Monday, June 30, 2014

Roman Games

Roman Games
by Signora Giata Maddalena Alberti

Rota

Image source.

Rota, means “Wheel” and is the Roman equivalent of Tic-Tac-Toe, though the name they called it has been lost. Like most medieval games, the rules have been reconstructed based on similar games.

Rules of play, as researched by Guillaume de Pyrenees (mka Sam Wallace) in his Synopsis of Morris Games class.

Each player gets 3 game pieces.

Players take turns putting their game pieces on any line in the circle including the middle.

Once they've put all 3 pieces on the board, they can move their pieces from line to line, but only to one that's next to the line that they're on.

The player who gets three in a row  first wins.

The players will need to decide before hand if three in a row around the edge of the circle counts or if the three in the row must cross through the center.

Lucky Sixes

Image source.

Felix Sex is Latin for “Lucky Sixes” and is probably a derivative of the earlier Duodecim Scripta and a precursor to Tabula and, later, Nard. The rules for this game are reconstructed, as there are no surviving references to it other than circumstantial. It was played by the Romans and by the people who remained after the fall of the Western Empire (e.g. in Anglo-Saxon Britain).

Each player starts with 15 pieces o  the board. Three dice are tossed for movement. The pieces move  rst up the center line of letters (or spaces), and then over to the player’s left. Finally they would travel to the opposite side of letters and then off the board.

The object is to get all one’s pieces across the board to the final square. If you landed on a square that had an opponent’s piece already on it, that piece would return to (their) square one. If two or more opponent’s pieces were already on the square, then it could not be occupied. Presumably you would be forced to fall short, or rearrange the moves of your own pieces. Each die is counted separately for movement, and all three must be used if possible.

No pieces may move beyond the first ‘word’ until all pieces had entered the board. Likewise, no pieces could exit the board until all pieces had landed on the last word.

As researched by Guillaume de Pyrenees in his Synopsis of Intro to Medieval Board Games class.

Five in a Row

Image source.

Calculi, or “Five in a Row” is a Roman game played on the same board as Latrunculi. Each player has 33 pieces, in opposite colors.

The traditional rules of Calculi, or "Five in a Row," are as follows:

 1. Black plays first.

 2. First person to line up five stones in a row orthogonally (straight across or straight up and down) or diagonally wins.

 3. It is illegal to make a "double open-ended three" unless one is forced to do so.

 4. If the board becomes filled, the game is a draw.

A double open-ended three, or three in a row simultaneously in two directions, is banned because it is too easy to win, and occurs frequently. This rule makes for a much more interesting game, and leads to the strategy in which one tries to make a double "three and a four," which is like a double open-ended three, except that one line is made of four in a row.


As researched by Wally J. Kowalski from Able One Education Network

[Source: Fleurty Herald]

Gaming and the Italian Salone

Gaming and the Italian Salone

By Signora Giada Maddalena Alberti

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate" ("aut delectare aut prodesse est"). The word salon is the French adaption of the Italian word salone, from sala (a reception room found in the renaissance palazzo).

The salon was an Italian invention of the 1500s. In cinquecento Italy, scintillating circles formed in prominent smaller courts, often galvanized by the presence of a beautiful and educated patroness such as Isabella d'Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga. Italy had an early tradition of the “salone”; the courtesan Tullia d'Aragona held a salon in the 1500s, and Giovanna Dandolo became known as a patron and gatherer of artists as wife of Pasqual Malipiero, the doge in Venice in from 1457 to 1462. These gatherings proved to be the model for later salons in Italy and the salon movement which flourished in France throughout the 1600s and 1700s.

Games Fit For a Medici Princess

Isabella de’ Medici, the daughter of Cosimo de Medici, was a beautiful, intellectual, and accomplished renaissance princess in Florence. Under the protection of her father, Isabella was able to live a life of parties, loves, and intellectual pursuits, while managing to delay her move to her husband's home in Rome for over a decade. She was the hostess of a glittering circle of her Florentine contemporaries.

Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male cohorts, but sought amorous parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband's cousin. It was this affair - and her very success as First Lady of Florence - that led to her death at the hands of her husband at the age of just thirty-four in 1576. She left behind a remarkable story, and as her legacy a son who became the best of the Orsini Dukes, immortalized by Shakespeare as Duke Orsino in "Twelfth Night". It is documented that in her salone, conversations, refreshments, and pastimes could be had for hours that bled into days.

