vh0610 wrote: 13 May 2022, 10:05
My proposition was, inspired by Ross’ idea on Mamluk’s naib-Unter usurping the king’s throne in their card game, that the Italians and the Spaniard being at the Council bring this idea with them –and we know from the Richenthal chronicles that playing cards was THE game at the Council!—and combine it with the situation of possible peasant’s uprising as in the Evil Carnival in Basel (which is very close to Constance). So the Unter becomes in the card game an implicit emperor trumping over kings.
Further, and in this light, I do fully agree with “the Mamluks would have nothing to do with those pope/emperor/devil trump themes”, all I tried to say is that the pope/emperor/devil are then additional implicit emperors which also reflect the situation at the Council of Constance: the pope is beaten by the devil when crossing the Arlberg pass (historical fact, also in the Richenthal chronicles), and evidently the pope beats the emperor since he crowns him, and every king, because he can excommunicate him.
My proposition is then that we have four implicit emperors in the card game, all beating kings, hence the name “Kaiserspiel”. The four emperors are: revolting peasants, symbolized by the Unter (and in view of the chaos associated with it: the Evil Carnival), the devil, the pope and the HRE. And Kaiserspiel is taken back home to Ferrara after the Council –remember Ross’ contribution with the interdiction of the new way of playing in 1420— in its Italienized/Latinized version: imperatori.
Can you give us the passage from Ulrich von Richenthal that describes the popularity of cards at the council? I can't find an edition of the chronicle online. I've checked Schreiber, but he doesn't mention it, at least searching under the name "richenthal."
Playing cards became a public problem in Milan by 1418, occasioning the first law of 20 January of that year against illegal gaming tables and luring young men with "the sweets called hazel catkins and roasted honey, lechaboni and the like, for the gluttony of which adolescents are frequently moved to play dice and cards." The card games aren't described in any way, but in the 1420 law there is some light shed on them. Here is my unfinished study of the texts, a bit raw but maybe you'll be interested. Two (maybe three) parts -
Playing cards in Milan, 1418 and 1420.
Compared to other cities in Italy, the earliest evidence for playing cards in Milan comes relatively late. Whereas Florence and Viterbo supply the earliest notices of the game of cards (naibi
) in 1377 and 1379 respectively, and Bologna taxed their production already in 1405, the earliest documentation of a game played with cartexellas in Milan is dated 20 January 1418, about 50 years after the arrival of cards into Europe, and 41 years after their earliest attestation in Italy. Obviously this should hardly lead us to believe that cards did not exist in the Milanese until shortly before then, and there is indirect evidence of their existence in Lombardy. In the inventory of Valentina Visconti, Duchess of Orléans, made in Blois shortly after her death on 4 December, 1408, two packs of cards are noted: a pack of “Saracen cards” (ung jeu de quartes sarrasines
), and a pack of “Lombardy cards” (unes quartes de Lombardie
). (Frances Marjorie Graves, Deux inventaires de la Maison d'Orléans
, 1926, p. 49, and p. 123, nos. 748, 749). “Lombardy cards” tells us at least that cards were made in Lombardy. Valentina had left Lombardy, from Pavia, in 1389; her husband, Louis d'Orléans, brother of King Charles VI of France, was a gambler, and made several trips to Italy in the 1380s and 1390s (Eugène Jarry, La vie politique de Louis de France, duc d'Orléans, 1372-1407
, 1889, passim
; vide “Table alphabétique” (p. 473) s.v. “Italie
”). The existence of such cards is not surprising, but little else can be said about them, and they could have come into the possession of the duke and duchess at any time before 1408. A further allusion to playing cards in Pavia early in the 15th century comes from Pier Candido Decembrio's biography of Filippo Maria Visconti. In chapter LXI he says that “from his youth” (ab adolescentia
) his favourite game was playing cards. Born in 1392, Filippo Maria's entire youth was spent at Pavia, until 1412, so we may conclude that he played cards there.
(apparent earlier evidence for playing cards in Italy is of doubtful value, since it comes from printed statutes of a century or more later, and no contemporary manuscript evidence can be found. Playing cards were frequently written later into pre-existing statutes regulating dice and gambling. Franco Pratesi weighed the evidence in Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377? - Italia
published electronically at http://www.naibi.net/A/510-PRE1377ITA-Z.pdf
The dearth of documentation may be a result of the strictly centralized legislative programme of the Visconti regime, where the gaming houses, called biscatia
(modern Italian bisca, biscazza
), were regulated according to a 1396 statute (Alessandra Rizzi Statuta de ludo
, 2012, p. 182 no. 650; Ceruti 1869 30, and 1876 col. 997, no. XXXV). Playing cards, cartexellas
, were simply added to the dice already named in the statute. The central repository of these laws in the castle of Porta Giovia were lost in deliberate destructions following upheavals in the dynasty in 1385, the early 1400s, and especially the wholesale destruction of 1447, when the last Visconti duke died. Such records as we do possess, then, are lucky survivals from the Office of Provisions in Milan as well as in the towns and cities outside Milan which sometimes preserved the legislation emanating from the central chancellery.
Like those for dice games, the main purpose of these laws was to prevent the abuses of gambling games, especially when they lured young men into playing them in a dangerous environment where not only could they lose money or be robbed, but the dangers of drunkenness and protitution were always present.
The laws presume that the games named are well-known, which is unfortunate for historians, who are often faced with nothing but the names of games, sometimes stricly local, of which we have no more information. It is only occasionally that some principle or mechanism is described, which allows us understand what kind of game it was and therefore to relate it to the general family of card games that we already understand. Fortunately, this is the case with the edict of 1420.
The law of 1396 stiputlates that the biscatia
of Milan were regulated at the discretion of the Vicar of the Podestà, a power which migrated to the Vicar of Provvisione, the duke's representative with the city, sometime before 1418. The situation in 1418 shows us what we might imagine, that ad hoc playing tables were set up in the streets of the city and in the plazas in front of churches on festival days and at other times. Apparently some of the sons of the prominent families of Milan had gotten into trouble, mainly debts, but also all of the vices associated with drunkenness and prostitution, which are only alluded to because of their shame. These families got their complaint before the Vicar of Provisions, the duke's representative with the city, with full authority to act on his behalf, both to execute the law as well as to promulgate it.
The Vicar of Provisions in these years was Giacomo Teseo Bussone da Carmagnola, doctor of laws (Caterina Santoro, Gli offici del comune di Milano e del dominio visconteo-sforzesco (1216-1515), 1968, p. 126), thus someone fully competent to promulgate a statute relevant to the situation.