CHAPTER THREE:

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING



- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Epitaph | pg. 2 - The Iron Gates of Fate
pg. 3 - The Fate of All Mankind | pg. 4 - Moonchild
pg. 5 - The Court of the Crimson King | pg. 6 - The Purple Piper
pg. 7 - Averroes | pg. 8 - The Keeper of the City Keys
pg. 9 - The Pilgrim's Door | pg. 10 - The Return of the Fire Witch
pg. 11 - The Gardener Plants An Evergreen | pg. 12 - The Prism Ship
pg. 13 - The Grinding Wheel | pg. 14 - On Soft Gray Mornings
pg. 15 - Divining Signs | pg. 16 - The Yellow Jester
pg. 17 - Remember the Future | pg. 18 - The Return of the King
pg. 19 - The I Ching | pg. 20 - Octants


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" The pattern juggler lifts his hand;
The orchestra begin.
As slowly turns the grinding wheel
In the court of the crimson king.
"

"The Juggler represents the will of god, the creation and quickening of life."

- Tarot by Kerry Kulkens

Frederick was surrounded by epochal forces and events beyond his control. During his life, the Magna Carta was signed, the Mongol invasions reached Western Europe, and the Inquisition began. The historical force that ultimately destroyed his empire, and his bloodline, was the Papacy. The pattern juggler symbolizes his recognition of being helpless before the seemingly arcane patterns of history. The slowly turning grinding wheel, on which the executioner ground his axe, represents the inevitable death, the quickening, of his empire and family at the hands of the Catholic Church.

"By 1266-68, Federick's two sons and their Ghibelline supporters were defeated by Charles of Anjou, and the last representative of the Hohenstaufen dynasty was beheaded in the public square in Naples."

- The Venetian Conspiracy by Webster G. Tarpley

"The instructions of Innocent IV to his adherents twenty years earlier must be followed to the letter: the house of Frederick must be eliminated from power; if that meant its physical elimination, Charles was not one to shrink from such an act. So in October, 1268, the sixteen-year-old adventurer Conradin was led to the block: an act which inspired deep revulsion and helped furnish a martyr to the Ghibelline cause."

- Frederick II A Medieval Emperor by David Abulafia, p. 422

"The public execution of the last of the Hohenstaufen in the marketplace of Naples was a revolutionary event, without precedent in the history of Europe; until it happened anyone would have said it was unthinkable. In terms of the 'logic of history' it may seem the 'right' conclusion to the Papal revolt against the Emperor.
The Papacy had encompassed the destruction of the Empire only by a revolutionary breach of the continuity of European history: the transformation of the popular image of the Christian monarch from a sacred and sacrosanct figure into a diabolical object of execration had called for the most blatant techniques of propaganda and political manoeuvring."

- The Medieval World by Friedrich Heer

Another meaning to the wheel is to be found on the Fortune Tarot card.

"The wheel represents the inexorable rise and fall of fortune. In her right hand Fortuna holds the tiller by which she steers the course of events, and in her left she holds the cornucopia, the fruits of respecting her laws. At Fortuna's right a young and nimble youth ascends with the wheel; his rising station and power sow the seeds of his inevitable decline, but his sprouting ass's ears show us that he cannot see beyond his immanent triumph. His power reaches its maturity and he is the king of all he surveys, yet this very power leads to rigidity, which will topple him with the wheel's revolution.

...the classical conception of Fortuna is not blind; the rudder shows she steers with Foresight (her father, according to Alcman). Those who respect her and the other gods are rewarded from her Cornucopia, the fruits of striving toward the central axis. For those who disregard her laws, especially for those who have the hubris to try to escape the wheel and rise above Fate (by which even the gods are bound), for these the wheel becomes an instrument of torture. Like Ixion, who had the hubris to try to seduce Hera, they are bound to the wheel and are broken by it. (Nichols 183-5; OCD s.v. Tyche; SB&G 54-6)"

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

Arthur's Vision of the Wheel of Fortune by Albert Herter "And the chair was fastened to a wheel, and the wheel began to turn, and King Arthur went down, down among the floating things, and they wreathed themselves about him till he cried, 'Help! Help!"

- Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic
by Thomas Wentworth Higgins, 1899

"In Malorey's Le Morte d'Arthur [1469] King Arthur in a dream sees himself seated atop a high wheel where he has been placed by a beautiful woman. She asks him what he can see - he replies "The entire world." She then pushes him to the ground observing that earthly pride being what it is, everyone has to fall. Later, a dream vision of the wheel fortells his death."

- The Tarot: Images of Christian Being and Cosmic Consciousness

Two Medieval depictions of the Wheel of Fortune


Wheel of Fortuna in Hortus Deliciarum

Frederick II on the Wheel of Fortune


Summary of verse three:

It is no longer mid-day. The sun is beginning its long slow descent. The military campaigns of earlier years have not achieved the successes Frederick hoped for. Time and crushing defeat have worn him down. He is no longer threatening to rain fire from the skies. His confidence shaken, he is now expressing concern for the weak (the Franciscans). His greatest victories behind him, he now spends time reminiscing about the glory years (chasing the wind of a prism ship). He fears for the future of his dynastic line (the grinding wheel).




In the Court of the Crimson King ~ The Prism Ship return to
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In the Court of the Crimson King ~ On Soft Gray Mornings



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