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The Number 21 and the Tarot Trumps


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The Number 21 and the Tarot Trumps


In the first installment of his article "Fibonacci and the Tarot Trumps" (Taros, The Journal for Tarot Studies, no. 1 (2006) http://association.tarotstudies.org/taros/1_faber.html ), Roland Faber argues that Maurice Kendall's suggestion, later taken up by Gertrude Moakley, that the number of tarot trumps can be explained by analogy to the number of unique throws of two dice, which is 21, is insufficient to explain the number of tarot trumps.

On the face of it, and since it offers no explanation for the presence of 0 the Fool, this seems to be a reasonable objection. However, there are good reasons to take Kendall's perhaps off-hand remark as providing a sufficient explanation of the number of tarot trumps. In what follows I will argue that in the context of the time of the invention of the tarot pack, and in the themes of the trump sequence itself, the number 21 can be shown to be relevant and potentially attractive to a game designer. Moreover, the presence and role of the Fool can also be explained by analogy to the contemporary Italian dice game.

THE NUMBER 21 AND DICE GAMES.

The number 21 is not a particularly important number in medieval Christian symbolism. Hopper's classic work "Medieval Number Symbolism" (1938, frequently reprinted) gives no examples of uses in Patristic sources or Dante.

The number 21 was however important in common dice games. The numerical properties of a cubical die provided the mathematical basis for the understanding of probability in throws, and thus the rules of various games. The number of points on a die are 21 (sum of 1-6), and the unique throws of two dice are 21 (1-1, 1-2 etc. to 6-6). Dicemakers made the opposite faces of the cube add to 7 (1-6, 2-5, 3-4).

As early as the year 965, Bishop Wibold of Cambrai (France) designed the rules of his moral dice-game around the mathematical properties of dice; the sum of points on one die is 21, the unique rolls of two dice are 21, and the rules of many three-dice games, including Wibolds, are based on two results which add to 21.

By 1283, when Alfonso X of Aragon had his Book of Games composed, the scoring of the dice game "Zara" (Hazard) was based on the principle of "soçobra", which is the difference between the result of the throw and 21. "Soçobra" means literally "below-above", "under-over" or "topsy-turvy", and has come into modern Portuguese in the form "soçobra", and into Spanish as "zozobra" meaning "shipwreck" (capsizing) and figuratively as "anxiety". In its original sense in Alfonso's book, it refers to the relation between the die-point on the top and its opposite on the face below (e.g. 1 and 6, 2 and 5, 3 and 4).

In their study of Alfonso's game of Zara, Basulto, Camuñez, and Ortega explain -
"In the text of the game of Azar, the “soçobra” of a point is another one that is the complement of value 21. This means that, if on having thrown three dice the sum is 15 points, then the soçobra of 15 will be equal to 21 - 15 = 6 points. Where the value 21 = 3 (6 + 1) is, in this game of three dice, equal to 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6, that is the sum of the points of the six faces of the die. Besides this, a point and its soçobra have the same probability (...). In case of throwing two dice, the point 4 is the “soçobra” of point 10, because 4 + 10 = 14 which at the same time is equal to 2 (6 + 1), that are, two dices, each one with six faces."

("Azar Game in the Book of the Dice of Alfonso X the Learned", trans. by S. Basulto Pardo at http://www.ehess.fr/revue-msh/pdf/N174R837.pdf , p. 7 (PDF of original in _Mathematics and Social Sciences_ (44e année, n° 174, 2006(2), p. 5-24))

Deriving from the Arabic term for "the dice" (az-zahr), the word "zara" became a generic term for dice games, as well as keeping its original signification as the name of a particular game.

Zara was mentioned by Dante in the Purgatorio, Canto 6.1 -

Quando si parte il gioco de la zara,
colui che perde si riman dolente,
repetendo le volte, e tristo impara;

(When everybody leaves after dicing,
he who has lost remains, distressed,
repeating the throws, and sadly learning)

- and in discussing this passage, many of Dante's commentators through the 14th and 15th centuries provide valuable clues to how zara was played in Italy during that time.

For instance, whereas in Alfonso's rules of Azar, throwing the points 3-6 or their soçobras 15-18 on the first roll was called an "azar", and was an instant win, in the rules of the game as it was played in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, rolling an "azar" was considered a null roll and the dice had to be rolled again.

This rule is explained in Francesco da Buti's circa 1390 commentary on Dante's Purgatory, Canto 6.1-12:

"Note that this game is called zara from the occurrence of the points rolled with three dice below 7 and above 14; and when they get these points, the players say 'Zara', as indicating 'Null', like the zero in the Abacus; and these are not allowed, because they don't have three parities like 7 and 14 and the points in between; thus seven has three parities: that is, threes and ace, five and two aces of one and threes (3-3-1, 5-1-1, 3-3-1); and thus 14, sixes and 2, fours and 6, fives and 4; and so for the other throws in the middle: and this is not found in 3, 4, 5, or 6, nor in 15, 16, 17 or 18, which would be in one or two ways at the most as can be seen by looking at them."

