Brexit Precedents No.4 – The End of the Hundred Years War between England and France

view of city
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On July 17 1453, the same year that Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell, England and English influence was effectively kicked out of France for good following the decisive Battle of Castillon.

It was another example of the see-saw, in-out relationship the island of Great Britain (in this case the major part of it called England) has had with the continent for a long time.

Ever since 1066, when William of Normandy conquered England and became its king, there had been strong ties to France. However, when Normandy was lost in 1204 during the reign of King John, successive English kings had hankered for its return; they were after all directly descended from the conqueror.

English invasion and victory

By the late 1330s King Edward III, who was himself largely of French ancestry, was in a position to invade France following a dispute about the long held English territory of Gascony in SW France.

In June 1340 Edward III won a decisive naval victory against the French at the Battle of Sluys, which marked the beginning of the so called Hundred Years War. By the end of the decade, following even more crushing victories at the Battles of Crecy and Poitiers, Edward was in control of large parts of France and even had the French king John II as a prisoner.

Then the so called ‘Black Death’ intervened in 1348/9. The treaty of Bretigny was eventually signed in 1360, leaving England in full charge of an expanded area in SW France. This marked the end of the first phase of the war, an often punctuated stalemate lasting fifty years, which saw France regain the upper hand diplomatically and make incursions into English territory.

The English conquest of France

Then in 1415, just two years after ascending the English throne, King Henry V re-ignited the conflict with his invasion of France. Following an unlikely victory at Agincourt that October, Henry went on, over the next couple of years, to re-conquer Normandy and push on from there to take large areas of northern France to add to those in the SW. Henry had become the undisputed master of France and heir to the French throne, once Charles VI had died. Unfortunately for Henry he was to die six weeks before Charles, leaving the throne of both England and France to his year old son, Henry VI in 1422.

Although the English held on to many of their French possessions for another generation, the loss of Burgundian support and the weakness of character of Henry VI, ensured their eventual defeat and removal from France and the continent of Europe, leaving only little Calais an English possession until 1558.

Out of Europe once again

So England and Great Britain had exited militarily and politically once again, though the monarchs of England would retain their claim on the French throne for several centuries after the defeat. England became more insular after this point, and following the disastrous Wars of the Roses which occurred immediately after the loss of France, the country became more obviously a nation with a nationalistic outlook.

The underrated King Edward IV, one of the Yorkist kings of England, attained enough stability in his kingdom to successfully invade France once more in 1475. However, he was in turn bought off by the French king Louis XI with a huge ‘bribe’ in the Treaty of Picquigny and returned home with his army.

Only the spiritual and ecclesiastical links remained across Europe and Great Britain, the power of the Roman Catholic Church. But even this, as it turned out, was not sacrosanct – but that’s another story in the list of this island’s fractious in-out relationship with Europe.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

 

Brexit Precedents No.3: ‘Bad’ King John and the Loss of Normandy

ancient antique armor armour

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When King John of England lost Normandy, Anjou and Brittany in northern France in 1204 AD to King Philip II Augustus of France, it was to have great repercussions back home in England.

The territories of Normandy and Anjou had been at the very heart of the great Angevin Empire, which at its zenith during the reign of John’s father, Henry II (1154 – 1189 AD), stretched from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees.

Although John retained Gascony and Aquitaine in the south west of France after 1204, lands that had come into the possession of his family through his father’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the loss of Normandy and Anjou seemed symbolic of a catastrophic failure.

Normandy of course was the dukedom brought into the fold of the English crown with William the Conqueror’s victory at Hastings in 1066. John’s father, Henry II, was from Anjou, meaning that this dukedom also became a crown possession when he acceded to the throne, even though Kings of England still had to swear fealty to the Kings of France for their possession of the dukedoms of Normandy and Anjou.

A sudden sense of separation?

So there was definitely a great sense of sudden separation felt, not merely with John, but also among the vast majority of the ruling aristocracy of England, who were overwhelmingly of Anglo Norman or Anglo Angevin descent, and who had lands and familial ties to these French dukedoms.

Now these barons and other aristocrats had to make a choice: Were they English or French? Whilst the ties between England and northern France remained to some degree, there began to grow a sense of English nationhood from this point in history.

Anglo Normans began to feel increasingly English, often marrying English spouses. Those left in Normandy and Anjou became truly French once more. From 1066 to 1204, the English Channel was a connection between two areas essentially of the same realm: Now it was a great divide between two kingdoms growing apart, who would within a hundred and fifty years embark upon the Hundred Years’ War.

Magna Carta and civil war

Nevertheless, despite the loss of Normandy, for over ten years King John, perhaps foolishly, persisted in trying to regain his lost French territories, causing crippling taxation and making powerful enemies at home and abroad.

