A meteor streaked over the UK’s skies last week, just a few days after Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled England for 70 years, passed away and was succeeded as monarch by her son.
Modern society is aware that this is only a coincidence of timing and that given how frequently items fall from the sky, any interpretation is possible. Perhaps it is a portent of a lucky Bin Day, for example. But in earlier times, these were frequently interpreted as portents of doom for kings and their thrones. Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin’s recreation of medieval Britain with the addition of dragons, even included a red comet that was visible over Westeros shortly after the conflict after the death of the King began.
Numerous reports from the actual Middle Ages describe how fireballs in the sky were interpreted as dreadful omens, and how occurrences were frequently attributed to the sign after the fact. Let’s look at some earlier “unlucky” British kings to understand what King Charles III might be facing.
King Harold and the Comet of Halley: The Bayeux Tapestry’s depiction of Halley’s Comet is one of the most well-known instances. On January 6th, 1066, Harold is installed as the new king of England. Soon later, the comet is spotted, and fearful people point at it and interpret it as a bad omen.
Although stories from the time claim that Harold was killed by being stabbed through the chest, having his head severed, having his intestines “liquified” with a spear, and having his thigh severed and taken “some distance” away, the rest of the tapestry depicts him being shot in the eye. Which, we suppose, does result in a less attractive tapestry.
Edgar the Peaceful and the unlucky comet: Edgar the Peaceful ruled England beginning in 959 CE. As his name implies, his rule was largely tranquil. A comet was spotted traveling overhead in 975, the final year of his reign, and it was interpreted as a harbinger of impending famine and his demise.
The star that wise men from all over the world and lovers of the truth and heavenly knowledge refer to by the name “cometa” was also visible, high in the heavens “According to a 10th-century story. “Then, God’s wrath was widely dispersed throughout the region, and starvation ravaged the hills.
May the angelic splendor, who guards heaven, prevent these evils and restore our happiness so that everyone on our joyous island might enjoy the wealth that comes from the earth’s best fruits.
The following year witnessed some horrible governance as well as a famine that was attributed to the innocent comet that was doing its own business while hurling its way across space.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles state that “in this year Edward, Edgar’s son, succeeded to the kingdom; and then shortly after, in the same year, at harvest, “cometa” the star appeared; and then followed in the following year a very severe famine and very many commotions among the English people.”
The year that the Thames dried up: A series of unfortunate and unrelated occurrences were attributed to a comet in 1114 CE.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicle mentions “this year, in the latter end of May, was seen an extraordinary star with a lengthy train, glowing several nights,” and goes on to attribute it to the weather and the demise of an archbishop. “In this year as well, the tide was so strong everywhere in one day that no one had ever experienced it before; as a result, people rode and walked across the Thames east of London Bridge.
In October of this year, there were extremely violent winds, and Thomas, the Archbishop of York, passed away.
And right now, we’re waiting to discover what this innocent space pebble might be blamed for. Naturally, it might not be an alien rock. If it ends up being space debris, that’s a completely different portent.