I noticed something odd when looking at the Rosenwald sheet – the otherwise standard Angel/Judgement has what appears to be an abbreviated Visconti-Sforza impresa on the face of what should be a sepulcher from which the dead are rising – the "capitergium." This version of the capitergium especially matches the version captured as part of the spoils by the Swiss in their 1478 victory over Gian Galeazzo Sforza’s 6,000 troops by 500 Swiss at the Battle of Giornico to shut off the Gotthard pass; this particular capitergium is now in Lucene’s history museum. Filippo, by contrast, usually showed a dove within the knotted cloth, but here the same cartoonish face surrounded by the same Sforza nebuly pattern shown on both:
What does this mean if anything? If already explained away, I’m all ears.
I’m not sure of what arguments have been made for the Rosenwald sheet as somehow attesting to the Papi, but the odd details on the pope there can be related to the capitergium on the Judgement trump, where the two longing flowing ends or “nocks” have been cut off – likewise the pope does not have these, usually part of his vestments and papal crown. Capitergium is supposedly derived from "caput tergere", perhaps originally indicating a band used to protect the face from sweat. In Milan it is commonly called "gassa". It is the serto or infula of the ancient rulers; conferred in royal and episcopal investitures, it is a confirmation of sovereign powers, their priestly status and their universality. In the case of Giangaleazzo’s coronation, the imperial lieutenant placed the cloak and ducal cap as well as a capitergium sprinkled with gems worth 200,000 gold florins. I’ve also seen the term “diviax imperatoris” associated with the Milan version, but I’ve no good primary sources for any of this (just online Sforza stemmi articles).
As for the pope – why is he not wearing the papal version of the capitergium? Like on a bishop's mitre, these are lappets (in Latin are called caudae or infulae), when on a papal tiara the two lappets are attached to the back, a pair of streamers attached at the rear of the tiara. Compare a later tarot pope with the lappets versus the Rosenwald "Papi", the pope being the first in the papi sequence:
Moreover, the Pope seemingly holds no attributes, just folded hands (not clear, it is badly printed or somewhat abraded off here) – instead the long-haired “Popess” unusually holds the Keys of St. Peters along with her normal attribute of the book.
The date of the sheet is unknown – anywhere from the late 15th to early 16th century. Is there a historical incident that would explain a reference to both the Sforza impresa and the pope in a less than positive light within that time period?
Why was the Sforza shield brought into battle at all events? Was it associated with divine power being present, like the French oriflamme (a red banner carried into battle in which no quarter was supposed to be given)? The blessing of the oriflamme at King Charles V of Frances investiture, showing such symbols meant a great deal to the French monarchy:
It must have meant something to whomever designed this card to place it on the grave in the Judgement card. The question is whether Sforza is being judged.
Interestingly, early on in the Italian Wars there are a series of battles between the French and Maximilian/Massimiliano Sforza, Duke of Milan from 1512–1515 between the occupations of Louis XII of France (1500–1512), and Francis I of France in 1515. The Papal role of providing the Swiss mercenaries that retook Milan is made clear by this heraldic engraving made for Pope Julius II (d. 1513) in 1511, showing standard bearers with the blessed rapier, and papal cap called the berrettone (with Holy Ghost dove embroidered onto it), that were papal gifts to the Swiss Confederation in that year. Following the French removal from Milan, Swiss mercenaries installed Maximilian Sforza as Duke of Milan on 29 December 1512 (and then sold him out in 1515).
(from: http://www.armigeridelpiave.it/SELEZIONI/Stocco.pdf )
After the French victory at the Battle of Marignano, Maximilian was imprisoned by the returning French troops. Maximilian was Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s imperial puppet, with his main power being the Swiss along with allied Papal contingents. So if a Milanese or Swiss production it would seem to celebrate securing Milan against the French, but that begs the question as to why the Pope is not shown in all his papal regalia with complete tiara. If a French production, the pope might be seen as inferior in light of lost papal prerogatives, France always considering herself the most religious of all European countries (see Pizan's ravings on this point, for instance) and especially embodied in 'Our Lady' - Notre Dame (lending itself to Ecclesia) The religious ramifications of the early Italian Wars in this period might explain all of this:
The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, issued by King Charles VII of France, on 7 July 1438, required a General Church Council, with authority superior to that of the papacy, to be held every ten years, required election rather than appointment to ecclesiastical offices, prohibited the pope from bestowing and profiting from benefices, and forbade appeals to the Roman Curia from places further than two days' journey from Rome. The Pragmatic Sanction further stipulated that interdict could not be placed on cities unless the entire community was culpable. The king accepted many of the decrees of the Council of Basel without endorsing its efforts to coerce Pope Eugene IV.
The Gallican church, in the eyes of some, declared administrative independence from the church in Rome, suppressed the payment of annates to Rome and forbade papal intervention in the appointment of French prelates. While this resulted in a loss of papal power in France, the movement of conciliarists itself was divided. In 1449, the Council of Basel was dissolved, and the Concilliar Movement suffered a nearly fatal blow.
The popes, especially Pius II, lobbied for the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction, and the French crown used promises of repeal as an inducement to the papacy to embrace policies favoring its interests, especially its military campaigns in the Italian peninsula. The Pragmatic Sanction was eventually superseded by agreements made between the French crown and Rome, especially the 1516 Concordat of Bologna.
In 1515, Francis met with Pope Leo X in Bologna. This Concordat resulted in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges being repealed, and Francis gained the power to select French bishops.
If the Sforzan capitergium was carried into battle – and it quite obviously was in some capacity in 1478 – its truncated appearance on the Judgement card following the ouster of the Sforza from Milan in 1515 must mean “you’ve been judged”, negatively of course. The transference of the papal keys to the Ecclesia figure in celebration of the French king's confirmed right to appoint French prelates, and the judgement of the defeated Maximilian the triumph being what was primarily celebrated.