... Well I am not sure exist a conceptual or iconographic continuity between Michelino and other decks.
Well, that's of course not sure ...
We don't know, how much the details of the Michelino deck were known outside of the court of Milan, and - as Filippo Maria Visconti lived a very reserved life - it may well be, that they were not. But Marcello heard of the deck as a singular item, searched for it (1449) and got it. And - it seems so - he send it to King Renee in France and it was gone then.
Which is naturally not sure to be the full story. Isabella of Lorraine died in spring 1453, Renee went for a military escapade the same year to Sforza in Milan, and together they fought again Venice troops (in other words: "together against Marcello"). ... possibly Renee recognized, that the deck was Milanese property and gave it back ...
Well, that's not recorded, also it's not recorded, if there were other editions of the same deck or any other form, by which knowledge about the Michelino deck would have passed to the future. Well, the mentioned 1500 ducats for a playing card deck, recorded by Decembrio, couldn't have been overlooked for instance by Galeazzo Maria, who surely had possibilities to request some information about details of this object.
Recorded is, that after 1466 Galeazzo Maria developed greater interest in the older symbols of his grandfather and the Visconti (Sforza himself seems to have been not so much interested). We have then in Milan a rebirth of the interest in Daphne, which is the somehow dominant figure in the Michelino deck. There's this picture, painted by one of the Pollaiuolo ... and it is assumed (at least by one researcher) that it presents Galeazzo Maria and Bona of Savoy as Apollo and Daphne.
Additionally there's a Sforza manuscript in Wolffenbüttel, given to short before 1470 ...
(here given as from 1480, but I saw it otherwise dated earlier)
... and later another reappearance by Birago, made for Bona of Savoy c. 1490 ...
... and then, due to the marriage of Maximilian with Bianca Maria Sforza, the occupation of Milan by the French and refugees of Milan in Austria/German and the special interest of the German poet Celtis, Daphne has a greater appearance on Germany:
box of Celtis
print in a Celtis work 1501/02
another Celtis print
Well, Celtis became a sort of "literature pope" in Vienna till his death 1510, Emperor Maximilian discovered the modern print media as an excellent tool to distribute imperial propaganda and the title poetus laureatus got excessive use in German countries. This all - Daphne, Celtis and naturally also Apollo - became a major factor in German humanism ... and this is NOT a small movement. But not only in Germany ...
Later - at the end of 16th century - we have the first Opera in Florence: Daphne ...
And Opera business and all, what's connected to it, ALSO isn't a small movement.
The honor of Daphne goes back to Petrarca. Petrarca had a lover (if only imagined as a poetical ideal or real, is a riddle of literature) named Laura ... and Laura is just another name for Daphne. And Petrarca makes a lot of his title "Poetus Laure
atus", which he got in Rome 1341. Petrarca makes his Laura die in 1348 ... with the increasing plague, naturally at a very symbolic day, Good Friday. At c. 1355 he started his "Trionfi", which wasn't finished 1474, at his death, with naturally again used "Laura".
Naturally Petrarca (and also his Trionfi) wasn't totally famous during his life time. Success "after the death" depends on lucky conditions - a lot of great poets have disappeared from public attention, for instance Boiardo, called the most important poet of second half of 15th century long had been rather forgotten. In Petrarca's time the distribution methods for literature were limited. When Petraca started the Trionfi, he was in Milan ... Filippo Maria had reason enough to regard the poet as a Milanese poet. He was a great lover of the Canzonieri, that's definite. So perhaps just the personal Filippo Maria's interest in Petrarca had a strong influence on Petrarca's rather successful afterlife.
The Daphne concept was very mighty ... and somehow it took the Milanese way and it appeared in the Michelino deck.
But let's take the perspective "Triinfi" from another side:
From the illustrated editions of the Trionfi (not the cards, but the poem) we know, that the first version was ordered 1441 (by Pietro de Medici). From the same year (which is a 100-years-anniversary of Petrarca's poetus laureatus activity 1341) we know, that Leon Battista Alberti organized a literary contest in Florence just in October 1441. And October 1441 is just the month, when Francesco Sforza married Bianca-Maria Sforza (a typical "triumphal celebration"). And around a similar time in Germany the later pope Pius II, Enea Piccolomini, became poetus laureatus by the new emperor Fredrick III.
Accidental coincidence or causal coincidence?
Naturally that's causal coincidence, not accidental coincidence. Cause ... that are simply too much correspondences.
There are two big events in close relation: The Ferrarese-Florentine council 1438/39 and the war between Milan and Venice 1338-1441 inside the 30 years period of Venetian-Milanese wars 1425 - 1454. This war was especially heavy, actually a duel between Piccinino and Francesco Sforza.
