FAQs by Peter Lemesurier as posted in
1. Who was Nostradamus and when did he live?
2. What form did his prophecies take?
3. How did he do it?
4. Didn't he write in code?
5. Do original copies of the prophecies still exist, and if so where?
6. How far can the various modern editions of them be trusted?
7. What did Nostradamus's contemporaries think of him?
8. Was he persecuted by the Inquisition?
9. Wasn't he buried upright, with a medallion around his neck
predicting when he would be dug up?
10. Do his predictions name names and specify actual dates?
11. How often has Nostradamus been proved right in the past?
12. Did he really predict Hitler?
13. What about the Kennedys and the future nuking of New York?
14. What does the famous '1999' prophecy say?
15. Are there other so-far-unfulfilled prophecies?
16. Does Nostradamus really predict the end of the world?
17. Isn't it true that you can make Nostradamus's prophecies mean
18. How accurate are the various films and videos about him?
19. Where can I reliably find out more?
Who was Nostradamus and when did he live?
A. Michel de Nostredame (1503-66), later known as Nostradamus, was one
of the leading lights of the late French Renaissance. A Jewish-French
contemporary of Paracelsus and England's Dr John Dee, he may (from
1530) have been at medical college with Rabelais. He was certainly
much admired by the poet Ronsard. As a physician he came to specialise
in the Plague, on which he was recognised as one of the foremost
experts: in his 'Traité des fardemens', though, (see below) he frankly
admits that none of his cures actually had much effect on the disease
- not even the blood-letting that some commentators insist that he
never used. He was also famed somewhat as an 'astrologer', but
preferred to call himself an 'astrophile', or 'star-lover'. On his
semi-retirement in around 1550 he turned to writing. Apart from a
highly popular cookbook (actually, a 'Treatise on Cosmetics and
Conserves') and a number of academic works, his main fields were
astrology and prophecy. This brought him into great public prominence,
and he became particularly influential at the French court. He also
invested heavily in local public works - notably the irrigation of the
vast Plaine de la Crau just to the west of his adopted home-town of
Salon-de-Provence, a scheme whose results (like his house in the town)
can still be seen today. Twice married, he had two children by his
first wife Henriette d'Encausse (all three died) and six by his
2. What form did his
A. They comprised:
(a) a series of internationally best-selling annual 'Presages',
'Almanachs' and 'Prognostications' comprising at least 6338
predictions (mainly in prose) for the weather and crop-prospects for
the coming months, along with likely wars, disasters etc. and
(b) a collection of 'Perpetual (i.e. cyclic) Prophecies' designed to
foretell the entire future history of the world up to the year 3797.
These latter (currently the best-known of his prophecies because they
are not tied to particular dates during his lifetime) took the form of
(i) a collection of a thousand prophecies in rhymed four-line
verses, arranged in ten books (or 'Centuries') of a hundred, of which
58 (in Book VII) disappeared before publication -- all of them written
in deliberately obscure language and most of them undated.
(ii) a posthumous collection of 141 dated summary-'Présages'
in verse selected from the 159 in his Almanacs, many of them written
(iii) a further posthumous collection of 58 'Sixains', more
poetic and easy to understand than the rest, which seem to have been
designed to replace the 58 lost verses, but about whose authorship
there is some dispute.
3. How did he do it?
A. Nostradamus hints pretty heavily in his covering 'Letter to King
Henri II' that his primary method involved 'comparative horoscopy' -
i.e. looking up the horoscopes of major past events and calculating
when and on what latitude their major elements would recur. It was
constantly a case of 'another Hannibal', 'another Nero', and so on -
which explains why figures from classical antiquity continually crop
up in his predictions. There is especially frequent evidence of this
in 2(a) above.
In 1594 Chavigny, his former secretary, published a book about the
seer entitled 'the French Janus' -- and Janus was of course the Roman
god who looked both backwards and forwards at once. Chavigny could
scarcely have summed it up more clearly -- though he does not actually
suggest that the title is a description of Nostradamus!
