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Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 08:55
by Ross G. R. Caldwell
There's no need to go all conspiracy on Marziano's death. He had a fairly active public life, was a priest, had a reputation as a scholar, served Pope Gregory XII before going into Filippo Maria's service in 1412, and was dead by early 1425 (I'll have to find the document that says "the late Marziano" or something like that). His date of birth is unknown, so 55 to 65 at death seems a reasonable guess, making his birth between 1360-1370.

Here's the short biographical note I wrote on him for my article in 2004. I'd only change "died in 1425" to "was dead by 1425", as well as to add that Enrico Rampini's tomb is in the Basilica of San Clemente, Rome. I hadn't known before going in the summer of 2004, and was amazed to find myself standing in front of his tombstone, set in the wall to the left of the altar. During that trip I also made a trip to Marziano's hometown of Sant' Alosio. I'd add some bibliography I didn't have at the time as well.

Note from 2004:

5. Marziano’s full name was Marziano Rampini da Sant’ Alosio. He was born around 1370. He was a highly regarded scholar in humanistic circles of his age. According to Gasparino Barzizza, who pronounced Marziano’s funeral oration, he studied in Pavia, Padua, Bologna and Florence, and in very general terms Barzizza called him doctissimo, a “most learned man”. From Filippo Maria’s biographer Pier Candido Decembrio, we learn that he was in charge of the prince’s humanistic education, reading Petrarch, Dante and Livy. In holy Orders, he became secretary for Pope Gregory XII (Correr), before being appointed ducal secretary by Filippo Maria in 1412. His reputation as an astronomer/astrologer seems to depend on Marcello, and seems confirmed by astronomical references in Marziano’s text itself; such an expertise is not mentioned by Decembrio or Barzizza. Marziano died in 1425. On Marziano da Tortona, the fullest account in English remains Stuart Kaplan, “The Encyclopedia of Tarot” vol. II, pp. 147-148; in Italian, see now Edoardo Fumagalli, “Marziano da Tortona” in Ettore Cau, Franco Fagnanno and Valeria Moratti, eds., Il Tortonese: Album del II Millennio (Tortona; Rotary Club Tortona, 2001) pp. 125-136, (includes bibliography): Fumagalli discusses Decembrio’s passage at length, and also notes that Barzizza implies that Marziano was a painter, although an amateur; see also the paper by Ugo Rozzo in the same volume, who discusses Marziano on pp. 202-203. Neither Fumagalli nor Rozzo were aware of the existence of the Tractatus de deificatione, showing that playing-card research has something to offer the study of the Italian quattrocento and the field of humanities in general. Marziano’s nephew Enrico Rampini was a churchman, becoming Archbishop of Milan from 1443-1450, and created a cardinal in 1446. He apparently remained close to Filippo and the Visconti family.

Gasparino Barzizza's funeral oration (if you need the Latin I'll post it).


I understand how great a blow our country has received from the death of our most celebrated Marziano. Notable and famous men, and you most loving citizens of our fatherland, I readily understand this, of all things, partly from your tears and partly from your silent grief. Indeed we are sending away a man than whom thre has thus far in our State been neither wiser, nor better, neither in our memory nor that of our forebears. We are sending away the father of city and the protector of our civic patrons. We are sending away a man most erudite in all the good arts and the most upstanding disciplines. Finally we are sending away one in whom thrived the greatest humanity, in whom there was unique outstanding fairness, courage of spirit, admirable constancy, the highest counsel and a certain divine wisdom in forseeing great things. Who therefore of us, greatest fathers, might be capable of being judged worthy to mourn such a man? Who to lament his death? Who might be able to do enough to console the public grief? Who will be fated to find a man to compare to him in our State? When will we or our descendants be allowed to hope for his like? Oh State of ours, deservedly made mournful and desolate by the death of so great a man! Oh people of Tortona, orphaned of such a parent! Oh our country, despoiled of its greatest ornament! Gravest fathers, the light of day would leave me should I wish to continue in my speech on the disaster of our State. But because man's losses are not soothed by tears or secret grief, but by courage and moderation of spirit, our fate is not so much to be mourned by us than the shared condition of the nature of all men is to be contemplated. For although he was such a man in all manner of all virtues and doctrines that there would be no man among us who would not wish him made immortal, if it could be done, however, a wise man's duty exists. If you can avoid rebelling, I want all you whom I address to bear his death with a balanced mind lest we seem to have loved only ourselves more than him whom we mourn.

