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Not only is the Queen of Hearts a fearsome villain in the beloved children’s book Alice in Wonderland, but she is also one of four of the best-known Queens in the world. These Queens, of course, are those found in a deck of playing cards.
How many Queens are in a deck of cards?
In a standard 52-card deck of playing cards there are four Queens, each from a different suit. The suit refers to the symbol that appears on the cards, consisting of spades (black), clubs (black), hearts (red), and diamonds (red). There are 2 red and 2 black in a deck, and the Queen cards depict a regal woman looking off into the distance.
What is the history of the Queen in a deck of cards?
The history of playing cards as we know them today has evolved drastically over the years, with modern use beginning in the 1300s in France. We can thank the French for being the first to incorporate Queens into the deck, replacing the Knight from the earlier Egyptian version. The King, Queen, and Jack are often referred to as face cards due to the depiction of people and therefore “faces” on them. The design of these face cards was influenced by the Spanish, who depicted ornately dressed kings standing to rule their kingdom. The designs used by the French are most like the modern design of playing cards.
Do the Queens represent real figures?
After being introduced to the deck in the 1300s, the Queens took on personas of historical or mythical women in the 1700s. The French referred to this as the “Paris Pattern” and the Queen of each suit was associated with a well-known figure.
The Queen of Spades was nicknamed Pallas Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.
The Queen of Hearts took on the persona of Judith, a biblical figure from the Old Testament.
The Queen of Diamonds is also named after a biblical figure, Rachel, who appears in the Hebrew Bible and is the mother of Jacob.
Finally, the Queen of Clubs is called Argine, but the origin of this Queen has unfortunately been lost to time. Some believe it is an anagram for the word “regina” which is Latin for Queen, while others believe it refers to Saint Regina, a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.
The Queen cards today
In current games played with a deck of cards, the Queen is generally regarded to be a good card to have. In games where the goal is to have the highest value card or take “tricks”, the Queen is only below a King and an Ace. In games where you count point values the Queen is typically worth 12 points, the logic being that the Jack is worth 11 (1 more than 10), the Queen worth 12, and the King worth 13.
It’s no wonder the Queen of Hearts is a fearsome ruler in Wonderland! Her origins can be traced back to the 1300s, and she is strengthened by strong women from myth and history.
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