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René d'Anjou and cards


I have been puzzled by the lack of references to cards in René d'Anjou's life, which I have been studying. He was surrounded by card players, such as Jacques Coeur and of course his wife, Isabelle de Lorraine, who received Michelino's cards from Jacopo Antonio Marcello in 1449.

In my reading I have found out that René d'Anjou was very devoted to the Franciscan order, and in fact Bernardino of Siena was his confessor while René was in Naples, 1438-1442. René was actually one of the foremost proponents of Bernardino's canonisation, which occured in 1450.

This might explain why there is a curious lack of references to cards in René's life - he was a very serious and religious person, and Bernardino was of course famous for inciting "bonfires of the vanities", in which large numbers of cards and other games were burnt. Bernardino taught people to focus on the vanity of life's pleasures, and in fact René is known for his melancholy reflections on death. So it seems logical that René would stay away from the more frivolous aspects of courtly life.

Marcello sent the cards of Michelino to Isabelle, René's wife. It is possible that she never showed these cards to him, or that he regarded them with disdain, since their subject matter was entirely profane. Although René did have some Italian renaissance sensibilities, and was ahead of his time in other ways, he did not apparently share the Italian interest in the classical gods. In the inventories of his goods, the profane subjects are limited to kings like Alexander, the other "Neuf preux", tournament subjects, and a few "monsters" painted in the château of Tarascon.

Whatever happened to Michelino's cards, it seems likely that René would not have had any interest in them after Isabelle's death in 1453. Huck's suggestion that he may have returned them to Bianca Maria Visconti, whom he visited in Pavia in September 1453, seems therefore more plausible. Or, he could have ignored them, and they were lost another way. There is of course no direct evidence either way, but it is an interesting suggestion.
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Re: René d'Anjou and cards


Quote:
Originally posted by Ross G Caldwell
I have been puzzled by the lack of references to cards in René d'Anjou's life, which I have been studying. He was surrounded by card players, such as Jacques Coeur and of course his wife, Isabelle de Lorraine, who received Michelino's cards from Jacopo Antonio Marcello in 1449.

In my reading I have found out that René d'Anjou was very devoted to the Franciscan order, and in fact Bernardino of Siena was his confessor while René was in Naples, 1438-1442. René was actually one of the foremost proponents of Bernardino's canonisation, which occured in 1450.

Men have changes in their life. When he showed some personal interest in San Bernardino in Naples, perhaps even strong religious addiction, it doesn't mean, that he was the same man in France after 1442. What I've heard, they'd parties and festivities then. One of the court ladies became mistress to Charles VII.
Scipio Caraffa should have known, if cards at the French court were forebidden or not. He decided not.

That Rene was interested to see his earlier "friend" canonizised - could have had personal or political reasons. He was king of Jerusalem, so some did build probably romantic around him, when he already lived as a "living hope" to reconstitute the crusader idea. He acted in this direction, when he founded the order of the crescent. "First we take Naples and then Jerusalem" was still an idea in 1494, Rene already dead.
A lot of persons saw something in him, so they were willing to forge reality to that, what they wanted to see. Naples was a catastrophe, but the victories of 1450 and 1453 against England surely added to the effect. They ended 100 years of wars - that was a big event.
Quote:

This might explain why there is a curious lack of references to cards in René's life - he was a very serious and religious person, and Bernardino was of course famous for inciting "bonfires of the vanities", in which large numbers of cards and other games were burnt. Bernardino taught people to focus on the vanity of life's pleasures, and in fact René is known for his melancholy reflections on death. So it seems logical that René would stay away from the more frivolous aspects of courtly life.
Doubts. But perhaps we've in France a different situation. If we assume, that card-forbidding in Italy (at least in Florence and near pope Eugen) was strong, that doesn't mean, that things were similar in Germany or France. When something is socially adapted, the risk, that it leads to asocial behaviour (for instance excessive gambling) is small. When it lives in a twilight zone of prohibition, things are more dangerous. France had cards from Belgium imports since 1427, and Rene was in his youth not far from Strasbourg (playing card production center, playing card tolerance), he knew German and he was half a German. That he showed open during his stay in Naples to Italian thinking, is natural. He wanted to be a king there, so he acted, as Italian eyes wished him to be - that's normal politic.

Alfonso of Aragon (at least his wife) had cards in Spain, played cards with Filippo Visconti, but Bistecci (Florentian "lying" biograph) told a story, that Alfonso stopped card playing in his youth (with 18) and at a special occasion gave all money, that he won, back. Well, Italian eyes wished, that great men didn't play cards. So Bistecci told that, what was loved to be heard. Perhaps he got some money from Alfonso's son for that - or he hoped to get some.
Quote:
Marcello sent the cards of Michelino to Isabelle, René's wife. It is possible that she never showed these cards to him, or that he regarded them with disdain, since their subject matter was entirely profane. Although René did have some Italian renaissance sensibilities, and was ahead of his time in other ways, he did not apparently share the Italian interest in the classical gods. In the inventories of his goods, the profane subjects are limited to kings like Alexander, the other "Neuf preux", tournament subjects, and a few "monsters" painted in the château of Tarascon.
But we don't have much Greek art till 1450 in Italy, also. Rene was there till 1442, and in the very south in Italy, where time went a little different. How should he have gotten the great interest? After 1460 he was a rather old man, before that he had a late love to a young wife. Romantic book-paintings with a very personal style, he didn't need Greek gods, he had his own direction.
Quote:
Whatever happened to Michelino's cards, it seems likely that René would not have had any interest in them after Isabelle's death in 1453. Huck's suggestion that he may have returned them to Bianca Maria Visconti, whom he visited in Pavia in September 1453, seems therefore more plausible. Or, he could have ignored them, and they were lost another way. There is of course no direct evidence either way, but it is an interesting suggestion.
I think, that the situation was so, that he had to give them back, but it was not a matter of his own taste. They were a personal object of the property of Bianca Maria, and Anjou and Milano were allies.

