I am working on a translation of Franco's second note on the CY. In this post I am going to give the first seven sections, out of ten, the first 10 pages out of 13. My goal is to produce an English translation as near as possible to the Italian original. Since the interrelationships of clauses is important to keep visually clear, the translation sometimes keeps the Italian word order, when not to hard to follow in English.. My short comments, mostly giving the original Italian, will be in brackets. The original is at http://www.naibi.net/A/506-MIFIOR-Z.pdf
; it is dated Feb. 12, 2016.
Milanese and Florentine Triumphs - Hypotheses and Comments
This note can be considered as the continuation of one written month ago 1 on Visconti tarot Modrone or Cary-Yale deck that will be referred to simply by the initials CY. That note had as subject title "elucubrazioni "; Michael S. Howard, who to had contributed that study, translated it with ruminations
2 and that term has led me to recognize that the subject was not digested enough. In fact, the conclusion of the previous note was not really conclusive, especially the uncertainty on the interpretation of the CY deck as a precursor of standard triumph decks or as a variant of such packs already in common use.
I turn to the subject by discussing some additional consideration on the virtues and assumed links with the Florentine minchiate. The CY being examined is and remains the same: no change at all whether you consider it in one way or another; however, its historical significance changes, and that very much: in light also of the teaching of Sylvia Mann, the importance of an original specimen before a standard is incomparably superior to that of an extravagant variation on a theme already known.
2. The Virtues
The era of the introduction of the triumphs coincides with that of the early Renaissance, and among the poetic and pictorial cycles of the time were very popular both the triumphs (with influences of non-immediate derivaton from classical civilization and from Petrarch's poem), and the virtues, often presenting their victory over the corresponding vices. In short, that we find among the triumphal cards some triumphs and some virtue does not occasion any surprise;
possibly a few other correspondences [risconti] are to be found in the tarot.
Everyone knows that the virtues are seven, four cardinal and three theological, but perhaps it is useful to provide some official clarification in this regard; this is how they are defined under the title, In summary
, in a catechism of 790 pages 3.
1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. 1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. 1835 Prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the means for achieving it. 1836 Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due. 1837 Fortitude ensures, in difficulties, steadfastness and constancy in the pursuit of the good. 1838 Temperance moderates the attraction of pleasures of the senses and provides balance in the use of created goods. 1840 The theological virtues dispose Christians to live in relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have God as their origin, motive and object, God known though faith, hoped for and loved for himself. 1841 There are three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. 1842 By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief. 1843 By hope we desire and await from God, with faith, eternal life and the graces to merit it. 1844 By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. It is "the bond of perfection" and the form of all the virtues.
I do not know if and how this doctrine of the virtues has already been superseded by more recent versions of the official catechism, but for our purposes it seems to me already more than necessary; if necessary, you should resort to the doctrine of the time, it will not be easy to find in a form similar "official". I add only (Fig. 1) a photo of Faith and Hope, designed by Andrea Pisano a century before the time in question here. Now we know enough to continue our reflections.
3. Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica
, Città del Vaticano 1992, pp.466-467.
[Translator's note: I was not able to get a good reproduction of Franco's photo to put here; you may go to page 7 of the original, but I found one on the Web just as good, at http://e-arthistory5.blogspot.com/2013_ ... chive.html
. There are also very clear photos of the two separately at https://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/ita ... 22hope.jpg
and https://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/ita ... 3fides.jpg
, by Mary Anne Sullivan at https://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/ita ... doors.html
Figure 1. Florence, Baptistry, detail from the South Door
Anyone interested in the tarot cards, in their various forms, structures and orders, certainly will bump into the problem of the virtues. The triumphal cards are ordered so as to see a growing power of the same - a necessary condition for using them in the game with no writing on them directly of their number in the series. Michael Dummett, having discussed at length the various kinds of orders for the major Italian cities, stressed the fact that precisely the three cards that represent three of the seven virtues (indeed, three of the four cardinal virtues) are the most erratic in the "canonical" orders of the triumphal card sequence. On issues like that I can defer to what is recurrently discussed in the literature, at least from 1980 onwards.
The reason why I will deal briefly with the virtues now is that the three theological virtues are in the CY; in this case three are preserved out of three, and the case is presented unusually favorably. As for the four cardinal virtues, only one of them is preserved, fortitude, and, on the other hand, the card of Prudence is absent in almost all tarot packs.
