created since 2003       

The church and card-playing in 15th century

Peoples of the church often engaged against card-playing in 15th century. The preachers San Bernardino and St. John Capistran became most famous, they attracted thousands of visitors and organised enormous bon fires, in which - among other items of worldly life - also card playing decks were burnt. The cities changed their laws, when these preachers appeared and often turned back to their older habits, when they were gone.

San Bernadino gave us the information, that in 1423 decks with 4x14-structure were in use, also the legend is there, that a card producer lost his income and turned to produce pictures with IHS-symbols cause of his preachings.
St. John Capestran caused a great burning of games in 1452 in Nuernberg, before leaving to fight successfully with the Osmans.
Cusanus, Pope Pius II. and cardinal Bessarion, living in a phase of greater humanistic tolerance are suspected to have invented the socalled Mantegna-Tarocchi, probably  a not reliable suggestion.
Savonarola deeply influenced Florence and the history of art by burning objects of luxury - it was a last final try to push the achievements of renaissance back into medieval conditions, but it didn't work - people wanted to read and wanted to think for themselves. And also they wanted to play cards without prohibitions.
Cardinal Ascanio Sforza was a son from Francesco Sforza and the Sforza-family is famous cause their card-playing and their precious games. In his youth he was very fond of card-playing - brother Galeazzo Maria once forbade him to do so. Later he was the possessor of luxury-decks. Pope Alexander VI., under whom  Ascanio reached the climax of his carreer as the second man in the church, was known as a notorious card-player.
An unknown preacher against cards left us ironically with the first list of trumps in a row and gives  us the first sign of a numerolgy related to the cards.

San Bernardino preached against card-playing  (1423)
Biography with pictures and reference to the card producer
3 pictures with Bernardino and IHS-Symbol

St. John Capistran burnt cards (1452)
Miracles in Hungary
Picture of Capestran in group and picture of St. James by Crivelli

Cusanus eventually invented the Mantegna Tarocchi (1459)
Biographie (umfangreich in deutsch)
Time-table of the last years (deutsch)
De Ludo Globi (complete text  in English)
Biographie mit Beschreibung der Bibiliothek (deutsch)
Discussion of philosophical treatise
Cusanus-Kongress (deutsch-italienisch)
Picture of Cusanus

Pope Pius II. (Enea Silvio de' Piccolomini) eventually invented the Mantegna-Tarocchi (1459)
Piccolomini-Library in Siena and the same
Picture: Election of Pope Pius II. 1458

Bessarion eventually invented the Mantegna-Tarocchi (1459)
Bessarion and Hermeticism

Savonarola burnt cards and was burnt (1498)
Savonarola and the Protestantic Reformation
Jacob Burckhardt, 6. chapter
How Savonarola burnt cards - use the Browsers search-function with "cards"
Picture with reference to Savonarola as Antichrist

An Unknown Preacher informs us (1480 - 1500)
Sermo Perutilis de Ludo, Ludi Inductio

Ascanio Sforza played cards (most powerful around 1490 - 1500)
Biographie (deutsch)
Monument, and the same Monument
about a friend of Ascania (deutsch), a singer
Pope Alexander VI. played notoriously cards

General Informations
List of Popes with biographies until 1900
List of cardinals 15th century
The Last Popes of the Middle Ages 1447 - 1521