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Lansquenet (derived from the French spelling of German Landsknecht ('servant of the land or country'), applied to a mercenary soldier) is a card game. Lansquenet also refers to 15th- and 16th-century German foot soldiers; the lansquenet drum is a type of field drum used by these soldiers.

Game play

The dealer or banker stakes a certain sum, and this must be met by the nearest to the dealer first, and so on. When the stake is met, the dealer turns up two cards, one to the right, - the latter for himself, the former for the table or the players. He then keeps on turning up the cards until either of the cards is matched, which constitutes the winning, - as, for instance, suppose the five of diamonds is his card, then should the five of any other suit turn up, he wins. If he loses, then the next player on the left becomes banker and proceeds in the same way.

When the dealer's card turns up, he may take the stake and pass the bank; or he may allow the stake to remain, whereupon it becomes doubled if met. He can continue thus as long as the cards turn up in his favour - having the option at any moment of giving up the bank and retiring for that time. If he does that, the player to whom he passes the bank has the option of continuing it at the same amount at which it was left. The pool may be made up by contributions of all the players in certain proportions. The terms used respecting the standing of the stake are "I'll see" (à moi le tout) and Je tiens. When jumelle (twins), or the turning up of similar cards on both sides, occurs, then the dealer takes half the stake.

Robert-Houdin explained a mechanism by which a card sharp could cheat at lansquenet, by palming and then placing atop the deck a packet of cards in prepared order.

Cultural references

Lansquenet is played by Porthos in the Alexandre Dumas novel The Three Musketeers.

Lansquenet is played by D'Artagnan in the Alexandre Dumas novel Twenty Years After.

Lansquenet is played by various characters in the Pierre Choderlos de Laclos novel Les Liaisons dangereuses.

A game in Le financier et le savetier (1856) by Offenbach enables the cobbler to win the hand of the financier's daughter.

Mentioned briefly in the novel A Rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans.

Mentioned briefly in the novel The General in his Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez.

Lansquenet is played by two soldiers on a stone bench under an enclosed poplar as mentioned in Kinbote's note to line 130 in Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.

Lansquenet is played by Fatima and her family in Charles Perrault's Bluebeard.

Lansquenet-sous-Tannes is a fictional village in Joanne Harris' novel Chocolat

Mentioned briefly in the novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie as a disliked absentee husband.

Lansquenet is mentioned in The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco.

The game is mentioned in several of Georgette Heyer's historical novels. For example, in Chapter Thirteen of "The Masqueraders".