Schedel'sche Weltchronik / Nuremberg Chronicle

Huck wrote:5 pictures of this deck are presented at "Il Castello dei Tarocchi".


All these pictures have two dice results, and all 5 motifs appeared in the 1493 "Schedel'sche Weltchronik" without dice results.
In 1494 Bianca Maria Sforza married the new Roman king Maximilian of Habsburg. Bianca Maria was addicted to playing cards. German public seems to have been interested to answer with publications on this new political reality.

One of the projected Nurremberg publications became a book project about "Roman Trionfi", started in 1493 and finishing with no result in 1496/97, likely stopped cause the new political realities didn't apply to the expected "big business" with Italian-German topics.

The deck seems to have been a product of this "too enthusiastic" short period. There are more than this 5 cards, and perhaps we will get better information in near future.
I start this thread in order to discuss the important news reported by Huck in the News and Updates thread.

See also this beautiful card posted by Huck, featuring something that looks like a domino tile.
hoo wrote:Thanx Huck ! I look forward to further revelations. Googling for "Schedel'sche Weltchronik" I found a surprise link on Wikipedia to a very nice colored editon of what should be this book, though it is called the "LIber Chronicum" at the Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum (MDZ). The sun and moon picture from the card appears several times along with many other interesting things.
There is also a very similar uncolored book with same title, but significant differences. Many of the best illustrations are missing and it is a much more boring book.

If I understand correctly, these 5 images on those cards are taken from this book. I think this is a very important discovery for Tarot History. It shows a completely different deck from the Visconti etc. and a definite source for the images. From a book ! It certainly puts the traditional Tarot in a new perspective.

Of course, decks like the Mantegna and the Minchiate demonstrate a much broader iconography than the Visconti already. But here we have a known source for the card images.
- The dice are also quite nice
So, Hoo has found that the Weltchronik (history of the world) is available online. I attach the two pages that include the sun/moon image.
The paragraph illustrated by this image:

Quintus Curcius philosophus[?] increpavit Alexandrum eo quem sibi optabat adhiberi divinos honores. d.
Si deus es largire nobis beneficia immortalitatis et non aufferas.
Si homo semper id cogita aliis postposit.
In diebus quibus Alexander natus est: diris prodigiis romani territi fuerunt.
Nam sol visus est pugnasse cum luna. Saxa sanguine sudaverunt: in die plures lune apparuerunt in celo.

Nox usque ad plurimam diei partem tendi visa est tunc et saxa de nubibus cecidere et per septem dies grando lapideis immixtis et testarum fragmentis terram latissime verberavit.
Olimpias mater Alexandri occiditur: que mortem sine omni pavore muliebri imperterrita suscepit.


Quintus Curcius complained that Alexander had ordered that divine honours were offered to him. “If you are a god, give to us the benefits of immortality, do not take them. If you are a man, think always of this and forget the other thoughts [?].

In the days in which Alexander was born, the Romans were frightened by great prodigies. It seemed that the sun fought against the moon. Stones sweated blood: during the day, multiple moons appeared in the sky. The night extended to the greatest part of the day and stones fell from the sky and for seven days a wide area was stricken by a hail of stones mixed with fragments of clay.

Olimpiades, mother of Alexander, was killed: she faced death without any womanly fear.

The first paragraph is derived from Quintus Curtius Rufus' "Histories of Alexander the Great" VII,8. Possibly, also the other two paragraphs derive from the same text.

Thinking of the Sola Busca deck, I find interesting that these two pages include a number of the court cards of that deck (Alexander, Olimpias, Philip, Natanabo/Nectanabus).
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Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

Thinking of the Sola Busca deck, I find interesting that these two pages include a number of the court cards of that deck (Alexander, Olimpias, Philip, Natanabo/Nectanabus).
I have never given the Sola Busca a close look. It's very engaging. I found a complete medium-rez gallery
I wonder what you are seeing in the correspondences. I can't really find anything particular. Perhaps this image gallery does not represent the original deck ?
- It would be very exciting if images from the Sola Busca were to be found in the Weltchronik.

