View Single Post
Huck  Huck is offline
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682

Originally Posted by Bernice View Post
I know the 5x14 theory has been around for some time now, but it's nice to see it so clearly and concisely explained. Just waiting now for further posts about the unknown game called "venti figure", the "20 figures". Every recorded fact is an asset for every theory
... .-) Thanks Bernice ... the obvious trouble with the 5x14-theory is, that it is SOOOO complex and has SOOOO many details, based on an already very complicated general Tarot history, that any novice to the theme with the natural approach "explain me all and everything ... in a few words, please" resigns very quickly and gets the feeling "better I don't disturb here".

That's naturally not very productive for the general communication process, which actually is desired ... by me and other researchers and likely also by those, whose interest is possibly disappointed by too much complexity.

Perhaps it would help, if I declare, that questions are indeed welcomed

************************************************** ***************

Part 2
... short report about the research of the Chess Tarot as a different variant to the 5x14-deck (as far the "20 figure" are concerned)

Before I can talk of the "20 figure" I've to summarize some elements of the Chess Tarot theory, otherwise the reader doesn't understand the problem and context.


The Chess Tarot factor was underestimated in the begin of It evolved during the research as a new mighty perspective.

Cary Yale Tarocchi

When the 5x14-theory developed (1989, mainly based on the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck and its two painters), naturally the question was given, to which part the production of the Cary-Yale Tarocchi belonged.
The Cary-Yale Tarocchi was generally considered older than the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi with one exception, which gave it to 1468 and the wedding of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Bona of Savoy. Ignoring the latter, it was adapted by us to follow the perspective, that it was made in the period of Filippo Maria Visconti, who lived till 1447.
Later researches made it most probable, that the deck "likely" was made for the wedding of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Mari Visconti in October 1441 ... at least this functioned as the major working hypothesis.

In 2003 an article was published, which presents the consideration of this time. It's (more or less) still preserved here:

The Cary-Yale Tarocchi was then (and still now) seen as a 5x16 deck, so - as a Matrix deck - similar to the original Bonifacio Bembo deck, which was seen (and still is perceived in this manner) as a 5x14-deck (also according a Matrix-model). As the state of the Cary Yale is, that it has "missing trumps", it was naturally attempted to reconstruct the missing cards.
It has 11 trumps: Emperor - Empress - Love - Chariot - Death - Judgment - Fame (by some perceived as World) and 4 virtues. It was assumed, that the deck included all 7 virtues and with that the deck had (reconstructed) 14 of 16 trumps. In the time of 2003 it seemed most plausible that Pope and Popess were the final missing cards, nowadays I would think, that there is not enough plausibility to have these both positions definitely defined - which doesn't change the assumption, that their should have been 16 trumps.

Anyway, cause all these insecurities in the composition of the Cary-Yale Tarocchi it wasn't our major theme.

Michelino deck

In 2002/2003 we started our exploration of the Michelino deck (based by an earlier research of Franco Pratesi made in 1989). With this there was a second deck (which might be called a sort of Proto-Tarot) with 16 trumps and it preceded the Cary-Yale Tarocchi.
The fact, that the Michelino deck used 16 trumps and that the Cary-Yale Tarocchi was earlier assumed (by us) to have ALSO 16 trumps, naturally gave the Chess assumption about the Cary-Yale more reliability. The idea, that the Michelino deck might have something to do with chess, was not given in this early time, at least there was no really suggestive way seen, how to relate this deck to the figures.

Evrart da Conty: Echecs amoureux

Some years later (inside the Michelino deck research) we found to the text of Evrart de Conty, the "Echecs amoureux" (1398) ... a very long book, somehow a monster. Somehow this text has more content than the whole Tarot history of 15th century. A sort of poetical encyclopedia inside a love story, with much

A description is given here:

One of the surviving old versions (late 15th century) is here:

... with very nice pictures ...

.. for instance this, which shows Kronos (Saturn) cutting the genital of Uranos and the whole means - somehow - the begin of the Greek mythology section inside the Echecs amoureux book. This part is in length the major part of this very long book and it presents 16 gods ... so as Filippo Maria Visconti had 16 trumps in the Michelino deck - later than Evrart de Conty.

Another edition ...
... also very fine in its details. Here the physician Asclepios, another of the 16 gods ...

However, we couldn't find in the text a clear reference, which god was referring to which chess figure. This might be, as we resigned cause of the difficulties: A very long text written in old French isn't easy to study.

Beside the mythological elements the text contains a development of the "Roman de la Rose" of Jean de Meun.

