Reflections on the Coronation of the Raven King


This post was prompted by Aswin Subramanyan’s blog about Matthias Corvinus, aka Matthias I, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458 to 1490. “Corvinus” comes from the Latin word for raven, the bird which was emblazoned on his coat of arms.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Matthias I, byname Matthias Corvinus, Hungarian Mátyás Corvin, original name Mátyás Hunyadi, (born Feb. 24, 1443, Kolozsvár, Transylvania [now Cluj, Romania]—died April 6, 1490, Vienna), king of Hungary (1458–90), who attempted to reconstruct the Hungarian state after decades of feudal anarchy, chiefly by means of financial, military, judiciary, and administrative reforms.”

In his research, Aswin learned that astrology played a major role in the life of King Matthias, who had an astrologer elect an optimal day and time for his coronation as King. In his blog, Aswin discusses the electional chart for the coronation in detail. The creator of this chart may have been the Polish astrologer Marcin Bylica z Olkusza (born in Olkusz, Poland on October 22, 1435 at about 10 AM LMT, 50N17, 19E34). Bylica arrived in Hungary in the mid-1460s with the famous German astrologer Johannes Regiomontanus (1436 – 1476). Bylica did not move to Hungary until after the date of the coronation, so it is possible that some other astrologer prepared the 1464 electional chart, or that Bylica prepared it from his home in Poland. After moving to Hungary in the mid-1460s, he remained there until his death around the year 1493.

Because Aswin has reproduced a copy of the original electional chart on his blog, I will not repeat it here. Below is a modern version of the same chart, calculated in the program Solar Fire. There are slight discrepancies between the original chart and the modern chart because the original was done by hand, using Tables of the 15th century. Most notably, the original electional chart has the Sun at 18 degrees of Aries whereas the computer-generated chart has the Sun at 17 Aries 35′. This is significant because the Sun is at its most exalted in the Western tradition in the 19th degree of Aries, which runs from 18 Aries 00′ to 18 Aries 59′.

Modern approximation of the coronation electional chart of Matthias Corvinus, calculated with Solar Fire software.

I wondered how this electional chart compared with the birth chart of the King, so I contacted Aswin to see if he had a copy of Matthias’s natal chart. After doing some research, Aswin wrote back with the following birth chart:

Natal chart of King Matthias Corvinus

According to Aswin, the above birth chart of King Matthias was used by the poet, Latinist and diplomat Janus Pannonius (29 August 1434 – 27 March 1472), whose work was preserved in the Jagiellonian Library of the Jagiellonian University (Poland). Below is the same chart calculated with Solar Fire. The slight difference in planetary positions is due to the fact that one chart was done by modern computer and the other was done by hand, using Tables available in the 15th century.

Natal Chart of Matthias Corvinus, based on the records of Janus Pannonius at the Library of the Jagiellonian University, Poland.

What stands out immediately is that the king’s astrologer chose a time for the coronation when transiting Moon was exactly conjunct the Matthias’s natal Ascendant and exactly sextile his natal Midheaven. In mundane astrology, the Moon symbolizes the people, and a king does best when he is in harmony with the general populace.

The Moon in the electional chart is separating from the conjoined planets Venus-Jupiter-Saturn (with Saturn ruling the electional MC) and is applying to Mercury, ruler of the electional Ascendant. Venus lies in the domicile of Jupiter, and Jupiter lies in the exaltation of Venus, so they are in mutual reception and both benefics dispose the 10th-ruler Saturn.

I already commented on the fact the the Sun of the electional chart lies almost exactly in the degree of its exaltation, the 19th degree of Aries. In that degree the electional Sun is closely sextile the king’s natal Mercury (at 21 Aquarius 35) and is sextle the electional Ascendant at 24 Gemini 37.

We know from his work that Bylica used Helenistic annual profections. The king was crowned at the age of 21, so that with Capricorn rising at birth, his annual profected Ascendant in 1463 would have been in Libra, making Venus the Lady of the Year of his Coronation. Not surprisingly, Bylica (if he is the author of this electional chart) placed transiting Venus in Pisces (the sign of her exaltation) in the 10th house (kingship) very close to the powerful Midheaven degree. At the same time the coronation MC (at 24 Aquarius 36) closely conjoins his natal Mercury (at 21 Aquarius 35) and trines the electional Ascendant (at 24 Aquarius 37). The electional MC is also closely sextile his natal Venus (at 26 Aries 14), and Venus is the Lady of the Year.

This is a clever electional chart, which carefully takes the birth chart into account. It is worth further study and likely contains many other astrological subtleties.

Addendum: I contacted Darin Hayton of Haverford College, who has expertise in these matters, and he responded to my inquiries as follows:

Thank you for reaching out and the kind words about my article. Unfortunately, I have not identified the chart Bylica might have used for any coronation or other significant events in Corvinus’s reign. I will note that Bylica was not yet at the Hungarian court when Corvinus was elected/crowned king. We can’t place him at the court until ca. 1468.

That said, there are a number of charts (many in Bylica’s hand) in a couple manuscripts in Krakow. I have not yet worked through them all, so I can’t give you a full catalog of contents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the coronation chart that Bylica drew up (found in this post: https://dhayton.haverford.edu/blog/2011/12/30/the-politics-of-astrology-in-renaissance-hungary/) was certainly a post-hoc chart (much like the chart he and Regiomontanus drew up for the University of Pozsony, which you can read a bit about here: https://dhayton.haverford.edu/wp-content/uploads/publications/Boudet-Hayton.pdf).

There is also a good article by Marton Veszpremy about astrology and Matthias Corvinus at academia.edu.

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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