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Comet of 1532


This morning I was thumbing through a newly arrived book: Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society, published by the eminent scientific publishing house, Springer, edited by Peter T. Bobrowsky and Hans Rickman. This book is a collection of scientific papers presented at a workshop under the aegis of the International Council for Science. In the introduction, we read:
The International Council for Science recently recognized that the societal implications (social, cultural, political and economic) of a comet/asteroid impact on Earth warrants an immediate consideration by all countries in the world.
Wow! You think? You mean it's not just us here at SOTT (and a few others on the net) who are keeping track of the increasing number of Fireballs and Meteorites that suggest we are passing through rather dangerous areas of space, or that maybe Something Wicked This Way Comes?

Yes, it seems so. In the chapter entitled "Social Perspectives on Comet/Asteroid Imact (CAI) Hazards: Technocratic Authority and the Geography of Social Vulnerability" we read:
Until quite recently, research into comet and asteroid hazards was focused on establishing the scale and scope of past impacts, credible estimates of their recurrence, and models for physical impact scenarios. ... CAI hazards have moved well beyond the realm of ungrounded speculation and apocalyptic visions. The results represent more than just new findings. They revolutionize, or are about to revolutionize, some basic understandings about the Earth, its history, biological evolution and future. Although human life has had a tiny place in the story so far, our longer term fate seems to be challenged by these forces and may be decided by them.
No kidding.

In a chapter entitled "Social Science and Near-Earth Objects: an Inventory of Issues", we read:
It would have been ridiculous, not too long ago, to admit openly that you were thinking about asteroids and comets slamming into the Earth. Such events could mean the end of the world as we know it - TEOTWAWKI as millenialists call it - and that kind of talk is often ridiculed. ...

Respectable people are pondering the issues. For example, S. Pete Worden, who is a Brigadier General in the US Air Force and Deputy Director for Command and Control Headquarters at the Pentagon, has said that he believes "we should pay more attention to the 'Tunguska-class' objects - 100 meter or so objects which can strike up to several times per century with the destructiveness of a nuclear weapon."
I located the General's comments and they are now in the SOTT database. It seems that the above is not all the general said. In fact, he states quite unequivocally:
I can show people evidence of real strikes inflicting local and regional damage less than a century ago. Even more compelling are the frequent kiloton-level detonations our early warning satellites see in the earth's atmosphere. ... Within the United States space community there is a growing concern over "space situational awareness."
The general was writing back in 2000. "Less than a century ago." That would be after 1900. He said that there were "real strikes inflicting local and regional damage" since 1900?!

Did I miss something? Did all of us miss something?

Well, we'll come back to that soon enough. That's not what I wanted to talk about today. Today, I wanted to pick up where we left off last time, the end of the Hundred Years' War.

In the previous installments of this series of articles we have looked at how the Black Death was probably a period of cometary fragment bombardment leading to mass death on an unimaginable scale. In today's world, the equivalent would be the deaths of two, possibly three billion people planet-wide and many animals as well. Just contemplating what humanity would do with that many bodies to be disposed of is daunting, not to mention considering how society would continue. The Black Death was no respecter of rank, either: the elites died in proportionate numbers to the masses of ordinary people. This has some interesting implications in terms of how the elites are looking at the matter now, but again, that is something we will come back to once we have a look at the evidence.

In our discussion of the Hundred Years' War, we learned that a great cover-up was effected at the end of it all and this was mainly to reestablish the religious control of the masses because, of course, religious control has always been the right arm of princes and governments.
Inasmuch as it was popularly believed that the continued sterility of many years was caused by witches through the malice of the Devil, the whole country rose to exterminate the witches. This movement was promoted by many in office, who hoped wealth from the persecution. And so, from court to court throughout the towns and villages of all the diocese, scurried special accusers, inquisitors, notaries, jurors, judges, constables, dragging to trial and torture human beings of both sexes and burning them in great numbers. Scarcely any of those who were accused escaped punishment. Nor were there spared even the leading men in the city of Trier. For the Judge, with two Burgomasters, several Councilors and Associate Judges, canons of sundry collegiate churches, parish priests, rural deans, were swept away in this ruin. So far, at length, did the madness of the furious populace and of the courts go in this thirst for blood and booty that there was scarcely anybody who was not smirched by some suspicion of this crime.