(E nota che questo giuoco si chiama zara per li punti diventati che sono in tre dadi da sette in giù e da quattordici in su; e però quando vegnano quelli punti, diceno li giocatori: Zara; quasi dica: Nulla, come zero nell'Abbaco; e questi sono vietati, perchè non ànno tre parità come à sette e quattordici e li punti che sono in quel mezzo: ecco sette àe tre parità; cioè terno et asso, cinque et ambassi di uno e tre; e così quattordici, seino e dua; quaderno e sei; cinque e quattro; e così l'altre volte che sono in quel mezzo: e questo non si trova in tre, in quattro, nè in cinque, nè in sei, nè in quindeci, nè sedici, nè dicesette, nè diciotto, li quali vanno una o due al più come può vedere chi li ragguarda.
(Text from the Dartmouth Dante Project, from the edition _Commento di Francesco da Buti sopra La Divina Commedia di Dante Allighieri_, editor: Crescentino Giannini, Fratelli Nistri, Pisa, 1858-62. Electronic version of Purgatorio and Paradiso courtesy of Lexis Progetti Editoriali, 2001.
http://dante.dartmouth.edu/search.php ))

PREACHING ON GAMES OF CHANCE BEFORE AND AFTER BERNARDINO OF SIENA.

(In order to appreciate the unique importance of the number 21 in the preaching about games in the 15th century, and Bernardino of Siena's key role in its prominence, it is necessary to survey preaching against of games of chance before and after Bernardino).

Dice were always subject to strict legislation and were the subject of anti-gambling sermons starting as early as pseudo-Cyprian in the 3rd century; these in turn were always informed by the Biblical image of Roman soldiers playing dice for Christ's seamless tunic (Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:23-25; the Gospel image itself was inspired by a verse in Psalm 22:18 (Vulgate 21:19)), thus associating dice-play with sacrilege. Pseudo-Cyprian wrote that the Devil (Zabulus) invented games of chance. He refuses to name the devil directly responsible, but from the context it is clear that he is referring to Plato's story of the Egyptian Thoth inventing dice and "tables" (any board game using dice) in his dialogue "Phaedrus" (274d). Thus dice and games of chance in general were long regarded with a wary eye by legislators and theologians, and in the later middle ages writers began to develop a catalogue of the sins associated with gambling.

In 1686, Jean-Baptiste Thiers conveniently assembled five such lists in the two centuries immediately preceding Bernardino. Note that although they have mostly common elements (thus indicating a tradition of sorts), the evils of gambling appear in no particular order and according to different schemes.

Caesar of Heisterbach (c. 1170-1240), in 1222, gives five such sins, writing that "God has an aversion to games of chance, because they are the cause of anger, envy, quarrels and the loss of possessions, and because those who play them express themselves with crude language".

Henry of Segusio ("Hostiensis", Bishop of Ostia 1261-1271) made a list of sixteen: contempt for the Laws of the Church, usury, robbery, scandal, vain and offensive speech, blasphemy, petty theft, violence, duplicity, murderous quarrels, deceit, wasting time, covetousness, impurity, vain praises, life of infamy.

Thomas of Cantimpre (1201-1272), writing in his allegorical "Bonum universale de Apibus (circa 1263) wrote that "there is a game full of vanity under the Sun. For those who play games of chance are so full of hate for the world, that it is difficult to find anything nastier. These are games which strip the poor, and enrich beggars; which make nobles dishonest people and more contemptible than peasants; which cause men to despair, so that they become thieves, robbers of another's goods, and murderers. Once those who play them get the habit, they can not easily break it. They go at it with so much fervour, that they renounce their sense of propriety before everyone, so that they undress down to the parts of their bodies that natural modesty would have one hide."

The Dominican Raymond of Pegnafort (or Pennafort; c. 1175-1275), in his commentary on the Decretals of the Popes (1234), said that "it is a great sin to play games of chance, because of nine things which are encountered in these games: the first is the desire to win. The second, planning to enrich oneself at the expense of the other. The third, the shocking usury of eleven for twelve, not only in one year, or one month, but in a single day. The fourth, the great number of lies and idle and useless talking. The fifth, blasphemy. The sixth, the bad example given to those who watch the game. The seventh, the scandal one creates for people of good will. The eighth, contempt for the Laws of the Church. The ninth, the waste of time and the loss of the good works one could be doing instead of playing."

Thiers notes that Nicholas of Lyra also produced a list like Raymond in his commentary on the seventh Commandment, and then mentions a long summary list by the Franciscan Alvarus Pelagius (c. 1280-1352), from his most famous work "De planctu ecclesiae" (The Plaint of the Church), written and amplified between 1330-1340. Alvarus' list contains 17 sins which accompany games of chance: contempt for the Laws of the Church, robbery, usury, scandal, lying and idle and vain talk, blasphemy, petty theft, violence, duplicity, murderous quarrels, deceptions, wasting time and the chance for good works, the hunger to win, impurity, vain praises given to players, infamy, and perjuries.

But using the number of points on a die as the basis of a sermon does not begin until the career of Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444; made a saint in 1450), a Franciscan like Alvarus Pelagius 70 years before.

Bernardino's list of the evils of games of chance is more systematic and thorough than any writer before him. In a sermon quoted by Thiers, Bernardino condemns those who play games of chance on three counts - on account of the greatness of their sinning, on account of their folly, and on account of their malice.

He lists 12 sins under each of the first two counts, and 4 under the third, for 28 kinds of evils.

