007?

So, you've not only thrown out the actual meaning of the Bolognese Star card, (which any eight-year old in a Sunday school class could correctly identify as the Star of Bethlehem and the Three Wise Men), but you've thrown out your entire interpretation? And created a new one?
Let me try again.

No, the interpretation is not entirely different from what I was thinking of when I began writing Antonio da Rho's invention of the game for Bianca Maria. In particular the Papi interpretation remains, the Bagato remains as the trifler at the table at which the powers of the world play, and the final section is a Triumph of somebody other than Christ (in the World card, and counting the Angel as "Eternity" or the Godhead/Trinity, in an allusive way). What is significantly different is the middle section - it is still a Triumph of Death, but the cards Chariot to Traitor are a single exemplum.

In the earlier interpretation, which I still hold to be valid for the earliest Florentine cards, the final section is a Triumph of the soul.

I interpret the Star with a principle you have always insisted on elsewhere (sometimes to absurd results like interpreting the Charles VI World as Prudence (I know, from Shephard)), namely, "context determines meaning over isolated interpretation." So, you see a Star and three figures, and immediately recognize Magi. The fact that they do not bear gifts in the traditional way, but insignia of power, and the fact that only one is crowned as a King, and they are in a strange configuration, cannot override the primary reaction. So, it has to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Therefore, Christ must be coming, and must be represented later in the sequence.

In the Tarot de Marseille you find your Christ on the World card, justifying your Star interpretation, even if you have a different problem to interpret the vignette below, which looks like Aquarius. But in the Beaux-Arts and Rothschild sheets, and in all Bolognese decks, and in A in general, the figure that appears on the World card cannot in any sense be interpreted as Christ.

It seems like a good principle to suggest, for all coherent decks (those designed to tell a coherent story), that the Star should announce the advent of whoever appears on the World card.

So in the earliest Florentine decks and the Rosenwald, I interpret the advent as the coming apotheosis or deification of the triumphant soul, portrayed as Glory/Fame (from the proverbial "new star in the heavens" when someone renowned dies). In Bologna, I interpret it as a World Emperor. I think by the time of the Minchiate decks, it is clear that a Magus was intended, since he looks like one and carries a gift in the traditional cup-shaped vessel. But the figure on the World card again is not Christ - my interpretation is that the tradition lost the force of the meaning, or corrupted the (iconographical) narrative, since it either *should* be Christ, as in Tarot de Marseille, or it *should not* be a traditional-looking Magus. That is, unless a Magus and Star could indeed stand for the advent of any divinized soul, which, as I said, I take to be the original meaning of the earliest Florentine cards (Charles VI, Catania).

So the reason there are gifts of Imperial insignia rather than cups of incense and gold on the Bologna Star card, and the reason for the incongruities with traditional portrayals of the Magi, is because they are meant for the advent of the coming World Emperor shown on the World card.

Following your lead (as you have done everywhere but in this case), I have not taken the card in isolation, but interpreted it accordance with the iconography of the rest of the sequence.

If you think this is absurd you either have to force the World-figure to be Christ, a priori and without any cognates, or you have to suggest that the Bolognese tradition thoroughly corrupted the World card (but not the Star card) at some point earlier than the Beaux-Arts sheet. Or, finally, you can suggest that the "principle" of the Star announcing the advent is nonsense and only works for the Tarot de Marseille, and that in Bologna the Star alone is sufficient to represent Christ.

Whatever your answer, I don't think mine is absurd, and I think that even the suggestion of Magi is deliberate, as are the incongruities with normal depictions - in order to make it clear that it is not Christ whose advent is meant. But it is certainly a Christian ruler.
If none of our discussions of the last three years are relevant, then that is a totally different matter. Since I didn't know this new interpretation even existed, I obviously could not have given you any feedback on it.
You knew, but you have ignored it. Most of what I'm saying has been up here on this thread since August, and I pointed you to it back in August.
Likewise, if your current views are unrelated to what you were proposing and we were discussing in 2007 and 2008, and if you now reject what was your central thesis, (i.e., a Mirror for Princes interpretation of Tarot's genre, in the context of "Third Advent" entry processions), then I have no basis on which to comment.


