1561: UFO Battle over Nuremberg
A famous UFO case from 1561, illustrated above. And the text below it, the best translation I could find:
In the year 1561 on the 14th day of April in the morning between … [difficult special time phrase] … and … [difficult special time phrase], that is in the morning between 4 and 5 on the little clock, a very horrible vision showed at the sun when she rised and was seen at Nuremberg in the town and in front of the gate and at the countryside by alot of male and female persons. First the sun showed and was seen with two bloodcolored, halfround strokes like the diminishing moon right through the sun, and in the sun, above, under and on both sides stood bloodcolored and partly blueish or ironcolored, also blackcolored round orbs. The same on both sides and in circled plates around the sun – there were such bloodcolored and the other orbs in great numbers, standing three in a row, sometimes four in a quadruple, also alot as singles. And between such orbs alot of bloodcolored crosses have been seen, and between such crosses and orbs were bloodcolored strips, thick behind [“streyme hinden dick”] and to the front a bit smoother than … [ ? “hocken rho[?]”]. Mixed in between together with others stood two big tubes, one to the right and the other to the left [hand’s side], in those little and big tubes were three, four and more orbs. This alltogether began to fight [“streyten”], the orbs first in the sun moved towards the ones standing at both sides, so the ones, which were outside, moved together with the orbs out of the small and large tubes into the sun.
Also the tubes moved towards each other like the orbs and everything fought and battled [“gestritten und gefochten”] with each other nearly one hour long. And after the battle, which moved for a while into and again out of the sun from one side to the other most violently, exhausted itself by each other, everything (as drawn above) fell from the sun and the sky down to the earth like burning alltogether and vanished [“vergangen”] down on the earth gradually [? “allgemach”] in a big smoke. After such events something like a black spear, the shaft from sunrise [east] and the head towards sundawn [west], has been seen with big thickness and length.
[It follows a lengthy phrasal standard passage from a typical christian viewpoint of that time, about warning signs of Godfather, the sin of the non-believers and the awaited day of judgement etc. Not very related to the event as such, but there is a hint by Hans Glaser, that the “signs” in the sky were significant in quality and numbers in the recent time.]
And that’s that. What to make of this? Well, Ancient Alien theorists have all sorts of ideas about it, all revolving around UFOs battling it out in the skies. Google “Nuremberg UFO” and any number of theories pop up. Some sort of time slip and people witnessing a WW2 aerial battle have also been proposed.
What do I think? Granted I didn’t have time to fly to Germany and comb local archives, but from what I can tell the material is believed to be authentic. IE it really was a broadsheet from the times, and the woodcut made by Hans Glaser does depict the event in question, although it was made some four or five years after the fact. There also exists a second woodcut by an unknown artist apparently depicting the same event:
It doesn’t really add much to the story. And that’s the first problem, there isn’t much of a story. From two images and a broadsheet (newspapers hadn’t been invented in 1561) there isn’t enough information to come to any firm conclusions. Speculation is all well and good, but it’s just speculation.
Which brings me to my first point. Since it’s not much of a story, the first thing that needs to be done if for an archivist who specializes in the era to start going through records and see what else they can find. 1561 was awhile ago, but it wasn’t the Middle Ages, and there are buildings full of contemporary archival material. And there most definitely are Ancient Alien Theorists, Däniken comes to mind, with the money to hire someone to do just this. An event this spectacular should have left other records, and even one more contemporary account might shed light on the matter. That no one has done this is both a shame, and a sign that people like Däniken are only interested in making money off the topic, not actually researching it.
So in conclusion, no real conclusion can be reached. 1561 was not exactly an educated age, in fact it was very much an age of credulity and faith. “Miracles” such as this were not uncommon, this was by no means a one-off event. Only the fact that someone made a woodcut of this particular event is why it is so big in current Ancient Aliens theorizing. There are any number of spectacular and unusual atmospheric/weather/optical phenomena that could have inspired this sighting, confounded by the fact that people had no clue what they were seeing and thus interpreted it as they did. The fact that the second half of the broadsheet is a Christian warning very much leads one to suspect that people’s faith and belief in miracles may have influenced what they saw, and very much influenced how they remembered it. (It should also be noted that modern Ancient Alien theorists are clearly influenced by their beliefs as as to how they interpret this event.)
I keep hoping for an Ancient Alien or UFO story that is more than just anecdotal, but this one wasn’t it. An interesting story, I would love to know what people saw in the sky that day, but I suspect we will never know.
(The above images are still Public Domain under US copyright law, their creators having been dead some four centuries. Hans Glaser doesn’t even rate a Wikipedia entry, though some of his other woodcuts can be viewed here. Coming next, the Bolivian Stargate. Yes, it’s real.)