The Defeat of Victory

Victory was a city-camp located between Parma and Fidenza and built in 1247 by Frederick II during the siege of Parma in order to spend there the winter months waiting for the capitulation of the city: in the intents of the Emperor, once razed Parma, its inhabitants were supposed to settle down in Victoria, whose evocative name foreshadowed the fate of future imperial capital.
Its construction began in the summer of 1247 and, according to sources, was planned and begun by astrologers under the zodiacal sign of Mars, god of war, as a pledge of victory.
But the city’s future was not as bright as advocated by Frederick II and the astrologers who drew up the election for the foundation of the city; instead it was a complete disaster.
In February 1248, however, the Guelph forces and Parma, led by the papal legate Gregory of Montelongo, conquered and destroyed the imperial camp.

The scientists, according to Rolandinus Patavinus, neglected to consider the influence of Cancer, which then would be assigned the responsibility for the destruction of the town: “civitas, sub tali ascendente incepta, cancrizare debebat.” The defeat of the new city will compromise the entire action policy of Frederick, because, in the words of Rolandino from Padua, “ab hac die in antea retrocessit eius victoria more cancri”

As the operational center of the emperor, Victoria had been chosen as the place of storage of monetary funds, the Treasury, including the crown, the imperial robes, weapons, provisions, and the imperial library. At the time of his fall was still under construction, a city in the making, well more like a camp than a city structure, but its loss had serious consequences in political and symbolic terms.

In aid of the besieged Parma troops from Verona and Piacenza had rushed, and Gregory Montelongo, papal legate in Lombardy from 1238, had come from Milan.

As told Salimbene de Adam, February 18, 1248 Frederick was away from the field, engaged in a hunting with hawk, when a group of  people from Parma drew the bulk of the imperial army away from the city with a false sortie. Meanwhile, the rest of the troops of Parma – to which were added also women, children, young and old people – attacked Victoria, having reason with relative ease of the few defenders remained. The city-camp was reduced to rubble and the imperial treasury – pottery, gold and silver, precious stones, pearls, jewels and silk garments – was looted. The crown was found in the ruins by a plebian named “Curtuspassus,” sold to Parma for 200 imperial pounds and brought to the town cathedral. Taddeo from Sessa, an eminent jurist and a close associate of Frederick, was captured, mutilated hands and put in prison in Parma. The winners also took possession of the carroccio of Cremona, and Victoria was, in the words of Adam de Salimbene, “civitas que fuit et non est”.

Let’s now read the passages about the election of foundation of the city of Victoria from ‘CRONICA MARCHIE TRIVIXANE’ of Rolandino from Padua:

“Et in contrarium civitatis quodammodo ante portas aliara civitatem construxit, quam nomine Victoriam appellavit. Et quia scivit quod antiqui magnates respiciebant ascendens, cum volebant condere civitates, et faciebant ipsimet urvum cum aratro, quo circumdabant civitates, unde dicte sunt urbes, incepit et ipse designare liane suam novam civitatem signo Arietis ascendente; tum quia signum est Martis, qui dicitur deus belli, tum quia erat Libre ascendenti contrarium in occasum, quod est signum Veneris, qui pianeta Parme dicitur et esse fortuna eius. Quasi per hoc forsitan cogitaret, quod Parmensium fortuna, qui oppositi ei erant, tenderet in occasum. In astrologis namque et in hiis, que subtilitatem astrologicam imitantur, primum operanti et septimum adversario datur. Set puto quod non notavit quartum ab ascendente fuisse Cancrum. Quartum enim hedificia, domos et civitates designat; et sic civitas, sub tali ascendente incepta, cancrizare debebat.”

“And he built the city, which he named Victory, opposite to the other city in a way it was in front of its doors. And as he knew that ancient lords took count of the ascendent when they wanted to found a city and then they traced the furrow with the plow which surround the cities, so they are called ‘urbes’, he started to build his new city under the ascending sign of Aries; because it’s the sign of Mars, god of War, and Libra was setting at the descendent, sign ruled by Venus, which is the planet of Parma and its fortune. Because of that perhaps he thought that fortune of the Parmenses, which he was opposed to, was going to set. For the astrologer and him that resembled them for the astrological skill, the first house was given to the attackers, the seventh to the opponents. But I think that they didn’t notice that the fourth house from the ascendent was the Cancer. The fourth house in fact signifies the buildings, the houses, the cities; and so the city, under such ascendent, should had been destroyed as by a cancer.”

It’s unknown who was the astrologer who elected the time of foundation, but he could probably be Theodorus of Antioch, mathematician, astrologer, medic and philosopher at the Frederick’s court. It’s also notable that Guido Bonatus was also advisor of the Emperor and his allies.

So in order to figure out some possible scenarios of the such election it’s necessary to fulfill the following requirements:

  • The AS is in Aries
  • Mars is conjunct with AS
  • The IMC is in Cancer

Mars entered Aries the 20th of June. As we can see from the picture below, the AS is in Aries but Sun is already in Cancer in the IV house near the IMC. Because the chart is nocturnal Mars is in sect. Somebody could think it’s a bit weird to put the foundation of a city in the middle of the night, but if it should have been done during the day, the malefic, out of sect Mars would have been really dangerous for the new city. But we see here that Venus has some dignity because she is in her bound and also the Moon debilited in Capricorn is moving from Juppiter to Saturn exalted in Libra in the VII house but not close to the discendent. Venus is with cauda draconis. Venus is doing a square in mundo with Saturn. Vega is culminating.