Indeed, as they say, to be deeply troubled by one's own misfortunes is characteristic of one who loves not his friend, but himself; for if no harm could come to him in death, if his life was lived most honestly to the very end, if this praise is the judgement of the wisdom of the wisest men, it follows that likewise his reputation will be seen to last with this our gentle city. I think we should be much happier that it befell our fatherland to have such a man than to mourn the fact it said goodbye to him. For what is to be desired by a wise, freeborn man but that he reach the top in life. He, who when he was 16 years old and far above all his peers in his literary studies, became fired by so great a love of wisdom that he left his fatherland, and as he most desired took him self to Pavia. In that city, his great study in all the most worthy subjects and his greatest erudition thrived. When he had been there two years he was seen to have learning and wisdom. From there he moved to Padua, then Bologna, then Florence. In these studies he did so well that, receiving praise for his genius he outstripped the others in divinity; however, he was considered most learned in philosophy and all the liberal arts. He then progressed to the degree of doctor with the greatest and distinguished approval of all the fathers and was at once taken into the role of public teaching of philosophy and was given a very great reward from the public treasury. I say nothing of those labours with which he was then continually beset, through how many dangers he journeyed till he fulfilled his potential coming to serve the late Pope Gregory and receiving many honours from him or how long he lived at the papal court. What should I tell of his coming to our illustrious leader, the most serene Duke of Milan, our most merciful master? At his court, as we all know, he could, to the extent that his health allowed, show incredible prudence in debating and wisdom in giving his opinion in the senate. The senators admired him, some called him another Cato, others a Gaius Laelius. I truly tell you that when such things came under our leader's judgement, he would, whenever he was for a little while lifted from the cares of the realm, attentively hear this man's most wise debates. Often, when he pondered the most important things, he would freely converse with him and even wished him all knowledge of his secrets. For he was then very learned in all the other arts, but most distinguished in the study of the poets and in his singular eloquence. His studies of humanity deservedly made him more welcome and admirable in the eyes of so great a leader. From this judgement there is no man among us who should doubt that he was blessed, when his fortune is seen alongside his wisdom and virtue. Now, truly, since we may believe that he has reached the place where wise men enjoy unending life, let us console ourselves, most chosen fathers, and cease to weep over his death. We should hope that he has been put beyond all harm and adversity and will remain there, where no man, no day, no force of fate can snatch him away.

(Translated from the Latin text from Aristide Arzano, "Marziano da Tortona, letterato e miniatore del Rinascimento", in Bollettino della Società per gli studi di storia, d'economica e d'arte nel Tortonese, 4 (1904), pp. 27-50.

Translated by Paul Marshall and Ross G.R. Caldwell, 2006)

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 09:06
by Ross G. R. Caldwell
Here's a summary of Enrico Rampini's, Marziano's nephew, career in the Church. ... .htm#25959

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 09:16
by mikeh
Thanks very much for the information on Martiano, Ross. No sign yet of any impropriety, although a funeral oration might gloss over a person's faults. I can't maintain Tolfo's speculations, and so can't give that as a reason why a card deck designed by him might not have been popular at court. What I have left is just that it wasn't, for whatever reason, but did get played in limited circles, perhaps connected to Bianca Maria. And a possible connection to Piccinino.

Huck: Well, your "Murad" argument would only work for 1441. Who knows? The marks could be either "mura" or "mart," or maybe other things.

On Alberti: Alberti and Leonello were friends, probably starting in 1438 when Alberti was in Ferrara for the conclave. It continued during the 1440s. Here is a quote from Alberti's biographer Grafton:
Alberti told his dedicatee, Meliaduse d’Este, that he had written on architecture “at the request of your illustrious brother, my lord messer Leonello.” Meliaduse died in 1452, Leonello in 1450; accordingly this passage seems to tie the book’s composition to the 1440s.
Grafton also tells of an instance when Alberti advised a committee in Ferrara, 1440s, on the choice of an artist to build an equestrian statue. Afterwards Alberti wrote an essay "On the horse" or some such thing. I am not sure which part of the 1440s Alberti did that. He would have to have been in Ferrara at least briefly to look at the sculptors' samples. In relation to tarot, I think Alberti's role then wold probably only have been to encourage its appreciation as symbolic representation and story-telling.