Plausibly, games fashionable in Italy in the 1500s would have been played in a salone like that of Isabella de Medici. Some of the more popular games, some with Italian origins (*) are:

 Sicilian Chess* - Board game, 1557 (CA#71 p7)

 Blind Dice* - Dice game, 1500s (KWHb p145)

 Italian Draughts* - Board game,1500s (Murray 4.3.3, Bell p73)

 Six-Men’s Morris Board game, obsolete by 1600 (Murray 3.3.20, Bell p92)

 Basset - Card game, 1400s (Parlett p8/53/58/ 64/ 77 and CA#71 p15)

 Cuckoo - Card game, 1400s (Parlett p31, CA#71 p18)

Games Italians Played

These instructions are taken largely from Master Damiano Elie Bellini’s “Gaming Italian Style” class handout.

Grazie mille to him for allowing me to share his information and sources.

Sicilian Chess

This version dates to 1557 and is a variant of medieval chess very similar to the modern game.

In the Sicilian game the pieces, save the queen, move as in modern chess. There is no castling move of the rook and king, and no two-square opening pawn moves. A pawn reaching the opposite side of the board can be promoted to the capital piece that started in the square the pawn reached. A pawn reaching the king or queen’s square would be promoted to bishop. The queen is restricted to move four squares diagonally or one square orthogonal.

Blind Dice

This is a 16th century Italian gambling game.

The game uses six cubed dice, each having a number from one to six on one side with the other five sides blank. The total of all six dice is twenty-one. The game is played by one player at a time taking on the house.

They player puts up a stake, then rolls the dice, and the payoffs are as follows:

Number Rolled           Payoff

0                                  Player loses stake to the house

1 – 8                            Player keeps the stake

9 – 10                          House pays an amount equal to the stake

11 – 12                        Pays twice the stake

13                                Pays three times the stake

14                                Pays four times the stake

15                                Pays five times the stake

16                                Pays ten times the stake

17                                Pays fifteen times the stake

18                                Pays twenty times the stake

19                                Pays twenty-five times the stake

20                                Pays fifty times the stake

21                                Pays ninety times the stake

Italian Draughts

Draughts was played in France, England, and the Spanish Marches before 1500. The first mention of this checker-like game being played in Italy dates from 1527. Elsewhere in Europe it was played later than 1550, which confirms an eastward spread from France.

In the Italian version the board (8x8) is placed so that the double black corner is on the player’s left instead of right. Each player has twelve pieces set up on the black squares of the first three rows in front of him.

The pieces move only on the black squares and black has the first move. The pieces move diagonally forwards one square at a time and may not move backwards.

The object of the game is to capture or immobilize your opponent’s twelve pieces. A capture is made by a piece (man) jumping over an enemy piece and landing on a vacant square immediately beyond. If the capturing piece can continue to leap over the other enemy pieces they are also captured and removed from the board. When a piece finally comes to rest the move is finished.

If an uncrowned piece reaches the opponents back line it becomes a king. Crowning ends a move. After crowning a king can move diagonally backwards and forwards one square at a time, and captures by a standard jump. There may be several kings on the board at a time.

In Italian Draughts, a number of rules apply to captures:

 A player had to take when possible or lose the game.

 A man (piece) could not take a king

 If he had a choice of capture he was forced to take the greater number; if this number were equal (each option containing a king) when there are two or more options, then he must capture wherever the king occurs first. This rule was known in Italy as ‘il piu col piu’ (‘the greater to the greater’).

Six-Men’s Morris

Morris, also known as Mill, Mills, and Merrills, was popular in Italy, France, and England during the middle ages but was obsolete by 1600.

Each player has six pieces and they are entered (placed) alternately, one at a time; each player trying to form a row along one of the sides of either square. If a player succeeds in this he is allowed to remove any one of his opponent’s pieces. When all of the pieces have been played the game continues by alternate moves of a piece along a line to an adjacent empty point. When a player is reduced to two men, the game is over.

In Shakespeare's 16th century work A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania laments that it is no longer played: "The nine men's morris is filled up with mud" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene I).

Basset

From the Italian bassetta, a card game also known as barbacole, considered one of the most polite pastimes. It was intended for persons of the highest rank because of the great losses or gains that might be accrued by the players. This game financially endangered some of the great French houses and was banned by the King of France.

