A Short but Colourful Post!

In The Queen’s Rival I make frequent use of the idea of the Wheel of Fortune in the history of Cecily Neville and the House of York.

Where did this idea originate?

In the Ancient World, the Greeks and Romans found the idea of events happening without some guiding hand unacceptable.  It was far easier to blame all disasters and malicious happenings on the gods and goddesses.  The Greeks believed in The Three Fates.  These three sisters controlled life from birth to death.  Clotho, spun the threads of life. Lachesis measured the length of the thread with her rod. Finally Atropos decided on the length of life; with her shears she cut the thread and that life ended.

What an uncomfortable thought.

In Roman times it was thought that the ebbs and flows of life were dictated by the Rota Fortunae, the Wheel of Fortune, which was guided by the Roman goddess Fortuna.  She turned the wheel which dictated the length of life to be lived, and its quality.  It was Fortuna who became most popular in medieval times to explain the ups and downs of life.

This image of Fortuna and her wheel would remind the viewer of the fragility of power.  Even at the highest levels of society, fortunes could rise and fall at a moment’s notice.  Fortuna is shown  with her hand on a lever, turning a mechanical wheel to dictate the future of four figures.  Often in the illustrations a crowned king is shown sitting  at the top of a golden wheel, only to be toppled to the gutter as the wheel turns, reaching the bottom where he no longer has power.  But as the wheel continues to turn he can equally be restored.

What a fitting metaphor this is for the shifting fortunes of the Lancastrian and Yorkist kings during the Wars of the Roses.  The Duke of York, once Lord Protector for Henry VI and acclaimed the new heir in the Act of Accord, met his death on the battlefield at Wakefield, his family exiled and attainted.  Thus the House of York toppled.  They were to rise again, when Edward IV was crowned King, although even within his reign there were times when Fortuna seemed set against him and.  With the Earl of Warwick increasingly in opposition to Edward, his crown wobbled on a knife edge.

King Henry IV was restored at the Readeption. Yet Fortuna seemed to smile once more on York when Richard III was crowned King, only for fate to take a hand again at the Battle of Bosworth.  For King Henry VI, the Wheel of Fortune was a permanent fall from power for the Lancastrians with his death in the Tower of London, and that of his son at Tewkesbury.  Fortuna was very busy during these years.

This idea of the Wheel of Fortune was used widely in the writings of the Middle Ages: in Chaucer, in Dante’s Inferno, in the Romance of the Rose.  Fortuna was also in the Carmina Burana, a collection of poems and texts from the 12th-13th centuries:

The wheel of Fortune turns;

I go down, demeaned;

another is raised up;

far too high up

sits the king at the summit –

let him fear ruin!

Cecily Neville would have been very familiar with the Wheel of Fortune.

Celebrating The Queen’s Rival, published 3rd September 2020.

Two signed copies on offer.

Leave a comment at the end and may the Wheel of Fortune spin in your favour.

Good luck and Happy Reading.


164 responses to “The Queen’s Rival and the Wheel of Fortune

    1. It’s not that I am over excited about this new book …I just cant sleep !
      I neeeed to sleep ha ha !!
      Cant wait for your amazing work x

          1. Anne, you’ve caught us again this dazzler!

            I own all your books and I must say of all this is one I am most excited to read.

            Like the others I’m sure it’ll be one I read from cover to cover. Xx

      1. How exciting – love this era. Lockdown has given me the opportunity to make a bit of space on my bookcases !
        Good luck everyone

    2. I live in the United States and am an avid historical fiction reader, hopefully in the future fellow writer. I have read your earlier novels and enjoyed them tremendously. I have tried to find your more recent work in the local libraries but to no avail. I have been looking for the past few years. If I do obtain a copy I would gladly donate it to the library after reading it. Love your work.

    3. One of the most interesting introductions to a new book I’ve ever seen. Thank you. The Wheel of Fortune in medieval times was never more apt than in the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. ‘Devil’s Consort’ is a great read (thank you again) but the latter part of her life with its incredible twists and turns could be the perfect Wheel of Fortune theme for a new novel. I’d be first in the queue for that one!

    4. Thanks Anne being a member of the Richard 3 society it will be interesting to read about his mother.
      Certainly Wheel of Fortune in those times Lancastrian then Yorkist as king then exile Edward 4th then return and king again.i shall enjoy reading it all your books are good

  1. I am really looking forward to to reading this. I love the time period and the attention to detail in the books is amazing.