I too noted the guy hanging upside down in the section at the back of the book. this is one of the "many other interesting things" I mentioned. w0w
Deliver me from reasons why you'd rather cry - I'd rather fly...
Jim Morrison - The Crystal Ship

Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

Quintus Curcius complained that Alexander had ordered that divine honours were offered to him. “If you are a god, give to us the benefits of immortality, do not take them. If you are a man, think always of this and forget the other thoughts [?].
Thanks for the translation, Marco.

Curious, in the sun of Este deck is too Alexander.
When a man has a theory // Can’t keep his mind on nothing else (By Ross)

Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

Huck and hoo, this is a treasure, thanks for sharing.

Looking through the book, I've noticed many images that seem to have inspired the artist of the Tarot Egyptien (Le Chaos, Les Oiseaux, La Lumiere, Le Temple Foudroye & Le Capucin for starters). The card on the left is from the Grand Jeu de Oracle des Dames. The image on the right is a detail of the image on page 101.

This might be better in a thread of its own - Robert, please feel free to move...


Edited to correct the misleading attribution to Etteilla...
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

I think that the Sola-Busca deck has been derived from a chronicle book similar to this one. The range of characters that we find in the Sola Busca deck is the same that we find here: a mix of biblical, mythical and historical characters. It would be interesting to search this text and see if it accounts for the details we see in the SB trumps and court figures. The illustrations of the Chronicle definitely are more generic than the SB illustrations: they were meant to be reused simply changing the label associated to the character.

A formal element that strikes me as an interesting parallel is the symmetric way in which Roman consuls are presented, i.e. the regular alternation of right and left-facing characters (I attach an example from p.245 of the pdf).
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Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

The original is in Latin, but a translation to "old German" was done quickly. The translation was done by Georg Alt and Conrad Celtis criticized it.
Michael Wolgemut had his work shop in the "Gasse under der Veste", Nr. 21, later he bought two other houses in the same street. Here Dürer was taught the art of engraving (30th of November 1486 - 1st of December 1489 are the dates of the contract). In number 19 (same "Gasse") lived Hartmann Schedel (the major author, he himself wrote about 62 % of the original manuscript; Georg Alt wrote 24 % and 4 others are identified by their hand), in number 9 Sebald Schreyer (who gave the money) and in number 3 Anton Koberger (printer and distributor).
The contracts are called "very well documented" and give insight into this book business till 1509 (the research situation is called better then in any other book production). Special care was taken for the woodcuts, and they were protected against disallowed reprinting of the edition. The Latin edition is given with the printing date 12th of June 1493, so before the death of the German emperor.
The book contained 1804 pictures, but only from 652 woodcuts, which partly were repeated in the book. Pope Leo Ii. has the record with 17 representations in the book.

In 1509 (last document) 595 books were not sold (535 in Latin, 60 in German), the total edition is believed to have had 1400 Latin and 700 German prints (from which 400 from the Latin and 300 from the German are estimated to exist till nowadays !!!! ).
200 of the sold editions went to Milan ... that's the biggest part. Do we see here the influence of the "Empress in spe"? 70 to Florence, 24 to Genova, 40 to Bologna, 40 to Vienna, 40 to Lyon, 80 to Paris. Spthere's a big participation of the Italian market.

For the existence of the card deck it might be, that the deck is just a side way advertisement of the bigger book project ... so just a connected small business with reduced costs, cause the woodcuts were already paid by the book.

Germany has enough signs to believe, that the lot book culture was well established. The combination of pictures with dice results should come from this direction, perhaps stimulated by the "new information" (possibly transported by members of the entourage of the new empress) that Italians had a card deck structure with 21 or 22 special cards. Nurremberg was definitely in Germany the biggest playing card producing city during 15th century (at least 38 producers are known by an older counting, which possibly would know more nowadays). In 1493 Nurremberg might have even been the biggest playing card production city in Europe.

No deck of the 15th century production in Nurremberg has survived (at least none is accepted as being so old). This new deck might be the oldest.

In 2004/2005 a low cost facsimile edition was made for the Schedel'sche Weltchronik. ... :-) ... I was so happy to get one even for a reduced price, well, the German edition, which - as Celtis took it - has indeed somehow a careless quality, as far the translation is concerned.

Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

... some article confusion, see also ...



... a production of the Grand jeu de l'Oracle des Dames by Scarabeo 2003

Pen wrote (in the other thread, above noted):
Ross, thanks for the indepth info. and the corrections. I see now that the booklet states: Methode d'Etteilla, rather than attributing the design to him.

I used the Grand Jeu because I recognised the Folie/Japeth image, and have an oldish one. I think it's possible that the artist actually traced some images, because the ones that are most nearly exact are mirror images.

I might start a new thread and post images of the ones I found for comparison, but in the meantime:

Liber Chron. page # ............ Grand Jeu
79............................. Les Oiseaux

112............................. Le Temple Foudroye

101............................. Folie

128............................. Le Diable (enhanced)

225............................. La Lumiere

489.............................. Le Capucin

601.............................. La Mort (similar but not exact)

There's a stylistic similarity to the way the 'Hommes' and other figures are drawn in the Grand Jeu to those in the Liber Chron. too.

The numbers of Pen refer to the Schedel'sche Weltchronik

I took up the pictures, as suggested by Pen.

7 Birds



19 Tower



1 Fool



14 Devil



2 Sun



18 Hermit



17 Death




Indeed a nice finding, Pen ... :-)... though there is a doubt about some, the similarity of the Tower for instance is actually more or less a copy, no doubt. The 1870-author knew either the Chronica or copies of paintings.

Re: Schedel'sche Weltchronik

Ah Huck, and I'd just arrived to post the comparisons!

Perhaps the relevant part of Ross' post on the other thread would be good to have here too:

Ross G.R. Caldwell wrote:
Etteilla III - "The third in the sequence of avatars of Etteilla's pack recognised by Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt is Grand Etteilla III, known in its day as the Grand jeu de l'Oracle des Dames. On the basis of an example in the Rothschild Collection at the Louvre, it has been dated to about 1865. Grand Etteilla II went out of production soon after 1900, unable to compete with its two rivals. The Grand Oracle des Dames - Grand Etteilla III - was designed by G. Régamey, printed by chromolithography by Hangard-Maugé and published in Paris by M.-F. Delarue, Blocquel's son-in-law and the Parisian stockist for the publications of Blocquel and Castiaux. The inscriptions, at top, bottom and sides, are exactly the same as in Grand Etteilla II, and consequently the subjects are also the same; on card 5, however, there are no longer the symbols of the four Evangelists, but four genuine quadrupeds - clockwise from top right, a lion, a horse, a bull and an elephant. Etteilla's designs have, however, been transformed beyond recognition, with the aim of achieving a neo-Gothic style. Grand Etteilla III was highly popular for a time, but does not seem to have survived the First World War." (p. 149)

(I should note that I am puzzled by that last statement, since this deck is still in print and easily available where they sell divinatory tarots)

From the Chronicle's Japeth it is easy to see that the Grand Etteilla III's Folly is modeled upon it. The question is whether it is a direct source or if there is an intermediary, where Japeth was interpreted as a fool in another source. I can't answer this question without knowing if the illustrations in the Chronicle were published by 1865 (naturally by an artist redrawing them).

Added - Japeth is definitely not a "Fool" in the Chronicle - he is just dressed in contemporary garb, albeit with an "exotic" headress, to indicate foreignness. The "Fool" aspect is given in the Grand Jeu by adding bells to his hat and motley colors to his clothing.
I thought I'd edit to add the other images I prepared way back then (in spite of the ones posted by Huck) - it's good to compare them side-by-side. I left out the Fool as he's posted above, and the 'Chaos' card, as it's not similar enough.

And the complete image:

He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

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