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Artixan - III of Mantegna Tarot

Artixan - III

The Artisan (Craftsman)

The 14th century leading into the Renaissance saw a change from former feudalism to modern capitalism, with a welldoing industry quickly gaining power and prosperity. Florence was one of the leading producing capitals of Europe with an estimated 25% of its appr. 100,000 population forming the industrial work force.

Workers and craftsmen were strictly organized in guilds and trade-unions. On top were the big guilds (Arti maggiori, which we will come to with the merchants when they weren's for craftsmen), below were the smaller guilds (Arti minori) in which traders, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, locksmiths, saddlers, carpenters, masons, butchers, bakers, innkeepers, you name it, were sorted. The trade-unions in which the common workers were organized ranged at the bottom - it's telling enough that only guild members had a right to vote. Even below the trade-unions was the vast mass of peasants always with one foot in the frightening realms of the Misero.
While the members of the big guilds formed the upper classes - Popolo grasso - those of the smaller guilds were the proverbial 'small people' - the petty bourgois or the Popolo minuto. People from below the smaller guilds were not even that.

There was not always idyllic peace within these structures. One Cinto Brandini was executed for his attempts to organize the lower classes of weavers which couldn't make it into the smaller guilds, in 1368 the Popolo Minuto staged a futile revolt against its social disadvantages and most notable was the socalled Tumulto dei Ciompi in 1379 when the wool combers managed to overthrow the ruling classes and grab power - for a couple of months. ... .... .... sorry, got carried away...

The Artisan as 'the maker' and 'craftsman' also has his place in Tarot - it is the Juggler, Il Bagatto, Le Bateleur, the Magus, and the Magician in Thoth.

Next card: IIII Merchandante (Merchant)