This document became known after our first data collection in the year 2003. It contains an interesting note, which possibly opens the door to speculate about a once existing Emperor Trionfi deck. Ross Caldwell noted:|
Siena, 1452. An overlooked early reference to triumph cards being
imported (probably from Florence - thanks to Thierry Depaulis for
noting it) -
Ludovico Zdekauer ("Sull' organizzazione pubblica del giuoco in
Italia nel medio evo", Giornale degli Economisti, V, 1892, p. 40-80
as reprinted in L. Zdekauer, _Il gioco d'azzardo nel Medioevo
italiano_. Florence, 1993, p. 128 and note 3):
"Le carte o triomphi da giocare pagano in Siena nel 1452 per ogni
paio il dazio enorme di soldi 20, vale a dire L. 1" (AS Siena,
Statuto della Gabella, App. 23, f. 30.)
Translation: "In Siena in 1452, paid for each pair of playing cards or triumphs
the enormous duty of 20 soldi, that is to say 1 lira.
|In our communication, I requested: "For 1452: "In Siena in 1452, paid for each pair of playing cards or triumphs
the enormous duty of 20 soldi, that is to say 1 lira" ... it sounds, as if the original didn't contain the word "Trionfi", but something, which was only interpreted as "Trionfi cards". Could this be made more real?"|
Ross replied: "Unfortunately Zdekauer doesn't quote the passage. However, the way
he phrases it, along with his scrupulous use of sources - he was an
exemplary scholar - makes Depaulis and me trust him. We are sure
that the word "trionfi" appears in the original document. There was
no way he would have made it up, if it weren't there. He had no
particular interest in tarot cards. In other words, I think it's reliable, but it is not certain until
somebody checks the original document."
In my own research the following context seems to be remarkable and perhaps explains the appearance of Trionfi cards in 1452 in Siena:
|Generally in 1450: After Sforza's occupation of Milan in February 1450 and his triumphal entry in the city end of March Italy had a peaceful year with many festivities cause the papal Jubilee year, which then was celebrated all 50 years. The year brought many pilgrims as visitors, a lot of money and finally also a deadly plague, which took a lot of lifes especially in Milan. In Florence took place negotiations between the earlier fighting parties and the situation gives the impression, as if a longer Italian peace was possible.
December 1450: Enea Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II. (1458 - 1464), as diplomat for Emperor Fredrick III. agrees in a marriage contract between the Emperor and Eleanore of Portugal in Naples, with Alfonso V. of Aragon, king of Naples and uncle to Eleanor. Piccolomini, born in the Sienese region and earlier student at the university of Siena, became in 1450 bishop of Siena, while being already bishop of Trieste in 1447.
In the same month December in 1450 the decree of Florence allowed the Trionfi game - likely this was accompanied by a Trionfi card edition the same year in Florence and likely it acompanied the optimism of the year 1450 and the general peace expectation (which didn't fulfill immediately). On the same background Frederick III.'s decision to plan the celebration of his marriage and his coronation in Italy must be understood.|
End of 1451: Fredrick III. arrived with 1000 horsemen and another 1000 visitors in Treviso. He didn't visited Milanese territory, cause he didn't agree with Francesco Sforza, whom he interpreted as usurpator.
He reached Ferrara, was with pride shown there and agreed to make Borso duke of Modena and Reggio later. At Ferrara he had best opportunity to learn about the Italian Trionfi decks - which were especially connected to triumphal opportunities and marriages between highstanding persons were prefered "triumphal opportunities". Naturally Fredrick should have adapted the "local custom" for his own near marriage festivity.
He met there also Ludovico Gonzaga of Mantova and Galeazzo Maria, the 8-year old son of Francesco Sforza. Bessarion reached him at Bologna and he visited the city of Florence with many festivities.
Eleanora left Portugal at 12th of November 1451 and had a long journey on sea, accompanied by 2000 men as protection, anxious expected by Enea Piccolomini in Siena. She reached Livorno at 2nd of February, Piccolomini went to Pisa to meet her. At the 24th of February 1452 she, 16 years old then, met Fredrick III. (35 years old) in Siena, the first meeting was celebrated with a still existing column with heraldic signs of both houses. Four days of grandious festivities followed in Siena.
1st of March Fredrick left Siena, took the journey to Rome and prophesized to Enea Piccolomini his function as later pope. He was crowned in Rome 19th of March. At 24th March he left for Naples, where the marriage took place. He was back in Rome at 22nd of April and left at the 26th. At 18th of May Borso was crowned as duke of Modena and Reggio. Later (after 22nd of May 1452) followed festivities in Venice, then at the begin of June the emperor left Itay.
Ladislaus Posthumus, who some years later (ca. 1455, estimated) is connected to the still existing woodcut deck "Hofaemterspiel", accompanied the Emperor in Italy.
Siena as a major place for the German Emperor developed in competition to Florence from the local Ghibelline tradition (which meant pro-German Emperor usually; Florence had Guelphic tradition - pro-Pope). Emperor Sigismondo already spend on his visit a longer time in Siena 1432/33, when waiting for peace in North Italy and an agreement with the difficult Pope Eugenius.
Pope Pius II., the man from Siena, met some opposition in Florence in April 1459 ...likely this had as background the old concurrence of the both cities. Finally Florence did win in the competition, Siena lost in importance during 15th century.
Siena had a republic with consuls, higher nobility as the Visconti in Milan and the Este in Ferrara didn't exist and couldn't serve as sponsor for "Trionfi decks". Likely the Emperor festivities in February 1452 had been the best opportunity to produce them.
A column of triumph was erected for the first meeting between the bride Eleanora of Portugal and Emperor Fredrick in Siena. It was painted inside the series of frescoes for the later Pope Pius II.