E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Vierge (2 syl.).
A curious conversion in playing-cards occurs in reference to this word. The invention is Indian, and the game is called The Four Rajahs. The pieces are the king, his general or fierche, the elephant or phil, the horsemen, the camel or ruch, and the infantry. The French corrupted fierche (general) into vierge, and then converted virgin into dame. Similarly they corrupted phil into fol or fou (knave); ruch is our rook. At one time playingcards were called the Books of the Four Kings, and chess the Game of the Four Kings. It was for chess, and not cards, that Walter Sturton, in 1278, was paid 8s. 5d., according to the wardrobe rolls of Edward I., ad opus regis ad ludendum adquatuor reges. Malkin said it was no great proof of our wisdom that we delighted in cards, seeing they were invented for a fool. Malkin referred to the vulgar tradition that cards were invented for the amusement of Charles VI., the idiot king of France; but it was no proof that Jacquemin Gringonneur invented cards because he painted and gilded three packs for the king in 1392.