Basset is a banking game, with a significant advantage for the house. It is purely a game of chance. One player is the banker.

The banker has a full deck of cards, well shuffled. Each punter, or player, has the 13 cards of a single suit of a similar deck in front of him, or perhaps a board with marks for the 13 denominations. Punters put bets on their boards before play begins. Once all bets are placed, the banker turns up a single card from his deck (made up of multiple decks of cards**) and wins all bets placed on the denomination shown (suit is ignored). After the first card is turned up the banker turns up cards from his deck in pairs, putting them on two piles alternately, until all bets are resolved or the deck is exhausted. Denominations that match a card turned up on the first pile lose their bets to the banker; denominations that match a card turned up on the second pile win. The banker must pay equal to any winning bets. As with the first card turned up, the banker wins any bets that remain on the last card turned.

On any winning bet the punter may decline his winnings and let the bet ride in the hope of further winnings.

If the same denomination shows up again on the winning pile, the banker must pay seven times the bet; if the bet is let ride again and wins, the banker pays 15 times; if it is let ride and shows up a fourth time on the winning pile the banker must pay 30 times the bet. Finally, if it shows up four times in one deal, the punter lets it ride into the next hand, and the same card shows up winners a fifth time, the banker must pay 60 times the bet. The decision to let a bet ride is marked by bending up a corner of the card it lies on each time (this is destructive of cards, so it is suggested that you use some other way to mark a riding bet).

Once a payment is declined by a punter (leaving a bet to ride) the punter cannot change his mind until the card shows up again on the winning pile, when he again has the choice of taking his winnings or letting it ride.

** One deck of cards is sufficient for 2 to 3 players, each additional deck allows up to four more players.

Cuckoo

Also known as ranter-go-round, gnav, killekort, chase the ace, and hexencarteis. Cuckoo was first mentioned in Cornwall in the early fifteenth century. By the end of that century it had spread throughout Europe and become a favorite in Scandinavia. From there is spread to the Baltics, Russia, and northern Germany. It is, allegedly, the oldest card game for which directions were printed in the Russian language. It was also quite popular in southern Italy and the western Mediterranean islands.

It is a game for any number of players. Cards rank king=high to ace=low without regard to suit. A stake is determined at the start. The players are all dealt one card each. After the deal, each player, starting from the dealers left, may stand or demand to swap cards with the player to his left. A player may only refuse to swap if he is holding a king, which must then be shown. This continues until it returns to the dealer, who may replace his card with one drawn at random from the pack, if he wishes.

The cards are then revealed and the player holding the lowest ranked card must then pay the predetermined stake to the pot. If two or more players tie for the lowest rank, they must each contribute to the pot. After a player has lost a predetermined number of hands, usually three, he is out of the game. Play continues until there is only one player left in, who then wins the pot.

References:

Bell, R.C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, Vols. 1 & 2. Dover Publications.

Complete Anachronist #4. Indoor Games, or How to While Away a Siege. SCA, Inc.

Known World Handbook (Third Edition). SCA, Inc.

Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Hacker Art Books, Inc.


Partlett, David. A History of Card Games. Oxford University Press.

[Source: Fleurty Herald

Game of the Goose (Giocho dell'Oca)

Game of the Goose (Giocho dell'Oca)

by Signora Giata Maddalena Alberti

As researched by Signora Giata Alberti ~fleurtyherald@gmail.com

Image source.

 Players take turns rolling two dice and moving their pawn around the board by the sum of their roll. The board has all the same special spaces that Goose games throughout its history have included:

• The Bridge on space 6 that advances the player to space 12.

• An Inn on space 19 where the traveler tarries for one turn.

• The Well on space 31, where the visitor loses 2 turns.

• The Maze of space 42, wherein the traveler loses the way and returns to space 30.

• The Dungeon on space 52, where the prisoner remains until another arrives and the two trade places. An additional means of escape is to roll a 9 and go to one of the fields with dice.

• Space 58, where a cooked goose appears in place of the traditional Grim Reaper, sends the player back to start.

Additional rules:

A lucky throw of 9 at the beginning of the spiral path advances a player to one of the fields with geese (6+3 goes to space 26, 4+5 goes to space 53).

Landing on any of the pretty geese doubles a player's move.


To win, a roll must land you exactly on 63. The surplus is counted by moving backwards from 63.