And when it is true, that the Daphne picture from 1468 showed Galeazzo Maria and Bona in 1468, then we've a certain result of this action. Galeazzo knew the Michelino deck.
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Quote:
Originally posted by Huck
Men have changes in their life. When he showed some personal interest in San Bernardino in Naples, perhaps even strong religious addiction, it doesn't mean, that he was the same man in France after 1442. What I've heard, they'd parties and festivities then. One of the court ladies became mistress to Charles VII.
Scipio Caraffa should have known, if cards at the French court were forebidden or not. He decided not.
For me it is not an a priori question of whether René would have or would not have not liked cards; it is simply the historical fact that none are mentioned in his inventories, and he doesn't mention them in his writings. Since his life is very well documented and he is surrounded with cards and card-players, such as his wife, Jacques Coeur, Charles of Orléans, etc., and he rules or lives near major centres of card production like Avignon, it seems that he would be likely to mention them.

Of course, they are ephemeral and perhaps he thought card games not worth mentioning - but the subject of the "court" cards is chivalric, and it is precisely chivalry that René is most devoted to. So to me, it is a historical puzzle.

I don't think we have to assume card playing was "forbidden" in René's court, or the areas he ruled directly; cards were widespread. It seems only that René *personally* didn't like cards, or didn't care for them one way or another.

Another factor is that René and Isabelle spent much of their lives living apart; she did what she liked, and she seems to have played cards. Scipio Carafa in 1448-1449 in Provence would have seen a rare instance of the King and Queen of Sicily ruling side by side.

Yes parties and festivities in the 1440s; but 1449 was the last tournament in fact, and the grandest. They were not "parties" in the conventional sense, but chivalric contests according to fixed rules, which took place around religious holidays and "mysteries", which were enacted. Medieval style mystery dramas. For René very serious, nothing like a hedonistic pleasure-party.

On the other hand, Isabelle's final illness has been explained as being due perhaps to too much partying, so she seems to have lived a very different life from her husband. Agnès Sorel was part of Isabelle's cortege from at least 1443, which is where Charles VII met her (René and Charles had been brought up together, Charles married René's sister, and the two Kings were always close).

So it seems natural that Carafa thought of Isabelle when he saw Marcello's cards.
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René also made an appearance at the Council of Florence, in 1442. This is when he had finally lost all hope of Naples, and was returning to Provence.

He stayed in Florence as the guest of Cosimo Medici from July to October 1442, when the Council was working to unite the "monophysite" Churches - Ethiopians, Armenians, Syrian "Jacobites", Copts.
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The council was more or less over, then. At least the great festivities. Some persons in administrative function had still something to do - as far I got it. Cause that: ... still the council was in Florence and went from there to Rome.

The riddle of Rene and the cards might have been: He had very early contact to great card creativity in Germany. The decks of Italy didn't impress him. And he left card-playing as "something for the kids and ladies". He was artist himself - he couldn't find simple delight.
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Re: René d'Anjou and cards


Quote:
Originally posted by Ross G Caldwell
I have been puzzled by the lack of references to cards in René d'Anjou's life, which I have been studying. He was surrounded by card players, such as Jacques Coeur and of course his wife, Isabelle de Lorraine, who received Michelino's cards from Jacopo Antonio Marcello in 1449.

Probably my memory mixing things up, but I seem to recall reading that Rene passed the cards to Marcello to send on to his wife; and that Marcello found a several of the cards 'amateurish' and had them repainted before sending them on?

Kwaw
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Re: Re: René d'Anjou and cards


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Originally posted by kwaw
Probably my memory mixing things up, but I seem to recall reading that Rene passed the cards to Marcello to send on to his wife; and that Marcello found a several of the cards 'amateurish' and had them repainted before sending them on?

Kwaw
This is - as far we know - far off the mark and unsubstantiated.

http://trionfi.com/0/b/

If it it really exists as an story from somewhere, we would be very interested to know about the source.
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Re: Re: René d'Anjou and cards


Quote:
Originally posted by kwaw
Probably my memory mixing things up, but I seem to recall reading that Rene passed the cards to Marcello to send on to his wife; and that Marcello found a several of the cards 'amateurish' and had them repainted before sending them on?

Kwaw
:-) I think your memory is certainly mixing things up, unless there is another account of how Marcello got his two packs of cards, which he recounts in his letter to Isabelle.

In this letter, he says that he got a pack of Triumph cards as a gift. He does not say when (I propose around Christmas, 1448). When an ambassador Caraffa had come to Marcello after visiting René and Isabelle in Provence in early 1449, Marcello showed Caraffa the cards. Caraffa said that Isabelle would love them. Marcello then says that he thought they were not worthy of royalty (this is probably what your memory took as "amateurish" although Marcello doesn't use anything like this word), and set out to find an artisan to make a nicer pack. This pack was never made, and Marcello ended up sending her the "unworthy" pack anyway.

The other cards, painted by Michelino, are a different pack that Marcello had to search for in Milan.
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