hist-games: Tablero de Jesus

Teceangl tierna at agora.rdrop.com
Wed Aug 8 17:01:16 PDT 2001


Kirsti, the lady who did this research, is actually working on a version
which she will release for webbing when done.  So I have her permission to
post this, and to forward her discussion, but she asks that it not be put
on the web just yet.  I also have permission to post the message from
Gerhard Kendal.

On Wed, 25 Jul 2001 22:20:06 -0700 Gerhard & Amanda Kendal
<kendal at lightspeed.ca> writes:
> Greetings,
> 
> This was a question a while ago about the origins of Tablero de 
> Jesus 
> (the fore-runner to El Tablero de Gucci).
> 
> I have found a photocopy of the information that was included in the 
> 
> original game, which I learned from Duchess Merowyn de Lyoness of 
> the 
> West Kingdom.
> 
> And I quote:
> 
> El Tablero de Jesus
> a 15th century dice game for two players.
> 
> The brief and curious history of the medieval dice game, El Tablero 
> de Jesus, from its first appearence in the Andalusian monesteries 
> early in the 15th century to its suppression by Pope Sylvester V in 
> 1458, has not received the attention it deserves.
> 
> The origins of the game are obscure. It is known to have been played 
> 
> by the Cistercian monks in the Abbey of Los Santos de Campo in 
> Granada as early as 1404, and may well have been invented by one of 
> the brothers there. Tableros of later date, many of them exquisite 
> examples of 15th century wood painting, have been unearthed in other 
> 
> Spanish Abbeys, and in Tuscany, Provence and the Low Countries.
> 
> The game could not have been unknown in England, for the Abbot of 
> Cleves in 1449 alluded in his journal to losses incurred "at the 
> Jesus Boarde".
> 
> In view of the Church's strict injuntion against dice and gambling, 
> it may surprise many to learn that El Tablero de Jesus could have 
> flourished openly during this period - and among the religious at 
> that. It should be kept in mind, of course, that the monastic orders 
> 
> had entered a period of moral decay by the end of theb 14th century. 
> 
> Moreover, as we now know, the monks regarded El Tablero (or 
> professed 
> to regard it) as less a game than a "religious exercise" which 
> helped 
> cultivate the Christian virtues of moderation and self-denial. In a 
> defense of the game written in 1446, the Bishop of Limoges went so 
> far as to describe El Tablero as "a godly game, which rewardeth 
> forbearence and punisheth greed." Modern players of the game, 
> knowing 
> that the capacity to resiste temptation can be a decisive factor in 
> winning, will understand what the bishop meant.
> 
> Why Sylvester V abruptly banned El Tablero in 1458, enforcing his 
> edict with such vigor that the game disappeared from view shortly 
> afterwards, is not altogether clear. Sylvester was not remarkable 
> for 
> piety, and showed little zeal for reform. Indeed, he himself was no 
> stranger to the pleasures of "the boarde".
> 
> The worldly Cardinal Martino d'Allessandro tells us in his memoirs 
> that he introducded El Tablero to the papal court in 1456 and 
> himself 
> taught the pontiff how to play. The cardinal's implication that His 
> Holiness had so little aptitude for the game that even when leaning 
> heavily on the papal prerogative he was rarely a winner, has led to 
> the conjecture that injured pride may have turned him against it, 
> but 
> we had best take this theory with a grain of salt.
> 
> I.Y. Erzbergen-St.Susse, Ph.D.
> Queenswood Professor of Medieval Studies
> Brunswick University
> MCMLXXI
> 
> (The papal ban against the Jesus Board is no longer in force. You 
> may 
> now give the game to anyone with no risk of embarrassment.)
> 
> Erzbergen-St.Susse Co.
> 5 Teatown Road
> Croton-on-Hudson
> NY 10520


Tec note: I don't think he's taking challenges all that well...


On Thu, 26 Jul 2001 14:06:35 -0700 Gerhard & Amanda Kendal
<kendal at lightspeed.ca> writes:
> Greetings,
> 
> I passed on the information which I received when I first learned 
> the 
> game in 1976.
> 
> True historical game? I'd like to think so, but if the internet 
> proves me mistaken (and everyone knows there's nothing but facts on 
> the world wide web), so be it.
> 
> It's still an enjoyable game.
> 
> Cheers,
> 
> Gerhard Kendal
 