3. Direct Construction of the virtues
By direct reconstruction I mean the supposition that the CY is a variation on the theme of the tarot existing in their canonical form, and therefore attempts are made to associate the three "intruders" cards of the theological virtues, which would all be absent there at the beginning, to others replacing precisely those three. No one, to my knowledge, has suggested that the hypothetical complete sequence of triumphal cards in this deck was made up of at least 25 cards: the traditional 22 plus 3 new cards, precisely those of the theological virtues in question. Therefore, is it established that some figures of the tarot were inserted instead of the three theological virtues? Unfortunately an association group to group is not seen, and one should proceed to try different analogies for each individual card. For reports of this kind I can I can use as a basis the famous Encyclopedia
of Kaplan 4.
The trump cards Hope and Charity (and the card Faith, which is not shown) do not appear in traditional seventy-eight-card tarocchi decks but are found in minchiate packs, which generally comprise ninety-seven cards. For
this reason, some researchers believe the Cary-Yale tarocchi pack is either a minchiate deck or an intermediate game in the development and evolution of either tarot or minchiate. Hope depicts a crowned female figure in profile wearing a long robe, kneeling in prayer, with an anchor tied to her wrists. At the bottom of the card is a hunched figure of a man with a rope around his neck and with the words “Juda traditor” written in white letters on his purple garment. The despairing figure of vice is Judas. It has been suggested that the card of Hope may be a substitute for any one of several traditional Major Arcana cards missing in the Cary-Yale pack – Temperance, or The Hanged Man (suggested by the rope), or The Star with its symbolic meaning of rising new hope. Charity shows a crowned and seated female figure facing front who carries a silver torch in her right hand while supporting a suckling infant with her left arm. Charity is richly robed in an ornate gown with ermine cape. At her feet, beneath the throne at the bottom left of the card, is a crowned king suggesting King Herod. Charity may be a substitute for The Popess, but the image of a woman breast-feeding her child is inconsistent with the traditional imagery of The Popess. The Faith card depicts a female figure with a cross in her left hand; the index finger of her right hand is upraised to ward off evil spirits. Beneath her throne is a crowned king, possibly the figure of Heresy. Faith may be a substitute for The Pope or The Popess.
4. S. R. Kaplan, The Encyclopedia of Tarot
. Vol 1. New York 1978, p. 91.
When the same Kaplan puts all the preserved Visconti-Sforza cards in a long table on p. 64 of the same first volume of the Encyclopedia, he adds the three theological virtues above the 21 World, and also, with a question mark following, the Popess-Charity , Pope-Faith, and Hope-Starassociations. But we read in the text copied above that Hope, as well as replacing the Star, could have substituted for Temperance or even the Hanged Man. On the other hand, in place of the Popess could also have been inserted Faith, alternatively Charity.
As a source, the Encyclopedia
is not perfect because it does not distinguish sufficiently the associations suggested by the author from those suggested by other experts, who also are mentioned in general and collectively, without being named individually. For our purposes, absolute accuracy is not required, however; it is sufficient to understand if indeed there could be such a substitution. The very fact that recognizable clues were found and interpreted in favor of such associations can be considered a confirmation of that possibility.
4. Inverse Reconstruction of the virtues
By an inverse reconstruction I mean that there obtains in the CY a situation preceding the canonical form of the tarot and that, correspondingly, the three theological virtues were already present in this experimental and pioneering form. What card has subsequently substituted for that which was originally a theological virtue? Our task here becomes easy: we do not have to study the situation again, but we can take advantage of what has already been suggested. One simply has to copy down the similarities found before. Was it true that the existing Popess could have turned into a figure of Charity in the CY? Good; then it can also be said, now, that the pre-existing figure of Charity was then transformed over time (she may have lost the milk) into the canonical one of the Popess. The same applies for the Faith-Pope, Hope-Star couples and other hypothesized associations between a theological virtue and a "canonical" card.
In short, at first sight pairs of associated figures work in both directions. Looking more closely, however, it is not at all certain that the symmetry is really respected: it is possible, even probable, that a likeness suggested in one way proves far less convincing
when viewed in the opposite direction. There is also an asymmetry for the same basic reasons in the replacement of the figures: having a homogeneous group of three figures, how is it possible to "break it up" into three independent figures, or at least into one independent figure and a reduced group of two?
Furthermore, it is naturally more reasonable to find the three theological virtues together in a high position on the list, rather than away from each other or in the front positions. In short, if a replacement there was, it would seem more logical to the group the theological virtues and move them up in the ranking (direct reconstruction), rather than vice versa, their break-up and movement down (inverse reconstruction). On this basis one could conclude that the CY was obtained from a standard deck and not vice versa. However, one might also conclude that it is the very idea of a replacement that does not find sufficient handholds. The situation remains unclear; I will go back over this after pursuing another detour through ... Florence.
