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The Belgian Tarot


Like the TdB, the Belgian Tarot, which appears at around the same period [first half of the 18th century], follows the TdM ordering, but changes II - The Popesse and V - The Pope. Unlike the TdB however, there are various other differences that are significant enough to question whether the Belgian Tarot should be considered a TdM variant. Beside the change of Popesse and Pope, from temperance on the imagery more closely follows the Vieville, and the fool is numbered XXII. The names of the van den Borre's tarot (VDB) are:

I · LE BATELEUX
Among his things on the table appears to be a pack of French Suited cards, with the Ace of Hearts showing.

II · LE'SPAGNOL · CAPITANO FRACASSE
the Spanish · Captain Fracasse

Shows the character of Captain Fracasse, a character from the Commedia dell'Arte.

There is also possibly some socio-political polemics or recent historical reference ['recent' to the period in which the pattern appears] going on with the choice of this card. The connection being possibly the War of the Spanish Succession, in which the Spanish Netherlands [which incorporates the region in which the Belgian Tarot appears] becomes the Austrian Netherlands.

The name of the Spanish Captain, Fracasse, means:

Fracassé: m. ée: f. Broken, crashed; extreamly crushed; wracked; battered; ruined, made hauocke of.
Randle Cotgrave A Dictionary of the French and English Tongues (1611)

The War of Spanish Succession also resulted of course in the Austrian takeover of the former French dominions in Italy:
Quote:
"In the opening shots of that war, Eugene defeated French armies in northern Italy. As the area of French offensive action moved north, and as the war spread to include other nations such as England, Eugene joined forces for the first time with his English counterpart, the Duke of Marlborough. Together they defeated the French in Bavaria at the Battle of Blenheim (1704). For the next three years he was engaged in fighting in northern Italy and Provence, were he suffered defeats in Cassano, but finally he defeated French armies in the decisive battle of Turin (1706), after which Louis XIV had to withdraw all French forces from Italy. Eugene attacked French Toulon on 1707, but siege was unsuccessful.
Eugene then moved north to Flanders, where he joined up with Marlborough to win the battles of Oudenarde and Malplaquet. Unfortunately, the follow-up invasion of France that would have ended the war was blunted by the marginal victory of Malplaquet, and the retirement of Britain from the war. After one more year of fighting, Austria signed a favourable peace with France, in 1714.

One of the new Austrian possessions after the War of the Spanish Succesion was the former Spanish, now Austrian Netherlands. Eugene was made governor of this area, then later became vicar of the Austrian lands in Italy."

Quote from article on Prince Eugene of Savoy in:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Eugene_of_Savoy
Ross G Caldwell in post here:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.p...5&postcount=15

States:
Quote:
"According to Dummett (the younger - Dummett's son Andrew (I believe)) in 1974 the Capitaine Fracasse image derives from an engraving from c. 1635 made by Michel Lasne -
http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/104.htm

Depaulis reproduced this image in 1984. By 1993 Depaulis had done a fair bit of research about it, and informed Dummett so that the latter could report in 1993 that a book printed in Bologna in 1719 made reference to the image, and said that it had been made at a time of "great anger between France and Spain".
The text to the engraving says:
"Un Espagnol se tient debout dans un paysage de montagnes désolées ; il a la main droite, en un geste précieux, sur la garde de son épée, dont le fourreau abîmé semble montrer qu'il ne l'utilise guère. Il porte un cure-dents sur l'oreille. Son costume sombre est beaucoup plus sobre que celui dont Bosse l'affuble."

Which I roughly translate as:
"A Spaniard stands upright in a landscape of desolate mountains; his right hand, in a precious gesture, is on the guard of his sword, the damaged sleeve of which seems to show that he hardly uses it. He carries toothpicks on his ear. His dark costume is much more sober than the puffed up ruffles with which they are worn." [Not quite sure about the meaning of "que celui dont Bosse l'affuble" and my translation there may be completely wrong - anyone who knows better please feel free to correct.]

III · L'IMPERATRIS

IIII · L'EMPEREUR

V · BACUS
Bacchus: the god of wine shown sitting on a cask, drinking from a flask.

Bacchus spelt 'bacus' or 'bacvs', was also a word that also meant a dicing table:

quote:
"The Ginny hen floure is called of Dodonas, Flos Meleagris: of Lobelius, Lilio-narcissus variegata, for that it hath the floure of a Frittio Lilly, and the root of Narcissus: it hath Checquered Daffodill beene called Fritillaria, of the table or boord upon which men play at Chesse, which square checkers the floure doth very much resemble; some thinking that it was named Fritillus: whereof there is no certainty; for Martial seemeth to call Fritillus, bacus, or the Tables whereon men play at Dice, in the fifth booke of his Epigrams, writing to Galla.

The sad Boy now his nuts cast by,
Is call'd to Schoole by Masters cry:
And the drunke Dicer now betray'd
By flattering Tables as he play'd,
Is from his secret tipling house drawne out,
Although the Officer he much besought,

In English we may call it Turky-hen or Ginny-hen Floure, and also Checquered Daffodill, and Fritillarie, according to the Latine." end quote from:
Thomas Johnson, The Herbal or General History of Plants(1633)

As in the TdB the replacement of the Pope by a wanton pagan god is possibly polemical satire.

VI · LAMOUR

VII · LE CHARIOT

VIII · LA JUSTICE

IX · L'ERMITE
The Hermit holds a book.

X · ROUE DE FORTUNE

XI · LA·FORCE

XII · LEPEN=DU
the Hanged Man

Le Pendu [in the VDB strangely spelt with a formulaic like = sign breaking up the title LEPEN=DU] is reversed, as if standing on tiptoe, the numbering on the Vieville suggests too it should be read this way.

XIII · LA·MORT
Death

XIIII · LA TEMPERENCE
Temperance

Temperance holds a jug in one hand pouring liquid into a jug on the ground, in the other she holds a [butterfly headed?] sceptre [the Bodet looks like it is topped by a winged dildo Or possibly a palm branch]. She has a banner that reads Fama Sol, Alciato 1543 calls the 14th card Fama:

Mundus habet primas, croceis dein Angelus alis:
Tum Phoebus, luna, & stella, cum fulmine daemon:
Fama necem, Crux antesenem, fortuna quadrigas:
Cedit amor forti & justo, regemque sacerdos:
Flaminicam regina praeit queis campo propinat
Omnibus, extremò stultus discernitur actu."

The World has first place, then the Angel with golden wings:
Next Phoebus, the Moon, and the Star, with lightning, the demon:
Fame (before) death, the Cross before the old man, fortune (before)
the chariot:
Love cedes to the strong and the just; the priest precedes the king,
And the queen the Flaminica, and he on the field yields up
To All; the fool is set apart, outside of the sequence.
[Trans. Ross G Caldwell]

{This textual reference was first discovered and presented as far as I am aware by Ross G Caldwell on the TarotL group with the following references/links : Andrea Alciato, "[Parergon] Juris libri VII posteriores" (Lyon,
Sebastian Gryphus, 1543), bk. VIII ch. xvi (pp. 72-73)]

see http://www.geocities.com/anytarot/alciato.html
Entire text in PDF at -
http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/Visualiseu...a&O=NUMM-54627

The Vieville too shows the inscription SOL FAMA on this card.

XV · LE·DIABLE
the Devil

XVI · LA·FOUDRE
Lightning

XVII · LE'TOILLE
the Star

XVIII · LA·LUNE
the Moon

XIX · LE SOLEIL
the Moon

XX · LE JUGEMENT
Judgement

XXI · LE MONDE
the World

XXII · LE FOU
the Fool

Tarotpedia lists the following as known printers of the Belgian pattern:

Nicolas Bodet, Brussels (1743-1751)
Jean Galler, Brussels (1738-1760)
Sarton (1756-1767)
Jean Gisaine, Dinant (c.1750)
Martin Dupont, Brussels (1766)
Vandenborre, Brussels (1762-1803)

Some useful links with information on / images from Belgian pattern decks:

http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards63.htm
http://wopc.co.uk/downloads/BodetTarot.jpg
http://trionfi.com/m/d0yyyy.php%3fdecknr=2453
http://www.themysticeye.com/pics/bacchus.htm
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/index...elgian_Pattern

Vieville, Paris and Belgian:
http://www.tarothermit.com/belgian.htm

The Vieville :
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/index...Vieville_Tarot
http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards61.htm
http://www.tarot-history.com/Jacques...es/page-2.html
http://www.tarotpassages.com/vieville.htm

Kwaw
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Some corrections on Alciato -

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
She has a banner that reads Fama Sol, Alciato 1543 calls the 14th card Fama:

Mundus habet primas, croceis dein Angelus alis:
Tum Phoebus, luna, & stella, cum fulmine daemon:
Fama necem, Crux antesenem, fortuna quadrigas:
Cedit amor forti & justo, regemque sacerdos:
Flaminicam regina praeit queis campo propinat
Omnibus, extremò stultus discernitur actu."
In my first transcription of the text, I misread the word "caupo" as "campo". (the PDF was unclear, as you can see from the link). So in the second last line, it should be changed to "caupo", meaning "huckster, inn-keeper, taverner".