This much was purely mathematical. Nostradamus then seems to have
amplified the results by means of traditional astrology. Finally, he
resorted to theurgy (the ritual summoning-up of 'gods') to obtain
actual names and other oral information (see verses I.1 and I.2). All
of this was of course perfectly allowable under the broad-minded terms
of Renaissance science and scholarship. The hoary old tale that he
possessed some kind of 'magic mirror' to aid him in all this, though,
is simply the result of a misreading of his letter to the King, where
he says that his visions came to him 'comme dans un mirouer ardant'
('as in a burning-mirror' - i.e. a simple, concave mirror for
concentrating the sun's rays, rather like a modern shaving mirror).
This suggests that he tended to 'see' either all detail and no
context, or all context and no detail - and much of it topsy-turvy at
that. The verses tend to bear this out. As for the suggestion in the
well-known film that his visions were the result of ingesting nutmeg,
this (like most of the rest of the film) is the purest speculation -
as, alas, is the popular conviction that he indulged in scrying, using
a bowl of water.
4. Didn't he write in code?
A. No, but he did leave the 'Centuries' in scrambled order, as well as
using deliberately obscure language in them to protect himself from
his more vociferous religious critics (most of them Protestants). This
involved using not only the various linguistic contortions normal in
sixteenth-century verse, but also a sprinkling of homonyms (i.e.
re-spellings) and a large number of imported Greek and Latin words -
to say nothing of Provençal. All this, too, was highly fashionable at
the time: Nostradamus merely pushed it to extremes.
Do original copies of the prophecies still exist, and if so where?
A. Yes. Even the long-lost original 1555 edition was rediscovered and
published in facsimile by Michel Chomarat of Lyon in 1984. Many of the
world's major libraries hold original copies of early editions of his
works (i.e. 1605 and earlier) -- including the Archbishop of
Canterbury's Lambeth Palace in London and the Vatican in Rome. Details
may be found in the 'Bibliographie Nostradamus' and the 'Nostradamus
Encyclopedia' (see below). The bulk of his predictions, however, are
contained in a vast manuscript by his secretary, which has recently
been restored in Paris and researched and reprinted in part by Bernard
Chevignard, Professor of Languages and Communications at the
University of Bourgogne, in his 'Présages de Nostradamus' (Editions du
Seuil, 1999), which contains many actual facsimiles.
How far can the various modern editions of the Propheties be
A. Not very far. Most of them rely on late and very corrupt editions.
Their attempted word-for-word translations (not a recommended way of
approaching translation at the best of times, and certainly not one
espoused by Nostradamus himself in his translations of others -
though, curiously, some Group members insist that this is the only
valid way of approaching him!) are often full of elementary
schoolboy/schoolgirl howlers, suggesting that their authors were not
best qualified to undertake the job in the first place. Their would-be
interpretations are generally highly skewed and arbitrary, and
characterised by extreme credulity, paranoia and obviously
preconceived agendas. Moreover, you wouldn't guess from most of them
that Nostradamus was writing poetry, not legal documents.
did Nostradamus's contemporaries think of him?
A. The local Catholic peasantry viewed him with suspicion and (in an
age of almost apocalyptic religious warfare) thought he might be some
kind of Protestant. The Church was interested, though sometimes a
little suspicious. His books were avidly devoured by the reading
public (around 90% of whom could reportedly read at the time). The
Court, under Queen Catherine de Médicis, quickly became besotted with
him (especially - according to his son César some 55 years later ,at
least - after his apparently successful prediction at I.35 of her
husband the King's death in 1559), to the point where foreign
ambassadors were reporting home that it had become overcome by a kind
of Nostradamania and implying that this precluded all sensible
dialogue for the duration.
8. Was he persecuted by
A. No - though he was once reportedly summoned before the Inquisition
of Toulouse to explain a possibly heretical remark that probably had
more to do with his wry sense of humour than with his beliefs. In fact
he was extremely pious (he seems to have had reformist, Franciscan
sympathies, which may have been the reason for his allegedly heretical
remark, which seems to have been about a statue of the Virgin Mary!),
and his relations with the Church were always good. Despite frequent
modern statements and a Britannica article to the contrary, his books
were never placed on the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books, though
various of them did regularly appear on the Spanish equivalent.
