To play poker is fun but to know its colourful and bright history is equally fun!
Whether you play the game of poker online, offline or in tournaments, you need the deck of playing cards for the game. And all the major poker playing cards have interesting tales linked. Today we bring you the story of Queen of Hearts and its association to Elizabeth of York. The Queen of Hearts is one of the 52 cards in a standard deck of cards!
It was in the late 14th century that the deck of cards was introduced to England, immediately rivalling the fame of old games of chance like dice. While the playing cards were utterly nothing new. The ancient Egyptians used to play them. Standardised ‘suits’ of diamonds, spades, clubs and hearts which we’d recognise now was adopted from a lately evolved French style. Up to that time, people would have played with suits more resembling old tarot cards. Those were swords, wands, coins, cups etc.
But, the stylised French ‘Queens’ on the modern cards accept more than just a passing similarity to one of our own queens. Frequently ignored now but beloved by her contemporaries. Elizabeth of York, wife of King Henry VII, mother of King Henry VIII. The instant you put next to Elizabeth’s most famed portrait with the picture of a new card deck Queen you can see the resemblance. What with both queens’ pointed gable hoods with long, hanging lappets to the side. Each delicately holding a flower. Especially the face of the Queen of Hearts bears a strong likeness to the usual. And fair kind of Elizabeth’s standard portrait.
The tale of Elizabeth
So, the tale goes that Elizabeth of York was fond of card games to such extent, that following her untimely and early death on her 37th birthday after childbirth, the grief-stricken Henry VII regimented that her picture would become the Queen of Hearts. In this manner she could in the pastime she had loved eternally.
Elizabeth was surely fond of an excitement – much like the rest of her court people. Her accounts are full of gambling debts being paid in and out. While Elizabeth of York as Queen of Hearts is the only personage-as-card we make out, the French – whose styling we lifted – had identities for all of their ‘face’ cards. Their Queen of Hearts was Judith, a biblical character, while the King of Hearts was the famous Charlemagne. As a result, rather unfortunately, today’s Queen of Hearts is perhaps just an imitation of a mythohistorical Jewish woman wearing the glad-rags of a late 15th century queen – the point at which the pastime began to be well-liked – rather than a touching and lasting compliment to an ever more marginalised Queen Consort.
This is one of the short tales linked to the Queen of Hearts. Play poker online and repeat this tale at your table. You will surely discover that many of your poker-mates do not know this tale.