created since 2003       

Early Notes about the Minchiate

Notes are based on the studies of Raimondo Luberti (Burchiello) and Franco Pratesi (Notes in Florence).

ca. 1440: The words "Trionfi" and "minchiatar" appear together in a poem of Burchiello (compare (document A)

1466: In an older reference it is noted, that the poet Luigi Pulci (1432 - 1484) wrote a letter to the young Lorenzo de Medici, in which the term "Minchiate" appears. Considerable research was done by Franco Pratesi to detect the original letter, however, the information was not traceable.
However, according Pratesi, "the letter was first published - as most of Pulci's letters - only in 1868 in a limited edition for a wedding by Bongi, who again published it in 1882 in a more complete and common book. The following edition has been in Morgante e Lettere by De Robertis, in 1962, reprinted with some slight revisions (which do not concern either the letter or the notes to it) in 1984. The mentioned letter appears unchanged through the different editions." The letter was written at 23rd August 1466. Franco Pratesi describes: "Pulci is passing the summer in a land possession and writes to Lorenzo that he is craving to see him again to the point that, had he only a horse, he would come there to play together at different games and win by large. The exact text of the relevant sentence is, 'Pure, se havessi cavallo, ho s¨ gran voglia di rivederti ch'io verrei cost¨ per isvisarti alle minchiate, a passadieci, a sbaraglino, come tu sai ch'io ti concio.'" The different games mentioned are Minchiate, Passadieci (different games with dice) and Sbaraglino (boardgame out of the backgammon family). Pratesi comments: "The only difficult term, from a language point of view, is the verb isvisare for svisare, meaning not only to win a match but to disfigure the face with punches. The sense is obviously metaphoric, stressing the higher level of Pulci as a player. The three mentioned games are minchiate, which needs no comment for the moment; passadieci, a common name for different games played with dice only (with the aim to or not to surpass ten), with dice and board (with the peculiarity of counting doubles twice), and perhaps even with cards; sbaraglino, a favourite boardgame of the backgammon family whose popularity lasted for several centuries. In the same letter some common programs to compose verses are also reminded. Evidently, Pulci exploited his supremacy in poetry and in games over the young Lorenzo (17 years old at the time, compared to 34 for Pulci) to continue his friendly relationships with the Medici family."
(from Franco Pratesi: Florentine Cards - New Discoveries IV, written Florence, August-October 1986, published later in the Playing Card Journal).

1471: In Cortono, rather far away from Florence but belonging at that time to Florence, somebody is accused of heresy of having played Minchiate in the summer of 1470 (having played in a church or near a church). The note is written in a half-Latin-half-Italian version:: "In Dei nomine Amen. Anna domine nostri Yesu Christi; millesimo cccclxxj. Inditione iv, die xx mensis maij.; Bartolomeo di Giovanni di Vaglia de Mugello provigionato nel cassero di Cortona com'egli e bastemiato Iddio et la vergine Maria giuchando chon alchuni provigionato et maximamente giuchava alle MINCHIATE del mese giugno luglio et agoste e molte volte ... etc ...."

1477: “Pilucchino” and “Minchiate” are also called "allowed games" (after other allowances in earlier years for other games, also for "Trionfi" in 1450).

Compare articles about Florence, Prohibition around Florence and Conclusions about Florence

Later Notes to Minchiate
- collected by Michael J. Hurst

1526 Florence, Italy, Francesco Berni: Capitolo del Giocco della Primiera.
Francesco Berni published a poem in praise of the card game of Primiera, with a commentary in which facetious remarks are made about the game of tarocchi (Dummett: Game of Tarot, p. 99). Kaplan quotes his remarks on Tarot: "Another as more pleasing, prolonging the entertainment, and giving pleasure to the company in looking at the paintings, has found that the Tarocchi are an excellent game, and he seems to be in his glory, when he has in hand to the number of two hundred cards, which he can scarcely hold, and which, not to be overlooked, he shuffles as well as he can under the table. Let him look to it, who is pleased with the game of Tarocco, that the only signification of this word Tarocco, is stupid, foolish, simple, fit only to be used by bakers, cobblers, and the vulgar; to play at most for the fourth part of a Carlino, at Tarocchi, or at Trionfi, or any SMINCHIATE whatever: which in every way signifies only foolery and idleness, feasting the eye with the sun, and the moon, and the twelve (signs) as children do."

1543 Venice, Italy, Pietro Aretino: Le Carte Parlanti
The text (sometimes seen as Part 3 of Aretino's Ragionamenti), includes information on the names and order of the trumps of Tarot and a reference to Minchiate. (Game of Tarot, p. 338, 390).

1553 Florence, Italy: I Germini sopra Quaranta Meritrice della Cittą di Fiorenza (by anonymous)
An anonymous associates in a poem each of the forty Minchiate trump cards with a named Florentine courtesan. (Game of Tarot, p. 339).

Further Material to Minchiate

Mondo - Minchiate