Conclusions about the
Situation in Florence
work in progress
At the end of 15th century we've for a short
time an astonishing contrast between Milano and Florence, caused by the
actions of the French king Charles VII., who marched with 90 000 men
across Italia to win the kingdom of Naples. Milano, first on the side
of Charles, then part of the victorious Italian liga, didn't
suffer too much under the guide of Ludovico Sforza, who successfully
has managed to be in both phases of the war on the winning side.
Florence, however, had lost their generous and wealthy political
leaders, the Medici, but received a foe of all new culture at high
position. Especially a foe of card games.
In playing card reseach we've the result, that there are no early
playing cards from Florence, but many from Milano. This circumstance
fits with the poltical conditions of 1495, when for a few years a
fanatical religious leader played a dominating role, turning his
energies against material possessions of all kind and especially also
against playing-cards. In comparition the German town Nuernberg, a city
with an early paper-mill nearby and with a status as a trade-center,
had mostly rather tolerant laws and liberal ways to deal with the
phenomen card-playing. 38 card-producers are known in the time from
1414 - 1500, but when St. John Capestran arrived in 1452 and preached,
unimaginable lots of playing cards, backgammon boards etc were burnt.
St. John Capestran didn't stay long, but playing card industry did need
10 years to recover from this hit. Savonorola in Florence didn't stay
for a short visit, he worked in a periode of several years. Probably he
burnt more cards and cleaned the ground a little more careful than St.
Capestran could do so in Nuernberg,
In Milano the suffering started later, when another French King, Louis
XII., in 1500 occupied Milano, weakening the Sforza-dynasty in a way,
that it never got its earlier state again. But this foe never was
engaged against card-playing, he brought a lot of soldiers and soldiers
are known for their love of cardplay, so the contrary resulted. The
Milanese ways of playing was spread on a new field, it found a way to
Considering this conditions, one must assume, that the result of
playing card research, "many cards from Milano, few from Florence", not
necessarily displays the real condition of spread of Trionfi use of the
time before 1495.
Minchiate, a game very similar to Tarocchi,
but with 41Trionfi and totally 97 cards, was spread around Florence and
some believe, that it was more popular than Tarocchi in this region,
the typical Florentine card-game. Long it was believed, that Minchiate
developed in a late phase of around 1530, however, now it
is known, that the use of the word Minchiate started at least 1471 and
according to unproven hints at least in 1466.
Minchiate and Tarocchi are different words, probably indicating, that
the related objects were different, however, the use of the word
Tarocchi developed much later, in early 16th century, so the term
Minchiate is in its use around 40 years ahead!
According to this observations and a naturally rather unsecure
state of information the term Minchiate could be the first
specification against the general term "Trionf" or "ludus triumphorum",
which , as shown at other places, was probably used for various card
decks with different structures, different motives and - when actively
played - with different rules.
Returning back to the initial statement:
"Florence became known as the famous birth place of renaissance. A lot
of cultural achievements of that time started here, mostly they
appeared first in Florence and wandered then to the other cities of
Italia and in later development inspired the rest of Europe."
Florence had more culture and produced more culture than other cities,
that was normal in 15th century and it's observable at many points in
the history of art.
If one leads this logic to a simple observation of both plays, Tarocchi
Tarocchi has 22 special cards
Minchiate has 41 special cards
then the initial statement proves in this example as correct: 41
is more than 22, Florence had more culture than the rest of Italy, at
least regarding the structure of their prefered game.
odd number 41 might look like an irrational number.However, the
Minchiate is a quite logical game development:
Rather obviously the number 40 was chosen to relate to the 40
pip-cards, the Fool is just an additional card just as in our modern
decks today to the ordered 4x13-deck 1-3 jokers are added. The meaning
of the name Minchiate is unknown, but there are rather near words like
(to laugh at),
(fool), Minchiate probably meaning
Game of the Fool.
The standard deck of the Tarocchi, 4x14 + 22, has also a ratio of
structure, however, it is more hidden and there is not much in the
iconography, that adds to any structural idea of a 3x7-structure in the
21 (= 3/2 x 14)
Let's gather the main points
in this chapter:
The missing card documents from Florence doesn't imply, that there were
less card decks in Florence, as there had been historical conditions,
which could have caused just this situation.
2. The specifying use of the name "Minchiate" is around 40 years older
than the specifying use of the name "Tarocchi".
3. 41 is more than 22, and that might be significant for higher culture
4. From the structural viewingpoint the Minchiate, although having more
cards than the 4x14-22 standard deck, looks "simpler constructed"
than the standard-deck. If one follows the idea, that easy
constructed card-games developed into more complex systems, then here
is an argument, that the Minchiate is older than the standard