The essay raises several important issues, but for me the most interesting part had to do with the inventory of 1477, which turned up the item "ung jeu de cartes fait en triomphe", literally "a pack of cards made in triumph". This is not only close to "paro di carte da trionfi", but even perhaps closer to "paro di carte a trionfi". I am thinking of Pratesi's example to me of "vaso a fiori", meaning a vase with pictures of flowers on it, in other words "made in flowers", as opposed to a vase that has flowers in it.English summary: Tarot in France before 1500
Franco Pratesi has recently published some stunning documents pertaining to
Tarot cards in Florence in 1444, 1499 and 1506 (see his article in The Playing-
Card, Vol. 44, no. 1, July-Sep. 2015). The last date concerns a Florentine cardmaker's
probate inventory, where germini are mentioned (first occurrence!),
and also "1 paio di tr(i)onfi alia franc(i)osa non finiti", that is, a pack of Tarot
cards (trionfi) of French type. This would confirm my own hypothesis about
Tarot being known in Lyon in around 1500. But was the game known in France
We know that a tarot pack was presented to Queen Isabella of Lorraine in
1450, being sent by Jacopo Antonio Marcello, a Venetian patrician and an admirer
of King René of Anjou, Isabella's husband. It is not sure whether Isabella
ever played with these cards, but her grandson René II played triumphe in 1496.
Although the game of Triomphe is well known in France from 1480 on, it has
been suggested that this specific quotation may refer to Tarot.
Another still unpublished source is to be found in the inventory of Louis de
Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, made in 1477. Louis had been found to betray
both the King of France, Louis XI, who had made him his Constable of France
(Commander in Chief of the army), and the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the
Bold. In 1475 Louis de Luxembourg was arrested and sent to Paris, where he
was sentenced to death and beheaded. His furniture was seized by the Duke's
agents at Cambrai and inventoried twice, in 1475 and 1477. In the last inventory
we find "ung jeu de cartes fait en triomphe", which is so close to the Italian
expression "paro di carte da trionfi" (a pack of tarot cards), that we see no other
meaning for the French quotation. Since Louis de Luxembourg had no contact
with Italy, it is likely that his second wife Mary of Savoy, whose sister Bona
of Savoy had married Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, in 1468 and had
been taught Tarot while there, may have received the pack from Milan.
Two Tarot cards found in the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1985 (and thus not
included in the 'Tarot, jeu et magie' exhibition) were still wanting an attribution.
Looking at them again (they are now digitized and visible in the BnF
Gallica server), I now think they can be French, very probably made in Lyon.
French playing cards seem to have been quite common in Florence as early as
the late 15th century. Several poets, and even Lorenzo de' Medici in 1472, did
The inventory actually implicates more "of Savoy" women than just Marie and Bona. There was also the person conducting the 1477 inventory, Marguerite of Savoy, who knew what the object was, a cheap tarot deck. All three grew up, at least part of the time, in the milieu of the Savoy court. Depaulis says they are unlikely to have learned tarot there (p. 206).
But there was another woman in Savoy who would have known how to play tarot, namely, their aunt, also named Marie of Savoy. She had been in Milan as the wife of Filippo Maria Sforza from 1428 until his death in 1447. At some point, probably very soon, she would have returned to her family. I say "very soon", because the Duke of Savoy, Louis, very soon attacked the Ambrosian Republic by force of arms, with the object of taking it, but was beaten back by the forces of the Republic (see Wikipedia on Louis of Savoy). He seems to have been based in Turin at that point, because that is Marie the younger's birthplace in 1448. He would not have attacked if the older Marie was still there, it seems to me. A Duchess of Milan would have made a good figurehead ruler. Marie lived until 1469. This was time enough not only to teach her niece Bonne, born in 1449, but also her older sisters, Marguerite, born 1439, and Marie, born 1448. It is not excluded that the tarot pack was sent to Maria by Bona, but I see no reason to assume, as Depaulis does, that any of the three would not have been familiar with the game before their marriages. Marie was married to Louis de Luxembourg in 1466 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_of_ ... _Saint-Pol). And before that she had been considered for a marriage to one of the Sforza children, Filippo Maria, betrothed when she was 6. Although that betrothal was annulled, she may have been considered for other Sforza children. That would have been one reason to learn the game. As for Marguerite, she married Pierre de Luxembourg, the son of Louis de Luxembourg, sometime after the death of her first husband, the Marquess of Montferrat, in 1464 (so yes, she is her mother-in-law's older sister). As Depaulis points out, she would have played tarot in Montferrat (a small principality between Savoy and Lombardy), but even before her 1458 marriage she could have learned the game from her aunt, it seems to me.Pour autant, Marie de Savoie (Turin, 20 mars 1448 - Bohain, aout 1475), fille du duc de Savoie Louis, en dépit du lieu de sa naissance, n'est pas une princesse «italienne». Elevée en Savoie, entre Thonon, Geneve et Chambéry, Marie est imprégnée de culture francaise, encore tres gothique. En outre, le roi Louis XI a fait venir a la cour, des 1463, les soeurs de la reine, Agnes (née en 1445), Marie (née en 1448) et Bonne (née en 1449), puis Marguerite (née en 1439). Elevées a la francaise, Marie de Savoie et ses soeurs devaient tout ignorer du tarot.
