Queen Isabella I of Castile – An Exercise in Rectification

Isabel_de_castillaIsabella in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

Isabel de castile in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

The Astro Databank  offers the following natal data for Queen Isabella I of Castile.  22 April 1451 Jul.Cal. (1 May 1451 greg.) at 16:40 (= 4:40 PM ) Place Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, 41n05, 5w0 Timezone LMT m5w0 (is local mean time). Rodden gives it a AA rating. Although I’m comfortable with the date, there is reason to believe the time is off by about two hours.

Rectification is made a bit easier if we have a good image of the person whose chart we are adjusting. Regrettably , portraits of Isabella differ considerably.  That still leaves us with scores of techniques, but I’m going to use just a few of them that work well in situations like this..

Rectification is a core skill for any astrologer. One needs to learn to recognize what I will call astrological discrepancies. For example, it is not a difficult task to recognize whether Saturn is in the First House or the Twelfth. there are physical and temperamental differences. One need only look and ask a few simple questions. The same goes for any planet or luminary. However, other potential house misplacements are more subtle and require other means.

Like any historical character of note, there have been many biographies, commentaries, pamphlets, films and polemics about Isabel. They portray her in a better or worse light and from many points of view However, there are a few core traits attributed to her which are almost universal.  She was an intensely pious Roman Catholic and her religion came before everything, with her duty to the realm as a close second. Nobody has credibly argued she didn’t love her husband, King Ferdinand, but she always made it clear that the realm came before everything but God. For Isabel they were in fact closely related when it cam to purging the Moors and Jews from Spain

She was tenacious, famously stubborn and excessively jealous. She was courageous beyond all expectations. She could also be fanatical, particularly in matters of religion  and it is this trait that has left the darkest legacy. Sometimes our virtues are our vices taken to the extreme.

As a savvy Queen, she was blessed with great statesmen, but the final decisions were very much her own. She was determined to turn a conglomerate of states into a unified, Christian Spain. She was shrewd enough to be the only monarch to supply and offer her patronage to a young Christopher Columbus,. Because of the immense groundwork done by Isabella and Ferdinand, Spain became a united and affluent state.


Below is the chart as shown on Astro Databank. Here we find both Mercury and Venus retrograde in Aries and on the Descendant, disposited by Mars in the Ninth and of course in Mutual reception with Mercury. An Airy Mars dispositing a weak and retrograde Mercury in Venus in Aries. is a recipe for volatile jealousy. However, it would seem to fit better if Mercury and Venus were in the Eighth and Mars in the Tenth. We can return to this chart, but for how I have good reason to consider alternative times. Mercury is conjunct the Pillar of the Horoscope ( Lot). This is true in both charts and draws attention to the importance of Mercury as the Lord of the Ascendant in the rectified chart.

Picture8The suggested rectification is for the same place and date but for two hours earlier. We can refine this, but this is good place to start. Instead of the Sun in the Eight and Libra Ascending, we know have a Ninth House Sun with the Part of Eros (Venus) and a Mercurial Virgo Ascending.

The Sun in the Ninth House of God is in his Joy. The placement accompanied by the Part of Eros speaks of intense piety, as was not shown in the previous chart. Ferdinand and Isabella had seven children;, five of whom survived to adulthood.

Although neither one of the Houses of Children seems to support that, there is in fact an enormous difference. In the rectified chart the Lord of the Fifth House changes from dry, barren Aquarius to Capricorn which is a semi fruitful sign. In itself, this is slight, but when we consider that the Lord of the Fifth is disposited by Venus and that the Lord of the Seventh is now Jupiter and the Lord of the Eleventh is the Moon.

PicturebThe overall picture, by no means ideal, is immeasurably better than what we had in the first chart. Perhaps we may allow ourselves to ponder the significance of Pisces in the House of Partners, signifying,  confidante-like relationships, including interaction with priests, marriage and business partners, agreements and treaties, matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open (known) enemies and attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner. I do not think it irrelevant that Ferdinand was a Solar Pisces.

The alternative is Mars as Lord of the Seventh House, complete with Venus in detriment. This doesn’t fit.

Mostly what we’ve done is move the houses over one place, but the results are considerable. Such things as the Part of Fortune and possibly the Hyleg will differ accordingly.

The Lord of Manners is easily identified as Saturn and Isabella was in fact known for her austere demeanor and life in general. Her dominant humour is melancholic., secondarily choleric   ( See Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. 241-260 ). In the previous chart, Saturn would be in the Twelfth House an would radically change her stature and demeanour.