But in his sermons against games, recorded since 1424, Bernardino goes further than to catalogue sins, however systematically. He developed pseudo-Cyprian's brief account of how the Devil invented games, into a story of mythic proportions. He says that the Devil one day decided to parody the Church, and so created an activity that would mimick and invert the teachings, sacred objects, and practices of the Church, thus leading to damnation instead of salvation. That activity was gambling and everything associated with it. When it comes to dice, Bernardino's Devil creates a startling parallel:

"The missals are the dice which, as there are 21 letters in the alphabet, so there are 21 points on a die. The books that are on the altar - missal, gospel, and letters - are the three dice which are used to play."

(El messale sono e dadi che, come nell'abicci sono ventuna lettera, così nel dado sono ventuno punto. E libri sono dell'altare, messale, vangelo, epistola, sono e tre dadi che s'aoperano al giucare.)

(_San Bernardino de Siena. Le prediche volgari_ (preached at Florence, 1424) ed. Cannarozzi (Pistoia, 1934) p. 435 (Sermon XXVI, "Del peccato del giuoco"))

In his Latin model-sermon written around 1435, Bernardino's Satan commands:

"I want the Missal to be dice; yes, whose convenience and durability, as well as contents, will not be less than in the missal of Christ himself, when in his missal only the alphabet, which is twenty-one letters, is included and just so many points are contained in a die. But because in Christ's missal there are different Masses for the annual cycle of saints in their glory and triumph, therefore - who am I to question all of this? - since I hold you dear from the abundance of my love, I am endowed with many such masses, if by your wickedness to triumph through their power. You, devil, who is called 'Testa', I give one; 'Sbaraglio', another; 'Sbaraglino', another; 'Minoretto', another. On you named 'Sequentia', I place another;

I want the Mass 'del Sozo' to be all of the demons' common Mass. But the Mass 'de Zarro', like a Sunday mass, I reserve for my own Impious Majesty."

(Missale vero taxillum seu decium esse volo; qui quidem et tractabilior et durabilior atque continentia non erit minor quam sit missale ipsius Christi, *** in eius missali solum alphabetum, hoc est viginti una littera, comprehendatur ac totidem puncti in decio concludantur. Sed quia in Christi missali diversae sunt per anni circulum sanctorum Missae in eorum gloriam et triumphum, ideo, ne mihi videar omnia arrogare, diligo enim vos ex abundantia caritatis meae, multis de vobis impertior quasdam solemnes missas, si per vestras nequitias de illis poteritis triumphare. Tibi diabolo, qui diceris 'Testa', concedo unam; 'Sbaraglio', aliam; 'Sbaraglino', aliam; 'Minoretto', aliam. Tibi, qui 'Sequentia' nominaris, aliam superaddo; aliam quoque concedo tibi, qui 'Spagnulo rivescio' ut plurimum nuncuparis; tibi vero ad hoc et 'Badalas' aliam dono; tibi quoque 'Rapello' aliam praesto.

Missam vero 'del Sozo' volo esse omnium daemonum communem missam. Missam vero 'de Zarro', quasi dominicalem, pro mea impia maiestate reservo.

(Quadragesimale de Christiana Religione_, ed. Quaracchi, 1950-1965, vol. II, pp. 22-23 (Sermon XLII, "Contra Alearum Ludos", c. 2))

This parallelism was to strike a chord in the preachers that came after him in the 15th century, both in the Franciscan and Dominican orders, who as we shall see developed two parallel but distinct ways of using the analogy.

Bernardino must have preached this kind of sermon dozens of times. However, I am not aware of any instance of Bernardino developing his equation of the number of points on a die with the letters of the alphabet nor with the names of games as demons in any systematic way. But other preachers quickly saw the potential for this and made such lists.

DOMINICANS - AN ALPHABETIC MNEMONIC.

The earliest preacher to associate each of the rolls of dice and points on a die to sins seems to be Meister Ingold, a Dominican preacher in Germany who had spent time in Italy. In 1432 he wrote a morality of 7 games called "The Golden Game", and in his chapter on dice he listed 21 sins corresponding to the unique throws of two dice, and also noted the comparison with the 21 letters of the alphabet, although in the text we have he doesn't elaborate.

Around 1445, the Dominican Archbishop of Florence, Antonino, explicitly systematized this correspondence, actually giving the list of sins in alphabetical order (Thiers quotes it in French, my Latin equivalents are based on Antonino's disciple Gabriel Bareletta's):

"As many points as there are on a die, so many are the evils that proceed from them" (Quot in taxillis sunt puncta, tot scelera ex eo procedunt)".
His list was (reconstructed):

1. Amissio temporis (Wasting time)
2. Blasphemia (Blasphemy)
3. Convitium (Clamour, noisy and idle chatter)
4. Dissipatio (Squandering of money, goods)
5. Ecclesiastici contemptus (Contempt for the Church)
6. Furtum (theft)
7. Gula (gluttony)
8. Homicidium (murder)
9. Invidia (envy)
10. (K? - Thiers describes it as "The trouble they cause in their families which they leave to lack, of even necessary things, in order to have what they need for their game - I can't extract what the Latin keyword would be)
11. Laudatio falsa (false praise)
12. Mendax (lying)
13. Negligio (neglect of their duties to God and the Church)
14. Odium (hatred)
15. Participatio peccatis (participation in sins)
16. Querelae (quarrels)
17. Rapina or Roberia (robbery, plundering)
18. Scandalum (scandal)
19. Tormentum, Torpor (misery and torment (at losing money), despair)
20. Usura (usury)
21. Violatio (violation, profanation)

Antonino's method for aligning the sins alphabetically with the number of points on a die was followed by his student Gabriel Bareletta (c. 1410-1480).

