December 2013


There was only one playing card bourse this month, on the 8th and we missed it. Miriam wasn't well enough to travel and Joop still had a chainsaw job to do. A few days before we'd had a severe storm here and one of our trees had to be topped off or it would have fallen over.... on the house. It was a beautiful slim Nordmander tree, about ten meters high, that had served as our Christmas tree exactly 27 years ago, but now two large pieces of the stem with branches were on the street and had to be removed. 
There were only a few local flea markets, but this month we didn't visit any of them. So for cards we had to look on the internet again. 
Ebay brought us a few nice decks, but again it

was the Dutch auction site that brought us a rarely seen deck. It caused some discussion here, when Joop suggested that we should present it on this spot. This time it's not a new deck for our collection ánd it's not an obvious improvement either. That was the condition to earn a spot here. So why is it here now? Well, we started this xpo in April 2007 and the deck would no doubt have been shown here if we hadn't already acquired it in 2001. So from now on we may show an exceptional or rare duplicate deck here, if that last condition is fulfilled too. We should mention the shortlist, as there was a nice antique Bongout deck by Frommann & Bunte on it, a beautiful modern Russian deck and Spanish drawn pin-up deck.

But as you see, we have chosen the "Historische Kaart" (Historical Card) deck, which was produced by C.L. Wüst for the Dutch market, probably in 1898. It's printed in very fine chromolithography and the deck was most likely published to commemorate the 250th anniversary of an independent Dutch state, at the end of what the Dutch call their "Eighty Years War", but what is abroad commonly know as "The Dutch Revolt". The resurrection of the protestant lower countries in the north against the Spanish enforced Catholicism lasted from 1568 until 1648 and resulted in the creation of an independent Dutch Republic, de facto already in 1581 and de jure in 1648. The deck shows us some important events on the aces and the main political and military players on the courts. The indices are officially German, but easy to use for the Dutch too. The text on the aces and the names on the courts are in Dutch. So..... it's time for a short history lesson to explain all the depicted events and persons.


The basis for the Dutch revolt lies in a conflict between the protestant believes, introduced in the low countries or "netherlands" (the present Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and northern part of France) by the Swiss Johannes Calvijn and the German Martin Luther in the first half of the 16th century, and the roman catholic religion. On the King of Hearts the emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and King Philip II of Spain are depicted. Both belonged to the house of Habsburg, were devoted to the roman catholic religion and were subsequent rulers of the low countries. In 1556 Charles V passed his throne on to his son Philip II of Spain. The new ruler had little empathy for the netherlands and he appointed Margaret of Parma (see Queen of Hearts) as governor there.

Under the governance of her predecessor, Mary of Hungary, the traditional power had already for a large part been taken away from the stadtholders of the provinces and high noblemen. The high nobility had still been appointed in the Council of State, a governing body of the seventeen provinces that was headed by a confidant of Philip and advised the governor. In 1564 the noblemen had noticed unrest among the population as a result of the growing protestant reformation and they urged for a wise resolution to avoid violence, but Philip II responded with even harsher measures. Subsequently the counts of Egmond and Hoorne (both on the Jack of Diamonds) resigned from the Council, together with William of Orange (see the Jack of Hearts). In 1566 a group of about 400 noblemen presented a petition ("smeekschrift") to Margaret of Parma, asking to stop persecutions until rest was restored. It's one of the scenes on the Ace of Diamonds. During that meeting one of Margaret's courtiers called the petition an act of beggars ("Geux"in French) and the noblemen took up that name themselves, "Geuzen". The shield of the Count of Brederode (Jack of Spades) refers to this ("jusques a porter la besace" = down to carrying the beggar's wallet").

In 1566 a Calvinist movement of iconoclasts had attacked some Roman Catholic churches and the bad harvest of 1565 had caused hunger and rebellious feelings among the population. So in order to restore his authority Philip's reaction to the petition was to send an army. In 1567 10.000 troops marched in to Brussels, led by the third Duke of Alva. This event is depicted on the Ace of Hearts and Alva's portrait can be found on the Jack of Clubs. Alva has used the governor Margaret of Parma to invite the noblemen for negotiations. Most of them declined the invitation, as they suspected foul play, but the Counts of Egmond and Hoorne (both on the Jack of Diamonds) accepted and were arrested immediately by Alva and months later decapitated. 


