The representation of David as king of Spades originally included a harp to remind everybody of the Jewish king’s musical ability; but only in France has a harp remained a conspicuous feature of the drawing.  During the Napoleonic wars the king of the second suit briefly became Napoleon in France and the Duke of Wellington in Prussia; but David was eventually reinstated.

Julius Caesar was never, of course, a king, tough a medieval French legend named him as king of Rome (and the founder of Christianity-somewhat improbably, since he died in 44 b.c. ).  He is invariably drawn in profile, and in some old French and Italian cards he was given an extended hand (which might be taken as a “grasping” gesture, perhaps an attempt to relate him to the suit that was traditionally connected with money).  The conspicuous hand remains in most modern cards, and the name Cézar is also retained in French packs.

Alexander (who was idealized in the literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) is the only card king who holds an orb, the symbol of monarchy; this is a characteristic of both old and modern kings of Clubs.  As the design has become more stylized, the hand holding the orb has dwindled to a  vestigial fleshy tint.  The king’s appearance has also changed from that of a black man with a fierce expression and kindly hair to a somewhat effete white fellow with sensual nostrils and a curlecued beard moustache.  However, Alexander the Great he was and remains poker nolimit A German King, a French queen, and a British jack represent the more or less uniform

stylized design of court cards today.  Practically all cards are double-headed, reversible, and identified by an initial (like the “D” for dame).

The queens of card monarchies have nothing to do with the real-life consorts of Charlemagne and the others.  Helen of Troy was the first queen of Hearts; St. Helena (mother of Constantine the Great), Dido, Juno, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I of Britain, Roxane, Rachel, and Fausta have all tenanted the card from time to time.  But the enduring resident of this queenship is Judith, the heroine of an Apocryphal Bible tale, who has been perpetuated on playing cards ever since the Middle Ages. When the Apocrypha was most popular online poker .

For most of the time in the Latin countries, the queenship of Spades was held by Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war (or her Roman counter-part Minerva).  The Teutonic and Scandinavian countries substituted goddesses of war from their own mythologies and France  temporarily tried edging in Bathsheba and Joan of Arc, neither of whom apparently appealed to card players.

As for the queen of Diamonds, no special personality seems to have been favored in the 14th and 15th centuries, except in France, where the queen was often labeled Penthisilea (the queen of the Amazons in Greek mythology).  In the 16th century, one heroine became almost universally adopted; Rachel, Jacob’s love in the romantic Bible story.  Since Rachel was by and large mean and grasping, her adoption as queen of the “money” suit seems reasonable enough –as does the motto that the French often printed on her card: Vivent les bons enfants qui jouent souvent (long live the good folk who play often).
The earliest Italian card makers called their queen of Clubs “Lucretia”- perhaps the Lucretia who was married to Tarquinius Superb us.  No other country appears to have settled on a queen of Clubs for some time, though He Cuba (who was the queen of Troy) and Florimel (a personification of womanly charm created by the English poet Spenser ) both had brief appearances in the pack.  So did an allegorical being called “Disillusion,” shown on old French cards exhibiting (but not wearing) a wedding ring.  The French eventually stumbled on the idea of naming the queen of Clubs “Argine” (an anagram of the word Regina), and this has stuck.  It became traditional to attach the name Argine to any queen or king’s mistress who justified lampooning.  Henry III of France, a sexual fetishist who wore women’s clothes, was also picked on in this way (probably in court jokes and popular songs).  When he tumbled to the double entendre behind the word “queen” he issued an edict forbidding any kind of written or pictured royal or political allusion –though nobody took much notice of it.

The four knights of the Tarot cards were dropped as the pack developed, so there are no reliable records of their personifications, if they ever had any.  But the valets (as they were in France) or knaves (in Britain) and identities as real people just as the kings and queens did.  Though “valet,” “varlet,” “knave,” and “jack” are all words meaning men in a lowly position, the subsidiary meaning of a buccaneering adventurer, lawless but not villainous, is closely attached to the jacks of playing kinds of cards.

This meaning is certainly apt in the case of the jack of Hearts.  As usual, the French choice was the personality who became most firmly established.  He was Étienne de Vignoles, a soldier in the service of Charles VII of France, who called himself “La Hire” (a noun sometimes alleged to mean “wrath,” sometimes “the growl of a dog”).  He was an excellent soldier, generous, brutal, swash-buckling, and irreverent.  (On one occasion he was being given absolution after confession and was told to pray for mercy.  He knelt and said, “ O God, I pray thee to do for La Hire today such things as you would wish La Hire to do for you if he were God and you were La Hire.”) He became one of Joan of Arc’s councilors of war, and has remained a popular hero like Till Eulenspiegel, William Tell, and Robin Hood, tacitly accepted by other nations as the personality of the jack of Hearts.
Ogier the Dane was the original jack of Spades, probably because he is known to have owned and used in battle two fine Spanish swords with Toledo steel blades.  (“Swords,” remember, is Espadas in Spanish.) Ogier had a legendry as well as an historical existence: In legends, he slew giants, restored kingdoms to bewitched princes, and was himself constantly being restored to youth by Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s fairy sister, who determinedly married him.  Historically, he is thought to have been the son of Geoggrey of Denmark and a cousin of Charlemagne’s.  (He is still the national hero of Denmark, though now called Holger Danske.)

Roland, Charlemagne’s legendary nephew, became the Italians’ jack of Diamonds (under the name of Orlando).  But unaccountably he seems to have been quickly replaced by Hector de Maris, one of the legendary knights of the Round Table and Sir Lancelot’s step-brother.  At least that is that identity now generally given this jack.  But Hector de Maris seems to have been too chivalrous to have attracted the evil reputation that the jack of Diamonds has always had; it is possible that the Hector concerned was Hector de Galard, a disreputable officer of Charles VII .  In game of fortune telling by cards, the jack of Diamonds can be considered ominous-though in fact the entire suit of Diamonds is looked upon favorably by cartomancers, possibly because of its connection with the Tarot “money” suit.

The jack of Clubs is Sir Lancelot, top knight Arthur’s round table and Queen Guinevere’s  lover.  He was originally the most decorative of the jacks, but his gorgeous raiment and the elaborate arrow that symbolized his prowess in archery have been lost in successive designs through the years.  It is impossible to associate the present jack of Clubs with the warrior who (as told in Malory’s history) smote down 30 knights after being shot in the buttock by a huntress.

Today, so long as the suits are distinguishable and the values clear, most card players would probably be indifferent to the long-dead personalities depicted on the court cards even if they knew about them.  Of course, the designs of modern court cards are hardly recognizable as having been real people.  They are generally stylizations of stylizations countless times removed from the original idea (though France and Germany still link the court cards with the historical figures by often incorporating their names into the designs).  Nor does there seem to be any strong resistance by card players today to new designs.  For example, the modern French artist André Francois has designed a pack in which all the king ride caparisoned horses and all the jacks play poker strategy guitars.