Meanwhile notaries, copyists, and innkeepers grew rich. The executioner rode a blooded horse, like a noble of the court, and went clad in gold and silver; his wife vied with noble dames in the richness of her array. The children of those convicted and punished were sent into exile; their goods were confiscated; plowman and vintner failed hence came sterility. A direr pestilence or a more ruthless invader could hardly have ravaged the territory of Trier than this inquisition and persecution without bounds: many were the reasons for doubting that all were really guilty. This persecution lasted for several years; and some of those who presided over the administration of justice gloried in the multitude of the stakes, at each of which a human being had been given to the flames. At last, though the flames were still unsated, the people grew impoverished, rules were made and enforced restricting the fees and costs of examinations and examiners, and suddenly, as when in war funds fail, the zeal of the persecutors died out. (Burr: Linden, Gesta Trevirorum (from his manuscript in the City Library of Trier.) Latin. Printed in Hontheim's Historia Trevirensis diplomatica (iii, p. 170, note) and in Wyttenbach and Muller's ed. of the Gesta Trevirorum See this LINK for many first hand accounts and details of the witch persecutions.)
Indeed, the question that led to the persecution of witches was a religious one: How could a world created by a watchful, benevolent, and engaged God be such a mess? Answering this question led to a growth industry in persons and institutions dealing death and destruction. We see a lot of that going on in our world today: the "security industry" is booming in the mythical "War on Terror."
The Reformation divided Europe between Protestant regions and those loyal to the Pope, but Protestants took the crime of witchcraft no less seriously--and arguably even more so--than Catholics. Germany, rife with sectarian strife, saw Europe's greatest execution rates of witches--higher than those in the rest of the Continent combined. Witch hysteria swept France in 1571 after Trois-Echelles, a defendant accused of witchcraft from the court of Charles IX, announced to the court that he had over 100,000 fellow witches roaming the country. Judges responding to the ensuing panic by eliminating for those accused of witchcraft most of the protections that other defendants enjoyed. Jean Bodin in his 1580 book, On the Demon-Mania of Sorcerers, opened the door to use of testimony by children against parents, entrapment, and instruments of torture. (A Brief History of Witchcraft Persecutions before Salem)


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Pope Innocent VIII


The problem is, of course, that the primary targets in any such persecutions are those who talk about the calamities themselves and point out that the religious faiths are obvious failures and perhaps it might be better to look at the world rationally and scientifically. Such individuals must be accused of being witches or "cults" and silenced because they threaten the very foundation of Western Civilization, Uniformitarianism and the Fascist control of humanity by such elements.

We know of what we speak first hand! Have a look at The Disappeared: SOTT.net and Google's conspicuous omissions and then have a look at this ongoing defamation undertaken by modern-day Witch Hunters: Laura Knight Jadczyk's Cassiopaea Cult. We wondered how long it would take the psy-ops folks to set up a 9-11 framed attack on us. As I commented yesterday, we must scare the be-jeezus out of the PTB or so much effort wouldn't be spent on trying to shut us down, suppress us, and, failing that, defame us.

But, getting back to the subject at hand (if one is going to be defamed, one might as well be defamed for telling the WHOLE truth!), in Victor Clube's narrative report funded by the USAF and Oxford, the next important period of cometary calamity was the Thirty Years' War. Let's look at a short timeline just to orient ourselves.

