Roberto Caracciolo da Lecce (c. 1425-1495, Franciscan preacher)
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Dates of opposition against Trionfi games (- 1462)

Later Dates of opposition:


Sources for Trionfi cards in Ferrara are mainly taken from our earlier collection at based mainly on the work of Gherardo Ortalli and Adriano Franceschini, expressed in the article of Ortalli "The Prince and the Playing Cards" (1996).

SOURCE 1: Roberto Caracciolo da Lecce, Padova 1455

Quotes mainly from the earlier Trionfi notes collection of (2003-07): Document 13b [old counting]. Naturally these older texts present not in all points my opinion of nowadays.
The new text here might contain some corrections against the earlier versions.

Document 13b [old counting]

1455 Padova - Sermon of preacher

Found by Thierry Depaulis: a description of a sermon in Padova.

Roberto Caracciolo da Lecce (c. 1425-1495, Franciscan preacher), "Quaresimale padovano 1455" (Paduan Lent, 1455, sermon III), gave a sermon against dancing, in which he mentions other idle pastimes: "Item: games blameworthy or destructive of the time of the good are triumphs and cards. Item: I understand that in these triumphs both Pope and Cardinals are portrayed." (Item ludi vituperales o destructores temporalium bonorum sunt triumphorum ac cartarum. Item scio in illis triumphis et Papam et cardinales depictos esse.)

The note of a "Cardinal"-card is surprizing. But one of the surviving Trionfi decks contains a cardinal on the ace of coins. 23 Trionfi cards were offered in 1939 to an American collector, who "declined to purchase them because he believed to be a much more recent rendition of 15th century tarocchi cards." Only a picture of the cards is known today (socalled "Rosenthal Tarocchi", Kaplan Encyclopedia of Tarot I, p. 99). Another possibility it is, that the preacher adressed only the Pope card, which in early examples (for instance Cary-Yale and Charles VI Tarocchi) often showed a pope together with two cardinals.
On the other side the term "cardinal" had been occasionally used in the game of Karnöffel for the highest trump, the "Karnöffel".

A short biography of the preacher Roberto Caracciolo da Lecce is given by "The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church: The Medieval Church" by Hughes Oliphant Old, 1998. Caracciolo belonged to the highest respected preachers of the time, although he is far less known than San Bernardino, St. Capistranus and Savonarola, who all also preached against playing cards and gambling. His scripture against playing cards in 1455 had been synchron to similar activities of St. Capristanus, who preached in the years 1453-1456 in Germany and burnt playing cards. The political aim in this time (1455/56) was a crusade against the Osmans, which had conquered Constantinople in 1453. St. Capistran was successful to collect an army of 15.000 - 20.000 peasants, the Hungarian leader John Hunyadi organized further 25.000 - 30.000 fighters. The army was successful in 1456 to free the city of Belgrade against an attack and siege of a greater Osmanic army (siege of Belgrade). The Osmanic storm in this region was finished till 1521 with this victory. Both Capistran and Hunyadi died in a bubonic plague following the battle. The plague in its extensions also reached Italy and caused many deaths.

Ace of Coins, Rosenthal Tarocchi

Pope with Cardinals, Charles VI Tarocchi

Repeated Note:

When Ross Caldwell and me in 2003 started to collect Trionfi notes between 1442-1463, we had about 27/28 entries (which I nowadays would count as 31). The major part were the documents of Ferrara, which were collected by Gherardo Ortalli and Adriano Franceschini in the "Prince and the Playing Cards" (1996), after the base laying works of Michael Dummett and Stuart Kaplan around 1980. This collection included 2 notes about Trionfi cards in Florence, found by Franco Pratesi in his earlier work (allowances of the Trionfi game in 1450 and 1463). A graphical representation of this time (with 27 entries) shows the dominance of Ferrarese documents (in black) with a few notes only from other locations (in red; see picture to the right)

In the period 2004 till October 2011 it was possible to add 4 further notes (Siena 1452, Padova 1455, Ancona c. 1460 and Valerio Marcello c. 1460), mainly thanks to information given by Thierry Depaulis.

Franco Pratesi started his new article series in November 2011. Since then the list has gotten 67 new documents till September 2012 (65 of them found by Franco Pratesi, one, now the oldest of September 1440, by Thierry Depaulis, and another one by Veber Gulinelli, who controlled the earlier work of Franceschini and found an overlooked document) and nearly all are related to Florence or its surrounding.

A small book (118 pages) was published around Christmas 2012, Franco Pratesi: "Playing Card Trade in 15th Century Florence" as IPCS Paper No. 7 (ISSN 0305-2133). It contains some of the articles, which before had appeared at this website, those, which treat the early time of 15th century. Thierry Depaulis commented in his foreword: "This book is a landmark in the history of early playing cards in Italy".

Well, maybe not the book, but the research is clearly a landmark in various interests. For the collection of early Trionfi notes it somehow means, that we have within the year 2012 about 200 % more data for the period 1440-1462 than mankind had collected in the 200 years before.

Added later:

In August 2013 the new report of Arnold und Doris Esch: "Aus der Frühgeschichte der Spielkarte. Der Import von carte da giocare und trionfi nach Rom." in Gutenberg Jahrbuch 2013, 88. Jahrgang, p. 41-53, arrived in our redaction. It contains 106 new references to Trionfi decks, which all were found in the customs registers of the city Rome for the period 1453-1465. With this the number of all earlier Trionfi cards records has been doubled and should have reached then c. 210 (from which a few are only considered to be "Trionfi card notes" and don't contain the word "Trionfi" or something similar).


I'd started to sort the new Trionfi card documents overview in October 2012. Articles will be possibly changed according improvements in research.

Old Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2003

Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2013


Persons in Trionfi Card Documents 1440-1462
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