Quote:
The World has first place, then the Angel with golden wings:
Next Phoebus, the Moon, and the Star, with lightning, the demon:
Fame (before) death, the Cross before the old man, fortune (before)
the chariot:
Love cedes to the strong and the just; the priest precedes the king,
And the queen the Flaminica, and he on the field yields up
To All; the fool is set apart, outside of the sequence.
[Trans. Ross G Caldwell]
The last three lines I would better translate as:
"Love cedes to the strong and the just, the king to the priest;
The Queen precedes the Flaminica, and the inn-keeper yields up
To All; on the outside actually, the Fool is separated."

Quote:
{This textual reference was first discovered and presented as far as I am aware by Ross G Caldwell on the TarotL group with the following references/links : Andrea Alciato, "[Parergon] Juris libri VII posteriores" (Lyon,
Sebastian Gryphus, 1543), bk. VIII ch. xvi (pp. 72-73)]

see http://www.geocities.com/anytarot/alciato.html
Entire text in PDF at -
http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/Visualiseu...a&O=NUMM-54627
I actually never claimed to discover it (see the first message on TarotL for Feb. 19 2005 -
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TarotL/message/44976), but I couldn't remember where I found the reference -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross
I know I heard of this mentioned somewhere, but I can't remember
where (somebody help me - I can't have dreamed it), so I can't claim
it as a discovery, but as far as I know this is the first time it has
appeared in toto.

It is all the more surprising to me that the latest commentators on
tarot in Lombardy, Dummett and McLeod (2004), do not mention it.
A few months after this I got in touch with Thierry Depaulis about this, and he informed me that in fact Ludovico Zdekauer had first published Alciato's text in 1894, and that this in turn was rediscovered by Franco Pratesi and with his investigations made into an article in L'As de Trèfle in 1992.

Not long after this, I found the place where I read it - Dummett *1993*. Dummett by 2004 (in book and article) had forgotten that he himself had mentioned it in Il Mondo e L'Angelo.
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Belgian Tarot source texts I: Depaulis 1984


From Thierry DEPAULIS, Tarot, jeu et magie (Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, 1984) pp. 80-82:

Quote:
The Tarot of Rouen/Brussels

One is lost in conjecture on the ins and outs of that which, for better or worse, is called the "Belgian Tarot".

It was for a long time believed, in fact, that the Tarot de Marseille (and its variants) was the sole reigning model in non-Italian Europe. The appearance of these curious packs made in Brussels in the second half of the 18th century, showing unique characteristics, came to overturn this monopoly. We are far from the "Marseille" standard, in fact: here the Popess is replaced by le Capitaine Fracasse and the Pope by... Baccus, the Devil, the House of God - here called La Foudre(Lightning) -, the Moon and the World all clearly call to mind other sources, notably Bolognese. The graphic style is very particular and although these cards are labelled "Swiss Cards" by our Belgian manufacturers, it is thought that it was there a creation of Brussels having no link with Switzerland nor... France (if not for the order of the trumps which is that of the Tarot de Marseille).

The acquisition, a few years ago, by an English collector of an identical pack but made at... Rouen at the beginning of the 18th century reopened the question of the origin of these cards. It seems certain that the Brussels cardmakers had a French model, perhaps from Rouen. But where did these latter come from, whose affinities with a certain Parisian tarot (catalogue no. 34 (Viéville)), as well as with the Bolognese "portrait", are troubling? No one yet knows and hypotheses are numerous...
The tarot of the "English collector" (Temperley) is that of Adam C. de Hautot, known between 1723 to 1748 in Rouen. Cat. no. 55 in Depaulis 1984, and Kaplan II, 313.