Wasn't he buried upright, with a medallion around his neck
predicting when he would be dug up?
A. No. There is no historical evidence for either story. The site of
his original burial can, however, be visited by eating at the
Resaurant 'La Brocherie', in the Rue D'Hozier at Salon, which still
incorporates part of the 13th century Franciscan chapel.
Do his predictions name names and specify actual dates?
A. Yes and no. They certainly name Franco (IX.16) and apparently
Napoleon (VIII.1) and De Gaulle (IX.33). Possibly they name Pasteur --
though the reference (I.25) could simply be to an unidentified
shepherd or bishop. 'Chyren' (referred to 6 times) almost certainly
does not refer, as many French would like to believe, to President
Jacques ChirAC, and it remains to be seen whether the famous 'Mabus'
prediction at II.62 really refers by name to the former US ambassador
to Riyadh, Raymond E Mabus or merely to the 16th century painter Jan
Gossaert de Mabuse. Many others are certainly 'named', but only as
'another Hercules', 'another Hannibal' etc. (see 3. above). As for
dates, a few of these are specified in clear language (X.72's
prediction for 1999 is probably the most famous), while a number
(especially in the 'Sixains') seem to refer to a special 'liturgical
count' (see VI.54) based on the establishment of Christianity as the
mandatory Roman religion in November 392 and the consequent imposition
of St Ambrose's newly promulgated Canon of the Mass as the core of the
Church's liturgy. A somewhat larger number bear astrological
signatures that tend to recur on a cyclic basis, and so could help to
pinpoint the date of the next fulfilment, or the one after that . . .
How often has Nostradamus been proved right in the past?
A. Estimates vary. Most commentators seem to think that around half of
his predictions in the Centuries have been fulfilled so far. The
trouble is that they disagree about just which predictions apply to
which events (see 17. below). The result is that, taken overall, one
would have to say that the number of agreed bull's-eyes so far is
probably rather less than 10%. Certainly such of his Presages as were
specific seem to have turned out to be largely wrong at the time --
their success-rate seems tohave been about 5.73%!
12. Did he really predict
A. Probably, but only anonymously. At IX.90. for example, he refers to
'a captain of Greater Germany' in terms that seem to fit. The
celebrated tradition, though, (much espoused by the late Erika
Cheetham) that he actually names the former Führer is extremely
dubious. The name 'Hister' (with old, long 's') is used three times in
the 'Centuries' and (as 'Ister') twice in the 'Présages' -- but on two
of the former three occasions it is coupled with the river Rhine. In
fact, 'Hister' was the classical name for the river Danube (which is
indubitably what the word refers to in the 'Présages', where
Nostradamus himself specifically says so), and so there can really be
little doubt that the word refers to the river, not the man (Danube
and Rhine at one time formed the NE frontier of the Roman Empire).
Don't tell Erika, though, that in IV.68 of the second (1557) edition
the word is actually misprinted 'hilter'!
What about the Kennedys and the future nuking of New York?
A. This recent tradition likewise owes much to Erika Cheetham.
Nostradamus does admittedly refer on a number of occasions to 'three
brothers', but in terms that generally suggest that he is actually
talking about the leaders of three allied nations in a future
Muslim/Christian conflict, not a single dynasty. Besides, Edward
hasn't been obliging enough to get himself assassinated yet. Much the
same applies to the alleged nuking of New York. The city is in fact
never named: the widespread tradition (especially popular, curiously
enough, among Americans) derives from VI.97, where a 'grand cite
neufve' on latitude 45 degrees is attacked with fire from the sky.
Since New York city lies well to the south of this, New Yorkers can
sleep soundly in their beds again. The reference is clearly to some
town or city that, like Naples (< Greek 'Neapolis'), is actually NAMED
'New City' (this substitution-procedure is perfectly normal in
Nostradamus): Villanova d'Asti in Italy and Villeneuve-sur-Lot in
France are geographically the best candidates.
14. What does the
famous '1999' prophecy say?
A. Transcribed into modern lettering, its original, 1568 text reads:
L'an mil neuf cens nonante neuf sept mois
Du ciel viendra un grand Roy deffraieur
Resusciter le grand Roy d'Angolmois.
