Konrad Bollstatter, died 1482/83


I've some problems with Konrad Bollstatter


who according this link compiled in ca. 25 years a sort of Losbuch.

Inside the system is something like "16 kings" ... as far I remember, it's said, that in the book of Lorenzo Spirito, Perugia 1482 (possibly created earlier already) the idea of "kings" is also used.



"1482: Lorenzo Spirito published Delle sorti or Libro di ventura in 1482. “There are 20 questions, grouped around a wheel of fortune on which are represented four men; to each man a reference is added to a list of kings… These 20 kings in their turn guide the enquired to 20 planets; the table of dice casts attached to these planest contain 56 references to the 20 spheres of the planets. After one has found their way through these stages, they finally reach 20 prophets who each have 56 three-line answers to give….” (Braekman, 10.) Thierry Depaulis notes that this book “was a best-seller around 1500-50.”
--- ... see "20 kings"
from Michael Hurst Fragments of Tarot,

As far I get it, Bollstatter's book was not printed in early time, but printed was another Losbuch by a Martin Flach ca. 1485 in Basel (I don't know, if there is a context).

Konrad Bollstatter used more than one name, which made the research around him troublesome. He's described as a very intellectual writer, who even knew some kaballistic texts. He worked for the count of Oettingen and later from 1466 - 1482 in Augsburg.
It's said, that Bollstatter remarked somewhere, that he was the author of a short poem about the daughters of the devil - which actually might be an ironical statement, in which Bollstatter indicated, that he wrote about dice or cards (?) as instruments for a divination system.

Did Bollstatter got his stuff from Spirito or Spirito his stuff from Bollstatter or did both use independantly another source unknown, which also had the idea of "kings"?


... :) seems I've to answer my problems alone.

But Bollstatter wins against Lorenzo Spirito.

Between 1450 and 1473 (1482) he compiled about 15 sources to divination systems together in one manuscript (13 written by his own hand, one by a foreign and one is last one page addition possibly added after his death).
Two of the systems look very similar to that what Spirito finally made of it (1482).
Just only knowing the description of the text (which is said to have 177 Folios with contents at ca. 154), it stays unclear if Bollstatter just collected the systems of different sources or if he was the author (possibly also the painter in many cases) and inventer himself.

The first of his texts (written 1450) contains the following:

"Exsplicit sortilogium per me Conradum Mulitorem (= pseudonym of Bollstatter) de Otingen tempore isto erat in cantzelleria Udalrici comitis de Otingen in vigilia Symonis et Jude apostolarum (= 27th of October, anno domini millesimo CCCC(mo) L(mo) (=1450) in Castro Paldern (Baldern near Nördlingen, where the game Karnöffel was mentioned first)."

... which sounds so proud a little bit, as if he had invented this one.

It already contains the kings, which we later find by Lorenzo Spirito again (and also in a second of Bollstatters systems). And - especially in the eyes of Tarot friends - it should be most interesting, cause it already contains a specific element, which according to our own evaluations is missing in the early and contemporary Trionfi-Tarot attempts. It is fixed on the number 22.

There are 22 questions, 22 prophets with inscriptions, 22 star pictures and 22 kings and al this seems to have been similar combined as we know it from Lorenzo Spirito.
Bollstatters interest in the number 22 might come from Bollstatters interest for the Hebrew alphabet and some Kabbala (in one of his system he relates to letters of the Hebrew alphabet and in one of his other texts (he did not only write texts of Losbücher, but also many others) he relates to a kabbalistic text of 13th century.

A later system with similar structure works with an unknown number of questions (only unknown to me), 12 circles, 16 kings and 16 groups of 4 elements each (mostly persons, but for instance also winds).
The text is number 11 of the list of 15 and was dated 1459, indicating that 11 of the of texts were collected or written between 1450 and 1459

It seems, that all the manuscript just followed the personal favor and interest of Bollstatter, who worked as a professional writer. Perhaps just a personal notebook, occasionally appear few private additions. It contains many pictures ... one of them was a rare playing card of the master of the playing cards.

le pendu


I'm glad you found something, and thank you for sharing this with us. I've found it very interesting!


Perhaps you are answering your own questions, Huck, but am confident that I speak not just for myself in having the pleasure to read what you have to here offer.

It's not only deeply interesting, but may assist in our own readings to pay more attention to other details we may otherwise read all too lightly!


