The Six Wives of Henry V111 – the Joys of Mars and Saturn

Astrology is a reflection of life and naturally goes through changes as life evolves. In the 21st century, astrology is all about psychology. It was not always so, in the time of William Lilly, it was about events. The idea that someone might approach the great man for a bit of psychological profiling would have been absurd. They would not be interested in that, they would want to know if the ship that they had invested in would return laden with exotic goods, or if they would recover from one of the many horrendous and life threatening illnesses that were commonplace at the time.

Apart from anything else, hardly anyone could be sure of their birthdate let alone birth time so a natal chart would have been out of the question. These days in the modern western world at any rate, we can indulge our fascination with our own psychology because most of us do not have to face the dangers that our forebears dealt with daily.

However much we might moan about the difficulties of life today, we can be sure that the vast majority of us lead the life of  ” Riley ” compared to our counterparts in Lilly’s day. Astrology would naturally reflect these facts of life, and the interpretations of the symbols would inevitably have had a far more dramatic, fateful and even final quality.

Take for instance the classic aspects between Mars and Saturn. These two planets are famed for representing completely opposite energies. So these days if someone had them in aspect together the astrologer would talk about feeling as if they are driving through life with one foot on the accelerator at the same time as the other was on the brake. They would be advised to accept a certain amount of delay, obstruction and even frustration in terms of what they were trying to achieve in life, but may also be told that with serious discipline and hard work they would probably gain a degree of success.

If someone had come along to an astrologer 500 years ago with these combinations the warnings and prognosis given would have been much more severe and rightly so because their expectations would have been for a very tough time indeed, particularly if they had already made the serious mistake of marrying Henry V111.

Henry V111

It is Capricorn Research’s view that astrology really is very simple, and the more important the individual is in human history, the simpler the symbolism.

Cancer is the sign of the family, the 11th is the house of politics, so as Henry’s Sun is there, this simply means that his life will centre around the politics of dynastic issues.

Henry’s Sun is opposite Uranus in the 5th house. The 5th is the house of children, Uranus is the coolest, most unemotional of planets operating in the barren sign of Capricorn. So its pretty clear that what Henry wants more than anything else, a strong son to continue the Tudor dynasty, is not going to happen.

Astrology often has a way of reinforcing its most important messages so that even the most stupid of us can understand.

Henry also has Mercury in the regal sign of Leo in the 11th house. This Mercury is opposite Saturn in Aquarius in the 5th. That’s Saturn in Uranus’ sign just as Uranus is in Saturn’s sign, so we have a double whammy around restricted offspring. Clearly this dynasty thing is going to be a problem.

Uranus of course also rules revolution, so Henry’s thwarted Cancerian dynastic ambitions caused a massive upheaval in 16th century England, bringing about a separation from the Catholic church which had held sway over the souls of everyone for millennia.

Any opposition in a chart creates a challenge and a tension. If there is another planet that is square to both ends of the opposition, a T square is created. A T square is an extremely dynamic aspect and the 3rd planet will always show the direction that the person will go in to attempt to resolve the problems and tensions created by the opposition.

The Moon in Henry’s chart acts as an apex of a T Square. It’s true that at 11 degrees 20 the Moon’s square to Uranus is a very wide aspect but Capricorn Research is prepared to include it because the faster moving Moon is applying to both the Sun and Uranus.

The Moon in astrology rules the female principle. Aries is the most impatient and impetuous sign often resorting to aggression in order to get its own way. The 8th house is the place of death.

So with the Moon in Aries in the 8th house as the apex of the T square, Henry’s response to his dynastic problems was simply to get rid of his wives. Henry as we know had six of them, two he killed, two were divorced, one died and one lived after him.

The first one definitely set the pattern.

Catherine of Aragon


By any way of looking at it Catherine of Aragon had an extraordinary chart. A seven planet stellium within 30 degrees is the tightest Capricorn Research has ever seen and its fascinating to see where it is.

Sagittarius is the sign of organised religion and 6 of these planets are in this sign, including a powerful conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus. These two were also conjunct Catherine’s Sun so whichever way we look at it her life was going to be bound up with powerful and revolutionary religious developments.

Sagittarius also is the planet of travel, and its not surprising she lived in a land far away from her own.

Catherine herself was a Capricorn, so her own religious allegiances were of the conventional sort to the established church.

The stellium occurs in the 3rd house of siblings and the crucial aspect of her fate was that she ended up marrying two royal brothers.

Interestingly of the 3 planets that make it outside the stellium, two of them form a close opposition that point to the major theme of her life. Catherine’s Moon is in Aries in the 7th house of marriage. This Moon is also conjunct Henry’s Moon, which shows why they came together in the first place, but the condition of Henry’s Moon shows that for Catherine things are already looking rather bleak.

So when we see that Catherine’s Moon is opposite Pluto in the relationship sign of Libra, we’re already thinking divorce, even though divorce hadn’t actually been invented.

