René d'Anjou (1408- 1480)

René d'Anjou is a funny, colorful figure in the time of the Trionfi cards. It seems, that he got mainly his Italian glamour from being a French prince in Italy, and that he got his French glamour from having been a French prince in Italy. His actual successes were mostly losses and titles, which were only titles.

Rene is said to have accompanied (perhaps) Jeanne d'Arc, a story, which is in (great) doubt. Actually he started with loosing a fight and his freedom, having time enough to learn a little bit of book-painting. Renes first wife Isabelle de Lorraine (ca. 1405 - 1453) was active in Italy to claim her husbands rights in Naples in 1435 after the death of Giovanna II., when Rene still was in prison. Rene arrived in 1438, lived in the splendour of the French prince, but stayed successless against Alfonso d'Aragon. He became then friend to Cosimo de Medici and Francesco Sforza. It is said, that he induced Cosimo de Medici to build the first public library in 1444 at San Marco in Florence (Cosimo had reasons enough to do so by his own interests).

After returning back to France the court of Isabelle and Rene in Chateau d'Angers presented some (Italian) elegance and romantic - the French king Charles VII. found Agnes Sorel at this place, by the people called later beaute du diable. Rene wrote books about knight's tournaments and later - 1448 - he founded a knights order, the Order of the Crescent. He himself became enlistened as Nr. 2. The methode already was successfully tried out by Phillipp of Burgund in 1430, it was a natural measurement to bind other persons to his own interests. Other members had been Francesco Sforza and Jacopo Antonio Marcello, as numbers 17 and 18 (probably added around 1452). Rene's funny action might be of more importance, as it looks to our eyes. The French had two successful battles in 1450 and 1453, which more or less ended the English problem in France - perhaps this is to a smaller or greater part also Rene's success, who evoked the spirit of the knights to fight for their country with just such romantic gestures, "an order for the knights", "tournaments", "rules for tournaments", "book-paintings" etc.. Rene took active part in the fights, but missed the final fight cause he was mourning cause the death of his wife. Louis IX. some years later was able to create something like French nationalism, perhaps it is Rene's merit, that he prepared this development.

In 1444 Rene's daughter had been married to the English king to establish some peace, however, the fights revived in 1447 and lasted till July 1453 with the deciding battle of Castillon, which left England with nothing more but Calais on the continent. The English king - son-in-law to Rene d'Anjou - lost his throne cause of mental weakness in 1461 and was killed after a short reoccupation in 1471 together with his son, bringing the house of Lancaster to a final end, the role of his wife wife Margarethe (Rene's daughter) is controversely discussed.

Isabella, Rene's first wife, died in the same year of the French final victory, and we find Rene in the late year 1453 at a new Italian adventure, in which the allied Sforza troops were astonished about the brutal French ways of "having war". The peace of Lodi was near and Rene disappeared very quickly from Italy, retiring to a new love and romantic dreams about chivalry (book-painting has to thank him for that), still loved and admired - for instance from Marcello.

He was called King of Naples, King of both Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Aragon and of Valencia, of Corsica and Mallorca, also duke of Anjou, of Lothringia and of Bar, count of Provence, of Barcelona, of Forcalquier, of Piemont, of Guise and had some more titles. King of Jerusalem, is called an esoteric grandmaster in the Rennes-de-Chateaux papers, is part of "Esoteric History". He was especially interested in festivities, he wrote a book about knight tournaments.

Marcello was a friend to Rene d'Anjou and Francesco Sforza, a letter in spring 1449 from Francesco Sforza had opened the contact between Marcello and Rene. The Venezian republic used these friendships for their diplomatic interests, which were to use Rene's influence on French decisions to put Milan or Naples under militaric pressure and on Francesco Sforza's part to win informations about his plans and further militaric actions. We see many presents wander via Marcello to Rene d'Anjou, the Michelino deck is only one item between others. Surely this were not private gifts from Marcello, but helped his diplomatic interests - and probably was paid by Venezia.

Lorraine - Isabella's home-country - with its capital Nancy is located rather near to the Oberrhein, a center of German playing card production; the distance between Nancy - Strasbourg is about 80 km; Lorraine belongs at that time to the Holy Roman Empire, not to France ( map ). However, it seems, that Isabella was at the time of the Marcello letter not in her home region, some years later she died (1453).

1496: Rene II, a later duke of Lorraine, played with "triumphe" cards according to his account book from 1495/96. "Au Roy, le 29 avril pour jouer audit triumphe a Vezelise deux francs. Encore audit seigneur roy le 1 Mai pour jouer audit triumphe a Vezelise deux florins d'or."
Perhaps this is a rather late reflection to the letter of Marcello of 1449.

Our articles:

Rene appears in the Michelino deck article

Rene's Library

Literary Relationship between Rene and Marcello

Foreign articles:

- King Rene (very nice site) with biographical data and works
- short biography (in French) together with other biographies
- alternative biography

Chateau d'Angers, long time living place of Rene d'Anjou

- Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem
- Dagobert's Revenge - about Holy Grail and Rennes-de-Chateaux
- Rennes-des-Chateaux papers from Paul Smith - background information
- Alpheus, Esoteric history

- Joan of arc archive (very nice site) with extensive biographical data, which doesn't care too much about Rene d'Anjou
- Siege of Orleans
- about the public library in San Marco sponsored by Cosimo
- map of France in 1453

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- related to the Michelino Deck

1424/1425 - Michelino Deck 1447 / ca. 1470 - Decembrio Manuscript 1449 - Marcello's letter Great Condottieri (1424) Great Foes (1424) Filippo Maria's wifes The French Side, the great Context