Conrad Lycosthenes

Conrad Lycosthenes. Prodigiorum ac Ostentorum Chronicon. Basel: Henricus Petri, 1557.

This is one of the most remarkable illustrated books of the Renaissance as well as the single early work with the most thoroughgoing illustration of medieval superstition. Its abundance of woodcuts shows a great variety of human monsters as well as beasts and other curious animals, floods, conflagrations, earthquakes, quirky meteorological events, and astronomical happenings like the appearance of comets (including a sighting of Halley's Comet). Of particular visual interest is the startling woodcut of what cannot be described as other than a spaceship (complete with rows of portholes and looking like a deluxe version of Flash Gordon's rocket), supposedly sighted over Arabia in 1497.