What are Tarot cards and where do they originate? These are two questions I asked myself over thirty years ago. This page presents some of the results of my research to those questions.
In brief, it is my contention that the Tarot cards were created in the early decades of the 15th century (1415-1445) for the Visconti and Sforza families of Milan. This much I regard as a commonly accepted fact within the Tarot research community. However, I further believe that the creator(s) of Tarot cards gained a prototype of the images from the last remaining members of the Cathar religion in Europe. Further the Tarot images found in Catharism can be traced back to the mystery religion of Gnosticism that flourished between the first and third centuries A.D..
While this claim will be contentious in some quarters, I believe there is firm evidence to support such a view. This evidence forms part of a fascinating story of the transmission of philosophy, religion, and art, from the ancient classical world into the High Middle Ages.