Undervalued Minchiate

2013, though still unfinished, had been a great year for Minchiate, thanks to the big attention, that Franco Pratesi had given to it.
Well, the whole played mostly in a time (17th-19th century), which isn't our usual focus here. So I actually found no big reflection in the Forum on the many articles, that Franco has published.

Likely a good part of them stayed simply "unread".

Just a few facts:

1423: The first known appearance of Imperatori cards in Italy. A Florentine Imperatori game is imported to Ferrara.

1440: The first known Trionfi deck note declares, that Malatesta got a Florentine Trionfi deck.

1440-1465: Most of the known early Trionfi deck notes are now related to Florence, quite in contrast to the earlier research situation, when Dummett and other searched the origin of the Trionfi decks in Milan, Ferrara and Bologna, but not in Florence.

1466: First known appearance of the game name Minchiate in Florence, followed by 2 other Minchiate notes 1470/71 and 1477.

1466-1500: A good other part of Trionfi notes, much more than the 3 Minchiate notes mentioned above. But have we a guarantee, that no games, that we would address as a Minchiate form, occasionally were ALSO addressed as "Trionfi" or "Triunfi deck? So, that our statistical approach is in natural error about the real conditions of the time?

1466-1500: Lots of surviving playing cards, which look like Tarot cards (but are Trionfi), a single "Ship" in gilded manner, which gives evidence, that Minchiate existed.
But what, if Minchiate had a focus on the cheap market, for which we have not so many surviving examples?
Very noble cards have a lot of examples, just by the love of early collectors.

1494-1512: The Medici are driven out of Florence, and Savonarola clearly and the following Florentine society possibly had had a position against playing cards.

1505 - c. 1575: In absence of a dominating Florentine production we perceive in Ferrara the birth of "Tarocchi" as a new playing card expression (1505). Ferrara seems to gain a dominating position in Tarocchi production during 16th century, with a possible break down cause of the long enduring earthquakes in the early 1570s. The "earthquakes change" falls together with an increased interest in Tarot in France in the reign of Henry III. (1574-1789), third reigning son of Katherina de Medici. About 20 years later the state of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio lost the Ferrarese part and dropped to much less importance.

1512-1534: The Medici come back to Florence in triumph.
Wiki: "The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church—Pope Leo X (1513–1521), Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), Pope Pius IV (1559–1565), and Pope Leo XI (1605);[1] two regent queens of France—Catherine de' Medici (1547–1559) and Marie de' Medici (1600–1610); and, in 1531, the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion."
The dominant persons in 1513 are pope Leo X. earlier Giovanni di Medici (son of Lorenzo di Medici, who was attacked in 1478)) and his cousin, later pope Clemens VII and before Giulio di Medici (son of Giuliano di Medici, who was killed in 1478).
During the year 1513 one detects some public attention on the natural "twin constellation" of Leo-Giovanni and Giulio, his cousin. I've the suspicion, that this "twin attention" caused the new game name "Germini" (from "Gemini", the highest numbered trump in the game).

1517 + 1519: The first 2 notes of Germini (new expression for "Minchiate") in direct context with the Medici family.

16th century: The appearances of the names Minchiate and Germini stay rare during 16th century in comparison with Tarocchi, which is more often noted (possibly this is partly the result of the condition, that in the world of Tarot history research words similar to Tarot got much more attention then words with Minchiate or Germini).
Generally one has to see, that the political map of Italy in Italy changed to a simpler structure. Milan's importance dropped in 1500, in 1515 and finally in 1535, lost the Sforza rule and became Spanish. Naples became also Spanish territory long before in 1504. Bologna in 1506 and 1512 became part of the papal state. Ferrara (already mentioned) also lost influence during the long run of 16th century. Winner in the map development became Florence/Toscana (which got Siena in 1555), the Chiesa and Spain, Venice stayed more or less solid. So 3 Tarocchi producing "nations" either disappeared or had losses. The Minchiate state Toscana did win.
Mantova possibly gained some of the "Tarocchi importance", especially by its French branch (Lodovico Gonzaga and his descend), some international importance is given by marriages to the house of Habsburg. The Farnese states Parma/Piacenza might have played an influential role, as they possibly had some influence on Ronciglione, which seems to have had a dominant playing card production in the papal states. The Farnese lost this region in 1649. Ronciglione, as far the few documents can tell it, also produced Minchiate, and possibly more Minchiate than Tarocchi.

Franco Pratesi had (in the discussion) taken the position, that there weren't any Tarocchi in Toscana at all during 16th century. After some internal discussion and some research on his side he reduced this sharp position a little bit. He found official documents for 1606 ...
1606 - In Orto di Santa Maria Nuova

.... Only three games were allowed there.
A game that one could easily expect to find, in the open air, is the game of Pallottole. That name is now mostly used with the meaning of bullets, but here the meaning is that of small balls: the game was thus Bocce, one of the several bowl games with a long history.
I am actually much more interested in the two remaining games, both played with cards. It may appear as an extraordinary situation to find two thirds of the games based on playing cards, without even a board game mentioned. Fact is however that these were not common cards, clearly not the cards with which Primiera or similar games were played; and only two packs were available for each game.
The first kind of special cards allowed is fully expected, Germini. It would have been strange if this traditional game were not present among the allowed ones. Somewhat unexpected, to me at least, is the second game allowed by then in Florence, Tarocchi. This is one of the very infrequent cases, or may be the unique one, in which I am finding Tarocchi recorded as used in Florence.


