"Figure 6.5 shows a depiction of the carro with each part clearly labelled: the axles
represent two of the theological virtues, Faith and Hope, who meet at the Law of Grace, while
another part of the cart frame represents Charity. Other components of the chariot represent the
Law of Nature, the Law of Moses, and Eternal Law. The bottom (or rear) section of the carro is
labelled Meditatio glorie (the Contemplation of Glory), along with Purgatory and Eternal Pain.
Each wheel is identified as one of the four cardinal virtues: Justice, Temperance, Fortitude,
Prudence, and each spoke of each wheel is given a name (for example, the spokes of the
Temperance wheel are labelled castitas, pudicitia, virginitas, parsimonia, sobrietas, abstinencia,
The moralizing depiction of the carro is organized so
that to reach the top of the carro one must perform a symbolic journey from the bottom,
beginning with the choice of Eternal Pain, Contemplation of Glory or Purgatory. Once the
middle way (Contemplation of Glory) has been chosen, the traveller (in this case Francesco il
Vecchio) journeys along the main horizontal shaft of the cart, and he can then be guided by the
wheels of Justice and Temperance through Hope towards Eternal Law, and can pass through the
Law of Grace and the front axle, representing Faith. The uppermost wheels, Fortitude and
Prudence, guide him to his final destination, Bonum honestum (honourable good). Once he has
reached his goal, he becomes a moral guide for his subjects."
end quote from:
Heraldry in the Trecento Madrigal by Sarah M. Carleton
The figure is based upon one in Francesco Caronelli’s De curru carrariensi (On the Chariot of the Carrara)
A couple of 14th century madrigals re: the Family Carrara and their canting arms device (carro):
Inperiale sedendo (Bartolino da Padova?)
Inperiale sedendo fra più stele
Imperial, sitting among many stars
dal ciel descese un carro d’onor degno
a cart worthy of honour descended from the sky,
soto un signor d’ogni altro via benegno.
under a lord more kind than any other.
Le rote sue guidavan quattro done,
Four women guided its wheels,
Justitia e Temperantia con Forteçça
Justice and Temperance with Fortitude
et am Prudenza tra cotanta alteçça.
and Prudence among such nobility.
Nel meço un Saracin con l’ale d’oro
In the middle a Saracen with golden wings
tene’ el fabricator del so tesoro.
keeps the maker of his treasure
Per quella strada (Johannes Ciconia)
Per quella strada lactea del cielo,
Along the heavenly milky way,
da belle stelle ov’è’l seren fermato,
from beautiful stars where clear skies lie,
vedeva un carro andar tutto abrasato,
one saw a chariot go all enflamed,
Coperto a drappi rossi de fin oro;
Covered in red cloth with gold brocade;
tendea el timon verso ançoli cantando.
its shaft pointed towards angels singing,
El carro triumphal vien su montando.
the triumphal chariot came climbing up.
De verdi lauri corone menava,
It brought crowns made of green laurels,
che d’alegreça el mondo verdeçava.
that filled the world with happiness.
[ibid Carleton, p115
The Carrara family, Padua & Petrarch: