Triplicity Rulers in 15th Century Spain


A couple years ago I came across a 15th century manuscript entitled Opus Astrologicum by Diego de Torres, a university professor at the Colegio de San Bartolomé in Salamanca, Spain. The text appears to be his handwritten notes used for teaching a basic astrology course to college students during the late 1400s. One source dates it to about 1485, but the author cites Summa Anglicana by John of Ashenden, which was published in 1489, so the manuscript may have been written around that date or the reference may have been added later to the original text.

Diego de Torres was born in Salamanca on January 27, 1435 and attended the university there, where he studied arts and medicine. He functioned as chair of astrology at the University of Salamanca during the period 1482-1496. Diego de Torres drew upon many medieval texts which had been translated from Arabic into Latin during the Middle Ages. I’ve been slowly working my way through the manuscript, written in old Castilian Spanish, to see how astrology was understood and taught to students late in the 15th century.

El Colegio Mayor San Bartolomé, fundado en 1.401, es un centro propio de la Universidad de Salamanca que combina las modernas instalaciones en las que actualmente se encuentra, junto al Campus Unamuno, con el sabor de la tradición que nos da el ser el Colegio Mayor más antiguo de España.

Having recently watched an interview which Mychal A. Bryan did with Jenn Zahrt regarding triplicity rulers, I was inspired to reread the section of Diego de Torres’s 15th century manuscript on this topic. Below I have translated the section of the manuscript regarding the use of triplicity rulers in natal chart delineation, as it was taught to astrology students in 15th century Spain. I have tried to keep the translation fairly verbatim but on occasion have worded the text to make it flow more easily in modern English. I would ask that anyone quoting this translation give due credit to its source. An interesting feature of this text is that Diego de Torres utilizes the state and condition of the third or participating triplicity lord to modify the action of the first two lords. In other words, the third triplicity is always active during the life of the native and is always modifying the influence of the first two lords. The method of Diego de Torres is consistent with that of Dorotheus (1st century) who utilized the simultaneous actions of all three triplcity lords in his delineations.

As you can see in the above table, a logical implication of the interpretive method employed by Diego de Torres is that:

Saturn, as participating lord of the fiery triplicity, is always influencing the Fire signs in cooperation with the day or night triplicity lord as determined by the sect of the chart.

Mars, as participating lord of the earthy triplicity, is always influencing the Earth signs in cooperation with the day or night triplicity lord as determined by the sect of the chart.

Jupiter, as participating lord of the air triplicity, is always influencing the Air signs in cooperation with the day or night triplicity lord as determined by the sect of the chart.

Moon, as participating lord of the watery triplicity, is always influencing the Water signs in cooperation with the day or night triplicity lord as determined by the sect of the chart.

Reflecting on the above scheme, it occurs to me that Saturn’s round-the-clock influence on the Fire triplicity may act to temper its excess of heat and to curb its over-enthusiasm. Mars may serve to give the sluggish Earth signs a kick in the pants to get them going. Jupiter may add an ethical and spiritual perspective to the cold logic of the Air triplicity and, finally, the Moon’s changeability and fluidity may keep the Water signs from wallowing in resentments and self-pity and from stagnating in a cesspool of other negative emotions.

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Below is my first draft of a translation of this section of Diego de Torres on Triplicity Rulers:

“If in the judgment [of a birth chart], in addition to the above, we would like to follow Ali Abenragel, we would judge the nativity by the lords of the triplicity of each house, of which there are three, and each has its meaning according to its state, strength and fortune.

For example, suppose that the ascendant is the 1st degree of Libra, where Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter have triplicity. The first [triplicity lord] means life because the ascendant signifies the life and nature of the native, as well as the good and evil that will happen to him in the beginning of his life, and [suppose that the first triplicity lord Saturn] was located in the 12th house, which is cadent and signifies enemies, but [the 12th] being home to Saturn’s joy and being oriental of the sun, it’s not so bad.

From this [the first triplicity lord of the ascendant sign] we will judge the beginning of his life and how he will be raised in the third [the first of three parts] of his life, namely, his early childhood which lasts 4 years. If it [the first triplicity lord] were retrograde or combust it would imply bad parenting and poor nourishment, but if fortunate and strong it would mean the opposite.

The second lord of this [Air] triplicity is Mercury, which has signification regarding the life force, the body and the half of the life, which is judged according to the house where it has strength or fortune in itself and with the other planets. The third [Air triplicity ruler] is Jupiter, which accompanies [participates with] the other two and signifies the end of man’s years, and should it [Jupiter] be weak it thusly influences the other two lords, but if it be strong it gives [both of] them strength. In this case, it means that the final years of the native’s life will be good.

Once this is known, observe the second house and which sign is located there [on its cusp] and who are the lords of the triplicity of that sign. The first triplicity lord will signify wealth at the beginning of life, according to the house it is in, [for example] if the sign of Scorpio is on the second house cusp and Venus [the first triplicity lord of Water signs in day charts] is in the 3rd house, then although Venus is the lord of the first triplicity [of Scorpio], we will judge by [Venus being in] the 3rd house and not by the sign of the triplicity, which is the sign of Scorpio, considering her strength as I pointed out earlier.

In the 3rd house the lords of the triplicity signify as follows: the first lord, the older siblings; the second, the middle ones; and the third, the youngest ones.

In the fourth house, the first triplicity lord signifies the father; the second, the lands; and the third, the end of all things.

In the 5th house, the first triplicity lord signifies the children; the second one, the vices; and the third, messengers. And you must proceed like this with the remaining houses, as taught by Ali Abenragel, taking into account that if the birth was by day, it is [the diurnal] order [of triplicity rulers] and if the birth is at night, the second lord is the first, the first is the second, and the third [participating] lord does not vary.

And this applies to any birth either of man or woman, except for a few differences: in the case of wanting to know if the marriage will be good or not, for a man’s nativity we observe the place of Venus and the Moon and for the woman we observe the place of the Sun; and if she will marry well or not, we look to Mars. To find out if the woman will be chaste or lustful we observe the place of the Sun and the Moon, if they be in female signs she will be chaste but if they be in male signs she will be lustful and perhaps even infertile. The same [principle] is true when applied to a male nativity. If you want to know more, I refer you to the specific books about this topic.”

End of Translation

Afterthought: In this passage Professor Diego de Torres demonstrates his skill as a teacher of university students. He spends a lot of time explaining to the young men how to judge whether their girlfriends are likely to be chaste or to be lusting after sexual intimacy with little chance of getting pregnant.

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All original text in this post is copyright Anthony Louis 2020

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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3 Responses to Triplicity Rulers in 15th Century Spain

  1. Matthew Ouimet says:

    Anthony, your theories about the supporting lords of each elemental group are super! The role of that third planet has always seemed extraneous–you give it a logic that is very compelling. Thank you!

  2. Violet Plum says:

    Very interesting stuff 🙂

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