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Huck  Huck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annush View Post
Thanks, Huck
That’s wery interesting. What is known about purposes/rules to play in Hofämterspiel ? Are there any assumptions?
The knowledge about card playing rules in 15th century is very thin, very few documents only.

The John of Rheinfelden text is very important as it gives the oldest basic information about existing deck structure in this time (1377). The author lived in Freiburg im Breisgau, that's in the middle between Strasbourg and Basel, both in a distance of c. 80 km. He knew variants of the 52 cards deck (4 suits), he also mentions a deck type with 5 suits and a deck type with 6 suits. The deck type, which he loves most, is a 4x15-deck with 5 courts (king, queen, Ober, Maid and Unter) and 10 number cards in each suit and each of these number cards presents a profession (as in the Hofämterspiel). The 4 suits present 4 old empires, Babylon, Persia, Greece-Macedonia and Rome, so also similar to the theme of the Hofämterspiel (4 kingdoms: France, German Empire, Bohemia and Hungary).

From the Hofämterspiel it's known, that it (very probably) was made for the young Ladislaus posthumus, King of Bohemia, around the year 1455. As otherwise no other decks with professions are known for the early time, and also other similarities exist to the 60-cards-deck of Johannes, one has to suspect, that the 60 cards deck also was made in Bohemia.
For the year 1377 (Johannes) one can safely state, that Bohemia played a great and dominant role, cause the emperor Charles IV reigned then for already 31 years and he had also the title king of Bohemia and Prague was his capital. And Prague (cause of this reason) was a booming town in this century, which doubled its inhabitants and attracted a lo of artists for the numerous building projects. So it's indeed a plausible suspicion to expect, that the 60 cards of Johannes (and possibly also the other card deck types) came all from Bohemia.
Indeed there are older reports about card decks in Bohemia since 1340, however, these reports are not confirmed by contemporary documents of 14th century. For Johannes, who states, that he doesn't know, where the card decks come from, the decks appear suddenly in big numbers (and this demands, that "somewhere" at another place a lot of earlier playing card development must have taken place and that this had escaped the attention of the monk Johannes in Freiburg im Breisgau. The region around Freiburg was dominated by the Habsburger, and the Habsburger had not the best relations to the reigning house of the Luxemburger, perhaps that's the reason, why the cards, which were possibly used in Prague a longer time, weren't known in Freiburg.

Another similarity exists between the Michelino deck (Milan in c. 1418-1425) and the John of Rheinfelden deck. Both have 60 cards, and the Michelino deck has (somehow) also 4x15-structure. The Michelino deck can be regarded as a forerunner to the later Trionfi cards, however, the Michelino used 16 Greek-Roman gods as a hierarchical trump row instead common Tarot motifs and the suits are 4 kinds of birds.
There was an intensive contact between the Milanese court and the Bohemian court around 1395, when Giangaleazzo Visconti bought the duke title of King Wenzel. Filippo Maria Visconti (* 1392), later owner of the Michelino deck, the Cary-Yale Tarocchi and the Brera-Brambilla cards, had playing cards in his youth, as Pier Candid Decembrio reported. Possibly cards in a style, which was used in Bohemia before.

The interesting contribution of the Hofämterspiel is, that it points to the deck of Johannes and to a possibly much earlier card production in Bohemia.
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How/why did mention of playing cards appear in so short a time over such a wide region?

It is sometimes surprising I think, to learn just how much of a network existed in the 14th century.

Courier service from Florence to London overland took between 30 to 50 days (Alpine route), from Barcelona to London an average of 30 days (both via Bruge). A horse and rider could travel an average of 130km per day. There were way stations at what was calculated as day journeys along the routes where rider/horse would change; often via arrangements with Inns with stable facilities, where no doubt a courier could while away some time playing games over a glass of wine or beer! The points of courier triangle = Barcelona, Bruge and Florence. Some of our earliest references to cards, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

Merchant families had import-export houses all over the place. Florence based Datini for example "had import-export houses in Avignon, Genoa, Pisa, Barcelona, Valencia and Majorca." Courier services were also well developed from the needs of import-export merchants and bankers. In 1357 seventeen Florentine Merchant families grouped together to run a courier service, "with weekly couriers services going Florence and Pisa to and from Barcelona,... two routes to and from Bruges via Paris...Milan...Cologne...

"The Luchesse ran a similar service to and from Bruge, the Genoese to and from Bruge, Barcelona and Seville. The Catalans ran couriers from Barcelona to Bruge..Pisa and Florence, whilst the Lombard cities also had a service to Barcelona."

As well as the overland courier routes serving the communication needs of merchants and banks, there were the merchant sea routes, such as the merchant triangle Barcelona - Bruge - Florence (via Pisa).





Kwaw

source for top diagram: Taylor PJ. World City Network, A Global Urban Analysis. London: Routledge, 2004

see also, for example, "Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe" 2002, by Peter Stufford
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Thanks for useful responses, Huck, kwaw.
I’ve read some translated into English fragments of Brother John’s work. And I’d like to read full Tractatus translated, if it was available. I agree that Brother John’s work is an impressive and important text in studying history of playing cards (which as well were early tarots).
Main interest to me on Tractatus is John’s moralizing of cards and its purposes. I think that an unknown inventor(s) of so-called Tarot trumps cycle (which undoubtedly has moral content) possibly had the same/similar purposes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
The deck type, a 4x15-deck with 5 courts (king, queen, Ober, Maid and Unter) and 10 number cards in each suit and each of these number cards presents a profession (as in the Hofämterspiel). The 4 suits present 4 old empires, Babylon, Persia, Greece-Macedonia and Rome, so also similar to the theme of the Hofämterspiel (4 kingdoms: France, German Empire, Bohemia and Hungary).
From the Hofämterspiel it's known, that it (very probably) was made for the young Ladislaus posthumus, King of Bohemia, around the year 1455.
If so it may be assumed that unknown inventor(s) of Hofämterspiel was somehow familiar with Brother John’s Tractatus and inspired of it.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Originally Posted by Annush View Post
If so it may be assumed that unknown inventor(s) of Hofämterspiel was somehow familiar with Brother John’s Tractatus and inspired of it.
Yes, that was, what I said.
There are no other decks with professions known from 14th and 15th century. If the Hofämterspiel was from Bohemia, then the 4x15-deck of Johannes had very good chances to be also from Bohemia. And thanks to the personality of emperor Charles IV the most important politician of the time was also from Bohemia ... and the city of Prague had a golden era. So it's rather logical, that these cards came from Bohemia. And indeed we have reports, that Bohemia had playing cards already in 1340 ... but these are considered by most playing card researchers as not reliable.

http://trionfi.com/0/p/95/
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