The aces show events and these are dated. The dates range from 1558 to 1584, so the first date is before the beginning of the Revolt and the last date after the de facto independence of the Netherlands. The battle of Gravelingen (presently Gravelines, in the north of France) in 1558 (on Ace of Spades) was important because by the victory of the count of Egmond over the French troops, the southern border of the low countries was established. On the Ace of Diamonds one of the scenes shows the death of Prince William of Orange (the "Silent") in 1584. He was the first ruler of the 7 northern provinces, de facto independent since 1881 and his "death" was in fact an assassination by a French roman catholic fanatic. At the same time this murder is illustrative for the broader picture of a religious war between Roman Catholics and Protestants from the Reformation, of which the main players are also presented in this deck.
On the King of Diamonds Charles IX, since 1560 king of France, is depicted. The wife of Charles IX was Elisabeth of Austria. She's depicted on the Queen of Clubs, together with Charles' mother, Catharine de Medici, who is seen as the instigator of the St. Bartholomew's massacre of 1572, in which throughout France an estimated 30.000 Huguenots were killed. 
On the King of Clubs Emperor Ferdinand I of the Holy Roman Empire and Henry III, King of France since 1573 are depicted. Both were Catholics, but once he became king, Henry III was very tolerant towards the protestants and Huguenots. He was killed by a fanatic roman catholic monk. 
On the King of Spades we find Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV, who became King of France in 1589. He was a Huguenot leader and was killed in 1610 by a roman catholic fanatic.

Meanwhile across the Channel.....
King Henry VIII (see King of Diamonds) had forced a separation between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. His daughter Mary Tudor (see Queen of Diamonds) became Queen of England in 1553. She got her nickname "Bloody Mary" for all the persecutions and executions of protestants and she restored Roman Catholicism in England. After her death her younger half-sister Elisabeth I became queen of England in 1558 and reversed this situation. She's depicted on the Queen of Spades, just like Mary Stuart, also known as Queen of Scots, who had led a rebellion by Catholic noblemen against Elisabeth I in 1569. Mary was kept in custody for 18 years before being executed for the attempt to depose of Elisabeth.

At first the military campaign by the Duke of Alva was successful. He restored the Spanish authority in the low countries, prosecuted the rebels and re-established Roman Catholicism as sole religion in the region. The first real battle that the rebelling forces under William of Orange won took place in 1668 and marks the official beginning of the Dutch Revolt. It's not depicted, as William wasn't able to consolidate the victory. In 1572 the rebel fleet was ordered to leave Dover by Elisabeth I and ended up in the waters near Den Briel. As there were not many Spanish troops there, they attacked and took Den Briel, as depicted on the Ace of Clubs. Throughout the low countries cities joined the rebelling forces under William of Orange. Other cities however, remained loyal to the Spanish king. Leiden was one of those cities. When the freedom of religion was abandoned by Alva's rulings, the city chose the side of thea


rebels in 1572. In order to restore the Spanish order there Alva besieged the town. But the city council had been warned and had stored large supplies of food and drink. Although the siege was interrupted in March 1574 the Spanish troops returned again in May of that year. As the council had not restocked when they could, the town was ready to fall in September. The rebels broke the dykes and flooded the polder. A favorable wind caused a rise of the water that drove the Spanish troops away. See the Ace of Spades.

The typical Wüst logo, the star shape with C L W in it, can be found on the Jack of Spades. No mysterious number in this deck though.


On the Jack of Clubs two of the governors for the low countries are depicted. The duke of Alva did the job from 1567 to 1573, when -after a number of lost battles- he was relieved by Luis  de Requesens (not depicted), who was governor until his death in 1576. His successor was Don Juan of Austria, an illegal son of the emperor Charles V, who only did the job for 2 years. He died in 1578.
By that time differences between the northern and southern provinces began to emerge. A small number of southern provinces signed a treaty, the Union of Atrecht, on January 6, 1579 and accepted the reign of the Spanish king again. Five of the northern provinces signed their own treaty on January 23, 1579, the Union of Utrecht. That scene is on the Ace of Clubs. Not much later other provinces joined and in May William of Orange signed for his support of the union.

A deed of abjuration was signed on July 26, 1581 and this can be seen as a declaration of independence by 17 Dutch provinces and de facto the initiation of a Dutch Republic. Prince Maurits of Orange was the son of William of Orange (both on the Jack of Hearts). In 1585 he was appointed stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland at the age of 18 and 5 years later also of three other provinces. But he was more active on the battlefield as commander in chief of the Dutch forces and between 1588 and 1598 he drove the Spanish troops out of the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands. The political leadership fell to John of Oldebarneveld, the attorney general of the young republic. His portrait is on the Jack of Spades. Although it took a lot more fighting, these two men paved the way for the official independence, that was agreed on by Spain and the Netherlands in the Treaty of Munster on January 30, 1648.

So  much for the history lesson.
If you've lost track of all the events and persons involved here, we hope that at least you've enjoyed the fine portraits and scenes.

We already had this deck in our collection, with red backs. The backs of the duplicate deck have the same design in blue.
All the pips have regular numbers, except for the 10's. They have the roman number. This feature is not unique and can be found in other Wüst decks.