Joker in the pack
Playing cards were known in China as far back as the 9th century and Persia and India in the 12th century. A pack then consisted of 48 instead of 52 cards.
The first 52-card packs date to the 14th century. It consisted of suits of swords, polo-sticks, cups, coins, and courts labeled malik (king), suggesting its earlier Arabic origin.
Cards were first mentioned in Spain in 1371, described in detail in Switzerland in 1377, and by 1380 reported across Europe.
Those early cards were individually handmade and painted, which made them expensive and restricted to the well-to-do. But by the 16th century, after the invention of the printing press, playing-cards were popular at all levels of, at least, urban society.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades – King David;
Hearts – Charlemagne;
Clubs -Alexander the Great;
Diamonds – Julius Caesar.