Translation Help for 16th Century Rouen Cards


At some point when researching I came across this: "Thirty cards survive from a sixteenth-century Tarot deck, in the Municipal Library of Rouen, France. Hand colored with gold and silver highlights, the images are classical figures, but unlike the 1491 Sola Busca trumps, these are identifiable with the standard Tarot subjects." (I think it's from Kaplan's encyclopedia, but don't quote me on that.)

Anyway, I messaged the Municipal Library of Rouen and they were quite willing to help me. However, the cards have not been digitized yet. I was given some forms (in French) to request a "reproduction" (assumably images of the cards printed on paper, but they didn't really specify what they meant).

From my research I don't think there are any images of the cards floating around on the internet. (Although, if I'm wrong, feel welcome to correct me!)

I was wondering if anyone speaks French well enough to help me translate the forms? I'm not 100% sure of what I'm doing yet, but certainly I'd like to have all of the information on the table before I decide to give up on these cards.

(Also, I hope this is the right forum, it being related to historic cards. ;u;;; )


There's three forms, they don't seem to have too much text.

And... I think so? I've never seen images of these cards (hence why I was trying to get hold of some), but the shoe fits (or seems to!)


Well, I'd PM huck or Michael. They are both here - and both know FAR more than I do.

ETA there are 9 images in Kaplan 1, page 133. If that helps. The inscriptions appear to be in Latin.


Yes, it's the Leber Tarot ...


... possibly produced in some context to the Rovere family (Pope Julius was part of the Rovere family).
Cause of the heraldry of the Rovere family (oak-tree symbol).



Thanks Huck - do you perhaps know where there are more images available ? (I have the 9 in Kaplan)


... that's what I know (less than 30 cards), and it's partly combined (by us) with 6 "Cicognara cards" (not Cicognara, the 15th century painter, but Leopoldo Cicognara, the 19th century card collector". Both decks have a few things in common ...

Michael J. Hurst has partly better pictures (you have to click on them) ...


The deck is independently (not by me) estimated to be from early 16th century. Curiously we have in the very early 16th century the first "Tarochi" (Ferrara) and the first "Taraux" (Avignon) in the year 1505. Avignon wasn't France then, but papal territory, but it was close to France.
Avignon was ruled then a longer time by cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (archbishop of Avignon 1476 till 1503). In this time Avignon developed to a prospering place with much playing card production.
Giuliano became pope in 1503 as Pope Julius II. Naturally he didn't lose his influence in Avignon not immediately.

The first Tarochi appeared in June 1505, and it was produced for Alfonso d'Este, the new duke of Ferrara since January 1505. The close nearness (5 months difference) of the 2 events has logic, as it seems to have been common (at least in Ferrara), that new rulers ordered the production of new playing card decks.

Pope Julius didn't like Alfonso, cause this was married to a Borgia daughter, and he also didn't like the Borgias, cause Pope Alexander VI (Borgia-family) had persecuted him since 1492 and then he had to take his escape to Avignon and France. In that time the French plans started to make invasions to Italy (1494 and 1499-1500), and Giuliano della Rovere stood behind this.
Pope Julius preferred Ferrante, the brother of Alfonso. It happened, that Ferrante and a further brother Giulio attempted a plot against Alfonso in 1506 (well, it's only a hypothesis, that Pope Julius stood also behind this, but it has some political logic). The plot was crashed by Alfonso, and both wandered into prison, where they stayed their life long. Pope Julius attacked and conquered Bologna (close to Ferrara, a few months later). The situation settled for the moment, but Julius and Alfonso never found to good relations. In the mid of these dramatic events 1505/06 stands the production of Taraux cards in Avignon in December 1505, about which we don't know, who commissioned them and for what purpose.

In the following years a few playing card producers in Avignon went bankrupt. Julius, first fighting with France, fought against France in 1510.

Some researchers had developed the opinion (we weren't that), that the design of some of the cards looks like representations of the Rovere oak tree ... it's under the given conditions logical to think about the idea, that this deck was commissioned by Pope Julius, naturally not necessarily "officially".

Giuliano della Rovere (red clothes) as young man in the mid of some members of the Rovere family

Pope Julius as old man

Rovere oak-tree


detail of funerary monument of pope Sixtus IV (uncle of Giuliano della Rovere)

Pope Sixtus' tomb was destroyed in the Sack of Rome in 1527. Today, his remains, along with the remains of his nephew Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere), are interred in St. Peter's Basilica in the floor in front of the monument to Pope Clement X. A simple marble tombstone marks the site.

His bronze funerary monument, now in the basement Treasury of St. Peter's Basilica, like a giant casket of goldsmith's work, is by Antonio Pollaiuolo. The top of the casket is a lifelike depiction of the Pope lying in state. Around the sides are bas relief panels, depicting with allegorical female figures the arts and sciences (Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Painting, Astronomy, Philosophy, and Theology). Each figure incorporates the oak tree ("rovere" in Italian) symbol of Sixtus IV. The overall program of these panels, their beauty, complex symbolism, classical references, and arrangement relative to each other is one of the most compelling and comprehensive illustrations of the Renaissance worldview.