Numerous black clouds appeared around the Sun, similar to those we see during major storms; shortly thereafter, other clouds of blood and fire emerged from the Sun, and yet others yellow as saffron. From these clouds came luminous effects like big, high and broad hats, and the earth itself appeared yellow, bloody, and covered with high and broad hats that took various colors such as red, blue, green, and most of them black.
About the sun many dark clouds appeared, such as we are wont to see during great storms: and soon afterward have come from the sun other clouds, all fiery and bloody, and others, yellow as saffron. Out of these clouds have come forth reverberations resembling large, tall and wide hats, and the earth showed itself yellow and bloody, and seemed to be covered with hats, tall and wide, which appeared in various colors such as red, blue, green, and most of them black.
In the town of Altorf in the country of Wurttemberg in Germany, one league away from the town of Tübingen, on the fifth day of last December, in the year 1577, at around seven o’clock in the morning, when the sun was beginning to rise, there was seen not its natural brightness and splendor… All around the sun there appeared many black clouds, of the kind we are accustomed to see when there is a great storm, and soon after there came from the sun other clouds, all bloody and fiery, and others as yellow as saffron. From these clouds emerged diffusions of light resembling great high and wide hats, and all the earth showed itself to be yellow and bloody, and seemed to be covered (?) in hats, high and large. These hats appeared in many colors, such as red, blue, green, and for the most part black.
I’m not very confident in the word translated as “covered,” which in the original is given as touuerte, a word I haven’t been able to find defined or even used elsewhere. I believe that Vallée has read it as couverte (“covered”), but I can’t find a version that uses a “t.” So, I decided to look at a different edition to see what the word is, but scanned 1598 copy on the Bibliothèque nationale de France website has the first half of the word lopped off!
The bigger issue, though, is that in none of the various iterations does Vallée explain that he has excerpted a few lines from several pages of discussion of wonders associated with this strange light show, all tied to various weird dark clouds that resembled soldiers. The French author says that two suns appeared in the sky, one red and one yellow, before the sky cleared and more weird clouds arrived. Given the tone and tenor of the work—whose original author was dead long before this passage was added to his book—it would seem to be a heavily exaggerated account of some atmospheric phenomena like sun dogs.
The answer probably lies in a 1578 edition of Schrockliche Newe Zeitung from which the French version derives, housed at the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, in the Wickiana collection. Vallée and Aubeck note this themselves, but do not consult the original. The Swiss were kind enough to make it available online, and although it’s too small for me to see the German text, the illustration, made months after the fact by an artist who knew only the written account, speaks volumes!