    1. I have read so many different accounts about Cecily that I am no longer sure exactly what kind of woman she was. I can’t wait to read your account of her because I know how thoroughly you research your work. Thanks again, Anne

    1. The circle of life as one cicle ends another begins. It’s not long now and I can’t wait to read it. I have so enjoyed reading about Cecily.

  2. I love historical fiction, and your books transport me to another world, another time, where every sense is heightened and I am there, in the story. Living it. Breathing it.
    Love it.

    1. So excited by this book…several of your recent ones as well as being beautiful historical story’s have reduced me to tears….they are so tenderly written. Well done

  3. Fascinating article, and I look forward to reading your latest novel. I Would love to win a signed copy, the cover is lovely and so eye catching!

  4. Dear Anne,
    Thank you for your books! It’s a great joy and pleasure to read them. And I can’t wait to start reading this one!

  5. I have always found Cecily Neville to be a fascinating and strong woman in a time where men fought for kingdoms and positions of power. The leading men of this time could not have accomplished what they did without the support and intelligence of these amazing women. I cannot wait to read this book. Best wishes for its success.

  6. This is on my Christmas Wish List. I can’t wait to add another of your wonderful Tudor books to my book shelf. I’m going to need another bookshelf too…I better add that to my wish list too.

  7. I love how people used to use the Wheel of Fotune to make sense of lifes ups and downs. It certainly is very fitting with life as I’ve experienced it so far, so many highs and lows. I can’t wait to read this and be transported to Cecile Nevilles life and how the Wheel kept turning her life around

  8. Ooo what an intriguing look into the life of one the most influential royal? Families in the Middle Ages, I adore that it focuses on Cecily, a strong and determined woman, as history books seem to be on the men,I would love the chance to read about her.

  9. This book sounds intriguing. I love the idea of the wheel turning and changing ones circumstances. Can’t wait for my book to be delivered to start reading it. Thank you.

  10. The wheel of fortune certainly did turn for Cecily Neville. I love going to Fotheringhay and looking round the casle and the church where she is buried with her husband. I enjoy this period of history because it is interlinked to where I live. Cecily Neville and Fotheringhay. Margaret Beaufort and Bletsoe. Elizabeth Woodville and Grafton Regis are all near where I live. The books take me back in time to that area and the influence of this area of England.

  11. I have been waiting for your next book and can’t wait to find out more about Cecily Neville – an amazingly strong woman.

  12. What a beautiful cover.
    I do fee! for Cecily, abandoned by her menfolk and left to survive by her own wits – and what a royal survivor she was!
    I hope to be lucky this time …
    Stay safe, Anne.💗

    1. Love reading your books, and particularly as they’re written from a woman’s perspective. Looking forward to reading The Queen’s Rival.

  13. I’m hoping the wheel of fortune spins in my favour this time! I’ve read and enjoyed all your books and can’t wait to read this one.

  14. So looking forward to your take on Cecily! She’s been my historical heroine for several years now and I always love seeing what different authors make of her.

  15. Greetings from York, how fascinating a character she sounds. I can only imagine as a women, trying to survive in such a patriarchal society a need to know, what fate or fortune has in store must have been paramount. I can’t wait to explore your new book.

  16. Thank you for bringing this period of history alive and letting us into the lives of the ladies! Looking forward to the next chapter.

  17. I can’t wait to read this book! Cecily Neville is such an interesting character, ber history is so intriguing and thr idea of the wheel is amazing!

  18. I can’t wait to add this one to my growing collection of your books 😊 the war of the roses is fascinating and I love to learn more about it 😊

  19. Can’t wait to find out more about Cecily Neville. Love your books and how you bring these people and their stories back to life.

  20. I can’t wait to read “The Queen’s Rival”. I’ve been hooked on your great historical novels ever since I read the first one. Hope the wheel of fortune spins in my favour.

  21. Love reading your books, and particularly as they’re written from a woman’s perspective. Looking forward to reading The Queen’s Rival.

  22. I can’t wait to have your new book in my hands.
    I love your writing and I’m sure I will enjoy this one as I have enjoyed your other books.

  23. Such interesting historical facts are brought to life through your books. Avidly awaiting to read about Cecily Neville!

  24. I was very lucky and received an advance PDF of this book. It is so well written, thoroughly absorbing and I really loved it. So much so that I will be getting the hard copy when published. You can’t beat holding a physical book. Thank you Anne for bringing my favourite period in history to life, and good luck with sales!

  25. So excited to read this. I absolutely loved your previous books and the way you bring these key historic women to life and tell their stories!

