It’s All in the Stars
When I was younger, I used to dabble in creating horoscopes for my friends and they often remarked how accurate they were as regards personality traits. So I wondered whether Richard III’s horoscope would shed some light on his character and thence his reputation. Obviously, not everyone is convinced about the accuracy of astrology, but I thought I’d have a go, and you are welcome to take it or leave it. I have given character traits and, in brackets, suggested how they might have been expressed in Richard’s actions. Perhaps you can think of more.
So firstly I had to cast his horoscope. We are pretty sure of his date and place of birth (although there are some other suggestions as regards the place). Since he, himself, wrote his birth details in his Book of Hours, I assume we can take this as read. So he was born at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire on 2nd October 1452. This is problematic because we have changed our calendar system since his times. I therefore researched it on the internet and found several charts of his birth already calculated, so I based mine on those. However, many of them have assumed that his ascendant, or rising sign (the sign that was on the horizon at the time of his birth) was Scorpio. This, I believe, is because of a document by John Rous (of the Rous Roll), written in Henry VII’s reign, which says: ‘At his nativity, Scorpio was in the ascendant – and like a Scorpion he combined a smooth front with a stinging tail.’ If this was correct, Richard’s time of birth would have been between about 7.41 and 10.41. The time of birth is also important for the placement of the Moon. As many of the charts on the internet assume Rous was correct (it is the only hint we have of when he might have been born), I have used a time of about 9,00 am for the placement of the Moon, but I have omitted the Ascendant and Houses (which are dependent on knowing the time of birth accurately). This makes for a slightly more general horoscope but, as Rous was trying to ingratiate himself with Henry and can’t therefore be relied upon, it should be more accurate.
Firstly, let us assess his Sun sign – this is the sign that makes us a ‘Leo’, ‘Cancer’, etc and is one of the most important influences. Richard is a Sun sign Libra, represented by the scales of justice. How appropriate this is for Richard, who brought in so many just laws and was known in the North for his fairness. Librans also need give and take in relationships and if this is lacking they will often complain that ‘It isn’t fair that they should treat me like this, after all I’ve done for them!’ Librans are charming, attractive and have a winning smile, which can seduce unconsciously – people tend to think that the Libran smiles at only them in that way. They are indecisive when it comes to small matters (e.g. which doublet to wear), and may prefer to wait and see rather than act, but they can be decisive in matters of importance. In Richard’s chart, Mars in opposition will counteract the indecision and make him much more decisive. They can see both sides of an argument and therefore make good arbiters. This is also because they dislike conflict and, with this in view, they may try to be all things to all men. They have natural tact and diplomacy. They love luxury and fine things and are excellent hosts (as Von Poppelau will attest). They can be extravagant. Their homes are welcoming and comfortable as well as tastefully decorated. They are also good at design, possibly in architecture, or at least can tell what matches with what (Richard commissioned many building works including windows which let in more light). They prefer to work in a partnership rather than alone (I’m thinking of Buckingham here), but can sometimes be too easily influenced by others (Buckingham again!). They can also be naive and gullible at times (his merciful treatment of Thomas Stanley and Margaret Beaufort)? In love also, they need a partner and do not do well if alone (he would have felt very much alone after the death of Anne,especially having already lost Edward and little Edward). In their intellectual life they also crave a partner and the intellectual affinity they feel to one person is often balanced by an equal and opposite antipathy to another (Edward and Elizabeth Woodville?). Aspects of the Sun to Jupiter show contentment with one’s lot, a calm and benevolent disposition, and links to professions such as publishing, the law and the church. (Richard was greatly interested in all these three). The conjunction of the Sun and Saturn means considerable success in the world, but it will be hard won. Sacrifices will have to be made which may bring a lack of fun.
The next in importance is the Ascendant, which we can’t know for sure because it depends on the time of birth. Following this, other important planets and signs are those that are in their own or ‘ruling’ sign and the sign in which the planet that rules the Sun sign is located. Richard’s Sun sign, Libra, is ruled by Venus, so this planet’s position is important. Also, Mars is in its own sign, Aries, so is also significant. Then the Moon, being so close to us, is another important planet.
Venus is in the sign of Scorpio. As you might expect, Venus rules matters of the heart and in Scorpio it is at its sexiest and most passionate. It suggests a satisfying and emotional sex life, but this may lead to jealousy and possessiveness. Deep feelings will be present. A love of good food and drink, sensuousness. Venus’ aspects with Uranus and Neptune are positive and show artistic talent, probably in music. Enjoyment of membership of societies (The Guild of Corpus Christi). A very romantic and sensitive streak and friendships will be strong (Francis Lovell and Richard Ratcliffe). Refined tastes.
Mars was the god of war and its position in Aries brings out the martial side of Richard and counterbalances his gentle Libran influences. In fact it is almost exactly opposite his Sun. This indicates physical courage (his charge) and shows him to be a good leader. Its aspects can also make someone over-rash and reckless, with a joy in risk-taking (his charge again). It might also presage his defeat in battle. In addition, Aries rules the head, and people with a strong Aries influence often have head injuries and headaches (his fatal wounds). It also brings a strong tendency to over work, skill in debating (with George over Anne’s inheritance), argumentativeness and being drawn to a military career (Richard was known to be a talented warrior and fearless in battle). There is an urge to take the initiative and great intellect along with frankness. Needs independence.
Richard’s Moon is in Taurus (if we follow Rous’ assertion). Taurus is a fixed sign and the Moon is well positioned here as Taurus stabilises it. Impulsiveness will be balanced to some extent by persistence and determination. Ambitious and reliable, favourable in financial matters. Sociable, sensual and fun-loving, but may be possessive. An appreciation of and creative ability in the arts, especially music. (Richard was known for his love of music and had a renowned choir). Negative aspects of the Moon with Mercury can bring cunning and an astute intelligence, occasionally sneaky. May be restless but will also be extremely loyal and defend those weaker than themselves (his loyalty to Edward and championing of the common man and the poor). The Moon’s relationship with Venus means Richard would have found it difficult to express emotions, even though he felt things deeply. However, the Moon and Uranus are well-aspected and bring firmness, determination and a strong sense of duty, as well as ambition (two reasons for him to accept the crown). There are often sudden mood swings, but good intuition.
Mercury is located in Scorpio, which brings shrewdness and excellent concentration, and an ability to solve problems in a decisive and practical way (Stoney Stratford). Clearly seeing a solution, taking action and sticking to it is suggested. May be sarcastic and suspicious. Its aspect with Jupiter brings an active mind, satisfaction with their lot in life – not overly ambitious (happy to stay at Middleham and away from Court until duty called). Good financial sense and an excellent sense of humour (his letter regarding the marriage of Jane Shore and Thomas Lyneham).
Jupiter is placed in Aquarius which brings a sense of justice and attraction to causes. Imaginative and original, humanitarian, impartial and socially gifted. High mental ability may be expressed through science or music. Tolerance, empathy and independence of spirit. Extensive social life.
These are the major planets and their influence. Looking at the chart as a whole, there is a predominance of planets in Fixed signs, and several in Cardinal signs. This means stubbornness and inflexibility, decisiveness and leadership. There are no planets in Mutable signs which increases the inflexibility – once he has made up his mind, he will not change it (refusal to see Buckingham before his execution). He would be a steadfast friend but an implacable enemy. The overall impression is one of intensity, power, decisiveness, mitigated by three planets in Libra, which softens this and makes him more amenable. All in all, a complex and fascinating person.