Queen Isabella I of Castile – An Exercise in Rectification

Isabel_de_castillaIsabella in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

Isabel de castile in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

The Astro Databank  offers the following natal data for Queen Isabella I of Castile.  22 April 1451 Jul.Cal. (1 May 1451 greg.) at 16:40 (= 4:40 PM ) Place Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, 41n05, 5w0 Timezone LMT m5w0 (is local mean time). Rodden gives it a AA rating. Although I’m comfortable with the date, there is reason to believe the time is off by about two hours.

Rectification is made a bit easier if we have a good image of the person whose chart we are adjusting. Regrettably , portraits of Isabella differ considerably.  That still leaves us with scores of techniques, but I’m going to use just a few of them that work well in situations like this..

Rectification is a core skill for any astrologer. One needs to learn to recognize what I will call astrological discrepancies. For example, it is not a difficult task to recognize whether Saturn is in the First House or the Twelfth. there are physical and temperamental differences. One need only look and ask a few simple questions. The same goes for any planet or luminary. However, other potential house misplacements are more subtle and require other means.

Like any historical character of note, there have been many biographies, commentaries, pamphlets, films and polemics about Isabel. They portray her in a better or worse light and from many points of view However, there are a few core traits attributed to her which are almost universal.  She was an intensely pious Roman Catholic and her religion came before everything, with her duty to the realm as a close second. Nobody has credibly argued she didn’t love her husband, King Ferdinand, but she always made it clear that the realm came before everything but God. For Isabel they were in fact closely related when it cam to purging the Moors and Jews from Spain

She was tenacious, famously stubborn and excessively jealous. She was courageous beyond all expectations. She could also be fanatical, particularly in matters of religion  and it is this trait that has left the darkest legacy. Sometimes our virtues are our vices taken to the extreme.

As a savvy Queen, she was blessed with great statesmen, but the final decisions were very much her own. She was determined to turn a conglomerate of states into a unified, Christian Spain. She was shrewd enough to be the only monarch to supply and offer her patronage to a young Christopher Columbus,. Because of the immense groundwork done by Isabella and Ferdinand, Spain became a united and affluent state.


Below is the chart as shown on Astro Databank. Here we find both Mercury and Venus retrograde in Aries and on the Descendant, disposited by Mars in the Ninth and of course in Mutual reception with Mercury. An Airy Mars dispositing a weak and retrograde Mercury in Venus in Aries. is a recipe for volatile jealousy. However, it would seem to fit better if Mercury and Venus were in the Eighth and Mars in the Tenth. We can return to this chart, but for how I have good reason to consider alternative times. Mercury is conjunct the Pillar of the Horoscope ( Lot). This is true in both charts and draws attention to the importance of Mercury as the Lord of the Ascendant in the rectified chart.

Picture8The suggested rectification is for the same place and date but for two hours earlier. We can refine this, but this is good place to start. Instead of the Sun in the Eight and Libra Ascending, we know have a Ninth House Sun with the Part of Eros (Venus) and a Mercurial Virgo Ascending.

The Sun in the Ninth House of God is in his Joy. The placement accompanied by the Part of Eros speaks of intense piety, as was not shown in the previous chart. Ferdinand and Isabella had seven children;, five of whom survived to adulthood.

Although neither one of the Houses of Children seems to support that, there is in fact an enormous difference. In the rectified chart the Lord of the Fifth House changes from dry, barren Aquarius to Capricorn which is a semi fruitful sign. In itself, this is slight, but when we consider that the Lord of the Fifth is disposited by Venus and that the Lord of the Seventh is now Jupiter and the Lord of the Eleventh is the Moon.

PicturebThe overall picture, by no means ideal, is immeasurably better than what we had in the first chart. Perhaps we may allow ourselves to ponder the significance of Pisces in the House of Partners, signifying,  confidante-like relationships, including interaction with priests, marriage and business partners, agreements and treaties, matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open (known) enemies and attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner. I do not think it irrelevant that Ferdinand was a Solar Pisces.

The alternative is Mars as Lord of the Seventh House, complete with Venus in detriment. This doesn’t fit.

Mostly what we’ve done is move the houses over one place, but the results are considerable. Such things as the Part of Fortune and possibly the Hyleg will differ accordingly.

The Lord of Manners is easily identified as Saturn and Isabella was in fact known for her austere demeanor and life in general. Her dominant humour is melancholic., secondarily choleric   ( See Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. 241-260 ). In the previous chart, Saturn would be in the Twelfth House an would radically change her stature and demeanour.