Mirror for Princes for me was always part of an invention scenario for a prince. You can try to widen it into a general moral statement for a wider public and hold on to the speculum principis genre, but I don't see the point of holding on to a genre identification if my preferred scenario is no longer for a prince in a court. I don't understand why you think "speculum principis" is any more inherently "likely" than political allegory or social commentary.

For the "Third Advent" of Kipling's model for interpreting royal entries, I noted to you long ago one of my main reservations - he himself in his preface explains why he *excludes* the Italian Triumphs from consideration in his book - basically, because they don't fit the scheme he is using! If the Italian triumphs of Alfonso or Borso or Pius II could fit in the Second or Third Advent scheme, he would have included them.

He didn't, which always made me hesitate to take it as my model for the tarot trumps. I had to learn more about the Italian triumphs to find out why they were "different", and didn't work for Kipling. Tarot is Italian, so if the triumphal entires were to give any insight into the tarot trumps, it is to the Italian triumphal entries I had to look.

We had already begun discussing it long before, with Alfonso's entry, but I have a much better view now.

In any case, while I find Kipling's angle fascinating, and wish I could afford his book, the Italian triumphs of Alfonso and Borso are more to the point.
For the record, I did mock some specific, seemingly crazy things you've said recently. For example, when you reject the obvious meaning of some image, like the Bolognese Star card, and impose an unlikely political allegory just because it feeds your desire for a tighter and earlier timeline for Bolognese Tarot, well hell. That might not be "insane" for most Tarot enthusiasts... in fact, it's typical. But it seems like lunacy coming from you, someone who knows better. If you aren't rejecting the obvious just to prove you can get away with it, to demonstrate that you can cheat just like all those other Tarot experts, then what explains such a wild leap from your usual good senses?
Just to be clear, if you're still reading, my interpretation is not dependent upon the specific political situation I am trying to tie it to in Bologna. This is a theory, as I have said repeatedly - it is always dangerous to try to "name names" in allegorical works, as Ann W. Astell points out in her wonderful (and affordable) Political Allegory in Late Medieval England (Cornell UP, 1999). Read especially the conclusion (available on Google Books) and the introduction. For instance, Astell uses the thesis of political allegory, and clues from the poem, to date Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to "between 1397 and 1400", whereas its date has been generally stated as "late 14th century" and hardly ever considered a political allegory of specific events in the reign of Richard II. She must have her critics, but I wonder how many of them would take it upon themselves to diagnose her with insanity?

That I am not dogmatic about it should be clear from the fact that I am ready to believe it came from Florence, where the conditions were different - but that, nevertheless, the Bolognese preserve the original form, which Florence deliberately changed and ultimately lost. The allegorical interpretation per se that I propose is suitable for either place (but only Bologna or Florence, not Ferrara or Milan), but the precise political allegory I have tried to see in it is only suitable for Bologna. If from Florence, for the moment I could only see the general, universal side of the allegory.

The interpretation stands by itself just fine, although obviously in a more general way. Seen in this way, the sequence as I interpret it would be pretty much at home any time between about 1240 and 1530; given the chronological limits of playing cards, any time between 1370 and 1530; given the limits of Tarot (maximalist view), between 1410 and 1441, and (minimalist view, mine) 1437-1441. But historical precision and consideration of current events is not necessary for the allegorical interpretation, since all the pieces of the allegory make sense no matter who they are (or might have been) applied to.

We're discussing a work of art here, not fighting a life-or-death battle. It's a work of art for which no definitive interpretation has ever been offered, and of which the interpretation is beset at the outset with many purely formal, methodological, problems, even before getting to the fun part. As long as we are both sincere, I'm sure we can get along.

Best regards,

Ross
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Re: Never mind...

#47
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Hi Michael, and Huck (if you are still interested),
... well, I'm interested to learn about your theory ... but it also seems, that you've had many detailed discussions with Michael, which I naturally do not understand, cause I didn't participate.

