The UFO Files
One of the earliest of documented sightings of aerial phenomena took place on April 4, 1561 at dawn over Nuremberg, Germany. What was described as a war in the heavens, with a wide variety of craft ranging from spheres to spear-like cylinders to crosses and "plates". The sky was apparently filled with the machines, clashing in battle for well over an hour. The battle was such that a winner was perceived as well. Spheroid UFOs were seen emerging from cylindrical 'motherships'. At the conclusion of the battle, it seems a magnificent, black, spear-like super-ship of some kind came upon the scene. An ancient woodcut (click image to view full-size picture) was created by Hans Glaser to document the event. A second woodcut was created by an unknown artist (see below) that depicts the same event.
The woodcut shows two people apparently witnessing the event. Hundreds of oddly shaped and colorful objects fill the sky above. The woodcut also seems to indicate that two of the objects may have crashed to the ground (bottom right in the above picture).
It began at dawn, as dozens, if not hundreds, of crosses, globes and tubes fought each other above the city. It ended an hour later, when "the globes in the small and large rods flew into the sun," and several of the other objects crashed to earth and vanished in a thick cloud of smoke. According to the Nuremberg Gazette, the "dreadful apparition" filled the morning sky with "cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about." Between the spheres, there were "crosses with the color of blood." (i.e. red crosses) This "frightful spectacle" was witnessed by "numerous men and women." Afterwards, a "black, spear-like object" appeared.
The author of the Gazette warned its readers:
The God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Annunciation with St. Emidius Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that he avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may, temporarily here and perpetually there, live as His children.
A similar reporting occurred just five years later in Basle Switzerland. On August 7, 1566, at dawn, many citizens of Basle (Switzerland), frightened, saw during several hours the black spheres involved in a formidable aerial battle, invading the sky of their city:
The city's gazette recorded:
At the time when the sun rose, one saw many large black balls which moved at high speed in the air towards the sun, then made half-turns, banging one against the others as if they were fighting a battle out a combat, a great number of them became red and igneous, thereafter they were consumed and died out.It should be pointed out that the descriptions and woodcuts are attempts by artists nearly 500 years ago, to depict an event that they potentially could not comprehend. Some have pointed out that the woodcuts and descriptions of the event sound very much like a modern day "dogfight" between planes of opposing forces. The black circles in the woodcut look very similar to explosions in the sky as photographed by World War II reporters. In addition, the cross shaped vehicles look very similar to the profile of a World War II fighter ascending in a steep climb. As such, some have proposed that the events witnessed were actually old World War II battles and that some sort of slip in space/time allowed the 16th century town to witness an event that would not occur for another 400 years.
To date, the only original source we've
discovered that recorded this incident is the 1958
book, A Modern Myth: things seen in the skies (Ein
moderner Mythus Von Dingen, die am Himmel gesehen
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celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg
Celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561 as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. Hanns Glaser (print) - Zentralbibliothek Zürich,
News notice (an early form of newspaper) printed on 14 April 1561 in Nuremberg, describing the celestial phenomenon that occurred over Nuremberg on the 4th of April 1561. From en:Wickiana collection, an important collection of news items from the 16th century.
1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg
The 1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg was a mass sighting of celestial phenomena or unidentified flying objects (UFO) above Nuremberg, Germany. The phenomenon has been interpreted by some modern UFO enthusiasts as an aerial battle, possibly of extraterrestrial origin. This view is mostly dismissed by skeptics, some referencing Carl Jung's mid-twentieth century writings about the subject.
Around dawn on April 14, 1561, residents of Nuremberg saw what they described as an aerial battle, followed by the appearance of a large black triangular object and then a large crash outside of the city. According to witnesses, there were hundreds of spheres, cylinders and other odd-shaped objects that moved erratically overhead.
A broadsheet news article was printed on April 14, 1561 describing the event. The broadsheet, illustrated with a woodcut engraving and text by Hans Glaser, measures 26.2 centimetres (10.3 in) by 38.0 centimetres (15.0 in). The document is archived in the prints and drawings collection at the Zentralbibliothek Zürich in Zurich, Switzerland.
The broadsheet describes objects of various shapes including crosses, globes, two lunar crescents, a black spear and tubular objects from which several smaller, round objects emerged and darted around the sky at dawn.
The phenomenon described
The text of the broadsheet can be translated as giving the following description of the event:
"In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 a.m., a dreadful apparition occurred on the sun, and then this was seen in Nuremberg in the city, before the gates and in the country – by many men and women. At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes. These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun. Besides the globes flew back and forth among themselves and fought vehemently with each other for over an hour. And when the conflict in and again out of the sun was most intense, they became fatigued to such an extent that they all, as said above, fell from the sun down upon the earth ‘as if they all burned’ and they then wasted away on the earth with immense smoke. After all this there was something like a black spear, very long and thick, sighted; the shaft pointed to the east, the point pointed west. Whatever such signs mean, God alone knows. Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness. After all, the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may temporarily here and perpetually there, live as his children. For it, may God grant us his help, Amen. By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg."
Colored woodprint by Samuel Coccius, Basel, Switzerland, (1566) on the 1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg
According to author Jason Colavito, the woodcut broadsheet became known in modern culture after being published in Carl Jung's 1958 book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, a book which analyzed the archetypal meaning of UFOs. More recently, the event has been classified as a UFO sighting by many, and even named the "UFO Battle over Nuremberg" by a few enthusiasts.
Jung expressed a view that the spectacle was likely a natural phenomenon with religious and military interpretations overlaying it. “If the Ufos were living organisms, one would think of a swarm of insects rising with the sun, not to fight one another but to mate and celebrate the marriage flight.” A military interpretation would view the tubes as cannons and the spheres as cannonballs, emphasize the black spearhead at the bottom of the scene, and Glaser’s own testimony that the globes fought vehemently until exhausted. A religious view would emphasize the crosses. Jung thinks the images of four globes coupled by lines suggested crossed marriage quaternities and forms the model for “the primitive cross cousin marriage.” It could also be an individuation symbol. The association of sunrise suggests ‘the revelation of the light.”
Otto Billig made an effort to provide a historical context for the apparition in his comments. He notes Nuremberg was one of the most prestigious cities of the late Middle Ages, a ‘Free and Imperial City’ known for its wealth and nobility. It tried to maintain a neutrality during the furious warring between Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation, but when one Protestant prince was rebuffed when he insisted on financial tributes to fund his battles, the city was besieged and its trade cut off. Though ultimately successful in defending itself, the rebuilding of fortifications in Nuremberg necessitated a new round of taxation and the city suffered hard times in its aftermath. On Good Friday, 1554 another siege happened and one broadsheet publisher described mock suns that prognosticated God’s will wanted confession of sinful ways – i.e. the victims brought it on themselves. Another sky apparition followed in July of knights fighting each other with fiery swords, thus warning a coming Day of Judgment. Very similar apparitions of knights fighting in the skies were frequently reported during the Thirty Years' War. Many similar broadsheets of wondrous signs exist in German and Swiss archives and Nuremberg seems the focus of a number of them, presumably because of the hardships and conflicts of the ex-prosperous. Such conditions typically accentuate apocalyptic thought.
1561 celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg
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