Playing Card History

Here's some background on how the modern deck of cards developed.

The modern 52 card deck was developed by the French who established the suits:

Hearts (chalices) represents the Church

Spades (swords) represents the Military

Diamonds (coins) represents the merchant class

Clubs (batons) represents the peasantry (agriculture)

Names of the Court Cards:

Kings represent the 4 civilizations that began Western culture: Hebrews (Spades), Holy Roman Empire (Hearts), The Romans (Diamonds), and The Greeks (Clubs).

King of Spades - King David, holds the sword of Goliath

King of Hearts - Charlemagne

King of Diamonds - Julius Caesar

King of Clubs - Alexander the Great

Queen of Spades - Pallas Athene, Greek goddess of wisdom & war

Queen of Hearts - Judith of Bavaria, daughter-in-law of Charlemagne wife of Pepin

Queen of Diamonds - Rachel, wife of Jacob, whose 12 sons founded the tribes of Israel

Queen of Clubs - Argine, thought to be a Roman anagram for "regina" (queen)

Jack of Spades - Hogier, Danish knight of Charlemagne

Jack of Hearts - "La Hire" real name is Stephen de Vignoles, a knight in the court of Charles the VIIth.

Jack of Diamonds - Hector (some identify him as Roland)

Jack of Clubs - Lancelot, of King Arthur's round table.

Thanks to Tony Holden - "Big Deal" Chapter 11 - Cruising for a Bruising. Also to the Encyclopedia Britannica.


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