|For the most facts around the mentioned Visconti
Sforza decks and especially the Cary-Yale we cannot add any worthful observations.
However, we tried to concentrate on the more private situation of Filippo Maria
Visconti and our research was not totally resultless. But ... we didn't arrive
at a conclusion, if we should favour the date of 1428 or the date of 1441.
Both dates have their arguments.
Arguments for 1428How does players behave? Are they interested all their life in the same game or in the manner of playing games at all? Being an intensive player myself with much opportunity to observe other players in their behaviour, I would conclude, that only few players are obsessed all their life, they've phases, in which they indulge in games evening after evening, living the game in excess, and then they have also years, in which they do not play games at all. Under players there are exceptions of this rule, but - normally - there are just hot phases, mostly depending, if you've the right partners for playing at hand. You need a group ...
From our observations about Ferrara we assume that there was a hot playing card phase in the time of Parisina 1422 - 1424 , and actually we assume a hot phase perhaps for all Italy in these years, which followed the council of Constance (an occasion, at which many Italians experienced German playing card freedom).
And there was a counter-reaction, the preacher San Bernardino organised masses of people against various modernisations in society, and it seems, that he was not totally successless, cause in the late 20ies, early 30ies of 15th century we do not hear very much about playing cards in Italy. This negative development was a little overcome in the late 30ies, finally seems to have diappeared in the 50ies (card playing has a peak) and from Italian playing card prohibitions we do not hear much (in 1454 started the peace of Lodi and this seems to have had a good influence upon playing card development, the society was released - this development is also mirrored by the freedom in art, Greek gods start to be en vogue now). Also we observe in Ferrara, that the courtly Trionfi card production seems to finish in 1463 - a very strange fact, who is difficult to explain, cause this seems to be not a general phenomen relatable to the global situation. In my opinion it just reflects the personal condition of the court: Duke Borso is old enough to stop playing (his interest has reached a limit, see above: the development of players) and there are not very much young people at the court, which keep the interest alive.
What about Filippo Maria Visconti? We know, that he produced the Michelino deck in the time between 1417 (until then Michelino da Besozzo worked not in Milano) and 1425 (Martianus da Tortona is definitely dead). We've the suspicion, that we should favour the date 1424 - in this year:
From Niccolo d'Este it is known, that he had some understanding of chess. In the late 30ies and short before Niccolo's death in December 1441 it is said, that Niccolo had a good influence upon Filippo Visconti - probably he was one of very few, from whom this could be said, as also it is said, that Filippo avoided personal publical appearance; so there was perhaps no group to play with. Perhaps this good contact is a mystery between players - they just knew about a way to amuse with each other.
From all this it appears, that 1428 (near to 1424, 1427 and 1429) was a good date to produce the Cary-Yale. Especially the possibility, that the Cary Yale was intended as card game with contents of chess, deserves some attention (compare article). At other places (for instance the Ringmann-aricle) we already considered, that the idea to the Imperatori deck might have been connected to the game of chess. Here we do find a next hint, that there might have been a hidden relation.
Decembrio notes, that Filippo Maria never entered the bride's bed cause a dog howled in the wedding night. It's said, that Filippo Maria was superstituous in a high degree, so this special part of the story might be true, but also it might be, that Decembrio displayed just a common mockery to the later well known behaviour of the duke, letting his wife alone for around 19 years, and controlling her personal freedom in any way.
Decembrio also notes a special secret (probably sexual) vice of Filippo Visconti, which is occasionally interpreted in the way, that Filippo Maria was homosexuell. Or had a favour to very young girls, which had to read the "Canzonieri" of Petrarca.
Arguments for 1441This is a much shorter argument, but it has an alarming content. One should keep in mind, that the Cary-Yale was considered often enough a deck, which served as present for the wedding of Francesco and Bianca Maria Visconti.
Fact 1: In the year 1441 Francesco Sforza, * 1401, married Bianca Maria Visconti, * 1425. This means: A man of 40 years married a girl of 16 years in age, and he is with that 24 years older than she. Remember the numbers: 40 - 16 - 24.
Fact 2: The Cary Yale survived only in fragmentarious form. However, it is plausible, that it had originally 40 numbers and 24 court cards (an unusual court card number, and we know it only from this deck). Additionally there are 11 trumps and their true original number is a riddle. However, the most probable number seems to be 16 (see Cary-Yale-article). With that you have the same numbers as above: 40 - 16 - 24
Could that have happened accidently? It's not impossible, but unlikely. And Filippo Maria, a man, who was highly superstitious and fond of astrology and probably also of numerology, was the right man to look at such things.
1441 is also a very good date.
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