1337 to 1453 - Hundred Years War
1347/48 - 1351 - Black Death (included in the time period of the Hundred Years' War)
1400 - Renaissance (begins as the Hundred Years War is ending)
1431- Joan of Arc burned at the stake for being a witch (included in the time period of the Hundred Years' War)
1484 - Pope Innocent VIII announced that satanists in Germany were meeting with demons, casting spells that destroyed crops, and aborting infants
1486 - Malleus Maleficarum published
1500 - Witch persecutions begin
1515 - Outbreaks of witchcraft hysteria, with subsequent mass executions begin
1591 - King James authorizes the torture of suspected witches in Scotland
1600 - Renaissance ends "officially"
1606 - Shakespeare's "Macbeth" performed
1616 - Thirty Years War begins
1642 - Beginning of the English Civil War
1643 - The largest witch-hunt in French history occurred. For two years there were at least 650 arrests in Languedoc alone. The same time was one of intense witch-hunting in England, as the English civil war created an atmosphere of unrest that fueled the hunting, especially under Matthew Hopkins.
1648 - Thirty Years War ends
1651 - End of the English Civil War
1660 - Witch persecutions end - Europe saw between 50,000 and 80,000 suspected witches executed. About 80% of those killed were women. Execution rates varied greatly by country, from a high of about 26,000 in Germany to about 10,000 in France, 1,000 in England, and only four in Ireland. The lower death tolls in England and Ireland owe in part to better procedural safeguards in those countries for defendants. (LINK)
1682 - England executes its last witch, Temperance Lloyd, a senile woman from Bideford. Lord Chief Justice Sir Francis North, a passionate critic of witchcraft trials, investigated the Lloyd case and denounced it as a farce. Witch-hunting shifted from one side of the Atlantic to the other, with the outbreak of hysteria in Salem in 1692.

I'm not too sure why the Renaissance is said to end in 1600, looks to me more like it was probably the Thirty Years' War that ended it. But, never mind, that's the date range agreed on by most scholars.

The Thirty Years' War was fought between 1618 and 1648, principally on the territory of today's Germany, and involved most of the major European powers. It began as an ostensible religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics and gradually developed into a general war involving much of Europe, related to the France-Habsburg rivalry for pre-eminence in Europe, which led later to direct war between France and Spain.

Notes to ponder: The Thirty Years' War also pretty much spanned the reign of Louis XIII of France (1610-1643). Galileo lived from 1564 to 1642. Many adherents of Catharism, fleeing a papal inquisition launched against their alleged heresies in France, had migrated into Germany and the Savoy. This may have been at the root of the initial religious conflict. In fact, Catharism may have fed the Protestant Reformation.

The Thirty Years' War was one which utilized mercenary armies to a great extent, and these hired killers were said to have devastated entire regions leaving the inhabitants to suffer widespread famine and disease which decimated the population. This affected primarily the German states and, to a lesser extent, the Low Countries and Italy. At the same time, it bankrupted many of the governmental powers involved. Sounds a lot like what is happening today, doesn't it?

The English Civil War, which began after the Thirty Years War had been going on for about 25 years (and was running out of steam and people), consisted of a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians (known as Roundheads) and Royalists (known as Cavaliers).

The question is, do we find any mentions of comets or other strange astronomical phenomena during this period of time? As it happens, we do.

David Herlicius published in 1619 a discourse on a comet that had appeared shortly before, in 1618, and enumerated the calamities that this comet, and comets in general, bring with them or presage:
Desiccation of the crops and barrenness, pestilence, great stormy winds, great inundations, shipwrecks, defeat of armies or destruction of kingdoms . . . decease of great potentates and scholars, schisms and rifts in religion, etc. The portents of comets are threefold - in part natural, in part political, and in part theological. [William Whiston and the Deluge]
The seventeenth-century was witness to numerous comet sightings, including those of 1618, 1664, 1665, and 1677. Inquiries into these comets produced a noteworthy number of scientific texts including Samuel Danforth's An Astronomical Description of the Late Comet (1665), John Gadbury's treatise De Cometis (1665), and Robert Hooke's 1678 report to the Royal Society, Cometa. These accounts complemented the earlier work of Brahe and Kepler and helped to expand the emerging technical understanding of this particular cosmic phenomenon.

Another reference: "This year (1618) brought on three bright comets."

Regarding Kepler: His observations on the three comets of 1618 were published in De Cometis, contemporaneously with the Harmonice Mundi (Augsburg, 1619).

My search for direct source material giving evidence of unusual events from this time has been rather frustrating. I have found that the only people reading the original documents are scholars who generally refer to the descriptions of the time as being hyperbole, or more or less "religious" metaphor, so it is frustrating to find that these actual passages are quoted in the original language - generally German. Not to be thwarted, I sent the material off to a German friend of SOTT and he quickly returned a translation.