There are a few things that convince me that the second chart is closer to the correct time. In this one, The Sun is parallel Regulus and Aldebaran. The Part of Fortune is conjunct Aldebaran. These are both royal stars of the first degree.

In both charts Mars is overwhelmingly supported by Bellatrix and Betelgeuse and these are conjunct the mid-heaven in the rectified chart. Both are powerful stars. Bellatrix is a bright star in the shoulder of Orion  which embodies the power of the Feminine.

This one, far more than the first, is the chart of a great Queen, with intense religiosity and devotion. We have identified the volatile jealousy, replaced the infertility with far better conditions.  The Lord of the Eleventh House is her Moon in detriment. This tells us that she was largely self reliant.

These are fairly simple techniques for cases such as this one, where the main problem is the house and planetary positions providing a clearly inaccurate description based on what you know about the native.

Appendix I : Solar Revolutions

As stated in the article above, this wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive exercise, but rather to show some basic techniques for detecting an incorrect birth time. This was in part based on house placements that seemed to conflict with our knowledge of the native. I had made it very clear that there were several other techniques that might be applied to back up or fine tune our rectification.

However, in light of recent queries I’m happy to show that the chart is proven closer to the exact time by other means. Again, there is a myriad of tools available. However, I’ve settled on the what is probably the simplest technique. I’m adding the Solar Revolution Charts for the Year 1470, when Isabella gave birth to her first child, who was also named Isabel. The first is the chart for the Rodden data. The second is for the rectified chart.

roddenSRI find it unnecessary to go into great detail here. The charts speak plainly enough. The one from Astro Databank (above) gives virtually no hint of childbirth. In fact had there been one at all, it would likely not have not gone full term. The Lord of the fifth house of children is a Mercurial Venus in the barren sign of Gemini. Morover, the Lord of Venus is Mercury retrograde in the Twelfth House with Saturn. There is mutual reception, but I can’t ss this being of much use in this case. We vcan look at the Seventh and Eleventh House, but we find the Lord of the Seventh also in a barren sign.  The Eleventh tells us next to nothing. The Lord of the Eleventh is Mars in his Fall.

rectifiedThe second chart is very different. Here we have Jupiter in Leo with the Part of Fortune, but in the Fourth House., disposited by the Sun in Venusian Taurus. This gives us some hope.

Mercury, Lord of the Fifth, is still Retrograde, but he’s in his Joy in the first house. This is a very signicant difference. Mercury tends to take on some of the qualities of the sign we find him in. Taurus is a very fertile sign and Mercury can act here.

Over all, the rectified chart is immeasurably better than the original, particularly indofar as it’s signatures of fertility.

Both charts are Void of Course and neither gives us any of the Lots of parenthood as a guide. I’m still far more certain about the rectified chart. Neither chart is ideal, but the unrectified chart is clearly incorrect.

Appendix II : Solar Revolution – Marriagefinal

Finally, as if we needed more evidence, we have a Solar Revolution for the year of her marriage to Ferdinand. I’m using Morinus software because it provides more graphic information. I do not intend to get into much detail. The charts authenticity pretty much speaks for itself

Those of you who have studied Isabella’s life, will know her brother Henry was an ineffectual but treacherous monarch. He had done all he could to block her from successsion. It is no surprise then to see a weak Mars in the house of brothers as it is for the following year. Henry was in frail health and died during 1474 in Madrid

Most spectacularly, Jupiter is in his Exatation is in the House of Partners. The Sun is in the Fifth House. The Part of Fortune is in the Royal sign of Leo.

So we have an ongoing process. First there is the recognition that the chart is skewed, then step by step we narrow it down then test with Solar Revolution. Again, there are many other tools to use and many events we can try to nail down, but that really isn’t necessary. I’m convinced of the superiority of the rectification, although I make no claims to the exact degree. I’m primarly concerned with house placements and plausible planetary positions. This will meet most requirments in any case. Perhaps at some later time, we can discuss the finer tuning.

Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

machiavelli-1-sizedMy intent in this short piece is to read Machiavel’s radix chart using Whole Signs only. To that extent it is part experimental. I also want to know what we can about a man regarded as a monster – his very name synonymous with evil – a title I do not think he deserves.