Avant apres Mars regner par bon heur.
You can obtain a facsimile of the original edition of this from
by selecting Century10, verse 72.
Whatever this verse is about, it is not (as most translations claim -
to much justified public alarm) 'a great King of terror'. Not as it
stands, at least. The last word in line 2, which only acquired an
apostrophe (thus making it 'd'effraieur') in relatively corrupt
subsequent editions, means 'defraying', 'paying up' (i.e. a provider)
or even 'buying off'.
For reference, please compare the following:
"Parochus...Vng deffraieur, qui nous fournist
de tout ce qu'il nous fault par les chemins." (Estienne,
Dictionarium Latinogallicum, 1st edition,1538)
[Or in English: 'Parochus (purveyor)... A provider/host who furnishes
us with everything that we need for the road'. Note the spelling
'deffraieur' - exactly the same as in the original version of verse
X.72 of only 30 years later]
"Parochus...Un deffrayeur, qui nous fournist de tout ce qu'il nous
fault par les chemins." (Estienne, Dictionarium Latinogallicum, 3rd
"Defrayeur: m. A Cater, or Steward; one that in a
iourney furnishes, and defrayes the prouision, and expence of the
whole companie." (Cotgrave, 1611)
This could almost suggest the meaning 'host'...
"de.fray vt [MF deffrayer, fr. des- de- + frayer to expend, fr. OF,
fr. (assumed) OF frai expenditure, lit., damage by breaking, fr. L
fractum, neut. of fractus, pp. of frangere to break--more at break]
(1536) 1: to provide for the payment of: pay 2 archaic: to bear the
expenses of -- de.fray.able adj -- de.fray.al n"
Copyright (c) 1994 Merriam-Webster, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The expression 'du ciel' ('of/from heaven' or 'of/from the sky')
suggests, as elsewhere in the Propheties, that this big-spending or
even appeasing ruler has some kind of divine authority. Far from being
some kind of Antichrist, then, the figure concerned looks rather like
the Pope himself, or at least like some divinely appointed king.
My original application of Nostradamus's usual technique of
comparative horoscopy to the verse (please see section 28 of FAQ C)
suggested that a possible historical match was with the visit of the
future Pope Gregory the Great to Constantinople in 578 AD onwards to
seek help from the Roman Emperor against the Lombards who were then
invading Italy. Five planets, after all, were in the same signs on
both occasions The prophecy therefore seemed to be about a modern Pope
-- apparently the present one -- who would engage in an unsuccessful
effort to buy off future invaders of Europe at some point during
July/August 1999. The horoscopy suggested that this might occur on the
latitude of Sarajevo. Perhaps as a result, the former war would then
flare up again.
My earlier translation therefore read:
When 1999 is seven months o'er
Shall Heaven's great Ruler, anxious to appease,
Stir up the Mongol-Lombard king once more
And war reign haply where it once did cease.
Curiously, an important meeting of 40 world leaders was indeed
convened in Sarajevo on 30th July 1999 to attempt to bring about and
finance a lasting peace in the war-torn Balkans -- but one who was
conspicuous by his absence was, alas ... the Pope!
However, the above explanation did seem just a little on the
convoluted side -- whereas Nostradamus's approach is usually pretty
Recent research courtesy of Jo, however, has come up with a match that
is much more direct and convincing.
The magnificent King François I of France, after all...
"...also called (until 1515) FRANCIS OF ANGOULÊME, French FRANÇOIS
D'ANGOULÊME (b. Sept. 12, 1494, Cognac, Fr.--d. March 31, 1547,
Rambouillet), king of France (1515-47), the first of five monarchs of
the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois..."
[Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica]
... was by definition, for Nostradamus, 'the great King from
Angoumois', of which Angoulême is and was the capital. After a
brilliant early reign, he was captured by the Imperial forces of the
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in February 1525 at the disastrous battle
of Pavia (when Nostradamus was still wandering the countryside as an
apothecary), and was imprisoned in a dismal tower in Madrid, where he
moped, wrote songs and poems, and became gravely ill with an abscess
in the head. There were national prayers for his recovery, and the
Archbishop of Tournon even came and said mass over him. Eventually a
treaty was signed for his release in January 1526, on terms which
eventually included the handing over of his two sons as hostages (one
of them the future Henri II), a promise to send troops to help the
Emperor wage war on the Muslim Ottomans, and the payment of a huge
ransom amounting to some 7 tons of gold, which nearly ruined the
kingdom. Thereafter, he spent his life in constant and increasing
ill-health as a result of syphilis, and virtually on the run from the
Emperor's agents, while the Emperor plundered Italy and even captured
the Pope. Nevertheless, François managed to build all sorts of
fairytale castles, found the port of Le Hâvre, send Jacques Cartier to
Canada, reform the judicial system, moderate the religious feuds that
were by then breaking out, found the Collège de France, and decree the
use of French in all legal documents.
And it was François's truly traumatic imprisonment and release that
provided the real match.
For, having duly looked up the planetary positions for that period, as
Jo suggested, I discovered that in August 1525 (Julian) there was
indeed a good match with July 1999 -- namely:
1525 14th to 23rd August:
Jupiter in Taurus
Mars in Scorpio
Venus in Virgo
Mercury in Leo
Moon from Cancer to Scorpio
Latitude (to nearest degree): 40 degrees N (Madrid, capital of
Solar noon declination (to nearest degree): 10 degrees N to 7
1999 13th to 23rd July:
Jupiter in Taurus
Mars in Scorpio
Venus in Virgo
Mecury in Leo
Moon from Cancer to Scorpio
Solar noon declination (to nearest degree): 22 degrees N to 20
Thus, relative latitude: 12 degrees N to 13 degrees N
Therefore new latitude: 52 degrees N to 53 degrees N
Possible location (capital city): Amsterdam, Berlin or Warsaw
Unusually, there was no sun-match, though.
So what does this mean? After all, the future period that is
pinpointed (NOT the original planetary configuration!) does fall more
or less within the period covered by HIS July (our 14th July to 13th
August). [However, for those interested, the period actually
pinpointed doesn't include our 11th August, with its solar eclipse!]
So who was the original 'great heavenly defraying king'? The Pope at
the time, whose court was certainly lavish? Or the Archbishop of
Tournon, whose bedside ministrations during his captivity in Madrid
apparently helped save François from death, even if they didn't
actually restore him to immediate health? Or Charles V, who had of
course been elected HOLY ROMAN Emperor (and would be crowned as such
by the Pope himself), who was acting as François's 'host' at the time,
and who agreed to his release? Or even the 'divinely appointed'
François himself, who was certainly a spendthrift?...
My guess is that it was in fact Charles V, who was by definition
'heaven's king' (he was King of Germany and Spain as well as Holy
Roman Emperor), was currently spending money on arms and armies as if
there were no tomorrow -- and was François's 'host' to boot . At the
same time, though, he was a real bogeyman for the French, so that in
the possible subtext 'deffraieur' could also be hinting at 'frightful'
('d'effraieur'), as well as at the more obvious and literal
'defraying' or even 'spendthrift'.
The details of what happened at Madrid during the period in question
are in fact as follow:
Aparently King François arrived in his Madrid prison in early August,
but by mid-August had fallen gravely ill -- severely depressed,
anorexic, persistent fever, total apathy, plus nasal abscess -- to the
point where the doctors actually gave up.
On the evening of the 18th Charles V visited him in person. They
embraced tearfully, protested their friendship. Charles made various
By 22nd August the king was in a semi-coma. They gave him the last
Then, suddenly, he recovered -- the abscess burst, the fever subsided,
the king recalled Charles's tearful protestations...
Ergo, the 'grand Roy du ciel' (i.e. the Holy Roman Emperor, who had
been sanctioned by heaven in the person of the Pope) had apparently
'resuscitated' the 'grand Roy d'Angolmois'.
And the comparative horoscopy of X.72, you will recall, pinpoints
17-23 August 1525. The exact period involved!
