Can you guess a country by its playing cards?
The most interesting card patterns are in China, Japan, India, Germany, Spain and England. The cards there are so different, they are easily recognized.

England Cards

It is believed that playing cards date back to the 15th century in England. The earliest evidence occurs in a parliament act where importing of foreign cards was prohibited because of a petition made by the local card makers. It was also known that families in England played cards on various holidays and festive occasions. During the reign of Henry VII, the accounts of the court refer to the card debts of the Queen.

The English cards had twelve court cards. All of these Royal characters were dressed in elegant and elaborate costumes dating back to the 16th century. The jacks were represented as Knights and along with the King, are shown with various medieval weapons like arrows, shields and swords. All of the figures have various ornaments and objects placed around them, which has remained mostly unchanged over the centuries. Not much has changed in the English cards even today, when compared to the earliest known cards.

Rouen pattern in English cards

It is believed that the English cards were influenced by the cards that were made in the city of Rouen in France in the 15th century. The French no longer use the ancient patterns; however, the design has been highly popular in various European countries for more than 400 years. Even in the earlier centuries, the Rouen cards were found after in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, and Belgium and in England as well. In the early English cards, the French suit marks were used; however, there are Spanish and Italian influences as well which makes tracking of the history a little complicated. Several games like Primero and Ombre that originated in other countries were highly popular in England in the 16th and 17th centuries.

For more than 350 years, the same Rouen pattern had been copied and carried on in England. However, the skill, finesse and technology that were available in France and other European countries were not available in England. Because of this, the Rouen cards that were made in England were never of fine quality. The fact that only very few of these earliest cards still exist today points to the fact that the cards manufactured in the country in those years were not of good quality.

Modern evidence of history of cards

In early 20th century, old cards were found in Cambridge in the Trinity College that is believed to be dating back to 1630. In the 17th century, when the Puritan regime was its peak, countless decks and card packs had been destroyed since gambling was looked down upon in those days. Manufacturing of these cards was permitted; however, those who played cards were thought to be immoral. Several more card packs were destroyed in the Fire of London in 1666 and in the Plague in 1664, which is why no history and continuation of playing cards or even full decks have been found from the time before 1664.

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