On Monday, February 4, 2013, scientists at England’s University of Leicester announced that the skeletal remains found in September at an archeological dig under a parking lot had been identified as those of Richard III, Shakespeare’s villainous, nephew-murdering monarch. The skeleton, which showed signs of severe violence causing death, and a spinal curvature which may account for Richard’s “hunchbacked” reputation, was positively identified using a comparison of its mitochondrial DNA with that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker who is a direct descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York.
Richard III ruled England for just two years at the end of the fifteenth-century period of kin strife and civil conflict known as “The Wars of the Roses.” He was killed in battle by challenger Henry Tudor, father of Henry VIII, who overthrew this last king of the Plantagenet line which had ruled England for over 300 years, and established the Tudor dynasty.
Richard was the last king of England to die in battle, and Shakespeare in his historically-based tragedy paints a vivid account of his fall, as the unhorsed Richard desperately seeks another mount to escape the fiasco (“A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”). By local tradition, Richard’s crown rolled from his head in his death agonies, coming to rest under a furze bush, from where it was retrieved and placed on the head of his victorious rival.
Richard’s body was stripped, desecrated, and brought back from Bosworth Field to be buried in the graveyard of the Greyfriars Church. Subsequent commercial development and urban sprawl over centuries caused the body’s exact location to be lost. A team of archeologists from nearby Leicester began an excavation of a parking lot deemed to be atop the former site of the Greyfriars cemetery in August of 2012, and the remains were discovered two weeks later. Analysis required several months, until the results confirming Richard’s identity were released February 4.
Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist on the dig, stated that the body had been crammed into a grave too small for its size, with the head craned awkwardly and the hands possibly tied together. The skull showed knife or dagger damage to the jaw, the cheek, and was missing a portion at its base, presumably cut by an axe or sword. The body is expected to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral, but the town of York is disputing this final resting place, as for most of his life, until becoming king, Richard was known as the Duke of York.
Lois Rodden’s Astro-Databank gives Richard’s birth data as 2 October 1452, at 9:02 AM, with a “C” rating, meaning the time of birth is unsourced, but traditional. However, that chart shows some very strong connections to the press conference on February 4, 2013, when the results of the DNA testing were announced.
Principally, for the press conference date, a conjunction of Saturn (ruling skeletons, death and burial) at 11 Scorpio with asteroid Rey (#13647, Spanish for “King”) at 16 Scorpio falls on the purported 15 Scorpio Ascendant of Richard’s chart, indicating a very personal, dynamic connection to the events. Additionally, Saturn/Rey are squared the transit Sun at 15 Aquarius, marking it as a day of importance for the subject of a King’s (Rey) death (Saturn) generally, and tying to Richard specifically in the exact solar square to his Ascendant. Transit Mercury (ruling news and press conferences) at 28 Aquarius lies exactly on a Black Hole, indicating an altered reality, the emergence of something startling and unexpected, and is conjoined Richard’s natal Jupiter (renown, royalty) at 27 Aquarius, with transit Atropos (named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death) at 26 Taurus in square, also conjunct Richard’s natal 28 Taurus Moon (the physical body).
Transit asteroid Richard (#3972) falls at 2 Sagittarius, forming a Grand Cross by an exact square to a pairing of transit Mars (battles, violent death) and Neptune (mysteries, disappearances) at 2 Pisces, an opposition to transit Jupiter at 6 Gemini, and a square to Richard’s natal Midheaven (reputation, worldly status, and his “career” as king) at 3 Virgo. (Asteroid Richard here is also representative of the lead archaeologist on the dig, Richard Buckley.) Asteroid King (#2305) joins the Mars/Neptune pair from 3 Pisces, and also represents the head of the genetics department at the University of Leicester, Turi King, who released the findings. This puts the Mars/Neptune/King grouping closely on Richard’s natal Nadir at 2 Pisces, a foundational point representing family and genetic origins, which factor prominently in the story.
Transit asteroid York (#28220, for Richard’s former title of Duke of York) at 25 Capricorn conjoins transit Osiris (named for the Egyptian god of the dead) at 29 Capricorn, and these in turn are within orb of transit Venus at 3 Aquarius and asteroid Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead) at 4 Aquarius. Along with appearance (the skull was used to reconstruct an image of Richard’s face), Venus rules crowns, which form a memorable part of the legend about Richard’s death. York is also exactly squared by transit asteroid Lachesis, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life, at 25 Aries.
Another unusual celestial event which haunts this discovery is the ongoing series of lunar occultations of Pluto, occurring every month from April 2012 through August 2013. Occultations are essentially types of eclipses, with one body obscuring another from our perspective, and like the better known solar and lunar eclipses, they highlight and bring attention to the affairs they activate. The Moon rules the public, Pluto rules graveyards as well as DNA, and the archeological dig which uncovered the remains began on August 25, just two days before a Moon/Pluto occultation, while the DNA results were made public just three days before another.