His earlier activity in 1424 would seem to me to point to something. Good information.

It occurs to me that Borso might have become acquainted with the tarot while in captivity, if it was a game the Milanese army played.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 12:54
by Huck
mikeh wrote: Huck: Well, your "Murad" argument would only work for 1441. Who knows? The marks could be either "mura" or "mart," or maybe other things.
Sure, Murad works best with 1441, but he reigned from 1421-1451.
It occurs to me that Borso might have become acquainted with the tarot while in captivity, if it was a game the Milanese army played.
Borso was the general of the Milanese army (likely not alone, likely only of the Ferrarese part), and he was captured by Venice. And we don't know, how long this captivity lasted. Might have been rather short, as soon a truce was concluded. Most prisoners of Angliari also are said to have been released rather quick.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 13:02
by Huck
mikeh wrote:I am one post behind in my replies. The following is a reply to the post before his last one. Then as I was posting, the software alerted me that Huck had just posted. At first reading I see nothing wrong with this more recent post of his. Alberti as another possible originator of the tarot, c. 1424, perhaps following up on an expanded Imperator deck, or designing one himself, with 13 trumps.
Hm ... Why 13 trumps? Alberti made a theater play, which used 20 scenes and 20 "allegorical persons". Additionally the author "Lepidus" appears on the scene as an introduction, which would make 21 scenes and 21 persons. Hidden is naturally Alberti himself, the "true author", which would make 22 ... :-).
20, 21 or 22 is neither 13, 14, or 16, which appear in the early Trionfi game. The 20 persons include on the surface:

6 = 3 pairs (3 male, 3 females) ... these are pairs at the end of the play
4 parents (parents of the hero and the anti-hero)
4 - Chronos plus 3 accompanying figures
4 - Tychia plus 3 accompanying figures
2 figures for "begin" and "end" (Climarchus and Trumpeter)

Some of the allegorical figures appear not on the stage or as speaking persons, but only as name mentioned in the play (for instance the "symbolic parents").
from myself wrote: 0 Lepidus (the "introducing author')
1-3 Climarchus (begin, not appearing neighbour)
2-3 two funny servants (Tychia group)
4-6 the three male lovers
7-8 two female lovers
9-12 the 4 parent figures
13 Mnimia as the surprizing 3rd woman
14-17 Chronus group
18-19 Volipedia and Tychia (Tychia group)
20 Trumpeter (end)

So we have totally:

Introduction with Lepidus
1: Climarchus, the barber (left neighbour to Doxia) - is given only by the scene background (3 houses), the scene is dominated by Phroneus
2: Diotinus, the freedman of Tychia (Tychia-group) (right neighbour to Doxia) - promises to help Philodoxos
3: Dynastes, the slave of Tychia (Tychia group) - tries to arrange that Fortunius gets Doxia
4: Philodoxos (pair - male) - on a triumphal march
5: Fortunius (pair male) - disturbs the good hopes of Philodoxos)
6: Phroneus (pair male) - tricks Fortunius to visit another triumphal march
7: Phimia (pair-female) - only scene with Phimia (Fame), she cares for the good name and the reputation
8: Doxia (pair female) - Philodoxos declares his love to Doxiain a monolog
9: Argos (parent - father Philodoxos) - Philodoxos spies the talking of the slaves (Argos has 100 eyes)
10: Minerva (parent - mother Philodoxos) - Philodoxos shows further details of his character
11: Autadia (parent - mother Fortunius) - Fortunius shows his arrogance
12: Thraso (parent - father Fortunius) - Fortunius makes his crime, he robs Phimia)
13: Mnimia (pair female)
14: (Chronos - Chronos-group) - 1st appearance of Chronos
15: (Alithia - Chronos-group) - Alithia is called here by her real identity: daughter of Chronos, guarded by Mnimia
16: Bailiff - Chronos-group - only scene with him, in search for the criminal
17: Calilogus - Chronos-group - only scene with him, documents the criminal case
18: Volipedia - Tychia-group - only scene with him, attempts to keep Fortunius away
19: (Tychia - Tychia group) - last appearance of Tychia, she's successful to excuse Fortunius
20: Trumpeter - only scene with him, successful and lucky finish
This was analyzed by me as the "original scheme" of the play.