According Conty's interpretation each of the 32 figures used for the game of chess presents an allegorical figure, from which at least some were known by the "Roman de la Rose". In a final chess game of the author with a young lady, the lady plays with 16 female allegories and the author plays with male allegories, possibly the 16 gods were meant to unite this 32-elements-system-construction in an unknown manner to "16 figures of chess" (but we have no evidence, as this problem was as above noted - for the moment - too difficult).

As you might detect, the figures on the board show a different opening (4 figures central at the base line, 4 figures at the second line, 8 pawns at the 3rd; see the blue script at the picture; the figure names differ at both sides cause the male and female allegories).

Evrart finished his text 1398. Soon later it is said to have become part of the famous Christine-de-Pizan-scandal, when the poetress Christine protested with some strong energy against a generally negative view on women inside the very popular Roman de la Rose (I don't know the details, but it seems, that the Echecs amoureux took a major part in the discussions).
A major center of this protest had been the court of Valentina Visconti, who was the elder half-sister to Filippo Maria Visconti. From this condition it seems rather probable, that, although Filippo Maria Visconti saw his sister never in his life and she was already dead in 1408, before Filippo Maria got the regency in Milan in 1412, he likely was aware of the successful Echecs amoureux.

All together

In the simplified series of the actions we have ,,,

1398: Evrart de Conty (known to Filippo Maria Visconti) ... used 16 gods inside a book to show chess
before 1425: Filippo Maria Visconti (Michelino deck) ... used 16 gods inside a card game as trumps
assumed 1441: Filippo Maria Visconti (Cary-Yale Tarocchi) ... assumed to have used 16 trumps inside a deck with 5x16-structure, which might have an intended relation to chess

Regarding this series - should one assume, that just the Michelino deck had nothing to do with chess?

1377 John of Rheinfelden: 60 Cards

Already Johannes of Rheinfelden, the earliest great writer about playing cards in 1377, saw a relation between playing cards and chess ... and he thought this a rather great idea. Especially enthusiastic he had been about a deck with 60 cards, with 10 numeral cards and 5 court cards (king, queen, a maid - so that the queen had also a servant, upper marshall, lower marshall), totally 60 cards. All the numeral cards were presented by professions, similar to the later Hofämterspiel (from c. 1455):

...the tailor of the court

This idea of the professions was taken from Jacobus de Cessolis, who around 1300 had written a chess moralization, in which the chess pawns (usually all of the same kind in European chess) were individualized as professions. From this developed a chess figure iconography (in its type as a "figure catalog" very similar to Tarot cards), which went through many editions of moralizing chess books (which appeared in big numbers; chess was in literature of 14th century the second big topic after the bible). Similar to this:

This specific favored deck of Johannes of Rheinfelden rather obviously should have been a court deck. The relevant court in the time of Johannes had been the court of Emperor Charles IV with its capital in Prague in Bohemia (the same place, where later the Hofämterspiel was produced). With some logic one should assume, that it came from this court.

In 1395 the court of Prague had intensive contact to the court of Milan and Giangaleazzo Visconti (father of Filippo Maria Visconti). Giangaleazzo bought the duke title.

Filippo Maria Visconti was then 3 years old. Decembrio, who wrote the life of Filippo, told, that Filippo Maria Visconti had playing cards in his youth. Should we assume, that Filippo Maria Visconti knew the Bohemian court deck?

Later Filippo Maria Visconti ordered to produce the Michelino deck with 60 cards totally. 60 cards ... as the favored deck of Johannes, which likely was a Bohemian court deck.

Filippo Maria Visconti in his Michelino then used no professions for the suits, but birds. As court cards he had only kings. It seems, that he replaced the 4 other court cards (as already told: ... queen, a maid - so that the queen had also a servant, upper marshall, lower marshall), with trumps and these trumps were painted as Greek gods.

Now we have the condition, that the game Schafkopf ...
... has its home near the borders of the earlier Bohemia. In this game the court card king has no trump function, but the other (two) court cards have. As it is defined in the rules o the Michelino deck (but now with 4 court cards ... and the king has NO trump function).

Schafkopf is with this name first noted in c. 1700, but that doesn't say, that the specific Schafkopf-Rules (court cards are trumps, but not the king) aren't older.

Going back to the situation of Johannes of Rheinfelden 1377, then it seems, that the most common deck has 4x13 structure. A king and two male soldiers usually as Ober and Unter or horseman and foot soldier and then the 10 numbers in 4 suits, totally 52 cards.

What's the function of soldiers? Fighting ... and in a card game "fighting" means "trumping". Under this condition we have as the basic idea of all later trump games, that Ober and Unter are trumps and the other cards not, and that's the basic rule of Schafkopf ... and for some other reasons (which I don't embark at this opportunity) it's rather probable, that Bohemia was rather important for the European playing card development.