Mars enters Aries

Mars began to retrograde the 31st of August. As we see the Chart is very unfortunate for the city of Victory and the Emperor because, not only Mars is retrograde but Saturn oppose it from its exaltation in Libra. Also Venus, significator of Parma (because Parma is under the sign of Taurus), is in its domicile in Libra and though it is cadent from the discendent, is conjunct with fixed star Spica of Mercury-Venus nature. Only rising Fomahault gives some hope to the Emperor’s projects.  Obviouly this chart is not suitable.

Mars retrogrades

Because the 31st of August Mars began to be retrograde, the suitable range of time when we can suppose the election was taken is between the 21st of June and the 31st of August, and we can add this farther condition to the ones previously listed:

  •  21st of June < Foundation < 31st of August

 

As stated by the most famous italian medieval astrologer, Guido Bonatus, in his Consideratio 141 and reported also by Lilly in his ‘Anima Astrologiae’ the fixed stars bestow a influx more durable and powerfull that is perfectly fitting for foundations of cities. Let’s read the passage from ‘Anima Astrologiae’:

“And upon this is that Aphorism grounded, that Advises to make use of fixes Stars in the foundation of Cities, but of Planets in the erection of Houses; because Cities are generally of the longest continuance amongst corruptible things, and far more durable than particular Houses: for these in respect of their individuals do not endure always, whereas Cities remain by a successive building and rebuilding of Houses; and therefore though Castles are very lasting, yet are they not equal in this respect to Cities; so that although we may use the superior planets in elections for building Castles, it is better to take Fixed Stars; yet still because Cities are of longer continuance than Castles,they are more appropriated to the fixed Stars, whose Subjects they are. For the impression which a solid thing makes in a more solid thing, continues much longer than that which it makes on a less solid thing; and far less in a thing not solid, than a thing somewhat solid; and yet less in a very slippery transient thing, than in a thing less lubricous or changeable. Hence the impressions which the fixed Stars make on Cities are more correlative to them in length of time, and accordingly those of Castles more durable than those of Houses, for the same reason proportionally.”

So we should try to find a proper rising star at the horoscope of Victory’s election. A finally condition should be added:

  • Rising star conjunct to AS

The only suitable star rising with Aries around that period is Fomalhaut if we used the horary distance which is the case with a time based house system as Placidian system. Probably a medieval astrologer as Bonatus used Alchabitius system. In that case, taking in consideration only the ellictic coordinate and not the horary distance, no relevant stars are rising in Aries. Fomalhaut, of mercurial-venereal nature, ascending at the eastern horizon gives eternal fame, Cardanus said. In the following charts Fomalhaut is at the ascendent.

 

It’s clearly impossible to be able to detect the exact moment which was elected by the astrologer for the foundation of Victoria but we can still make some consideration.

First we should notice that Venus the patron planet of the enemy city was in Virgo, debilited by fall, from the 31st of July to the 15th of August. That would have been a suitable range of time in order to make Parma weaker. But we see also that in the same period Saturn exalted in Libra, angular in the descendent, out of sect is opposing Mars. This configuration is not beneficial at all, taking also in account that Saturn is the lord of MC.

Venus enters Virgo

Venus exits Virgo

Saturn opposed Mars from the 9th of July to the end of suitable range of time. The only period in which there no opposition between Mars and Saturn is the first period after the entrance of  Mars in Aries, from the 20th of June to the 8th of July. But even in that period Saturn, the lord of MC, is in Libra in the VII house.

Difficult Moon placement. It’s quite hard to find a suitable position for the Moon in the election. Since Moon is also lord of the IMC and significator of the city it should be posited in a sign and a position where it is dignified. If we place the Moon in Cancer close to the IMC it is besieged by malefic, Mars and Saturn or at least by Mars with a right square. If we locate the Moon in Taurus in the first house we found it moving from Sun applying to Venus, bringing to Venus its dignity for domicile and so empowering it as we can se in the chart below.

moon applying to Venus

Following the consideration of the historian, Rolandino from Padua, we should ascribe the ruin of Victoria to the influence of Cancer and therefore of the Moon. Even if it’s not possible to know the Moon position for the moment of foundation definitely i think there should some truth about it, because, as Rolandino says, not without irony, the royal crown was found by a certain  “Curtuspassus”, a plebeian guy from Parma, nicknamed ‘Short step’ because of his shortness,  and, as Rethorius says, the moon make short people, with big legs and knees and the Cancer bow-legged ones or moving sideway in their walk. Maybe the Moon leaving behind the Sun and applying to Venus signify the plebeian ‘Short Step’ taking the royal crown and bringing it to the city of Parma (since Moon is significator of the common people and Sun of kings).

Rising Mars. A last word about the idea of putting Mars on the ascendent. I personally think it’s quite dangerous to have Mars in such position even if matters of war are concerned. Anyway it’s clear that the astrologer and Frederick II were more interested in defeating Parma than in the destiny of the new city. The model they used for the election it’s the same Bonatus used for the elections of the beginning of a battle or for a castle besiegement and that he presented in Liber Sextus. Generally in an election for a battle the horoscope is the attacker and the occident the attacked, and in a castle besiegement the ascendent is the attacker and the IMC is the castle. Here it seems that the astrologer choose to mix together those two models: the AS is significator of the attacker, the DS of the enemy, the IMC of the new city Victoria. Something didn’t work out at all and the castle to be defeat became Victoria itself.

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