5. Comment on minchiate
In traditional Florentine minchiate there are no fewer than 41 triumphal cards; it seems unlikely that this deck, which has been used for centuries, was born with all its 97 cards. In particular, the cards of the four elements and the twelve zodiac signs are presented as a rear insertion within an already standardized sequence ; All historians agree on an interpretation of this sort. Among other things, it is a sequence that has an order recognizable in itself (which turned out not to be sufficient for their use as trump cards in a game, so that to ensure the order the cards were marked with the actual numbers). For example, this is quite reasonable given that the zodiac signs were not added so that one follows the other, in the same way as the corresponding constellations in the heavens succeed one another in the passing months. This is already a sequence a little different from that of Petrarch's triumphs, in which the victory and the triumph were more obvious and corresponded almost to victory in a battle.
What was the initial form of minchiate? No one knows. The only thing that is known is that the game of minchiate in 1477 was done
in multiple ways and that only the one in which cards were won was allowed. It was the difference between the cards taken which determined the final score, but how many all the cards in play were we do not know. Let us assume, just for the sake of argument, that the minchiate pack was originally a deck of 80 cards like the hypothetical CY reconstructed in the study described above, with the help of a possible analogy with minchiate, if only for the theological virtues. One would also be satisfied to have finally seen a minchiate with a "reasonable" structure. However, the discussion cannot end here. How did that CY, which looks like it was invented in the Visconti court, not leave traces in Milan, but leave them some time later in Florence? As if only in Florence had survived an experiment that in Milan would be born only to die very quickly after its birth.
Any reconstruction of the type [genere] ends in leaving us perplexed. Let us try once more to see the situation in reverse: is it possible that a primitive minchiate pack already in use in Florence has generated the Milanese CY? By primitive minchiate pack I mean here the pack of Florentine triumphs purchased by Giusto Giusti in 1440 5, which will be indicated from now on with the initials GG.
6. Two links in a chain
To continue the discussion some preliminary hypotheses. in part already used or under consideration. are necessary: we have already assumed that the CY was originally a deck of 80 cards, 40 pips [numerali, numbered], 24 courts [figurata], 16 triumphal [trionfali]; we admit that the GG Florentine triumphs (whether already called minchiate or not) has existed with its own composition not only before the corresponding standard of 97 cards, but even before the tarot of 78. While holding in the background the appropriate "standard" decks of tarot and minchiate as ultimate goals, we will examine three decks of "experimental " playing cards " as schematically shown in Fig. 2, that of Marziano da Tortona, referred to as the MZ, and also the CY and the GG. Unfortunately, the discussion must be based mainly on assumptions, advanced in succession: none of the three decks is precisely known; of the third, the only one for which we know with
5. Th. Depaulis, Le Tarot révélé
. La Tour-de-Peilz 2013, p. 17-18.
certainty the date of production, no card has survived; the only pack of which we have cards is the second, but not all are there, we are not sure how many and which are now lost. The first two packs present themselves as originating in the Milanese court of the Visconti, the first definitely linked, and partly due, to Duke Filippo Maria; perhaps also the second, at least if we accept an early date among those proposed. Already in these first two decks there are uncertainties. The MZ certainly has four kings and sixteen triumphal cards; uncertain is the number of cards of the four suits, including court cards possibly present alongside the king. Especially uncertain is whether this first known deck of triumphs, could really represent the first-ever attempt to create a pack of the type [genere]. with additional cards superior to the others. It also remains uncertain whether it was a totally isolated attempt, with no direct sequel, or if it can be considered as a link in a chain in which successive attempts take into account the prior ones (the identity of place is a clue especially favoring the chain).
The CY also has several uncertain points. The date of 1441 often proposed is not secure. For completing the preserved triumphal cards there are several possible scenarios and no certainty. The hypothetical reconstruction of 16 triumphal cards is based on a possible analogy with chess pieces and (especially in my opinion) on a possible analogy with the MZ - so that would in fact be a previous link on the same chain - with the same number of triumphal cards but already changed in the direction of the standard decks to follow.
The temporal sequence between the two is secure (in the sense that no one has yet proposed a date of the CY prior to the MZ), as is the fact that going from the first to the second we approach the typical tarot form, while not reaching it. Having admitted that the CY triumphal cards were originally 16, the same as those of the MZ, it is easy to assume that the gods or deified heroes are transformed into other triumphant characters, but with a similar structure (at the limit [al limite] also in so far as [per quanto riguarda} the "transformation" of the triumphal series into cards of the four suits, if the allocation proposed into four groups by Michael Howard is convincing).