Moreover, as a final piece of the jigsaw, it turns out that François
was finally released on 17th March 1526, so suggesting that the word
'Mars' in the last line refers not to war, as has so often been
supposed in the past (not least by myself!), but simply to the month
So this information now provides the context for a much more informed
translation than has hitherto been possible, though it will also need
to cater for the two possible senses of 'deffraieur' -- the literal
and the merely hinted at. I would therefore suggest:
When 1999 is seven months o'er
Shall heaven's great King -- albeit a dread host, he --
Restore the King from Angoumois once more,
Ere -- after March -- he'll reign propitiously.
The puzzling last line, in other words, is merely Nostradamus's
compressed version of:
Avant (apres Mars) qu'il regne par bon heur.
What verse X.72 really seems to be predicting then, is that at some
point between 13th and 23rd July 1999 (or shortly thereafter) a ruler
who has been imprisoned and/or removed from office (and who has
possibly fallen ill) will be restored by a redoubtable and/or
spendthrift rival (possibly a powerful politician and/or financial
figure) in either Amsterdam, Berlin or Warsaw (possibly in exchange
for support against Muslim powers), and that from March 2000 he will
rule with great good fortune.
Well, I hesitate to be too dogmatic about this -- but at the metting
of European Heads of State held in Berlin in March 1999 Romano Prodi,
former Prime Minister of Italy, was selected as the next President of
the European Commission (i.e. effectively, Prime Minister of Europe),
to replace the disgraced Jacques Santer. His main proposers were Tony
Blair and Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of Germany. Prodi presented his
cabinet on July 9 1999, they first met near Antwerp (on 51 degrees 13'
North!) on July 17, and were duly confirmed in office by the European
Parliament on 15 September.
Now please refer again to the above!
One of Prodi's main sponsors at the meeting in Berlin (note!) last
March (note again!) was Chancellor Schröder -- who, as ruler of
Germany and the most powerful man in Europe, of course fulfills the
self-same role as the former Charles V (who was King of Germany among
other things), as well as being the main contributor to the European
budget, too ('deffraieur').
He it is, then, whom the prediction seems to see as calling back from
the wilderness Romano Prodi who -- like François I, as it happens! --
formerly ruled in Italy and was then removed from power there, but
who, from July (note yet again!), will (democracy permitting!) become
President of the European Commission. So it is that, from March 2000
he will (if the prediction is correct) start to run his much larger
empire with notable success...
The fit between the events of 1525/6 and those of the present time,
then -- as indicated by the comparative horoscopy -- seems to be
remarkable. Moreover, if it is valid, it possibly gives us a powerful
hint that the 'comparative horoscopy' method is the correct one to use
when trying to decipher the Propheties.
If so, then the best approach to interpreting any given quatrain would
appear to be:
(a) After locating the earliest possible edition of it, work out what
the 16th century French means (WITHOUT feeding in any ideas as to what
event it *might* be about).
(b) Find and verify the ancient event on which it appears originally
to have been based.
(c) Use (b) to help sort out any obvious ambiguities or misprints in
the original text.
(d) Refine your version of it accordingly (still WITHOUT feeding in
any ideas as to what the prophecy's fulfilment might be), possibly
adding any further refinements (e.g. geographical ones) that any
clearly related verses seem to suggest.
(e) Use comparative horoscopy (see FAQ C, section 28) to work out when
and at what latitudes the event ought -- generically, at least --
theoretically to be repeated (there may be several!). [In the case of
X.72, Nostradamus has already done part of this for you!]
(f) Strictly on this basis, identify and describe the likely
fulfilment (NOW you can associate it with a known or expected event,
if you like -- IF there is one that fits in all respects!).
15. Are there
other so-far-unfulfilled prophecies?
A. As indicated above, around half of the prophecies are generally
supposed to be 'still unfulfilled' - which doesn't of course
necessarily mean that they actually WILL be fulfilled.
Does Nostradamus really predict the end of the world?
A. No. In fact he never mentions the idea in his 'Propheties', though
he does sometimes allude vaguely to its imminence in the Presages.
