From an Italian sermon in the fifteenth century, it is known that the tarot was already so widespread at this time that a Franciscan monk was opposed to it. The gambling game was generally frowned upon, it was supposed to have been invented by the devil and his players were devoted to the devil. The gambling game with the "trump cards" (the tarot) was particularly reprehensible, for the trump cards also constituted secular rulers and church princes like the pope, shameful for Christians. At this time, the card game had already been known for about 100 years - since the second half of the 14th century, there are written testimonies on card playing in general. Due to the bad source situation, which shows playing cards, but not noted, whether there were also trumps in the playing cards, little is known about the first advent of tarot cards.
Also the name Tarot gives little information about the history of the game. In German the name was taken from French, because tarot is the French term for a game with 78 sheets. To France again the game seems to have come from Italy, where it was called tarocco. It is interesting to note, however, that this name was only used when the game itself was already known. At first, one simply said "carte de trionfi" to the game, "card with trumps". A first written proof is an account book of the court of Ferrara from 1442, which lists trump cards. It was not until 1516 that an entry as tarocco was found in another account book from Italy.
The most reliable proof of the origin and existence of the tarot are the cards themselves, which are, in part, miraculous works of art in miniature. Partly deposited with gold leaf, imaginatively and elegantly worked, these earliest surviving cards from the time between 1420 and 1450 reflect the art of the early Italian Renaissance. 250 of these wonderful cards are still preserved, which come from different games, but are known together as the "Visconti games" because they all come from the possession of the Duke of Milan and his relatives.
Italy and above all the cities of Bologna, Ferrara and Milan were centers of tarot play. But who created the cards of this popular game is not known today. Signatures or initials are not recorded on any card, as are documents such as invoices, letters or order books, which could provide information about the artists of the cards.
Just as little is known about the origin of the tarot itself-the history of its esoteric interpretation is very certain. Between the appearance of maps at the beginning of the fifteenth century and the end of the 17th century, tarot was widespread in Europe, even more prevalent in France than chess. Then the star of this game sank to revive at the end of the 18th century in a kind of Renaissance. From now on the tarot was increasingly used as an instrument for esoteric interpretation. It was hoped to find an occult knowledge in it – a wish that still adheres to the tarot and inspires not a few writers to write about this mysterious medium!