Image source.
[Source: Fleurty Herald]

Bassetta

Bassetta

by Signora Giata Maddalena Alberti

From the Italian bassetta, a card game also known as barbacole, considered one of the most polite pastimes of the quattrocento to seicento. It was intended for persons of the highest rank because of the great losses or gains that might be accrued by the players. This game financially endangered some of the great French houses and was banned by the King of France.

Basset is a banking game, with a significant advantage for the house. It is purely a game of chance.

One player is the banker.

The banker has a full deck of cards, well shuffled. Each punter, or player, has the 13 cards of a single suit of a similar deck in front of him, or perhaps a board with marks for the 13 denominations.

Punters put bets on their boards before play begins. Once all bets are placed, the banker turns up a single card from his deck (made up of multiple decks of cards**) and wins all bets placed on the denomination shown (suit is ignored). After the first card is turned up the banker turns up cards from his deck in pairs, putting them on two piles alternately, until all bets are resolved or the deck is exhausted. Denominations that match a card turned up on the first pile lose their bets to the banker; denominations that match a card turned up on the second pile win. The banker must pay equal to any winning bets. As with the first card turned up, the banker wins any bets that remain on the last card turned.

On any winning bet the punter may decline his winnings and let the bet ride in the hope of further winnings. If the same denomination shows up again on the winning pile, the banker must pay seven times the bet; if the bet is let ride again and wins, the banker pays 15 times; if it is let ride and shows up a fourth time on the winning pile the banker must pay 30 times the bet. Finally, if it shows up four times in one deal, the punter lets it ride into the next hand, and the same card shows up winners a fifth time, the banker must pay 60 times the bet. The decision to let a bet ride is marked by bending up a corner of the card it lies on each time (this is destructive of cards, so it is suggested that you use some other way to mark a riding bet).

Once a payment is declined by a punter (leaving a bet to ride) the punter cannot change his mind until the card shows up again on the winning pile, when he again has the choice of taking his winnings or letting it ride.


** One deck of cards is sufficient for 2 to 3 players, each additional deck allows up to four more players.

SOURCES
Complete Anachronist #4. Indoor Games, or How to While Away a Siege. SCA, Inc.
Partlett, David. A History of Card Games. Oxford University Press.

[Source: Fleurty Herald]

Games (in Italy)

Games


Cards appeared in Spain and Italy about 1370, but they probably came from Egypt. They began to spread throughout Europe and came into England around 1460. By the time of Elizabeth’s reign, gambling was a common sport. Cards were not played only by the upper class. Many of the lower classes had access to playing cards. The card suits tended to change over time. The first Italian and Spanish decks had the same suits: Swords, Batons/ Clubs, Cups, and Coins. The suits often changed from country to country. England probably followed the Latin version, initially using cards imported from Spain but later relying on more convenient supplies from France.

In Orleans, France (1408) an inventory of the Duke and Duchess of Orleans lists “ung jeu de quartes sarrasines and unes quartes de Lombardie” (one pack of Saracen cards and one cards of Lombard, Dummet 42). During the Elizabethan era in England cards were block printed, unwaxed, bore a single image in the center of card, and had blank backs. The English used the French system of suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades) while German and Swiss cards favored shields, acorns, flowers, and bells. Italian cards featured the latin suits of coins, cups, batons, and swords.

Two of the most popular games in Italy, where tarocchi (tarot or tarock) or trionfi (trump) decks were used, were scartino and imperiali. These decks had 78 cards; four suits numbered one through ten, a page, a knight, a queen, and a king, twenty-one tarots which acted as trumps, and a fool which acted as an ‘excuse’ or a special trump. The tarot deck was not originally used for divination, but for a trick-taking game that is one of the oldest card games known. The numbers on the trumps are the only thing that matter, the images have no effect on the game itself and as such could be altered at the engravers choice (Ortalli 24).
Most of the decks that have survived use the French Suit: Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds. Yet even before Elizabeth I had begun to reign, the number of cards had been standardized to 52 cards per deck. Interestingly, the lowest court subject in England was called the “knave.” The lowest court card was therefore called the knave until later when the term “Jack” became more common.

