England’s Heritage, Peterborough Cathedral Part II – Two Famous Queens

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Peterborough Cathedral in the east of England is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful churches, with an association with two famous queens.

The long nave is quite stunning, with a beautiful roof and with a modern golden image of Christ suspended high as a focal point.

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The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.

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Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, is buried here.

The cathedral is also notable for its association with two famous queens.

The first was Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England when she was married to Henry VIII. Catherine was buried here in 1536 and her tomb is still something of a shrine to her memory, with pomegranates very prominent as her symbol because the fruit appears on her badge. Pomegranates are an ancient symbol for fecundity and regeneration.

Catherine certainly suffered much during her husband’s long and protracted break with Rome, in which she was the innocent victim, her only crime it would seem was not being able to produce a living male heir for Henry to perpetuate the Tudor dynasty. This was how she was treated after being completely dutiful to the king, but Henry had to have his way. Her motto, which translates as ‘humble and loyal’, is a phrase she very much lived up to.

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There is a portrait of Catherine by her tomb.

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Pomegranates have had a long association with Catherine of Aragon.

The second queen associated with Peterborough Cathedral is Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary inherited the Scottish throne after only a few days of being born, thrusting her into a world of political intrigue and shenanigans which she was never able to control.

She essentially became a pawn of more powerful rulers and some despicable characters. However, in 1559 she duly became Queen Consort to Francis II of France, solidifying Scotland’s long alliance with France.

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Scottish symbols hang in honour of Mary who was initially buried here in 1587.

Sadly within 18 months the young kind died prematurely. Had he lived, Mary’s life would have turned out entirely differently. As it was, she became a teenage widow and a long series of political and personal disasters ensued when she returned to Scotland. Eventually she fled to England and came under Elizabeth’s control.

After many years’ imprisonment in England, during which the still substantial Catholic faction within England with aid from Spain continually conspired to depose Elizabeth and put Mary on the English throne, she was finally executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.

She was initially buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but her son, James I of England, had her remains transferred to Westminster Abbey in London.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

 

 

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King Philip II of Spain, A Man of Power & Charm – Astrology Musings

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

King Philip II of Spain effectively became the most powerful man in the world when he inherited the crown from his even more powerful father, The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who abdicated in 1556.

Nearly all reports of his personality describe him as dutiful, serious, methodical. He was certainly extremely organised and was a passionate defender of Catholicism, promoting and financing what we now call the Counter Reformation, with some degree of success.

Rebellion and Conflict

Spain was engaged in a long running conflict fighting the Dutch Rebellion, and sent more than one armada of ships, also using Spanish troops based in the Netherlands, in an attempt to invade England and re-establish Catholicism in that country.

Ultimately, however, both of these failed, the Northern Provinces of the Netherlands effectively becoming independent in 1581, and England successfully fending off the most famous Spanish Armada in 1588.

Looking at his chart, Philip would appear to have been a much more rounded individual than the one generally left to us by posterity, or at least in English books on history.

A Man of Refinement and Grace

He had Libra rising, with Venus, his ruling planet, in Gemini conjunct Jupiter in house 9, in good aspect to a Moon in Aquarius and Saturn in Aries. Jupiter was also technically conjunct Mercury which had just moved into Cancer. His Gemini sun is also in house 9.

Put all this together and I would venture that here is a quite charming, diplomatic, sociable, affable, responsible and very generous individual, with a strong interest in philosophical and religious issues. The Moon’s south node is also very close to the Venus Jupiter conjunction, indicating that he was at his most natural in the realms of diplomacy, culture and philosophy and was probably highly knowledgeable about them.

Married and Widowed Four Times

Philip II was described by at least one ambassador as being highly attractive, charming and courteous, a fact often overlooked in the English speaking world, it would seem.

We should also remember that he was married four times, one of his wives being none other than Queen Mary I of England, who was absolutely besotted with him. I think from all this, we can see that the ‘stars’ did not lie, he was indeed a very charming and gracious individual.

One surprising apparent fact was that he was not a great linguist. All the above indications suggest that he would have made a great scholar of foreign languages, but appears to ‘only’ have spoken Spanish (Castilian) and Latin.

Not a Linguist but a Defender of Faith

I think we can put this down to the fact that he devoted himself to the pursuit of religion and diplomacy (and foreign wars), at a time when Spain was the most powerful country in Europe with a vast and still growing overseas empire, negating the need for him to speak such languages as French and German at a time when the accepted lingua franca was still Latin.

At that time, England, for example, was still rather insignificant with an even more insignificant language. Rulers like Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth, who had undoubted linguistic gifts as revealed in their birth charts, would have certainly benefited from being able to converse in several foreign languages.

Philip and other Spanish rulers of that time, did not need to do this and so he became the champion of the Catholic cultural dominance of Europe and the then known world.

A Well Developed Mind

If we probe a little deeper into this man’s mentality, we see his Mercury in Cancer in house 10 loosely conjunct Jupiter. Both of these planets are rulers of house 3 and 9 respectively, which between them signify the everyday and higher mentality.

Mercury in Cancer might tend to let emotions impinge upon logical thought at times, though I suspect he could always be relied upon to put up a good defensive and emotive argument when it came to such issues as religious belief and faith, especially as Jupiter, ruler of house 3 conjunct Venus in Gemini indicates a flexible and persuasive aspect to the mind as well, able to grasp and use detail.

When Philip died in 1598, although he had failed to secure the Northern Netherlands and defeating England, he had secured the throne of Portugal and seen Spain’s oversees possessions reach nearly their greatest extent.

Virulent Enemies

The fact that his ambitions in Europe were always confronted by virulent opposition is shown by his house 7 (opponents and relationships) ruler, Mars in passionate and resolute Scorpio in close square aspect to the Moon, his house 10 ruler of ambition and career. The Dutch Protestants and Queen Elizabeth of England were certainly strong and determined opponents.

Looking at this in another way, his house 2 Mars in Scorpio is in a quincunx (or inconjunct) aspect of 150 degrees to the Venus Jupiter conjunction.

A Ruthless Streak

Traditionally, this points to two virtually irredeemable areas of his life, like a kind of compartmentalisation, something which would actually be quite useful, one would think, with such a powerful statesman as this.

In other words, the man of charm and sophistication symbolised by Venus/Jupiter, might have been able to easily divorce itself, when needed, from the deep driving energy and ruthlessness of the Scorpio Mars, particularly in regard to financial matters and security (house 2) and also in certain areas of diplomacy (Mars ruler of house 7).

Finally, as house 7 also rules marriage, and as we find limiting Saturn housed there in his chart, I note that ‘poor’ Philip was married four times and widowed four times, something which would affect anyone deeply, even the most powerful man in the world, whose obvious grace and charm has sadly eluded most of us in the telling of history.

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem ‘Pomegranates’

Pomegranates

They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.

I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
über-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.

Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.

In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes and whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles

brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit

and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.

Almost believing.

image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com
**image from part of an historical reconstruction I did in watercolour of Spalding Priory, as it might have appeared in the fifteenth century.