What if the war hadn't ended in summer 1441? Well, naturally the wedding between Sforza and Bianca Mari Visconti hadn't taken place, but likely also not the literary contest in Florence. But came the peace unexpected? Not really ... actually it was expected since the second battle of Soncino (June 1440), a deciding battle, which Filippo Maria and Milan had lost. After this battle a truce was concluded, which was interrupted by (not expected) newwar activities of Piccinino in February 1441.
As people prepare for things, which might happen in the future, we may conclude, that the commission for the Petrarca Trionfi edition was given in the period, when the truce was decided, but Piccinino still hadn't reopened the battle field.
Florence had various Trionfi activities during the council 1439. Somehow it was organized, that the Eastern Church "had lost" and Roman church "had won", and somehow they celebrated "a result", which wasn't a result (the unification of the churches never became a real unification).
With this artificial result it was attempted to win the battle of the "Italian council" against "the German council" to regain "spiritual territory", which once was lost during the council of Constance. Well, this plan worked out: Finally the anti-pope Felix resigned, the council of Basel disappeared and the Catholic church had free hands for about 70-80 years to get a lot of money from somewhere else to build up the new Rome in great splendor ... till the reformation, which made clear, that the earlier victory, which just rearranged the papal dominance in the church, didn't pay out.
Anyway ... that's the bigger story, but too big to learn about details in 1439-1441. In a report to the Alfonso Trionfo in Naples (1443) it is said, that the participating Florentians are experienced with Trionfi celebrations. I would think, that this could only refer to the festivities observed in 1439 during the council ... otherwise I don't know of reports, which might have stimulated this opinion. So one might from this set a strong !!!
behind this humble remark ... this is a general contemporary (1443) global description of the phenomenon Trionfi, which wasn't unknown in Italy, but hadn't a great existence in Italy till a specific "not really known" moment
during 15th century, when it started to become a great Italian topic for at least 2 centuries.
The council time in Ferrara (1438) didn't have so much splendor, Ferrara was smaller and the whole council suffered from not enough money and translation difficulties ... and at its end came the plague. However, this part of the council was important for background activities, during which a sort of book fever (inclusive real translation from Greek material, which had been brought from Constantinople) developed, which raised the interest in literature ... and finally caused, that Cosimo di Medici opened a public library at San Marco in 1444. And the council cause, that Leon Battista Alberti for the first time visited Ferrara and became by this acquainted to Leonello ... surely not an important activity for the council, as just a lot of persons appear in Ferrara, but for the Trionfi card development possibly an important man.
In contrast to Ferrara the council of Florence had sponsors, and it was astonishingly few money, for which the Constantinople delegation was willing to change the location from Ferrara to Florence.
From this analysis it's plausible, that the phenomenon Trionfi (this means the festivity, not the cards) starts its explosive Italian importance 1439, and it wasn't before.
Trionfi-like activities of some dimension happened 1423 in Naples and 1425 in Milan, in a time, when the conditions in Milan were splendid, and in Naples it developed, cause Alfonso of Aragon wished to impress the people of Napes with Spanish glamor. After 1425 the glamorous moments were rare, enthusiasm about the emperor (1431-33) visit stayed humble and all the matters were difficult, the papal election of Eugen stimulated opposition, big marriages wasn't given, etc.. And the whole was kept small, cause the economical conditions weren't mostly very well, as there was too much war. Well, we don't know for sure, but if there was such a great opportunity, why nobody can give information about it?
For the Trionfi development we have reports, that the earlier antique Roman Trionfi tradition found some prolongation in Constantinople. Surely weren't the Eastern Emperors of 15th century not in the financial state to have known such great festivities in their lifetime, but some of it might been kept in their memory. Now we have had just in 1438/39 a real Eastern emperor with an entourage of 700 persons as guests at the council (roughly 1 and 3/4 year and later in smaller groups some time longer) and enough time between the participants to exchange memories, world views, humble opinions etc. and surely occasionally the theme "Trionfi" was topic. And just during and short time after it - 1441 - the theme "Trionfi" explodes. Shouldn't one assume the logical development, that the council with its greater manifestation in Florence 1439 triggered the general Italian interest in these shows?
For our beloved playing cards with "Trionfi" name naturally it's probable, that the game came LATER than the social phenomenon of the Trionfi. It surely followed the general rule, that the tail follows the dog, and not vice versa.
And there was surely the problem, that there was a war, while delegates and Rome's representatives and Florentians enjoyed their festivities in Florence.
Naturally this war hindered an immediate spread of the Trionfi idea outside of Florence. But the public reception and the enthusiasm in Florence naturally generated wandering stories, which made other regions and their regents think about, how this new social behavior might be used to stimulate the own population. The Trionfi from Florence was a sort of advertisement of success ... if the success was real or not real, wasn't so interesting, it was more important, that other regions believed, it was a success.
Well, naturally ALSO the current foes of Florence/Venice and the Pope Eugen party should believe, that it was a success.
The run of the war seems to be like this ... major information is from http://www.condottieridiventura.it/tabe ... a/1430.htm
Spring 1439, the council had begun running ... Milan took Bologna with the rather strong intention to put some pressure on the delegates at the council nearby.
During 1439 there are some minor battles, in which Venice seems to have had the better part. A big Milanese offensive is taken in December against Brescia, which isn't successful and ends with big Milanese losses. Nonetheless the situation is very insecure, and the delegations in Ferrara, which decide to proceed the council in Florence, have great worries about the security of the transfer from Ferrara to Florence.
Still in January 1439 three battles occur, in which the 2 major ones are decided in favor of Venice. Then - finally - everybody seems to have agreed, that it is winter.
The council-festival in Florence could took its start under relative peaceful conditions.
The next battle season started in June 1439, but the begin knew no big decisions. Heavy fighting appears since September 1439 (3 battles are recorded), just the time, when the delegates in Florence plan their journey back. October (2), November (2), December (2) follow ... that's the most intensive fighting time of the war. The begin of the period is successful for Milan, the end sees again victories of Venice.
In 1440 only 3 battles occur between April and June, all successful for the foes of Filippo Maria. Two of them are large battles, both in June and both present a heavy defeat of the Milanese forces. The battle of Anghiari became later the object of a famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle ... ainting%29
Peter Paul Rubens's copy of The Battle of Anghiari. Allegedly from left to right is Francesco Piccinino; Niccolò Piccinino; Ludovico Trevisan; Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini.
... and it was a battle against Florence and the Chiesa, and it knew not too much cases of deaths (totally 70, 880 wounded), but thousands of Milanese prisoners.
The second battle of Soncino (another battle was in 1431) ended with 1000 Visconti troops (between them many from Ferrara) either dead or wounded and more thousands of prisoners ... and a lot of money was lost, too. This was the battle, in which the leading general Borso d'Este became prisoner, perhaps an early nasty experience with war, which guided Borso to become a rather peaceful duke of Ferrara during the time of his later reign.
Well, and Borso became the person most mentioned in Trionfi documents.
After this June 1440 - Anghiari and Borso's unlucky battle
- it seems to have been decided, that public opinion considered, that this war would end soon. A truce was agreed upon ... and likely diplomats had some business to negotiate the conditions.
Looking through all the battles, then Milanese troops are considered to be the losing party in most of it, roughly 70-80%. Filippo Maria should have lost of money with his military attempts.
According the public expectations one can imagine, that now, after June 1440, a decent preparation of triumphal festivities could take place with the assumption, that peace would really come. Naturally .... in Florence / Venice / Rome one would call it a victory and naturally also in Milan one would try this, though the objective conditions would spoken another language.
Florence (Pietro de Medici) ordered an edition of Petrarca's Trionfi and we know, that since this realization the Petrarca motifs became a very frequent topic in Florentine marriage chests and elsewhere.
In Milan we observe, that Duke Filippo Maria send his daughter to Ferrara, Bianca Maria's famous visit. Possibly this prepared a marriage of Bianca Maria to Leonello d'Este ... if it would have come to the marriage and a unification between Milan and Ferrara, then the new state Milan-Ferrara state would have blocked a lot of the natural ways between Venice and Southern Italy (so to Florence and Rome). Venetian ships would have solved this problem, but, anyway, that might have caused a lot of trouble for the vital trading ways in the future.
As Filippo Maria Visconti and Niccolo d'Este was close to each other in these late days of Niccolo, this threat was rather REAL.
At 1.1.1441 we have recorded in Ferrara the painting of 14 "figure" objects as a present for Bianca Maria by Sagramoro, an artist known for playing card productions since 1422, and later the great Trionfi card painter in Ferrara.
These objects are not called "Trionfi" or "playing cards" ... but actually the situation was so, that the "great triumphal moment" was just a plan and project (the peace treaties weren't signed) ... so this might just have been 14 experiments, just a design for (possibly) later real playing cards.
It's interesting to observe, that ..
a. just the battle of Anghiari (June 1440) later became a famous object of art ... just in 1504/05, a time, which somehow triggered the edition of a new Taroch deck in Ferrara, when Alfonso d'Este celebrated his new title "duke of Ferrara"
b. the issue of the second battle of Soncino (June 1440) focussed a person, Borso d'Este, which till then had a rather unknown factor of Ferrarese court life ... and that just this person later became the greatest Trionfi card commissioner, that we know in 15th century (at least in the documents, that we know of)
Well, somehow and occasionally Borso's time was considered a "golden time". Not everybody had this opinion, surely. But, anyway, this idea existed ..
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Categ ... Este_Bible