"This had been selected as propitious by the astrologer, Dr John Dee"
Dr John Dee. Artist Unkown. c.1608
Public DomainDr John Dee. Artist Unkown. c.1608 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

John Dee (1527-1608/9) was one of the most fascinating characters of the Elizabeth Age.  An extremely learned man, he was all of these things: mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, navigator, occultist, alchemist and sometime consultant to Elizabeth I.  Born in London to a Welsh family, Dee's father was a minor courtier to Henry VII, himself of Anglo-Welsh stock.  John Dee, always a gifted scholar, won his lifelong reputation as a magician while at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he produced the special effects for a production of Aristophanes' Peace. 


Elizabeth would certainly have known Dee for some time before her coronation as he was charged and tried for 'calculating', that is, for casting the horoscopes of both Mary and Elizabeth in 1555.  Although the charges were changed into treason against Mary, he managed to exonerate himself and in 1558 he chose the date for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I.  Not only did Dee live dangerously with his horoscopes but he was also very likely involved with the circle of conspirators surrounding Elizabeth while she was a princess and closely watched by Mary.  There is also evidence that Elizabeth maintained a lively interest in the occult, unlike her sister Mary to whom it was heresy and her father, Henry VIII who showed no interest in the subject.