Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#1
(What follows is something that occurred to me a couple of months ago. I was going to incorporate it into a larger theory about the early trump sequence, but I need to do a lot more work before I feel comfortable presenting anything like that, so I figured I may as well put this out there now.)

I was reading Ross's excellent blog post about Death and the number 13:
Two particularly important discussions of the earliest evidence for the superstition are Hopper’s “Medieval Number Symbolism” (pp. 130ff.) and Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition (pp. 42-43). Lachenmeyer, writing in 2004, seems unaware of Hopper as a source, but like Hopper 80 years earlier, concludes that the superstition had its origins in the belief that Judas or Jesus was the 13th at the table in the Last Supper.
And the thought occurred to me, which trump was associated with Judas in the 15th century? The Hanged Man.

Which trump was number 13 before everyone started putting Death in that position? The Hanged Man.

What I think this means: the Hanged Man was added precisely in order to occupy that 13th slot.

It is otherwise hard to explain its presence in the sequence. It's not a traditional and ubiquitous allegorical figure, like Love, Death, Fortune, etc.; it's not a religious motif like the Last Judgment or the Devil; and it's not part of the "ranks of man" either. Yet it has a fairly prominent position, in the upper section of the trump sequence. Sure, you can come up with various explanations for why that makes sense allegorically, but none of them ever sound hugely convincing as a reason for adding it in the first place—they always sound like rationalizations "after the fact." They are certainly not as convincing as the idea that it was added because people felt a strong need to have something appropriately negative in that 13th position. We know from their later efforts to make Death the 13th trump that a lot of people definitely felt such a need.

In other words, it is difficult to come up with a convincing theory for why the Traitor would have been a natural inclusion in the allegorical sequence, but it is very easy to imagine that someone might have had the idea of filling the problematic 13th position with a card representing treachery, inspired by the association of Judas with that number.

And of course, Judas would have inspired not only the general subject, but also its specific depiction, as a Hanged Man. Not, however, hanged exactly in the way that Judas hanged himself, but hanged in the manner of the customary punishment for traitors, because a general allegory of Treachery fitted better in the allegorical sequence than a narrow depiction of that specific traitor. The designers of the sequence no doubt expected people to make the connection to Judas anyway, and as we know, people at that time generally did.

This has interesting further implications about the early trump sequence (this is where I start veering off toward my larger theory, but I'll do my best to restrain myself). First, if they needed to add the "Traitor" to occupy that slot, that almost certainly means that the Death card could not have been in the immediate vicinity of it at that time. The efforts people made later in seemingly every part of Italy to put Death in that position instead of the Traitor show us that people not only viewed Death as an appropriate occupant of the slot, but viewed it as a more appropriate occupant than the Traitor. So if the designers of the early sequence had felt able to move Death into that position, they surely would have. So where was Death at that time? Maybe it wasn't in the deck at all. But it is a very basic motif, and there is another explanation that comes more easily to mind: Death was where we would expect it to be if the early tarot sequence faithfully followed the Petrarchan Trionfi cycle, namely not only below Time but probably also below a distinct Fame card, which was probably in the deck at that time but which was removed at some later stage. Death would have followed closely after the Chariot, which, as we know, originally represented Petrarch's Triumph of Pudicitia. It is thus easy to see how the designers would not have thought it possible to promote Death to the 13th position if the trump sequence at that time was very much centered on the Petrarchan Trionfi cycle. The addition of the Traitor to the sequence thus becomes a strong argument in favor of the existence of an early stage in the deck's development where the trump sequence was much closer to the Petrarchan Trionfi, and provides further support for the theory that the earliest version of the tarot deck—or trionfi deck, to use the more accurate name for the period in question—was based directly on Petrarch's poem cycle.

