Franconians and Aliens

Aliens over medieval Nuremberg?

Have you ever seen the film Cowboys and Aliens? How about a prequel – Franconians and Aliens – based on real events, of course. What am I going on about? Well, the 16th-century mass sighting of aliens battling in the skies above, right here in Nuremberg, a sight by all accounts fitting of any science fiction movie. At least according to one account; in fact, the only account. Nevertheless, the event which occurred in 1561 was documented and published in a broadsheet (an early form of newspaper) including a woodcut image depicting the astonishing event and text from the fearless feudal reporter Hans Glaser describing the spectacle.

In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 am, 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 colour was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous colour. Likewise, there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number…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… By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg.¹

The woodcut also illustrates a steaming pile of “alien” wreckage in fields outside the medieval city. While the translation by Ilse von Jacobi refers to “immense smoke”, upon closer inspection, the original text definitely refers to “Dampf”, which is German for steam. It seems a little questionable that our medieval alien visitors relied upon steam to power their space ships. Nevertheless, they would clearly have come from a technically advanced civilisation and it would be another 250 years before Robert Stephenson invented his Rocket locomotive steam engine.

Of course, some very clever people have come up with theories to explain away this early-morning spectacle. “Sundogs” are the favoured instrument to reason out these seemingly other-worldly phenomena. Sundogs are atmospheric optical anomalies where ice crystals acting as prisms bend sunlight, particularly when the sun is low near the horizon. They can give the appearance of bright lights on either side or to both sides of the sun.

Strangely enough, the whole episode would have probably been lost in the annals of history if it hadn’t been for the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In his book “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies” (1958), he proposes UFO sightings are the products of our unconscious mind rather than actually existing. In doing so, he unwittingly brought the reported event to the attention of the modern general public. Ironically this only served to fuel a modern myth about UFOs having a history of observation even in medieval times. Consequently, UFO enthusiasts scoured his work for more material. Since then, there have been many more references to aliens in the skies above Nuremberg, early one morning in April 1561.

Hanns Glaser produced several other articles such as “Blood Rain in Dinkelsbuehl on the 26th May 1554”, “Apparition in the sky near Nuremberg on the 28th December 1560”, “Apparition in the sky near Nuremberg on the 2nd March 1561” as well as more prosaic publications such as “The Conquest of Hoheneck Castle in June 1553” or “Love, the Beginning of all Suffering.” 

Nanu Nanu.


  1. Colman S. von Kevicsky, “The Ufo Sighting Over Nuremberg in 1561” Official Ufo January 1976, pp. 36–38, 68. Translation by Ilse Von Jacobi.

https://books.google.de/books?id=P3TNDx9lNMsC&pg=PA20&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false – Page 20


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like

More in History