No. 55 - Hautot (pp. 80-81)
No. 56 - "L'Espagnol made by Michel Lasne" (p. 81, illus. p. 82) (See also
http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/104.htm ):

Quote:
Spaniard acting the Braggart

Michel Lasne, around 1639
burin on paper
272 x 198 mm
signatures:
MLasne inven / et fecit (at bottom, left)
Mariette excud / cum Privilegio (at bottom, right)

Two sheets were engraved by Michel Lasne, one representing "a Frenchman reproaching a Spaniard for his boasts", and the other "this Spaniard acting the Braggart". These were "made at the peak of the war between France and Spain". It is thus that Pierre-Jean Mariette presents them - being careful to avoid confusing him with the one responsible for the excudit - in his Abecedario pittorico (Bologna, 1719). To be noted is that the engraving here shown carries no title but only some verses which confirm the attribution of Mariette. That trump II of the Tarot of Adam de Hautot (see the preceding) is titled L'Espagnol is therefore not surprising: the work of Lasne was clearly its model.

The association with Captain Fracasse, even though not affirmed by the engraving, seems logical: although less popular, this character of the Commedia dell'Arte was known in France since the 16th century, sometimes under different names. He incarnated the Braggart, big talker but cowardly at the same time. In the 17th century, he became a satire of the Spanish soldier. The representations given of him by Jacques Callot or Abraham Bosse are however much more exaggerated. In any case, this feature is present in the figure of trump II: thus is he underlined with yellow.

Michel Lasne is a French engraver who has left us numerous engravings. Born before 1590, he died in 1667. He worked at Anvers, for Plantin and Moretus, between 1617 and 1620, before settling in Paris.

(Provenance) Paris, B.N., Estampes. Tf 17 folio.
Bibliography: Inventaire du Fonds Français: graveurs du XVIIe siècle, tome VII. Paris, 1976, no. 152-153, p. 79.
Catalogue no. 57, Tarot of Jean Galler (Bruxelles, around 1755) (p. 82.)
cfr. Kaplan I, p. 152.
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I'm going to start some iconographical comparisons.

I've very excited about this because I simply love the Jacques Vieville, and when comparing the Belgian, TdM, and TdB, I think some of the truly amazing details in the Jacques Vieville begin to shine.. or at least lead to very interesting reflections!

Some basic questions and assumptions...

Is the "Belgian" tarot, as shown in the F.I Vandenborre, based on the Jacques Vieville? Are there any characteristics to the Belgian that significantly differ from the Vieville?

Is there iconography in the Vieville/Belgian that may be more "authentically TdM" than the existing TdM decks that we have such as the Noblet, Conver and Dodal?

Are there any similarities that show up in the Belgian and the TdB, but not the TdM.. if so.. why?

For the purposes of the comparison.. I'm not going to assume that any of the decks is older/truer/more authentic. I am going to assume that "something" existed before these decks, and that they are based on that something earlier.

By comparing and contrasting these decks, can we get a sense of an earlier ancestor that all of them relate to and may each contain unique details of that, when combined, give a "gestalt" of what that ancestor might have looked like?

I don't have a firm grasp on any of this. These are more ponderings and questions than statements.

What can we learn about Tarot, and it's development and spread, by looking at these images?
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Valet of Cups

TOP ROW: Vieville, Vandenborre,
BOTTOM ROW: Benois, Dodal, Conver



Similarities and Differences:
There are several areas to focus on with this card. What is on the Valet's head, what is in the Valet's left hand, and what is in his right?

Throughout the VieVille, he does not have titles on the cards. Here, we see the Vanderborre "struggling" with the title in the same way that we see some cards in the Dodal and other TdM decks struggle with where on the card to put the title (well..that's my opinion at least!). The Vanderborre uses the same technique that is used in some TdM decks.. to run the title down the side.

Overall, the Vanderborre is very similar to the Vieville.. but there are some interesting differences as well.

The Vieville shows that the Valet wears a hat, with a flowerlike strap above the brim, and carries a cup with no lid in one hand and what is probably the lid for the cup in the other.

The Vanderborre also has the hat, but it is much less defined. The TdB and TdM decks do not show the hat on the head, but the TdM decks seem to show a flowerlike pattern around the head, the TdB more of a wreath.

The Vanderborre shows what might be a lid in his right hand, but it might also be rounded out so as not to be a lid.

The TdB and the Dodal show the cape of the Valet covering the cup. The Conver is similar, but chooses to show the open top of the cup.