...
... the interpretation is not entirely different from what I was thinking of when I began writing Antonio da Rho's invention of the game for Bianca Maria.
I understand, Antonio da Rho's invented "the" [or a] game for Bianca Maria. When? Where? What game?
In particular the Papi interpretation remains, the Bagato remains as the trifler at the table at which the powers of the world play, and the final section is a Triumph of somebody other than Christ (in the World card, and counting the Angel as "Eternity" or the Godhead/Trinity, in an allusive way). What is significantly different is the middle section - it is still a Triumph of Death, but the cards Chariot to Traitor are a single exemplum.

In the earlier interpretation, which I still hold to be valid for the earliest Florentine cards, the final section is a Triumph of the soul.

I interpret the Star with a principle you have always insisted on elsewhere (sometimes to absurd results like interpreting the Charles VI World as Prudence (I know, from Shephard)) ...
... :-) ... well, the 5x14-theory presents this opinion "World = Prudence" since 1989. You did forget to tell, that you find it absurd ... :-) ... Shephard seems to be earlier (published 1985), but had nothing to do with the 5x14-theory.
... namely, "context determines meaning over isolated interpretation." So, you see a Star and three figures, and immediately recognize Magi. The fact that they do not bear gifts in the traditional way, but insignia of power, and the fact that only one is crowned as a King, and they are in a strange configuration, cannot override the primary reaction. So, it has to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Therefore, Christ must be coming, and must be represented later in the sequence.
As you think, that the (later) Bolognese Tarocchi presents an original state from ca. 1439 ... so you think, that this idea "star in Bethlehem" was in the original Tarot of 1439.

The bones of the 3 holy kings were located near Milan and then got a transfer to Cologne by

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainald_of_Dassel

... Rainald von Dasselt, then arch bishop of Cologne and also arch chancellor of Italy. Surely the Milanese were not happy about it, but Cologne made a good business with it, cause the bones attracted many tourists, and the tourists helped, that the Cologne Dom was started in 1248.
The robbery of the 3 holy kings happened during Barbarossa's fight with Milan and destruction of Milan. So Milan had possibly bad feelings about them, but why Bologna?
German wiki wrote:Nach einer Legende aus dem 12. Jahrhundert soll Bischof Eustorgius von Mailand († um 350) einige Jahre später die Reliquien als Geschenk des Kaisers erhalten und persönlich nach seinem Bischofssitz Mailand überführt haben.[7]
In der diesem Bischof geweihten St. Eustorgius-Kirche in Mailand lassen sich die Reliquien der Heiligen Drei Könige erstmals geschichtlich nachweisen.
1158 wurden sie angesichts der ersten Belagerung Mailands durch Friedrich Barbarossa von der außerhalb der Stadtmauern gelegenen Eustorgius-Kirche in den Glockenturm der in der Stadt befindlichen Kirche St. Georg geschafft.
Nach der Belagerung Mailands erhielt der damalige Kölner Erzbischof Rainald von Dassel die Gebeine 1164 als Geschenk von Kaiser Barbarossa. In dem Geschenk des Kaisers drückte sich auch eine politische Absicht aus. Die Gebeine der sozusagen „ersten christlichen Könige“ sollten dem Reich Barbarossas eine sakrale Rechtfertigung ohne Abhängigkeit vom Papst verleihen. Am 23. Juli 1164 gelangten die Reliquien nach Köln, wo sie bis heute im Kölner Dom verehrt werden.

Aufgrund dieser Reliquienverehrung trat in der mittelalterlichen Volksfrömmigkeit im deutschsprachigen Raum die Verehrung der Heiligen Drei Könige so stark in den Vordergrund, dass bis heute in den katholischen Gebieten Deutschlands der Begriff „Dreikönigsfest“ oder „Dreikönigstag“ der vorherrschend gebrauchte Name für den 6. Januar ist.
According this information the bones didn't come "via Bologna" and for Barbarossa they served the interest to make the emperor independent of the pope. A result of this was, that in the German language countries the holy three kings (not so much Magi) became rather popular and the "Dreikönigstag" (Thee Kings day) became the 6th of January, at other locations is and was preferred Epiphanias.

