Richard III – Astrological insight into the King in the car park
Part 1 – The Benevolent King.
There’s been so much in the news recently concerning the extraordinary discovery of the remains of Richard III in a car park in Leicester that I’ve been drawn to studying his birth chart. In depth astrological research of an historical figure is time consuming and I’m still formulating my ideas, but I wanted to get some of my findings on paper, so this is merely an introduction and not an in depth study by any means.
The first thing I should make clear is that I’m not an historian I’m an astrologer. I have a natural interest in what makes people tick and their psychological make-up. When a personality grabs my interest I watch documentaries and learn as much about them as possible while having their birth chart close to hand. From these two I draw my own conclusions.
I don’t have a retentive memory for historical dates, so although I’ve always had a great passion for medieval art and paintings of the wars of the roses getting my head round the ins and outs of Richard III’s life has been no mean feat. So, please, I’m not looking at history, I’m looking at the man who created it. What was Richard III really like?
Richard III was born on 2nd October 1452 in Fotheringay. (For any astrologers following this blog please note that the chart needs to be erected in the Julian calendar) First off there’s no recorded birth time for Richard so in his birth chart we have to ignore his Moon, ascendant, MC, IC and North Node as none of these can be accurately plotted. We also don’t have the benefit of the astrological houses which convey which part of his life the planets interact with, such as work or play. Without a birth time the astrological practice is to erect a chart for noon, which is the one illustrated. At noon the Moon sits at 0º c 22’ 42” so if Richard was born early in the day he’d have Moon in Taurus and if he was born in the afternoon he’d have Moon in Gemini. At present I don’t wish to go down the road of conjecture so we’ll leave his Moon out completely for now.
This leaves us with planets in signs and the angles between those planets for our initial study.
I’ve been a professional astrologer for so many years now that I tend to glance at a chart and within a few seconds make a quick judgement. (we call it ‘judging’ a chart when we assess its qualities) Hence the first thing that caught my eye with Richard was not that he’s a Sun sign Libra but that he has Jupiter in Aquarius trine Mercury in Scorpio. Why this you might well ask. Well, with so much bad press around about Richard having slain his young nephews, this aspect of Jupiter trine Mercury suggests a man who would much rather sit down and look after his people than go around killing children. Jupiter in Aquarius can be very benevolent and look to the good of the community above that of the individual. Mercury in Scorpio tends to be a shrewd communicator, who is good at keeping secrets yet also good at digging to the truth of the matter.
If we then take into account that Richard has his Sun in Libra and it is conjuct Saturn we start to build a broader picture of a man who wanted to be fair while in authority. Libran’s are renowned for their love of fair play and equality and Saturn, the hard task master, is exalted in Libra. This conjunction of Sun/Saturn in Libra depicts an individual who relies on his allies for his strength yet also has great compassion. Saturn is co-ruler of Aquarius so with its close proximity to Richard’s natal Sun it considerably strengthens the trine of Jupiter in Aquarius to Mercury in Scorpio. Jupiter is also trine Richard’s Sun/Saturn.
Although at times men with Saturn in Libra can be domestic bullies here the picture is more of someone who asserts their authority by helping others and wishes for them to help him by return. Librans always believe in ‘If I do it for you, then you do it for me by return.’
Individuals with Sun conj Saturn can often feel inhibited by their elders when growing up, or by strong religious and ethical beliefs. Saturn rules responsibility and hard work, and there’s often a feeling of being judged by someone or something greater than oneself.
This deep sense of responsibility for his people and a need for fair play is well illustrated in a quote I found on The Richard III Foundation’s website:
“He passed the most enlightened laws on record for the Fifteenth Century. He set up a council of advisors that diplomatically included Lancastrian supporters, administered justice for the poor as well as the rich, established a series of posting stations for royal messengers between the North and London. He fostered the importation of books, commanded laws be written in English instead of Latin so the common people could understand their own laws. He outlawed benevolences, started the system of bail and stopped the intimidation of juries.
During his royal progress of 1483, Richard refused great gifts of cash from various cities saying he would rather have their goodwill than their money. Bishop Thomas Langton said: “He contents the people where he goes best that ever did prince, for many a poor man hath suffered wrong many days, hath been relieved and helped by him, and his commands on his progress. And in many great cities and towns were great sums of money given to him, which he hath refused. On my troth, I never liked the conditions of any prince so well as his. God hath sent him to us for the weal of us all.””
Next time I shall be exploring Richard III the warrior and discussing the planet Mars in his birth chart.
Richard III – Astrological insight into the King in the car park
Part 2 – The Warrior King
To judge what Richard was like as a warrior is complex without a birth time. A time of birth would give us his ascending sign and in astrology the planetary ruler of the ascendant goes a long way to show motivation and drive. Without a birth time we also don’t have the astrological houses that depict which specific part of life a planet is affecting, so there is no way of telling whether Richard took certain actions out of a desire for self-aggrandisement, religious motivations, or to save his country.
So, I hear you asking, what can we look at? Well, we’ll go back to basics and look at the planet of war, Mars. Mars rules assertion, aggression and motivation. We all have Mars in our charts and in simple terms its chart placement will describe whether we get on with the job in hand or dither. Do we procrastinate or seize the moment? The one thing that can be said for sure about Richard 111’s Mars is that it’s highly contradictory. It sits at 17º Aries opposite his Sun Conjunct Saturn in Libra.