In the journal, German Life and Letters 54:2, Geoffrey Mortimer published an article entitled "Style and Fictionalisation in Eyewitness Personal Accounts of the Thirty Years War". He writes:
Eyewitness personal accounts of the Thirty Years War are of interest not only for their overt content, but as examples of how the process of writing itself can shape both the resultant text and the meaning derivable from it by the reader. Techniques adopted, probably unconsciously, by writers seeking to give force and point to their narratives, here collectively termed 'fictionalisation', add to well-known problems of eyewitness testimony to affect the historical evaluation of such sources.
We are going to see that, apparently, Mr. Mortimer hasn't been reading the work of Victor Clube! He goes on for some pages explaining to us that the people who wrote these accounts were mostly simple individuals who had no literary pretensions, and the works themselves were things like diaries and records intended to be passed down in families. One item that he says was written to "create the desired impression, possibly at the expense of strict representational accuracy" is the following:
Due to war, pestilence, price rise and famine, our people are reduced to such an extent, that it will be difficult for our descendants to believe it.
Now, one has to keep in mind the meaning of the word "pestilence" as we discussed already in a previous section. Jon Arrizabalaga, in his article included in Practical Medicine from Salerno to the Black Death, discusses the etiology of this word and how it was understood by the peoples of the time. He writes:
The emphasis placed on celestial causes of the 'pestilence' by the different physicians studied here varied quite widely. ... In 1340 Augustine of Trent, a friar eremite of St. Augustine, justified having written a medical and astrological work on a 'pestilence of diseases' happening everywhere in Italy, because of physicians' ignorance about the roots of diseases; this fact was considered by him 'a pestiferous mistake involving many physicians', and he blamed it on their 'ignorance of astronomy'. ...

Works from other geographical areas assigned a more relevant role to celestial causes in the genesis of the 'pestilence.' ...

Jacme d'Agramaont ...said nothing concerning the term epidemia, but he extensively developed what he meant by pestilencia. He gave this latter term a very peculiar etymology, in accordance with a from of knowledge established by Isidore of Seville (570-636) in his Etymologiae, which came to be widely accepted throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. He split the term pestilencia up into three syllables, each having a particular meaning: pes = tempesta: 'storm, tempest'; te = 'temps, time', lencia = clardat: 'brightness, light'; hence, he concluded, the pestilencia was 'the time of tempest caused by light from the stars.'
And so, we have a better idea of what our German diarist meant when he said:
Due to war, pestilence, price rise and famine, our people are reduced to such an extent, that it will be difficult for our descendants to believe it.
On page 5 (101) of Mortimer's paper, we read that a young officer at the time of the sack of Magdeburg in 1631 wrote in his memoirs:
[A] grand storm-wind picked up, the town was inflamed at all possible places, so that even little aid (rescue) was of help (appreciated). ... then I saw the whole town of Magdeburg, except dome, monastery and New Market, lying in embers and ashes, which raged only about 3 or 3 1/2 hours, from which I deduced God's strange omnipotence and punishment.
A "grand storm wind" and a town that was "inflamed" all over at once, and burned to cinders in 3.5 hours? Perhaps the reader will like to go back and re-read the description of how an overhead cometary explosion would manifest, quoted at the beginning of the previous section, Wars, Pestilence and Witches.

Note the date of the above event: 1631. As it happens, there were other mysterious things happening on the planet at that time. In her book Comets and Popular Culture and the Birth of Modern Cosmology Sara J. Schechner writes:
Comets, like other marvels, were exploited by polemicists in prodigy books. In 1661-1662, for example, radical English dissenters published sensationalist reports of prodigies, including comets, which gloomily greeted the restoration of Charles II. ... There were no fewer than twenty-five apparitions visible in seventeenth century Europe, and these comets made frequent appearances in the polemical broadsheets and chapbooks hawked in the marketplaces...
Comets were apparently flinging all over the place during this time. One of these tracts shows comets in 1680, 1682, 1683. Another shows five comets between 1664 and 1682. Another talks about comets of 1618. A tract entitled "The Signs of The Times" shows a bunch of prodigies that accompanied comets. Schechner writes:
All these outbursts were concerned with specific political quarrels. Some pamphleteers, however, raised themselves above the local rough water to examine a larger vista. They thought they saw a fast-approaching end to the world and their works adopted an apocalyptic tone. The comet of 1580 confirmed Francis Shakelton in his opinion that the Day of Judgment was near at hand...