  26. I can’t wait to read about Cecily.
    I think about her every time I drive through Fotheringhay, and that’s frequently as I only live 2 miles up the road!
    I am sure the book will in some measure make up for the fact I don’t imagine the Richard III society will be holding their annual carol concert in Fotheringhay this year.

  27. Can’t wait for this book – being transported away to different times is particularly welcome in our current period of unrest. Your books are fantastic – I love learning about our (often hidden) history. Hope the next one’s already coming to life 🙂

  28. The wheel of fortune is fascinating, great depictions! And the new book cover is beautiful, would love to have a copy!

  29. Two important happenings on 3rd September. One never to be forgotten memory from 1939..the other, the latest novel from Anne!

    i cannot wait!

  30. As a Ricardian, I eagerly await this book. Not only are your books so ‘readable’ they are extremely well researched too. I’m sure this one will not disappoint.

  31. Fascinating post. I recently read Fortress of Fury, the latest book in Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles series set in 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain. Beobrand, the main character, has a strong belief in his wyrd, or fate, being predestined. By the way, what a gorgeous cover design for your book. It would look great on my bookshelf!

  32. I would love the wheel of fortune to choose me as one of The lucky people to receive a signed copy of your new book Anne love your books

  33. The eagerly awaited new book by Anne O’Brien is almost here! I can’t wait to read your take on Cecily Neville, the mother of two English kings, who has always fascinated me.

    1. I’ve just finished reading Alison Weir”s – The Lady Elizabeth for the second time so The Queens Rival would be another great story about fascinating women in history, can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and eagerly await your next wonderful offering .

  34. Looking forward to reading your new book, am fascinated with Cecily Neville and her family. I have read all your books and enjoy them immensely. Love most historical fiction, especially books relating to real people. Stay safe.

  35. Such an interesting period to live in with her family so involved. Cicely Neville saw so much. Really looking forward to your new book.

    1. The Wheel of Fortune. The cycle of life. The many ups and downs of life. Tarot card number ten. Life is a game of chance dealt by the hand of fate.
      I always look forward to your books . The Queen’s Rival is a definite would be for me.

  36. I love being transported to another time and it always sparks the interest to do my own research into it! Can not wait and good luck!

  37. I enjoyed reading the post about the wheel of fortune very intresting , I’m also looking forward to reading the queens rival , and adding it to my collection of your books , live long and prosper , stay well stay safe x

  38. I know I will not be disappointed with ‘The Queen’s Rival’,
    because every book which I have read, written by you is a page turner of adventure and excitement. I so look forward to this latest one. Very best wishes!

  39. My husband has read most of your books and recommended me to read them oh my what can I say thank you I am there with the characters and even when I have finished reading them we discuss the books and have recently started to travel to the places you recommend . Think we will be fighting who gets to read your latest book first!

  40. Well here goes. I have only recently started reading you. I came across a copy of A Tapestry of Treason attracted by the cover and purchased it. Now I am hooked, history of kings and queens not my strong point but my are you educating me. I have read three more of yours and very much look forward to this new one and also getting hold of some of the others. Thanks again for brushing up my knowledge. All the best

  41. I love all your books Anne as you don’t write about women I know much about. They all are very strong women and your books bring them to life.

  42. I have always been fascinated by Cecily Neville. The rose of Raby and have been to Raby castle several times.
    I also believe in Fortuna and the wheel of destiny. Looking forward to reading this book.

  43. I can’t wait to get the book. The cover is fantastic and the story sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for being a great writer.

  44. Cecily Neville was a formidable woman in her own right – she lived a portion of her life under siege as a villain to the crown, had to contend with the loss of her husband and a young son, all while trusting men around her to guide her other children to roles as kings and duchesses. I’m so glad you’ve chosen to write about her and look forward to reading this book! What a wonderful treasure it would be after submitting my master’s dissertation, which Is due in the coming weeks!! Thanks Anne and best wishes for this book!

  45. Sooooooo looking forward to yet another journey back in time to Medieval England and more antics and skull duggery with the ‘Young and Lovelies’ (York and Lancaster families). Just in case anyone is wondering; my late father’s regiment of the Yorks and Lancasters were nicknamed ….. the Young and Lovelies.

  46. The Rose of Raby, Cecile is one of my favourite historical figures. I look forward to reading The Queens Rival, thank you for writing a book on such an interesting woman.

  47. Have only just discovered you Anne O’Brien by reading Devils consort and what a fabulous read! Historical fiction at its best. Thank you for your books and here’s to many more.

