JOHN BYROM'S LINES ABOUT LOUIS XIV, IN HIS POEM, "THE ASTROLOGER".
Nostradamus had predicted the birth of the future Louis XIV, King of France, in quatrain IV.93, which he had published in 1555. I will not analyse this
quatrain fully, here, as my interest lies elsewhere. However, I will set
down the quatrain, below, as it appeared in the 1557 edition of Nostradamus'
The verse is complex treatment of a tense situation. However, from our point
of view, it is sufficient to note that the final two lines are relatively
clear about the type of child who will be born.
Then will be born in France a prince so royal
Then all the princes will see that he is come from the sky.
The two lines make immediate sense when we realize that not only would this
child be called "God Given" Dieudonné but that he would be known as le
Roi soleil, the Sun King. Quite literally, this child will be recognised
by all the princes of Europe as having come from the sky.
As the historian, John B. Wolf, records it is hard to believe that any other
child of the seventeenth century had been more welcomed than the future
Louis XIV. 2
This child's father, Louis XIII, had been astonished at the news that, after
two decades of childless marriage, Anne of Austria was pregnant. In the
hope that a son would be born, he decided to dedicate, with all due pomp
and ceremony, his royaume to the Virgin Mary. This enables us to date the
now-traditional governance of Virgo over France, within the astrological
choreographies, to the year 1638.
The birth of the Dauphin was officially observed by the astrologer, Morin
de Villefranche, from a terrace outside the birthing room at the château
de Saint-Germain. 3
At the time of his birth, at 11:11 AM on 5 September 1638, his Sun and Mercury
were in Virgo, his Venus and the Moon conjunct in the kingly Leo. One French
astrologer, not so privileged as Morin, and with more poetic fervour than
scientific sense, had insisted that the Sun itself had come closer to the
earth than usual in order to associate itself with the new Dauphin. 4
Whether this astrologer was possessed of prevision or was merely foolish, we cannot possibly say.
In the engraving above, the young Louis XIV is shown in the arms of his wet nurse. 5
Louis XIV died in the afternoon of 31 August 1715, after a long and painful
series of illnesses. By the time of his death, gangrene had spread over
the whole of his leg. I mention this horrid detail only because it became
part of the innuendo in a poorly written, near-doggerel poem on astrology
by the English poet, stenographer, and student of the arcane writings of
Boehme, John Byrom: 6
And now for th'Eclipse, which is such an Appearance
As perhaps will not happen this many a Year hence.
The King of France died, the last total Eclipse,
Of a Mortification near one of his Hips. 7
The innuendo, that Louis had died from a sexual disease, happens to be an
unfair calumny. 8
Here, however, it is the reference to the eclipse that I find of greater
A note left by Byrom in an earlier version of the poem had identified the
reference to the solar eclipse in the poem to that which had taken place
on 3 May 1715. This had been a total eclipse, lasting for just over four
minutes, and had fallen in 12.15 Taurus. 9
Byrom, like so many of his contemporaries, was an amateur astrologer, but
he clearly did not know enough about the art to read the ephemerides aright.
What Byrom missed is that the total eclipse that occurred nearer in time
to the King's death, was far more likely to bring about that death, even
though it occurred shortly afterwards. The eclipse of 27 October 1715 was
annular, but lasted for over 7 minutes. It occurred in 3.21 Scorpio, and
thus fell upon the King's natal Jupiter.
Solar eclipse of 27 October 1715: 03.21 Scorpio.
Jupiter in the chart of Louis XIV: 02.41 Scorpio
Byrom's humour at the expense of the French King has revealed him as nothing
more than a bad astrologer.
1. Nostradamus, Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus. (Lyon,
Chez Antoine du Rosne, 1557), p.106.
2 John B. Wolf, Louis XIV (in the 1970 reprint of the 1968 edition),
p. 26. On this same page, Wolf gives the precise time of the birth of the
Dauphin derived from Morin de Villefranche (see note 2 below).
3 Jean Baptist Morin, Astrologia Gallica (1661). A large number of
horoscopes have been cast for the birth of the Dauphin from this data: see
for example, André Barbault, Traité Pratique d'Astrologie (1961), p. 255.
4 This claim is made in the anonymous, Le Bonheur de France (1639),
p. 6, and is mentioned by Wolf, op. cit., p. 27.
5 The engraving of Louis and his wet-nurse, after a painting in the
Musée de Versailles, is from Émile Bourgeois, Le Grand Siecle. Louis XIV.
Les Arts. Les Idees, (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1896), p. 11.
6 Byrom had come to appreciate the writings of Jacob Boehme through
his meetings with the Divine, William Law, whom he first met at Putney on
4 March 1729, and with whom he later established a close relationship.
7 The four lines are taken from stanza X of Byrom's poem, The Astrologer,
which was probably written at the close of 1723, or in the early part of 1724.
See Adolphus William Ward (ed), The Poems of John Byrom. Vol. I - Miscellaneous
Poems, Part 1 (1894), pp. 19-25.
8 For an account of the various maladies leading up to his death, see
Wolf, op. cit., Chapter 34, pp.721ff.
9 The eclipse data in this article are derived from Neil F. Michelsen
(revisions by Rique Pottenger) Tables of Planetary Phenomena (San Diego: ACS
Publications, 2003 edition), p. 23.