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Was Queen Joan of Naples the Papesse?

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russell  russell is offline
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Question Was Queen Joan of Naples the Papesse?


Hello, and thank you for this community. Have been studying the Tarot for awhile now, after having been reluctant for a long time. Modern historical research has gotten me interested, like it did with the I Ching. I was studying the popes that led up to the time of the origin of the Tarot, and have come up with some ideas; just wondering what people think. Could Joan I of Naples have been the Papesse? She controversially supported the first antipope, Clement VII, who started the western schism and moved the papacy back to Avignon in 1378. Pope Urban declared her a heretic, St. Catherine of Siena accused her of being a servant of the devil, and she was proabably assassinated in 1382. Her name was Joan, like the original legendary female Pope. To top it all off, she had sold Avignon to Pope Clement VI, one of the original Avignon popes, in 1348. She seems a possible candidate for a female “pope” in the popular imagination of the time, especially as she was a very public figure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_I_of_Naples

Here is a link that comes right out and proposes Avignon as the origin of the Tarot: http://www.historyoftarotsandtheirorigin.com/ by Jean Verame.

—Russell
http://www.russellcottrell.com/TarotOfIdeals/
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Hi Russel, great theory! I don't have any references to back this up at the moment, but a bunch of modern scholars and writers have said that the Papesse isn't supposed to represent an actual person, rather symbolize the Holy Roman Church conceptually. Women in renaissance and medieval art were often allegories or metaphors. Are you familiar with this interpretation? Thoughts?
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russell  russell is offline
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Yes, it is in the Encyclopedia of Tarot, and Huson and Place both refer to it. What weighs against it to me is that Pope and Papesse are specifically a matched pair, like the Emperor and Empress, and the Kings and Queens. If the card existed in isolation, and was called the Papacy rather than the Papesse, the allegorical interpretation would make more sense.

The Visconti family had their own personal Papesse, Sister Manfreda; but I can’t believe that those expensive “designer” cards were the original cards, any more than a pair of fancy designer jeans in a rich person’s collection are the original jeans. Joan of Naples was more of a public figure, a patroness of sorts for the city of Avignon, and the supporter of the first antipope. Someone who may have been nicknamed “the Papesse” in private conversation. At this point it’s all speculation . . . .
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Russel, I had no idea that personal papesses were a thing! That is absolutely amazing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russell View Post
Yes, it is in the Encyclopedia of Tarot, and Huson and Place both refer to it. What weighs against it to me is that Pope and Papesse are specifically a matched pair, like the Emperor and Empress, and the Kings and Queens. If the card existed in isolation, and was called the Papacy rather than the Papesse, the allegorical interpretation would make more sense.

The Visconti family had their own personal Papesse, Sister Manfreda; but I can’t believe that those expensive “designer” cards were the original cards, any more than a pair of fancy designer jeans in a rich person’s collection are the original jeans. Joan of Naples was more of a public figure, a patroness of sorts for the city of Avignon, and the supporter of the first antipope. Someone who may have been nicknamed “the Papesse” in private conversation. At this point it’s all speculation . . . .
I can see an allegorical Papesse/church being a good pair for the Pope. Married to the church...
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I always thought it was Pope Joan, an apparently allegorical or mythical person. Although I can see how Queen Joan and Pope Joan may have become one, in a sense. They are likely stories referring to the same person.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Joan
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Wow, that is very interesting.

I do know that Pope John VIII has been pinpointed as the Popess Joan in stories. Despite his competent decade-long tenure, he was said to have been weak and effeminate, although other reports say that the scurrilous popess tag were not at all made by his contemporaries.

Though that legend is now discredited, it nevertheless gave rise to various colorful stories. One of them states that when the popess died while riding a horse in a procession, it was caused by a miscarriage. Also, it has been said (again apocryphally) that any victorious pope in a conclave has to sit sans underwear on a sedes stercoraria, a chair with a hole through which a cardinal is supposed to feel if the pope-in-waiting indeed has the balls for the position, literally.
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