European social history


Try anything by Frances Yates. She is a serious and very respected academic historian, but she is also unusual in looking at issues around the interest in the occult and esoterica in the renaissance. Her books go in and out of print, but if you can get hold of her book on Giordano Bruno, or the one on the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment" they are both excellent.

Also, of course, try the TarotL online forum. It is probably the most heavyweight in terms of historical information. It can be a bit competitive in tone (one of the things I really like about Aeclectic is that it isn't) but some very good discussion goes on.

Hope that helps.



Barbara Tuchman has written some fairly readable books about the period. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century IIRC seems to concentrate more on France than on Italy, but the time period is immediately pre-Tarot. William Manchester's A World Lit Only By Fire is also entertaining and pretty good.


ihcoyc said:
Barbara Tuchman has written some fairly readable books about the period. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century
oh yes! i remember that book! it was an excellent read, really interesting.

and i want to add Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer.


I too would especially recommend the Frances Yates books, they are especially well written, general and very relevant to a more general understanding of both the period and the mind-set of those who would have been involved in Tarot's iconography.


One of the first places I go when I'm looking into a deck's history is to Mark Filipas' website. His deck reviews are very concise, and he is often able to include historical information that illuminates the deck's place in history. There are also some interesting essays, including an excellent history of Egyptian decks. I always seem to learn something when I visit his site.

While it's not a complete social history of medieval Europe, it's a nice place to start some tarot research on the web!

Good luck!




There are a ton of books out, just sort of hard to find. I'm in the SCA and know there's a wide variety that covers OTHER things than kings and churches. Yahoo has several SCA lists (SCA is the Society For Creative Anachronism--basically medieval historical re-enacting) and you can ask them. I've found books over at Barnes & Noble that were excellent, and also over at the half price book stores in the historical section.

It helps if you can narrow down the country you're most interested in, and then the historical time framework & search from there. There's a lot online also. Though the university sites that showed most of the image Codexes were taken down last year (picture theft, especially with the Tapestries images).