There are a few things that convince me that the second chart is closer to the correct time. In this one, The Sun is parallel Regulus and Aldebaran. The Part of Fortune is conjunct Aldebaran. These are both royal stars of the first degree.

In both charts Mars is overwhelmingly supported by Bellatrix and Betelgeuse and these are conjunct the mid-heaven in the rectified chart. Both are powerful stars. Bellatrix is a bright star in the shoulder of Orion  which embodies the power of the Feminine.

This one, far more than the first, is the chart of a great Queen, with intense religiosity and devotion. We have identified the volatile jealousy, replaced the infertility with far better conditions.  The Lord of the Eleventh House is her Moon in detriment. This tells us that she was largely self reliant.

These are fairly simple techniques for cases such as this one, where the main problem is the house and planetary positions providing a clearly inaccurate description based on what you know about the native.

Appendix I : Solar Revolutions

As stated in the article above, this wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive exercise, but rather to show some basic techniques for detecting an incorrect birth time. This was in part based on house placements that seemed to conflict with our knowledge of the native. I had made it very clear that there were several other techniques that might be applied to back up or fine tune our rectification.

However, in light of recent queries I’m happy to show that the chart is proven closer to the exact time by other means. Again, there is a myriad of tools available. However, I’ve settled on the what is probably the simplest technique. I’m adding the Solar Revolution Charts for the Year 1470, when Isabella gave birth to her first child, who was also named Isabel. The first is the chart for the Rodden data. The second is for the rectified chart.

roddenSRI find it unnecessary to go into great detail here. The charts speak plainly enough. The one from Astro Databank (above) gives virtually no hint of childbirth. In fact had there been one at all, it would likely not have not gone full term. The Lord of the fifth house of children is a Mercurial Venus in the barren sign of Gemini. Morover, the Lord of Venus is Mercury retrograde in the Twelfth House with Saturn. There is mutual reception, but I can’t ss this being of much use in this case. We vcan look at the Seventh and Eleventh House, but we find the Lord of the Seventh also in a barren sign.  The Eleventh tells us next to nothing. The Lord of the Eleventh is Mars in his Fall.

rectifiedThe second chart is very different. Here we have Jupiter in Leo with the Part of Fortune, but in the Fourth House., disposited by the Sun in Venusian Taurus. This gives us some hope.

Mercury, Lord of the Fifth, is still Retrograde, but he’s in his Joy in the first house. This is a very signicant difference. Mercury tends to take on some of the qualities of the sign we find him in. Taurus is a very fertile sign and Mercury can act here.

Over all, the rectified chart is immeasurably better than the original, particularly indofar as it’s signatures of fertility.

Both charts are Void of Course and neither gives us any of the Lots of parenthood as a guide. I’m still far more certain about the rectified chart. Neither chart is ideal, but the unrectified chart is clearly incorrect.

Appendix II : Solar Revolution – Marriagefinal

Finally, as if we needed more evidence, we have a Solar Revolution for the year of her marriage to Ferdinand. I’m using Morinus software because it provides more graphic information. I do not intend to get into much detail. The charts authenticity pretty much speaks for itself

Those of you who have studied Isabella’s life, will know her brother Henry was an ineffectual but treacherous monarch. He had done all he could to block her from successsion. It is no surprise then to see a weak Mars in the house of brothers as it is for the following year. Henry was in frail health and died during 1474 in Madrid

Most spectacularly, Jupiter is in his Exatation is in the House of Partners. The Sun is in the Fifth House. The Part of Fortune is in the Royal sign of Leo.

So we have an ongoing process. First there is the recognition that the chart is skewed, then step by step we narrow it down then test with Solar Revolution. Again, there are many other tools to use and many events we can try to nail down, but that really isn’t necessary. I’m convinced of the superiority of the rectification, although I make no claims to the exact degree. I’m primarly concerned with house placements and plausible planetary positions. This will meet most requirments in any case. Perhaps at some later time, we can discuss the finer tuning.

12 thoughts on “Queen Isabella I of Castile – An Exercise in Rectification

  1. i wonder why adb gave it an AA rating? something about a birth certificate or something very clearly pointing to a strong case for the original time in spite of an astrologers circular logic for another time a full 2 hours earlier as i see it..

      • So, you are suggesting that the rectification contains no evidence that is distinct from the conclusion? I provide numerous reasons why the rectification is highly plausible in comparison to the one with the time given by Rodden. If I had stated a conclusion with nothing to support that conclusion, then I would be engaging in what you accuse me of. However that is not the case at all.

