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First Notes about Tarot in 1505 and later in 1515/16

(Article has a provisional state)

The names Taraux and Tarocchi appear (to our knowledge) for the first time in Avignon and Ferrara parallel in the year 1505. France and Ferrara had a political alliance at this time. France ruled over Milan since 1500 and Ferrara offered France an interesting alliance, as Ferrara produces good artillery. The alliance between France and Ferrara endured till France lost Milan in 1512 and Ferrara had to suffer for this. France regained Milan with Francois I, and the political alliance was renewed (again we've documents in Ferrara about Tarocchi productions).


Ferrara 1505 (2 notes)

reported in: QUANDO SI INIZIA A PARLARE DI "TAROCCO": FERRARA 1505 by Adriano Franceschini
Archivio di Stato di Modena, Camera ducale Estense, Guardaroba, 126, Conto di debiti e crediti, II semestre 1505
c. 93r, 30 giugno:
«Conto de merzaria de Guardaroba de' havere... E de' havere adì ultimo dito [giugno] per pare dexedoto de carte videlicet pare oto de tarochi e pare dexe fra schartini e carte de ronfa, quali fono portati a Viguenza, vene di Guradaroba al 3+, a c. 65 ... pare 18»

c. 96r, 26 dicembre: «E de' havere adì ditto per quindexe para de schartini e tarochi fo mandati a Viguenza per el Signore; vene di Guardaroba a 3+, a c. 68....[para] n. 15»

France Avignon:

I've only the refering note of Franceschini (still missing informations)

Second to this we've a strong Tarocchi production in the years 1515/1516 in Ferrara (more than one entry in the account books - although there should have been opportunity to leave some notes in the account books between 1505 and 1515, there is nothing). Looking to that what happened politically in the meantime, then it was so, that France had lost Milan in 1512 and returned back in the year 1515. So the French-Ferrarese alliance was revived just in this time of unusual Tarocchi activity.

Earlier in time in 15th century Trionfi decks were often used in context to real triumphal processions. So we know of a relation between Trionfi deck production and triumphal opportunity (mostly a marriage, but occasionally also militaric triumph or peace). Looking of the first dates of the appearance of the word Taraux and Tarocchi, then this relation still seems to exist in 1505 and 1515.

The following data is recorded from Alessandro Franceschini: Note d'archivio sulle carte in Ludica 1996.

Tarot Notes in Ferrara 1515/16

Registro Guardaroba, 140, della Camera Ducale, 1516

  • c. 55v. 12th of May: "Spesa supradicta [de Guardarobia] debe dare adi dicto soldi octo marchesani; per lei se fano boni alo Illustrissimo Signor mio per uno boletino facto a Messer Cistarello, che fatii pagare a Luca di Rossi firentino per comprare uno paro de Tarocchi per mandare a Cadegoro cum el Signor [...] ... L.0. VIII"

  • c. LXVIII, 27th of May: "Spesa de Guardarobia] per bisogno de quella debe dare adi dicto soldi trenta marchesani; per lei se fanno boni allo Illustrissimo Signor mio per uno boletino facto a Messer Sigismondo Cistarello che fatii pagare dicti denari a Zoane Francesco de la Mirandula per comprare quatro para de tarocchi per bisogno de sua Signoria [...] ...L.0.X

  • c. 86. 23rd of June: "Spesa supradicta debe dare adi dicto soldi sedece marchesani; per lei [...] a Lucha Rossi per comprare due para de tarocchi, dati a Scipione Este per per portare a Sua Signoria a Belfiore [...] ... L.0. XVI"

  • c. CV. 22nd of July: "Spesa de Guardarobia per bisogno de quella debe dare adi dicto soldi octa marchesani; per allo Illustrissimo Signor mio per uno boletino facto a Messer Sigismondo Cistarello che li fatii pagare ad uno cartolaro in San San Pavulo per pretio de uno paro de tarocchi comprati da lui, li quali se sun mandati per Scipione ragazo a sua Signoria a Belfiore [...] ... L.0.VIII"

  • Francesschini adds: "Dallo stesso cartolaio: un altro paio acquisato il 27th July (c. CVIII); sei paia il 7 agosto ancora a mezzo Luca Rossi, per L. 2 (c. 114); un paio l'11 dicembre da un altro cartolaio (c. CCXVII)"

  • c. CXXXV, 3rd of September: "Spesa de Guardarobia per bisogno de quella debe havere adi dicto soldi octo marchesani; per per lei se fanno boni allo Illustrissimo Signor mio patrone per uno boletino facto a Messer Sigismundo Cistarello, che li fatii paghare a Luca Fiorentino per comprare uno paro de Scartini per mandare a Sabbioncello a Sua Signoria [...] ... L.0.VIII"

  • c. 194, 12th of November: "Spesa de Guardarobia debe dare adi dicto soldi sedece marchesani; per quella se fano boni al Illustrissimo Signor per uno boletino facto a Messer Sigismundo, che li fatii pagare per pretio de duo para de tarochi comprati, li quale se sun consignati a Scipione da Este ragazo per bisogna de Sua Signoria [...] ... L.0.VIII"

"Libro di partite" del 1515-1516 from "Libro Camerali Diversi, 253

  • c. 20, 1515, 16th of May: "A Lazarin da Chastello per pagare tarochi e carte per li presum ... L.0.12.0" (Note: "Presum" means Don Ferrante and Don Giulio d'Este.

