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ALSACAT:

ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

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Case of Saverne, in 1500:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1500-00-00-SAVERNE-1

Summary:

Pierre Boaistuau, alias Pierre Launay, alias Lauvrayn, born in 1517 in Nantes, died in 1566 in Paris, was a French compiler, translator and writer. From 1560 to 1594 he had published collections reissued a few times, of stories of monsters, real or mythical animals, plants, appearances of "Sathan", phenomena of all kinds including sky phenomena. He picked it up in earlier sources for which he did not give references.

In one of his collections, he would have noted, according to various authors, that in 1500, near Saverne, "one saw in the air a gigantic bull's head between the horns of which shone a big star."

The first connection with ufology can be found in a book of ghost stories by Cyrille de Neubourg, published in 1957: the author recalls the story in a chapter about "ghosts of the sky" and notes that most of these things then had "a much more beautiful and poetic form than our modern 'flying saucers'."

The story can be found without comment or source in the 1979 book "Légendes et Traditions de France", by ufology pioneer Aimé Michel, and Jean-Paul Clébert.

The chapter on the "signs of the sky" of this book is later reproduced in the ufology magazine Les Mystères de l'Est of 2005.

Such was the story told so far. However, on June 4, 2021, a ufologist told me that the real first source is Paul Lacroix, who is quite vague about his source, and suggests that it is Pierre Boaistuau, but he is not, as the case appears in none of the issues of his book.

The ufologist told me it was actually taken from "Prodigiorum ac ostentorum Chronicon" (1557, page 510) by Conrad Lycosthenes, and it makes sense since he was Alsatian. Lycosthenes wrote:

"In Alsatia non procul a Tabernis visum est caput Tauri, torvis oculis, inter cujus cornua, stella insolite magnitudinis emicuit."

(In Alsace, not far from Saverne, one saw a bull's head, with terrible eyes, between the horns of which shone a star of unusual size.)

To note: Lycosthenes clearly dated the story of the year 1499, not 1500.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: 1500
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1557
Reporting delay: Decades.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Saverne
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.738
Longitude: 7.364
Uncertainty ratio: 5 km.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: ?
Number of known witnesses: 0
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Contemporary books about "extraordinary occurrences."
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: ?
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: ?
ALSACAT: No credibility.

Sources:

[Ref. cls1:] CONRAD WOLFFHARDT, aka "LYCOSTHENES":

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Scan.

Anno domini

In Alsatia non procul a Tabernis visum est caput Tauri, torvis oculis, inter cujus cornua, stella insolite magnitudinis emicuit.

("Year 510 - In Alsace, not far from Saverne, one saw a bull's head, with terrible eyes, between the horns of which shone a star of unusual size.")

[Ref. mar1:] P. L. JACOB et al.:

Scan.

[...] In 1500, near Saverne, city of Alsace, one saw in the sky a gigantic bull's head, under its horns shone a big star; [...]

[Ref. cng1:] CYRILLE DE NEUBOURG:

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countless descriptions of visions, apparitions and ghosts that came to his attention. Most of the phenomena related take place in the sky and always have a much more beautiful and poetic form than our modern "flying saucers". Moreover, one allotted to these ghost images the function of announcing future events, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Here are a few examples:

"In 1500, near Saverne, town of Alsace, one saw in the air a gigantic bull's head between the horns of which a big star shone. [... other stories...]

The source is indicated as a 6 volumes book titled "Histoires Prodigieuses", by Pierre Boaisteau, nicknamed "Lauvrayn, born in Brittany", published in 1597 in Paris.

[Ref. amc1:] AIME MICHEL AND JEAN-CLAUDE CLEBERT:

[... other cases...]

Flying dragons and winged archangels

But God is not alone in manifesting himself in the skies of our cities. The demon also knows how to use the tricks of a magical aviation.

In 1500, near Saverne, a gigantic bull's head in the air was seen: between the horns shone a big star.

[... other cases...]

[Ref. lsr1:] LOUIS SCHLOSSER:

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"Such appearances, as strange as they herald extraordinary events, had been more and more frequent since the beginning of the 16th century. Already, "the year one thousand five hundred, one saw in Alsace near Saverne a bull's head, between the horns of which sparkled a strong big star".

The source is given as "Histoires Prodigieuses", by Pierre Boaisteau [sic].

[Ref. mye1:] UFOLOGY MAGAZINE "LES MYSTERES DE L'EST":

The magazine published a copy of the chapter about "signs in the sky" from the book by Aimé Michel and Jean-Paul Clébert [amc1].

[Ref. pgs1:] EMAIL TO ME:

On June 4, 2021, a ufologist tells me what follows - thanks to him:

The first effective source is Paul Lacroix, who is quite vague about his source, and suggests that it is Pierre Boaistuau. It is not so. This case does not appear in the 1560 edition, it does not appear in that of 1575, it does not appear in those of 1598, of the "prodigious stories."

In reality this case is taken from "Prodigiorum ac ostentorum Chronicon" (1557, page 510) by Conrad Lycosthenes, and it makes sense since he was Alsatian. Lycosthenes writes:

"In Alsatia non procul a Tabernis visum est caput Tauri, torvis oculis, inter cujus cornua, stella insolite magnitudinis emicuit."

(In Alsace, not far from Saverne, one saw a bull's head, with terrible eyes, between the horns of which shone a star of unusual size.)

Follows the story of the fire dragon of Lucerne, also mentioned by Lacroix.

Lycosthenes attaches a picture, although he did not see the wonder himself.

As usual, the authors copied each other. The first author, Paul Lacroix, alias the bibliophile Jacob, must have cited from memory, unless he used an indirect source, or is not the author of this passage, since he was only supposed to direct the work.

My correspondent attached this image:

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I this removed this source noted as unavailable to me:

And I added the indicated primary source [cls1] in my sources references.

(Note - June 17, 2021: a few days later my correspondant sent me copies of said source; which I thus added.)

Discussion:

Map.

Conrad Wolffhart, alias "Lycosthenes" was born in Rouffach in the Haut-Rhin in August 1518, he died in 1561. He studied in Heidelberg in Germany, then was a scholar, humanist and popularizer of science, professor of grammar and dialectics, deacon of Saint-Léonard in Basel.

In 1557, he published his book "Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon", a collection of all kinds of "prodigious" phenomena, mirages, falls of rosses or others, showers of blood, two-heads cows, etc., illustrated with naive engravings.

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I am very ready to accept that an extraterrestrial craft which would have passed in the sky of Saverne in 1500 would have been described with the words which one finds in this story.

But... there is not the slightest reason at the moment to believe that this actually happened. Some of Lycosthenes' stories may have been based on real events, for example meteors, comets, mock suns and so on, or even, on what would today have been classified as UFO sighting, but the credibility is not there and neither is the quality of the information.

Note on the year of the event: second hand sources gave "1500"; but in Lycosthenes's book [cls1], this event appears in a section for year 1499, not 1500:

Scan page 509.
Scan page 510.

Evaluation:

Without credibility.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross May 25, 2021 Creation, [mar1], [amc1], [cng1], [lsr1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 25, 2021 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross June 12, 2021 Addition [pgs1]. In the Summary, addition of the information from [pgs1].
1.2 Patrick Gross June 17, 2021 Addition [cls1]. In the Discussion, "Pierre Boaisteau's 'Prodigious Histories'" changed to "Lycosthenes' stories", addition of the short Lycosthene biography and the paragraph "Note on the year of the event." In the Summary, addition of the paragraph "To note: Lycosthenes clearly dated..." In [pgs1], addition of the "Note - June 17, 2021".

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This page was last updated on June 17, 2021.