One of the phenomena of the last 500 years — the Party Time — was the rise of the uni-polar World. This is a world that has one dominant player. Before that time, the concept did not really exist, since the world was not globalized, and the large scale empires of the time, such as the Roman, Chinese, or Persian, only held sway over a limited part of the whole world. Once the New World was known by the Europeans (and I ignore those who criticize the term since it was obviously known by the natives, as a case of semantic confusion) the uni-polar world became possible. We are now moving into a multi-polar world where there is more than one power center. But the unfortunate situation is that the uni-polar power at this time does not recognize that a multi-polar world is possible or desirable. When the previous uni-polar champ, Britain, was replaced in the early years of the Twentieth Century, it was able to resign with some grace and did not make a scene. This is often held up as a example that superpowers should follow. But perhaps Britain was an exception to the rule that a superpower does not go gently. For the next 500 years, there will be several dominant powers in the world, including, one hopes, the people of the world, as was predicted by the New York Times (“world public opinion was a second superpower”) after the large marches on February 15, 2003 to prevent the invasion of Iraq.
For the purpose of this entry, I am going to talk about four superpowers that dominated the last 500 years, their rise and fall. These four were, in turn, Spain, Holland, Britain, and the United States. The important astrological event for these power changes seems to be Pluto crossing the Cardinal Axis — 0 Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Note that the importance of the cardinal axis is shown by the chart of 1492, which has Neptune, and not Pluto, crossing the cardinal axis.
Spain was the dominant power at the beginning of this 500 year period because the country became unified and they had several explorers travel to the rest of the world and bring back riches, gold and silver, to the home country.
The important year seems to be 1479: This was after Isabelle and Ferdinand were married, but Isabelle was still involved in a war with her sister over control of Castile. This war was settled in September of that year with the Treaty of Alcáçovas. Also that year Ferdinand succeeded his father in Aragon. This paved the way for Castile and Aragon to join together and a unified Spain to result. As we can see from this chart, Pluto crossed the Libra point, and thus crossed the Cardinal Axis.
Both these events took place in the same year, but of course the developments leading up to and following after were important. Spain had been conquered by the Moors in the Tenth Century, and it was a challenge for the Spanish to drive (or convert) the Moors over the next 500 years. They were finally successful in 1492 with the Reconquista. Another ethnic group that upset the Spanish were the many Jews who lived in Spain. Spain also gave them the choice of converting to Catholicism or else — see Spanish Inquisition. This was accomplished pretty much by the same year. But Spain was still not a unified country: There was Castile which was in the center and north of the Iberian peninsula, and was controlled at this time by Isabelle, and Aragon in the north of the Iberian peninsula near the Pyrenees Mountains, controlled by Ferdinand. After the two were married in 1469 the two nations of Castile and Aragon were joined together, and after the Muslims were driven out, Spain became a unified country, bent on establishing its power. After this point Spain was sending explorers around the world, bringing back gold and silver to enrich the home country. This Spanish Golden Age was also a great one for Spanish arts and literature, with the examples of the painter El Greco, known for his elongated figures, and Miguel Cervantes, whose best known work is Don Quixote. The country began to lose lustre with the defeat of the Spanish Armada by England in 1588 and the loss of the lowland countries. As we can see from the chart for that date, Pluto came to the Aries point, thus crossing the Cardinal Axis again.
The Dutch Republic rose with a long war against the Hapsburg dynasty of Spain. The Dutch Republic established the Dutch East India Company and the oldest stock market in the world in the early years of the Seventeenth Century. The Dutch had a large fleet of merchant ships covering the world. At one time they were masters of New York, which they lost, won and lost again to the British. The artists of this Dutch Golden Age are well known, consisting of such as Rembrandt (Night Watch) and Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring). The Dutch of the Low Countries dominated the world trade that had previously been controlled by the Spanish.
Like other Empires, the Dutch enjoyed their time in the sun, but they felt competition with England. England was involved in the Seven Years War (1756-63) which also involved the other major powers of Europe and was fought at various locations around the world. The part in North America is called there the French and Indian War. Winston Churchill thought that this war should be considered a World War. In North America there was a battle between the French and British over the control of Canada, and the French lost. The painting by Benjamin West called The Death of General Wolfe marks an important point in this battle, near Quebec. This marked the rise of Britain to be the dominant power in the world, a position that would last for over a century. The chart for this transfer of power from the Dutch to the British is marked with Pluto at 0 Capricorn, again crossing the Cardinal Axis.
But by World War I, in which Britain defeated Germany, they had lost much power, and going off the gold standard didn’t help. There was a new powerful country in the world, one that did not exist in the middle of the Eighteenth Century, and they wereThe Death of General Wolfe able to step into the gap vacated by the British. The British loss of power is spoken of in almost reverential terms by historians since that are widely credited with handling their loss of world power in a responsible manner. One can only hope that the last country to give up power will have learned lesson from Britain, but at present that outlook is doubtful.
The United States was the country to become dominant after the British lost their pole position after World War I. The Twentieth Century was indeed the American Century as Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce predicted in the Thirties. With the 9/11 attacks and the Great Depression America is no longer the dominant power of the world. A single dominant world power was a phenomena of the previous 500 years and now the world must adapt to something new in this area, as in many, many others. As H. G. Wells said, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”