Tag Archives: Guido Bonatus

The citadel of Urania


Uraniborg from Astronomiæ instauratæ mechanica, 1598

Uraniae sacrata domus, specula inclyta caeli
Excelso fundata loco, firmataque vallis,
Arborisque herbisque tuis circumsita in hortis,
Quae ter septenos lustrasti cunta per annos
Sidera, dum caput augustum sustollis olympo.
Siccine spreta jaces? Sic nunc orbata quiescis?
Forsitan id superis visum, quibus enthea curae:
Ne magna exiguis stringantur munera claustris.
Sic volvunt; variantque vices terrestria quaeque;
Sit tibi laus soli, qui caelum, et sidera torques.

Dwelling consecrated to Urania, glorious observatory of heaven
Founded in a sublime place, fortified by walls,
And by gardens of trees and herbs surrounded,
which for three times seven years observed all the stars,
So raise the august head to Olympus.
So much despised do you laid? So deprived do you rest?
Perhaps the supernals, by whom everything is taken into care, judged
that so great gifts would not remain confined in so narrow boundaries.
So all earthly destinies  turn and change;
Be praise to you only, who move around the sky and the stars.
from Astronomiæ instauratæ mechanica, 1598

The foundation of Uraniborg


Tycho Brahe wrote in his Astronomiæ instauratæ mechanica:

Cum vero dies is, fundationi destinatus, instaret, accessit optimus ille Danææus, comitatus aliquos nobilibus viris, tum quoque, quibusdam doctis ex amicis communibus, qui huic actui interessent: et die octavo Augusti mane ex oriente Sole una cum Iuppiter iuxta Cor Leoni, Luna occiduum cardinem in Aquario occupante, in omnium nostrum praesentia lapidem eundem locavit, litando prius solemniter vinis diversis, e fausta quaque precando, suffragantibus iis, qui circum stabant amicis. Constitutus autem est hic lapis in angulo domus orientali versus Notapelioten, velut in apposita figuratione iuxta literam F. exprimitur.

When that very day, which was destined for the foundation,  was imminent, the excellent Dançay arrived, accompanied by some noblemen, and also by some learned, our common friends, to participate in the event; and on the eighth of August in the morning while Jupiter was rising together with the Sun, near the Heart of the Lion and the Moon holding the western angle in Aquarius, in the presence of us all this same stone posed, first solemnly libeling different wines and invoking every auspicious thing, with the favor of those friends who were surrounding. This plaque was placed in the eastern corner of the house towards Notapeliote (i.e. south-east), as shown in the specific figure to the letter F.

According to the Tycho’s statement the election chart of the foundation of Uraniborg should be like the following one:


Foundation of Uraniborg  – Regiomontanus

Tycho evidently chose this moment primarily for the presence of the Sun and Jupiter together with the star Regulus at the Ascendant.


As we see Jupiter is bodily conjuncted with the star Regulus exactly on the rising angle together with the Sun.  We know that the star Regulus, the Heart of Leo, is a truly regal star that is considered capable of conferring honors and fame and  Jupiter is the great benefic in his triplicity in Leo though is not in corde Solis, or cazimi,  but instead combust.

From Centiloquium Ptolomei Aphorism 22 says:

In the new construction of any city, make use of the adjuvant fixed stars; in building houses take the planets: those cities that in the time of their foundation have Mars culminating, their princes usually die by the sword.

The fixed stars are considered to add durability to cities and buildings as stated by Bonatti in De Astronomia Tractatus

Unde si volueris eligere alicui horam ut aedificet civitatem vel castrum, apta ascendens et dominum eius: Lunam quoque ac dominum signi in quo ipsa fuerit: et partem fortunae similiter et eius dominum: et pone in ascendentem aedificationis urbi vel castri aliquam ex illis stellis fixis, quae sunt de natura Iovis vel Solis vel Veneris aut Mercurii sive Saturni, si Saturnus fuerit boni esse vel Lunae vel saltem de natura domini ascendentis illius horae.

