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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 Wissembourg, in 1520:

Case number:



Conrad Lycosthènes, scholar from Basel of those times, had written in his 1577 book that in 1520, the residents of Wissembourg had heard one day in full midday in the air an horrible rattling of weapons, and fighting people running and shouting as in a battle. The terrified residents run to get weapons, thinking that the city was besieged and that the enemies were close to the city gates.

Jean-Claude Bourret quoted this as an event related to extraterrestrial visitors in his book La Science face aux Extra-Terrestres in 1977.


Temporal data:

Date: 1520
Time: Midday.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1577
Reporting delay: Minutes, decades.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Wissembourg
Place: From the city.
Latitude: 49.034
Longitude: 7.945
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: Numerous.
Number of known witnesses: ?
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: Residents.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Book of the time about natural "wonders".
Type of location: City.
Visibility conditions: Day.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witnesses interpretation: Ennemy army noise.


Hynek: N/A
ALSACAT: Probable storm or earthquake noise. Not UFO-related.





Wissemburgi ad Rhenum in meridie magnus atque horrendus armorum strapitus atque concursus in aere resonans a ciuibus audisus est. Unde multi metu consternati, arreptis fuis etiam armis confluxerunt, urbem ab hostibus cinctans obsidione putantes.

At Wissembourg on the Rhine, at noon, a great and horrible noise of equipment and excitement in the air is heard by the citizens. Consequently, a lot of fear, panic and, the owners of weapons flock to defend the city which they supposed besieged by enemies.


The author reports that according to "Licostenes", in 1520, in "Vulssembourg [sic]; which is on the Rhine", all those in the city heard at midday, a great horrible noise of weapons in the air, as if two powerful and mighty armies fought to the utmost, so that the greater part of those of the city who could bear weapons, for fear they had, quickly took up their weapons, and gathered to defend their city, which they thought was besieged by the enemy.

[Ref. pjb1:] P. L. JACOB:

The author reports that Lycosthènes had written that in "the year 1520, the burgers of Wissembourg, city sitting on the edges of the Rhine, heard one day in full midday in the air an horrible strange rattling noise of weapons, and the running of people fighting and shouting as in an arranged battle. This caused such a fright that all run to the weapons, thinking that the city was besieged and that the enemies were close to the doors."



Conrad Lycosthènes, born Conrad Wolffhart (1518-1561), was a scholar, humanist and Alsatian popularizer of sciences of the XVIth century. Deacon of Saint-Léonard in Basle, professor of grammar and dialect, Lycosthènes had a passion for the study of nature and the physics of the earth.

In 1557, he published the first edition of its book "Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon", a collection illustrated of woodcuts on extraordinary wonders and phenomena: mirages, falls of crosses, rains of blood, phenomena related to meteorology and the earth.

The book is in Latin and original issues now sell in thousands of Euros. On page 494 there is a sketch of what was later called a UFO or a spacecraft observed in Arabia in 1479, reprinted in some ufology books.

It seems that only Jean-Claude Bourret wanted to link what is described here as a noise, without any visual observation, to the topic of extraterrestrial visitors. One can rather think of storm noises, or earthquake noises and tremors.


Probable storm or earthquake noise. Not UFO-related.

Sources references:

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

File history:


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

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross November 21, 2016 Creation, [jcb1], [pjb1].
1.0 Patrick Gross November 21, 2016 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross June 20, 2021 Addition [lys1].

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This page was last updated on June 20, 2021.