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William Lilly's War Charts
  Reproduced from Christian Astrology, 1647.

p.401 CHAP. LXVI.

If his Excellency Robert Earl of Essex should take Reading, having then surrounded it with his army?

The Most Honourable of the English Nation, viz. Essex, the Kingdom's General, is here signified by Mars, lord of Scorpio, the sign ascending; His Majesty by the Sun, lord of the tenth; the forces that were to relieve Reading, or to oppose and hinder His Excellency,[1] by Venus in Pisces, and Sun in Taurus.[2]

The town of Reading by Aquarius, the sign of the fourth; the Governor Sir Arthur Aston, reputed an able soldier, by Saturn lord of the fourth; their ammunition and provision in the town by Jupiter lord of the fifth, and Venus locally therein.[3]

We have Mars, his Excellency's significator, excellently fortified, labouring under no one misfortune (except being in his fall),[4] and of how great concernment it is in war to have Mars the general significator of war friendly to the querent this figure well manifests. The Moon separated (a vacuo)[5] and indeed there was little hope it would have been gained in that time it was. She [next] applied to a sextile of Mars,[6] being in signs of long ascensions,[7] the aspect is equivalent to a quartile; which argued, that his Excellency …
p.402 ... would have much difficulty, and some fighting, ere he could get it. But because Mars and the Moon were in reception, viz. Mars in her house, the Moon in his terms and face, and near Cor Leo,[8] placed also in the tenth, I judged his Excellency should obtain and take Reading, and get glory and honour thereby.

Finding the Sun his Majesty's significator in the seventh, in a fixed sign, I acquainted the querent, his Majesty would oppose what he could, and send forces to relieve the town with all vigour and resolution, but I said he should not prevail, for Mars is better fortified than the Sun.

I considered Aquarius for the town, and in regard I found not the sign afflicted, I judged the town strong, and capable of holding out. When I considered Venus to be in the fifth, I was confident they wanted not ammunition. Having thoroughly considered all particulars, and well weighed that Saturn lord of the fourth, signifying the Governor, was in his fall with Cauda,[9] and that Mercury and Jupiter were not far from Cauda, and that Mars did with his quartile behold Saturn, I said and sent somebody word, the most assured way, & which would certainly occasion the surrender of the town, was to set division amongst the principal officers, and to incense them against their Officer-in-Chief, & that about 8 days from the time of the question, I believed His Excellency would be master of the town, yet rather by composition[10] than blood, because the Sun and Mars were separated from the quartile dexter of Saturn from cardinal signs; as also, because the application of the Moon was so directly to the sextile of the lord of the ascendant, without any frustration or prohibition.

The town was delivered for the Parliament's use the 27 of April, 1644, three days after the time limited by me was expired: but it's observable, the very Monday before, being 8 days after the figure set, they began to treat.

The truth of this siege was thus, that His Majesty in person did come, and was worsted and beaten back at Causham-bridge;[11] that sir Arthur Aston, the Governor, was hurt in the head, as Saturn in Aries with Cauda well denotes; nor did they want ammunition, as Venus in the fifth signifies.

It was delivered by Colonel Fielding, a very valiant gentleman, ...
p.403 ... … a good soldier, and of noble family, not without jealousy and mistrust of underhand dealing in the said Colonel by the King's party; for which he was brought to some trouble, but evaded. And I have since heard some of His Majesty's officers say thus, they did believe that Fielding acted nothing but what became a man of honour, and that it was the malice of his enemies that procured him that trouble, &c. [12]

A person of honour demanded this question, and was well satisfied with what hath been spoken.

Had this very question been of a law suit, who should have overcome? you must have considered the lord of the ascendant for the querent or plaintiff,[13] and the ascendant itself together with the Moon; for the enemy or defendant, the seventh and his lord and planets therein placed. In our figure, in regard the Moon applies to a sextile of Mars, the querent therefore would have had the victory, by reason of the verdict given by the jurors, who ever are signified by the Moon. But because the Sun is locally in the seventh, opposite to the ascendant, and is lord of the tenth, viz of the judge, there's no doubt but the judge would have been adverse to the plaintiff, as his Majesty was to his Excellency and to the parliament.

In this case I should have judged the defendant a man of good estate, or able to spend well, because Venus lady of the eighth, viz his second, is in exaltation; and yet the Sun and Mars in sextile might give strong testimonies that the judge would labour to compound the matter between both parties. The dispositor of the Part of Fortune in his fall, viz. Saturn in Aries with Cauda, would have shown great expense of the querent's or plaintiff's estate and money in this suit; and that such a man as Saturn would herein be a great enemy unto him, because Saturn and Mars are in quadrate aspect. As Saturn is lord of the third, he may show an ill neighbour, or a brother or kinsman; but as the third house is the ninth from the seventh, it may argue some pragmatical priest,[14] or one of the defendant's sisters' husbands; wherefore the plaintiff must either take such a one off, or else compound his matter, or must see whether his enemy's attorney be not Saturnine, then shall he receive prejudice by his extreme rigid following of the cause. If Saturn signify ...
p.404 ... ... … his lawyer, the damage is by him, or by some aged man, perhaps the querent's father or grandfather, or else some sturdy clown[15] or ill tenant, &c. For according to the nature of the question, you must ever vary the nature of your rules; by exact knowledge whereof, you may attain the perfection of the whole art.
- End -