This line of thinking also suggests that the Devil may not have been in the deck at this time either, or at least not anywhere near its standard position. If neither Death nor the Traitor were initially in the 13th position, then it would seem that the Devil would have been, or it would have been so close that it might have been easily placed there, and it seems likely that people would have felt less of a need to add a new figure to the sequence if such a negative figure was already in the 13th slot. So perhaps the Devil was not yet there. If it wasn't, then the Tower probably wasn't either, as the Tower seems to have been closely linked to the Devil; it certainly seems to represent God raining down destruction on something evil, and that hardly seems appropriate if the previous card in the sequence was Time. So the next card after Time was presumably the Last Judgment, and it's not hard to see why people would have felt that to be inappropriate for number 13. Or, if you adhere to the view that the original sequence had World below Last Judgment, then it would have been the World, and that trump also seems to have had strongly positive connotations, and so would also have been inappropriate. Personally, I think it's much more likely that the Last Judgment was in this position, not only because I adhere to the view that the World represented the "new world" of eternal life in heaven after the Last Judgment, as named and described in Petrarch's Triumph of Eternity poem, but also because the sequence works much better if the Traitor is followed immediately by Judgment.

Okay, I can't resist adding this last point: Another reason why I think the Last Judgment would have been there is because I think it was an integral part of the original Petrarchan Trionfi sequence. The way I see it, the Triumph of Eternity was represented in the deck by not one but two cards: Last Judgment followed by World. They are both there in the original poem, and 15th century illustrations of the poem sometimes depicted both of them, in that order: Last Judgment first, followed by the "new world" of the life everlasting.

An interesting implication of that, in turn, is that the first proto-tarot sequence would most likely have included seven cards representing the Petrarchan Triumphs. That creates a nice symmetry with the seven virtues. And the two together create a total number of 14.

Okay, I'm definitely going to stop there. But I could go a lot further, as I'm sure you can imagine...

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#2
Nathaniel wrote,
Which trump was number 13 before everyone started putting Death in that position? The Hanged Man.
No need for that assumption. And it goes against the main tradition, which was that Judas was “the 12th disciple”, typically the last named of 12 in the gospel lists (Matt.10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16). For example, in the early 15th century, there was a now well known "shame" poster ordered by antipope John XXIII, attesting to his condottiero Muzio Attendola’s “XII treasons” against him, for which see Moakley, p. 95. The implication was that Muzio was a Judas. Likewise, Judas is shown being weighed down by his money bags on the type A card version of the card.

In my view, the association of Death with 13 can be explained in either of two ways.

(1) The 13th seat at the Round Table was considered the "Death" seat - the seat would be fatal to anyone except for the one destined to find the Grail, which in the de Boron version was Perceval. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_Perilous. These romances, by various authors, were quite popular in Northern Italy at that time. And yes, it was because that seat was associated with Judas (as well as Jesus). But Judas can't be associated with both 12 and 13. A person inadvertently sitting in that seat wasn't considered a traitor, but rather fated to meet an unlucky end. The 13th seat at the table is that of Death because of Judas.

(2) The person in 12th position, the Traitor, is about to die, therefore Death should be the one following 12, as the card "triumphing" over it. In other words, 13 is Death because 12 is the Hanged Man.

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#3
mikeh wrote:
14 Jul 2020, 03:39
Nathaniel wrote,
Which trump was number 13 before everyone started putting Death in that position? The Hanged Man.
No need for that assumption. And it goes against the main tradition, which was that Judas was “the 12th disciple”
First, it's not just an "assumption" that the Hanged Man was number 13 before Death was placed there. The Rosenwald deck must have had the Hanged Man in that position, unless it deviated in that respect from nearly every other trump order we know of from the 15th and 16th centuries. And if the Rosenwald deck had the Hanged Man as the 13th trump, the Colonna deck from Rome almost certainly did too. It is also the 13th trump in the Bolognese order, if you don't apply the interesting counting method that Bologna at some stage began to use. In the Florentine strambotto and the Minchiate deck, the Hanged Man would have been number 13 if the Popess was in the deck. In the typical Type B orders, the Hanged Man would be 13 if Justice was in the lower half of the deck, as it is in Types A and C. In Type C, it would be 13 if Temperance was in the lower half, as in Types A and B. In other words, all the evidence points to the Hanged Man being the 13th trump in the first standard order.

Second, Judas may have been considered the 12th disciple, but Ross wasn't wrong when he wrote in that blog post that the superstition about the number 13 was closely associated in its earliest days with the idea of a 13th guest at dinner and with Judas as that 13th figure, at the Last Supper. When it comes to triskaidekaphobia, that is the tradition that matters. And of course, it's also not an assumption that people associated Judas with the Hanged Man card, as I'm sure you know.

