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CategoriesNooks and also cranniesYesteryearSemantic enigmasThe body beautifulRed tape, white liesSpeculative scienceThis sceptred isleRoot of all evilEthical conundrumsThis sporting lifeStage and also screenBirds and also the bees THIS SPORTING LIFEWhat is the derivation of the photos of kings, queens and jacks variously illustrated on a fill of play cards? room they based on historical figures?Nick Wallis, Darlington, UK The origins of European playing cards are highly speculative, v Chinese, Indian, and Persian parentage all asserted of them.The composition and design of playing card decks varied v time and locale (particularly the variety of cards in a deck), yet the inclusion of both numbered cards and court cards (or "royals") -- and the division of cards into various suits -- were standard features from early on on. Italian decks included fifty-six cards, contained four species of court cards (king, queen, knight, and also knave) and also were divided into four suits (cups, swords, coins, and batons). As the popular of card games spread transparent Europe and the demand for decks of play cards boosted tremendously, they end to be expensive, hand-painted luxuries and also became cheaper, mass-produced products manufactured by master card devices via the use of stencils. About the same time, knaves were dropped from the subset that court cards to carry the composition of a traditional deck down to fifty-two cards. The French suit signs were much more easily stencilled than their previously counterparts, and the French map masters shortly realized they go not should engrave each of the twelve court cards separately, together their German rivals did. The French simply created one lumber block or copper plate because that each of the 3 royals, printed the cards indigenous them, and also stencilled the suits in later. The French were hence able to outproduce German map makers, and also so the French style eventually came to be the standard for most of Europe. It was at about this time the the French card masters likewise started the practice of assigning identities come the royals pictured on your court cards . All of the court cards (not just the kings) to be named, and also the identities assigned to them (and published on the cards) were by no means consistent. The selection of names differed from understand to master, often with no noticeable reason behind them other than personal preference or whim. Early choices for the identities that the kings consisted of Solomon, Augustus, Clovis, and also Constantine, but during the latter part of the reign of Henry IV (1553-1610) castle were more or less standardized together representing Charlemagne (hearts), David (spades), Caesar (diamonds), and Alexander (clubs). The names of the monarchs -- Judith or Judic (hearts), Pallas (spades), Rachel (diamonds), and also Argine (clubs) -- have been a continual object the speculation, as the real-life personages they represent are no so easily identified. Part suggestions for their origins have included the Empress Judith (wife that Charlemagne"s son) or Isobel of Bavaria (wife that Charles VI and also mother of Charles VII) because that Judith, Joan of Arc or the eponymous Greek goddess of battle (also well-known as Athena) for Pallas, Agnes Sorel (mistress of Charles VII) or Jacob"s mam for Rachel, and also Mary that Aragon (wife the Charles VII) or Juno (Greek queen that the gods) for Argine (which is chin an anagram of "regina"). Curiously, the identities the the knaves seem to have actually remained constant: La hire (Etienne de Vignoles, Knight and Hero of France) as the knave of hearts, Ogier (one that Charlemagne"s knights in the Chansons de Geste and also the knight who is lugged off by the witch Morgan la Fay in Arthurian legend) together the knave that spades, Hector (the hero the Troy) as the knave that diamonds, and also Lancelot (another knight indigenous Arthurian legend) as the knave that clubs. In summary, the court cards in decks of play cards were not initially figured out by name. The assignation the identities come the kings (as well together the queens and also knaves) to be a short-lived practice distinct to French map masters the began around the mid-15th century, was not standardized for part time, and also was stop at the finish of the 18th century. The royal numbers on contemporary playing cards no much more represent certain persons than perform the kings and queens in chess sets. Ray Parnell, Lincoln, UK add your answer

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