Thursday, October 22, 2015

Henry V at Agincourt: an Astrological Review, Part II

For anyone who read Part I of this post, and thought "don't quit your day job", don't worry. For those who are familiar with the work I do in my day job, and thought "please quit your day job", I'm sorry. But as we dig deeper into this event and the actors in it, the more interesting we may find it.

I mentioned above that Henry was 28 when the Battle of Agincourt occurred, though this is a matter of debate. When I started this project, I looked on the website, which specifies a 16 September 1386 nativity. But other sources indicate he was born on 9 August 1387 [this is the date given in the Wikipedia entry]. One explanation for the doubt here is that when he was born, his father Henry IV was not then king, and there wasn't the kind of interest in his horoscope that there might have been if he had been born prince and heir.

It is said he had a chart done by a French astrologer not long before the battle at Agincourt. This fellow was supposedly also tried and/or punished in France for being an English spy. This nativity corresponds to the earlier of the two dates given above. Let's look at that chart first.

Taking an admittedly superficial stab, this appears to be the chart of a very accomplished clerk, scribe, or possibly an accountant. Here Virgo is at the midheaven and its ruler Mercury conjoins the Sun, both in Virgo in the 10th house. Perhaps he has bohemian friends in the Arts who introduce him to his wife (if his wife is not among them). The ruler of the ascendant is Mars, but Mars is very far away from the horizon line, i.e., there is not the angularity we might expect for a warrior-king.
   In the whole-sign house system, his Mars would sit in the second house; in Campanus it's at the very end of the first house, in Sagittarius (though if we used the tropical system we would see it exhalted in Capricorn: but nonetheless, not very angular, and disposited by a debilitated Saturn in Cancer). Mars is not far from the descending node, suggesting that waging battles is a strategy that would not work for this native in this life.
   Chiron sits close to the nadir, loosely opposite Mercury/Sun, and also trine to Saturn: a stable, mentoring father who has confronted and accepted his own limitations with grace.

Perhaps I'm under-emphasizing the Mars. Scorpio at the ascendant has Mars rulership, and if we place it in the 2nd house, it could reflect an aggressively acquisitive person. The fixed star Antares is about a degree away from conjoining the ascendant (Robson: "Riches and honor, violence, sickness, benefits seldom last"). Even so, Mars is below the horizon, while Mercury and the Sun are very elevated in the 10th house: this Mars is comparatively meek and weak.

The transits from Agincourt are not particularly compelling. Transiting Saturn in the 8th house squares natal Venus in the 11th, as though some legal matter were to constrain his social life. Transiting Jupiter approaches natal Mars in the 2nd, perhaps motivating some financial risk taking.
   Progressed Venus is a couple of degrees off the natal ascendant: no doubt the native will come into his own in the next couple of years, developing a personal style that really works for him.

There really isn't much meat here.'s astro-databank cites Martin Harvey's collection, Nativitas I, as the source, which in turn quoted a 15th century source indicating 29 Scorpio (tropical) at the ascendant. Here is the tropical version:

Contrast this with the chart for 9 August 1387, below. I'll use the same birth time. (This is a dubious and lazy choice: I'm effectively postulating that someone recorded the date correctly and possibly the time correctly, and someone else came along and applied the wrong date to the correct time and this was somehow passed down as the correct chart that ends up in Harvey's Nativitas. So it's reasonable to object. It's also possible the current time was used with the wrong date for the chart(s) above. In any case, we'll throw caution to the wind as we cast the next chart.)

In contrast to the first chart, this chart works quite well, given what we know of Henry V. The Sun in the sign of its rulership conjoins Mars, in the 10th house, not far from the Midheaven. Though Mars is combust (if that has any significance in a nativity) it is also within a degree of the fixed star, Regulus, not just by zodiac but in mundane aspect: this configuration turbocharges Mars. So this is someone who will easily and eagerly express his being in an aggressive and energetic way. Since Mars in the 10th rules the 7th, he may use partnership and more likely confrontation to increase his worldly status. Mars also forms a sextile aspect with Uranus: suggesting impetuosity that may be his undoing.