So I don't think your argument detracts in any way from what I've said. Of course you're right that when Death was promoted to the slot above the Hanged Man, people would have understood Death as triumphing over the latter, Death being exactly what happened to the traitor Judas in the event of his own hanging—and indeed I think that is exactly why Death was originally promoted to that slot, when the Hanged Man remained the 13th trump.

Something that does detract from what I said is the fact that I completely forgot about the existence of the Sun, Moon, and Star in my speculation about which trump might originally have been in position 14... I do have a tendency to forget about those three when I'm thinking about the early years of tarot. This is because I regard them, like the Hanged Man, as later interlopers who are not a natural fit for the rest of the sequence. If the World card was originally intended to have a religious rather than cosmological significance, as the "new world" of Revelation and Petrarch's Triumph of Eternity, then the Sun, Moon, and Star really don't fit at all—they interrupt what would otherwise be a neat eschatological quartet. I know attempts have been made to find references in Revelation to these three celestial bodies, but they never seem remotely convincing. Those three trumps really only work in the sequence at all if you view the World card in cosmological terms, as representing this earthly world rather than the next one, and that would suggest these three cards were added by someone who did not understand the Petrarchan references of the original deck (an impression which is reinforced by what happened to the Chariot card).

Consequently, my feeling is that the Sun, Moon, and Star were most likely inserted quite late in the development of the standard order, probably as replacements for the three theological virtues, which were probably in those positions previously (as would befit their religious associations). Why would someone replace those virtues? Because having so many virtues in the deck was probably found to be impractical for gameplay. Like the papi, the virtues had no obvious, traditional, intuitively understood ranking among themselves, as evidenced by the considerable perambulations of the remaining three around the trump order. And to make matters worse, they all looked vaguely similar—a series of allegorical female figures holding various objects. In order for players to see how they ranked relative to each other, they had to look for the objects they were holding in order to identify them, and then remember a largely arbitrary order that had been invented for them. The Sun, Moon, and Star are obviously an enormous improvement from this perspective: Their identifying symbols are unmistakable and usually positioned at the top of the card where they are most easily seen when held in the hand, and their order is more obvious and intuitive than anything else in the trump sequence.

I think other strategies were probably also used—by other people—to try to make it easier to identify and rank the virtues, including splitting them up so that the theologicals were in the top part of the sequence and the cardinals in the lower part, and, in later developments at the Visconti court, by putting anti-types at the bottom of the theologicals and panels at the top of the cardinals, as seen on Justice in the PMB (and those panels on the cardinals may well have played a role in indicating the rank of the card as well). Removing Prudence would have helped greatly too, of course—it is significantly easier to remember the order of three things than four—but that change (like the replacement of the theological virtues) was probably never embraced by the Visconti court.

Anyway, to get back to my original point, this is why I think that the Angel/Last Judgment is the most likely candidate for that 14th position after the Hanged Man was added—because the five trumps from Devil to Sun probably weren't in the sequence at that time, and Death could not have been in that part of the sequence.

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#4
Nathaniel ...
The Rosenwald deck must have had the Hanged Man in that position [13.], unless it deviated in that respect from nearly every other trump order we know of from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Hm ... you must have a hallucination.

If we assume, that the Rosenwald was arranged at its printing block in the manner, that the printed pictures and their numbers run from left to right and top to bottom, then we have in a Minchiate deck ...
First row
(40) Angel
(39) World
(38) Sun
(37) Moon
(36) Star
(15) Tower
(14) Devil
(13) Death

Second row
(12) Wheel ... unusual
(11) Traitor ...unusual
.... there it starts to become strange ... but the Traitor is NOT at the position 13.

If one assumes, that the block designer wanted to engrave the row 21-1 ...
First row
(21) Angel
(20) World
(19) Sun
(18) Moon
(17) Star
(16) Tower
(15) Devil
(14) Death ... unusual

Second row
(13) Wheel ... unusual
(12) Traitor ... NORMAL NUMBER
.... it's strange there, but the Traitor is here also NOT at position 13.
Well, one has to consider, that early Trionfi cards had no numbers. This had possibly the background, that different player groups had different numbers. Then the cards were sold without numbers and the players could add the numbers according their own taste. This would be a good solution especially for export decks.

