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BAA Journal 2018 June

A previously unreported naked-eye sunspot observation: 1604 November

Journal issue: 2018 June
Pages: 175–176

Introduction
The opening years of the 17th century were far from serene in Transylvania. The Austrian Habsburgs and the Hungarian crown, under the protection of the Ottoman empire, fought for control of the principality. In 1603 there was an outbreak of the plague in the town of Sighisoara (German name Schäßburg, Hungarian name Segesvár), killing around 2,000 people. In July of that year Sighisoara was taken by the Habsburg side, and a fierce crackdown followed, including collective punishment. This lasted until a successful Hungarian rebellion in 1604 December.

A forgotten history of those turbulent years appears to contain a reference to a sunspot.

Georg Kraus’s history
Some 40 years later, Sighisoara was home to a lawyer and historian called Georg Kraus (sometimes spelled Krauss). He was born in neighbouring Sibiu (German Hermannstadt, Hungarian Nagyszeben) in 1607, the son of a wealthy merchant. He studied in Cluj, Strasbourg, Vienna and Padua and then travelled in Italy and Malta, before settling in Sighisoara in his mid-twenties. As well as his legal work Kraus wrote historical accounts. One of these, completed in 1646 and written in German, was a history covering the turbulent years 1599 to 1606. It apparently went unnoticed and was not unearthed for publication for almost 200 years.... (continued)

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