What is Fortitude ?
'The Triumph of Fortitude',
c1525, Flemish (Brussels)
What does 'Fortitude' mean?
'Fortitude' is another way to describe courage or strength in the face of adversity. The Walker's tapestry, 'The Triumph of Fortitude', shows a range of Biblical and classical characters who showed outstanding bravery or heroism in dangerous and difficult situations - they are examples of fortitude.
Fortitude is one of the Seven Virtues.
'The Triumph of Fortitude' is one of a series of seven tapestries known as the 'Triumph of the Seven Virtues'.
The seven virtues are divided into 4 Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance) and 3 Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity). Each tapestry in the series depicts characters who personify one of these seven virtues.
This was a popular series. Several sets were woven for display in noble European households. A series of the 'Virtues', hung in either a domestic or a religious setting, provided moral exemplars or models. They were useful moral guides both in daily life and as instruction in how to achieve salvation in the eyes of the Christian church.
What does the scroll at the top of the tapestry tell us about fortitude?
The scroll at the top of the tapestry is written in Latin. It says:
'Obiicit adversis interrita corda periculis. Virtus, eque iuvat morte recepta salus.'
This has been translated as:
'Valour matches intrepid hearts against adverse perils. Likewise, salvation accepted from death pleases.'
This means that when faced with danger, virtuous people show courage or fortitude. If they should die in their efforts, they will be rewarded with eternal life.