The 4x13 game, which I mentioned in my last post and which I saw developing into a 5-suit-deck and a 4x15-deck by additions of cards, is a Ferrarese matter. Alberti is a student in Bologna - where he writes the theater play in 1424, but hides, that he the author. The theater play became successful. Alberti claims in the beginning, that he has found an old text from an author "Lepidus".

Naturally we don't know, if the version is really the original Alberti-version of 1424.

here is more presentation
and here is included the text of the play: ... umento.pdf
Tarot fits in well with Alberti's writings, and not just the Philodoxus (I am thinking of his writing on hieroglyphs, which started c. 1430).

Alberti had contacts in Ferrara since 1438 and its plausible, that he got information about the Trionfi productions there or participated in the creative discussions.
Alberti's Ferrarese experiences are somehow incorporated in the "Momus", which he wrote between 1443-1450. The "Momus" was taken from Lucian, Lucian's texts came to Alberti through Guarino. Alberti was apparently enthusiastic about Lucian and imitated Lucian texts. .
The Momus cultivated the figure of the "Beggar" ... the beggar became part of the Mantegna Tarocchi (figure A1) produced in Rome after Alberti had lived and died in Rome 1472. Later art identified the beggar type with Momus (the early god).
Alberti possibly influenced the Love card of the Charles VI Tarot (dance of 3 pairs) with his Philodoxus, Alberti had communication with the young Lorenzo de Medici and wrote a work (about 1460) for his education (in whose cycle the Charles VI Tarot likely was produced just a little later).

The more fundamental question is: which came first, the proto-CY or the proto-PMB? The only reason for introducing the PMB into the discussion is if you think a version of it is the ur-tarot. And that's just what the 5x14 theory says: that the ur-tarot was dreamed up by Bianca Maria Visconti and her girlfriends at Christmas time in 1440, and is expressed in the "14 figures" made for her in Jan. 1441. Then, you say, her father didn't like it and had his own version drawn up, a modification of the 14 figures, the 16 figures of the CY. Then Bianca finally got her deck made when she became duchess.

[Note added later: it appears from his most recent post that Huck has abandoned the idea that Bianca et al were the originators. Please clarify, Huck.]
Tarot is a child of many fathers, a long development with many different influences. Naturally the 5x14-version of Bembo (from c. 1452) has a key-role. It hasn't 22 trumps, but nonetheless it's very near to that, what later became Tarot. About the 14 figure of 1441 we simply have "no information" ... of course we may suspect some similarity to the 5x14-game of Bembo. But as we know, the whole development is very creative, Michelino deck, Boiardo poem, Sola-Busca Tarocchi, it might ALSO be, that the girl's version of 1441 was totally different to anything, what we know.

We see:
  • A life-lasting friendship between Bianca Maria and Beatrice dEste, later wife of Tristano Sforza and becoming an important person at the Milanese court
    70 card decks made in 1457 in Ferrara
    Trotti notes, that Trionfi is a good card game (Ferrara 1456)
    5x14-deck produced in Milan by Bianca Maria, once a guest in Ferrara
    14 figure produced for guest Bianca Maria at 1.1.1441 in Ferrara, when Bianca Maria is 15-16 and Beatrice 14 years old
    1422: possibly the production of a 5x13 deck in Ferrara
    Further we see: Imperatori is a card game, in documents only in Ferrara
Further we see chess-productions, based on 16
Michelino deck, Milan (Chess ?)
Cary-Yale, Milan (Chess !)
Charles VI, Florence (Chess !)

Further we see:
Ferrara 1441: many children
Milan 1441: lonesome Visconti, lonesome Bianca Maria
Later: Bianca Maria gets many children, the Sforza family plays cards

"Many children" play cards
Lonesome person consider chess the most educative game
And more simple: It's a basic for card games with 4 persons, that you need 4 persons. It's a basic for chess, that you need only 2 persons.

From this conditions it's likely, that the Ferrarese family composition with "many children" developed practical card playing culture. So somehow it seems likely, that card playing ideas developed via Ferrara. The "Tarot-as-game story" inclusive Imperatori developments likely was formed there.
Tarot as chess imitation ... that's more lonesome Visconti style. A Chess Tarot also developed in Florence. That's logical, as playing card prohibition in Florence was far stronger than in Northern Italy. In contrary chess was allowed and, even in times, when card playing was not generally prohibited, it was "socially accepted" as a worthwhile game and card had a vague state as "once being prohibited".
Well, I find that idea implausible.I don't deny that Bianca Maria was a driving force behind the PMB, whenever it was. But It seems to me that the proto-CY was earlier, and that its program was drawn up by an erudite humanist of Visconti's court. Bianca Maria was already a fan of the tarot before Christmas 1440. If the 14 figures were a proto-PMB, they may have been her and her girlfriends' ideas, or even Leonello and his friends' ideas, once he knew what Bianca Maria liked (he was courting her), but they were variations on something already established. She had played the game with her mother and/or father.

