Murder by Astrology?

In June of 2022 Robert Hand did a presentation for Kepler College in which he suggested that astrologers in the employ of Ezzelino III da Romano the Terrible (25 April 1194 CE – 27 September 1259 CE, julian) may have conspired to create an electional chart which resulted in the death of their despised patron during the military campaign begun at the time indicated by the electional chart. Ezzelino was a shrewd and militarily capable leader who was known for his savagery and “was feared more than the devil.” Rolandino de Padova published a history of Ezzelino in 1262 CE, and Dante included him in the XII song of the Inferno.

According to the account of Rolandino de Padova (1262), Ezzelino III da Romano was born on April 25, 1194 at Noon LMT in Tombolo, Italy. Ezzelino’s mother was an astrologer who apparently recorded his time of birth.

As a political and military leader, Ezzelino III became known for his cruelty and ruthlessness in pursuing his ambition to conquer and control more territory. Even the Pope in Rome launched a crusade against him. Ezzelino died in 1259 AD during a political campaign begun at the exact time in late August of 1259, as suggested by his astrologers. Rob Hand believes that the astrologers may have deliberately elected a time that would result in the death of the tyrant. According to the site Histouring, his death came during this military campaign as follows:

“Ezzelino III was then defeated after a strenuous battle on 16 September 1259 in Cassano d’Adda by the Guelph league of Azzo VII d’Este and, following the serious injuries reported, was captured and taken to Soncino, in the present province of Cremona, where he died on 27 September, at 65 years of age, as he had lived: refusing sacraments and medicines. In fact, having torn the bandages, he died bleeding, without any mercy even for himself.” Here is Ezzelino III’s birth chart cast for Noon LMT, allegedly according to his mother’s records:

Chart of Ezzelino III da Romano, data allegedly recorded by his mother who was an astrologer.

Just by glancing at the chart, a competent astrologer of his epoch would have guessed that Ezzelino would likely die in his 60s when his debilitated Mars in Libra (the contrary-to-sect malefic) rose to the eastern horizon by primary motion of the heavens. At this latitude the ascensional times of Leo, Virgo and Libra correspond to about 40 equatorial degrees passing over the Midheaven. To rise to the eastern horizon, Mars would have to pass through about 11 degrees of Libra, 30 degrees of Virgo and 7 1/2 degrees of Leo — a total of 48 1/2 degrees through these signs in which each zodiacal degree corresponds to about 40/30 = 4/3 = 1.33 equatorial degrees of ascensional time on the MC. Multiplying 1.33 x 48.5 degrees of travel for Mars gives an approximate age of 64.7 years when Mars would reach the eastern horizon. He was about 65.4 years old when he passed to the other side.

Here are his primary directions calculated by Solar Fire for 1259 CE, the year of his demise:

Primary directions of Ezzelino III for 1259 CE, the year of his demise. Note how Mars has risen to the horizon at the time of the battle in which he was wounded and captured. He died of the wounds several days later. (Given the rather precise timing of these primary directions, one has to wonder whether Rolandino in his 1262 CE text “rectified” Ezzelino’s birth chart to make it closely fit the date of his demise.)

We can also consider Ezzelino’s “circumambulation through the bounds” around age 65. Here are his “distributions” as calculated by the program PlanetDance:

At age 65 Ezzelino was passing through a period in which the Mercury term or bound in Libra had risen by primary motion to the eastern horizon. The Mercury term of Libra contains Mars, which is afflicted by a square from Saturn and an opposition from Venus, an 8th house planet.

Given that Ezzelino’s primary directions and circumambulations in September of 1259 suggest the risk of death, an astrologer would study his Solar Return for the same period. In the birth chart, Jupiter in Taurus in the 10th rules his 8th house of death. In the return chart for the year 1259, Jupiter also rules the 8th house and closely opposes the return Sun in the return 12th of undoing and confinement. He died in prison during this period. Here is his return chart:

Solar Return for the year 1259. Jupiter rules the 8th in both the natal and the return charts. Here return Jupiter opposes the return 12th house Sun, and natal Jupiter conjoins the return Ascendant in Taurus. Venus rules the return Ascendant and is in a close square with return Saturn.

It is not at all clear that the astrologers actually conspired to kill Ezzelino III by electing an ominous time to launch a military campaign, as Rob Hand suggests. The passage cited to describe the chart elected to begin the military campaign that resulted in his death has multiple errors in the positions of planets. In August of 1259 CE, transiting Jupiter was in Scorpio and Saturn in Pisces but the chronicler Rolandino de Padova places Jupiter in Libra and Saturn in Aquarius at the time. Rolandino states that the electional chart had Sagittarius rising with the Sun in Virgo and the Moon in Scorpio — facts which narrow the range of possible charts considerably. Because Ezzelino had learned a little astrology from his mother, his conspiratorial astrologers would have had to disguise their intent to kill with plausible alternative explanations which a novice at astrology might find credible. Taking these factors into account, a possible electional chart might be the following:

Possible electional chart designed by astrologers to deceive Ezzelino III da Romano yet kill this despised and tyrannical patron.

Frankly, I doubt whether the astrologers of the period would have risked their own deaths by conspiring against Ezzelino III. It also seems unlikely that they would have been clever enough to design an electional chart that would both deceived Ezzelino yet guarantee his death. More commonly, they might have tried to poison him. The most likely explanation is that they were not especially gifted astrologers, and a wiser more experienced astrologer would never have attempted to kill an enemy with an electional chart.

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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