British Museum: decks of Bologna
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likely the oldest extant cards from Bologna
A "Prince Fibbia" (died 1419) is declared as inventor of the Tarocchino Bologna ... on a late picture.
This was considered as not reliable for various reasons.
A "Marchione Burdochio da Bologna, merzaro", a merchant of Bologna sells relative cheap Trionfi decks to the servant of 2 sons of Niccolo d'Este, till 1441 Signore of Ferrara. This was a long time the 2nd oldest Trionfi card note (now 3rd oldest Trionfi card note), and a reason to reflect a possible origin of the Trionfi cards in Bologna. Nowadays most researchers estimate, that the origin of the earliest Trionfi cards happened in Florence.
Confirming documents from an early Bolognese Trionfi card production are rare. A theft in Bologna 1459 and a card production contract from 1477 are the oldest known documents. The card production contract gives the information, that the intended production of Trionfi cards took 5/4 of the costs of a normal deck leading to the assumption, that Trionfi cards contained 5/4 cards of that for a normal deck. If the normal deck had 56 cards as in the later Tarot and also in earlier Trionfi decks, then the number of trump cards should have been 14 and the number of cards for a complete Trionfi deck 5x14=70.
(research Franco Pratesi)
Bologna lived a long time under the rule of the Bentivoglio, a noble family as the d'Este in Ferrara. In 1506 Pope Julius attacked Bologna and conquered it. The Liga of Cambrai (1508) saw an alliance of various European powers against Venice, between Pope Julius and France. Pope Julius changed sides and took the side of Venice against France. a French army liberated Bologna for a short time. In this period Julius became seriously ill and it was considered, that he would die soon. Emperor Maximilian followed the idea, that he might become Pope himself for a short time. But Julius recovered and the French armies were driven out of Italy (August 1512). Bologna became united with the Chiesa (state of the church) a long time, and - likely cause of this condition - Bologna became rather traditional with its Trionfi motifs.
I tell the story cause of a specific card in the oldest Bolognese Tarocchi:
One can recognize 3 persons, from which one is associated to an emperor symbol (the apple with cross), and another something, which looks like a papal crown. A third person looks, as if it carries a Phrygian cap, something, which was used once to design 3 holy mages. The card is associated to the STAR and this might be associated to the star of Bethlehem (and the story of the 3 mages). Bologna has in one of its biggest churches (San Petronio) a chapel for the 3 mages since c. 1410 and it is plausible one of the earliest clear signs, that the more Northern 3 mages cult expanded to Italy. From other researches it seems plausible, that the 3 mages cult had some influence on the development on the Trionfi cards.
From the chosen motif it looks, as if these oldest extant Bolognese cards were produced 1511-12 in the short period, when Bologna enjoyed some freedom.
The Chariot card has something, which looks like a French Lille, perhaps thanks to the victorious French army.
The earlier d'Este card of the star had two astronomers (not 3 persons like the early star card of Bologna) ...
... and in the later Bolognese Tarocco tradition (under control of the Chiesa) a pope seems to crown the emperor ...
... which indeed happened for the last time in the year 1530, just in Bologna (Charles V was crowned then).
The Lille design at the chariot also disappeared.
So there seem to be reasons to date this oldest deck fragment from Bologna to 1511-12.