Card games have been a popular pastime for centuries. But did people in medieval times play card games
The answer is yes, they did! However, the cards and games played during that era were quite different from what we know today.
The Origin of Cards
The origin of playing cards can be traced back to ancient China in the 9th century. They were initially used for divination purposes but later became popular for playing games.
The first known deck of playing cards was created during the Tang dynasty (618-907). It had four suits: coins, strings of coins, myriads (of things), and tens of myriads. Each suit had ten cards.
From China, playing cards spread to India and Persia and then to Egypt and Europe. In Europe, the first known deck was created in the 14th century.
It had four suits: swords, cups, coins, and polo sticks. Each suit had ten pip cards (cards with numbers) and three court cards (king, viceroy, and second viceroy).
Cards in Medieval Europe
In medieval Europe, playing cards were initially used for gambling but also became a popular form of entertainment at social gatherings such as banquets and feasts.
However, the decks used during that era were quite different from modern-day decks. They typically had four suits: swords, cups, coins or disks (sometimes called pentacles), and batons or staves (sometimes called wands). Each suit had ten pip cards and three court cards – king, queen or knight, and knave or page.
The Use of Trumps
One unique feature of medieval playing cards was the use of trumps. A trump card was a card that had a higher value than the other cards in the deck. It could be used to win a trick (a round of play) even if another player had played a higher card of the same suit.
The use of trumps added an element of chance and excitement to the game. The trump suit varied from game to game and could be determined by drawing a card from the deck or by agreement among the players.
Medieval Card Games
There were many different card games played during medieval times, some of which are still played today in modified forms.
Tarot is a type of playing cards that originated in Italy during the 15th century. It was initially used for divination purposes but later became popular for playing games. Tarot decks typically have 78 cards, including 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards divided into four suits – swords, cups, coins or pentacles, and batons or wands.
Today, Tarot is primarily used for divination but still played as a game in some parts of Europe.
Triumph was a popular card game during medieval times. It originated in Italy and later spread to other parts of Europe. Triumph is similar to modern-day Bridge with bidding, trump suits, and tricks.
Maw was another popular card game during medieval times. It was played with a deck of 52 cards and involved betting on winning tricks.
In conclusion, playing cards have been around for centuries and were indeed played during medieval times. Although the decks used were quite different from modern-day decks in terms of their suits, court cards, and use of trumps, they were still a popular form of entertainment.
Today, we can still see the influence of medieval playing cards in modern-day games such as Tarot and Bridge. It is fascinating to think that something as simple as a deck of cards has such a rich and diverse history.