Franco Pratesi | Cartomancer | Tarot Court Cards

Published by Alison Cross on

Franco Pratesi  Cartomancer 4029
A screengrab of the document on at

One of the documents that historian Franco Pratesi found in the Library at Bologna University was 4029 Caps 119R.

It is, as far as I am aware, the earliest written record of divinatory meanings associated with the Tarot of Bologna. The documents all date from the mid 18th century, which makes it about 40 years earlier than Etteilla’s writings on esoteric uses for the cards.

Full details of the Library papers can be found at (and a great deal more in fascinating research too, if you have never visited the site).

The ‘cartomancer’s document’ (which I prefer to call it rather than the dry 4029 info!) outlines divinatory associations for 35 cards. So, this is for a restricted or stripped deck – not the full deck as we mostly use today for divinatory purposes.

Pratesi’s Cartomancer Document | Court Card Meanings

For the Tarot court cards, the earliest written divinatory meanings for 14 of the 16 court cards are:

RD (King of Pentacles) – The man
CD (Knight of Pentacles) – The thoughts of the man
FC(Page of Cups) – The woman
FB (Page of Wands) – The thoughts of the woman
CB (Knight of Wands) – ‘The door knocker’
CC (Knight of Cups) – Accommodation or arrangement
FD (Page of Pentacles) – Money
FD (Page of Pentacles) Girl
QB (Queen of Wands) ‘Puttana’ – whore
QC (Queen of Cups| – Married woman
QD (Queen of Pentacles) – Truthful
RS (King Swords) – Gossipmonger
RC (King of Cups) – An old man
RB (King of Wands) – An unmarried man

Clearly we have two Fanti di Denari (Pages of Pentacles) in the document, so one of these must be an error. Pratesi believes that he second FD should really be the other Fantesca, FS (The Page of Swords).

If you wish to incorporate these meanings into your own contemporary Tarot work, it may be more appropriate to regard the Queen of Wands as ‘A career woman or independent woman’ rather than a sex-worker.

I absolutely loved the idea of the Knight of Wands being ‘the door knocker’ and for those of you who are fans of Breaking Bad, this scene is a perfect example of The Door Knocker.

The Swords Courts are presented without the Knight of Swords or Queen of Swords.

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.Β  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


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