In the TdB and TdM, the object in his hand could be a hat, maybe a lid.. it is unclear. On the Dodal... there is also an extra couple of lines that might imply feathers to a hat.

The Dodal seems to show a very level ground plane with no vegetation, all of the others show rounded hills with plants.

Of all of these, I personally like the Vieville. The components of his card make sense and work together. I can imagine how the Vandenborre modified the Vieville, and can imagine how the TdB and TdM cards tried to resolve the iconography as well. It's interesting that the Conver does not have the top of the cup covered. If he was basing his image on the TdM I, why did he leave the top of his cup exposed?
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King of Cups

TOP ROW: Vieville, Vandenborre,
BOTTOM ROW: Benois, Dodal, Conver



Similarities and Differences:
So much to consider here!! The hat. The throne. The hands. The cup. The beard. The legs. The floor.

Again, instead of considering the TdM first, I'm going to focus on the Vieville. The Vieville is extremely detailed. He shows a king sitting on a throne, the back of the throne clearly drawn. In his left hand he holds a cup, with a lid. His right hand points to the cup. He wears a very unusual hat, with a crown in the center, two "wings" coming up from the sides, and a kind of "kerchief" around his head. His coat has buttons down the front, his legs are parted and the coat parts in the middle around his legs. His feet seem to rest on what might be a pillow. He wears a cape, and there is a flower-shaped clasp on his shoulder.

The Vandenborre is again very similar to the Vieville. He has placed the title across the bottom of the card cutting off the king's feet. He is "confused" on several areas concerning the cape.. he loses the throne on the left side of the card, and he loses the arm holding the cup. His crown is almost completely lost. He has a completely different floor pattern than the Vieville... showing a "brick" pattern. He also loses the the "double" points on the king's beard. He retains the pointing finger, the buttons on the coat, the chair behind the king, the lid on the cup, and the position of the legs. He loses the clasp on the cape.

On the TdM and the TdB, there is no chairback behind the king. On the Conver and Dodal, there is something at the shoulder which could be either the tip of the chair, or the clasp of the the cape (on the Noblet, not shown, it is clearly the clasp of the cape). The TdB and TdM also show the pointed beard. The TdB and the Dodal show the buttons on the front of the coat, I can't see them on the Conver. In the TdM and TdB, the position of the legs has changed. The Conver seems "closer" to the Vieville in how the coat crosses the legs and parts in the middle... but it is still not clearly defined. The TdB and TdM also show the crown in the middle with the "wings" on the side, as well as some kind of covering coming down over the side of the head. The Conver shosw this only on one side, whereas the Dodal and Benois show it shorter on one side than the other.

All of the images show a different floor pattern.
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Thanks for the additional information on the engraving Ross, and for clarifying my error in regards to the sources re: Alciato.

Are you able to translate the six lines at the bottom of the engraving? I have a rough idea but my elementary French is struggling with parts of it:

De bien loin au de la des mons,
Ie viens pour vois ses rodomons.
Qui vantent par tout leur courage.
Mais croyant qu'ilz n'ont pas le cœur,
De me voir sans mourir de peur,
Ie me fais voir dans ceste jmage.

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Valet of Batons

TOP ROW: Vieville, Vandenborre,
BOTTOM ROW: Benois, Dodal, Conver



Similarities and Differences:
For the most part, these images are pretty similar. A valet holds a staff, but a major difference can be seen in the position of the hands and the height of the staff.

On the Vieville, the valet holds a staff with one hand leading down and one hand grasping the baton in the upper portion. The Vandenborre repeats this. In comparison, the Vandenborre seems to have shortened the legs to allow the title to appear on the card, and there is a large "hump" in the hill behind the valet.

The Benois, (a TdB) also shows the staff extending higher than the hands. However, the postition of the hands has also changed, with both hands coming together at the same point to grasp the staff.

The Dodal and Conver (TdM) do not show any staff above the top hand. And the top hand rather than grasping the staff, seems to rest on top of it.

If the TdB is based on the TdM, why does it show the staff extending higher than the hand... "agreeing" with the Belgian?

Here too we see disagreement about the title. The Vieville has no title as typical of the deck. The Dodal, also has no title. Why/why not? The Dodal here uses the side of the card to indicate "F. P. Trange", which I understand to mean "made for foreigners".

