PLAYING CARDS - A CLUE TO A HORRIBLE PAST WELL HIDDEN -
Very few people these days fully appreciate the symbolism deeply embedded in a pack of European playing cards – those cards carrying the symbols which we are so familiar with: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs.
Playing cards are seen as a rich source of games for amusement; there is the King and his Queen, their son (presumably) Jack or knave of the family. (Jack is described below.) Then there are the ten 'foot soldiers' headed by the Ace, the King's strong-man, his sergeant-at-arms. Clearly, the four suits; Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs, represented the four great motivations of Christianity of so long ago – money, love, slavery and punishment.
And then, there is the Joker.
Historically, Papal Commissioners were Commissioners of the Holy Office - the Pope's representatives. They roamed around the whole Holy Roman Empire enforcing Papal orders. They were the symbol of the unpredictability of the supreme power in Europe during the long 'Dark Ages' - the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
They would be attired in the best of Italian-style clothing, rich, well-cut and colourful as was befitting their station in life. They could also attend the Inquisitional courts that were held throughout Christendom from around the 12thc. until more recent times.
These courts were inquiries into allegations of Sin – Sin being a crime against GOD. Anyone having thoughts, words or actions outside those approved of in the Bible – known as ‘heresy’, and other offences such as witchcraft, homosexuality, adultery and so on, were considered Sinners to be punished.
It was deemed necessary to implement certain torture techniques during the Inquisitional stage of an investigation into allegations of Sin. Those lucky workers chosen to render God’s work to Sinners – the chosen few, i.e., those willing to apply the techniques (for a large consideration of money) would find torturing people dismal work. It was necessary therefore, for the Bishop and his monks to guard against sagging spirits among the torturers - as to be sad would show doubt in doing God’s noble work, a sin in itself - to be questioned and punished!
The Commissioner’s invaluable task was, therefore, to attend the Inquisition and raise up the spirits, the morale and happiness of the torturers (nicknamed “Jacks”) and their accomplices in doing God’s work. This is how such Commissioners came to have the nickname “Joker.”
Jacks - British slang for torturers, inflicted most terrible injuries on millions of innocent Europeans who were subjected to “the Questioning.” (See Jack Ketch, circa 1670 CE., a torturer famed for his brutality) After being found guilty, (no-one emerged to freedom), they were taken in procession in a state of total nervous breakdown, tied to a stake, muffled to prevent the screaming and burned on a fire - or otherwise disposed of.
Trials for Heresy, Inquisitions were in force in Europe for many hundreds of years. All, even the civil authorities, were in fear of the Dominican (Domini Canes - Dogs of God) and the Franciscan Monks. They moved constantly around Europe and even at times to Britain, to set up courts to try people for Heresy. It was a travesty of what we know to be fairness and justice, but needless to say, it was also a working system for enriching the Vatican.
The purpose of the disfigurement, the destruction of the victim's body, but just sufficient to keep him alive inside, was that, if he did not believe in the Sacred and Holy Doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church he was damned to everlasting hell fire anyway - the Bible said so!
So, there was no harm in giving the victim a foretaste of what was to come!
And Then – The Reformation
After the Reformation of the Monasteries in Europe (1536 – 1539CE) torture was much reduced but not eliminated. Later, with the ending of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon in 1806CE, traveling Circuses were established and toured round Europe and became the major entertainment of the time. Men dressed up in exaggerated Joker’s clothes, nicknamed the Motley, ("Motley" is a common usage form of the word "Mockery".) as a mockery of Rome and its Commissioners, and rolled and jumped around the circus ring, making ribald remarks and jokes. It would have been a very big shock for simple townsfolk to see this humorous parody of the old vicious religious regime taking place before their very eyes.
Circuses were a necessary development around the early 1800s to show people that the Pope's soldiers, the roaming Commissioners, the Inquisition, arbitrary torture and death were all at an end. (- or nearly so!) People had emerged from their serfdom. People were made to smile again.
Clowns in modern circuses don the "Motley" and it has been developed into pure comedy. Unfortunately modern audiences are unaware of the full meaning, the cold horror that such an appearance in public would have created in people even just two hundred years ago.
Dear reader, it is important for you to know what was happening in Europe - until quite recently and even in 1975 the Garrotte, the Inquisitors favourite invention, was employed by Franco of Spain to terrible, inhumane effect.
The horror, from your comfortable seat, with your hand of cards, cannot be comprehended easily, but learn from the past, you should.
"The Gift of Truth, which Leads to Wisdom, is the Greatest of All Gifts"
From Rod Remelin- firstname.lastname@example.org