|X.72 King of Terror - Counterpoint
by Peter Lemesurier
Q. What does the famous '1999'
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 clicking on its section 14,
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)
"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 (q.v.) to the verse suggested that a possible
historical match was with the visit of the future Pope Gregory the
Great to Constantinople in 578 AD 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 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. However, while this 'fitted', the
necessary explanation did seem just a little on the convoluted side --
whereas Nostradamus's approach is usually pretty direct.
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) 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
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 north
Therefore new latitude: 52 degrees N to 53 degrees north.
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, it doesn't after all 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 saved François from death, even if they didn't actually
restore him to immediate health? Or Charles V, who was of course HOLY
ROMAN Emperor, 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), and was currently spending money on arms and armies as
if there were no tomorrow. At the same time, though, he was a real
bogeyman for the French, threatening them on all sides -- 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'.
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 -- a frightful spendthrift, 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) de regner par bon heur.
What verse X.72 really seems to be predicting then, is that at some
point between 14th July and 13th August 1999 a ruler who has been
imprisoned or in some other way restricted (and who has possibly
fallen ill) will be restored to power by a redoutable and/or
spendthrift rival (possibly a powerful financial backer) in either
Amsterdam, Berlin or Warsaw, and that from March 2000 he will rule
with great good fortune.
Research is ongoing -- but no obvious candidates spring immediately to
mind. If, as seems likely, it fails to happen, it will thus be yet
another case where Nostradamus is apparently shown by events to be
wrong -- unless, of course, he intended some kind of 'ulterior
meaning' that is not open to investigation!
Still, you can't win 'em all...
All kinds of things, then, might happen in the summer of 1999 -
'seven months' on his Julian calendar corresponds to 14th July to 13th
August on ours - but, if Nostradamus himself is to be believed, a
'King of Terror from the sky' is certainly not one of them!