"No sin is so abominable to God, as the sin of games, and there is almost no activity in which so many evils come together as from gaming: and just as God invented the 21 letters of the alphabet, but of different kinds which afterwards were put together to compose the Bible, where all wisdom is revealed, so the Devil invented a bible, dice of course, where he put 21 points like black letters, where, in his use of them, he found out the wickedness of all sin; and as many as are the points on a die, so many are the evils which proceed from it. The first letter is A, as it were the first point which is the first sin, i. Waste of time (Amissio temporis)..."

(Non est peccatum ita Deo abominabile, ut peccatum ludi, et vix est
dare actum in quo concurrant tot mala sicut ex ludo : et sicut Deus
invenit 21 literas alphabeti, aliae autem postea sunt superadditae
ad componendam Bibliam, ubi est omnis sapientia revelata, ita
Diabolus invenit bibliam scilicet dados, ubi posuit 21 puncta
tanquam literas nigras, ubi, in usu suo, reperitur omnis malitia
peccati, et quot sunt puncta in datis (sic) tot ab eo scelera
procedunt. Ideo videamus per ordinem peccata quae ab ipso procedunt.
Prima litera est A, quasi primus punctus quod est primum peccatum,
i. Amissio temporis... (Feria 2, 4 hebdomadis quadragesimae.
Venetiis, 1571, pet. in-8, p. 148, verso))

Gabriele Barletta's debt to Antonino is clear, as is the Dominican mnemonic preaching method used during this time. Furthermore, we can assume that many thousands of people heard this connection made.

FRANCISCANS - THE DEVIL'S LITURGY.

Bernardino's contemporaries and followers in the Franciscan order developed the die-point analogy in a different way, closer to that of Bernardino in mentioning the names of games as demons' names, but systematically linking them to the image of the points on the faces of a six-sided die.

For instance, Giacomo della Marche (St. James of the Marches; 1394-1476)
Bernardino's disciple, develops the theme more around 1460. Using the story of the Diabolical Liturgy invented by Bernardino, James has the Devil ordain that -

"Cards will be for images on the altar. The altar will be the money-table. The consecrated stone will be the game-board. The chalice will the be wine-ladle. The Host will be the golden ducato. Our missal will be dice with
21 points, just like the missal of Christ, with 21 points consecrated to the Devil."

(Et carte erunt ymagines ad altare. Altare erit bancum. Lapis consecratus erit tabulerium. Calix erit ciatus vini. Hostia erit ducatus aureus. Missale nostrum erit taxillus *** 21 punctis sicut missale Christi, *** 21 dyabolo consecratis.

Text from: _Sermones dominicales / S. Iacobus della Marchia_; ed. Renato Lioi (Ancona, Biblioteca Francescana, 1978-1982, 4 vol.), Sermo 10, "De Ludo", vol. I, p. 202-203 (thanks to Thierry Depaulis for finding and providing it))

James goes on to list a series of games/demons that, except for orthography, is virtually identical to that in the Steele Sermon, grouped according to the number of points on the face of a die. James calls the points "cellule", and the anonymous author of the Steele Sermon calls them "puncti". Both call the faces of a die "stantia" - a resting place, implying the up face, or roll, of the die. James' use of "cellule" gives an image of different rooms being viewed, where the game named is being played:

1. As
2. Ambas / Bidas
3. Suçço / Açaru / Sequentia
4. Menarecto corto / Menarecto longo / Sbaraglio / Sbaraglino
5. Perdo e venco / (missing) / Bussa aragiato (Ronfa) / Scarca l'asino / Uno tracto e meçço
6. Al bini / A lo trenta per forza / O chi bada l'as / Lo imperiale / A chi non piace la volta del compagno / Passa dece

"And all of these are names of demons" says James.

Sometime around the same time as James of the Marches, maybe a little later, an anonymous Franciscan wrote what has come to be known as the Steele Sermon, named after the owner who first published it, Robert Steele (in 1900).

The author follows the Diabolic Liturgy scenario, and lists the names of the games just as James of the Marches does (the missing game/demon on the fifth stantia is "sette o sey" (7 or 6)). Besides differing from James on the name of the points (cellule or puncti), the anonymous author also uses distinct imagery. For instance, he says that the "21 points are the steps on one ladder opening to Hell"

(Qui quidem puncti 21 sunt gradus unius scale descedentis in inferum.)

Additionally, and more famously, the author of this sermon discusses, as the last of his three examples of the evil of games, the game of Triumphs. He provides the earliest known list of the names of the standard trump cards, and he says that "these are 21 triumphs which are 21 steps on another ladder thrown into the depths of Hell".

(Sunt enim 21 triumphi qui 21 gradus alterius scale in profundum inferi mittentis.)

Thus, in this earliest list of trumps, perhaps 40 years after Bernardino created an analogy between the 21 points on a die and a catalogue of sins, another author alludes to a parallel between the 21 trump cards and the 21 points on a die (one ladder... another ladder), through the image of a ladder to Hell (but a *fast* ladder).

