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Visconti Fool - Florence Bankrupt?


http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/visconti-sforza/

In looking at this distinctive card we call the Fool (they were not named) I noticed that it seemed that two things were predominate. The club and the feathers in the Fool's hair.
I was wondering if the feathers might indicate age of the cards from a particular point of view.
The Rooster ( a black one) was the symbol of the Florentine army when they captured Rome under the famous soldier Malatesta in 1410.
In Florence the Pope Martin V came to stay in 1419 as he had not yet regained Rome; Rome was held by Francesco Sforza for Queen Johanna 11 of Naples at the time. In 1421 Filippo Visconti had reconquered most of Lombardy and when he took Flori, the Florentines and him went to war. It did not go well for Florence and Florentine credit was badly shaken and many firms went Bankrupt (Florence was a Merchant Banking city) Florence named Florentia which meant 'Flourishing' by the Romans, was not flourishing right then- it was in one sense bankrupt. Then The Florentines signed a pact with Venice and they got the upper hand over Milan. The four States of Milan, Venic, Florence and Naples fought each other until finally Peace was wrought in the The Peace of Lodi agreement in 1454.
So it seems to me if the Fool is a symbol of Florence bankrupt- it would have to be created before 1433. So aside from a marriage what might it represent?
Could it be another earlier marriage? Like his own to Maria of Savoy?A sarcastic depiction of Florence bankrupt would be understandable then......maybe... Mars (the ancient god of Florence) in rags with the feathers of the Army in his hair.
~Rosanne
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I'm not sure I understand (I often don't these days). Isn't the iconography of the fool with the crown of feathers older? Certainly we have Giotto's vice of Foolishness, dated 1306:



Sorry if I'm misunderstanding your point, I promise to have more coffee next time before posting.
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Thanks Robert, you are quite right the image is earlier, but the point I was making, is like, if you have an image of a court Jester, and you use it to make a political point- like the ancient world map of the known world (Middle East now) and you allude to Mr Bush as King on it. You satirise the image. Why is it that people think the humour of playing cards is only dead serious and deeply philosophical? The clothes on the Fool of the Visconti were not originally peasant dress- they appear to be fine clothes worn to rags. The feathers appear to be black and white- which seems to indicate the political divisions of the time, and the constant friction between the Guelphs (for the Pope) and the Ghibellines (for the Holy Roman Emperor) Although Milan was apparently Guelph- Visconti was for The Holy Roman Emperor. The feathers on the Visconti Fool is not a crown- they are just stuck in his hair. No bells at the waist either- which at least in other early decks like the Charles V1 at least indicate Fool, as does a typical image on manuscripts at that time. This Fool is a departure somewhat from the norm from what we have existing it seems.
Just a thought .
~Rosanne
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The Fool of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-deck was made in Sforza's rule, since 1450 (1452 is probable cause a letter of Sigismondo Malatesta) The new Milan and Florence were friends then.

We know the content of a deck between 1418 - 1425: Greek gods.
http://trionfi.com/0/b/
http://trionfi.com/0/b/11

The Fool position has the lowest trump, and that's Amor ... if it is accepted, that it had a Fool role (which can't be seen from the rules in the text). We've analysed, that Daphne (the only not-God or not-Goddess) is the focused mythical person in the deck. In Daphne's story Amor shoots two arrows, one to Apollo, which made him love Daphne, and one to Daphne, which made it impossible to Daphne to love Apollo. Amor fooled the both others.

A story, which appears in the Metamorphoses of Ovid and a specific problem aiming at Petrarca and his Laura - Laura (Latin) means Daphne (Greek).

Was Amor the Fool? We don't know it.

But it's obvious, that Amor was in other way presented usually than the Fool in Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarot.

It's presented like this figure called "Stultitia"

Sapientia humana stultitia est apud Deum.
The Wisdom of Man is folly to God.

Well, it's a game ... and naturally it should associate features of th game.

Naturally the Fool is bankrupt - he even lost his clothes.
The Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Magician in contrary has very fine clothes, and he has a small baton, a knife, a piece of coin and something to drink - he has all, what was to win in the game.

Fool and Magician are a pair. One is the loser and the other is the winner. He even did win the clothes.

Later magicians were modified (the magician looked less rich), but I think, this symbolism is true for the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck, or better, the 14 Bembo cards first.

