created since 2003       

Early Prohibitions of Playing Cards

(- ca. 1420)

(not included: Prohibitions around Florence)

The following list was extracted with permission of the author from Michael J. Hurst's Collected Fragments of Tarot History
Added comments by ourselves are in GREEN

1367 Berne, Switzerland
Early prohibition of playing cards mentioned in a 1398 document, probably mistaken in the date. (GT 11-12; K I:24.)

1369 Paris, France
Ordinance forbade various games, but did not mention cards. A similar ordinance in 1377 included cards. (P 35, 37; GT 11; K I:24.)

1377 Florence, Italy
Ordinance concerning cards, naibbe, naibbi. This source refers to cards as "a certain game called naibbe, newly introduced in these parts". (GT 11, 44; K I:24.) Playing "cards were to be treated just as strictly as gambling." (Ortalli, 175.)

1377 Paris, France.
Ordinance prohibiting "card-play in contexts clearly directed at the working classes". A similar ordinance from 1369 did not mention cards. (P 35, 37; GD 10.)

1377 Siena, Italy
Ordinance concerning cards, naibi. (GT 10, 44.)

1378 Regensburg, Germany
Ordinance "declares various games, including ‘ spilen mid der quarten ’, punishable by fine if played for stakes higher than those expressly permitted." (P 36; GT 10; B 29.)

1379 Viterbo, Italy
Cola di Covelluzzo’s Viterbo Chronicle reports, "In the year 1379 there was brought to Viterbo the game of cards, which in the Saracen language is called nayb." In fifteenth-century Italy, in France, and in Spain from 1371 to this day, cards were referred to as naibi, nahipi, naips, naipes, naibbe, naibbi. (GT 11, 43-44; K I:32; P 36.)

1379 St. Gallen, Suisse
Ordinance prohibiting "card-play in contexts clearly directed at the working classes". A similar ordinance from 1364 did not mention cards. (P 35, 37; GD 10-11.)

1379 Constance, Germany
Unspecified reference to cards. (GT 10.)

1380 P Barcelona, Spain
Inventory including reference to "a game of cards comprising forty-four pieces". (K II:1.)

1380 Perpignan, France
Unspecified reference to cards. (GT 10.)

1381 Marseilles, France.
"A certain Jacques Jean (son of a Marseilles merchant) bound for Alexandria, Egypt, pledged to his friends Honorat d'Abe and Micolas Miol, before a notary, not to gamble or play games of chance on his journey: primarily taxilli (the greatly condemned dice), but also scaqui (i.e. chess which actually enjoyed a good reputation) and nahipi. The pledge to forsake gambling was a well-known obligation in Mediaeval juridical practice, especially as far as dice were concerned. But here the novelty was the inclusion of cards among the unacceptable games." (Ortalli 176; K I:24; B 45.)

1382 Barcelona, Spain
Prohibition of gambling, including naypes. "The decree was read by the town crier in the streets of Barcelona: Uno gos jugar a nengun joch de daus, ni de taules, ni de naips." (K II:1; Ortalli 176.)

1382 Lille, France
Prohibition of dice and cards (quartes). "No one from then on must dare either by day or night play as dez, as taules, as quartes, ne a nul autre geu quelconques". (K I:24; GT 10; B 45; Ortalli 176.)

1384 Valencia, Spain
"In 1384 the Valencia Consejo general forbade un novel joch appellat dels naips", a new game called naips. (Ortalli 176; GT 10-11.)

1384 Nuremberg, Germany
A manuscript notes the "widespread adoption of the new game throughout Europe". Dummett reports this, noting that he was unable to confirm it. (GT 11; B 29.)

1387 Castile, Spain
"An edict by King John I includes cards among prohibited games." (Ortalli, 176.)

1391 Santa Maria a Monte, Italy
Ordinance forbade various games, but still did not mention cards. However, they were forbidden in a 1396 ordinance. The 1396 prohibition was lifted in 1419, but reinstated in 1445, indicating the ambivalence with which cards were viewed. (Ortalli 177.)

1396 Santa Maria a Monte, Italy
Prohibition against naibi, "albeit with a fine of only 20 soldi compared to the 3 lire for other games." (Ortalli 177.)

1396 Paris France
"At the French court a hawker or maker of cases, Guion Groslet appears in the account books of 1396 for having sold an estuy for the cards of Queen Isabelle of Bavaria (Charles VI's wife)." (Ortalli 178.)

1397 Paris, France
Prohibition against card playing. (K I:24.) This may be the same prohibition referred to by Ortalli, "when the prevot of Paris forbade the gens de metier from playing cards on working days." (Ortalli 178.)

1397 Ulm, Germany
Prohibition against card playing. (K I:24.)

1398 San Pietro, Italy
"...the punishment for playing naibi was 20 soldi compared to 30 for other forbidden games, while at Campi in 1410 it was as little as half." (Ortalli 177.)

1404 Langres, France
" the Langres Synod cards were on the list of prohibited games. And preachers did not hesitate to adopt very severe positions on this subject." (Ortalli 176.)


Beal, George. Playing-Cards and Their Story. David & Charles Ltd., 1975. (B)

Kaplan, Stuart. The Encyclopedia of Tarot. U.S. Games Systems Inc., 1978. (K I)

Dummett, Michael. The Game of Tarot. Duckworth, 1980. (GT)

Parlett, David. The Oxford Guide to Card Games. Oxford University Press, 1990. (P)

Ortalli, Gherardo. "The Prince and the playing cards. The Este family and the role of the courts at the time of the Kartenspiel-Invasion", Ludica 2: Annali di storia e civiltà del gioco. Fondazione Bennetton Studi Ricerche, 1996.

Breughel, part of Triumph of Death, the fighting card-player is the most active part of the picture