The die-point analogy was developed in two distinct ways over the course of about two decades (1425-1445), by the Dominican preachers and Franciscan preachers, but it occurs for the first and only time in this period. It is also the period when the tarot trumps were invented - which, in their standard form, have 21 trumps in sequence and a card outside of the series for a special purpose, the Fool.

I believe that it is highly plausible that the presence of the number 21 in dice games and the new attention drawn to it beginning with Bernardino, could have influenced a game-designer creating a series of images to add to a card game which would illustrate the role of Fortune in life and the way of triumphing over it.

NOTE ON THE FOOL -

Francesco da Buti's explanation (above) of "zara" as a homonym of "zero", and referring the reader to the practice of leaving an empty column on the abacus for the place-holder zero when doing calculations, reflects the role of the Fool in the tarot - his most common and probably original purpose is a "null roll" which allows the player holding him to skip having to play a more valuable card. Moreover, the image chosen for the card would derive from this name - "nulla" is a synonym for fool or idiot, "matto" in Italian. This connection was apparent to the author of the Steele Sermon, who described the Fool as a "nulla" - "El Matto sie nulla" means "The Fool, thus he is null". For him, being a Fool was a sufficient explanation for why he was null. My theory would be that the designer chose the image of a Fool for a null because of this, a rule he had already determined would exist.

If our game designer was thinking about the analogy of a dice game, it is logical that he would think of the "soçobra" or opposite sides adding to seven and providing the probability of key rolls, and that he would also think of the null roll, skipping or voiding what might otherwise be a costly turn.

Ross
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Thanks so much for this Ross. Very interesting; but I'm afraid also a bit confusing for me (not your fault, mine). Can you help me out a bit?

Zara:
Referred generically to dice games, and also to a specific dice game. It's name can be translated as "Hazard". It also has a meaning of "Null".

Soçobra:
Below-above, referring to complimentary numbers equating to 21; refers to the relation between the die-point on the top and its opposite on the face below. The term can be translated as "shipwreak", "anxiety".

Azar:
A particular game of dice in which the term "Soçobra" is used.

Rolling an "Azar" in the Game of Azar:
A first roll of 3, 4, 5, or 6; or their Soçobras 15, 16, 17 or 18 at one time was considered an instant win, but was in 14th and 15th Century Italy considered a "null" roll and had to be rolled again.

Parities:
The reason an "Azar" is an azar is because it can NOT be made of one of three sets where there is a pair in each set... is that correct?? So Eight is NOT an Azar because it can be formed by (1+1)+6, (2+2)+4, (3+3)+2... right????

Therefore..
7 = (1+1)+5, (2+2)+3, (3+3)+1
8 = (1+1)+6, (2+2)+4, (3+3)+2
9 = (2+2)+5, (3+3)+3, (4+4)+1
10 =(2+2)+6, (3+3)+4, (4+4)+2
11= (3+3)+5, (4+4)+3, (5+5)+1
12= (3+3)+6, (4+4)+4, (5+5)+2
13= (4+4)+5, (5+5)+3, (6+6)+1
14= (4+4)+6, (5+5)+4, (6+6)+2

In other words.. in each of these scenarios two of the dice must form a pair.

Am I understanding this correctly? If so, why the emphasis on Pairs? What of 12 = 3+4+5??? Does it count as well? Or does it matter at all the way the number is achieved in the actual game, it's just the rules that are based on the formation of the numbers?

It's interesting to see it this way:
3 = Zara
4 = Zara
5 = Zara
6 = Zara
7 = legitimate
8 = legitimate
9 = legitimate
10 = legitimate

11 = legitimate
12 = legitimate
13 = legitimate
14 = legitimate
15 = Zara
16 = Zara
17 = Zara
18 = Zara

Half and half. 50/50. Yes/No.
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Hi Ross,

a very nice and worthful collection about early die and dice associations. Excellent work.

One point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
The development of the die-point analogy was developed in two distinct ways over the course of about two decades (1425-1445), by the Dominican preachers and Franciscan preachers, but it occurs for the first and only time in this period. It is also the period when the tarot trumps were invented - which, in their standard form, have 21 trumps in sequence and a card outside of the series for a special purpose, the Fool.
For the period 1425 - 1445 we've no confirmation, that Trionfi cards already used 21 trumps.
Instead we've 16 trumps in the Michelino deck and likely 14 trumps in the Ferrarese "70 cards" - document of 1457 and no confirmation of the "21-trumps"-suggestion from the Brera-Brambilla (2 surviving trumps), the Cary-Yale (11 surviving trumps partly with unusual motifs) - both likely made in the 1440's - and Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (20 trumps, but 6 are from a later production date, so only 14 are relatively sure from the 1450's).

Influence of one object to another can have two directions, either "object A" influences "object B", or "object B" influences "object A".

"Influence" always needs "time" to realize the observed phenemenon, which is a "similar feature in both objects", and this time might be short (just a few moments, then the whole matter is more or less "contemporary") or longer (a few years, or even decades or even centuries).

The relevant Trionfi cards documents (here = "object B") are only short, and in them it is not indicated that anybody of the authors refered to something like "object A" (= reflections to the number 21 and the points on a die). As these documents are really "short in words", this doesn't say too much.