True, he does seem to indicate that there will be some kind of
Apocalypse or Last Judgement. He also states quite specifically in his
prefatory letter to his son César, however, that his prophecies are
designed to cover the history of the world up to the year 3797 --
which presumably means that the world will still be here then (always
assuming that he is counting from the same point as everyone else).
Whether that represents some kind of finality, though, is not stated.
The standard cosmological model of the time had the world ending in
1800 or 1887, but Nostradamus seems to have stretched this model in
such a way as to give a theoretical terminal date of 4722 (see FAQ B).
Isn't it true that you can make Nostradamus's prophecies mean
A. Yes, if you take them in isolation, and especially if you insist on
treating even Nostradamus's plain-language statements as if they were
in some kind of arcane code (an approach which in fact has no
evidential basis and tends to reveal only what is in the interpreter's
own mind). The prophecies are like the scattered pieces of a jig-saw
puzzle. There is no hope of determining what any individual piece
means until you have completed the puzzle and thus established the
context in which it fits. There is even less hope of doing so if you
insist that the design on each piece is really a blind for an
underlying picture which only you have seen. For interpretational
purposes, therefore, this means that each verse has (a) to be taken to
mean precisely what it says (allowing for obvious homonyms, anagrams
etc.) and (b) to be placed in the context of the other verses that go
with it. This is not impossible. Most verses seem to have a 'pair',
while others have whole groups of 'partners' that are fairly obvious -
whether on the basis of subject-matter, vocabulary, place-names, named
characters or references to other events ('before this', 'after
that'). Identifying the historical events on which each prediction is
based can prove even more helpful. Unfortunately, most existing
interpretations do not even attempt any of this: these can generally
be identified by the fact that they simply attempt to analyse the
verses in numerical order, or (conversely) attempt to apply isolated
bits of verses selectively. Such interpretations are therefore best
avoided, as are ones that are obviously credulous, paranoid or skewed
towards preconceived agendas.
How accurate are the various films and videos about him?
A. Not at all, for the most part. The Maison de Nostradamus at Salon
(see below) has produced a reasonably reliable video, but this is
fairly limited in scope. Virtually all the rest are ludicrously
inaccurate - though 'The Man Who Saw Tomorrow' (Warner), narrated by
Orson Welles, is at least well produced, if heavily Cheetham-based.
19. Where can I reliably
find out more?
A. Apart from 'The Secrets of Nostradamus' (Century, 1997; ISBN 0 7126
7710 0) by David Ovason (republished in paperback as 'The Nostradamus
Code'), no general book on Nostradamus existed in English until
recently that could be regarded as historically and textually reliable
- and even Ovason's book deals only with a hundred or so quatrains.
The best of the earlier ones is probably James Laver's 'Nostradamus,
Or The Future Foretold' (Mann, 1942-81 [ISBN 0 7041 0202 1]), but this
is already badly out of date. The truly authoritative work is in
French - Dr Edgar Leroy's 'Nostradamus: ses origines, sa vie, son
oeuvre' (Lafitte, 1993 [ISBN 2 86276 231 8]), which also exists in
paperback - but even this is becoming dated. The most up-to-date
research into Nostradamus' prophecies generally is contained in
Bernard Chevignard's 'Présages de Nostradamus' (Editions du Seuil,
1999). The latest and most reliable work on his astrology is contained
in the late Pierre Brind'Amour's 'Nostradamus Astrophile'
(Lincksieck/Univ. of Ottawa Presses, 1993) , and possibly the most
reliable analysis of the first-edition verses (1.1 to IV.53) in the
same author's 'Nostradamus: Les Premières Centuries' (Droz, 1996) --
but both, like Chevignard's work, are of course also in French. Even
James Randi's characteristically sceptical 'The Mask of Nostradamus'
(Prometheus, 1993) contains - for all its many errors of detail - far
more up to date, correct information on the seer than most of the
popular books in English put together!