      • your evidence is your conclusion as i understand it..many things are plausible.. that doesn’t make them automatically true.. the astrology you appear to rely on mostly is character description of signs and house positions of planets, in spite of knowing houses are an area of contention in astrology. have you taken a look at any solar returns for some of the important years in isabellas life? have you ran primary directions for important events in her life to see if your theory has relevance? have you even looked at the transits for the dates of the childrens birth, or still birth? i am curious..

      • As I made very clear, these are fairly simple techniques for cases such as this one, where the main problem is the house and planetary positions providing a clearly inaccurate description based on what we know about the native. There is a huge differences between say Saturn in the first of the twelfth. If you are a skillful astrologer you would know this to be true. If not, you won’t. I also made it clear that there were dozens of other techniques that could have been used, such as primary directions, solar returns and other time lord systems. I used the word * exercise* advisedly. It’s a blog entry, not a book. I included some techniques and excluded others for a specific end. Having said said, I see a further lack of knowledge you have with PRs etc. Don’t take my word for it. Try rectifying a chart for a potential two hours off using time lords only. You will have to look at the houses in any case. Houses are one of many areas of contention in astrology but I am not the least bit confused about how I read them.

      • I don’t know why you would, but you seem to be missing the point. The excercise is in recognizing or suspecting that the chart information is likely to be in error. In that respect, the techniques and insights employed are a first response, if you will. In that respect, I believe I have a very strong case. Never do I claim that other techniques should be ruled out to determine a more precise time. In that respect, as I mentioned in the article, I am painting with a wide brush.

        My comments on recognizing whether Saturn is in the first or twelfth house would be understood by most experienced astrologers. I can recognize any planets anyone has with a high, though perhaps not perfect degree of accuracy. That is just a visual of the person in question. It always helps to see a picture of the native, but even without it is very easy to distinguish Mars on the Ascendant from Jupiter or Venus. Sun n the first houses is pretty much unmistakable. The most difficult is Mercury. I realize that not all astrologers consider these things, but please remember I am highly intuitive and have decades of experience. However, you don’t need to be highly intuitive to recognize that there is a problem when the planets and houses are telling you what you know to be untrue based on the information on native, in this case Isabella.

        I strongly doubt that the Rodden data is entirely accurate. Being a 15th Century Queen wouldn’t necessarily guarantee precise accuracy and information can become corrupt over time. I completely agree with the need to employ returns, time lords, prs or other techniques to fine tune the rectification. I state this in the article. Again, I’m not suggesting a definitive rectification. I hope you have found the techniques and insights shared to be of some interest

      • I thinkj the best and possibly the only way to resolve this is to provide the solar returns confirming my rectification (again, not to the degree). I’ll either post as part two or incorporate it into the existing article.

  2. hi james,
    you have responded and said a few different things here since i have been away, but i will respond as best i can to most of your comments in this post.. i think it’s counter productive to share my impression of you via your commentary. trying to understand another person thru the internet only is not the best way to understand another person and has much potential for misunderstanding and inaccurate impressions. interestingly i feel the same about attaching the idea of outward appearance to the rising sign as well, without factoring in planets in connection with the ascendant and i really don’t think it is a simple a matter to do this..

    let me quickly summarize my impression of your thinking for altering the time of isabellas birth to approx 2 hours earlier. in a nutshell it appears to be based on sign and planet positions in relation to houses.. specifically you have focused on the ascendant which could include house 12 or 1, along with house 5, and 9 making a case that if one shifts the time approx 2 hours earlier the sun will move into house 9, the house of religion or god, as one example. let me take each one of your viewpoints and offer a different viewpoint starting with this idea.

    the religious axis (house wise) is said to be houses 9 and 3. what would the difference between a mars in the 9th and a sun in the 9th be? do you think the queens hostility towards muslims in spain and portugal is reflected better with a mars in gemini in the 9th, or a sun in taurus in the 9th? i suppose you could apply the mars as ruler of the 3rd in the 2 hours earlier idea. ( this is just one of the many ways an astrologer can come to any number of conclusions that can’t be considered proof as i see it). how do you define this characteristic of hers astrologically? for me religion is not expressed just thru planets in houses, but also captured a few different ways astrologically. the close saturn/jupiter trine speaks of someone of high moral character with a likely involvement in some type of religious devotion and service. her natal moon applies to this trine as well which i believe strengthens this inclination although one could say she is clearly a reflection of the times and that moon in capricorn does like the structure that comes with organized religion. i also believe the sun/moon phase which gives a 9th house moon using derivative houses supports her religiosity. i also believe the mars in gemini in the 9th supports this. i don’t believe one has to put the sun in the 9th to explain her stronger religious inclination.