SOURCES
Archaeologia by Daines Barrington, 1787
The Game of Tarot by Michael Dummett, 1980
The Prince and Playing Cards:The Este Family by Gherardo Ortalli, 1996

Game of Ruff (Italy, 1522) -

Needs: standard deck of cards, four players. Aim: to score nine points. Players agree on a stake. Deal 12 cards to each player and turn up remaining top card on deck to determine trump suit. The player with the Ace of the trump suit declares “I have the honour”, and scores a point for each of the four honour cards they hold (Ace, King, Queen, Jack). The player to the left of the dealer leads and all players follow suit. Aces high or trumps takes the suit. If they cannot follow suit, they may play any card. The winner of the trick leads. The players gain one point for every trick taken. If there is no winner, another stake is required and another hand played.

52 playing cards ca1475 Burgundian metmuseum heilbrunn timeline

Draughts (Checkers, Europe, 1300s) -

In draughts the object of the game is to capture your opponent’s game pieces by making diagonal jumps over them. The game is a descendant of the Egyptian game of alquerque, which was played on a five-by-five-point board with twelve interlocking “L” shaped pieces. The game was played at court and in the taverns of England by all classes. The Earl of Leicester had a set made with pieces of crystal and silver and a board bearing his family’s heraldic crest. This game was also known as jeu force in France, for a game where a player must take and opponent’s piece whenever possible (as does alquerque).

Chess
Chess

Draughts (per Master Damiano Bellini) “was played in France, England, and the Spanish Marches before 1500. In the Italian version, the 8×8 board is placed so that the double black corner is on the player’s left instead of right. Each player has twelve pieces set up on the black squares of the first three rows in front of him. The pieces move only on the black squares and black has the first move. The pieces move diagonally forwards one square at a time and may not move backwards.

The object of the game is to capture or immobilize your opponent’s twelve pieces. A capture is made by a piece (man) jumping over an enemy piece and landing on a vacant square immediately beyond. If the capturing piece can continue to leap over the other enemy pieces they are also captured and removed from the board. When a piece finally comes to rest the move is finished.

If an uncrowned piece reaches the opponents back line it becomes a king. Crowning ends a move. After crowning a king can move diagonally backwards and forwards one square at a time, and captures by a standard jump. There may be several kings on the board at a time.

In Italian Draughts, a number of rules apply to captures (Bell 73):
  • A player had to take when possible or lose the game
  • A man (piece) could not take a king
  • If he had a choice of capture he was forced to take the greater number
  • If he had a choice of capture he was forced to take the greater number
  • If this number were equal (each option containing a king) when there are two or more options, then he must capture wherever the king occurs first. This rule was known in Italy as ‘il piu col piu’ (‘the greater to the greater’)
SOURCES
Sports and Games of the Renaissance (2004) by Andrew Leibs.

PalazzoBorromeo-Milan-Fresco
Maw was developed in 16th Century Ireland and was a favorite in the British Isles. The object of maw is to win three tricks or prevent other players from doing so. It can be played with anywhere from 2 to 10 players. A pot is decided and the winner gets the pot. If there is no winner, a second hand is played and the first to win three tricks gets the pot. Each player is dealt give cards from a 52-card deck. The top card of the remaining cards is flipped up to determine the trump. Regardless of suit, the trump cards rank; five, jack, ace of hearts, ace of trump, king queen. If the trump suit is red the remaining cards rank from 10 down to 2, and vice-versa if the trump suit it black. Non-trump cards of the same color rank the same as trump cards. The person to the left of the dealer leads, playing one card. The other players must follow suit or play a trump. If a player can do neither, she may play any card. A player can hold the five and jack of the trump or the ace of hearts if they choose, but lesser trumps must be played if the player can not follow suit.

Bingo’s Origins in Italy
Most agree that Bingo was first played in an Italian lottery called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”. The game appears on record around 1530 in the late Renaissance Italy. It is said to have developed from a game known as “Lotto” which in Italian means “destiny or fate”. It was first played in a period during a corrupt election that needed a fresh way to select a leader. Numbers were chosen randomly and the person who had that specific number would then be the new leader purely by fate.
Bingo then moved to France where it became known as “Le Lotto”. Bingo is still today played in France every Saturday in a similar fashion as we play nowadays. It is played with playing cards, tokens, and numbers called aloud.

