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Misero - I of Mantegna Tarot

Misero - I

The Miserable (Beggar)

As in the medievals poverty was rampant also throughout the Renaissance. According to estimations close to 20% of the whole European population were hope- and homeless, surviving from day to day on desperate tricks and/or begging.

Even in the comparably prosperous Italian city states the lot of the poor did not improve too much when the cities florished. The early capitalism payed low wages and had no benefit for those who couldn't provide work, the old and sick, the handicapped and crippled, were destitute and children were seen as mere ballast and often left behind. 'Charity' was a celebrated virtue but mostly understood as supporting a struggling artist or buy some new artwork or decoration for a church - the masses of the poor population were hardly ever noticed. In the eyes of the better off they simply didn't exist.

The wreckage of the 14th century threw even more of the poor in abject misery, many lost what little they might have had and were left to stray the streets.

The Miserable, Beggar, Fool as the bottom of the 'Chain of Being' has his place in every Tarot deck.

Next card: II Fameio (Servant)