Mars rules the sign Aries, so Richard’s Mars is in its natural placement and we can initially assess it as a strong Mars. Mars in Aries gets up and gets on with things, without hesitation, but quite often without thinking about the consequences. This doesn’t sound too bad for a warrior as there’s determination and a bullish, though often thoughtless, desire to get out there and bash the enemy. Generally people with Mars in Aries like fighting implements such as swords, and enjoy speed. Take into account the type of battles fought during Richard’s life and he appears to be a feisty warrior of his time.
However, if you look closely at his birth chart you’ll see that on the planetary list to the left that E (Mars) has the symbol R after it showing that Richard’s Mars is retrograde, meaning that it appeared to be travelling backwards when he was born. This alters the picture enormously as it drives Mars to act internally and not externally.
Before contemplating how Mars being retrograde affected Richard let’s take a closer look at the planet Mars so that we fully understand how it functions within the chart. One of my favourite astrologers to use as reference for in-depth study is Bil Tierney and this is how he describes Mars.
“Mars rules the drive or urge to eject vital energy outward into the external world. It desires to directly activate conditions to suit personal impulse through assertive and often rapid movement. It is one planet that functions most comfortable when it is free to thrust itself forward with much momentum into the manifest world in an attempt to dynamically face and overpower all impending situations through head-on action. Its psychological nature needs this type of challenge for growth.”
That is pretty powerful stuff, especially with Mars in the sign it rules. Bottle all of this power up in a retrograde Mars and we start to draw a picture of someone who was calm on the surface but unable to relax internally. The spontaneity of an outward Mars is completely lost, the energy being internalised and the ability to confront opposition no longer acting in a straightforward manner. It creates a more contemplative nature, but also a more fractured warrior who is likely to delay taking immediate action.
Under stress Mars retrograde builds inner conflicts and the individual will experience this as resentments and jealousies and be prone to seething rather than taking action. It can also make someone more inclined to act in seclusion or solitude rather than collaborate.
So now we’re building a picture of someone who’s broody and moody and completely unable to relax due to inner tension.
To get Mars retrograde to take action outside influence or force is required and we find this in Richard 111’s chart in its opposition to his Sun. The Sun rules the ego identity, our sense of ‘me.’ When Mars opposes the Sun the ego constantly feels it is under attack and this makes for an aggressive personality who is prone to disagreements, arguments and physical combat. These people have a knack of drawing aggression into their lives, and of having a desire for power. They will try to coerce others through a battle of wills, and stir up animosity which very often results in physical conflict.
All of this is making Richard appear to be extremely bad tempered when crossed.
The other planet opposing his natal Mars is Saturn. Saturn governs structure and the ego’s desire to build enduring barriers and solid defences that protect the individual from being overtaken by external forces outside one’s control. It becomes the planet of self-preservation and is often seen as an inhibitor. It’s the voice inside our head that says, ‘don’t jump, it’s dangerous.’ Throughout my career as an astrologer I have also seen strong Saturn placements in a birth chart heavily associated with the church, especially the Catholic church, and the masculine side of religious belief. We have to take note here that Richard’s Saturn is conjunct his Sun, and in Libra, the sign of its exultation. There’s a sense of obligation and guilt, and that someone or a higher power such as god, is constantly judging and assessing his every move. There is therefore a properness to this man that believes in upholding all that is good and right according to the spiritual and moral beliefs he was brought up with. He will defend these moral codes to the bitter end.
Place this ethical Saturn opposite Mars and it can bring about a resentful and oppressive nature; even more so with Mars retrograde. There is a fear of personal inadequacies when relating to others and this can spur aggressive behaviour as a cover up for feelings of inferiority. Often the individual will have their attempts to take action thwarted by protocol and individuals who hold greater authority. This certainly would have been the case for Richard prior to his brother Edward’s death when he acted as a right-hand man and could not necessarily fully implement his own ideas.
The overall picture is of a man constantly holding himself in check due to his own sense of inadequacy and inner frustrations. Put him on a battle field and all of this pent up energy would be unleashed, especially if he truly believed he was fighting for a just cause.
I don’t think I’d have liked to have met him on the battle field because once riled Richard would have been a force to be reckoned with. All of that pent up anger would have surged out of the end of his sword with such dynamic passion that to anyone standing in his way it would have felt like being hit by thunder. When he was angry, he was very, very angry. Think of him as a coiled spring held down under pressure most of the time, and then suddenly released…bang!
There are a lot of pointers in Richard 111’s chart that he was of a robust constitution and this would have given him a lot of stamina for physical fighting. He would have fought with passion and ardour, led his men with great courage and always wanted to be in the thick of things. It’s said that at the battle of Bosworth he made a direct line to Henry V11 and was within inches of reaching his target when he was struck down. I can see him doing this, utterly incensed by Henry’s sheer audacity and determined to strike down the man who would steal his crown.
I intend to write about the events of that fateful day at Bosworth and how the planets were affecting Richard on the battlefield, but before that I shall be looking at Richard 111’s health in part 3 as I believe that his physical condition played a large part in the choices he made leading up to his death.