In Italy happened, that the Medici made the 3-Kings-Chapel between 1459-64, possibly inspired by the council of Ferrara-Florence 1438-39. They made this, after Enea Piccolomini became pope in 1458 and visited Florence in 1459. Enea Piccolomini had been secretary to the new emperor Frederick since 1441 and had spend a lot of his life time in Germany ... so he knew the German conditions quite well. If the meaning of the 3 holy kings were so crucial for German self-identity, Enea Piccolomini should have known this. But ... generally it's said, that the relations between Enea Piccolomini and Florence were difficult ... he was a man of Siena, and Florentines and Sienese people had trouble.
Nonetheless Cosimo arranged the exaggerated interests in the 3 holy kings for Italy with his Medici Chapel. He didn't only decorate the Medici Chapel, he also influenced his Milanese banker Pigello Portinari (in Milan since 1452) to engage for the church, where the Holy 3 Kings have been formerly, Basilica di Sant'Eustorgio, where he arranged the Cappella Portinari built between 1462 - 1468.
If we talk about the Medici bank in Milan, we don't talk about a minor sponsorship of small worth, but about "big business" and "central vital interests" of the Medici and of the Sforza. Sforza wanted access of much money and Medici had it and did need trade connections, expansion to all Europe centers and this was the way, how the Medici became rich in short time and the Sforzas also lived well with it. Probably Cosimo engaged for the 3 holy kings, as he was interested to show Sforza his special Milanese interests.

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigello_Portinari
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappella_Portinari
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_d ... 7Eustorgio
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sant%27Eustorgio_di_Milano

... .-) ... Strange enough there are the bones of Saint Peter Martyr in this same Basilica, known in Germany as "Sankt Peter von Mailand", who was killed by assassins in 1252. This Peter became in 1396 the patron of the beer producers guild of Cologne ... Cologne people are very pride on their beer, which is called "Kölsch", as it is only made in Köln and in 50 km distance. How this happened, I don't know ... it surely has something to do with beer. Possibly with a sort of irony of Cologne beer producers.

Joke aside, how does your idea fix in this context?
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Never mind...

#48
Huck wrote:
... the interpretation is not entirely different from what I was thinking of when I began writing Antonio da Rho's invention of the game for Bianca Maria.
I understand, Antonio da Rho's invented "the" [or a] game for Bianca Maria. When? Where? What game?
No, this is a fictional scenario in which I present the "Mirror for Princes" interpretation.

The choice of setting and genre is because I conceived of Tarot as invented in a courtly setting, for a prince, in exactly the same way as Marziano did for Filippo Maria earlier.

The reason for my choice of characters is as follows: Bianca Maria, because she is a princess, and the courtly cards seem to be oriented towards women.
Antonio da Rho, because he is likely to have been one of Bianca's educators, and because he appears as an interlocutor in Lorenzo Valla's De voluptate (Book III), explaining at one point how the soul's entry into Heaven is exactly like a Triumph. So I imagined him taking that analogy and applying it to a moral game for a princess.

Also, although a Franciscan, he was somewhat controversial in his order, for arguing for the value of secular poetry, which makes it more plausible for him to have invented a card game.
... :-) ... well, the 5x14-theory presents this opinion "World = Prudence" since 1989. You did forget to tell, that you find it absurd ... :-) ... Shephard seems to be earlier (published 1985), but had nothing to do with the 5x14-theory.
I didn't know you said it in 1989.

I'm sure I have said it was absurd in the past, but I mostly ignore it, so you may not have noticed. Even if context can help establish meaning, the image has to have at least *some* of the traditional charateristics of the claimed meaning. The Charles VI World has *none* of the characteristics of Prudence (except for being a woman).