Although Regiomontanus and others agreed that 1588 would be a year of great revolutions and world mutations, Jesus had yet to reappear when William Lilly viewed the comets of 1664 and 1665 and 1673 as tokens of the beginning of the end. In comets like that of 1680, E. Tonge, Christopher Ness, and others saw the great "northern star" the messianic herald of the last days predicted by the sybyl Tiburtina and Tycho Brahe.

© Unknown
Watercolour sketch labelled as 'the comet of 1532', originally bound in a sixteenth century commonplace book. This particularly bright comet was seen for 119 days after its discovery at the end of 1532. The astronomer Edmond Halley (1652-1742), famous for the comet named after him, suggested later that this particular comet may be related to the bright one seen in 1661. Studying its movements across the sky, Halley concluded that both comets were one of the same, as they followed identical orbits around the Sun.
Panic and joy were heightened by the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the fiery trigon in 1682 which came on the heels of a comet's apparition. While great conjunctions take place every twenty years, this one was part of an astrologically profound series of conjunctions that commenced with the climacteric conjunction at the close of the sixteenth century. By definition, climacteric conjunctions occurred only every eight hundred years when the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn returned to the sign of Aries and to the fiery trigon. It was widely reported by the popular press that Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Johann Heinrich Alsted correlated historical periods with climacteric conjunctions and believed that they portended great mutations and reformations...

Tycho Brahe reckoned that all odd-numbered maximum conjunctions were auspicious and urged people to look forward to the period of the sabbatical or seventh climacteric conjunction since the world's Creation which he believed would follow the conjunction in Aries in 1583. During the conjunctions in Leo in October 1682, the planets allegedly would be in the same configuration as they had been at the beginning of the world. Alsted believed this might be the last conjunction of the present world and publicly announced that the Millennium would commence in 1694.

By itself, the great conjunction in the fiery trigon was a serious matter but its power was corroborated by several other signs. Mars joined Jupiter and Saturn in 1682. There was a solar eclipse. But most critically, the great conjunction was ushered in by the comets of 1680 and 1682 and the former was said to have been unrivaled in eight hundred years. Many thought the comets augured the Apocalypse... the end of the world...

In sensationalist street literature, radical pamphleteers took advantage of these comets... At the restoration, the Crown cracked down on the almanacs of Lilly and others, blaming them for fomenting insurrection and irreligion during the Civil War and Interregnum...
The author next discusses the major controls put in place at this point to stamp out the popular discussion of predictions, interpretations... of "signs in the skies." So we can understand how so much of this period of "panic" when "governments fell" was covered up. Based on the number of pamphlets and broadsides, it must have been a really crazy time and everybody was thinking the world was going to end. BUT, as we go through this description, we find a most interesting item that relates to what our young officer witnessed at the fall of Magdeburg:
The sunny disposition of the weather during the coronation (of Charles II) was seen as the fulfillment of a prophecy. In 1630, at the time of Charles' birth, a noonday star or rival sun allegedly had appeared in the sky. ... Aurelian Cook in Titus Britannicus explained its import: 'As soon as Born, Heaven took notice of him, and eyed him with a star, appearing in defiance of the Sun at Noonday....'

For Cook, the extra sun announced that Charles ruled by divine right. Moreover, the timing of Charles' entry into London on his birthday was politically calculated to fulfill what had been portended at his birth. Abraham Cowley, poet, diplomat and spy for the court wrote:

No Star amongst ye all did, I beleeve,
Such Vigorous assistance give,
As that which thirty years ago,
At Charls his Birth, did in despight of the proud
Suns' Meridian Light,
His future Glories, this Year foreshow.

Edward Matthew devoted an entire book to the fulfillment of the prophecy declaring Charles "ordained to be the most Mighty Monarch in the Universe..."

Charles' return was seen as a rebirth of England and duly recorded by a special act in the statute book, which proclaimed that 29 May was the most memorable Birth day not only of his Majesty both as a man and Prince, but likewise as an actual King...
So, a "second sun" was seen on and around May 29, 1630, and on May 20, 1631, one year later, Magdeburg fell as described by our young officer.