Scartino
A card game called Scartino, the favorite of the Este family, is one of which we hear much from a brief period around 1500: there are over a dozen references to it between 1492 and 1517. We have no idea how Scartino was played, although it appears to have demanded a special type of pack; for instance, Lodovico il Moro wrote in 1496 to Cardinal Ippolito d’Este complaining that the latter had not sent him the carte de scartino that he had promised, and there are other references to orders for packs of Scartino cards. The game seems to have originated from Ferrara: it was a favourite game both of Beatrice d’Este, wife of Lodovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, and of Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. Isabella also loved to use her impresa, or device, embroidered on her robes and painted on the playing cards. The name Scartino is presumably connected with the verb scartare, ‘to discard’, and games are often named after their most characteristic or novel feature. It is therefore a possibility that this was a trick-taking game in which a new practice was introduced, namely that the dealer took some extra cards and discarded a corresponding number. If so, it could be that it was from Scartino that this practice was taken over into Tarocco games, in which it had been previously unknown, and that Scartino, after its short-lived popularity, died out, having made a lasting contribution to card play. This, of course, is the merest guess: Scartino may not have been a trick-taking game at all, but, say, one in which the winner was the player who first contrived to get rid of all his cards after the fashion of a stops game.

Many wonder if it was appropriate for women to play cards. We know the Isabella and her sister-in-law Elisaetta were known to sit in the afternoon and “together they sang French songs and read the latest romances, or played scartino, their favourite game at cards, in the pleasant rooms which Francesco had prepared for his bride on the first floor of the Castello, near the Sala degh Sposi. Together they rode and walked in the park and boated on the crystal waters of the lake, or took excursions to the neighbouring villas of Porto and Marmirolo.”

A letter of August 1493 quoted by Malaguzzi-Valeri and by Luzio and Renier appears to imply that Scartino was a three-handed game. The earliest reference is from 1492; one is from 1509, one from 1517, and all the rest from the 1490′s. Several concern the obtaining or ordering of packs of Scartino cards (para de carte da scartino or para de scartini), which appear all to have come from Ferrara; what was special about these cards there is no way of telling. It is just conceivable that Scartino was itself a particular type of Tarot game, and that these were therefore Tarot packs of a special type; but, unless they were very special, it does not seem very likely that Lodovico Sforza should have been having to obtain Tarot packs from elsewhere. Most of the references are about games of Scartino being played.
We learn from Isabella d’Este’s brother-in-law letter to the Marquis in 1503 that playing cards was her regular pastime: “Yesterday I went with this illustrious Madonna and Signor Federico to the school of Messer Franceso, whose scholars recited a fine comedy exceedingly well. It was a very pretty sight, and pleased us all highly. Afterwards we drove as usual to take the air in the town, and returned to the Castello about five o’clock; and Madonna (Isabella) sat down to cards to spend the evening after her usual custom, and played till after eight. Then she rose from the table and told me that she would not come to supper as she felt pains, and went to her room, and we sat down to table, and I supped in the Castello. And before we had finished, the said Madonna gave birth to a little girl, and although we greatly desired a boy, yet we must be content with what is given us.”

SOURCES
Cartwright, Julia. Marchioness of Mantua
F. Malaguzzi-Valeri, La carte di Locovico il Moro, vol. 1, Milan, 1913, p. 575;
A. Venturi, ‘Relazioni artistiche tra le corti di Milano e Ferrara nel secolo XV’, Archivio Storico Lombardo, anno XII (pp. 255-280), 1885, p. 254;
A. Luzio and R. Renier, Mantova e Urbino, Turin and Rome, 1893, pp. 63-5, especially fn. 3, p. 63;
A. Luzio and R. Renier, ‘Delle relazioni di Isabella d’Este Gonzaga con Lodivico e Beatrice Sforza’, Archivio Storico Lombardo, anno XVII (pp. 74-119, 346-99, 619-74), 1890, p. 368, fn. 1, and pp. 379-80;
A Luzio I precettori d’Esabella d’Este, p. 22;
G. Bertoni, ‘Tarocchi versificati’ in Poesie, leggende, costumanze del medioevo, Modena 1917, p. 219;
Diario Ferrarese of 1499 in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, vol. 24, p. 376.

