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Napoleon's and Tecumseh's comet 1811

The Great Comet of 1811, formally designated C/1811 F1, is a comet that was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days, a record it held until the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. There were no medal made at the time, that is no wonder because Europe burned in the Napoleonic War. And when the war was over in 1814, the memory of the comet has not yet faded away.

The Great Comet of 1811 seems to have had no particular impact on astronomers, but the artists' world adverted to it. Tolstoy at the end of second book of in his work War and Peace wrote about the comet:  It was clear and frosty. Above the dirty, ill-lit streets, above the black roofs, stretched the dark starry sky. Only looking up at the sky did Pierre cease to feel how sordid and humiliating were all mundane things compared with the heights to which his soul had just been raised. At the entrance to the Arbat Square an immense expanse of dark starry sky presented itself to his eyes. Almost in the center of it, above the Prechistenka Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all sides by stars but distinguished from them all by its nearness to the earth, its white light, and its long uplifted tail, shone the enormous and brilliant comet of 1812 - the comet which was said to portend all kinds of woes and the end of the world. In Pierre, however, that comet with its long luminous tail aroused no feeling of fear. On the contrary he gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears, at this bright comet which, having traveled in its orbit with inconceivable velocity through immeasurable space, seemed suddenly- like an arrow piercing the earth- to remain fixed in a chosen spot, vigorously holding its tail erect, shining and displaying its white light amid countless other scintillating stars. It seemed to Pierre that this comet fully responded to what was passing in his own softened and uplifted soul, now blossoming into a new life.

Well it might be that Pierre heated by the love "gazed joyfully, his eyes moist with tears, at this bright comet", but common talk treated the appearance of comet of 1811 as sign of Napoleon's campaign against Russia and the war of 1812. How much seriously have the comet been thought portentous sign, might be represented by the medal, which was made in 1814, when the coalition troops invaded Paris as a final step of the Napoleonic Wars.

comet above ParisPrince Talleyrand - who is considered a traitor of Napoleon - hands over the key of Paris to Tsar of Russian Empire, Alexander I the leader of the invading Russian troops (on both sides). In the three stars above the portal capital letters can be seen. On the left, W indicates Prussian King Frederick William III. , in the center F. means Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary, on the right side A marks Alexander I. They were the rulers of the winning coalition. On the left side a comet is going down. Neither in 1814, nor in 1813 was a naked eye comet visible, so what justifies its appearance on this medal. The explanation can be the comet of 1811, which portended the invasion of Russia, and even capture of Moscow. So many people had associated the comet with Napoleon, and now when Paris was fallen a fall-down comet represented the declining power of Napoleon. There are other victory medals of this time too, but only on this a comet is visible. Perhaps not too far-fetched explanation that this medal image is due to comet of 1811 that's still living in the artist 's imagination. The legend on the coin is "DIE DEUTSCHEN BRÜDER FÜR FRIEDEN U. VATERLAND SIEGER", below: "IN PARIS DEN 31 MAERZ 1814" that is the German brothers fighting for freedom and the homeland were the winners in Paris March 31, 1814.comet over Paris reverse

On the reverse we find the effigy of two victorious generals and over their heads are the names: BLÜCHER and SCHWARZENBERG. Legend outside:  "DES DEUTSCHEN VOLKS UNSTERBLICHE HELDEN UND ZIERDEN" that is immortal and honorable heroes of the German people. Inside sites of battles that were  successfully fought by the coalition armies: "KATZBACH MÖCKERN LEIPZIG BRIENE LAON KULM LEIPZ BARSURAUBE FERECHAMP. MONTM", as it shown the last battle was at Montmart, which resulted in revenue of Paris. The medal is made of tin, 38 mm in diameter.

The comet was discovered March 25, 1811 by Honoré Flaugergues. After being obscured for several days by moonlight, it was also found by Jean-Louis Pons on April 11, while Franz Xaver, Baron Von Zach was able to confirm Flaugergues' discovery the same night.

In the work Az üstökösök (The comets, Hungarian) the author Dr. Wodetzky József writes about this comet: "The tail was 90 million km long, however the apparent length of only 25°, since the comet was separated by vast distances from us. The comet nucleus seemed blurred bright disk, which was surrounded by a darker ring and only then followed by the coma, which continued into the huge tail.  The comet's orbit computed by Argelander was found an ellipse, which the comet runs in 3,065 years with error up to 45 year. Herz latest calculations showed the orbital period 3010 years."

A proof technique silver medal that was released 200 years later in 2011 is a good example that the comet was not observed only in Europe.

comet 1811-2011comet 1811-2011 reverseOn the obverse an Indian warrior, Tecumseh watching the comet travelling through the sky. The legend "THE GREAT COMET OF 1811", , below "ONE DOLLAR". On the reverse of the coin we find the issuer: "THE SOVEREIGN NATION OF THE SHAWNEE TRIBE" below is the release date 2011.

The story is the following. In March 1811 a comet appeared. Tecumseh, whose name meant "Shooting Star" or "Panther Across The Sky" was traveling throughout the Southeast to build alliances with the tribes. He told the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and many others that the comet signaled his coming. It was reported that Tecumseh would prove that the Great Spirit had sent him by giving them a sign. Shortly after Tecumseh left the Southeast, the "sign" arrived in the form of a major earthquake. During the next year, tensions between colonists and the Native Americans rose quickly. This lovely medal commemorates the comet and Tecumseh.