The Last Judgement


Like Justice rules our world, the Last Judgement rules our lives. You can escape to world's Justice, but you cannot escape to God's Justice.  The Last Judgement has meen portrayed on many artworks in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Herunder a detail of the interpretation by Hans Memling, a Germain painter, realised around 1470.

On the card we see two angels who are calling the Death for Judgement. On the trumpets of the angels are fixed two standards, one wirh a cross, representing the sacrifice of Jezus, and a smaller one with the radiant Sun, symbol of the Visconti family. Behind the angels we see God himself. Like on the card of Justice, he also has the Sword of Justice in his right hand. In his left hand a orb representing the Earth surmounted by a cross. On his head a crown.The colors of his cloths are royal, blue on the outside and yellow on the inside

Conclusion of the deck with 14 Trionfi

To summarize, the first level of the Visconti Sforza is depicting the Estates of the Realm, the division of Society in three levels :

On the first level the Commoners represented by a Fool and a Conjurer.

On the second level nobility, represented by the Empress and the Emperor. As a woman the Empress represents our family and the Emperor stands for the authorities.

On the highest level we have the Clergy, represented by the Popess and the Pope. The Popess corresponds to Religion itself and the Pope symbolizes the institute of the Roman Catholic Church.

Above the structure of Society we have Lady Justice who will act equally on everybody. Poor or rich, beggar,  king or pope, everybody who commits a crime will have to respond to Justice.

The second group of seven cards is showing the Soul's Journey through life, influenced on his way by the three blind powers Love, Fortune and Justice. The three levels are:

Self control, represented by the victory over your desires, be it sexual (Love) or luxury and power (the Chariot). The Journey of the Soul encounters here its first major obstacle, the first blind power, Love.

Time, represented by the Lady Fortune turning the Wheel of time and by Father Time holding the hourglass representing the temporal character of our life. The second blind power, Fortune, is a big obstacle in this part of the Journey of the Soul.

Transition, represented by a big misfortune (the Hanged Man) and by Death himself.

On the top of the structure of this group we'll find the last Judgment, representing the Justice of God. Those who escaped Justice on Earth will not escape Justice in Heaven. Justice is the last of the three blind powers. Blind does not mean that these powers are acting without sense, no they are acting without making distinction between the mortal men.

As we can see, this 14 Trump structure is  a logical and coherent structure, covering all aspects of human life. But the development of the Trionfi deck did bot stop. When Ercole I came back in Ferrara from Naples in 1460, he had a lot of time he could spend on culture. Being confronted with the Triondi decks since early age, he had probably discussed a lot about the structure and maybe it was Ercole I who proposed to change the number of trumps from 14 to 22. Every aspect of life was present in the 14 trump structure, but there was something very important missing: Afterlife. The Florentine writer Dante Alighieri had made a very detailed description of Heaven and Hell in his famous Divina Comedia, so why not having Afterlife incorporated in the Tarot Trumps. In that way the human life cycle, expressed in the cards, would really become complete.  In the next part we will see how the Trionfi decks developed from 14 to 22  trumps.

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