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Three Queens and the Sign of the Bull: Part Twocatherine-de-medici

During the late 16th Century England, France and Scotland were all ruled by women: Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici and Mary, Queen of Scots. These three women were connected by either blood or marriage and they shared the challenge of ruling in a time when only men were supposed to hold positions of authority. They also shared some astrological connections; in particular, all three were born with Taurus prominent in their horoscopes.

 Catherine de Medici, Queen of France was born April 23, 1519 (New Style) with the Sun, Venus and Uranus in Taurus. (Click here to see the horoscope of Catherine de Medici.)

Catherine’s climb to power was a difficult one. Her husband, King Henry II, was deeply in love with another woman and the Tuscan born Catherine was regarded by the people of France as a foreign interloper. But when Henry was killed in a jousting accident, Catherine, with her strong Taurus Sun and royal Leo rising, was ready to fill gap left by his sudden demise.

France at time was rife with civil unrest. Two powerful families, the Catholic Guises and the Protestant Bourbons, vied with the monarchy for control of the country while, throughout the nation, religion was a life and death issue.

It is unlikely that Catherine ever understood these strong religious sentiments. To her materialistic Taurus mind, religion was a just another profession and, particularly for her Medici family, a means to power. The fact that nobles and commoners alike were willing to kill and be killed for the sake of their beliefs probably struck her as incredibly impractical.


Taurus folks like to keep it simple and Catherine limited herself to two primary concerns: securing the French monarchy for her sons and holding their kingdom together until they were able to rule it on their own. Unfortunately, none of her three sons was strong enough take on this very tough job.

Catherine’s eldest son, Frances II, (along with his new wife, Mary, Queen of Scots) was placed on the throne when he was still a teen by his Guise in-laws. But he was a sickly lad and died 18 months later without leaving an heir.

Catherine took control as regent until her next son was old enough to be crowned Charles IX.  Unfortunately, Charles proved to be a weak-willed and erratic young man who never lost his dependence on his mother.

Catherine’s next son, who became Henry III when Charles died, was brighter than his brother but he was also an effeminate cross-dresser who celebrated his religious devotion with self-flagellation. When faced with tense political negotiations, Henry called upon his mother to speak for him.

With the Moon in Libra, strongly placed on the angle and conjunct Jupiter, Catherine worked hard during the early part of her reign to put an end to the constant warfare between Catholics and Protestants. She helped negotiate compromises that stopped the fighting temporarily but they never lasted.

This constant religious strife came to a head in 1572 in an event called the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. In August of that year Catherine’s daughter, Margot married, Henry Bourbon, a promising union between the warring factions. Protestant nobles and commoners flocked to Paris to witness the historic ceremony. After the wedding soldiers loyal to Guises moved to kill or capture the higher ranking Protestants. It was intended to be a quick, surgical strike but it quickly turned into a bloodbath with Catholic Parisians slaughtering Protestants all over the city. The killing soon spread to the countryside and continued for five days.

Catherine’s role in the massacre is debatable. The King himself was not informed of the plans until hours before the killing began. However, Catherine must have at least acquiesced to the plot. It could have been that she was tired of the never ending war and sought a definitive solution. As I said, Taurus likes to keep things simple and after years of vicious bloodletting, the elimination of the Protestant leadership might have seemed like a practical solution.

Catherine’s Mercury is in a close square to Pluto. This indicates a lack of intellectual flexibility and a tendency toward drastic, all-or-nothing ideas. There is also a tendency with this aspect to seek solutions to complex problems in overwhelming displays of power. But Catherine failed to understand the insidious nature of religious war. Instead of stopping the civil war that was tearing apart her son’s kingdom, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre only hardened Protestant resistance and guaranteed that the war would continue for another generation.

Despite these failures, Catherine did achieve her main goal. With her strong, Taurus presence behind them, three of her sons succeeded to the French throne. Only a few months after she died, however, the last of these sons, Henry III, was assassinated.