The halo alone is not sufficient strength upon which to overturn the closer similarity of the image to personified Fame, which also appears with a polygonal halo, and holding a scepter (or sword) and orb (or a little golden figure), and sitting in or standing on a world. Shephard apparently didn't know of this association, because he did not discuss it or depict it, which he surely would have had he known. This association with Gloria or Fama was already noted by Claudia Cieri-Via in 1987 (catalogue of the Ferrara exhibition, p. 180), but I also discovered it independently.
As you think, that the (later) Bolognese Tarocchi presents an original state from ca. 1439 ... so you think, that this idea "star in Bethlehem" was in the original Tarot of 1439.
It certainly could have been. Magi imagery had potent appeal for princes, especially German Emperors, since the 14th century. Trexler's book, The Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story, is good on this point. He writes that:
... from approximately the mid-fourteenth century, when Emperor Charles IV, and then King Charles V of France had themselves pictured as Magi, until about 1520, scores of rulers too numerous to list allowed themselves to be shown as maguses, for reasons that obviously had to do with their legitimation via their appearance among these "brother kings" or princes.
(p. 118)

The context and dating range seems relevant to the possible political implications of the image on the Bolognese Star here. Whose "rule" are these "Magi" legitimating?

Trexler also writes:
... not until a (since destroyed) painting of the emperor Sigismund (d. 1437) as one of the three magi is there evidence of a German king directly assuming the role of a magus.
(p. 85)

This seems to contradict what he said about Charles IV (wasn't Charles IV a German king?), but in any case the political implications of association with the magi are clear for the imperial theme I am suggesting.
The robbery of the 3 holy kings happened during Barbarossa's fight with Milan and destruction of Milan. So Milan had possibly bad feelings about them, but why Bologna?
I'm not saying the card is *about* the Magi, or the issues surrounding their relics - they are symbols (if it really is them) pointing to something else. Magi symbolism is not limited to places with a historical interest in the Magi.

The context, if it is them, is indicating an advent. If this one crowned king in the Rothschild sheet represents somebody real, then I'd say it represents the dead king, Sigismund, who prepared the way for the King-to-come. He is looking away from the crown, indicating it is not for him. Or it could be Albert, who never got the Imperial coronation.
Image

Re: Never mind...

#49
Huck wrote:
... well, I'm interested to learn about your theory ... but it also seems, that you've had many detailed discussions with Michael, which I naturally do not understand, cause I didn't participate.
I didn't think you'd be interested since you don't accept the most basic premise - that the 22 trumps were invented at once, and that they make a coherent story as such (leaving aside the issues of which order and iconography might be the original, if it survives at all, if other sequences tell different stories, and which are either entirely meaningless or at least corrupted, and how - i.e. developing a stemma). As far as I know, Michael and I are the only interpreters who accept that premise.
Image

Re: Never mind...

#50
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
No, this is a fictional scenario in which I present the "Mirror for Princes" interpretation.

The choice of setting and genre is because I conceived of Tarot as invented in a courtly setting, for a prince, in exactly the same way as Marziano did for Filippo Maria earlier.

The reason for my choice of characters is as follows: Bianca Maria, because she is a princess, and the courtly cards seem to be oriented towards women.
Antonio da Rho, because he is likely to have been one of Bianca's educators, and because he appears as an interlocutor in Lorenzo Valla's De voluptate (Book III), explaining at one point how the soul's entry into Heaven is exactly like a Triumph. So I imagined him taking that analogy and applying it to a moral game for a princess.
From Lorenzo Valla's life
Catholic Encyclopedia wrote:Humanist and philosopher, b. at Rome, 1405; d. there, 1 Aug., 1457. His father came from Placentia. He studied Latin under Leonardo Bruni (Aretino) and Greek under Giovanni Aurispa. At the age of 24 he wished to obtain a position in the papal secretariate, but was considered too young. After his father's death he accepted a chair of eloquence in the University of Pavia, where he wrote his treatise "De voluptate" (1431), an emended edition of which appeared later under the title, "De vero bono". On account of his open letter attacking the jurist Bartolo (1433) and ridiculing the contemporary jurisprudence he was forced to leave Pavia. He went to Milan and later to Genoa, made another effort to succeed at Rome, and finally settled at Naples (1433), where he became secretary to Alfonso of Aragon, whose Court, frequented by the most distinguished writers, was a hotbed of licentiousness and debauchery.
This is a somehow strange information, as Alfonso of Aragon wasn't in Naples 1433 and he conquered the city as late as 1442.
Though, he used Gaeta (80 km distance to Naples) as a stronghold since 1436.
But Valla was quite young, so he might have settled in the underground of Naples a little bit.