Playing Cards

Master P W of Cologne’s pack of seventy-two rounded playing cards is generally believed to be his last work in the medium of engraving. This card, the 9 of hares, is 6.3 cm in diameter and was made circa 1500 in Koln, Germany. It comes from a pack of seventy-two round playing cards and is unique in having five suits, rather than the customary four: roses, columbines, carnations, parrots and hares. The images on the cards depict plants and animals based on the study of nature, rather than of model books as previous engravers of cards had done (VAM).
The 9 of Hares
The 9 of Hares
An early use of the woodblock for printing was for making playing cards. Surviving examples of printed cards date to as early as about 1420. This sheet is thought to have been made by an artist called F. Durand in Rouen or Lyons in the first half of the 16th century. It has not yet been cut, showing the way in which cards were made for economy, printed many to a sheet and cut at a later stage. The high quality of detail and careful application of hand-colouring suggests that this pack was intended for a well-off client. It is an uncut sheet of playing cards, containing eight subjects, four Kings and four Queens bearing titles of legendary and historical personages (VAM).
French Woodcut From 1500s
French Woodcut From 1500s
SOURCES
Victoria and Albert Museum

[Source: La Bella Donna]

Italian Renaissance Games – Gioci

Italian Renaissance Games – Gioci

 

Biribissi

Many table games were played in the Renaissance home, often after dinner. Men and women, both old and young, enjoyed these forms of sociable play together. They ranged from traditional games – such as backgammon and chess – to new types, which often involved gambling. This was prohibited or regulated by the authorities because of the large sums of money involved.

A popular, though illegal, game played in the home was a type of lottery known as biribissi. Thanks to the invention of printing in the fifteenth century, games such as this were easily disseminated in cheap versions printed on paper. This example has 63 squares corresponding to the same number of tickets below, which are ready to be cut up. The players bet a sum of money on a figure in the hope that it would be drawn.
Play the Biribissi game.

Games Women Played
‘Girls today … take up dice, cards and other masculine amusements’
Desiderius Erasmus, Colloquies, 1529
This complaint comes from one of the speakers in Erasmus’s dialogue on ‘Knucklebones, or the game of tali’. He would have easily recognised the sheet of playing cards, printed from a wooden block, with the knave (or jack) of hearts and the knave of diamonds repeated alternately. The figure of the ‘knave’ originally meant ‘a son’ and had no negative connotations at the time. It was only later that it came to mean a rogue. The sheet dates to the late 15th century and shows two of the four suit signs that had been adopted by French card-makers by this date, the same spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds that are in use today. The cards are marked with the initials G.S.C. and G. Cartier, which suggest that the artist was Giles SavourĂ© (also known as ‘Cartier’ or ‘Cardmaker’ in French), who worked in Lyons from about 1480 to 1506. This survival of the artist’s name is very unusual as playing cards were ephemeral objects that became bent and dirty through use and were eventually thrown away.

When card games arrived in Europe in the early 14th century, they were at first the preserve of the well-to-do because the cards were hand-painted and subsequently expensive. However, the advent of woodblock printing led to a system of relatively cheap mass production, in which cards could be printed in sheets from a single wood block.
As a result, card playing became exceedingly popular with both men and women and at all social levels – so much so that a Paris decree in 1397 forbade people to play at ‘tennis, bowls, dice, cards or ninepins on working days’, while Henry VII of England (reigned 1485–1509) forbade servants and apprentices from playing at cards except at Christmas. Preachers, theologians and moralisers all railed against their use. In Bologna in 1423 the Franciscan friar, and later saint, Bernardino da Siena preached so successfully against gaming that the people threw thousands of cards onto a great bonfire in the public square.
Part of an uncut sheet of playing cards by Gilles Savoure. Lyon, 1490.
Part of an uncut sheet of playing cards by Gilles Savoure. Lyon, 1490.
Despite these strictures, gambling was still a widespread pastime. Furthermore, playing for fun, rather than for money, was not condemned, so cards themselves did not attract censure. Indeed, when the 15th-century artist Antonio Cicognara painted a set of tarot cards (used for gaming rather than divination) and presented them to Cardinal Sforza, the Bishop of Pavia and Novara, the cardinal evidently felt no moral qualms in asking the artist to make similar packs for his sisters, who were nuns in the Augustinian convent in Cremona.
Women were often avid card players. Parisina Malatesta, the young Duchess of Ferrara, ordered an expensive hand-painted pack for herself in 1423, and a year later sent off for two cheaper packs for her little twin daughters, Lucia and Ginevra. That women often gambled with money is also clear. Mary Tudor (1516–58), daughter of Henry VIII of England, and later Mary I of England, ran up substantial debts due to her constant card playing, while the pious archduchess Johanna of Austria seems to have enjoyed better luck in the popular French card game of piquet.