Filippo Maria Visconti is well known for his bad experiences in his youth with the condottieri (Ficino Cane) and also later for his fear cause his own condottieri (Carmagnola, Piccinino, Francesco Sforza ... a constant game, to keep his condottieri in a dependent condition). He rather didn't like, that the condottieri should be the trumps in the game.
So he made the Michelino deck, and he replaced Ober and Unter with Greek gods.

But our theme is chess ... and later the "20 figure".

One should see, that Chess was a dominant game already in 13th and later in 14th century. When playing cards developed in slow steps at small islands of European territory, hampered by prohibition here and there, Chess naturally was "big brother" and the playing cards had the role of the "little one". The younger brothers naturally imitate the older, isn't it? Very naturally influences of chess worked on the development of playing cards and also of Trionfi cards.


Our Charles VI revolution

Back to the development of the research of about the Chess Tarot ... in winter 2007-2008 here in the Forum in the Christina Fiorini thread ...
... it became apparent, that the Charles VI Tarot was not - as generally assumed before - from Ferrara, but from Florence. As we had done already a lot of research about Florence, it rather immediately fell into the place, which was "under suspicion" before.

The hypothesis was born, that the Charles VI Tarot was made c. 1463 by a circle of persons (actually more or less kids, between them the young Lorenzo de Medici) around Luigi Pulci (who was the first, who noted the word Minchiate in a letter 1466), who worked as a sort of poetry teacher for the Medici.
And it was assumed, that the 16 trumps of the Charles VI were a complete trump set, and that the idea behind this arrangement was again ... Chess.

This also happened (more or less) here in the Forum.

It started with a suspicion about the moon card ...

... from which the left was identified with the mathematican Toscanelli and the right with the astronom Regiomontanus. Regiomontanus arrived not before 1461 in Italy and the contact between both could have taken place only later.
Toscanelli worked for the banking house of the Medici.

left person: Toscanelli, fresco in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Vasari


I spare the details here. In the theories of the Tarot development now the following two groups developed:

before 1425: Michelino deck ... 16 trumps (Chess ?)
c. 1441: Cary-Yale Tarocchi ... 16 trump (Chess !)
c. 1463: Charles VI ... 16 trumps (Chess !)

1.1.1441: "14 figure" mentioned in Ferrarese document
c. 1452: first painter of Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarochi had 14 trumps and a 5x14-deck
1457: Ferrarese document about Trionfi deck production with 70 cards (probably 5x14-deck)

So suddenly the Chess Tarot development looked (as far the early development of Trionfi deck was concerned) similar strong as the 5x14-deck.

Some time later it was discovered, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergmo deck (part of the 5x14-group) contained with the use of "cliffs" or "without cliffs" on the 14 first trumps a sort of hidden code, which somehow seems to point to "chess structure".

"Dangerous" (this are 6; Fool - Magician - Love - Fortune - Hanging Man - Death) cards had a cliff, "not dangerous" (this are 8; Popess - Empress - Emperor - Pope - Chariot - Justice - Hermit - Judgment) cards has no cliff.

When the six cards were added (assumption: in 1465), then there were 4 new cards with cliffs (Temperance - Star - Moon - Sun) and 2 without cliffs (Force and World). Which results then totally in: 10 cards "with cliffs" and 10 cards "without cliffs". Somehow the "10 pairs" model, about which I reported already in Part 1 of this thread.

Sun ... with cliff

Then it was discovered, that a rather similar "hidden code" as in Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi was also used in the Hofämterspiel (not a common Trionfi deck).

And cards of the Goldschmidt and Guildhall (Kaplan I, p. 110 + 111) and even Visconti cards (Death card of the Victoria Albert Museum, Kaplan 1, p. 104) showed as stylish element checkered basement ... is this indicating some chess relation?

From this (I spare some details, which are rather complex) it suddenly turned to the not expected situation, that anything, which was known as real cards about the early Trionfi development till 1465, seemed to have been influenced by chess

... the influence is smaller for the 5x14 group and more obvious for the group with 16 trumps, but it is given for each really existent deck of the early Trionfi family ... with the exception of the Brera Brambilla Tarocchi, which simply has only two remaining trumps (and one cannot say much about it).

Then - in 1465 - it seems, that the number was increased to 20, not to 22 special cards (as described in Part 1)

The deck with 4x14+22 appeared first in 1487 with the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, as already shown in Part 1 of this thread.
An earlier optimistic attempt to place the invention earlier finally stumbled in not solvable contradictions. The time between 1465 and 1487 seems to be reigned by 20 trumps. But why?


Proceed with next post ...
Top   #3