Everything about the CY, in comparison to the PMB, says "earlier." If you look at the Emperor card, it is the same type as the Brera-Brambilla's, different from that of the PMB. The style is earlier, too, more ornate, again more like the BB's.
It's not debated, that CY is earlier than PMB. The real content of the 14 figure of 1441 is simply not known (and the chances, that we will ever get information about it, are small). Nonetheless the document had big importance and caused, that the early Ferrarese situation was researched with more attention.

Ross proposes a scholar of some sort in Bologna. That is more believable. Against that I have what looks like a connection to the Michelino, my argument about how the Fool got to be a wild card, the stylistic features on the first known cards, and then how they would have got from Milan to Bologna in time for a 1442 sale in Ferrara. And while there were other humanists in Milan and Pavia who could have done the job, I have given reasons for thinking that Martiano might have designed both the Michelino and a proto-CY, and that his personal situation may have had something to do with why the game wasn't played at court.
Ross combines his proposal with the idea, that the 22 special cards existed, not only in number, but also in content, if I understood this correctly.
It kicks a lot of our long, detailed considerations about a rather different development from the board. His argumentation is based on the single document about a cross-eyed servant, who bought a relative cheap deck from a merchant of Bologna.
In his argumentation and presentation he forgets to tell, that this merchant definitely had business relations with Sagramoro, who since 1422 produced at least occasionally playing cards in the same year 1442 before (and who possibly produced this not only for the court). He does not note the possibility, that the merchant simply might have bought his decks from Sagramoro; that Sagramoro might have been sold out, so that the Ferrarese court had to buy it from the merchant. That's a common, not totally unusual, situation between a publisher (in this case Sagramoro) and his distributors (in this case Burdochio).
The deck was made with 4 noble versions for Leonello (document February 1442) and then perhaps with a small other cheaper edition for guests, visitors etc., which were sold to others ... during the festivity, bound to a specific situation. Then Sagramoro had a rest of the edition ... this he sold to a merchant outside of the city, the market in Ferrara being considered satisfied. But suddenly the court desired to have such a deck again. Sagramoro had to say, that Burdochio still had those decks.
Naturally this is as an explanation "fiction", but as an behavior typical for modern book trade for instance. You produce something, the market for it turns dead and you sell the rest of it to a distributor, who pays a much lower price.
The document isn't a 100% guarantee, that the Bolognese merchant sold Bolognese decks.

Even if he did, then it's seems more plausible, that we would have then an imitation of decks from Ferrara or Milan. And as with the document of 1.1.1441 we also have to say, that "we simply don't know the content" of these decks. And there's no reason to assume a very strong Bolognese card production in this time, as argued before, at least one cannot point to many documents, which testify this. Well it might be, that during the time of Baldassare Cossa there was a stronger playing card industry, but definitely for the 20 years 1417-1438 there was likely strong prohibitive opposition. Now with Visconti reigning in Bologna since May 1438 the market might have opened again, but actually, the installation would have needed some time. Alright, the possibility exists. But an infrastucture like "court in Milan" or "court in Ferrara", which somehow had political reason to produce Trionfi decks for propaganda, is not really given in Bologna. The Bentivoglio had a rather insecure state then.

But Ross arguments, that all 22 motifs existed in this deck... and we have no evidence for this game-structure till the Boiardo poem c. 50 years later, and the Boiardo poem didn't use the later standard motifs.

