Kings, Queens and the French

Posted by I'm the penguin | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2010

If you've seen this, I bet you live somewhere in Earth...

image owned by I'mthepenguin

There is an almost infinite variety of games you can make with these, played all around the world (of course in different presentations and such). And since I didn't really find any stupefying numbers to amaze you (get it..maze?) I can't say much but some really cool stories around these.

You must know, or guessed by now that these are the European design, and they have been used for quite a while now. But you might not know that each of the kings, queens and knaves represent an old queen/king/servant/of the kind. And it goes like this:

King of Spades->King David (biblical)
King of Hearts-> Charlemagne or Charles VII (rather ambiguous)
King of Diamonds-> Julius Caesar
King of Clubs-> Alexander the great

Queen of Spades->Pallas Athenea (greek goddess of wisdom and war)
Queen of Hearts-> Judith (jew super kickass heroine who decapitates a man to save her country)
Queen of Diamonds->Rachel ((one of the) wife(ves) of Jacob, biblical)
Queen of Clubs->Argine (Involved in the Argos greek myth)

Knave of Spades->Ogier (Charlemagne's knight)
Knave of Hearts->La Hire (fought next to Joan of Arc)
Knave of Diamonds-> Hector (greek myth of Troy)
Knave of Clubs-> Lancelot (from the Arthurian legends)

Can you see how storytelling is everywhere?
By the way, Knave is the original term for -Jack-, but it was changed because short for Knave was similar to short for King, so to not mix kings with knights the J was used. Cool story huh?

Also. Did you know that the Ace sometimes has a value greater than the king because of the French revolution? The Ace used to be the card with the lowest value, which could be related to the low class fighters in the French revolution. So playing they assigned as greater value to the Ace as some sort of anarchical rebellion, all while playing cards.

The French also changed the decks by later deleting kings, queens and knaves from the cards. Instead they put -Libertes- -Egalites- &-Fraternites- as their highest values, just to make a point about their unwelcoming of any sort of monarchy.

But what about the joker? Was he an important part of the court? Not really.

The joker card was introduced by a popular American (U.S.A) game named Euchre. The game is only played with 32 cards (excludes all 2-7 cards) and the complicated mechanics developed a "new" card which was the highest value to win a junker (variation for Euchre), which later developed into joker.

So please, the next time you play cards consider they're an ancient game with complex context and detailed history, not just a neat vehicle to get drunk.

Thanks :)

[nah, they're not suing, Wikipedia has no copyright... I think]

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