September 2017 - Spain, North of Madrid, El Pilar district. UFO intercepted by jet fighter in the sky of Madrid.
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Let's talk about the story written by a literary editor, Luis Bonilla, in the magazine La Estafeta Literaria, published by the prestigious cultural organization Ateneo de Madrid in 1978. It told the story a UFO sighting on January 5, 1433 in Ciudad Rodrigo, seen by the entire court of King Juan (or John) II of Castile (1405-1454), father of the famous Queen Isabella who backed Columbus. The source of the account transcribed by Bonilla was a letter written by a certain Bachelor Fernán Gómez de Cibdarreal, said to have been the physician of the King, to the Royal Chaplain Pedro López de Miranda. Although there is quite a bit of controversy concerning the authenticity of this document, as discussed below, let’s see first its contents.
Fernán Gómez begins his letter to López de Miranda describing briefly how the court had arrived to Ciudad Rodrigo (currently in the province of Salamanca in western Spain) on its way to Madrid. The retinue included a number of important figures like the Bishop of Palencia and the Condestable (Constable) Don Alvaro de Luna, one of the era’s most powerful military leaders.
This is a remarkable letter in that it not only describes the celestial phenomenon quite thoroughly, but adds fascinating philosophical, scientific and sociological attempts to understand it according to the limited knowledge available at the time. The fact that the object made a big noise that scared all the horses and mules would tend to rule out a meteor or a comet. The account is contained in the “Epistle” (or Letter) LV (55) from a book entitled, CENTON EPISTOLARIO DEL BACHILLER FERNAN GOMEZ DE CIBDAREAL, supposedly published in the city of Burgos in 1499. Centón is an old Spanish word for a literary piece composed of another author’s phrases and fragments, like a literary collage or pastiche. The Epistle or Letter LVI (56), addressed to Juan de Mena (1411-1456), a well known Spanish medieval poet, alludes to the same celestial event, although the text was edited out to avoid repeating the same description.
A study by Carmen Fernández-Daza Alvarez of Madrid’s Complutense University, “The Epistolary Centón of Juan Antonio de Vera,” published in the Revista de Filología Románica, 1994-95, discusses all the ins and outs of this affair. It even includes a mention of “a full epistle debating certain cosmetological phenomena that Aristotle had studied and that didn’t seem similar to the balls of fire they had seen.” Fernández-Daza also sketched what she believes to be the way Count of de la Roca forged the 1499 apocryphal edition of the Centón. The Count was the Spanish Ambassador to the Republic of Venice in the 1630s and, according to Fernández-Daza,
The real UFO of 1433
All the experts who questioned the authenticity of the Centón also agreed that, for the most part, the Count of de la Vera utilized real events during the reign of King Juan II to compile the letters of his supposed physician. The main source for this material was the Chronicle of Juan II of Castile, a massive chronological history of his reign beginning with his childhood in 1406 up to his death in 1454, which was compiled and edited by several authors including Alvar García de Santa María and Fernán Pérez de Guzmán.
This book was printed several times in the 16th century, including its first edition of 1517 printed in Logroño, which the Library of Congress calls “one of the masterpieces of early Spanish printing.” Its full title is Cronica del serenisssimo Rey Don Juan Segundo deste nombre (Chronicle of the Most Serene King Don Juan the Second of this name). Unlike the Centón, there is no doubt whatsoever about the authenticity of this book. If we turn to the Table of Contents for “the year of thirty three” (1433), we see Chapter ccxxxvi (236), “Of how when the King left Ciudad Rodrigo, a great flame appeared in the sky, which lasted a long time, and which all that saw it were marveled.
This text clearly confirms that some unusual celestial object was seen in the sky sometime during the day on January 5, 1433. The report adds that the phenomenon lasted for a long while and was followed by a loud roar. The old Spanish league is a unit of measurement roughly equivalent to about 4.2 km or 2.6 miles, which means the UFO roar was heard from a distance of about 16 miles. This was obviously the original text from which the Count of de la Roca added a couple of colorful details like the horses and mules running in fear and all the talk about Aristotle and the viscous matter from the first region of the sky, etc., stuff that a cultivated literary man like Juan Antonio de Vera could have added easily. But the basic report is still valid...
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