    the association of the 5th house with children ( or certain signs as more fertile) is only one of the ways to get an understanding of a womens likelihood of having children. the 11th and 4th also have a connection with children according to valens. the moon is considered the most fertile planet as i understand it..capricorn i believe is broken up with part of the sign more fertile then the other, i can’t remembeer which, but overall i believe it is considered a semi-fertile sign.. it is in the 4th house.. the planet jupiter is also considered a more fertile planet and i see it as in the 5th house in the adb chart using whole sign houses. i see no impediment to having children with the original 440pm time here. libra is said to be a more fertile sign then virgo as well which are the 2 risings we are considering here..

    according to wikipedia queen isabella “maintained an austere, temperate lifestyle, and her religious spirit influenced her the most in life.” this sounds like a saturn in libra rising in trine to jupiter in aquarius to me! i have a harder time seeing this moving saturn into the 2nd out of the ascendant sign. something about saturn and the word ‘austere’ that i think certainly applies rising in the ascendant. i think the austere temperate lifestyle would be less likely with mars on the midheaven as a the malefic of sect opposite the sun.. having saturn in the ascendant in a day chart is a considered a more favourable position then if it was a night chart as well.. the fact saturn is in the sign libra, i also consider quite favourable, so the idea of saturn in libra with the 14 degrees libra rising i see as net positive, although saturn is still a malefic, it is much less so in the sign libra and in the ascendant area.. venus on the descendant is a nice position in spite of it being in the sign aries. it is accidentally dignified by house here. mars it’s ruler in the 9th speaks more on the religious emphasis to the chart.. her marriage to ferdinand II of arago by all accounts appears to have been a blessing.

    i think keeping the saturn in libra and venus in aries in the pivots is a much stronger chart then moving them out of the pivots while putting mars into a pivot.. in the 440pm time one finds the part of fortune in the 9th with the part of spirit in the 5th conjunct jupiter.. perhaps this is another consideration you might like to consider.

    i will continue with more of my thinking in a 2nd post but i have to go do some things and this is getting long. cheers james

    • James,

      The data for Isabella I is listed as AA. However, unlike other charts with the same rating, no source is actually given. Credit is given to a French astrologer but no document mentioned. Others in this category have statements such as source : BC Archives de Mézières. Even if a credible Birth Certificate exists, and it probably does, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has the actual time. To provide this universally is a fairly modern pracise. I have searched for a visual bc for Isabella and not found one so far. Again, even if there were, we cannot be certain this is the exact time, unchanged or corrupted for any reason.

      So, my attempt to test the timing against the chart is not as outrageous as you apparently believe it is. Now, I admit to getting a bit tired of having to address the same things over and oever again, but the shift in houses is not a bad place to start if you sense the charts doesn’t quite match the native. Apparently the Solar Revolutions fail to put your mind at ease. However, your paragraph on what appears to be alternate ways of attributing fertilty in the Revolution seriously downplay the indicators and you have spoken of the eleveneth house as if I hadn’t already done so.

      The Ninth House informs the Tenth. It’s very easy to see the connection between religiosity and the martial state policies. Ferdinand and Isabell were in one bloody war after another, starting with war with Portugal, a war for Castilian succession, the battle of Toro, the Segovian uprising and much more besides the ousting of Jews and Muslims from Spain. These wars were interpreted as Catholic victories in one way or another.

      I do not find your aguments compelling at all regarding house placements. Lets take the Sun or Mars for example. First of all, Gemini gives us no hint of Islam which is ruled by Venus and neither can it replace the Sun as indicator of deep religiosity. The Scorpio Ascendant with the Part of Mars in the First House gives us a generally more Martian signature and the fact that Mars is in the Tenth surely points to what were ulitimately Martian achievments in that department. At least, that makes more sense than your argument for Mars in the Ninth which tends to bring an antipathy to religion on the solar end of the axis.

      If all the evidence I have brought you and the Solar Revoltions you asked for are not enough, I doubt if anything will be.

      Best wishes,

  3. I must congratulate Peter for his scholarly and thorough analysis of the historical chart of Isabela. It is not easy to understand mundane figures if the astrologer do not have experience and a good historical background. Peter, I agree with your point of view: the 9th house is the house of God and religion and Mars since Hellenistic time is a planeta considered to be representative of blasphemy, which absolutely does not match the known characteristics of Isabel. In Horary practice we can consider a chart as being radical if, even lacking other conditions, it describes the facts about which the client asks. Clearly the natal chart is accurate and radical ( has a root) because it reflects the undisputed facts of the native´s life. Otherwise, the birth time must be wrong. The other possibility is that astrology is a total nonsense and the chart is nothing more than a random data.
    Well done, Peter!

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