  • c. 36, 1515, 30th of August: "A Zoane Antonio cartaro per para due de carte tarochi et schartini ha mandato a Belriguardo per li Signori .. L.O. 16.5"

  • c. 95, 1516, 7th of November: "Mistro Nicolo per uno paro de schartin per don Hercule .. L.0.8.0"

  • c. 115, 1516, 10th of December: "Ad Illustro Signore don Herchule per fare comprare tarochi; portolli contanti Antonio dal Forno suo ragazo ... L.0.18.6

  • c. 111, 1516, 13th of August: " Thiophillo di Lardi banchiero de'havere adi 13 d'agosto soldi 16 marchesani; portolli contanti Marcheto Piganti per comprare uno paro de schartini et uno paro de tarochi per li illustri figliolli del nostro Signore Illustrissimo ... L.0.16.0

First use of Tarot

Ross Caldwell made a provisional collection of French spellings of the word Tarot, trying to give an answer about the first positive proven use of the word Tarot (not Taraux or Tarocchi, but TAROT):

It seems to be in a document written around 1560, once owned by Roger de Gaignières and published for the first time by Thierry Depaulis. It is a French translation (probably by the huguenot François Rasse de Neux (c.1520-c.1589) , of an anonymous Italian "Tarocchi Appropriati" written in 1559. The appropriati is called in Italian "Gioco da tarocchi fatto in conclavi", and is entitled in French "Le Tarot des XXII cardinaux". The first three lines of the manuscript published by Depaulis have "Aux Pasquinades et aussi de Tarots."

"Vingt & deux Cardinaux jouants sans bruit du monde, Dans une grande salle au tarot pour plaisir..." So he uses both "tarot" and "tarots". See Depaulis, "Roger de Gaignières et ses tarots" in _Le Vieux Papier_, fasc. 301 (July 1986) pp. 117-124.

A Survey of Spellings.

My list of occurences of variations of "tarot" in documentary sources for the 16th and early 17th century shows that "tarots" was the preferred spelling over this time (date. place. spelling. (author. source(s))

  • 1505. Avignon. Taraux (anonymous account-keeper; Chobaut, Depaulis)
  • 1534. Lyon. Tarau (Rabelais (southerner) MA 131)
  • 1553. Paris. Tarault (Estienne; MA 131)
  • c.1560. Paris. Tarot. Tarots (Neux, Depaulis (VxP); MA 131)
  • c.1560 Paris. Tarots (Christophe de Bordeaux; MA 132)
  • 1564. ?. 1565. Lyon. Tarots (Ps.(?)-Rabelais; MA 132)
  • 1576. Paris. Tarot (Champenois (Straparola) ; MA 132)
  • 1578. Lyon. Tarots (Guil. des Autels; MA 132)
  • 1579. Paris. Tarots (Ladurie; MA 132-3)
  • 1579. Saint-André (Toulouse). Tarots (Garrisson-Estè be (1980); MA 133)
  • 1583. Paris. Tarots (Tabourot; MA 133)
  • 1583. Paris. Tarot (Gauchet; MA 133)
  • 1583. Paris. Tarotz (Henri III; MA 133-4)
  • 1585. Paris. Tarots (Perrache; MA 134)
  • 1585. ?. Taraux (Cholières; MA 134)
  • 1592. London. Tarots (Delamothe; MA 134)
  • 1595. ?. Tarot (Le Poulchre; MA 134)
  • 1607. Oxford. Taraux (Cleland; MA 134-5)
  • 1622. Paris. Tarots (Garasse; MA 135)
  • 1622. Lyon. Tarotz (D'Allemagne II, 246)
  • 1637. Paris. Tarots (De Marolles)
  • 1650. Lyon. Taros (D'Allemagne II, 258)
  • 1659. Paris. Taros (Maison Academique des Jeux)

    Totally 18 appearances are mentioned in 16th century:

    24 up to "Maison Academique":

    On Tarot packs for the 18-19th century, I can glean the following spellings from my few sources (letters refer to current borders, not necessarily accurate for historical purposes (B)Belgium; (D)Germany; (F)France; (I)Italy; (S)Switzerland) :

    The most common spelling in this brief survey is "Tarots", occuring both in texts and on cards, with 14 instances.
    "Taros" has 13 occurences.
    "Tarot" occurs 4 times.

    Clearly the plural form was preferred for most of the time of the terms' usage, mirroring the Italian preference for "tarocchi" over "tarocco".

    I wish I knew what preferential spellings Lyonnais cardmakers had for their cards or wrappers.