Sun/Mars squares Pluto in the 7th house, suggesting a native who is confronted or compelled to confront and oppose or engage: he has no shortage of enemies. Or another way to look at it is that he is confronted by matters, people or forces of a transpersonal, collective nature. The Sun also squares Neptune by mundane aspect, suggesting it was difficult for him to have any clarity about exactly what he was confronting or fighting. Perhaps, that was okay, so long as he had an excuse to fight something: some of his enemies may have been imagined. This also fits well with the intermittently debilitated mentality of one of his principal enemies, at least in this fight, Charles VI. [A traditional chart would not have any of the trans-Saturnian planets. Interestingly, a delineation of the 7th house ruler (Mars) in 10th house seems to echo the Sun+Mars square to Pluto and Sun mundane square to Neptune.]

He would eventually married this enemy's daughter, Catherine of Valois, and secure a claim as heir to the throne of France. Correspondingly, in the nativity we see Venus, Moon and the ascending lunar node all in Gemini in the 8th house (other peoples money, inheritance). These are all in Gemini ruled by a 9th house Mercury, which is in mutual reception with the Moon in Gemini. (We can see the interplay of travel in pursuit of the acquisition of other people's worldly goods.)

Mercury conjoins a debilitated Saturn in Cancer, but both are near the midheaven in the 9th house: perhaps he was a man of few but well-chosen words. Saturn is debilitated, but both it and Mercury are elevated. In this nativity, Saturn rules the 4th house, traditionally the father, while Mercury rules the 12th and an intercepted portion of the 8th houses.

One could quibble with the Venus-ruled Libra ascendant of this sidereal version of the chart. This is Yang-Venus, Cardinal Air. Cardinal signs take the initiative. That the ruler of the ascendant is in the 8th only serves to emphasize his project of expanding his wealth and territory. (The tropical version of this chart emphasizes Mars rather more, since Scorpio is on the Ascendant.)

As much as I liked the Henry V character in Shakespeare's eponymous play, I can't help feeling the person attached to this nativity has the potential to be a thug and a warlord than a kingly king.

Using mundane primary directions (with Naibod key) for a few dates, I experimented with rectifying the chart, and came up with a time of 11:13:59 LMT by calibrating with Jupiter directed to Midheaven on the date of the battle.

I kept the selection deliberately sparse, and anchored Jupiter directed to MC at the 25 October 1415 event. The idea is that his reputation will be greatly enhanced at this time.
   Mars directs to Midheaven on 13 Dec 1397, and Neptune directs to the descendant on 18 June 1399, which is a little early and a little late respectively for a correspondence with the October 1398 we might expect to correspond with the exile of Henry's father, at which time Henry becomes King Richard II's "guest".
   The Sun is directed to the MC on 29 Jan 1400. This is a little later than we'd like if we wanted a correspondence with Henry's father assuming the throne of England (which occurred on October 13 of the prior year) and Henry becoming the Prince of Wales.
   Further down from the Agincourt date, Venus converse-directs to the MC on 18 May 1419 corresponds roughly to his meeting Catherine Valois, his future wife (29 May).
   I didn't find any of the more ominous directions to correspond with the time of his death.

So with a deliberate calibration of Jupiter=MC on the date of the battle, some of the other direction dates are in the vicinity of reasonable matches, though not perfectly. So, it's interesting, but I don't know that we're really ready to commit to this particular rectification. Nevertheless it does seem to confirm that we're in the vicinity of the correct time of birth.

How does our basic Chart B stack up against Agincourt? Here are the charts in overlay, with the event on the outer ring.

The Moon of the moment conjoins the natal MC, and the Sun is near the natal ascendant and has been transiting his 1st house for a few days but it is also activating the natal Neptune, what I've said above is a kind of irrational enemy. The kite formation of Venus + Pluto + Mercury + Uranus aspects both the Sun+Mars and the Uranus of the nativity, so he's tuned in with the luck of the moment. Transiting Neptune conjoins natal Venus: he lusts after this battle.

There are numerous other points of contact and these are left as an exercise to the reader. In my next post I will make the case that the transiting node seems to reflect a kind of fated quality to this battle for both Henry and King Charles VI of France. Please stay tuned.

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Some references, beside the Wikipedia citations above:

1. "10 things you (probably) didn't know about Henry V and the battle of Agincourt", submitted by Emma McFarnon,

2. "Henry V: Timeline", Robert Wilde, 2005, from

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