  48. may the wheel of fortune be with you too Anne, keep safe.
    wow 2 years research for your new masterpiece, thank you.
    If I don’t win The Queens Rival Wheel of Fortune book, this will go on my wish list for gifts from family.

  49. Looking forward to reading your new book – are you already planning another one (as in ‘the moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on!’)? I hope so!!

  50. I would be so very honored to win one of your signed copies. By the turn of Fortunes Wheel the women you write about became famous down through the ages… in the end they were women just like us!

  51. Looking forward to reading about another fascinating, strong woman in Cecily Neville. can’t wait to read this new book.

  52. Looking forward reading this one and enjoying your inciteful interpretation of Cecily’s fortunes. Although I am familiar with the story, I know I will experience new depths of emotion and empathy in your telling of it. As always, thank you. Fantastic cover.

  53. Your books are the perfect read on a beautiful autumn day! Would love to read this one too!
    Thanks for the opportunity Anne!

  54. A very fascinating article about the the wheel of fortune, thank you. I’m so excited for the release of this novel as I love Cecily and she was Edward IV’s mother, for me personally I find Edward IV and his immediate family so interesting to read about whether fact or fiction. Cecily was indeed a strong woman who saw many battles within her own family even as a child. I have recently had a reorganisation of my bookcases and made space on ‘your shelf’ ready for my copy of The Queens Rival.! I’d love nothing more than a signed copy too.

  55. So looking forward to reading about Cecily Neville, one of my historical heroines, the mother of kings. What a lady she must have been.

  56. This is such a fascinating article – thank you! I love your books and I’m excited to see you turn your hand to the Wars of the Roses! Can’t wait to read ‘The Queen’s Rival’.

  57. This sounds like a very fascinating book! Cecily Neville is often overshadowed by the Woodvilles. It will be interesting to hear more about her!

  58. I am eagerly anticipating your perspective on Cecily Neville’s life and fortune. September is only days away!

  59. Always been fascinated by the Neville family after a visit to Warwick Castle as a child. Particularly love history especially about women who are mostly overlooked. Looking forward to this with relish 😉. Thanks for writing such awe inspiring books

    1. So looking forward to finding out about an important woman in our history left out for far too long….Perhaps you could write a version for the younger reader Ann….still so important particularly for girls.

  60. Combines my love of medieval women which I’m lucky enough to pursue via my job with a nod my first degree in Ancient History. Can’t wait for this.

    1. Many times I believe Fortuna has played a part in my life. She has smiled and has ignored me. It is an interesting twist to use this for your story. I look forward to reading this tale.

  61. Cecily Neville is a fascinating woman and I can’t wait to read The Queen’s Rival!! I really hope the Wheel of Fortune spins in my favour!!

  62. So looking forward to this brand new ‘Anne O’Brien’ and being able to devour another of her masterpieces. And for its publication date to being only a couple off days after my birthday….? Perfect!

  63. I loved Elizabeth Chadwick and Phillipa Gregory novels, then I found your books. So looking forward to reading about Cecily, can’t wait for publication day….

  64. I am all agog and cannot wait until publication!
    In these very uncertain, troubled times it is wonderful to look forward to something so joyful!
    Congratulations Anne – long may you reign!

  65. I’m a recent fan having over the last few years read and enjoyed your historical novels of influential royal women of the Middle Ages. As a fan since my early years of the Plantagenets it’s good to read about these long neglected women. Cecilly Neville spent a good deal of her life at Berkhamsted Castle just 5 miles from my own home. I look forward to your take on her life

  66. I am an avid follower and would be delighted to have a chance of winning a copy. Fingers crossed and good luck to everyone.

  67. I have been in a reading funk for awhile now. When I saw the cover of the book, my eyes lit up and my fingertips tingled in anticipation. I can’t wait to read it!

  68. Love these beautiful images! I am looking forward to reading your latest! Congratulations and may fortune’s wheel spin well for you!

  69. I am so looking forward to reading this book. Cecily’s large generation of Nevilles are of particular interest to me, so I hope to find out lots about them, and understand her story more.

  70. I can’t wait to read the new book, the cover is really beautiful. I have spent the last few months reading your books again, and now I’m even more excited for the new book. Congratulations.

  71. I love reading historical novels and particularly learning more about these strong women who played such an important role behind the scenes. When most history tends to be about the men it’s great to read about the unsung heroines. Hope fortune favours me….