So if you want to elect an hour to build a city or a castle, make agree the ascendant and his lord, and also the Moon with the lord of the sign in which she was placed, and in a similar way the Lot of Fortune and her lord; and place in the ascendant of the building of the city or castle one of the fixed stars, which are of the nature of Jupiter or the Sun or Venus or Mercury or Saturn, if Saturn were in good condition, or of the Moon, or at least of the nature of the ascendant of that hour.

Also the presence on the ascendant in Leo, a solid sign, is a general indication of durability. Moreover the Sun is the lord of the Ascendant and he is very dignified by essential dignity, being in his domicile in Leo, and by accidental dignity, being rising at the horoscope.

The Moon, which Tycho says that was at the occident in Aquarius, was actually cadent from the western angle in the VI house. The Moon was applying  by opposition to Venus, the Lord of the MC, which is cadent in the twelve place. Moreover, since the Sun was rising, the Moon was in conjunction with Tyche, the Lot of Fortune.

Mercury is the Lord of the second house in Virgo and he is placed on the cusp of the second house in his domicile and exaltation but he is retrograde. So Mercury suggests that the wealth of Uraniborg should have been excellent and secured but non increasing because of his retrogradation.

Mars, the lord of the IV house, in exaltation in Capricorn should have guaranteed a solid foundation to the city and sacred sanctuary to his studies since Mars is also the Lord of the IX house.

Let’s note that the Moon and Tyche are exactly in conjunction with Jupiter of Tycho’s geniture at 9° of Aquarius. This is also an important element since, as stated by the sixth Pseudo-Ptolemaic Centiloquium Aphorism:

The election either of day or hour shall then advantage when it is constituted from the nativity; otherwise, though the election be well made, it will not profit.

Uraniborg- Placidus.png

Foundation of Uraniborg  – Placidus – Tyche in mundo

The decay of Uraniborg

But despite Tycho’s care in determining the most favorable moment for the foundation of Uraniborg and in celebrating its foundation with auspicious rites the citadel of Urania was defeated by negligence and oblivion in a very short time. After less than 50 years from its foundation Uraniborg was in ruins.

In Tycho Brahe: a picture of scientific life and work in the sixteenth century (1890) by John Louis Emil Dreyer we find:

Soon after Tycho’s death, in May 1602, Cort Barleben received Hveen in fief, and shortly afterwards he was granted permission to pull down the forge. His successor was a mistress of the king’s, Karen Andersdatter, who got the island in 1616, and was followed by her son, Hans Ulrik Gyldenlöve, who died in 1645, and seems to have been succeeded by some nobleman’s widow. The destruction of Uraniborg had in the meantime gradually proceeded, as there was nobody to look after it. A new dwelling-house was erected on the site of Tycho’s farm, called Kongsgaarden, which stood for about two hundred years, but has now disappeared, so that only some farm buildings remain. This Kongsgaard was built of the bricks and stones of Uraniborg, as a mason in 1623 was paid for 60,OOO bricks which he had “pulled down and renovated from the old castle Oranienborg.” In 1645 Jörgen Brahe, a nephew of Tycho’s, was granted permission to remove “any stones with inscriptions or other carved figures or characters ” which might be found at Hveen. Perhaps Tycho’s nephew was anxious to secure some slight relic of his uncle before it was too late, for a couple of years later, when Gassendi inquired about the island, he was informed that there was only a field where Uraniborg had been

What went wrong? Which element in the foundation chart could be an ominous sign? If we look at the chart we see instantly that the Moon cadent and applying to Venus in XII by opposition is not very good at all. Venus is the Lord of the MC and also an accidental significator of the King of Danmark under whose auspices Uraniborg saw the light. Venus very weak by accidental condition and the Moon also cadent which is going to oppose Venus show that Uraniborg would have lost the king’s favor: when Christian VI succeeded to the throne of Denmark, Tycho lost the king’s favor and funds for the observatory island and he moved to Bohemia to work under the patronage of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. Mercury, which is the Lord of the second house, the wealth of Uraniborg and the wealth of the King, since  Mercury is also the Lord of the XI house, is on the cups of the second house but retrograde going toward the Sun, showing the royal support and money would have been withdrawn.

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.