Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

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Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby marco on 30 Oct 2009, 21:03

In another thread, we recently discussed the figure of the king that appears at the feet of the Cary-Yale Visconti Faith trump. About this card, in 1831 Leopoldo Cicognara wrote: “In the lower part, one sees the figure of a king with a golden crown on his head. At the feet of Religion one can see the traces of an inscription which is too damaged to be read, but the few visible letters give sufficient reason to believe it is the name of the author Martiano...”.

Being under the feet of Faith, this figure must represent an enemy of Faith, such as an heretic, and being crowned he must be a king: so he cannot be Marziano da Tortona, a respected scholar who was a member of the Visconti court.
From what I can see in the image, I think that the remaining letters could be read as “...ra...” possibly “...ura...”. They could also read “...ma...”, but those letters seem to me the central part of the inscription, not the beginning. In the attached image, I highlighted what I subjectively see as the relevant letters. I could be completely wrong, since what is visible is very little indeed.
As pointed out by MikeH in the other thread, the historian Maria Grazia Tolfo suggests that the king is Ninus of Niniveh, who was indeed considered as an example of idolatry (see Figure 2 here). His name does not seem to me to fit what I think I can read on the card: still it is possible that Ninus is the most reasonable hypothesis.

Does anyone know of any other candidate for the identity of this character? And what about the other king that we see at the feet of Charity?

About the character at the feet of Hope, I completely agree with the identification of him as Judas, as reported by Robert.

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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 30 Oct 2009, 23:23

I think this question is very interesting, and may never be resolved, given the probable degradation of the cards. Cicognara was biased, and thought that these cards were Marziano's - he might not have had a better view than we do.

For a long time, I thought these were just wear and degradation, and only looked liked letters by accident. But I'm willing to speculate, since there seems to be a top and bottom line for the apparently random degradation, that suggests intention.

I think the best candidate for an enemy of the Faith would be "mahomet", but that would mean reading those scratches a little differently.

It would mean getting rid of the "r" and making those first three vertical lines part of an "m", and reading the two splotches to the right of the last vertical line (in this case) just damage, not part of a letter.

There would also be a large distance between the "m" and the "a".

And the rest will be completely illegible, but presumably, in this theory, the next letter was an "h".

He wasn't literally a king of course, but I'm sure Mahomet as a arch-heretic with a crown is not unheard of in medieval iconography.

Not saying I believe it, just that "mahomet" would be a perfect candidate.
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby robert on 30 Oct 2009, 23:43

Good guess Ross! :-bd
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 30 Oct 2009, 23:50

The two vertical lines to the right of the "a'" could be a skinny "h".

Then ignore the big blotch that looks like it could be part of something, and the next part is a square-ish "o". (I guess it could be "mahumet", in which case the "u" could have leading lines that include the high splotch to the immediate right of the "h")

Then to the right of the crown, is another "m".

Can anybody show this? (I'm afraid I don't have the skills to do it quickly).
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby marco on 31 Oct 2009, 09:28

Mahomet looks like a great candidate :)

Cicognara in this case is unreliable. He clearly writes that he cannot read what was written on the card, and he interprets the little he could see on the basis of two errors:
1) he thought that the inscription could be a "signature", while it obviously identifies a character who must have a precise function in the allegory in which it appears;
2) he thought that Marziano was the author of the deck.
Cicognara's book is really exceptional and his passion for playing cards was amazing. Let's see if we can solve the riddle that he was unable to address properly :)

I will look for Mahomet images and see if there are any in which he is represented as a crowned king.

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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby Huck on 31 Oct 2009, 09:57

What about ...

Osmanic rulers:
Murad II (ruled 1421–1444) (1446 - 1451)
Mehmed II (ruled 1444–1446)

You had read an ".. ura .." ????

This fits with Murad.
This would be a nice guarantee, that the Cary-Yale was made "before 1444". As already mentioned somewhere, Francesco Sforza was discussed as a leader of troops against the Osmans in the relevant time of 1441 - after the exspected peace treaty between Venice/Milan. The crusade really took place, though without much Italians and without Sforza and the battle had been at Varna in 1444. Cardinal Cesarini died at this opportunity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Cesarini
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Varna
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murad_II
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby marco on 04 Nov 2009, 10:25

Thank you Huck!
"Murad" seems to fit very well with the letters I think I see on the card :)
I don't know how likely it is too see a contemporary character in this kind of allegory. My superficial impression is that an ancient (Mahomed) or mythical (Ninus) character would be more typical.
This subject definitely deserves more research: I will have to come back to this in another moment.
Another aspect that I would like to explore is the common XV century spelling for Mahomet and Murad. For Mahomet, Dante has Maometto and other sources (e.g. "Il Dittamondo") Macometto.