The clients of these special packs cannot be overlooked. Especially for the CY, the origin in the ducal court of Milan unfortunately only serves
to explain the extraordinary character. This uniqueness could be of two different types, precisely those that we would like to distinguish, either an elegant variation on the theme of the traditional triumphs or an innovative intermediate structure that will lead to the standard triumphs. To decide, only Einstein with his space-tim ecan help: understanding the place to be that of the court of Milan, the time coordinate will be decisive and the prototype of great historical interest will be all the more likely the further back in time one can push the dating; Already 1441, the most often suggested, is too recent.
7. The third hypothetical link in the chain
At this point it may be useful to introduce into the discussion Florentine minchiate. What links minchiate with the above? Exactly nothing, it would be said, and so said all the experts, with the exception of some art historian ... not knowing the history of playing cards. But if we agree to call minchiate the first Florentine triumphs [Ma se accettiamo di chiamare minchiate i primi trionfi fiorentini], here in 1440 Giusto Giusti is ordering a pack, and no one knows how this GG might be constituted, except that it had especially the for us hardly useful coat of arms of Sigismondo Malatesta. There could not be a big difference between the Florentine and Milanese decks if the same Sigismondo Malatesta receives both for his use from Florence in 1440 and from Milan and Cremona some ten years later.
The cards of the Florentine triumphs could be born and developed in a manner completely independent of those of Milan, but this presents itself as a hardly logical reconstruction, and it appears rather likely that the two developments were somehow connected. There must then be considered the hypotheses that the Milanese triumphs gave rise to the Florentine and also, at least in principle, that the Florentine triumphs gave rise to the Milanese ones.
It may seem strange that I do not take into account Ferrara, also having in mind the subtitle of the fundamental book of Dummett, From Ferrara to Salt Lake City
. There is something not quite right about that [Qualcosa non torna.] Surely the courts of Milan and Ferrara were in close contact, but when in 1444 those two ducal courts played a little trionfi with special cards, players of the people in Florence were playing in the streets with
common decks. 8 They are precisely those packs of Florentine triumphs that could solve most of our remaining doubts in our historical reconstructions, necessarily [up to now] the result of unverifiable speculation. I am able to imagine "ordinary" packs like that, used by the people, as even [perhaps] produced by Milanese handicraft, in addition to Florentine, although I personally have some difficulty with Ferrara, where early triumphs are actually documented in court circles. [In response to my request for clarification, Franco tells me, "I am not able to imagine in Ferrara an active handicraft capable of producing a big amount of card packs, and people playing in the streets with ordinary cards of local production – as certainly was possible in Florence and maybe! in Milan.] (If anyone thought also of Bologna, or other cities, there might be clues in favor, but they can be overlooked in this discussion.) [Translator's note: in the graph below, I think there are supposed to be horizontal and vertical lines here, which did not show up on the pdf reader and print-out. I will try a different computer later, but I think it is readable as it is.]
(Figure 2. Scheme of packs discussed
[Milano = Milan; Firenza = Florence]
From Florence we have no information [notizia] of decks as old as the MZ, but certainly already in 1440 the GG presented no extraordinary novelty; it was enough to order its production at any of the local manufacturers of playing cards. For the dates attributed to the packs discussed, it does not appear impossible that the GG influenced the CY. However, since it is reasonable to bring the CY back to a local development from the preceding MZ, we would need to make a nice unsupportable somersault [un bel salto mortale] to suppose that the same Marziano had had the idea of his Milan deck from a somewhat similar effort underway in Florence when he was finishing, right there, his university studies. At the state of our current knowledge, this would be an acrobatic act hardly recommendable.
Consequently, we should reconstruct the chain as a derivation of the Florentine triumphs from previous ones in Milan, though not
from the Milanese standard ones but from the intermediate, so to speak, precisely the type of the CY. Then in Milan that deck would have been changed to the standard tarot, while in Florence it would remain as the basis of the next expansion of the traditional minchiate. Necessary conditions for the plausibility and validity of a reconstruction of the type [genere] are the CY being as close as possible to that of the MZ as dated and structured and absolutely not the later and extravagant occasional pack purposefully different from the ones already used at the time.
Translator's note: I will take up parts 8, 9, and 10, pp. 11-13, later. In the meantime, let me know how to improve the translation, and especially any mistakes I have made in presenting Franco's argument.