When Katherine Of Aragon wrote a heartfelt plea to her father, she held the title of Princess of Wales through her marriage to Prince Arthur of England. The couple had not been married long before the prince’s untimely death in 1502 at Ludlow Castle. Faced now with widowhood and all alone in a foreign country, […]
The Lincolnshire Rising of the autumn of 1536 was a popular uprising in protest to King Henry VIII’s and Thomas Cromwell’s decision to dissolve the monasteries. It was the spark which led to the more widespread uprising, called the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536-7.
On this day in 1485 was born the ‘Spanish’ princess, Catalina de Aragon near Madrid, known in the English speaking world as Catherine of Aragon.
Catherine married the heir to the English throne, Arthur Prince of Wales, in 1501. However, Arthur died soon afterwards. When Arthur’s brother, Henry ascended the throne on the death of his father in 1509, he quickly married his brother’s widow, forging an important alliance between England and Spain.
However, over the course of the next twenty years, Catherine failed to deliver Henry a living male heir, her only major ‘crime’. Following a long protracted dispute between Henry and Papal legates, during which the Pope refused to annul the marriage, Henry declared himself Head of the Church of England, allowing him to divorce Catherine and marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn in 1533.
Catherine died in January 1536 at Kimbolton Castle, and is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.
Anyone brought up in Great Britain, or in fact anywhere in the world, is probably familiar with the character and the life of King Henry VIII, probably England’s most famous and notorious sovereign – he of the six spouses. Does his birth chart reflect this personality and what else might it reveal?
Henry had the Sun in Cancer, Moon in Aries, with a Virgo ascendant. His Cancer Sun gave him an essentially caring, protective, yet sensitive nature, often inflamed, however, by his ardent, fiery, direct and often impatient Aries Moon loosely square to the Sun.
Even filtered through his Virgo ascendant, which would provide him with a highly discriminatory approach to life, this could not prevent this basic dichotomy of his character from manifesting from time to time. We can see this at various times in his life, his impatience and anger.
Furthermore, his ruling planet Mercury is in Leo in the 12th house, exactly opposing Saturn.
Here is a psychologically ingrained mental pride and implacability, which except under the rarest of circumstances, finds it difficult to envisage that it can ever be wrong.
In any everyday personality, who would have little influence beyond his family, such a mentality would not constitute a wider threat. However, when you are talking about a monarch of a powerful country, such an attitude can become epoch making, even downright lethal for many people.
It is worth remembering that Henry was no radical, but a true conservative, despite his ‘reputation’ for encouraging the Reformation in England.
Quite early in his reign the Pope conferred on him the title ‘Defender of the Faith’, something which Henry was extremely proud of, and a quite fitting title for a monarch with such a stubborn and conservative mentality as symbolised by the quality of his Mercury. The young Henry put up a strong, reactionary resistance to reformers like Martin Luther.
However, whilst this configuration gave him the mental capacity to defend an argument to the hilt and often with great success, as he grew older this same tendency developed into an extreme implacability, far beyond mere stubbornness. This is one of the characteristics that gave him the reputation for being a tyrant.
Jupiter Neptune spiritual cycle personalised
Henry’s chart also has a fairly tight T-square involving Mars at the apex in Virgo in the 1st house, square to both Jupiter and Neptune on the Gemini/Sagittarius 10th/4th axes.
I think this is most revealing. A first house Mars in Virgo in itself represents a diverse, yet practical energy, which would probably sometimes manifest as great irritability when things were not going his way.
Add to this the tension in the Jupiter Neptune opposition, however, which in historic and transpersonal terms is related to the human religious and spiritual cycle (something which would be in all charts for those born around 1491 but made personal here through the contact with a first house Mars) and you can see what might tend to be irritable to him.
Love of scripture
Henry was the second son of Henry VII. Had his brother Arthur lived to become king, Henry might well have a pursued a religious path in some way. Henry clearly had a very strong interest in religion and spirituality, he was very knowledgeable, yet in many ways it proved to be his undoing because it conflicted with his desires as a monarch.