The standard historical description of the Fall of Magdeburg goes pretty much as follows:
The fall of Magdeburg horrified Europe. The city had been starved and then was bombarded unmercifully. The artillery shelling grew so bad, the town caught on fire. Over 20,000 of the citizens perished in the siege and the cataclysm that ended it. The city itself was burned to the ground. The cruel and pointless devastation marked a new low, an act abhorred by a generation well accustomed to horrors. [Link]
The war was to continue for 17 more years. 20 or 30 years later a lot of new comets showed up, and I used to think that this "second sun" seen at the time of the birth of Charles II may have been an appearance of our sun's twin in the far reaches of the solar system. However, with the scientific information provided by Clube and Napier et al, I have changed my view.

In any event, we begin to see why Clube wrote:
[W]hen the prospect of these global catastrophes recurs, such is the nerve-racking tension aroused in mankind that the principal leaders of civilization have long been in the habit of dissembling as to their cause (and likelihood) simply in order to preserve public calm and avoid the total breakdown of civil affairs. ...

The Christian, Islamic and Judaic cultures have all moved since the European Renaissance to adopt an unreasoning anti-apocalyptic stance, apparently unaware of the burgeoning science of catastrophes. History, it now seems, is repeating itself: it has taken the Space Age to revive the Platonist voice of reason but it emerges this time within a modern anti-fundamentalist, anti-apocalyptic tradition over which governments may, as before, be unable to exercise control. The logical response is perhaps a commitment on the part of government to the voice of reason and a decision to eliminate all signs as well as perpetrators of cosmic catastrophes in order to appease a public not too far given to rabid uniformitarianism. Cynics ... would say that we do not need the celestial threat to disguise Cold War intentions; rather we need the Cold War to disguise celestial intentions!
We see that the events of those times have been covered up and/or forgotten, for the most part in their historical context.

Long after the event, John Dryden suggested that the comets of 1664 and 1665 were related to the Sun that was seen at the birth of Charles II. He described this apparition as "That bright companion of the sun..."

After the Thirty Years War was over, comets were associated with witches and both were written off as superstition by the protestants who pride themselves on having ushered in the scientific age. Andrew C. Fix, professor of History at LaFayette College, PA, writes:
Blathasar Bekker was a minister in the Dutch Reformed church first in Friesland and then in Holland. He was educated in philosophy and theology at the northern Dutch universities of Groningen and Franeker, becoming a Doctor of Theology at Franeker. Influenced by Cartesian philosophy, he was an important critic of belief in witchcraft in his book De Betoverde Weerld (the World Bewitched) in which he argued against the possibility that disembodied spirits could contact, influence, or do evil to human beings, and thus against the possibility of witchcraft. ...

After writing a work critical of the terrestrial influence of comets Bekker became interested in other popular superstitions including witchcraft and sorcery. He approached these topics from the point of view of a Reformed minister upholding the power and earthly influence of God against the supposed power of witches and spirits. ...

In the discussions around the Sabbath, the earthly effects of comets, and witchcraft Bekker was motivated in part by Cartesian rationalism, in part by his Calvinist idea of God's omnipotence, and in part by his view of Scriptural exegesis, which included the doctrine of accommodation, the idea that God had in some places accommodated his holy language to the limited understandings of men.

In volume one of The World Bewitched Bekker maintained that belief in the Devil and evil spirits as well as in such things as fortune telling, sorcery, and witchcraft were originally pagan beliefs founded upon ignorance, prejudice, and fear that had over time crept into the Catholic church and even into Bekker's own Reformed tradition.

In volume two of the work Bekker applied Cartesian dualism to argue that the material and spiritual worlds could not interact with each other outside man and therefore spirits without bodies such as the Devil could have no influence or effect on people. (Andrew C. Fix: Angels, Devils, and Evil Spirits in Seventeenth-Century Thought: Balthasar Bekker and the Collegiants)
And so it was that records of the phenomena of that time as having any impact on Earthly matters have been explained away, covered up, dismissed, consigned to superstition and "cults."

Note: If anybody can find any clues on the event the general was referring to at the beginning of this article, please forward it to SOTT!