Nathaniel wrote: 05 Jul 2020, 04:19
Ross, card games are not manuscripts, and their rules don't work the way language does. This idea of yours seems to imply that we should expect card games to start out full of strange complicated rules, and then become simpler over time, as they spread to other places. I'm not exactly an expert on card games, but I think that's basically the exact opposite of how card games usually evolve, isn't it?
Nathaniel, it's the principle that's important, not the degree to which the analogy with textual criticism is valid. If you don't like the Latin phrase and its connection to manuscripts, just understand me to be saying that it is impossible for both Bolognese players and Piedmont/Savoy players to have independently invented these rules, Therefore they were at the origin of one or both games. Since it is highly implausible that the Bolognese game jumped to Piedmont at some point and took over the whole state, the only plausible conclusion is that this rule was in the common origin of the games played in both places. Since Bologna is on the main road between Florence and Ferrara, and the game is known in Florence in 1440 and Ferrara in 1442, and since a Bolognese merchant had one in 1442, we can say that Bologna knew the game at the same time. Therefore, the rule was present at the beginning of the game. It does not take two years to go from Florence to Bologna.
Was it perhaps not
in the original Florentine game, but was a Bolognese invention, and it was the Bolognese form of the game that spread westward? That is one way to speculate about it. But we know that Florence exported their cards northward too, so it seems unnecessary to propose this scenario. Rather, the simplest solution is that the equal-papi rule was in the original Florentine game as well.
By "unstable" I mean "unstable outside of Bologna." I have frequently quoted Dummett and McLeod's observation that in towns just outside of Bologna, many players take to numbering the moors and playing them like normal trumps. E.g. - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1363&p=20728#p20728
http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/taro ... ologna.jpg
The temptation to number and order the papi is strong. Dummett and McLeod observed it around Bologna itself (HGT p. 264) –
"In some twons outside of Bologna, such as Loiano, Marzabotto, Monterenzio and Sasso Marconi – but not in Porretta Terme or Monzuno – the practice has developed of inscribing the numerals 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the Moors, so as to impose a fixed sequence on them (higher-numbered Moors of course beating lower-numbered ones). This practice, disapproved of in Bologna and contrary to ancient Bolognese tradition, is a fairly recent development. The antiquity of the traditional rule is demonstrated by its adoption in Piedmont."
(I have never mapped these before. Thanks for inspiring me to do it. Notice that all these towns are south of Bologna, in the hills. Monzuno observes equal-mori
, while Loiano beside it does not. Most interesting to me is Porretta Terme, which observes the equal-mori
rule, much closer as the crow flies to Pistoia and Tuscany than to Bologna. Dummett and McLeod really did a lot fieldwork for their study of Tarot games, this is just a fraction. I wish we knew more than just the rules!
Note also that in Bologna the Bagatto is unnumbered; when the Bolognese came to put numbers on their trumps, they started with Amore at 5; the mori
remained unnumbered, but there are four of them. The Bagatto has position and rank (ordinal), but no number (cardinal))
It is also unstable in Piedmont and Savoy. Although the old rulebooks have it, later ones don't, and Dummett and McLeod only observed it played (20 years ago now at least) in Asti. So it did in fact die away over time, although the high Angel, XX beating XXI, has not.
Maybe you don't like my word "unstable." How about "weak"? Or, "liable to be ignored"?
Yes, it is just as unstable as unnumbered cards are. People began numbering cards fairly soon, and cardmakers began printing numbers on them. Titles came later. Bologna of course did not put numbers on any trumps until the end of the 18th century, and still do not write titles on any cards.
The unnumbered cards made the placement of the virtues unstable as well. Players put them in different places, for ad hoc reasons, and the different orderings only became fixed once numbers were put on them. This is another strong argument for the priority of the Bolognese ordering (which I hold to have been invented in Florence), since they played with unnumbered cards for over 300 years, without rulebooks, so they committed the order to memory at the table. Numbers remove the necessity of memorizing the order.
The equal-papi rule is not complicated, so your criticism on the implausibility of complexity being simplified is misplaced. It is the tendency to number cards that ultimately undermined the rule, along with its inherent quirkiness, which makes it liable to be ignored (it's the same as the "en passant" rule in chess, which many casual players are ignorant of). Of course we can also believe that it was natural to want to fix the order so that the Pope was at the highest place, too. Another example is the reversed ranking of two suits, e.g. Ace low Ten high in Batons and Swords, Ten low Ace high in Cups and Coins. This rule was original to the game (and also present in Marziano), but was lost everywhere but in Bologna and (I have recently read) Austria.
I confess I don't see how your proposal is any simpler than mine. If they had a fixed rank, even if not numbered, why unrank them? What sort of "argument" do you envisage the Bolognese having had about it? You must invoke even more hypothetical situations than I do. I simply propose that the original rule was the equal-papi rule. People that didn't like it just put them into a fixed hierarchy, and put numbers on them, and that was that. It happened everywhere but in Bologna itself.
And of course in Piedmont, we don't know what their earliest cards looked like, but when they came to adopt numbered cards, the rule was so well-established that the numbers didn't matter for the traditional account of the game, even though over time it disappeared, until it was only observed in Asti recently (I'm sure they didn't visit every little village, so maybe it survives elsewhere as well).