This would eventually lead to Magna Carta in 1215, where the barons tried to curtail the power of the king against them.

However, when John began to refuse to follow the new ‘rules’, civil war broke out, ultimately leading to the baron’s inviting Prince Louis, the son of King Philip Augustus, to England with an army of several hundred ships.

A new French conquest

By 1216, much of England was in the control of Prince Louis and the barons and it seemed very likely for a while that the ties between the two kingdoms were about to be even more strongly cemented by this new conquest, exactly one hundred and fifty years since the first one.

Then, in October 1216, King John suddenly died. The English barons who had not supported Louis began to resist and gain more support and the French barons were finally defeated as support for Prince Louis began to slip away.

The barons probably realised that they now had John’s young son, Henry III, to control and get what they wanted without trying to justify the arrival of a young French king and all his staff and the unpopularity that this would undeniably bring.

England’s ‘in out’ relationship with the continent

So within twelve short years, England had effectively been cut off from the continent with the loss of Normandy and Anjou, notwithstanding the retention of distant lands in south west France, then came with a hair’s breadth of being fully subsumed within the sphere of influence of kingdom of France, and then finally reneged on the latter idea altogether, ultimately choosing ‘independence’.

Once more England found itself essentially alone, cut off, though independent and with a growing sense of nationhood, perhaps a little bit like Brexit Britain might be?

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Astrology Musings: The ‘Divine’, Extraordinary Sarah Bernhardt

woman raising her hands

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It would seem famous French stage actress Sarah Bernhardt had little going for her when she was born. Her mother, a courtesan, wasn’t married and it’s said she never knew the identity of her father; Sarah was educated in a convent, where she learned the etiquette which would equip her for life.

She was clearly determined to become an actress – and how. Despite being small and skinny, she more than made up for her obvious disadvantages through sheer will power and ambition.

With Cancer rising her ruling ‘planet’ is the Moon, which is involved in the most important feature of the chart.

She has the Moon exactly conjunct Uranus in Aries in the 10th house of career, exactly opposite Mars. Here symbolised is her emotionally intense, dramatic, fiery, at times explosive nature, plus her sheer determination to succeed, whatever the odds – an implacable ambition, plus a great deal of outspokenness, I should imagine.

Saturn, the planet of patience and work, is well aspected to this configuration, hinting that the vast amount of energy from the opposition was offset into painstaking hard work.

Another interesting feature is her Venus conjunct Chiron in Virgo in the 3rd house of the mind, education and communication. This to me indicates her early life in particular, the strict convent schooling which would have been both difficult and character defining.

Venus can stand for femininity and in Virgo it is very particular, functional, precise. Chiron’s presence here shows how difficult this training was for her, but also reveals her life as an example to others, to make the best of a difficult start to life.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Source: Astro-Databank

*Contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com if you would like a personal astrology report.

Henry VI, King of England and France, Castles Made of Sand – Astrology Musings

the greek statues

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His father was one of England’s most legendary monarchs, the victor of Agincourt in northern France in October 1415. Henry V went on to re-conquer Normandy, to officially become heir to the French throne and win the hand in marriage of the French king’s daughter, Catherine.

But alas for England, Henry V was dead by 1422, aged just 35, too famous to live long, as Shakespeare was to put it nearly two centuries later.

A fated inheritance?

However, he left behind a son aged just one, also called Henry, sixth of that name, who on his father’s death inherited two kingdoms, England and France.

Young Henry remains the only monarch to be crowned king of England and France, yet it was to be an illusive and tragic inheritance.

By 1453, a generation later, the English were effectively all but thrown out of France, only little Calais remaining.

Lancaster versus York

Back in England, the kingdom began to implode through the strong rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York. Henry VI, unlike his famous father, was no military leader, becoming a powerless pawn during the shifting circumstances of war and intrigue. He was dethroned and eventually died in captivity, probably murdered.

It was an ignominious end to a reign which, at its start, promised the uniting of two kingdoms and a golden age.

Pluto transforms

So, according to the birth data, Henry was born with Pluto rising in Gemini, within a degree of the ascending point. Of course, Pluto was unknown back in the 15th century and therefore no astrologer could have pointed this out to his parents or guardians.

However, with the benefit of our hindsight, Pluto on sensitive points of a birth chart, and they don’t come much more sensitive than the ascending degree, can cast a very strong influence on the individual. Pluto is said to be transformative, a bringer of drastic change, almost like a finger of fate over which we have no control.

It’s worth remembering, too, that when Henry was king, the monarch was all powerful when he was of ruling age, say from his late teens.

The English kicked out of France

But because he became king aged 1, both England and France were ruled by others, essentially his uncles and their cohorts.