The relevant preacher documents have "enough words" ... if the preachers would have refered to "object B" (which would give evidence to us, that something like "object B" existed in the time of the preachers), it's somehow probable, that they would have mentioned this correlation.

They didn't.

But a much later preacher sermon (ca. 1500) of a similar style refered to the cards in this manner. For the time of this writer it's possible to conclude, that 21 trumps and a Fool existed ... not a very revolutionary information, cause we've already other confirmations about the existence of this deck structure in this time.

In the life description of San Bernardino it's said, that he attacked Filippo Maria Visconti. So San Bernardino wouldn't have be to shy to speak of 21 trumps - in the case, they existed.
Also it's said, that San Bernardino got difficulties in the later 1420's, preaching prohibitions ... so we can't be sure, what really happened. San Bernardino was censored for some time (in pope Martin's time). For the 1430's we've Pope Eugen and he was friendly to the Franciscans and he was an open foe to Filippo Maria Visconti. If there was a wish to preach against 21 trumps used in the region of Milan at San Bernardino's side, he would have had opportunity.
Bernardino didn't attack in this manner and all, what we can learn of it, is: "These 21 trumps (likely) didn't exist" - at least: "we don't have a confirmation for their existence".
Generally we've enough confirmation, that dice games and also card games were prohibited in this time of Eugen, though we've no total confirmation, as we know for Milan, that card playing was allowed and only excesses were prohibited and for Venice, that card production was protected (although Eugen was a Venetian pope). More stable is the prohibition around Florence (and Eugen was very much in Florence).

Well ... dice were used in the same time for "Losorakel" in Northern (German) regions. This didn't happen "without prohibitions", but we cannot state, that it happened "with much prohibition". Indeed we've a serious time of prohibition (divination and cards and dice) with the activities of San Capistranus since 1452/53.

San Capistranus died on the crusade and matters returned to their usual state (Rome is far away from Germany).

We cannot observe this time without involving the political difficulties around the council of Basel, council of Ferrara, a reality with two popes (Felix and Eugen) and the contrasting interests (war between Milan and Venice). There are a lot of details.

Actually 22's (the tarot has 22 special cards, not 21) appear as "22 chariots" in the Giovanni-the-Baptist festivities (24th of June) in Florence in the year 1454. Also there is a 22-structure in one of Bollstatters oracle-systems (1450), ...

22 questions
22 prophets
22 star pictures and animals
22 kings



... and the contemporary Johannes representations in Florence have similarities to the Fool ...



... just from the year 1454 by Domenico Veneziano ...

http://gallery.euroweb.hu/html/d/dom...n/8saints.html

... together with St. Francis, which should be the chief patron to card playing hunters like San Bernardino and Jahn Capistranus (both Franciscans).

Both "accidental" (? are they really accidental) similarities give reason to reflect the nature of the 22.

... :-) perhaps something for the Pulci thread

....

The 1+2+3+4+5+6 - structure, naturally appearing on a die, gives us no real intellectual insight about the internal organization of the 21 trumps.
At least, as far I see it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck
In the life description of San Bernardino it's said, that he attacked Filippo Maria Visconti. So San Bernardino wouldn't have be to shy to speak of 21 trumps - in the case, they existed.
Maybe a more important reason to attack the Visconti family- than for their cards and gambling was that at the time of Saint Bernadino ranting- was the Sforzas had just received from the Papacy a huge amount of coinage. Bernadino wanted Catholic lending houses (mont de Pietas). Visconti could be kicked whilst down- maybe. Sforza's could be patrons now. Saint Bernadino did not attack the Sforzas now did he?. The preaching was against Usury and its supposed other sins (like sodomy and Jews) and dice was an obvious symbol to attack- because of the gaming house.

Saint Bernadino September 8, 1380 – May 20, 1444. Canonized 1450
Filippo Maria Visconti died 1447
~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
Maybe a more important reason to attack the Visconti family- than for their cards and gambling was that at the time of Saint Bernadino ranting- was the Sforzas had just received from the Papacy a huge amount of coinage. Bernadino wanted Catholic lending houses (mont de Pietas). Visconti could be kicked whilst down- maybe. Sforza's could be patrons now. Saint Bernadino did not attack the Sforzas now did he?. The preaching was against Usury and its supposed other sins (like sodomy and Jews) and dice was an obvious symbol to attack- because of the gaming house.

Saint Bernadino September 8, 1380 – May 20, 1444. Canonized 1450
Filippo Maria Visconti died 1447
~Rosanne
San Bernardino hadn't much to do with the Sforzas, but with Filippo Maria Visconti (who had good relations with Pope Martin, at least sometimes).

In the end of the 1420's San Bernardino found opposition himself and was attacked.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02505b.htm

This article, likely a little bit too friendly for San Bernardino, gives the accusations to 1427 (and presents them as short - which they weren't) and also mentions the attack on Filippo Maria Visconti.

San Bernardino was not always preaching on missionary journeys (he was very active in the period 1417 - 1425/26, and his preachings were not everywhere welcome. It seems, that the church was not always interested in his abilities and stopped too radical developments from his side, forming a peaceful solution by giving him see of Siena.

