Knight (playing card)

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A knight or cavalier is a playing card with a picture of a man riding a horse on it. It is a face card and is called caballo in Spanish playing cards and cavallo in Italian playing cards. In these decks, it ranks between the knave and the king within its suit. Among French playing cards, the knight (chevalier) can only be found in tarot decks. In Italian, Spanish, and French suited tarot decks, the knight ranks between the knave and the queen.

Knights do not appear in German or Swiss playing cards; their place being occupied by an upper knave face card called the Ober. One exception is the Württemberg pattern where the Obers are seen riding on horses. This depiction was inspired by tarot decks during the 19th century.

History[edit]

In the original Mamluk Egyptian deck, there were three court cards called the malik (king), the nā'ib malik (viceroy or deputy king), and the thānī nā'ib (second or under-deputy). The latter two were transformed into the knight and the knave when playing cards entered southern Europe. The knave is often depicted as a foot soldier or squire to the knight. Many early tarot decks had added female ranks into the face cards including the Cary-Yale deck which added queens, mounted ladies, and maids as counterparts to the males.[1] While mounted ladies and maids faded away or survive in minor regional patterns like the Tarocco Siciliano, knights were dropped in favour of queens in non-tarot French decks. In the Spanish suited Aluette pattern found in Brittany and the Vendée, knights have an androgynous appearance.[2]

Example cards[edit]

These cards are from the C.L. Wuest's late 19th century tarock deck which is the ancestor to modern French suited tarot decks.

Latin suited knights.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Andy's Playing Cards - page VI - The Visconti Tarots - part 4". l-pollett.tripod.com. Retrieved 2014-12-27. 
  2. ^ "Andy's Playing Cards - French and Belgian-Genoese Cards". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-12-27.