‘A Great and Terrible King’ (Windmill Books) A Great Story of a Controversial King – Book Review

This is the most comprehensive and fluent account I have ever read of Edward I, king of England.

But firstly, the cover. We are drawn to covers, of course, although sometimes we don’t like to admit it, that it might just be a tiny bit shallow to judge a book by its cover. Yet this cover says it all, really, a ruler who lived by the sword, who was both just and ruthless, as every successful monarch of the high middle ages had to be, like a roaring lion in human form.

Morris conveys convincingly the notion that we have to judge the man by his times and not our own; Edward was a crusader and a conqueror, subjugator of Wales and ‘Hammer of the Scots’.

The appalling treatment of William Wallace in 1305, accused of treason, and then hung, drawn and quartered whilst Edward was at play elsewhere, does not seem at all righteous to modern minds. After all Wallace was probably one of the very few Scottish nobles who did not swear allegiance to the English king: he was a Scottish patriot after all, but that would be lost on the empire building approach of Edward and the expediency of his reign.

So today Edward I may not be too popular in either Scotland or indeed Wales. But he failed to fully conquer Scotland, even though he was successful in planting his ‘own man’ (John Balliol) on the Scottish throne for a time.

And then there is the Statute of Jewry of 1275 where Edward acceded to the Church’s demands to try and limit the effects of usury. Morris deals with this in a most balanced way, I feel, trying to help us understand the reasons for this and what seems to us now the eventual cruel banishment of Jews from the kingdom of England in 1290. Naturally, today such action is not viewed in the same light; we live in a very different, more secular world.

Most especially this book conveys the sheer intensity of the personality of this monarch, his energy and drive, a man whose body was exhumed in 1774, confirming his oft used moniker of the time, Longshanks – that is, he had long legs.

The subtitle of Morris’ book is ‘And the forging of Britain’. Ultimately, the king was only partially successful in this and many of his achievements were undone by his son, Edward II, who lost at Bannockburn in 1314, which in turn led to the groundbreaking Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, where noble Scots claimed their long term independence from England.

All in all, a fabulous read, albeit keeping us at a safe distance from those terrible, tumultuous times.


Copyright Francis 2021

The Passing of the Crown – A New Beginning for the United Kingdom?

We are told that the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death was conveyed to Britain’s new Prime Minister at 4:30 pm on Thursday September 8 2022.

Although we perhaps ought to presume that death occurred a little time before that, for astrological prognostication purposes, I am using that time to mark the official transition between the two monarchs, when the leading minister of state was informed of the passing of late Queen and the assumption of King Charles III.

So what does this chart reveal? I was immediately drawn to the Moon’s separating conjunction with retrograde Saturn in Aquarius in the third house, square to Uranus and the north node in the sixth house. From this I do suspect that death occurred sometime before, possibly as the Moon reached exact conjunction. Nevertheless, for official purposes this chart will still suffice.

Profound sadness, change – but also a return to tradition?

This conjunction in itself indicates the deep sadness of the nation and of people in general around the world, a profound ending, an official closure if you will, plus all the consequent sombre coverage exuded by the media.

But let’s remember too that this casts light on the new reign. Charles, it is said, or rumoured, is keen on slimming down the monarchy, making it more suitable for the 21st century (Aquarius), whatever that may mean. I certainly feel that the public will be generally in favour of such a revision of its monarchy and its role.

That said, I think this may also show an increased need amongst the people for traditional subjects and approaches, of looking back and taking the best parts forward. Great Britain has always had a strong need for continuity, which is why the monarchy has survived for over 1000 years.

The square to Uranus in Taurus from the sixth house could show that such a transition will not be easily accomplished, especially with the expenditure needed to ‘fix’ the National Health Service, for example; republicans will raise their voice in regard to this I am sure in the ensuing months and years. The north node in the same house shows that public expenditure on the services and utilities are the right focus from now on, even though such programs will be very difficult to maintain financially in the present paradigm.

Sagittarius is rising, indicating flux and change, but with Jupiter in Aries, even in retrograde, and in the fifth house of creation, there will be many opportunities for growth and enterprise in the years to come.

The Virgo Sun is fittingly in the 10th house of government, which to me symbolises the continuity of the monarchy and government, albeit in a more modest mode.

Healing the nation, its relationship to its leaders

Venus is conjunct the fixed royal star Regulus in the 10th house; I think this underlines an opportunity for healing and sealing the relationship between the people, its monarchy and even its government. There is a strong need amongst the public for a more honest approach from government ministers, for them to truly represent the people.

Mars is conjunct another royal star, Aldebaran, in a Gemini seventh house, meaning that Britain’s foreign policy in the new reign will be both forceful and varied. Mars is in good aspect to Mercury (ruler of the 7th) too from the 11th house, indicating that foreign policy and diplomacy will be crucial and, I believe, largely successful.

To end with a word of caution, undermining Pluto in the second house, combined with upsetting Uranus in Taurus in the sixth, reveal that Great Britain, economically and administratively, is going to see some fundamental changes which are going to be difficult to process – a situation which the whole world will have to face too.

However, I believe there is enough in this chart to indicate that Britain can rejuvenate and with the forthcoming coronation, probably in early 2023, there is much to look forward to with some cautious optimism.

Copyright Francis 2022

Change! But Be A Pioneer: Today is Full Moon, July 13 2022

Today’s full moon in Capricorn casts a baleful glow on our world.

The Moon is in its detriment in the Goat and is relatively close to the undermining Pluto in the 2nd house of this chart set for London. Financially, economically and politically this is a very difficult and trying time for all, and especially the British people.

The Sun and Moon are in good aspect to Uranus and the Moon’s North Node in a Taurus 6th house. There is a karmic influence here and the possibility of sudden changes economically, financially and in the British nation’s health and working practices, spurred on, it might seem, by the general public who are showing increasing signs of losing faith in the status quo. It is clearly time for change; yet the British, and all of us, should be mindful about what we wish for.

Later this month, Mars conjoins with Uranus and the North Node in Taurus and this suggests the period at end of July and beginning of August is going to see much sudden, surprising activity in financial markets and world economies. Ultimately, all of this might well be for the benefit of everyone – in the long run, although it might not seem that way at the time.

Jupiter is ruler of this chart, and ruler of the 4th house of the homeland, is found in an Aries 5th house. For the British at least this suggests that they can make positive and creative change right now if they are pioneering enough. Private enterprise, as opposed to state control, is always the best remedy for humanity to dig itself out of a whole, as are the promotion of the family – always the best organic buffer against a cruel world.


Copyright Francis 2022