The "Belgian" tarots show a hat with a "scarf" hanging from it.. shown in both the Vieville and Vandenborre. The TdM decks do not show the scarf. Was the scarf added in the Belgian? or lost in the TdM?

Once again, the Dodal shows a very straight line for the ground, with no vegetation. The other decks show rounded earth and plants.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
Are you able to translate the six lines at the bottom of the engraving? I have a rough idea but my elementary French is struggling with parts of it:

De bien loin au de la des mons,
Ie viens pour vois ses rodomons.
Qui vantent par tout leur courage.
Mais croyant qu'ilz n'ont pas le cœur,
De me voir sans mourir de peur,
Ie me fais voir dans ceste jmage.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on too... the last line threw me off, which made me understand the "mais" of the fourth line better, i.e. the poem means "I'm going to see these braggarts, all the while knowing that they're scared to death of me." It's ironic - we're supposed to see that he is making a fool of himself.

"From very far across the mountains,
I come to see their bragging.
Who boast of their courage everywhere.
While believing that they don't have the heart
To see me without dying of fear,
As I appear in this image".

I believe that is a good idiomatic translation.
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Belgian Tarot source texts II: Dummett and McLeod, 2004


Michael DUMMETT and John MCLEOD, "A History of Games Played Played with the Tarot Pack: The Game of Triumphs" (Edwin Mellen Press, 2004) vol. 2, pp. 404-406 (Chapter 15, "Tapp-Tarok"; I've changed the formatting slightly for ease of reading (separated paragraphs - originally it is one long paragraph))

Quote:
The 'Belgian Tarot' is the standard pattern for 78-card Tarot packs with Italian suit-signs made in the late XVIII and very early XIX century in what is now Belgium, but was then the Austrian Netherlands. 78-card Tarot packs with French suits and animals on the trump cards were made there at about the same (p. 405) time.

The standard pattern used for these Italian-suited Tarots differed greatly from the Tarot de Marseille: it was in fact the only standard pattern for Italian-suited Tarot packs used anywhere in Europe outside Italy that did not derive from the Tarot de Marseille. In the form used in the Netherlands, it was a modified version of a standard pattern formerly used in France.

We know this from a single surviving complete example, a 78-card pack made in Paris in about 1650 by Jacques Viéville (note 1). A probable conjecture is that the pattern was a descendant of the standard Tarot pattern of Piedmont/Savoy, as the Tarot de Marseille was a descendant of that of Milan; it may have died out for use in France when the game ceased to be played outside the eastern part of the country. It surely died out for use in France: it did not die out for purposes of export.

We have a 78-card Tarot made in Rouen by Adam C. de Hautot in about 1723 whose designs coincide wth those of the packs later made in Brussels and elsewhere in what we may anachronistically call Belgium (note 2); it must have been from Rouen that the pattern, and the Tarot pack generally, was introduced.

The pack made by de Hautot and those made by Belgian cardmakers differ from that of Viéville in three salient respects. (1) Viéville's Pope and Popess have been replaced, respectively, by Bacchus and the Spanish Captain Fracasse (note 3); (2) the trump order is the same as in the Tarot de Marseille, whereas that of Viéville coincides with that we know from an Italian source connected with Pavia; and (3) the Fool bears the number XXII, something unknown in any other form of Tarot pack. This strongly suggests that in the XVIII century Belgian players treated the Fool as the highest trump. Unfortunately, we have no description of any Tarot game played in Belgium save game 3.4 from the end of the XIX century; we cannot therefore corroborate this conjecture.

A puzzling feature of the Belgian Italian-suited Tarot packs is that their wrappers almost invariably bear the words "Cartes de Suisse".(p. 406) This is perplexing both because we have compelling reason to suppose that cards of this type were originally imported from France, and because we know no example of the Viéville-de Hautot pattern being used by Swiss cardmakers, who, so far as we know, were faithful to the Tarot de Marseille and to its offshoot, the Tarot de Besançon.

But, although the supposition does not wholly solve the puzzle, it is possible that "Cartes de Suisse" refers to the mode of play rather than the design of the cards, and hence may indicate that the form of game then played in Belgium had been learned from players from some part of Switzerland.

(1. In the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.)
(2. The pack by de Hautot is in the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum in Leinfelden.)
(3. Captain Fracasso was a character from the Commedia dell'Arte.)
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