If I would ask, where this evidence shall be, Ross (likely) would argue, as Michael J. Hurst before and also the team Depaulis-Decker-Dummett, wíth the overall situation and the assumption, that there must have been one original deck at the begin of the development, which formed all this differentiations.
Let's take the metaphor of a river. I see with my theory, that many small rivers finally end in a big river, mass production of a specific deck-type, Tarot. The other theory seems to see the reality of a tap (a valve, also called faucet and spigot), one source and then the variations.
Well, reality has different objects, sometimes a development had worked as a tap, sometimes it follows the river-rule. Inside the tap-theories one usually has to find one origin, but in the reality of the river rule one finds many.
I found meanwhile many origins. If one origin as in the tap variant would exist, it likely would be known and it wouldn't be a riddle, how Tarot developed. Somebody would be famous for it. Nobody is famous for it, and it is a well researched topic.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 15 Apr 2011, 23:20
by mikeh
Yes, very nice, Huck, although I think Ross's case for the merchant selling a Bolognese deck in Ferrara is better than you make out; and the issue of one main author vs many is also muddied by our woeful ignorance, probably never to be dispelled.

One point I didn't understand was your answer to the question, why 13 trumps? Could you explain again just that point. One thing that occurs to me is that it might be 12 trumps (3 to each suit, it's one of the multiples of 4 that I like), an expansion of Imperator's 8, plus the wild card Fool.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 16 Apr 2011, 10:11
by Huck
mikeh wrote: One point I didn't understand was your answer to the question, why 13 trumps? Could you explain again just that point. One thing that occurs to me is that it might be 12 trumps (3 to each suit, it's one of the multiples of 4 that I like), an expansion of Imperator's 8, plus the wild card Fool.
Hm ... it's a diverging thread with many details: didn't you see this ... post 47 in this thread?
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=694&p=10227&hilit= ... rco#p10227
Ferrara 1422, the first document with playing cards:
1422, adi XXIII de marco,
Maistro Iacomo depictore de havere per factura de tredexe cartexelle da zugare che luy fe de novo a tute sue spexe, tra le qualle ge ne fo cinque figure, o per recuncare, zoe retinte la cuverta de rosso de quattre para de carte, computantdo una para de quelle che gie refe le cuverte nove de carte extimade per li factura L. VI. Factures solvi faciant dictam pecuniam L. VI.
Iacobus Zilfredus scripsit XI aprilis 1422
Benastru d'Ipocratibus ...
Ortalli interprets the passage: "In the 1422 document he (Iacopo Sagramoro) had been given a twofold task: he had to repair 4 packs of playing cards to be painted red on the back, and make 'ex novo' 13 'cartexelle', five of which were figures (and therefore the other 8 numerales). It is difficult to say whether these new cards were or were not an independent pack; they may even have been required for some game with only 13 cards of which we have lost all trace. I would surmise it is more likely that the new cards were intended to replace missing or irreparably damaged cards in the four packs to be repaired, and since the backs of all the cards were repainted the new cards would not stand out from the old ones." In context to this Ortalli relates to another entry from 1423, in which Sagramoro also was used as card-restorator: "... he had to repair the back, fix the corner, glue down where necessary and make two new cards." We will meet Sagramoro at other occasions: although being a painter of
probably only minor value, he became the great Trionfi artist of the early time.

There's a Ferrarese document, which talks (possibly) from "13 added cards", which (perhaps) should be regarded as an action, which formed a 5x13-deck in Ferrara 1422 (it's the first Ferrarese playing card document), though it seems, that the 5th suit was not decorated with triumphs in the later way.

13 cards for 4 suits (just as nowadays) is the "standard version" already for Johannes of Rheinfelden, and it's as the basic model also given by Master Ingold. An early 5x13-structure deck in Ferrara (1422) would be a logical pre-development of a later 5x14-deck in Ferrara (1441, 1457).

That's the reason, why I talked from 13 cards. I don't know, why you prefer 12 for the early cards.

However: In the later German development (maybe since 1450) 12-card-suits became common (stripping the Ace), at least as regional patterns ... for instance the Hofämterspiel (1455)