(However, Marie of Savoy (Turin, 20 March 1448 - Bohain aout 1475), daughter of Louis Duke of Savoy, despite the place of her birth, is not an "Italian" princess. Raised in Savoy, between Thonon, Geneva and Chambery, Marie is steeped in French culture, still very Gothic. In addition, King Louis XI brought to his court, in 1463, the sisters of the queen, Agnes (born in 1445), Marie (born in 1448), Bonne (born in 1449) and Marguerite (born in 1439 ). Raised in the French manner, Marie of Savoy and her sisters would have been ignorant of the tarot.)
The once prosperous city of Saint-Pol-sur-Tournois, county seat of Saint-Pol, no longer exists, having been destroyed by Charles V in 1537 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise). All that is left is a small town, population 5000 today (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise). But its location is of interest because it is within about 12 miles of the earliest record, until the new one of 1477, of "triumphe" in France, the one in 1480, which is a directive regarding two nobles arrested in a brawl while playing "triumphe". This took me some dot-connecting between various texts to find out, plus Google Maps.
Depaulis does not say that this event, the brawl, is the one he means, but I do not know what else it could be, for 1480. He assumes it was a game with the ordinary deck (p. 203):
But is that one instance of "triumphe" in France of 1480 securely the one that used the ordinary deck? Here is Dummett, 1993 (original and footnotes at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15164&)Il a été suggeré que ce triumphe pouvait désigner le tarot. Mais il n'est pas possible d'être affirmatif, car le jeu de triomphe, attesté dans les sources françaises a partir de 1480, connaît une longue serie de citations aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles dont certaines sont assez éclairantes: il s'agit d'un jeu de levées simple, joué le plus souvent à quatre avec des cartes ordinaires. Il serait étonnant que cet emploi de 1496 fasse exception. Mais il est vrai que nous sommes en Lorraine, duché d'Empire, et non en France, oh sont localisées les autres references. Si René II n'a pu connaître sa grand-mère Isabelle de Lorraine, morte en 1453, alors qu il n'avait que deux ans, nous savons qu'il a passe sa jeunesse à la cour de son grand-père Rene d'Anjou, entre Angers et la Provence. La tradition du tarot aurait pu y survivre et lui être transmise. La question reste done un peu en suspens.
(It has been suggested that this triumphe could designate the tarot. But it is not possible to be affirmative, since the the game of triumph, attested in French sources from 1480, knows a long series of quotes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some quite illuminating: it is a game of simple raises, played mostly by four with ordinary cards. It would be surprising if this use of 1496 were an exception. But it is true that we are in Lorraine, a Duchy of the Empire, not in France, where the other references are located. If René II could not know his grandmother Isabelle of Lorraine, who died in 1453, when he was only two years old, we know that he spent his youth at the court of his grandfather René d 'Anjou, between Angers and Provence. The tradition of tarot could have survived and been transmitted to him. The question remains therefore a little open.)