Complete details of all the earliest editions (including their present
whereabouts) are to be found in the splendid 'Bibliographie
Nostradamus' by Michel Chomarat and Dr Jean-Paul Laroche (Koerner,
1989 [3 87320 123 2]) and in Robert Benazra's 'Répertoire
Chronologique Nostradamique (1545-1989)' (La Grande Conjonction, 1990
[2-85707-418-2]). Both of these last are available from the Maison de
Nostradamus at Salon (see details below). Peter Lemesurier's
comprehensive English 'Nostradamus Encyclopedia' appeared in the UK
and Australia in October 1997 (Thorsons), and its American edition (St
Martin's Press, NY) shortly afterwards.
As far as the vital texts are concerned:
(a) The exquisite original 1555 (Bonhomme) edition (verses I.1 to
IV.53, plus Preface to César) was rediscovered and republished in
facsimile by Michel Chomarat in 1984, but is now out of print: your
best plan is to bribe somebody who has it to photocopy it for you.
(b) The original Du Rosne 1557 edition recently discovered by our own
Wouter Weyland in the Utrecht University Library is not yet available,
but the rather more scruffy, but none the less informative and
probably pirated edition from the Széchényi National Library at
Budapest (verses I.1 to VII.40, plus Preface to César) is available in
facsimile (quoted ISBN 2 908 185 20 2] from Editions Michel Chomarat,
160 rue Vendôme, F - 69003, Lyon, France, or from the Maison de
Nostradamus, rue Nostradamus, 13300 Salon-de-Provence, France. Send
for an order form.
(c) The complete 1568 (Benoist Rigaud) edition of the 'Centuries'
(minus Preface to César and Letter to Henri II) is transcribed fairly
reliably in Erika Cheetham's 'The Final Prophecies of Nostradamus'
(Futura, 1989 [ISBN 0 7088 4333 6]/Perigree, 1989), though 'reliable'
is unfortunately the last word that should be applied to her
accompanying translations or (consequently) her interpretations. A
facsimile of it can now be obtained from the Maison de Nostradamus.
(d) Many of the Présages and Sixains (1605) are to be found in
Jean-Charles de Fontbrune's 'Nostradamus 1' and 'Nostradamus 2' (Pan,
1984; Henry Holt [ISBN 0 330 28062 7]/Owl, NY, 1987 [ISBN of Vol 2: 0
8050 0599 4]), albeit with 'translations' that are more in the nature
of highly skewed interpretations. The original texts of all the
Présages (as well as of the Centuries and both letters in the 1568
edition) are also included in Edgar Leoni's wonderfully
comprehensive'Nostradamus and his Prophecies' [see FAQs(EL)] and in
John Hogue's massive 'Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies' [see
FAQs(JH)]. Verse-translations of many of the Sixains may be found in
Peter Lemesurier's 'Nostradamus: the Final Reckoning' (Piatkus, 1995
[ISBN 0 7499 1303 7]/Berkley Books, NY, 1996 [ISBN 0 425 15610 9]),
and all the above French texts are represented in his English
'Nostradamus Encyclopedia' (see above).
(e) Online facsimiles of all the above Nostradamian texts can be found
on Mario's Website at:
(f) Books I-IV of the 6338 presages in verse and in prose collected by
Nostradamus's secretary Chavigny can be found in the immensely
scholarly 'Présages de Nostradamus' by Bernard Chevignard (Editions du
Seuil, 1999 [2-02-035960-X], which can be obtained either through
normal commercial channels or via the Maison de Nostradamus.
(g) A version of Nostradamus's cookbook - i.e. Part 2 of the 'Traité
des fardemens et des confitures' - can be obtained from the Maison de
Nostradamus (see above) under the title 'Traité des confitures':
however, the original book's purported English translation, 'The
Elixirs of Nostradamus' (Bloomsbury, 1995) is not recommended if you
are planning to apply it, as many of the items in what is a
translation of a revision of a translation are (not surprisingly)
mistranslated, and could possibly poison you. Also available from the
same French outlet in Salon are his 'Orus Apollo' -- a curious and
highly flawed work in verse on Egyptian hieroglyphs that is also
-- and various other publications including a facsimile of his 1565
letter to Queen Catherine de Médicis as printed and published in the
year of his death, 1566. Once again, send for an order form.
English-language books can be obtained either from your local bookshop
or, via the Web, from http://www.amazon.com
(for US editions) or
http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.bookshop.co.uk