Ugo Trotti: "De multiplici ludo ... " (1456)
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Dates of Trionfi card activities


Source is taken from our earlier collection at and from additional studies.

SOURCE 1: Ugo Trotti 1456

Document 14

We're still in search for more information about the following:

1456 [Ugo Trotti in his treatise De Multiplici Ludo]

"In 1456 the Ferrara jurist Ugo Trotti, a professor of canon law, bore witness (in his De multiplici ludo) to the spread, variety and multifaceted character of card games, which could not be classified en bloc with games of luck or pure chance. Tarots in particular were included among mixed games, verging on games of skill (and not of chance), as was chess from the outset – a game always considered to be respectable by the legal experts." [see note 105 below]

[note 105] Trotti 1456, fol. 12r: "Ex hiis infertur quid de ludo cartarum qui hodie multum frequentatur, qui tamen multiplex est et quandoque plus habet industrie quam fortune veluti si quatuor bipertiti ludunt ad triumphos, interdum eorum plus habet fortune quam industrie, ut si in 3a vel in in IIIIa vel falcinellis ludatur."

[Ortalli 1996b:199 and note 105]

SOURCE 2: Additional Discussion 2012 and 2009

Later addition on base of a discussion to Trotti's text of 1456 at: / Trotti 1456 ??? in November 2009.

Additional Notes 2012 to the Trotti text in 1456

An online edition of a Trotti text was found on the web, though of a later date than 1456: "Trottus, Hugo. Opusculum de multiplici ludo : manuscript, [between 1475 and 1500]. MS Lat 194. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass." The considered short passage seems to be not changed.

The relevant passage is rather short in consideration of the length of the full text (34 folios). Card Playing is treated very short, also Chess isn't considered very much.
From the current situation in 1455 (Trionfi cards and other occupations were attacked in 1455 in Padova, at the same San Capistran had bonfires with thousands of playing cards and game boards in German cities) it might be considered, that Ferrara and duke Borso were possibly interested to defend the freedom of gaming on the rule, that games of luck should be forbidden, but games with skill should be allowed (and "Trionfi" was considered as a game of skill). Ugo Trotti was a jurist and the whole text has juristic components. Siomilar juristic evaluations (games of luck forbidden, games of skill allowed) were already known from 14th century and the court of emperor Charles IV.
From the recent observations on the silk dealer aquire list by Franco Pratesi, it can be suspected, that Trionfi card sales seem to have dropped down from an early height in the years 1452 - 1454 to a break in the time of spring 1455. Just in spring 1455 the openminded and progressive Pope Nicolas V. had died, and a conservative Spanish Pope Callixtus III had followed, and this change might have influenced the prohibition questions for playing cards. The whole text has comlex translation difficulties by the use of many abbreviations. In the mentioned web discussion Marco Ponzi contributed with the following:

Here is a tentative transcription: X=a word I cannot read, (?) a word on which I have strong doubts.
The part in bold is based on

Ex hiis infertur quid de ludo cartarum qui hodie multum
frequentatur, qui tamen multiplex est
et quandoque plus habet industrie quam fortune. Veluti si quat-
tuor bipertiti ludunt ad triumphos. Interdum eorum plus habet
fortune quam industrie, ut si in 3a vel in 4a vel falcinel-
lis ludatur.
X indubitatus teneas idem esse iudican-
dum de hoc ludo quod de alea quem in eo fortuna X
& hoc X in pecunia ludatur hoc conprobat
de X senatus & de X aleat (?) usus ut ceteri (?) X ludus
approbantur inter quos non est iste. & X firmare mo-
dernos in X X alia (?). An X iste ludus & precedentes ali-
quo X possint esse liciti dicetur X cur de repetitione agetur.

This is a VERY UNRELIABLE translation. I am sure it must contain some big careful :)

"From those [other games?] the game of cards, that today has many followers, stands out, because it is varied and it depends more on skill than on luck, in the case in which four people divided in two couples play a game of triumphs. If the third, the fourth, or falcinello are played, it must be judged in the same way as a dice game, because it depends more on fortune than on skill. This is supported by the fact that such games are played for money. Such games are not included in those approved by the Senate. Some of the moderns affirm that these games might be considered as licit because they are based on repetition."

I think that the third ("terza"), the fourth ("quarta") and Falcinello are different card games.

About the text in the lower part of the same page, I can make out the sentence "divinat par vel impar" i.e. "he guesses even or odd".

PS: I made out something more: Ludi conditio est ut unus in cumulo vel pugno geluso reponat denarios vel aliud numerabile & alter X divinat par vel impar

"The nature of the game is that one hides in a pile (?) or in his closed (?) fist some coins or other numerable objects and the another [player] guesses if they are even or odd."

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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Trionfi Card Persons 1440-1462

Commissioners (Trionfi cards)
Ferrara: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards)

Ferrara: Traders

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards and mostly also playing cards)

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (normal Playing Cards)

Florence: Trade with Trionfi and Playing Cards

Users of Playing Cards

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