The royal courts of France and England were no less enthusiastic about astrology than the Vatican. The widow of the French King Henry II, Catherine de'Medici, made sure that an astrologer was present at the birth of their son, the future Louis XIII (1601-43) who in turn ordered Jean-Baptiste Morin to attend at the birth of his son, the future Louis XIV (1638-1715). Later, Morin hid behind the curtains of the royal bedroom to observe the precise moment at which the young Louis XIV and his wife consummated their marriage, so that he could work out the conception chart of any future Dauphin who might be born as the result of the coupling.
"How does the conformation of the heavens influence the character of a man at the moment of his birth?" He then went on to answer, "It influences a human being as long as he lives in the way in which a peasant haphazardly ties slings around pumpkins; these do not make the pumpkin grow, but they determine its shape. So do the heavens: they do not give a man morals, experiences, happiness, children, wealth, a wife, but they shape everything which a man has to do ... In my case, Saturn and the Sun work together in the sextile aspect (I prefer to speak of what I know best). Therefore my body is dry and knotty, and not tall. My soul is faint-hearted and hides itself away in literary corners; it is distrustful and fearful ." He goes on to write a detailed interpretation of his birth chart. He repeated it at greater length in the fourth book of his Harmonics, which is dedicated to King James I.
astrology in literature
It was during the 17th century that astrology became more pervasive than ever before in England. Scarcely anyone spoke out against it except in its most superstitious aspects, and the country's greatest men argued persuasively in its favour - notably Sir Walter Ralegh in his History of the World:
"If we cannot deny but that God hath given virtue to spring and fountain to cold earth, to plants and stones, minerals, and to the excremental parts of the basest living creatures, why should we rob the beautiful stars of their working powers? For seeing that they are many in number and of eminent beauty and magnitude, we may not think that in the treasure of His wisdom which is infinite, there can
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