What did an eclipse mean in the first thousand years of the Common Era? For some kingdoms it meant a strong and happy age of rule, and for others it meant ill will and terrible disasters to follow. In the case of the solar eclipse known as King Henry I’s Eclipse, it meant both!
In 1133 C.E., King Henry I set sail on a voyage from England. He didn’t know it at the time, but that would be his final departure. A single day after King Henry set out, the sky darkened in the middle of the day as a solar eclipse occurred. While at sea, his men worried and discussed that the eclipse meant something awful would occur in the near future. Sadly, they were right. Once King Henry made his way to Normandy, he passed away shortly after. His men would go on to believe the eclipse must have been the cause.
In an opposite effect, the same eclipse visible in Germany made Duke Frederick victorious in a great battle. As the sky darkened, the German’s understood the occurrence as a sign to expand their territory, and encouraged Duke Frederick to attack the city of Augsburg. Upon attacking the city, Frederick and his army sabotaged the entire area and Frederick claimed the land for himself. Today, we know that eclipses are caused by the proper alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon. But for civilizations of the Medieval Ages, it could change the course of history, for better or for worse.