It's the prolongation of an already existing chess-iconography. The left border pawn (or right) was seen as a farmer, looking a little stupid and badly clothed,
the other border pawn (on the other side,, left or right) was the gambler, with 3 dice at his hands.





Both types were in ca. 1450 already perhaps more than 100 years old. Chess literature was most common in 14th century, after the bible the most represented topic.
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Great images Huck!
So are the Cary Yale Tarrocchi cards older or younger than the Visconti PMB cards?
There is no fool or Magician to compare- but I had thought the Cary Yale older.
So I thought Milanese Banker -winner
Florentine Fool- loser
It had so much symmetry
Ah well, back to the drawing board...oops card table!
~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
Great images Huck!
So are the Cary Yale Tarrocchi cards older or younger than the Visconti PMB cards?
There is no fool or Magician to compare- but I had thought the Cary Yale older.
So I thought Milanese Banker -winner
Florentine Fool- loser
It had so much symmetry
Ah well, back to the drawing board...oops card table!
~Rosanne
The Cary-Yale should be older, we say, likely 1441 (wedding deck Bianca Maria - Francesco Sforza). Some other suggested 1468 ... but that's rather unlikely. PMB is likely from 1452.

No evidence for a very early fool, no evidence for a very early magician. Both meet in PMB ... as "only" suggested, as a pair.

The suspicion is given, that the Fool (but which sort of Fool is totally nebulous) was present in the meditations of Ferrara at 1.1.1441 and February 1442, possibly in connection to 5x14-decks.
Evidence for this suspicion is the somehow funny Foolish behaviour of Alberti, who was guest at Ferrara at this time and which with you became acquainted with with "Momus". ... :-) I think you remember. It's not Momus alone, it's also Gonella, the most famous jester of the time in Ferrara. It's also the "Lucianic spirit", they did read in this time Lucian, a Syrian satirist in 2nd century AD (inclusive Alberti, who imitated Lucian ewith Momus and in other works. )

A nice work: Try to find some of Lucian's texts (if you find the "Symposium" ... take this ... when you stopped laughing, try to gather some breath ... ), try to find Lucian's way through 15th century till you reach "Praise of Folly" by nobody else than the honest Erasmus of Rotterdam, then jump to Thomas Murner and what he did in England and then in a huge step to the problems of Kenneth Mackenzie ... and then you're in the mysteries of Tarot.

http://autorbis.net/tarot/biography/...mackenzie.html

... well, and then return back to the situation of 1.1.1441 and February 1442 and ask yourself, if there was a Fool in Ferrara or not.

Niccolo had many kids ... Try to understand, what this means, when a court has many kids, in comparition to the lonesome court of Bianca Maria and more lonesome father.


http://trionfi.com/0/d/42/

The lonesome Bianca Maria visited the court of the many kids ... later she got many kids.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
The clothes on the Fool of the Visconti were not originally peasant dress- they appear to be fine clothes worn to rags.
In the palio race, such as was held for example at the end of lent, the loser won a whole leg of pork; a nice prize for a loser at the end of lent, except ~

it was tied to his waist with rope, and he only got to keep it if he managed to run home without it being taken from him, and he had to run a certain route-

before too long trying to run through the crowds trying to grab from him his leg of pork, not only was he bereft of his prize, but most of his clothes too!

Left in nothing but his torn undies (if he were lucky) and a rope round his waist, sans leg of pork

Kwaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck
Was Amor the Fool? We don't know it.
But it's obvious, that Amor was in other way presented usually than the Fool in Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarot.
It's presented like this figure called "Stultitia"
Sapientia humana stultitia est apud Deum.
The Wisdom of Man is folly to God.

Well, it's a game ... and naturally it should associate features of th game.