One has to consider, that the Leinfelden sheet landed in the trash. It wasn't used. Possibly it survived as filling material in a book binding.
Possibly one should also consider the situation of the Tarocchini deck, in which Pagat and Fool somehow have the ranking of zero (0) and 1-4 instead of 2-5 is taken by Papi.

Personally I think (my hypothesis), that the Rosenwald was produced in different deck types ...
a. 48 cards from 2 blocks (A+B) with 24 pictures (a normal card deck without queens and without 10s)
b. 69-72 cards from 3 blocks (A+B+C; a sort of Trionfi deck with 21 special cards and without queens (?) and without 10s)
c. 96 cards from 4 blocks (>A+B+C+D; a Minchiate deck without a 0-Fool)

Each deck type used the blocks A+B, the blocks C+D were only used for the Trionfi or Minchiate deck - hypothetically. As this production-modus was made for mass production, one has to calculate, that the blocks must have been replaced occasionally (A+B naturally more often than C and D) by copying the motifs (possibly the Rosenwald sheet with trumps had a function in this process, cause it was vertically twisted around the y-axis).

All three known sheets of the Rosenwald are given in the article of Franco Pratesi ...
http://trionfi.com/rosenwald-tarocchi-sheet

A not twisted sheet of the Rosenwald (compare the hare and dog card in the Assissi deck, it's the same direction):
Image



The 48 card deck from Assissi:
Image
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#5
Nathaniel wrote,
First, it's not just an "assumption" that the Hanged Man was number 13 before Death was placed there. The Rosenwald deck must have had the Hanged Man in that position, unless it deviated in that respect from nearly every other trump order we know of from the 15th and 16th centuries. And if the Rosenwald deck had the Hanged Man as the 13th trump, the Colonna deck from Rome almost certainly did too. It is also the 13th trump in the Bolognese order, if you don't apply the interesting counting method that Bologna at some stage began to use. In the Florentine strambotto and the Minchiate deck, the Hanged Man would have been number 13 if the Popess was in the deck. In the typical Type B orders, the Hanged Man would be 13 if Justice was in the lower half of the deck, as it is in Types A and C. In Type C, it would be 13 if Temperance was in the lower half, as in Types A and B. In other words, all the evidence points to the Hanged Man being the 13th trump in the first standard order.
What you said in your original post was that the Hanged Man was trump 13. That is different from saying it was the 13th trump. Ordinal numbers vs. cardinal numbers. In the Bolognese tarocchini it is pretty clear that the Hanged Man was the 13th trump. But for some reason it got the number 12. Why do you suppose that was? We can hypothesize all night. But it's not trump XIII. Nor is it in the Rosenwald. There is no number on it at all. And on the page it is even in twelfth position, if you start from the Bagatto.

Also, we have to remember that the Rosenwald sheet is a discard. The cutter may have done it wrong. The numerals are put on backwards, so why not the numerals themselves? You will notice that he puts the number X on the Chariot, then XII on the Old Man (with no XI, although maybe that was to go on the Wheel, at the end of the row), and then stops. Perhaps he knew something was wrong. Maybe he associated the Traditor card with 12 and Morte with 13. I don't know. It just seems to me that the Rosenwald, of 1500-1515, is not that reliable a guide to early history. Not that any one thing is.

On the "Charles VI" Hanged Man, which seems to me to be Judas, the little number "xii" is handwritten. And "xiii" on Death. That is also evidence.

It looks to me like XII was associated with the Hanged Man and XIII with Death, whenever numbers were put on cards. The only exception is the Rosenwald, where XII was given to the Old Man. As for the ordinal number, it seems to me that beginning players wouldn't pay attention to what it was, if there were no numbers; what mattered was the order, not the ordinal numbers of the cards in that order. And if numbers were on the cards, then they would go by that, unless instructed differently (as in Piedmont with the World card).

Nathaniel wrote
...In other words, all the evidence points to the Hanged Man being the 13th trump in the first standard order.
How many cards were there in that "first standard order" you are talking about? Are you talking about 21, or 14, or something in between, when the Hanged Man was added but before the B and C orders put a virtue above Death in the order? You lose me.