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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby Huck on 04 Nov 2009, 11:02

marco wrote:Thank you Huck!
"Murad" seems to fit very well with the letters I think I see on the card :)
I don't know how likely it is too see a contemporary character in this kind of allegory. My superficial impression is that an ancient (Mahomed) or mythical (Ninus) character would be more typical.
This subject definitely deserves more research: I will have to come back to this in another moment.
Another aspect that I would like to explore is the common XV century spelling for Mahomet and Murad. For Mahomet, Dante has Maometto and other sources (e.g. "Il Dittamondo") Macometto.

Marco


hi Marco,
as there are difficulties to read the letters, an identification stays naturally obscure ...

For the Fame card, we have a possible reference to a specific occurence in the Milanese-Venezian war short before 1441, so an actual foe at another card doesn't surprize. They has organized the council of Ferrara/Florence (1438/39) with the single interest to meet the approach of one aggressive man, Murad. The intended crusade really happened, and in 1441 it was a discussed option, that Sforza should lead the Italian army (which actually more or less didn't partake). But the promises to help were given in Italy and it belonged necessarily to the situation "after the war". The appearance in the deck would be very natural, not unusual, if we assume, that the deck was made 1441 (which is plausible by many reasons).
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby mikeh on 15 Dec 2009, 21:30

I just noticed this thread. Interesting ideas. I still see "m a r t" as the letters, as did Tolfo. An abbreviation, perhaps, as there does not seem to be room for the rest of "martiano," whom Tolfo says is being identified "con un heretico," with a heretic. (This is in addition to her identification of the king as Nino.)

In the first sentence of the same paragraph, speaking of the CY (which she thinks was done in 1428), she says that Marziano disappeared in 1425, instead of the usual account that he died then (http://www.storiadimilano.it/Arte/carte_gioco.htm):

""Il mazzo era stato molto probabilmente realizzato al più presto in occasione delle nozze tra Filippo Maria e Maria di Savoia , celebrate nel 1428 , quindi almeno tre anni dopo la scomparsa di Marziano da Tortona."

(The deck was probably realized quickly at the wedding of Filippo Maria and Maria of Savoy, celebrated in 1428, so at least three years after the disappearance of Marziano de Tortona.)

The implication is that there is something mysterious about Marziano's disappearance from the scene. She also associates the Empress figure in that deck (the CY) with Barbara von Cilli, whom she says had "eterodosse" beliefs, denying the existence of heaven and hell, angels and demons, while she and her husband founded the "order of the dragon," which was later associated with the Dracula legend, "Dracula" being Romanian for "dragon":

"Se l’Imperatore è Sigismondo, allora l’Imperatrice dovrebbe essere la moglie Barbara von Cilli, sposata nel 1408. Barbara ricevette però nel 1414 solo la corona di Germania e, dopo il Concilio di Costanza, perse ogni credibilità istituzionale per le sue posizioni religiose molto eterodosse, visto che negava apertamente l'esistenza dell'inferno e del paradiso, degli angeli come dei diavoli. Il fatto che fondò col marito l'Ordine del Dragone (Dracul) e che, ancora in vita, godesse di una reputazione molto discutibile (veniva detta la “Messalina di Germania”), contribuì a creare intorno a lei la leggenda della prima vampira."

(If the Emperor is Sigismund, then the Empress would be his wife Barbara von Cilli, married in 1408. In 1414, Barbara received the crown of Germany, and after the Council of Constance, she lost all institutional credibility because of her very unorthodox religious positions, given that she openly denied the existence of hell and heaven, and of angels as of devils. The fact that she with her husband founded the Order of the Dragon (Dracula) and that even in life, she enjoyed a very questionable reputation (she was known as the "Messalina of Germany"), helped create around her the legend of the first [female] vampire.)

Messalina was an early Roman Empress, wife of Claudius, with a reputation for both promiscuity and murderousness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valeria_Messalina).

Also associating the Faith card with heresy, is Kaplan, Vol. 1 p. 91. He says of the figure on the Faith card, "Beneath her throne is a crowned king, possibly the figure of Heresy." He gives no source or further explanation.

Kaplan says on the same page, of the Charity card, "beneath the throne at the bottom left of the card, is a crowned king, suggesting King Herod." Again he gives no source or explanation. Presumably Herod was not charitable when he slaughtered the Innocents, the opposite of the nurturing figure on the card.
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Re: Who are the kings in the Cay-Yale trumps?

Postby marco on 16 Dec 2009, 16:26

mikeh wrote:I still see "m a r t" as the letters, as did Tolfo.


Tolfo does not say she sees "m a r t". She says the writing is unreadable ("illeggibile").

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