[img]http://a-tarot.eu/p/h/lorenzo-valla.jpg[img]

So he reedited his work later. He has a third dialogue, in which Antonio da Rho appeared ....

Antonio da Rho got the job of Barzizza in 1431, and probably had a lot of male students. Is it plausible, that he found time for long journeys to Bianca Maria somewhere on the country?
Early Renaissance Invective and the Controversies of Antonio da Rho
Edited, translated, and annotated by David Rutherford (Central Michigan University)
The Milanese Franciscan Antonio da Rho (1395-1447) has mostly left his mark as a humanist, even though he received the traditional Franciscan theological training and consistently styled himself a theologian. Rho found classical invective to be his best defense in his controversies and was among the first of the humanists to use it extensively in his Apology against a certain Archdeacon (1427/28) and his Philippic against Antonio Panormita (1431/32). In his Philippic he defended himself against Antonio Panormita, the author of the Hermaphrodite, who began composing invective poetry that ridiculed Rho with obscene insults. This controversy with Panormita also involved Rho with the broader issue of the utility of the poets and poetry that frequently engaged the early humanists. In his attempt to discredit and vilify Panormita personally and professionally, Rho resorted to any piece of gossip. He exploited allegations about sexual taboos, played to Lombard xenophobia, and even denounced Panormita as a heretic. In reading these texts, the reader has to grapple with things that are profoundly complex. Rho compounds the complexity through the use of the genre of rhetorical invective and by his recourse to its standard themes and topics.
Well ... a strong verbal fighter, who probably wasn't lost to give education to girls below the age of 14. Well, as you say, it's just a fiction.

....
... :-) ... well, the 5x14-theory presents this opinion "World = Prudence" since 1989. You did forget to tell, that you find it absurd ... :-) ... Shephard seems to be earlier (published 1985), but had nothing to do with the 5x14-theory.
I didn't know you said it in 1989.
It's a basic problem of the 5x14-theory, so naturally it appeared already 1989. It also appeared in the article of 2003.
The optical impression has changed, but it's still the same article
http://trionfi.com/0/f/11/
Take a look at the bottom ... "3 cardinal virtues"

{quote]
I'm sure I have said it was absurd in the past, but I mostly ignore it, so you may not have noticed. Even if context can help establish meaning, the image has to have at least *some* of the traditional charateristics of the claimed meaning. The Charles VI World has *none* of the characteristics of Prudence (except for being a woman).
[/quote]

We have two features

- one is related to the "6 added cards" in the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi and the card identified as "World" by later interpretation should be Prudentia, as it appears inside a "logical addition" of 3 cardinal cardinal virtues

- the second is the Charles VI deck and the card interpreted as "world" is in the same iconographic group cause the octagonal halo (which is only found for cardinal virtues at these cards) and for this reason ALSO assumed to be Prudentia

There is no word written on these cards, the "World" idea is only later interpretation. Prudentia had been the most variable motif between the 4 cardinal virtues, that's a general statement in iconography.

Perhaps the terminus "Prudentia" created occasionally the interest of the artists to hide it to test the prudence of the spectators. This might especially happened inside card games ...as everybody would try to understand the system of the deck. If one sees 3 cardinal virtues, one naturally seeks for the 4th ...







... all called Prudentia
The halo alone is not sufficient strength upon which to overturn the closer similarity of the image to personified Fame, which also appears with a polygonal halo, and holding a scepter (or sword) and orb (or a little golden figure), and sitting in or standing on a world. Shephard apparently didn't know of this association, because he did not discuss it or depict it, which he surely would have had he known. This association with Gloria or Fama was already noted by Claudia Cieri-Via in 1987 (catalogue of the Ferrara exhibition, p. 180), but I also discovered it independently.
Well ... the story is, that we have two branches of the family of the Medici. Both participated in the familiary business, so somehow had the same money. The one part (Lorenzo the elder's descendants) kept its money for themselves and the other (Cosimo's branch) invested in publish attention and sponsoring (in other words, they worked for "fame"). As a result they got high political influence and more opportunities to earn money. Nobody talked about the other part of the family, everybody talked of the Medici and meant Cosimo's branch ... which went so far, that they got two popes in this family. As irony will it: When this famous part of the family was exhausted, the other part got the title grand duke of Toscana: Cosimo I.
So, the Charles VI as a Medici deck (of the Cosimo branch) has some logic to present "Fame" as their personal family-Prudentia.