The fact that Mars rules the 3rd house of the mind and the 10th house Venus in Gemini is the ruler of the 9th house, only underlines this. He had a natural love of literature, particularly religious literature, plus a great ability at languages.
King versus Pope
But of course, Henry is most famous for having the six wives. Jupiter is the 7th house ruler, the house of relationships and as we have seen, his 10th house of career Jupiter is involved in a tight T-square, which appears to symbolise the constitutional crises arising from his wife’s ‘inability’ to produces a living male heir. Here we see the needs of the king vying with the fundamentals of religion.
One way around this, was to find an appropriate quotation from the Bible, in Leviticus, in regard to a man marrying his late brother’s wife and the impurity which would result from it; Henry had indeed married his late brother Arthur’s wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Head of the church
It was this argument which was used, stubbornly and vehemently by Henry, though equally opposed by the Papacy and his wife, Catherine. Henry eventually got around the impasse by declaring himself the head of the Church of England, surely equally symbolised by this tight Jupiter Neptune opposition in houses 10 and 4.
But it was something which must have weighed down his conscience for the rest of his life. For despite the break with Rome, Henry remained staunchly conservative in his religious beliefs, as befits that strong Mercury opposite Saturn in the Leo/Aquarius and 12/6 axes.
Vicissitudes in love
So moving on to his love life, we have already noted that his Venus is in Gemini, making him something of a natural flirt (not that all Venus Geminians are like this!), but when we also look at his 5th house of love, we have Uranus present and Saturn is the 5th house ruler.
Uranus would tend to bring sudden, unexpected changes in his love life and Saturn, being ruler of this house, as we have already seen, is in close opposition to Mercury, bringing to bear all his stubborn, arrogant mentality in this area of his life too.
The continual vicissitudes after his first divorce, the sudden demise of Anne Boleyn, the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, after giving birth to a son, the farce of the ‘courtship’ and marriage to Anne of Cleves etc… are all shown by this 5th house Uranus and the tense quality of the 5th house ruler Saturn.
Sympathy for Henry?
At the end of the day, I have some sympathy for Henry. He never quite came to grips with the circumstances that he was presented with.
His deep sense of faith, his natural conservatism, were tested to the utmost by the needs of his dynasty, the difficulty he and his wives had in producing a living male heir.
This was the classic conflict between church and state, something which he thought he had solved by ‘marrying’ the two together by becoming head of the church in England. I am quite sure, at the end of his life, he never dreamed his life would turn out the way it did.
Monasteries, the Abbey or Priory of the medieval world of England, are an enduring interest of mine, although I don’t claim to be an expert on ecclesiastical or architectural matters.
Many years ago, I did a series of watercolour reconstructions of one priory, how it may have looked at its height (see above).
To think that these places, which became so criticised and demonised, especially in the reign of Tudor King Henry VIII, were the centres of education not only of the monks and nuns who lived there, but were also enriching the local communities, providing jobs, education, lodging, medical care too.
To have these dissolved, stripped bare and taken down, the monks or nuns dismissed at the behest of ‘Good King Henry’ and Thomas Cromwell – well, it must have been truly catastrophic for the communities that were left without them. That doesn’t quite seem to come across in most of the accepted history of what we call The Reformation.
Anne Boleyn? Hans Holbein the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(a response to Holbein’s sketch, purportedly of Anne Boleyn)
So, is this really you? Those full lips
well kissed, I have no doubt,
your pretty duckys hidden, fit for ravagers
we call kings. Holbein’s profile, it
simply shines your intelligence, courts
with language, love and ideas,
perhaps a little too much for kings
and enemies to take, at a time
when your sex are meant to be
little more than slaves and vessels
for petulant princes.
But no one can stop me grieving:
I imagine you blink, turn
and smile at me. Oh,
you are strong and keen, yet tender
and kind like all mothers
and lovers should be. No wonder
other men may have dreamed
on those lips, carried away
by your verve, which only victors
ever get to call treason. Now I wish
I could touch your fine chin
and whisper: “Elizabeth— remember Elizabeth!” My words
vanish into air like justice, while you
stare blankly through Traitor’s Gate;
but this little girl takes the better part
of you, better than any king before
or since, of this abject state