Originally Posted by Annush
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.