  72. I am so looking forward to this book as have always found Cecily Neville and her family so interesting. Brilliant to read more about her rather than her just being a glimpse in the lives of her male relatives.

  73. I am hoping the wheel of fortune will turn in my favour…. Looking forward to reading all about Cicely. A Lancastrian and a Yorkist all rolled into one!

  74. I would love a chance to win your latest book. Cicely Neville heads one of my favourite historic familys, the Yorks. My special favourite is Richard III. Looking forward to finding out more about his antecedents. I’m in lock down in Melbourne Australia so a new book of yours to read would be wonderful.

  75. I’d love to receive a copy of this book, especially as the author Anne is one of my former teachers. It would be a fabulous edition to my ever growing book shelf. Can’t wait to get hold of a copy. x

  76. Fascinating telling of The Wheel of Fortune. I can’t wait to read “The Queen’s Rival” and learn of her fate and fortunes. I love all these books.

  77. I’m really looking forward to getting immersed in your latest novel The Queens Rival, Anne!..Set in a most intriguing time in our history..I need to be distracted from the strange times of the present!

  78. I’m so looking forward to reading your new book!
    And as for the wheel of fortune – I’m hoping we’re all at the top – or at the very least, on our way there!

  79. 3rd of September has a lot of memories for me , both good and bad , but this will be a one to remember , I cant wait 🙂 x

  80. As always I so look forward to reading your books Anne. I do find Cecily Neville most intriguing. I hope the goddess of fortune smiles on me . I love to be transported back in time and in no time at all I feel I am there. Here’s hoping x

  81. Looking forward to the release of your new book. May the wheel of fortune spin in everyone’s favor, and much success to Anne!!!

  82. Looking forward to this one. Have read them all but am particularly interested in this era and the story of the House of York. Not many novels about Cecily so really can’t wait to get started.

  83. I can’t wait for this exquisite release! The story is set in such a captivating period of history. Hopefully, Fortuna will look favorably upon me as I’ve had my fair share of tragedy as of late.

  84. Can’t wait to read this!! Love all your books and it was a pleasure meeting you several years ago for Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival!

  85. Your books capture me from first page! As a teenager I enjoyed Jean Plaidy so I’m thrilled to have another author who can bring historical characters to life

  86. What a gorgeous, enticing cover on your new book. I can’t wait to read it! To win a copy would be marvellous! Thanks for the chance on the wheel of fortune.

  87. Cecily Neville was no stranger to Fortuna. She gave birth to two kings whose fortunes waxed and waned at what seemed to be a throw of the dice.
    She also walked closely with heartache. The loss of her husband
    and her eldest son Edmund.
    The rose of Raby or proud Cis. I look forward to reading your take on her.

  88. Well I’m hoping the Wheel of Fortune favours me with a signed copy of your new book. 🤗
    If not, happy to avail myself of another of your insightful historical books.
    Thanks Anne.

  89. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I’m a huge fan of yours and love anything to do with the Wars of the Roses. Personally, I think there’s been far too little written about Cecily Neville, so I’m really excited to read something new.

    The Wheel of Fortune certainly seems created for battle between the Houses of York and Lancaster.

  90. wow, Anne, I had no idea that there were images of the fortunes wheel! I had assumed that it would have been considered heresy and therefore dangerous to document

  91. Looking forward to another installment of historical fiction. Also coming from Beverley to read about York has hot to be a bonus

  92. 😍😍 Thank you for this truly fabulous and very generous chance! I have read and absolutely loved ‘Queen of the North’ and ‘Kings Concubine’ by your good self! I heartily recommend myself unto you as being a most worthy recipient of your most gracious gift! 🤩😂😘

  93. Hope the wheel of fortune sends a copy over to Malta. Looking forward to another great read and to finding out more about Cecily Neville

  94. A special book on a special day for me and you. My Diamond wedding anniversary and your publication day. Love the cover of this book.

  95. I am back n line, thank goodness. I pre ordered The Queen’s Rival when it was first advertised on Kindle and cannot wait to read about Cecile Neville, the Queen that never was. I would love to have a signed copy of this book. It has such a beautiful cover – my favourite, I think.

  96. Hopefully another best seller . I love all your books i feel like i have been transported into the stories , like it was a past life . Can’t wait to read this one . I love the hardback books hope some of your earlier ones will eventually be available in hardback and a signed copy would be amazing .

  97. Wanted to know more about this lady!
    I always think I am there in your books !
    Love to go back just for a chance to experience the events .
    Keep letting me re-live ♡

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