> While I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, I think we've been taken
> in by a hoax these past few decades.  I started fact-checking this
> information and here's what I found:
> 
> > The brief and curious history of the medieval dice game, El Tablero
> > de Jesus, from its first appearence in the Andalusian monesteries
> > early in the 15th century to its suppression by Pope Sylvester V in
> > 1458, has not received the attention it deserves.
> 
> According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there was no Pope Sylvester V
> in 1458.  Two popes held the office during that year-- Callistus III
> (1455-1458) and Pius II (1458-1464).  More damning is the fact
> that there have never been more than 3 popes named Sylvester.  Here is
> a list of the popes called Sylvester and their terms of office:
> 
> St. Sylvester I (314-35)
> Sylvester II (999-1003)
> Sylvester III (1045)
> 
> > The origins of the game are obscure. It is known to have been played
> > by the Cistercian monks in the Abbey of Los Santos de Campo in
> > Granada as early as 1404
> 
> The scholars I have been in contact with have never heard of the
> existence of this monastery.
> 
> Guide books list the following monasteries in Granada:
> 
> Monastery of Sacromonte (17th century)
> Monastery of San Jeronimo (17th century)
> Monastery of La Concepcion
> Monastery of Santa Cruz la Real
> La Cartuja (1506)
> Monastery of St Francis (built on the site of a former mosque after
> Ferdinand and Isabelle captured Granada in the late 1400's)
> Convent of San Salvidor
> 
> Most of these seem to have been established after the 15th century,
> probably since, prior to 1492, Granada was held by the Moors.
> 
> > the brothers there. Tableros of later date, many of them exquisite
> > examples of 15th century wood painting, have been unearthed in other
> > Spanish Abbeys, and in Tuscany, Provence and the Low Countries.
> 
> Two Dutch scholars, Arie van der Stoep and Govert Westerveld who have
> published extensive histories of Spanish board games say that they
> have never heard of this game.  Their books can be found in the
> University of Amsterdam library catalog.
> 
> Neither Sebastian de Covarrubias's Tesoro de la lengua castellana o
> española (1611) nor the Diccionario medieval español have any mention
> of 'Tablero de jesus'.
> 
> > The game could not have been unknown in England, for the Abbot of
> > Cleves in 1449 alluded in his journal to losses incurred "at the
> > Jesus Boarde".
> 
> A search of a gazetteer reveals that Cleves is a town in the German
> province of Nordrhein-Westfalen.  It further reveals that there are
> neither towns nor counties in England which bear this name.
> 
> There are some other aspects of this title that are odd.  Within the
> Catholic Church, abbots are in charge of monasteries, not towns or
> cities.  Towns and cities are given to the care of bishops and
> archbishops.  In addition, I'm not sure I've ever run across a
> Catholic monastery or convent that was not named after a saint.
> 
> > Why Sylvester V abruptly banned El Tablero in 1458,
> 
> As stated above, there has never been a Pope Sylvester V.
> 
> > I.Y. Erzbergen-St.Susse, Ph.D.
> > Queenswood Professor of Medieval Studies
> > Brunswick University
> > MCMLXXI
> 
> I have been unable to confirm the existance of a Brunswick University.
> There is a University of New Brunswick in Canada and Rutgers
> University has a campus in New Brunswick, NJ.  The librarians at
> Rutgers confirm that the New Brunswick campus has never been
> independent from Rutgers.  There is no Brunswick University in Canada,
> Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the US or the UK.
> 
> In addition, the formation of the professor's title suggests that the
> position is an endowed position.  Endowed positions tend to be
> prestigious and require demonstrated scholarship of high quality.  In
> searching the OCLC database, which contains titles held by every major
> library in the US (including the Library of Congress), as well as
> numerous libraries in Canada, Europe and Asia, I have been unable to
> find a single book written by this author.  Scholars in the field of
> history develop a reputation by publishing books and articles.  I
> can't think of any situation where a scholar would be granted an
> endowed chair without having ever published anything.
> 
> > Erzbergen-St.Susse Co.
> > 5 Teatown Road
> > Croton-on-Hudson
> > NY 10520
> 
> This address does exist.  It is outside New York City, close to New
> Jersey.
> 
> Of course, it doesn't mean that this game isn't fun, especially the
> Gucci version of it. :)  It just means that the game never actually
> existed in period.
> 
> Senhora Ester Mendes
> (Kirsti Thomas)
> celyn at drizzle.com


Teceangl here again.  I must admit that I have a personal interest in
debunking this as a period game, and that's because that damned "Gucci 
version", which people in the local SCA use as an excuse to get roaring
drunk and stupid, causes a lot of harm, both to the SCA's reputation
and to the people who have to call ambulances on alcohol-poisoned
teenagers at SCA events.
But also, I strive to present only supported facts when I teach about
games and gaming, and this interests my inner researcher no end.

- Teceangl
-- 
                Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
    Use an egg box like everyone else and stop being such a poser.

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