Llittle [is] recorded of the youth of Machiavelli, the Florence of those days is so well known that the early environment of this representative citizen may be easily imagined. Florence has been described as a city with two opposite currents of life, one directed by the fervent and austere Savonarola, the other by the splendour loving Lorenzo. Savonarola’s influence upon the young Machiavelli must have been slight, for although at one time he wielded immense power over the fortunes of Florence, he only furnished Machiavelli with a subject of a gibe in “The Prince,” where he is cited as an example of an unarmed prophet who came to a bad end. Whereas the magnificence of the Medicean rule during the life of Lorenzo appeared to have impressed Machiavelli strongly, for he frequently recurs to it in his writings, and it is to Lorenzo’s grandson that he dedicates “The Prince.” (Bickers & Sala -Gutenburg)

Lucretia_Borgia_PinturicchioLucrecia as St. Catherine of Alexandria in a fresco by Pinturicchio, in the Sala dei Santi the Borgia apartments in the Vatican c. 1494.

Lucretia_Borgia_PinturicchioLucrecia as St. Catherine of Alexandria in a fresco by Pinturicchio, in the Sala dei Santi the Borgia apartments in the Vatican c. 1494.

At the age of twenty five  until  forty three, he served The Republic of Florence in a variety of ways, but most importantly as an advisor. This was during the Borgia Papacy and depravity, by almost anyone’s standards, was a way of Life  The Papacy itself had been gained through deception, murder and manipulation.

Anyone slightly suspect or otherwise inconvenient to the holders of power was in real danger of being murdered by the Papal family itself,  usually by poison and often by Lucretia who developed new, more effective means of delivering poison to her victims.

The notorious but beautiful Lucretia was painted as various saints as well as being the model for the Annunciation and several portraits from the life of Jesus, such as the flight into to Egypt.

The painting on the right shows but one example. Her brother, Cesare Borgia had himself painted as Christ. apparently without any sense of irony, in spite of his incest, fratricide, multiple murders and a myriad of other acts that can still manage to shock to this day. He was a Cardinal of the Church and used his position for the advancement of the family.. Machiavelli didn’t have to make much up.

Machiavelli was about twenty-five years of age when he became part of all this intrigue. He was to deal with this as a pragmatist, at least publicly.There are however reasons to suppose he still had some conscience. I wouldn’t call him a sociopath but he was enormously helpful to those who were.machiavelli

Appropriately, the radix is for the Day of Mars and the Hour of Venus.

The first thing that strikes me in looking at this chart is the applying Trine of Moon in Aquarius to Mercury in Gemini in the Sixth House of Servants. The combination of the Moon and Mercury make for a very fine mind and keen intellect.

The Part of Mercury is also in Gemini. Mercury has plenty of dignity and is free to act. He is conjunct Rigel, an important Fixed Star that adds to his brilliance.

Receptions are minor except Mercury and Node by both Exaltation- Triplicity and Exaltation Term.

Mercury takes his place as Lord of the Geniture, but Mars is the Almuten of the Chart.

I have not read his biography, but Mars in a weak sign n the Third House would show conflict with siblings. But closer to our own interests is that Mars and Mercury are in an applying square.

In Whole Sign Venus is Angular and in her detriment, in an applying Square to Jupiter in his Exaltation and she is rising parallel with Betelgeuse, a very powerful star being of the nature of Mars and Mercury. The Mars Mercury theme is all over the chart.

With Jupiter in Exaltation as ruler of the Ninth House, the mind is elevated to higher thoughts and the Part of Fortune is there to bless it.

However he has to please very powerful people. As if to remind us of that, we find the Part of Mars not only in the Seventh House but in the same Decanate as Jupitermap

There was a Total Lunar Eclipse prior to his Nativity at 17 °10 Leo. This falls in partile conjunction with the Part of Venus in the Eighth House.

Saturn in Taurus in the Fifth House is not a strong Saturn. However, he disposits the Ascendant. Machiavelli’s Humour is strongly Melancholic with a bit or Sanguine and Choleric in the mix.

To put this in but a few words, I see a man of great intelligence, of singular gravity and utterly pragmatic to the point of abandoning all humane considerations if need be.  The Prince still shocks people to this day, and yet when it pointed out that their own government does no less they cannot deny it. The Prince is a guide for a Prince to take and hold power in any way possible, regardless of considerations of ethics or compassion. Power is power.

Pope Alexander VI

Pope Alexander VI

His immediate patrons would have seen no more than a mirror held up to them if they were honest. But Italy itself was in enormous and seemingly eternal crisis, broken into often warring states.Power of any kind might bring some harmony. However, he was a cautious critic even of the Borgias. Even in these cases though, the grounds for his criticism tended to be practical. They were actions that didn’t serve the stability of the State or the Power of the Prince.