Naturally the Fool is bankrupt - he even lost his clothes.
In researching the Banking aspects I see in the Visconti, Kwaw suggested reading an article by Joyce Goggin about Playing cards and the perspective of cards in economics and counting (amongst other things). In the Article she makes the comment about Fool and Joker....
Quote:
The Joker's improper name is zero, signifying at once that he is the metasign for all the other cards in the deck, having no proper value, he takes any value not his own. He is both the origin and the death of the value in the deck.....
She gives a citation from author Agamben that the dead man card is from a change occurring over time in ritual from Funeral games and so we have this residue in the card zero= nothing, dead. I found that interesting!
Which brings me to Kwaw's post about the loser in the palio .... he gets home with nothing. The odds are against him.
I have read the Trionfi article about the 1441 and the D'Este family. What I don't understand is how the game of young girls became translated into expensive handpainted cards in a practical way. So a new game was devised- and a painter sought- who had to paint the cards (no mean feat!) all this for some young girls entertainment- when obviously they already had playing cards- that were not handpainted. It seems it would have taken some organising, let alone the possibility that the new game might not work- unless it was already a system that could be adapted- like chess as Huck has said, or a display of the Bankers double entry ledger in a fun form for artihmetic education and good housekeeping.
~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
I have read the Trionfi article about the 1441 and the D'Este family. What I don't understand is how the game of young girls became translated into expensive handpainted cards in a practical way. So a new game was devised- and a painter sought- who had to paint the cards (no mean feat!) all this for some young girls entertainment- when obviously they already had playing cards- that were not handpainted. It seems it would have taken some organising, let alone the possibility that the new game might not work- unless it was already a system that could be adapted- like chess as Huck has said, or a display of the Bankers double entry ledger in a fun form for artihmetic education and good housekeeping.
~Rosanne
Bianca Maria visited Ferrara with the intention of Filippo Maria, that she "perhaps" might marry Leonello, the heir. Sforza was in war with him, the earlier promise, that Sforza would get the hand of Biance Maria, didn't count for the moment.
Before Carlo Gonzaga was discussed, but he became prisoner to the Venetian troops.
So things were open ... usually girls and women had a lot of time for themselves. There were daughters of Niccolo, in the same age as Bianca Maria, Beatrice and Isotta. Later (1454) Beatrice married an illegitime son of Francesco Sforza (Tristano Sforza) and became "second lady" at the Milanese court for long years. Beatrice is even said to have been highly influential, that Lodovico Sforza became acceptable to Bona of Savoy as new ruler of Milan (1479), a matter with very deciding changes in Milan. So this visit of 1441 and the "frienship of the girls" had a long time influence on their both life.

So, what do young girls, what occupies their time ... naturally Isotta and Beatrice, if they found that Bianca Maria were really welcome in their family ... they would have talked about "her marriage to Leonello" ... about the "ifs" and the "when" and the "how" and the clothes, and the meals, about the organization, the presents, the guests, the music, the dancing, the "wedding playing cards"
... the custom to flirt during ritual card games between young men and young women likely was already born (1430, Savoy: it was prohibited by law, that men play with playing cards. Only exeption: if they play with women.) .. so likely "playing cards for the bride" already existed, perhaps in rich family already with an own production with extra playing cards. We don't know ...
The idea with "extra cards" was already known at the Ferrarese court. Parisina in 1423 got "8 Imperatori cards" from Florence, likely "extra cards". Somehow also the Michelino deck in Milan, which Bianca Maria likely knew, had "extra cards", likely 16 ...
Bianca Maria came in October, the time of Christ,mas was near, and it was time for presents.
We don't know, if presents were given at Christmas or at another day. We only know, that Bianca Maria got 14 pictures for the feast in the evening at the 1st of January 1441 - a day, that traditionally had an association with games, also a little gambling.
Possibly a surprize ... possibly given with the idea to associate a marriage or at least a little flirting and mental playing with the idea ...

The painter was Sagramoro, who already was involved in playing card production before - and who later became the special Ferrarese Trionfi-card-painter. He only made 14 cards, as the other 56 cards already existed - so one might assume.

Perhaps the whole was not a surprize for Bianca Maria and the girls made the design themselves - not professional of course, but somehow. With Sagramoro's help it became the real product.

Or the whole intellectual elite of Ferrara discussed the problem, who knows. Bianca Maria was a "high guest", and a possible great chance, which would change the destiny of the Signoria in Ferrara considerably. Ferrara and Milan finally in one hand - that would have been a great vision.

Such a chance - perhaps only once in 100 years or so. Well, it didn't work finally.

The game - I would say - already existed. You can play the game also without special cards. And likely they played a variety of games with the same cards. The idea with "14 playing cards with trump-function" was possibly a new one.
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