However Dummett still leans toward thinking the game near Lille is the one with the ordinary deck. In justification he cites the same 1496 document that Depaulis now leaves "a little open", plus another in 1498, when "the office of the Archdeacon of Paris mentions la triumphe as a prohibited game in Paris". That reference is equally unclear; since it is after the French invasion of Italy, it could be a reaction to the game's new mass popularity; by then, it could also be the Spanish game. After that, of course, there is the new word for tarot.The first reference appears in a lettre de rémission (grace of the King for an offense committed) dated 1482 (8); it describes a fight that broke out in the town of Bethune, near Lille, due to a game of triumphe among four members of the aristocracy, one of whom killed another during the altercation (9). Now as far as I know, the word "tarocchi" had not yet been introduced in Italy. ...
On the other hand, the expression "triumphos cum chartis” is found in a statute of Reggio Emilia of 1500 in a context in which reference must be made to the game of Tarot, by analogy with similar ordinances of Salò, Brescia and Bergamo dating back to 14S8, 1489 and 1491. The possibility therefore remains open that the game mentioned in the lettre de rémission was not one that will be later practiced with the name of Triomphe and a normal deck, but a game of Tarot.
Bethune, as it happens, is about 30 miles from Lille. But it is a mere 12 miles or so from St.-Pol-sur-Ternoise, which at that point was not legally part of France but obviously controlled by it.
So which game was it, in 1480? One problem is that it is commonly assumed, since Dummett in 1980, that the word "tarot" or "tarocchi" was invented to distinguish the game with the ordinary deck, called "triomphe", from the game with the special cards, which had been called "trionfi" in Italy, and now "triomphe" in Cambrai (another city on the border of Burgundian Flanders, in 1477 temporarily occupied by France). If so, then either the word "tarot" is much older than commonly thought, or there weren't two games called "triumphe" in Bethune. So which was it?
In Italy, the game with ordinary cards was considered Spanish: "Triumpho Ispanico" (Vives, c. 1538, documented by Vitali at http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=238&lng=eng). Connections between Italy and Spain were rather better than between Italy and France, given that Spain controlled half the country; even so, the name change doesn't appear there until 1505. The game is described in detail by the Spanish writer Maldonado in 1541 (http://www.naibi.net/A/13-MALDO-Z.pdf. In England the game is referred to in Hugh Latimer's "sermon on the cards", attested, probably reliably, to be of the year 1529 but not published until 1563 (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1050). If the game were in France by 1480, one would expect earlier documentation in England, which then had much interaction with France in precisely this part of the country. Nor would it have gotten to nearby Burgundian Flanders by way of Spain. At the time Flanders was not yet in the ambit of Spain, which started in 1496 with the marriage of Joanna of Castile to Phillip the Handsome of Burgundy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_of_Castile).
It is easier to explain the migration to Bethune of tarot than it is of the game with the normal deck. Besides these two Savoy sisters, in communication with a third in Milan, another sister, Agnes, also married into the Northern French aristocracy, in 1466. Her husband was François d'Orléans-Longueville (1447–1491), "Count of Dunois, Tancarville, Longueville, and Montgomery, Baron of Varenguebec, Viscount of Melun, Chamberlain of France, Governor of Normandy and the Dauphiné, Constable and Chamberlain of Normandy" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_de_Dunois, under "progeny"). Her husband's position had been created by Charles VII for his father, the "bastard of Orleans", famous as the stalwart companion-at-arms of Joan of Arc. She lived, at least some of the time, in Longueville, which is just north of Rouen, later a famous card-producing city. I cannot find it on Google Maps, but it would probably be about 70 miles from St. Pol.
There was also a fourth Savoy sister in France, Charlotte, born 1441, married at age 9 to the Dauphin of France, later King, against his father's wishes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XI_of_France). The marriage was not consummated then, of course, but she must have been raised in her husband's court, at first in Dauphiné, which is next to Savoy, and then in Flanders, as her first daughter was born in the Chateau of Genappe, Brabant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_France). Again, there is much opportunity for contact with her family, whether in France, Savoy, or Milan. and ample opportunity for her to have learned to play tarot. She and her husband both died in 1483.
Charlotte connects with the tarot in two other ways. First, she shows up in tracing the two decks that Marcello sent to Isabelle of Lorraine--who didn't live in Lorraine but rather in her husband's homeland of Anjou (Depaulis says she was residing in Saumur at the time). After her death in 1453, Depaulis says, her possessions went to her husband, René I. Upon his death, he willed everything to his cousin Louis XI (p. 202).
Depaulis doubts that Isabelle actually played either game, and that they would have appeared as "artistic curiosities without other utilization", in which the tarot was even considered secondary. However it seems to me that the Michelino at least would have been saved on the basis of its artistic merit, and if so, then likely the other as well. There is also the possibility that Rene II knew the game, based on the 1496 document, learned from Rene I. When the decks got to Louis XI in 1480, assuming they did, he probably would have deferred to his wife, considering their Italian origin and that they were games suitable for women and children. She would have been familiar with the tarot from her family, just as the other sisters would, and probably even known something about the famous Michelino work from her aunt.René semble avoir hérite les biens d'Isabelle, morte en 1453, puis, René a son tour decide, en 1480, ses collections allérent pour la plupart enrichir celles du roi de France Louis XI, son cousin. Le livret seul a survécu, aujourd'hui dans les collections de la BnF.
(René seems to have inherited the property of Isabella, deceased in 1453, and René decides its turn, in 1480, that his collections would go mostly to enrich those of King Louis XI of France, his cousin. The booklet alone has survived, today in the collections of the BNF.)
From there, Depaulis loses the thread (or perhaps just interest). However the trail can be picked up by means of another connection, at least visually, between Charlotte and tarot that did survive, a painting done c. 1472 in which Charlotte is put with St. Francis adoring the Christ Child (http://www.cornettedesaintcyr.fr/html/f ... 1&aff=1&r=). There is no dispute about her identity, as she is named in the title of the painting in the inventory of her goods after her death (above website), and her monogram and that of Louis XI are on the back. I expect that this sale was recent, as the part of the painting with Charlotte has only recently appeared on Charlotte's Wikipedia web-page. (Yes, I check it regularly. This is not the first time I have written about her. But it is the first time I have seen the painting there, as opposed to an engraving of her taken from the painting.) It is judged by the expert who has written on the painting, Charles Sterling, to be "school of Savoy".
The association to the tarot is by way of the Goldschmidt cards, specifically the "lady at a kneeler", who might correspond to the Popess (far right below).
She bears an unmistakable likeness to Charlotte in the painting, although looking a bit older. I would observe also that one of the Goldschmidt cards has the arms of the Dauphin and Dauphine itself, a stylized dolphin. Other noble houses also had such arms, to be sure, but the combination of the two is striking. Charlotte before 1461 would have been the Dauphine. The pigment analysis done on the cards in the 1950s by the Doermer Institute also places it near that time: "mid-15th century"; but such analysis gives a lower limit rather than a specific date, given that paints continue to be made and kept after they have been superseded by other paints. There was rapid technical advance in paint at that time; but Savoy, if that is where the deck was painted, perhaps by a foreign artist, was not a center of artistic fashion. The dolphin bears a distinct resemblance to one of the cards of the late "PMB clone" decks, such as the Bartsch and the Rosenthal (assuming it is a true copy of something now lost), as Huck and Phaeded showed us (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=691&p=16391&hilit= ... hal#p16393 and the post before). It seems to me that they were most likely done after 1480, which is when the art historians say that the PMB "second artist" cards were done (the artist, Antonio Cicognara, is one of the few things, when it comes to these decks, they all agree on).
This period was in fact a time of considerable connections between France and Milan. Here is Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XI_of_France):
Venice, Naples, and the Papal States also entered into favorable relations with Louis. Wikipedia's Footnote 40, like many others in the article, is to a book called Louis XI: The Universal Spider, 1971.Despite his connection by marriage to the royal house of Savoy, Louis XI had continuously courted a strong relationship with the Francesco I Sforza Duke of Milan, who was a traditional enemy of Savoy. As evidence of this growing close relationship between Milan and the King of France, Sforza, the Duke of Milan sent his own son, Galeazzo Maria Sforza at the head of five thousand (5,000) foot and horse soldiers to aid Louis XI in his war against the League of Public Weal in 1465. Recently, differences had arisen between France and Milan, that had cause Milan to seek ways of separating itself from dependence on the French. However, with the downfall of Burgundy in 1476, France was seen in a new light by Milan. Milan now hurriedly scuttered back into its alliance with Louis XI.
