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Card games were popular during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with most decks containing four suits. These cards were probably based on cards that came to Europe from Muslim Spain. Each suit comprised 10 “pip” cards that featured from one to 10 pips or suit symbols, and three or four court cards (so called because they usually featured royalty such as kings and queens). These 52- or 56-card decks varied in the symbols they used for the suits, with one variation being the familiar clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts deck.
In the 1420s in Germany, trump cards were added to a regular playing deck for a game called Karnöffel. About a decade later, the Italians added 22 trump cards to a 56-card deck, which was then called carte da trionfi (“cards with trumps”). The earliest known Tarot decks are of this design. These cards were used for trick-taking games, in which one “trump” card “triumphed” over another, depending on its position in the deck.
Tarot cards did not acquire their occult associations until the 18th century. The first person we know of who used Tarot cards specifically for divination was a professional fortune-teller named Etteilla, who operated in Paris at the end of the 18th century. Etteilla, whose real surname was Alliette, wrote the first known book on cartomancy.