Richard III – Astrological insight into the King in the car park
Part 3 – There is no reliable birth time recorded for Richard III
Firstly, I apologise to anyone waiting for my article on Richard III’s health, but I promise that it will be appearing shortly. This series of articles is evolving as I continue my research into Richard III, and so before writing about Richard’s health I felt compelled to double check whether or not there is an accurate birth time available for him. The short answer is, no, there isn’t.
Before I go on to debate my reasoning why there is no firm birth time for Richard III it’s imperative to understand the importance of the birth time in astrology. The time of birth gives us the ascendant, or rising sign. An exact birth time will give us the degree of the ascendant. The planet that rules the rising sign is classed as a ruling planet. The rising sign illustrates how we entered the world, how we begin all actions and our physical appearance. Once we have the rising sign we are able to calculate the astrological houses which, simply put, depict different departments of life such as work, play and romance. We will then know which house, or department of life, each planet sits in, and this is how we can judge an accurate character profile of any individual. The birth time also allows us to calculate the correct degree of the Moon at birth, and with Richard III a birth time would be extremely useful as during the 2nd October 1452 at 11:19 am the Moon changed from the sign Taurus to Gemini.
One additional point, just to let you know how important an exact birth time is to an astrologer, any sign conjunct (next to) the ascendant modifies it and becomes a chart ruler. This planet then takes on additional significance when interpreting the natal chart.
So, if you’ve been searching the internet for articles on astrology and Richard III you’ll notice that some websites have assigned 09.02 as Richard’s birth time, but this not reliable. So, how did this misinformation become such a popular belief?
One website quoted their source information as an article by Martin Harvey in the Astrological Association of Great Britain’s Journal in 1967. I therefore contacted the Astrological Association, and thanks to their diligence and efforts of searching through their archives, obtained a copy of the article referred to so that I could read the source material for myself.
In the article Martin Harvey initially refers to Richard III’s birth being recorded by William Botoner of Worcester in Annales Rerum Anglicarum (Rolls No. 22 vol. 2, part 2) Translated from Latin under the year 1452 it says ‘Richard, the eighth son of Richard Duke of York, was born at Fotheringhay on Monday the second day of October.’ There is no birth time recorded. Very often birth times are recorded in simple terms such as ‘just before dawn’ or ‘as the sun was setting’ but for Richard no such reference was made to help us out.
The next thing that Martin Harvey refers to is an entry by Johannis Rossi (also referred to as John Rous) in Antiquarii Warwicensis Historia Regum Angliae (Oxford 1745) Johannis Rossi dedicated this book to the first Henry Tudor and this fact alone should start internal bells and buzzers sounding warning signals, because Henry Tudor is the man who defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, and therefore likely to appreciate Richard III being given all the bad press possible. These days we would call it ‘spin’ or propaganda, and to my mind Johannis Rossi does a very good job of dishing the dirt on Richard.
Firstly Johannis Rossi refers to Richard III as “tyrant King Richard,” which hardly suggests an impartial view. He then states that Richard “lay two years in his mother’s womb.” This may be a genuine mistake, or taking a fact and distorting it for his own purposes of impressing Henry Tudor and making his enemy out to be a freak of nature. According to Amy License in her excellent article A Study in Medieval Fertility: Richard of York and Cecily Neville just prior to Richard’s conception, to his parents, “A short-lived boy, Thomas, was born at some point in 1451 and died young, although the precise length of his life is unknown.” As Thomas died young many people may have been oblivious to his birth and death, and it seems highly probable that as Cecily conceived again so rapidly that Johannis Rossi was either unaware of Thomas, or that he used her continued pregnancy to make out that she was pregnant for two years with Richard. Richard III was Cecily Neville’s twelfth child and having born so many children one might well assume that her figure was fuller and therefore less easy to distinguish if she was pregnant or not when she conceived in such rapid succession. She would hardly have had time to slim down again before growing round with the next child.
After this Johannis Rossi writes of Richard III, “Scorpio rose at his birth, which sign is the house of Mars; and as Scorpio has a flattering countenance, a stinging tail, so he himself showed himself to all.” Ah, here we have it! The Scorpio ascendant that others refer to in the supposed birth time of 09:02. But why 09:02 when In Martin Harvey’s original text for the Astrological Association he assigns 09:15? Martin Harvey was writing in 1967 before the creation of whizzy computer software that can quickly calculate and adjust charts for us. He calculated the birth time for ‘the middle of Scorpio rising’ which he calculated to be 09:15 but the 09:02 birth time gives us a more accurate central Scorpio ascendant of 15º 31´ Martin Harvey goes on to say “This nativity should not be reproduced or imparted without a warning that the ascending sign, though derived from a contemporary is very doubtful.”