Nathaniel wrote
Second, Judas may have been considered the 12th disciple, but Ross wasn't wrong when he wrote in that blog post that the superstition about the number 13 was closely associated in its earliest days with the idea of a 13th guest at dinner and with Judas as that 13th figure, at the Last Supper. When it comes to triskaidekaphobia, that is the tradition that matters. And of course, it's also not an assumption that people associated Judas with the Hanged Man card, as I'm sure you know.
As far as the superstition being associated with the 13th guest at dinner "in its earliest days" - actually, Hopper's reference (p. 131) was to Montaigne, 16th century, the earliest reference he could find to the superstition - it has to do with 13 being unlucky, and in particular being associated with death, not with betrayal. Hopper speculates that the Last Supper is what was behind the "Siege Perilous" of the Arthurian romances, the seat "wherein never knight sat that he met not death thereby" as he quotes Le Livre de Lancelot del Lac, XXXIX (p. 133). Hopper also mentions the Modena Perceval, which assigns the vacant seat to "Nostre Sire" in one place and to Judas in another. That's the kind of reading that people like Francesco Sforza did, Arthurian romances. But there was no suggestion that a knight who sat there would be a traitor. It was the prediction of death that was paramount, not betrayal, even if Judas was part of the reason for the association.

On the other hand, when John XXIII was calling Muzio Attendola, Francesco's father, 12 times a traitor, it was on shame posters, i.e. hanged man posters. It is the association of 12 with the meaning of the Hanged Man and Judas as traitor that John was trading on.

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#6
When I say "first standard order", I am referring to the first sequence of the 21 standard subjects that we are all familiar with: the first standard tarot deck, which spread throughout Italy in the mid-15th century.

When I say "all the evidence points to the Hanged Man being the 13th trump" in that first standard order, I mean that all the evidence we have of the earliest trump orders, when looked at collectively—instead of isolating individual pieces of that evidence, as Mike and Huck are trying to do—points unequivocally in that direction. Any reasonable, objective attempt to reconstruct the first standard order from the evidence we have would have to conclude that the Hanged Man was in the 13th position in that order.

And any reasonable, objective assessment of the evidence regarding Judas and the number 13 would have to admit that there was an early association between the two.

It is of course true that the order presented on the Rosenwald sheet is not entirely reliable by itself, because we can see that trump "X" is followed by trump "XII"—and, in a detail that does not get pointed out often enough, trump "VIII" is followed by another trump with the same number "VIII". Like the Cary sheet, it is clear that the trumps were not entirely arranged in strict order on this sheet. So the logical thing to do is to compare the Rosenwald order with all the other orders we know from the earliest years. When we do, we find that the Hanged Man is always immediately after the Old Man in those orders, which is exactly where he is on the Rosenwald sheet: immediately after the Old Man, who is trump XII. So we can safely assume he was the thirteenth trump in the Rosenwald order, just as he indisputably was in the Bolognese order, and just as he would have been in all the other earliest orders if one trump had not been taken out of the sequence below him.

I really don't know what else I can say here. I think the evidence speaks very loudly and clearly for itself. Moreover, the implication of that evidence fits perfectly with what we know about the Petrarchan references in the deck: Several of the cards, especially the CY Chariot card, appear to represent Triumphs of Petrarch's Trionfi poem cycle, and we know that the earliest name for the cards was trionfi. If the Hanged Man was the original 13th trump, then Death could not possibly have been next to the Hanged Man in the sequence when the latter was first added to the deck. So Death must have been in a more distant position in the sequence at that early stage of its development—so it is therefore likely that it was once in the position where one would expect it according to the Petrarchan Trionfi sequence.
mikeh wrote:
16 Jul 2020, 12:47
Nathaniel wrote
...In other words, all the evidence points to the Hanged Man being the 13th trump in the first standard order.
How many cards were there in that "first standard order" you are talking about? Are you talking about 21, or 14, or something in between, when the Hanged Man was added but before the B and C orders put a virtue above Death in the order? You lose me.
I can understand that this may seem a little confusing. What I am hypothesizing is this: When the Hanged Man was added to the deck, there were at least 14 cards, but the standard 21-trump set (the one we are familiar with) had not yet come into being. At that time, Death must have been some distance away from the 13th position. Further changes to the sequence then occurred, resulting in the standard 21-card order with the Hanged Man still in 13th position but Death now in 14th position. Death's shift was no doubt because people felt it was very appropriate to have Death triumphing over the Traitor (who, for good measure, they associated with Judas, in case being a traitor was not in itself enough to deserve death). From that point, it did not take long for people to get the idea of trying to put Death into the 13th position in some way, which they clearly found even more appealing than having a card associated with Judas there.