Catherine’s stellium starts with a Mars / Saturn conjunction so its clear that whatever she wanted in life would definitely not come to fruition, in fact it would turn round and give her a really serious kicking, particularly if it had anything to do with religion and travel ( Sagittarius ) and brothers ( 3rd ).

Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Prince Arthur, Henry’s elder brother and heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. Catherine stayed in England to become the first female ambassador in European history but more significantly married Henry VIII, in 1509.


Marriage Catherine : Aragon


Its interesting to look at the chart for the wedding of Henry and Catherine, as many of the same themes are there.

We don’t have a time for the wedding although a noon chart often works quite well in these circumstances. It is also true that historically coronations and royal weddings were held at noon because it was supposed to be the most auspicious time of day.

There are 4 planets in Gemini including a Mercury / Venus / Mars conjunction. Gemini as the 3rd sign has a strong symbolic connection with brothers. The 9th house is foreign travel, so Henry is marrying his brother’s wife.

The Moon is again in Aries conjunct Henry’s own Moon in the 7th house of marriage.

What will be the result of this marriage ? Mercury, Venus and Mars are opposite a Jupiter / Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius suggesting a massive ( Jupiter ) change ( Pluto ) in religion ( Sagittarius ).

What’s more, this opposition projects by T Square onto Saturn in Virgo in the 12th showing a great deal of suffering all round.

Apex Saturn in Virgo in the 12th is also not a great sign for monasteries. As a result of Henry and Catherine’s divorce and the separation from Rome, many of the English monasteries were dissolved and Henry took their wealth to the Crown.

An important point for this article is that the Mars / Saturn link is there again, this time with the two antagonistic planets in square aspect.

Catherine’s 7th house Moon opposite Pluto was always going to cause problems, and the most likely time for it to do so would be when Pluto renewed the aspect by transit. Pluto was square to Catherine’s Moon in 1525 when Henry became impatient with Catherine’s inability to produce a male heir for him and turned his eyes towards Anne Boleyn.

Whilst Catherine’s Pluto / Moon transit was in operation, Henry became intent on annulling his marriage. He convinced himself that in marrying Catherine, his brother’s wife, he had acted contrary to the bible and that the Pope had never had the authority to sanction it in the first place.

The Pope of the time was unimpressed with Henry’s arguments, mainly because he was under pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V who was Catherine’s nephew.

In 1533, on discovering that Anne was pregnant, Henry got the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer to declare his marriage to Catherine null and void. Five days later, on 28 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be valid, Catherine was formally stripped of her title as queen and in her place, Anne was crowned Queen on 1 June 1533.

A Reformation Parliament was set up to sort all this out and under the guidance of Thomas Cromwell the Act of Succession 1533 meant that Catherine’s daughter, Mary, was declared illegitimate, his marriage to Anne legitimate and Anne’s issue next in the line of succession. With the Acts of Supremacy in 1534, Parliament also recognised the King’s status as head of the church in England. The separation from Rome was complete.

That these few years constituted a serious revolution in both Henry’s world and for the whole country, was shown by the transits to the monarch’s chart. Henry’s natal Sun / Uranus opposition was triggered as the transiting Uranus conjuncted his Sun in 1531 -2. This was closely followed by Saturn doing the same thing in 1532 -3.

Of course Henry’s Sun was square his Moon natally so that meant that both these transits would also be square to Henry’s Moon, meaning the end for Catherine.

In May 1533, Neptune was square to the Sun in the Catherine marriage chart and conjunct the 7th house cusp, a suitable placing for the dissolution of a marriage.

There is some doubt as to the birthdate of Anne Boleyn, so rather than use a chart that is probably wrong, Capricorn Research feels its safer to go with the chart of Anne’s coronation.

Anne Boleyn Crowned


Just like the charts for Catherine, the Mars / Saturn theme takes a dominant position by square aspect. Mars is very strong and dignified in Aries in opposition to the Moon in Libra, signifying tensions and arguments in relationship. If we take the noon time Mars is in the 7th house of marriage but also very close to the 8th cusp of death.

This Mars is also of course conjunct Henry’s 8th house Aries Moon.

The opposition between the Moon and Mars focuses by T square onto a Mercury / Saturn / Uranus conjunction in Cancer. The last two in Cancer suggests that Anne would be no better at providing Henry with a male heir than Catherine was with them in the 5th house.

It would be easy to read this T Square as involving extra marital affairs which would result in swift ( Uranus ) and hard retribution ( Saturn ).

Like Catherine, Anne provided Henry with a daughter ( Elizabeth ) but no son. Anne lasted less than 3 years.

Anne’s downfall came after a miscarriage. Whether it was the result of allegations of conspiracy, adultery or witchcraft remains a matter of debate among historians. At the beginning of May 1536 five men, including Anne’s brother, were arrested on charges of treasonable adultery, accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. Anne was also arrested, accused of treasonous adultery and incest. At 8 am on 19 May 1536, Anne was executed at the Tower of London.


