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Facts: On The Cards

It is widely known that there are four kings in 52 cards… the King of Spades, the King of Hearts, the King of Diamonds, and the King of Clubs. However, some possess the idea that they represent four Great Monarchs who have been revered in history.

It is believed that the King of Spades has been dedicated to King David of Israel, while the King of Clubs has been dedicated to Alexander the Great, the King of Diamonds to Julius Caesar, and the King of Hearts has been dedicated to the former King of Franks, who was conferred the title of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne or Charles the Great or Karl der GroBe (April 2, 748 AD – January 28, 814 AD). One might have noticed that unlike the three other kings, the King of Hearts does not have a moustache!

It was the French card-makers in the late 16th Century who standardised the suits of Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs and designated the four kings in the deck of four cards. It was when the cards were redesigned in the late 18th Century, the King of Hearts lost his moustache.

According to an article published recently in The Guardian, the artist accidentally forgot to give the King of Hearts a moustache while designing 52 cards. Since then, the King has remained without a moustache, and the image has not changed.

There is also a different story behind not changing the image of the King of Hearts. King Charlemagne of the Franks was a very handsome person. He had shaved his moustache to distinguish himself from others. Hence, the artist did not add a moustache to the image, as he dedicated the King of Hearts to King Charlemagne. However, his paintings with moustache exist.

As per another story, the King of Hearts is the only king without a moustache, as he appears to be killing himself! Some speculate that the latter of these has to do with the uncertainty surrounding the death of the French King Charlemagne. Perhaps, the strangest part of the whole story is the day that King Charlemagne chose to kill himself: 7/6/1462. Whether it was the intention of the king, the facts that 7+6 = 13 and 1+4+6+2 = 13 could only be explained as coincidences.

Historians are of the opinion that playing cards have been around in some form or another dating all the way back to 9th Century China, and they were making their way around Europe by the 14th Century, as the origins of European playing cards are highly speculative, with Chinese, Indian, and Persian parentage all claimed of them. The four card suits that we are familiar with, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades, were created by the French. The original concept of suits came from the Italo-Spanish deck, which contained Cups, Coins, Clubs and Swords.

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