Notes about Karnöffel, Imperatori, Ludus Caesaris and Keyserspiel
Summary of Entries
based partly on Michael's Hursts gathering and Jürgen Ludwigs article, also my own collection
1423 Florence/Ferrara, Italy, Imperatori deck
1426 Nördlingen, Bavaria
In the earliest known reference to Karnöffel, it was "listed in a
municipal ordinance of Nördlingen in 1426 as among the games that
could lawfully be played at the annual city fête." During the "Jahrmarkt" (yearly city festivity) a place master was installed, who had to observe the played games. It was allowed to the Ratsherrn (members of the city council) to "bassen, im Thurn, karnüfeln, mit hölzlin". However, in the same year 3 persons were arrested by Canzon the Büttel, from which one had "gekartet" and one other played "mit hölzlin".
In Nördlingen 1502 "bassen, im turm, karnüflen, ains und hundert (101)" were allowed for one heller on 3 bot, "schantzen" (playing with dice) was completely forbidden.
Surprizingly the list of "allowed games" in 1426 and 1502 are nearly identical.
1435 Alsace, France
Meister Ingold wrote Das Guldin Spiel, including a possible reference
1443 Würzburg, Germany
"... a chronicle from Würzburg, Germany for 1443-1455 mentions 'a
certain individual... playing at cards a game called the Emperor's Game
(ludus Imperatoris)', a literal Latin rendering of Kaiserspiel."
The same or a similar name is used around that time in Zürich (unspecified information).
1443 Ferrara, Italy, Imperatori deck
Würzburg, between 1443 - 1455)
Petrus Wann in his "Tractatus de contractibus" reports about a card game, that was played in the time of Fürstbischof Gottfried IV. (1443 - 55) during the Fasching time an which showed blasphemous tendencies against God and the Holy Virgin: "Et notandum vidi in Herbipoli, cum ibi essem ... Ille tempori Vaschangali (Fasching) unus quidam ibi ludens ad cartas ludum vocatum imperatoris, cum blasmephemaretdeum et beatumvirginem, captus fuit".
Karnöffel forbidden; although Augsburg 1446 has relative tolerant playing rules in this time, Karnöffel is disallowed completely: "Item es sol nunfüro nyemand weder reych noch arm, jung noch alt, frowen noch man nicht mehr spilen, kuglen noch karten weder in wirtzhusern noch anderstwo in der statt noch davor in dem prett mag man wol spilen umb ainen den, zwen zu drey botten vund nicht höher. Dessgeleychen mag man kugeln und karten umb ainen de. zweyenouch ze dry botten, doch sol nyeman uf kain kreyden kugeln , spilen, noch karten in dehain weyse. Es sol nyemand karten des kartenspils, daz man nennt KARNÜßLINS in dehain wege und sullen ouch die vorgemelten unterschaiden spil des brettspils kartens und kugelns allain by dem tag beschehen und by dehainem liecht in dehain weys."
1448 Balgau (upper Alsace) 1448:
Playing was more or less allowed against some obulos for the local church. "Die, so bocken oder lustlis spiln, und ob einer im Spil gewun, sol nach bilcheit darin leigen .... und ob geseln karnueffels oder quentzels oder der achten Korten oder beßschantz machen wolten, soll 1 d in biß geben."
1450 Ferrara, Italy, Imperatori deck
A poem by Meissner provides the earliest information about the ranking
of cards in Karnöffel.
1452 Ferrara, Italy, Imperatori deck
1454 Ferrara, Italy (?)
"... records state that Borso d'Este played at cards: 'of the Emperor'
(dell'imperatore) in Ferrara around 1454."
Molitors Würfellosbuch mentions, dass mit "lützel Augen", small
cards, im "wildem Carnöffelspyle" a win could be made
Noted in Fastnachtsspielen (unspecified);Women do also play Karnöffel
Noted in the Theutonista (lower Rhine language)(source: Grimm's Wörterbuch)
1496 Kaiserberg, Germany
A sermon by Bishop Johann Geiler compared the order of cards in the
game of Karnöffel or Kaiserspiel (using both names) to the social
order, lamenting that "everything is turned upside down" in
1515 Kaiserberg, Germany
A sermon by Bishop Geiler notes that in this inverted social order,
"the Carnöffel beats them all"
A Protestant satirical work uses the allegory of Karnöffel to
berate the Pope.
Another Protestant work, in the form of a dialogue between the Devil
and the Pope, includes information about a number of rules of play.
1783 Thuringia, Germany
"The earliest detailed account of the manner of play comes from an
article published in a German periodical of 1783, describing Karniffle
as then played among the Thuringian peasantry." "The Thuringian and
Frisian versions have the surprising feature of having two trump suits,
while the Swiss forms have only one."
Michael J. Hursts Fragments
Jürgen Ludwig's article
Grimm's Worterbuch (see article to Name Karnoeffel)