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 16 Apr 2011, 22:35
by mikeh
Huck wrote
13 cards for 4 suits (just as nowadays) is the "standard version" already for Johannes of Rheinfelden, and it's as the basic model also given by Master Ingold. An early 5x13-structure deck in Ferrara (1422) would be a logical pre-development of a later 5x14-deck in Ferrara (1441, 1457).
Thanks, Huck. That answered my question. I didn't know that 13 card suits were standard then, just like today. I thought 14 was standard. But why not? It had to start becoming standard sometime. If a 13 card trump suit makes sense added to a deck with 13 cards in the four suits, then it would seem to make sense (to me) that a deck with 16 card suits would naturally have 16 trumps added to it. That helps support the argument that the CY had 16 trumps.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 17 Apr 2011, 03:49
by Huck
mikeh wrote:Huck wrote
13 cards for 4 suits (just as nowadays) is the "standard version" already for Johannes of Rheinfelden, and it's as the basic model also given by Master Ingold. An early 5x13-structure deck in Ferrara (1422) would be a logical pre-development of a later 5x14-deck in Ferrara (1441, 1457).
Thanks, Huck. That answered my question. I didn't know that 13 card suits were standard then, just like today. I thought 14 was standard. But why not? It had to start becoming standard sometime. If a 13 card trump suit makes sense added to a deck with 13 cards in the four suits, then it would seem to make sense (to me) that a deck with 16 card suits would naturally have 16 trumps added to it. That helps support the argument that the CY had 16 trumps.
Yes, a 5x16 deck is a very naturally idea inside the known deck variants.

John of Rheinfelden lived in Germany (Freibourg), Master Ingold lived in Germany (Strassburg), the Mamluk-deck (possibly c. 1500) is assumed to have had 4x13 (no other structural information known from this side).
We have no early structural information from . Later Italian Trappola decks had no queen.
Johannes describes three 4x13-decks with differences in the court cards (also some with queen), a 5x13-deck and 6x13-deck and the 4x15-deck, which becomes the major topic (according a translation of a passage which I saw). Curiously an article of Arne Jönssen gave the information, that there were games 52 cards, 60 cards and 72 cards ..


.. which either is Joenssen's error or perhaps the indication, that there was a 6x12-deck (instead of 6x13).

Well, Joenssen promised years ago to translate the text, but as far I see it, nothing happened. Joenssen had taken the investment to get all 4 surviving versions of Johannes of Rheinfelden and renewed the claim, that Johannes of Rheinfelden had really been written 1377 (which was doubted by some researchers before, who saw "later interpolations" and thought, that a major part of the text was added 1429).


Compare also the overview for German 15th century decks
14-cards-suited decks as in Tarot are also known in Germany (for instance Ambraser court deck, also the 5x14-deck of Master PW), but they are not dominant.

Re: The Ur Tarot: the very beginning

Posted: 21 Apr 2011, 03:57
by mikeh
Well, Huck, I have just one more question. You said that Juno represented earth in the Michelino. I know that Juno sometimes did represent air, But in the texts that were read then--notably Fulgentius and its derivatives, such as the Echecs Amoureux--she represents air. I went back and reviewed your discussion of Juno in relation to the c. 1420 manuscript palat. 1066 that I started a thread for (your post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=655&start=10#p9825). So where does Juno = Air" come from in the context of the times.

In re-reading that thread, I notice that the c. 1420 manuscript's verses refer to riches ("opibus") in relation to three of its gods. For Pluto we have
Ligno coronatus, opibus dictatus, inferis prelatus, Cerbero delatus, Etati ligatus, Furiis armatus, et Fatis vallatus.
(wood-crowned, riches-controlled, prelate below, Cerberus tasted, Etati (?) imprisoned, Furies armed, and Fates entrenched.)

For Juno we have
diviciis vel opibus ditata, viribus orbata, vestibus aurata, pavone curata, yride lustrata, capite velata, in sublimi sita, ungentis linita.
(something about riches,.., clothed in gold, ..., rainbow-illuminated, head veiled, in a high spot, ungents.)

And for Neptune we have
Cornutus, opibus exutus, Arpiis adiutus, statura levatus et mole gravatus, canicie delbatus, sale coronatus, tridente sceptrizatus, Stigi maritatus.
(Horned, exuding riches, harpy-served, stature inclined and sickly grave, ..., trident-sceptered, married to Styx.)

From my post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=655&start=1. I wish I understood the Latin verse about Juno better:

Juno and Neptune are the only overlap between Michelino and palat. 1066. In both cases, the gods are seen as a source of riches, but not in relation to the four elements that I can see. Possibly Neptune is water, but it isn't said. And possibly Juno is air, for her rainbow.

So on what basis do you make Juno = Earth?

I am more and more thinking that palat. 1066 is an important transition text between the Michelino, with its gods (often corresponding in details to Martiano's), and the Cary-Yale, with images that connect well with ms. palat. 1066's illuminations that go beyond the gods: i.e. the virtues, fortune, the entombed Phaeton and the lady who puts him there, and a few other things.

And the language of the verses, at least about gods and riches, ties in well with Martiano's language.