Perhaps the Goldschmidt was done for one of Charlotte's children, either Anne, who was regent for her brother Charles VIII until he attained his majority, or else Charles himself, who was Dauphin until 1483. Either way, Charles would have known about the tarot. That also might explain why, of all the gifts that the city of Florence could have given Charles on the occasion of his rather fearful visit in 1494, it was thought that a handsome illuminated manuscript of Petrarch, including the Trionfi, done originally for Lorenzo de' Medici would be one sure to please him (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1060&p=16250; my information comes from Pellegrin, Manuscrits de Petrarque dans les Bibliotheques de France, p. 328f). In that case, the falconer might be Charles the Bold as the Fool wild card (the Burgundy coat of arms has diagonal yellow slashes, although the other way and alternating with blue; see http://www.burgundytoday.com/historic-p ... rgundy.htm, which says that he "loved hunting"). And Anne of Brittany as the Queen with the castle, representing Brittany, greatly desired by France. As for the card with the bishop (corresponding to the Pope , but the anchor, seen also on the Cary-Yale, also suggests Hope), two of Charlotte's brothers were Archbishops. But there are many problems in dating and interpreting the Goldschmidt.
The painting with Charlotte ended up, until the mid-19th century, in a curious place. The auction house blurb describes how that would have probably happened:
It remained until 1852 or a little earlier (it is first reported, with an engraving of Charlotte, in a book published in 1851). Perhaps Isabelle's cards took the same route. Suzanne, married to the Duke of Bourbon, died without heir (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_France). The castle where the painting hung is the ancestral home of the Bourbon kings, from Henri IV to his son Louis XIV and so on until the bitter end. We know that Louis XIV was not fond of things Italian, tarot in particular. By then the decks would have been forgotten, until someone found the moldy things. It would have been a good time to get rid of them. In any case, they are gone. I see no particular reason to blame Isabelle or Rene.Très probablement resté dans sa descendance, Anne sa fille et Suzanne sa petite fille, installées au château de Bourbon-L'Archambault; ...
(Most likely remaining with her descendants, Anne her daughter and Suzanne her granddaughter, installed at the Château de Bourbon-Archambault;...)
Anne housed and educated several very powerful women, such as Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria. Margaret became the queen of the Spanish Netherlands who is thought to be featured in the famous Flemish painting of a noblewoman holding cards in her hands, all of them pips, while in back of her various men look upset (my interpretation: it is not in the cards that I will marry again). It is possible that one of them was given those cards.
Finally, we must not count out Louis of Savoy's sons as carriers of the tarot to France. Janus (1440-1491) married Helene of Luxembourg (d. 1488), daughter of the decapitated Louis de Luxembourg, another connection to the North of France. They had a child, Louise of Savoy, in 1467. Another son, Jacques, was a close friend of Charles the Bold (Louis XI's enemy) and became Governor of Burgundy in 1473. He continued to serve Burgundy, a losing cause, after Charles' death. But in 1484 he married Marie de Luxembourg, daughter of his sister Marguerite of Savoy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_II, ... _Saint-Pol), granddaughter of the decapitated Louis de Luxembourg. (He seems to have married his niece! I'm not sure that falls within the rules of consanguinity.) Having lost his own lands, Charles VIII gave him Saint Pol plus other territories, including ones in Flanders (then briefly French).
Another connection to the tarot is that the 1477 inventory was done by Marguerite on behalf of the children of Marie and Louis. Helene de Luxembourg was one of them, as was Pierre II. Or Marguerite might have been allowed to keep the deck herself, to give to her daughter, Marie de Luxembourg. This point is less about the deck and more about how knowledge gets passed down through generations.
In short, we have a series of coincidental overlaps involving the children of the dukes of Savoy and the ruling family of Anjou. It seems to me likely that the tarot deck was in fact used in France in the second half of the 15th century, and considerably before 1500, in this still rather narrow milieu, plus whatever spill-over there would have been from Chambery into neighboring aristocracies (also, in Avignon, some of the Church leaders, if connected with Italy, might have known the game). If it was the army of Charles VIII that popularized the game, it was likely already known and approved by its leader. The wood blocks for "taraux", of Avignon 1505, were destined for a city in Piedmont controlled by Savoy (birthplace of Marguerite of Savoy, coincidentally), thus a likely point of entry--with occasional waits--into Italy for French troops.