And because the figure head’s birth chart is, by its very nature, said to be symbolic of the ‘destiny’ of the whole nation beneath it, this Pluto conjunct the ascendant, exactly describes what happened over the next generation: a complete transformation, the English ending up being kicked out of France (except Calais), France setting its long course to become the dominant power in western Europe. England, on the other hand, went into meltdown.

Draining the swamp?

This is very much Plutonian, the draining of the swamp, a drastic, though perhaps necessary change which completely disrespects the individual.

Poor Henry probably never had a chance, not helped by the fact that he was no warrior, and in fact appeared to prefer religious study to the involvement in power politics. Some said that he had inherited his grandfather’s (Charles VI of France) supposed madness.

A life led through others

Returning to Henry’s chart, his chart ruler, Mercury and his Sun are both in Sagittarius in his 7th house of partnerships. This means that, although he was mentally expansive, his life was usually led through others, that he was always likely to be under the influence of more powerful people than he, even though he was king of two kingdoms. This was probably a result of inheriting so young.

His Mercury in Sagittarius in beneficial aspect to Jupiter in the 3rd house, strongly hints of a keen interest in the higher mind, the areas of philosophy and religion, and I suspect that this tendency became almost like an escape for him as the full magnitude of his personal situation revealed itself to him as he grew up.

An escape in philosophy and religion

His Sagittarian Sun is also ruler of that 3rd house, underlining the idea that thinking is a good way to travel philosophically, if not physically for him, though Sagittarius in itself suggests foreign involvement – he was king and the inheritor of two countries and cultures.

Saturn is ruler of the 9th house, the planet being found in Libra in the 5th house. I think he had a keen sense of justice too and was probably very knowledgeable of the law.

Also interesting, for those who think Uranus is ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius, Uranus is found in the 10th house in Pisces. Uranus in this house more than hints of sudden changes in the ‘career’ and if Uranus is indeed the MC (midheaven point) ruler too, then we have another tie up in regard to his experience of the vicissitudes of kingship.

Spiritual solace

His Moon in Taurus in the 12th house, might have added a touch of stability to his life. The Moon is said to be exalted in Taurus, so if he ever had time to engage in activities such as gardening, he might have found some quiet solace, especially as the Moon is in good aspect to Neptune, which would tend to add a spiritual, or unworldly edge to his character.

Mars is also involved in this configuration, nicely trining Neptune from the 6th house in Scorpio, adding energy and, I should imagine, some religious zeal to his already mentioned philosophical interests.

However, the Moon Mars opposition, would have also been a source of much psychological irritation, too, which would always tend to find release through this Neptune – this may have been one of the key indications of his love of religion and spiritual issues.

A victim of circumstance

Finally, his Chiron is in the 8th house of inheritance, almost exactly in aspect (quincunx) to Pluto on his ascendant and loosely opposite Neptune. Here is a very strong indication of his early circumstances, inheriting so young the newly founded empire of his father, plus his difficulty in coming to terms with it later on as circumstances began to change beyond his control. In his more lucid moments, he might have been able to give others some succinct advice about death and inheritance.

Looking at this chart, I do genuinely feel sorry for Henry, for there are few better examples of a king being a victim of circumstance.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

The Day in History – Henri the Fourth of France Assassinated

Henri-Pourbus

By Frans Pourbus the Younger – from web, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8918292

Today in 1610, King Henry the Fourth of France was assassinated.

Henri, although baptised as a Catholic, was brought up as a Protestant. Due to the inflammatory religious situation in France and his background, he was at times considered an enemy by both Catholics and Protestants alike. As a result, there were many previous assassination attempts.

Despite often being unpopular during his reign, he was nevertheless considered a successful king, in economic, cultural, military and diplomatic terms, but only achieved his current status as a great king posthumously, when a virtual cult arose in his memory.

He was assassinated on May 14 1610 by a fanatic called Ravaillac in the Rue de la Ferronnerie, Paris.

The Elemental North Norfolk Coast

boatsoffcromer©dfbarker

Cromer, North Norfolk

No excuses, just thought I’d share again a couple of my past impressions of one of my favourite places.

foam

Titchwell, North Norfolk

If I ever got serious about oil painting and painting in general again, I think I would have to visit more places abroad. Like the south of France where the light is glorious, so I am told!

Of course North Norfolk’s geographical position is almost unique in England, which gives it its particularly quality of light, strong blues; whereas in the Mediterranean, for example, the brighter colours predominate.

Poem: A Picture

pariscafe

Like a heavy Thirties’ vibrato, the early
talkie movie strings exquisite
yet tainting,

your restrained pose remains
steadfast before the storm, long shadows
of a vengeance which threatens

you, barely withheld. Still
your smiling eyes stare
back from Paris cafés through

mists of Gitanes, drenched
in sepia, like the relics of some
melancholy sun

© copyright David F. Barker 2013