And for the Sforza-World, the two putti .... this family had many children and this was their Prudentia to get influence and to become strong and successful.
As you think, that the (later) Bolognese Tarocchi presents an original state from ca. 1439 ... so you think, that this idea "star in Bethlehem" was in the original Tarot of 1439.
It certainly could have been. Magi imagery had potent appeal for princes, especially German Emperors, since the 14th century. Trexler's book, The Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story, is good on this point. He writes that:
... from approximately the mid-fourteenth century, when Emperor Charles IV, and then King Charles V of France had themselves pictured as Magi, until about 1520, scores of rulers too numerous to list allowed themselves to be shown as maguses, for reasons that obviously had to do with their legitimation via their appearance among these "brother kings" or princes.
(p. 118)

The context and dating range seems relevant to the possible political implications of the image on the Bolognese Star here. Whose "rule" are these "Magi" legitimating?

Trexler also writes:
... not until a (since destroyed) painting of the emperor Sigismund (d. 1437) as one of the three magi is there evidence of a German king directly assuming the role of a magus.
(p. 85)

This seems to contradict what he said about Charles IV (wasn't Charles IV a German king?), but in any case the political implications of association with the magi are clear for the imperial theme I am suggesting.
[/quote]

I've read that there are many Charles IV. pictures, but they are not on the web.
The robbery of the 3 holy kings happened during Barbarossa's fight with Milan and destruction of Milan. So Milan had possibly bad feelings about them, but why Bologna?
I'm not saying the card is *about* the Magi, or the issues surrounding their relics - they are symbols (if it really is them) pointing to something else. Magi symbolism is not limited to places with a historical interest in the Magi.

The context, if it is them, is indicating an advent. If this one crowned king in the Rothschild sheet represents somebody real, then I'd say it represents the dead king, Sigismund, who prepared the way for the King-to-come. He is looking away from the crown, indicating it is not for him. Or it could be Albert, who never got the Imperial coronation.
[/quote]

Sigismondo 6th September 1433 ... in Ravenna
Sigismondo 9th September 1433 ... in Ferrara
after 19th September 1433 ... towards Mantova

Bologna notes in the Regesten 1433 in Rome ... a doctor iur. Jacobi Crode gets a heraldic shield, that's more or less all

1432: "versichert abermals dem Ulrich v. Rosenberg, dass das in Böhmen verbreitete Gerücht, als ob das Konzil von Basel nach Bologna verlegt werden solle, unbegründet sei, u. beauftragt ihn, die hierüber auftauchenden Zweifel zu beschwichtigen u. die Böhmen zur Beschickung des Konzils zu bewegen, da dasselbe sicher fortgesetzt werden würde. "
The Pope wishes to move the council from Basel to Bologna, but the Emperor wishes this not. No reason in Bologna to love this emperor.

1431: more or less nothing

1438: nothing about Bologna in King's Regesten
1439: nothing about Bologna in King's Regesten
1440: nothing about Bologna in King's Regesten
1441: Frederick to the French king ... he shall not send diplomats to Bologna

1446 Januar 31 Rom
Papst Eugen IV. verspricht dem K. Friedrich, ihn zu krönen, entweder zu Rom oder falls er nicht so weit reisen könne, zu Bologna, Padua oder Treviso und 100000 Gulden Rhein. zur Bestreitung der Kosten beyzusteuern.

This was an idea, but Fredrick is crowned in Rome 1452.

Do you've any pictures in churches of Bologna, which focus the theme around this time?

Generally it's said, that Bologna worked into dependency of Florence after it it took Sante as regent. Cosimo/Piero set a big sign with their family chapel, there was even a 3 Magi triumphal activity in Florence in 1465 (precise date is not known). It's logical that Bologna took the 3 Magi of Florence - then, not earlier.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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