Via: V&A Museum UK

[Source: La Bella Donna]

Scartino

Scartino

 

A card game called Scartino, the favorite of the Este family, is one of which we hear much from a brief period around 1500: there are over a dozen references to it between 1492 and 1517. We have no idea how Scartino was played, although it appears to have demanded a special type of deck; for instance, Lodovico il Moro wrote in 1496 to Cardinal Ippolito d’Este complaining that the latter had not sent him the carte de scartino that he had promised, and there are other references to orders for packs of “Scartino cards”.

The game seems to have originated in Ferrara. It was a favourite game both of Beatrice d’Este, wife of Lodovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, and of Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. Isabella loved to have her impresa, or device, embroidered on her robes and painted on her playing cards, which is why she had her decks commissioned by notable artists. The name Scartino is presumably connected with the verb scartare, ‘to discard’, and games are often named after their most characteristic or novel feature. It is therefore a possibility that this was a trick-taking game in which a new practice was introduced, namely that the dealer took some extra cards and discarded a corresponding number. If so, it could be that it was from Scartino that this practice was taken over into Tarocco games, in which it had been previously unknown, and that Scartino, after its short-lived popularity, died out, having made a lasting contribution to card play.

This, of course, is the merest guess (according to Dummet). Scartino may not have been a trick-taking game at all, but, say, one in which the winner was the player who first contrived to get rid of all his cards after the fashion of a stops game.

We learn from Isabella’s brother-in-law’s letter to the Marquis in 1503 that attending the theatre and playing cards was her regular pastime: “Yesterday I went with this illustrious Madonna and Signor Federico to the school of Messer Franceso, whose scholars recited a fine comedy exceedingly well. It was a very pretty sight, and pleased us all highly. Afterwards we drove as usual to take the air in the town, and returned to the Castello about five o’clock; and Madonna (Isabella) sat down to cards to spend the evening after her usual custom, and played till after eight. Then she rose from the table and … went to her room…”

So, since playing cards was a custom of noble ladies such as Isabella, I certainly want to add a few appropriate card games to my repertoire. I think learning Scartino would be meraviglioso!

Modern rules for an Italian card game called Scartino are:

Players: The game is played one on one or two against two in pairs.

Deck: To play you need a deck of Napoli (Naples) style cards.

Rules: At the beginning of the game the dealer deals three cards to each player. The deck is then placed at the center of the table and the first player’s turn begins to discard the top card. Takes who threw the highest card is the stake of that number. For example, if Player A discards a three of hearts while B throws a five of clubs, B will take the cards because it was the highest card between the two.

The only exception is the five card that takes any card except a five-pole belonging to the highest.

Finally there are the figures, said scartini, which are used to discard a card pulled from Rival Gaming. For example, if A discards a six card, and B an eight card, these two cards are excluded as in the discard pile and the points are given to B.

Winner: The first player to reach 112 points.

Scoring:

The order of the cards by points is as follows:

5 (The card with which you can take everything and that is worth 5 points)
7 (Normal card with the value of 7 points)
6 (Normal card with the value of 6 points)
4 (Normal card with the value of 4 points)
3 (Normal card with the value of 3 points)
2 (Normal card with the value of 2 points)
1 (Normal card with the value of 1 point)
10/9/8 (Scartini! These cards are valid points, but they can “discard other cards”)

The four marks (suits) of the Neapolitan (Naples style) cards are called poles and they are:
Coins – Denari
Swords  – Spade
Sticks – Bastione
Cups – Copa

Purpose: The aim of the game is to reach 112 points before your opponent.
visconti tarocchi
Where can you buy cards? MacGregor Historic Games for a reproduction 15th Century Visconti Tarrochi deck!!

From their site: “Believed to be the earliest, and most complete surviving tarot deck. It was commissioned by the Visconti family who were the Dukes of Milan in the 1450′s. The face cards and Major Arcana on this beautiful decks have gold foil backgrounds.
Contrary to popular belief, tarot cards were used for games long before they were used for fortune telling. They were the ancestors to modern trump, or trick-taking games.
We also include our booklet with a short history of Tarot cards, and six of the earliest surviving Tarot games.”

SOURCES:
The Book of Tarot by Dummet

Website – http://www.regoledelgioco.com (for Scartino rules, translation double-checked as a courtesy by Paco Smith)

[Source: La Bella Donna]