The 1606 date for using Tarocchi in Florence is both early and late. Early, because the spread of that game – or, at least, of that name for the game – was rather recent; late, because in the lists of local playing cards I could not find Tarocchi produced in Florence later on. Alongside of ordinary Piccole and Grandi cards, I could only find Minchiate listed.
Of course, I am familiar with the suggestions that Tarocchi were used in Florence before the local introduction of the new Germini-or-Minchiate special Florentine game, but historical evidence for that is little known, if not unknown at all.
In the second half of the 1630s it's definitely true: there is no production of Tarocchi in Toscana. And this seems to be more or less true till 1861, which is a sort of finish for Minchiate in Toscana, together with the Garibaldi activities.

The question is: When did it start, that Tarocchi had much less attention than Minchiate (at least in Toscana)? Does this reach till 15th century? Or had it appeared during a quick period short before the 1630s?

We have a specific political development in this time, not in Florence, but in France. In 1615 Tarot is attested as very popular. But in 1617 the young king Louis XIII is frustrated about Italian influence at the court, for him presented by his mother Maria de Medici, a Florentine daughter, which became Queen of France in 1600.

Wiki has the story in this way:
During her husband's lifetime Marie showed little sign of political acumen, and her abilities scarcely improved after she assumed the regency. Extremely stubborn and of limited intelligence, she was soon entirely under the influence of her maid Leonora "Galigai" Dori. Dori conspired with her unscrupulous Italian husband, Concino Concini, who was created Marquis d'Ancre and a Marshal of France, even though he had never fought a battle.

The Concinis had Henry IV's able minister, the Duke of Sully, dismissed, and Italian representatives of the Roman Catholic Church hoped to force the suppression of Protestantism in France by means of their influence. Half Habsburg herself, Marie abandoned the traditional anti-Habsburg French foreign policy. She lent support to Habsburg Spain by arranging the marriage of her daughter Elisabeth to the future Philip IV of Spain.

Under the regent's lax and capricious rule, the princes of the blood and the great nobles of the kingdom revolted. The queen, too weak to assert her authority, consented to buy them off on 15 May 1614. The opposition to the regency was led by Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, who pressured Marie into convoking the Estates General in 1614 and 1615, the last time they would meet in France until the opening events of the French Revolution.

In 1616 Marie's rule was strengthened by the addition to her councils of Armand Jean du Plessis (later Cardinal Richelieu), who had come to prominence at the meetings of the Estates General. However, her son Louis XIII, already several years into his legal majority, asserted his authority the next year. The king overturned the pro-Habsburg, pro-Spanish foreign policy pursued by his mother, ordered the assassination of Concini, exiled the queen to the Château de Blois and appointed Richelieu to his bishopric.

After two years of virtual imprisonment "in the wilderness", as she put it, Marie escaped from Blois in the night of 21/22 February 1619 and became the figurehead of a new aristocratic revolt headed by Louis's brother Gaston d'Orléans, which Louis's forces easily dispersed. Through the mediation of Richelieu the king was reconciled with his mother, who was allowed to hold a small court at Angers. She resumed her place in the royal council in 1621.
Coronation of Marie de' Medici in St. Denis (detail), by Peter Paul Rubens, 1622–1625.

The portrait by Rubens (above right) was painted at this time. Marie rebuilt the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg) in Paris, with an extravagantly flattering cycle of paintings by Rubens as part of the luxurious decor, called The Marie de' Medici Cycle (detail from one painting on left).

After the death of his favourite, the duke of Luynes, Louis turned increasingly for guidance to Richelieu. Marie de' Medici's attempts to displace Richelieu ultimately led to her attempted coup; for a single day, the "Day of the Dupes", in November 1630, she seemed to have succeeded; but the triumph of Richelieu was followed by her exile to Compiègne in 1630, from where she escaped to Brussels in 1631 and Amsterdam in 1638.
Concini was killed by assassination, ...
... his wife was accused as a witch and lost her head.

Both were from Florence.
Likely the relations between Florence and French court had been rather well before 1617 (actually one should assume, that "Tarot in France" had as its base the condition, that two Italian princesses married to the French crown) and the crisis of 1617-21, which then was followed by an even deeper cut 10 years later, was likely a big disappointment. From other documents we see, that the acceptance of Tarot in France went down (it's not so clear, when this happened precisely; Marolles in 1637/57 spoke of the condition, that Tarot was played ver muc ... in earlier times - his father loved t play it, who was dead in the 1630s). "1617" would be a plausible date, but also "around 1630".
The political change might have had side affects on Florentine playing card behavior.

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