Anne Boleyn Execution


Mars and Saturn formed an exact conjunction in this chart in Leo.

These days we have so many tools in our astrological palette that its hard for us to see how extremely difficult this aspect would have been seen as by astrologers at the time. The execution of a queen is quite within the bounds of the symbolism.

Within 10 days, Henry had taken his 3rd wife, Jane Seymour for whom we have no birthdate. As it turned out the timing of this marriage was a another mistake. It meant that the Mars / Saturn conjunction that did for Anne was still in operation casting its unfortunate rays of the marriage to Jane as well.


Marriage Jane Seymour

Again we have an opposition involving the Moon and Aries / Libra and the 7th house. Catherine’s birth chart and Jane’s marriage chart had the same features although the opposition to the Moon was made up of Jupiter and Neptune rather than Mars or Pluto. This took away the conflicting nature of the other two queens marriages.

Jane Seymour lasted not much more than a year. Jane gave birth to a son, the future Edward VI. The birth was difficult, and the queen died in October 1537 from an infection and was buried in Windsor.

Henry wanted to marry once again to ensure the succession. Cromwell, suggested Anne of Cleves, who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England, and urged by the complimentary description of Anne given by his courtiers, the king agreed to marry her.

Anne of Cleeves

Of course it goes without saying that Anne also had the Moon in Aries in opposition to planets in Libra, in this case the Sun, Mars and Mercury. It was also inevitable that Anne would have a Mars / Saturn aspect, this time a sextile.

So Henry’s 4th marriage was destined not to last very long although the easier sextile aspect meant that it was annulled with Anne’s agreement.

But just in case there was to be any astrological doubt that Anne was destined not to be queen for long, Henry married her during another Mars / Saturn conjunction.

Marriage Anne of Cleeves

And would you believe it this conjunction was in Libra opposite to a planet in Aries ( Neptune ).

Much in the way that a football manager might quickly regret a new signing that he had only seen on video, Henry agreed to marry Anne largely on the strength of somewhat flattering portraits of her that were shown to him.

As it turned out Henry just did not fancy her and Anne did not argue, confirming that the marriage had never been consummated.

So it was annulled 6 months later, just long enough for Mars to head back into Virgo for a while before returning to conjunct Saturn again.

Anne of Cleves Annulment

And of course Mars and Saturn were still in Libra opposite Neptune but just for good effect the Moon joined in as well.

Thomas Cromwell fell out of favour and was charged with treason, selling export licences, granting passports, and drawing up commissions without permission, but he was probably also blamed for the Cleves failure. On 28 July 1540 Cromwell was executed and on the same day, Henry married the young Catherine Howard. We have no birth details for Catherine but the marriage chart works well.

Marriage Catherine Howard


Although Mars and Saturn are both in Libra, for once they are not actually in aspect, although any chance of this 5th marriage being spared any of the problems that consumed the first 4 go straight out of the window when we see the line up of the Sun / Jupiter / Mercury and Uranus in Leo all opposite Pluto.

Soon after her marriage, Queen Catherine had an affair with the courtier Thomas Culpeper. She also employed Francis Dereham, who had an affair with her prior to her marriage, as her secretary. Catherine was beheaded on 13 February 1542.

Catherine Howard execution

Needless to say Mars and Saturn were back in conjunction for this event in Scorpio. Also the Moon and Mercury had joined with the Pluto / Uranus opposition.

Henry’s final marriage was to Katharine Parr. Again no birth details are available, but the marriage chart is here.

Marriage of Katharine Parr


Staggeringly Katharine had no Mars / Saturn contact but then she was the only one who stayed on the throne until Henry died in 1547.

So Mars and Saturn were conjunct in the birth chart of Catherine of Aragon, the execution of Anne Boleyn, the marriage of Jane Seymour, the marriage and annulment of Anne of Cleves and the execution of Catherine Howard. The chances against that occurring must be astronomical.

Interestingly Saturn is usually prominent in the charts of consorts. Capricorn Research has a collection of 420 of them and the Sun is conjunct Saturn almost twice as often as would be expected. For more information on this see How to Choose a Princess. This aspect suggests having to acquire a strong sense of responsibility and accept a certain amount of restraint and limitation in terms of their behaviour. For the average daughter of noble birth who would be accustomed to a rich lifestyle anyway, actually marrying a monarch would probably curtail some of the freedoms even though they would gain in status.

But of course the various consorts of Henry V111 had much more than their freedoms curtailed, so it seems that Mars is a much more appropriate significator of their Saturn experience.

Its strange in a way given that astrology was much more widely used by royal circles in those days. Henry’s daughter Elizabeth was known to consult John Dee over important issues at court, so why didn’t Henry get his marriages arranged on more auspicious moments ?

But maybe he did have an astrologer who deliberately set them up in this way because Henry liked to do the hiring and firing. With that Aries Moon in the 8th, Capricorn Research wouldn’t put it past him.



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