hist-games: Tablero de Jesus
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
On Wed, 25 Jul 2001 22:20:06 -0700 Gerhard & Amanda Kendal
<kendal at lightspeed.ca> writes:
> This was a question a while ago about the origins of Tablero de
> (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
> 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
> to regard it) as less a game than a "religious exercise" which
> 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,
> 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
> 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
> 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,
> 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
> (The papal ban against the Jesus Board is no longer in force. You
> now give the game to anyone with no risk of embarrassment.)
> Erzbergen-St.Susse Co.
> 5 Teatown Road
> 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:
> I passed on the information which I received when I first learned
> 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.
> 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
> 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.
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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