So who was Johannis Rossi? Martin Harvey states that he was “a chantry priest of Guy’s Cliff near Warwick castle and knew Richard personally,” hence he may have known Richard III’s rising sign to be Scorpio. Rossi was an antiquary and heraldic draughtsman and during Richard III’s lifetime appears to have liked him, writing in a pictorial heraldic roll for the Earls of Warwick and their kin such fine statements as ‘the most victorious Richard III, in his realm full commendably punishing offenders of the laws, especially oppressors of his commons, and cherishing those that were virtuous, by the which discreet guiding he got great thanks and love of all his subject rich and poor, and great laud of the people of all other lands.’ When Henry Tudor took the crown this entire passage was deleted; however Rossi had made two copies and the other one was safely out of his reach and could not be tampered with, which is how we know the original contents.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Rossi was out to save his own skin when Richard III fell and Henry Tudor took over. He was prepared to rewrite Richard as a nasty individual to add justification for Henry’s actions. Saying that Richard was born with Scorpio rising is so inconclusive because on 2nd October 1452 the sign of Scorpio rose between the hours of 07:35 and 10:24. If we look at the two extremes a 07:35 birth time makes Richard secretive and sinister while 10:24 makes him wise and charitable. Feel free to take your pick.
Let’s look at the possibilities of why Rossi would have chosen a Scorpio ascendant for Richard III. The ascendant describes physical appearance and there are many references to Richard III having dark hair and often individuals with a Scorpio ascendant do have dark hair, but certainly not all of them. Scorpio is renowned for being a ‘dark’ sign, full of brooding and introversion, which makes people born under the sign complex individuals who keep their secrets to themselves and are wary of being too open with people they are not strongly acquainted with. Rossi himself describes Richard III as having “a flattering countenance,” but people with a Scorpio ascendant are more commonly viewed as ‘sexy and mysterious,’ rather than ‘good looking.’ ‘A flattering countenance,’ is more usually associated with the sign Libra, because Libra bestows beauty as it is ruled by Venus. One very important physical trait associated with a Scorpio ascendant is, to my knowledge, never mentioned and that is the penetrating gaze.
If we look at the amazing facial reconstruction of Richard III as generated from his skull there is no true sign of those piercing Scorpio ascendant eyes. It isn’t in his portrait either.
Here’s a great set of male Scorpio ascendants, and most of us will be familiar with at least one or two of them. Even in photographs you’ll notice how the eyes look straight through you with an unnerving quality. Just look at Al Pacino.
Now look at a page of male Libra ascendants and you’ll notice that the gaze isn’t as penetrating. They’re all good looking guys, but it isn’t the eyes that ensnare you.
During Richard III’s lifetime the planets only went out as far as Saturn because Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were yet to be discovered. This meant that Mars ruled Scorpio, whereas today it is a co-ruler along with Pluto. In my study of Richard III as a warrior I discuss in depth his natal Mars in Aries, of which it is also the ruler. Therefore to give Richard III a Scorpio ascendant accentuates his war-like qualities, argumentativeness and bad temper bestowed by his retrograde Mars in Aries.
Add to this that Richard III has two planets in Scorpio and the plot thickens.
Firstly he has Mercury in the first degree of Scorpio. Mercury rules communication and in Scorpio it makes for someone who is intuitive, highly perceptive and prefers to speak out or remain silent. They can watch you for hours and then come out with an astute and scathing judgement of what they have witnessed. Hence the sting in the tail. Sometimes they are prone to scheming and plotting, but Richard III’s mercury is trine Jupiter in Aquarius which is predominantly concerned with observing society and digging away to create fundamental reforms. I have met many good detectives with Mercury in Scorpio and they have a habit of watching and listening and taking it all in, never giving anything of themselves away.
Secondly Richard III has Venus in Scorpio at twenty seven degrees. Venus in Scorpio is renowned for being possessive, jealous and never being able to let go of old hurts. Often individuals with Venus in Scorpio view sex as love, are highly emotional, and extremely intense. Whatever they do, they do it 110% When they love they love with fervour and passion, and when they are jealous they become cruel and bitter. Mostly Venus in Scorpio types do not become jealous of what possessions others own, but how much love they acquire….and who they are loving. Venus rules Libra and with Richard III’s strong Sun conjunct Saturn in Libra he is more likely to have ploughed his strong Venus in Scorpio into religious fervour. Some people with Venus in Scorpio enjoy exploring occult mysteries and Richard III’s Venus is square Jupiter in Aquarius suggesting he gave many of his resources to better the lives of the ordinary man. However, due to his medical condition I do wonder if he was trying to create better living standards for everyone to eradicate disease, while also seeking his own salvation from pain.
Both Mercury and Venus in Scorpio can add an air of mystery to the individual which could make someone assert that they had a Scorpio ascendant. Of course if either of these planets sat directly on the ascendant they would considerably change Richard III’s character. Mercury on the ascendant would give him a sly, spy like quality and Venus would give him enormous sex appeal.
As a final and personal thought I would hunch that Richard III has a Virgo ascendant. I’ve chosen a birth time of 03:35. Here’s a page of men with Virgo ascendants and you’ll notice the very firm, slightly square jaw line on some of them. A Virgo ascendant would place Richard’s Moon in Taurus in the 9th house of spirituality and higher education. It would add to his religious fervour and also make him fond of travelling and riding. However, when I look at Richard III’s health I am going back to the noon birth time and ignoring his Moon and planetary positions in the houses, just to be on the safe side.
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