To summarize: Hanged Man as the original 13 is evidence to support the original Petrarchan basis of the deck, while also reinforcing the general theory that the 21-trump sequence was not created in one single act but evolved in a number of steps. I do not see why either of those implications should seem so difficult to acknowledge.

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#7
Nathaniel wrote,
When I say "first standard order", I am referring to the first sequence of the 21 standard subjects that we are all familiar with: the first standard tarot deck, which spread throughout Italy in the mid-15th century.
But how do you know that there was such a thing as a "first sequence of the 21 standard subjects"?

If you start with 14, 16, or even 18, and they go to three other centers, it may have been that two of the centers decided at the very beginning in that city to put one of the virtues someplace after Death in the sequence. In fact, that seems to me more likely than such a drastic move after some other order had already been firmly established in a locality, with all the virtues before Death. Then when other triumphs are added, they get inserted in between other triumphs already there, in some easy to remember way: five all together, one at the beginning, or a person about to die just before one with dead people.

In that way there would be three orders of 21 triumphs, and no such thing as one first standard sequence of them. And perhaps, for all we know, two orders of 20, both in Florence: a proto-minchiate and the only tarocchi orders we have any reports of there, the Strambotto and the numbers on the "Charles VI". So the majority of the orders we know about with all or most of the standard subjects have the Hanged Man as 12th. And mostly, when we see cards with numbers on them, they have the number 12 on the Hanged Man. As befits the 12th disciple and the man on the "shame" posters, who committed 12 treasons.

On the other hand, if Judas was also associated with 13, that could possibly explain why he was given the 13th place in the sequence in some places. (I know of none in which someone is associated with 13 just because he is a traitor.) But I only know of one body of literature where Judas was associated with the number 13, and that is in the Arthurian romances. Even in them Jesus was also associated with that number, which would make Judas 12, and the 13th seat was that of death as well. So the association is quite ambiguous. The number 13 was also associated with Epiphany (Hopper p. 131), which is connected with Jesus. What is your evidence for a stronger association of Judas with 13 than with 12 in northern Italy at that time? In the Church, which would surely have had some influence, 12 went with Judas.

Yes, there is also Montaigne, who spoke of the inadvisability of inviting 13 to dinner. Hopper presumes, I think rightly, that the origin of that custom was the "siege perilous", the unlucky seat. 13 was already Death in the tarot, but with no implication of people sitting around a table. But Montaigne probably wasn't thinking of an implication that the 13th person was a Judas. It was the "death" aspect, reinforced by the Death card of the tarot, that mattered.

Nathaniel wrote,
If the Hanged Man was the original 13th trump, then Death could not possibly have been next to the Hanged Man in the sequence when the latter was first added to the deck.
If there were at least 13 to start with and the Hanged Man wasn't one of them, then the Hanged Man couldn't possibly have been the original 13th trump. The original 13th would have been whichever triumph originally had that position.

Perhaps you mean that when the Hanged Man was originally added to the sequence, it was added so as to be 13th, and that if so, Death wouldn't have been next to it.

But "next to it" means either before or after. Since it is very seldom that the Hanged Man is after Death, I assume you mean that Death couldn't have been trump 14. I have no idea why you think that follows. All you say is:
So Death must have been in a more distant position in the sequence at that early stage of its development—so it is therefore likely that it was once in the position where one would expect it according to the Petrarchan Trionfi sequence.
In a "Petrarchan" Trionfi sequence of 14 cards, we would expect at least one of Fame, Time, Eternity to follow Death, and perhaps also a virtue, depending in what city these 14 are. If so, Death could be 10, 11, 12, or 13. (I find 10 and 13 unlikely, but include them for the sake of argument.) Adding the Hanged Man before Death at that point would make Death 11th, 12th, 13th, or 14th, with a total of 15. I don't see the problem.

It might also have been that the Hanged Man replaced a card that was in that position, in particular the virtue Prudence, which is what Imperiali called the card between Death and Old Man, doing "another dance". If so, it would be 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, or 13th, with Death the same number as before. Again there is no problem.

Perhaps you think that Death wouldn't have been put in the sequence at all unless it was 13th. I don't know why not. Death is not in the sequence because of an association with 13. It's there because of an association with Petrarch, somewhere between 10th and 13th if there were 14 originally. The association with 13 came later.

Nathaniel wrote
Death's shift was no doubt because people felt it was very appropriate to have Death triumphing over the Traitor (who, for good measure, they associated with Judas, in case being a traitor was not in itself enough to deserve death).

To address the part in parentheses: Death was already the usual penalty for treason. Being hanged by one foot was something additional, a shaming to emphasize the particular heinousness of the crime.

Nathaniel wrote
From that point, it did not take long for people to get the idea of trying to put Death into the 13th position in some way, which they clearly found even more appealing than having a card associated with Judas there.
And why would they find Death in 13th position more appealing a few years later and not earlier? What happened in the meantime to cause such a shift in attitude? The only thing I can think of is that they found it appealing that Judas be 12th, when someone had the idea of putting a card referring to him in the sequence. Then Death would be 13th. No shift in attitude about Death's number, or for that matter about Judas's, even if some people might also have recognized an association of 13 to the "siege perilous" tradition, in one of its three ways of looking at that number.

Re: Unlucky 13 and the early development of the trump sequence

#9
firecatpickles wrote
17 is unlucky for the Italians.
Thank you. And for sure. Yet the fact remains that in the majority of the known early orders, Death is number 13 and the 13th card, and the Hanged Man is 13th in other orders, at least in the Bolognese, even if later it gets the number 12 written on it there. It probably also was 13th in the Rosenwald (Nathaniel has a good point there), although the case is not completely clear, as I will explain at the end of this post.

Also, the Arthurian romances were in fashion at the time, and the "siege perilous", the death seat, was well known among the literate, especially the circles that commissioned the hand-painted cards. Therefore Judas and Jesus were also associated with 13, because they were called the 13th guest at the Last Supper in these works, as the reason for the unlucky 13th seat.

So it is necessary to show why that reference is unlikely to have been the reason for the Hanged Man as 13th. It is unlikely first because the association of Judas with 12 was much more widespread and sanctioned than that for 13, known by much fewer, and secondly because the reference for 13 in the Arthurian romances is threefold, divided among Jesus, Judas, and Death, with no clear choice among them. In Montaigne's France Death seems to have been the main association; that is the only reason for choosing one of them, and it is neither Judas nor in Italy.

In my view it is more likely that it is 12 that had significance, as the number of Judas and the figure hanging by one foot, and Death is 13 because it follows 12, a person about to die, the latter put in the order at that point, before Death, precisely for that reason.

Now I want to add something, Nathaniel's logic in reverse, something I did not quite see before. If in some places the later order has the Hanged Man as 13th, then the strong association between the Hanged Man and 12 suggests that either the A order is not the original one or one of the standard cards before the Hanged Man was not there, whenever and wherever that card was made part of it. It may well be that the A sequence is original, but if so it probably was missing one of the cards now before the Hanged Man in the sequence.

It might be thought that the solution is simply to start the numbering with the second card as number 1, so that the thirteenth will be 12. The problem is that this does not work very well if there are no numbers on any of the cards, as was the case early on. Deciding to make the 13th card the Hanged Man because it is number 12, without numbers actually being on the cards, makes little sense. If it works in Bologna, and perhaps Florence at some point, it is probably because the Hanged Man was already associated with the twelfth position somewhere else or at an earlier time, i.e. at the time and place the Hanged Man was placed in the sequence.

Finally, a footnote. The Rosenwald is a kind of hybrid between the Minchiate/Charles VI order and the Bolognese, at least as we know them. Like Minchiate, etc. it has numbers on all the "papi", and the Bagatto, too, but like Bologna, there are four of them. Also, like Minchiate, etc., Temperance comes after Love; but like Bologna, the card after Temperance is Justice. In the type A orders, the positions of the Wheel and the Chariot are somewhat unstable, although never so unstable that they come after the Hanged Man. But that instability, plus the fact that all the other triumphs on the sheet seem to be in perfect order, lends some slight doubt as to whether the number XII was really supposed to be on the Old Man, on what was after all a discarded sheet.

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