But sometimes he's mixed with the preacher Bernardino da Feltre (also Franciscan monk and pupil of Capistranus), who preached especially against Jews.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/vi...&search=feltre
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Thanks Huck! In all the reading I have perused in English about Saint Bernadino- he never seemed to attack those who would be patrons for his Catholic Banking ideas. Usury was his main platform (as the article states). He was not always welcomed, true- and the sermons about usury made him enemies. He wanted loans for the poor at little or no interest- and there was a coin and metal famine at the time. He was like a squeaking gate to the Church and they tried to oil the hinge, but it did not work.
I guess I am saying- that his preoccupation with usury- may not have included Cards- not because they were not there, but that cards were not a part of his argument against usury. ~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
Thanks Huck! In all the reading I have perused in English about Saint Bernadino- he never seemed to attack those who would be patrons for his Catholic Banking ideas. Usury was his main platform (as the article states). He was not always welcomed, true- and the sermons about usury made him enemies. He wanted loans for the poor at little or no interest- and there was a coin and metal famine at the time. He was like a squeaking gate to the Church and they tried to oil the hinge, but it did not work.
I guess I am saying- that his preoccupation with usury- may not have included Cards- not because they were not there, but that cards were not a part of his argument against usury. ~Rosanne
There is enough evidence, that St. Capistranus, his pupil, did strike against cards - with many fires and city prohibitions in Germany, likely following the example, which San Bernardino gave him for Italy.

There is a document from 1425 (with insecurities) in Perugia ...

http://trionfi.com/0/l/66-perugia/

... which shows the influence of San Bernardino on city laws.

Generally it seems, that the council of Constance caused some liberty with "playing cards" (and not only, also in matters of sexual behaviour), as this "European meeting" created a bridge between the customs of different countries. As a result we've more playing cards documents in the 1420's. San Bernardino, who started in 1417, quasi as a reaction to this "new freedom". Another aspect is the spreading of printing technology (woodcut), likely also caused by the council, which caused a quality jump in the card production, which created new interest in this media.
As a result of this new quality standard and new interest we've very high prizes (as we never can observe later) for cards (Visconti 1500 ducats, Ferrara 40 ducats).

A similar card prize relation appears in 1379 - 1383 in Brabant. The prizes fall to 1/8 of the original worth within few years, which seem to indicate, that cards - in this specific local situation - were new in 1379 and became common or "more normal" till 1383.

San Bernardino started to preach 1417, the new pope sill hadn't arrived, and even when the pope was back in Italy, he had to stay in Mantova first, as Rome had instable conditions.

As the new pope was oriented towards the emperor, who had made it possible, that he became pope, he should have judged card-playing as not "too dangerous", as this was the general trend in Germany.
Naturally he met the opposition of the typical papal forces in Italy, which still had "traditional ideas" of the world (including the older prohibitions).

Generally Italy was destabilized after Giangaleazzo's death 1402. Filippo Visconti was able to recover the dukedom (1414- 1425), but his victories (and the accompanying good oeconomical conditions) created the base for the following wars between Milan and Venice, which left both regions exhausted after long 30 years. So we see San Bernardino stumble, 1426, right at the breakpoint and height of Filippo Maria's power and influence.
Likely these years 1414-1426 were the "good years" in Italy in the first half of 15th century ... :-) .. nonetheless we see Bernardino preaching against the evil state of the world. And people made him stop, when things really turned bad.

It's really a little ironical.

Similar we've for the second half of 15th century as the "best years" likely 1465 - 1476 ... actually the period, when Galeazzo Maria Sforza reigned in Milan. Nonetheless this duke has a very bad picture.

Somehow there is the rule, that good times allow the loud voice of critique.
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Hi Robert,

Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
Thanks so much for this Ross. Very interesting; but I'm afraid also a bit confusing for me (not your fault, mine). Can you help me out a bit?


Am I understanding this correctly? If so, why the emphasis on Pairs? What of 12 = 3+4+5??? Does it count as well? Or does it matter at all the way the number is achieved in the actual game, it's just the rules that are based on the formation of the numbers?



Half and half. 50/50. Yes/No.
I think you've understood it perfectly. I don't why Alfonso's people had a different rule than the Italians... nor why 12 isn't an Azar, but that's all I can glean from the texts. As far as I know, nobody has a *perfectly* clear idea of the whole game in those periods. All we have are those texts, with their sometimes infuriating obscurities.

The game of Azar evolved into Craps, so it might be worth it to play Craps a bit to see how the game works. Then you might try the older rules, from both Alfonso and Italy, and see how they work... then alter them in one or both directions, see if it improves the game or not. I haven't done it, but maybe when I get some time...

Ross
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Hi Robert,



I think you've understood it perfectly. I don't why Alfonso's people had a different rule than the Italians... nor why 12 isn't an Azar, but that's all I can glean from the texts. As far as I know, nobody has a *perfectly* clear idea of the whole game in those periods. All we have are those texts, with their sometimes infuriating obscurities.

The game of Azar evolved into Craps, so it might be worth it to play Craps a bit to see how the game works. Then you might try the older rules, from both Alfonso and Italy, and see how they work... then alter them in one or both directions, see if it improves the game or not. I haven't done it, but maybe when I get some time...

Ross
Thanks Ross.

I know NOTHING about dice games, I've never even played craps before... but...

I have a gut feeling about this. It's like I can glimpse 2/3 of the rules, and need to fill in the remaining third. It's just a hunch based on nothing at all, but I suspect that there would be 3 types of rolls.

Good: A roll which produced a PAIR. This is only possible with 7-14.

Null: A roll which did not produce a pair, but was "safe" outside of the 7-14 group.

Bad: This leaves two other conditions which I would guess would be bad.
A roll of 3 of a kind; or a roll in which you produced 7-14 without a pair (like in my earlier example of 12 achieved with 3+4+5).

I'd have to do the math, but I suspect it would generally lead to half the possible rolls would be bad, the other half would either be Good or Null.

Sounds like fun!
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Hi Huck,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck
Hi Ross,

a very nice and worthful collection about early die and dice associations. Excellent work.
Thanks, glad you liked it.

Quote:
One point:

For the period 1425 - 1445 we've no confirmation, that Trionfi cards already used 21 trumps.
Instead we've 16 trumps in the Michelino deck and likely 14 trumps in the Ferrarese "70 cards" - document of 1457 and no confirmation of the "21-trumps"-suggestion from the Brera-Brambilla (2 surviving trumps), the Cary-Yale (11 surviving trumps partly with unusual motifs) - both likely made in the 1440's - and Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (20 trumps, but 6 are from a later production date, so only 14 are relatively sure from the 1450's).
It's true that there is no explicit notice of the number of trumps until much later. If we accept that Boiardo's poem is an early work, from the early 1460s, then Boiardo is indirect evidence of the number of trumps at that date.

The Steele Sermon is also important evidence. Despite the fact that the copy we have is from ca. 1500, Thierry Depaulis believes the original to be decades earlier, because of its obvious dependence on James of the Marches, and because of the forms of the names of the games. He places it, conservatively, at 1470 (but there would be no problem with 1450 either).

The number "70 cards" in the Ferrara 1457 account is something that every argument has to explain. You explain it as 5x14 = 14 trumps. Michael explains it as a pack in which 2 pips have been removed from every suit. I explain it as a scribal error - the weakest theory of all, I admit. Nobody else that I know of, online or in print, has offered an independent explanation.

The reasoning behind seeing the 21+Fool model as the standard by 1450 is because of its geographical extent by then. If we extend that margin up to 1455 (still far too early for your account), we have an extent from Siena/Florence in the south to Padua in the north, and from (possibly) Rimini in the east to Milan in the west. That includes a lot of territory, and we can assume that places like Bologna, right in the middle of this diffusion of references and artifacts, knew it as well (although only appearing in the record in 1459). The game was not only luxury cards either, since Marchione's (1442) deck wasn't luxury, and Marcello's first deck was, in his opinion, "unworthy" of giving to royalty as a gift (so, probably a printed or at least "cheap" deck, like Marchione's). Marcello also considered that Filippo Maria had invented a "new kind" of Triumphs, implying that there was (to Marcello's mind), an older or normal kind. Also, in 1456 Trotti describes the game as a casual pastime, implying the deck was relatively widely available to his potential readers (not only princes). Thus, there had to be a "standard" kind of deck and game, known as "trionfi", over a large part of northern Italy by the mid-1450s.

It seems highly improbable to me that all over this region, people were playing with either a 5x14 deck, or decks of all sorts of different kinds but known by the same generic name, and that all over this region (and much further by the time your theory considers that the deck got the extra trumps, later than 1468 I think) *everybody* changed to the standard model.


Quote:
The relevant preacher documents have "enough words" ... if the preachers would have refered to "object B" (which would give evidence to us, that something like "object B" existed in the time of the preachers), it's somehow probable, that they would have mentioned this correlation.

They didn't.

But a much later preacher sermon (ca. 1500) of a similar style refered to the cards in this manner. For the time of this writer it's possible to conclude, that 21 trumps and a Fool existed ... not a very revolutionary information, cause we've already other confirmations about the existence of this deck structure in this time.

In the life description of San Bernardino it's said, that he attacked Filippo Maria Visconti. So San Bernardino wouldn't have be to shy to speak of 21 trumps - in the case, they existed.
As I said above, there appear to be good reasons for taking the Steele Sermon to be a copy of a much older text. But, I do tend to think that Bernardino's silence is good negative evidence for the 1420s and 1430s.
He liked detail, and he moralizes the court cards (including Queens!) of the "regular" deck in 1424, so if he knew of the Trumps, I'm sure he'd have noted it. Also negative - in 1427 he talks about the Wheel of Fortune, but doesn't mention it as belonging to a pack of cards and rather seems to have seen it in some other context.

Quote:
The 1+2+3+4+5+6 - structure, naturally appearing on a die, gives us no real intellectual insight about the internal organization of the 21 trumps.
At least, as far I see it.
The point of the essay was to show that the number 21, along with a "null" feature, was used in a very specific context in the 1400s. It answered the objection of Faber, as well as the implicit objections that 21 (or 22) didn't have any other meaning than the Hebrew alphabet or in number mysticism (7x3). It is situated in the same milieu as tarot, that is games. And the preaching shows that the number 21 was associated with religious ideas. My idea would be that the tarot trumps are deliberate inversions of those preachings, to show, instead of a "Stairway to Hell", rather a "Stairway to Heaven."

While there are 22 special cards (trumps generically), Steele's author makes it clear that the Fool is outside the series (and so shows that this rule was known in the 15th century), and says explicitly that there are 21 "steps" on this particular ladder.

Ross
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