the Knight



The Knight is different from the other court cards. They do not exist in a normal card deck of 52 cards, what are they doing in a Tarot deck? In fact, the Knight is a messenger, and in this case it is not the person that counts but the message.

  • The Knight of Coins announces some news that directly concernes the consultant.
  • The Knight of Cups announces a message about someone in the direct environment of the consultant.
  • The  Knight of Swords brings news from elsewhere and
  • The Knight of Batons has a message important for all of us.

The Knight as a traveller is also bringing some of the values of its own suit two other suits, and in return, he can bring back some values of other suits into its own. This specific aspect as a traveller to the four  quarters of the compass, is very well illustrated by Giuseppe Mitelli in the Tarocchini deck he made around 1660 in Bologne.

The four knights are all heading into a different direction, to bring their message to the four corners of the World. No other deck is illustrating this in a better way. 

The Knights on the Visconti Sforza deck have also a very interesting message to tell. Let us have a look at the Knight of Swords and the Knight of Batons.

On the tissue covering the horses of the Knights of Swords and Batons we see a blason red on the left side and white on the right side. On the one of Coins is appearing the same blason. The Visconti Sforza cards are full of heraldic elements of the Visconti and Sforza families, but this shield definitely is not associated with them. So what are these shields doing here?

Filippo Maria Visconti had fought for many years against the Republic of Venice. Francesco Sforza fought many battles in his life, but once Duke of Milan, peace was his first priority. He had a very powerfull ally, Cosimo di Medici with whom he had a very good relationship. Together  they worked on peace with Naples and Venice. Thanks to this combined effort, on the 9th of April 1454 was signed the treaty of Lodi, that finally gave peace beween Venice and Milan. Naples on the side of Venice and Florence on the side of Milan were the positive factors enabling this peace treaty. The colors of Florence are red and white, red standing for the ruling class and white for the common people. The best known blason is a red lily on a white flag, but earlier the blason of the commune of Milan was "per pale argent and gules" (same shield as above, but white at the left side and red at the right side). In Florence we see the blason "per pale argent and gules" on many places, but on many other places we see as blason "per pale gules and argent" exactly as on the horses in the Visconti Sforza deck.

At the left a window in the Bargello Museum and at the right some blasons on the Palazzo Vecchio. Both versions can be found all over the old city of Florence. Given this fact I suppose that the blasons on the two horses and on the One of Coins of the Visconti Sforza deck represent the blason of the Commune of Florence, the closest ally of Francesco Sforza. I believe that the appearance of the blason of the Commune of Florence on the Milanese Visconti Sforza cards is to honor the positive influence of Cosimo di Medici in establishing peace between Venice and Milan. The peace was signed in 1454 in Lodi and lasted for many years. For this reason I also believe that the Visconti Sforza cards (70 cards, 5 suits of 14 cards) were made in the same year, in 1454.