Fortune’s Wheel

Fortune’s Wheel – 14th Century – British Library

It seems a strange choice for a post in the midst of a series lingering on the Scottish Wars of Independence. However, today my mind turned to Sir Andrew de Harcla or Harclay, earl of Carlisle. He started off life as a younger son who rose to the position of earl thanks to his military skills. He defended Carlisle in 1315 against Robert the Bruce and in 1322 bested the Earl of Lancaster at the Battle of Boroughbridge. But at the end of the year, Andrew made an agreement with the Scots and was consequently executed as a traitor by King Edward II. His life is an excellent example of the twists and turns of Fortune’s Wheel. Fortuna can carry you upwards but a turn of the wheel can see you heading in the opposite direction just as quickly.

The Wheel of Fortune or Rota Fortunae evolved from the Roman goddess Fortuna who was more associated with a cornucopia than a wheel. I’ve posted about it before https://thehistoryjar.com/2021/02/16/the-wheel-of-fortune/ but I keep coping back to it. I think because I love the various illuminations and it can be found in both Chaucer and Shakespeare. Inevitably the Church did not approve of Roman goddesses .

And having just completed the manuscript for medieval mistresses, I cannot help but notice that the images always depict men striving to achieve their worldly ambitions whilst Fortuna, a woman, spins the wheel. I was less amused to discover that to the medieval mind women were changeable by nature so it was only to be expected that one minute you had achieved the apex of the wheel only to be thrown down again.

One thought on “Fortune’s Wheel

  1. who was Sir Andrew De Harcla who killed the last blue boar in England 1120. He is buried in church in Kirkby Stephen Eden valley some 50 miles from Carlisle. He was dug up in 1970s and found to be with two wild boar tusks on his chest . So legend must be correct. I found in record he shot it with bow and arrow on Wild Boar fell just south of town running towards Tebay old village .Area would be heavily forested at that time

Leave a Reply to sirkevinshistoricfacts Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.