... hm, just another problem ...

how was it in the Greek or later the Hebrew texts, which were imported and studied with great enthusiasm in early 15th century in Italy and later in Germany, when numbers appeared in this imported texts?
Were they written in Roman numerals I, II, III etc. or already in Arabian 1,2,3 or were they still written in the old Greek manner alpha, beta etc and in the Hebrew manner aleph, beth etc., so that any pupil in these languages had to learn these other quite different techniques?

My consideration is, that anybody, who creates systems like those of Bollstatter must have some mathematical abilities and in a certain way must enjoy the stuff. He did need a reason for the number 22. Hebrew letter-number system?

Surely he didn't choose it, cause the Tarot had 22 special cards. These early Trionfi decks had 14 or 16 trumps likely.

And Bollstatter himself jumped in 1459 from 22 to 16 in his system, adapting a new way with 16 groups with 4 Elements (which sounds like an analyzes of a chessboard or he did knew a specific card game with 4x16-structure, for instance the Cary-Yale, which he imitated). Indeed in Bollstatters 4x16-element he had a centered 5th element, the oracle.

1. 4 Altväter (? not noted in my text Abraham, Jakob, Isaak, Joseph)
2. 4 heidnische Meister (pagan teachers, not noted)
3. 4 Evangelists
4. 4 church teachers (Gregorius, Hieronymus, Augustinus, Ambrosius)
5. 4 hermits (Berchtoldus, Menrachus, Wernherus, Paulus)
6. 4 bishops (Mainz, Passau, Cologne, Trier)
7. 4 weltliche Fürsten (Brandenburg, Brabant, Sachsen, Elsass)
8. 4 counts (Landgraf, Burggraf, Rauchgraf, Count of Oetingen - the last his own master, the others 3 titles)
9. 4 elements
10. 4 knights of the gral (Parzival, Titurel, Wigalois, Lohengrin)
11. 4 knights of the table (Artus, Ruther, Tristan, Lancelot)
12. 4 winds
13. 4 forests (forests of his own region)
14. 4 pagans (Tyttus, Kathon, Darius, Salygon)
15. 4 heroes (Nibelungen-saga (Gunther, Haym, Wyttig, Hagen)
16. 4 Buhler (= Minnesänger: Wolffram von Eschenbach, Moringer, Premberger, Fuß, whereby the last is completely unkwown, only noted by this text ... :) possibly another pseudonym of Bollstatter, as it is the last signing name? ... one should observe the position of Bollstatters master of the time, the count of Oetingen, he finishes the upper half in the 8th group ...
Fuß ... which means "Foot" in English and should express something like "your humble servant is signing here" or similar ... is at the end of the second part in group 16)

All the groups seem to be painted at one page, the 4 figures in the corner and the oracle in the middle.

The researching hand (Karin Schneider) sorted the following outside the above as number 12 and 13 (of the total 15), but it might belong to it.

12: 4 engels around a circle with sentences about Fortuna. At the border sentences against the use of Losbücher. (1 page only, 143r; another part of the collection, number 9, was also a collection against Losbücher)

13. (143v) 4 normal cardinal virtues with verses at banderoles, which relate to the follwing page
(144r) ... a wheel of fortune with animals, at the top is the wolf. One of the earlier texts reads "O richter bis gerecht und geleiche, setz den esel von seinem reiche", which expresses the wish to a revolution of the wheel, in which the reigning ass should loose his crown. Perhaps Bollstatter wished the wolf to reign (Rome ?) and was angry with the emperor (a lot of Germans were not content with Fredrick III. at that time)

In the case you wish to see some of the many pictures, which are promised to be in the manuscript .... me too. But I detected only one in the web:


It shows the 4 Buhlen and according to that it should be 143r, the last page of number 11 of the collection.
There was once, long ago, a Facsimile edition, but I assume that it was not complete, but it presented only parts, 47 Faksimile pages (the original should have more than 300.
"Ein Losbuch Konrad Bollstatters - aus Codex germanicus monacensis 312 der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München
Kommentiert von Karin Schneider
1973. Format 31 x 22 cm. 92 Seiten Text und 47 Seiten Faksimile, davon 17 Seiten farbig
Halbpergament im Schuber. DM 580,– (3-920153-21-9)
Transkription. 1976. 4°. 40 Seiten, DM 36,– (3-920153-64-2)"