Thc Conclusion of the structure of the Trumps



As a result from the previous pages we can say that there is a very basic and strong structure behind the Tarot, describing the Universe and our responabilities within this entity.  The trumps can be divided in three levels. On the lowest level we have the journey of the human Soul through this Universe, from Birth to reincarnation. This journey is divided in three stages. The first step guides the human Soul through human Society with a clear explanation of its structure. The second leg gives all the pitfalls that affect a human life, desir, power, luck, time, accidents and Death itself. The last leg describes the journey of our Soul through Afterlife, from the deepest of Hell to the eternal light of Paradise. The cards on this level are strictly ordered, and where very little variations occur during time. There can be some minor changes whithin the leg of a journey, but never inbetween two legs.

On the second level we have the moral values.  In the direct ancestors of the tarot, there were only 14 Trumps, and the cards finished  with the Death card directly followed by the Final Judgement. So for game purposes in the 22 trumps structure, the card makers could put the Virtues wherever they wanted, and we got big differences. The main three sequences were called the Milan order, the Ferrara order and the Bologna order. But on the basic structure this had no influence, the moral values could be placed anywhere, and at best their position was governed by the underlying journey cards. The number of moral values  could be three of seven, both numbers being very special numbers for the Tarot.

On the highest level only one card, representing our Universe and thus God himself. In most cases "the World" is taking this function, but for historical reasons on the Visconti Sforza "The Last Judgement" takes this place.

The Tarot Trumps form a complete view of the world, as complete as the Kabbalah, but with a pure western origin.  The first decks with this structure appears after 1457 when a Trionfi deck of 70 cards is considered complete (account books of the Dukes of Este), long after Filippo Maria Visconti died. After 1460 Trionfi cards became a cheap every day's object and no new entries can be found in the account books of the Duke. The only cards surviving produced in this period are the Charles VI deck, probably produced in Florence for Ercole of Este, the Este deck, produced for the wedding of Ercole I, now Duke of Este, with Eleanore of Aragon and the cards who completed the Visconti Sforza deck. There are no surviving numbered cards of the two Este decks, probably they were only made as a model to explain the proposed new structure for the trump cards. The pip cards and the court cards were not necessary to explain this structure.  On the Charles VI deck we see the page of Swords with no heraldic elements on his shield. Maybe this card was only made as an example how the court cards should look. On the Este deck  eight out of twenty-two trump cards and eight out of sixteen court cards are surviving. Probably they were all produced, the missing cards are lost in time. The court cards of the este deck contain many heraldic elements to honor the wedding between Ercole I of Este, Duke of Ferrara and Eleanore of Aragon, Princess being a daughter of the King of Naples. No pip cards are surviving, nor of the Charles VI deck, nor of the Este deck. Because the cards were only made for explaining the new trump structure (Charles VI cards) and to honor the wedding between the Este and Aragon families (the Este deck), they had no use as playing cards and the pip cards were never made. For playing card games, printed decks were abundantly available.

Was the Este court behind the 22 trump structure? We will never know.  The only thing we can assume is that highly educated brains were behind the development of this structure. Given the fact that Ercole I of Este was one of the best educated figures  of his time and that between 1460 and 1471 he was not yet absorbed by State matters, it seems for me that it is very plausible that he was at least part of the group of intellectuals who transformed the 14 trumps structure into a 22 trumps structure.