1] 'His Majesty' refers to the king; 'His Excellency' refers to the Earl of Essex who opposes the king.
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2] At the time of the question Parliamentarian troops were advancing towards the King's headquarters at Oxford. Reading, half-way between Oxford and London, was seen as an important strategic base from which to counter the attack. Parliament's Lord General, the Earl of Essex, led the siege, which was already three days underway at the time of the question. The querent ('a man of honour') was clearly for the Parliamentary cause, so Lilly assigns the first house to the querent and to Parliament as the cause that he supports. The troops which were being sent to relieve Reading (the enemy's base) are signified by the 7th house of the opponent, and its ruler Venus, whilst the King himself is signified by the 10th house, and its planetary ruler, the Sun, which is appropriately situated on the 7th house cusp. In this position the Sun also shares its signification with the enemy troops.
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3] Arthur Aston was a Royalist, who defiantly declared that he would 'rather starve or die' when the surrender of the town was demanded (see the article which explains the full political background to this chart by David Plant in the Traditional Astrologer Magazine, issue 3; reproduced online at At CA. p.53 Lilly introduces the traditional rules that the 4th house signifies the town or city under siege, the ruler of the sign on the 4th cusp signifies its Governor, whilst the 5th house signifies the ammunition and general resources of the besieged town. With so much planetary activity in the 5th house, Lilly naturally focuses his judgement on this area of the chart and considers how it might reveal a helpful strategy.
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4] Lilly appears dismissive of the debility of Mars by fall, but overall Mars is a very well placed planet. It is dignified in two of its own dignities (triplicity and term), and there is generosity with its dispositor, the Moon, because of the strong mixed reception of dignities between them (the Moon is in the term and face of Mars). There is also the trine between Mars and the ascendant, which is wholly in the dignities of Mars, and Mars has an applying square with reception with Jupiter (Mars is in the exaltation of Jupiter; Jupiter is in the sign of Mars). Mars is also fast in motion, sextile the Sun, and free of any major accidental debility.
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5] From nothing. The Moon's last aspect was a trine to Mercury, but this is now well beyond orb.
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6] The aspect will perfect after the Moon changes sign, but is already within orb of perfection.
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7] Signs of long ascension: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius (CA. p. 92). Because both planets are in signs of long ascension, Lilly views the aspect as stretched out, so that the sextile takes on the characteristics of the quartile.
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8] Regulus, (of the nature of Jupiter and Mars), then at 24°51 Leo.
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9] The South Node, denoted in the text by a symbol. Lilly never uses the term 'South Node', but refers to this as 'the Dragon's Tail' or more usually Cauda (Latin: 'tail').
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10] Agreement or compromise.
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11] Caversham Bridge, Reading.
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12] David Plant's article on the political backdrop of this horary explains the trouble that Fielding experienced, for which Lilly clearly felt sympathy.

Fielding decided to negotiate an honourable surrender, and raised a flag of truce on April 25th. That same day, the ill-fated Royalist relief force arrived at Caversham Bridge. Hearing gunfire, Fielding's officers demanded that a force be sent from the town to help them, but Fielding refused to break the truce… Colonel Fielding was court-martialled for surrendering Reading. Royalist opinion was divided; some said that he acted honourably in observing the truce, others considered him a traitor. …For his part, Fielding was sentenced to death. He was led out to the scaffold then reprieved at the last minute when Prince Rupert intervened on his behalf. He lost command of his regiment but continued to fight for the King.

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13] The plaintiff, in law, is the one who commences a personal action or suit to obtain a remedy for an injury to rights; (Old French equivalent to plaignant complainant). The traditional rules of event charts and elections associate the initiator of the action with the ascendant, and the defendant to the 7th house.
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14] In archaic use, the word pragmatical is often used to mean 'meddling, interfering, or an officious busybody'. Lilly is again taking the opportunity to demonstrate his loathing for the 'peddling divines' who reviled astrologers 'and myself by name' in their weekly sermons. See his Introduction p.4, for Lilly's account of their 'scandalous untruths'.
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15] The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that in this context, Lilly means a vulgar rustic person, or low bred farmer: "Clown: 1560s, origin uncertain. Perhaps from Scand. dial., or akin to N.Fris. klonne 'clumsy person', or, less likely, from L. colonus 'colonist, farmer', hence, 'rustic, boor', which apparently was the earliest Eng. sense."

Douglas Harper, Historian. 15 Oct. 2008. <>.
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© Chart reproduction, transcription and annotation by Deborah Houlding, October 2008

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