Valentina Visconti († 1393) ⚭ 1378 Peter II., König von Zypern († 1382)
Valentina Visconti married Peter II in 1378, one year, after the text of John of Rheinfelden was written. And Bernarbo had many daughters, which were given in all directions, Valentina was likely not of very big importance.
Alexandria was taken at 9th of October 1365, a massaker was done and a lot of prisoners were taken. 3 days later a Mamluk army approached the city and the crusaders escaped with their ships, prisoners and some booty. I can't imagine, that the value of the Mamluk playing cards was detected in such a short time (3 days full of massakers, prisoner taking etc) , especially as there were a lot of other items, which were also of interest.
If playing cards were hand-painted with lapis lazuli and gilt they would have been quickly deemed as valuable, and again, were easily transportable. Alexandria was the richest Mamluk city and its palaces were ransacked - no question that expensive playing decks for elites would have been available as loot. Again, what else explains the simultaneous record of playing cards in Florence, Siena, Basel/Freiburg in 1377, and even in Catalonia in 1380 (Trevor Denning, The Playing-cards of Spain: A Guide for Historians and Collectors
, 2003: 15-17) - the 1365 looting of multiple Alexandrian decks by knights from all over Europe allows for their widespread reproduction over the next dozen years to the point that they then get regulated or discussed in a treatise. And again, the fact that they were via a crusade would have given the Mamluk decks a special fetishistic value - Pierre I of Lusignan's deeds were lauded in poetry by France's top court poets (anything connected to Pierre, and in turn, his loot from Alexandria, would have been a prized possession).
A lot of data flying around here, so to clarify these two points:
* Early Luxury decks: We have no criteria of what constitutes one other than price (which we seldom have early) and few details on what the early decks were made of so I don't think we can answer this definitively. My primary interest is this question: what would Marziano have been exposed to
? I think a deck with some form of lapis lazuli pigment as described in the Gonzaga document - a precious material carefully meted out to artists - suggests "luxury", but by the same token, was this just for the replication of a Mamluk deck such as that one held in the Topkapi museum? My main point is there is no definitive description of a luxury deck before 1412, the date Ross is proposing for Marziano's deck. It is also worth noting decks described by a French courtier in 1408 as "Saracen" (obviously Mamluk) were still in circulation as of that date (per the Duchess of Orleans' inventory at her death at the bequest of her son, so this important act of accounting of his inheritance was presumably done by someone in his entourage).
* Valentina Visconti of Cyprus interests me for explaining where the later Valentina, Duchess of Orleans, acquired a Mamluk deck. I'm not using the Cypriot Valentina as an explanation of card playing diffusion in general, which I already linked to the international nature of Pierre I's crusade, but rather how the Visconti were more than likely to have acquired original Mamluk decks at a still very early date
. Wiki on Valentina of Cyprus is absolute junk - use this link instead, that quotes primary documents: http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/MILAN.htm#_ftn237
Finally, I am curious of your opinion of this point that you did not address:
What is truly novel is Marziano's designating all suits as birds....and with that there is the possibility of German influence. The first appearance of that novelty, it has been speculated, was sparked by the translation into German of Albertus Magnus' De animalibus, a Latin treatise on hunting, for Elector of the Palatine Ludwig III in 1404: "Perhaps it was during this period, when hunting became an obsession with the nobility of Swabia and southwestern Germany, that suit symbols related to the hunt were introduced" (Timothy B. Husband, The World in Play - Luxury Cards, 1430-1540, 2016: 16).
1404 to 1412 allows 8 years for German luxury hunting deck production and for one of them to make its way to Milan. Marziano uniquely makes all the suits birds, but a hunting deck surely planted the idea. There are no birds in Mamluk decks. Your thoughts?