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Nostradamus

When a man doesn't succeed in a place, let him go . . . No. 136
Portrait of Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus) by his son César de Nostredame
Nostradamus

The French Michel de Nostredame is better known by the Latin name Nostradamus. He was not only a diviner, but a professional healer. The doctor and a seer won entry in the royal court. The queen favoured him. He studied astrological phenomenology - kabbalah teachings, mostly - and also wrote hundreds of prophesies in terse, cryptic verse.

Nostradamus was born on December 14, 1503 and died the first or second of July in 1566. He wrote in obscure style to avoid being prosecuted. He also deliberatly confused the time sequence of the Prophecies so that their secrets would not be revealed to all, it is said.

Stories of His Death

SOME SAY that de Notredame foretold his own death: When his assistant wished him goodnight on July 1, 1566, de Notredame said,

"You will not find me alive at sunrise."

He was found dead on July 2, 1566.

De Notredame was buried standing upright in the Church of the Cordeliers of Salon. But much later he was dug up twice, once on purpose and once maliciously.

In 1700, his body was moved by the city to a more prominent crypt. When a necklace was found on his skeleton bearing the date '1700', his body was hurriedly buried again.

During the French Revolution, in 1791, some drunken soldiers broke into his tomb. The mayor quickly placated the mob by describing how de Notredame had predicted the revolution, and they replaced the bones in the crypt.

He had perhaps made an advance comment on that one; in Century 9, Quatrain 7:

The man who opens the tomb when it is found
And who does not close it at once,
Evil will come to him
That no one will be able to prove.

The soldiers who desecrated his tomb for the final time were reputedly ambushed on their way back to base and killed to the last man.

More than dubious Prophesies

Since the death of Nostradamus, only his Prophecies have remained popular. Over two hundred editions of them have appeared, and over 2,000 commentaries. Still, most of them do not say much of value unless they are interpreted to suit someone. Why is that so? Often others think that if they cannot make out of utterances, the utterances are nonsense. In the academic society, that has been the fate of most Nostradamus output. One of the reasons that his so-called prophesies are harshly treated, if not discarded, is that that the author made it hard for others to say, "Time will tell" to them. Solid references to time and place and persons (by their real names) tend to be lacking.

However, there are cases where the references seem clear-cut. What about this example?

The Lice will gnaw great Antoine for his least sordid deed
Even unto the last day of his life.
He who shall covet lead shall, after his election, use his lead as a plumb for depths to which he shall be plunged.

So long as you are not told by someone that this prophecy was made for the house of Navarre and was about the father of Henry, masked as a lead-coveter, the verse does not say much. And if you suspect it was made after Nostradamus' death too, it might be more than suspect. Even if the verse above is interpreted as the writer McCann does, his interpretation rests on clues that may be objected to. Interpretations had better be detected than invented - rooted in good clues and documented facts, in other words. And a prophesy from after the events in it, is no prophesy either. In the case of Nostradamus, which is which may be hard to tell.

The interpreter goes on to say: "The Lice are of course the Protestants who assailed Antoine and killed him at Rouen," and "Henry, the son of Antoine, shall not value gold, but will covet the baser things, and these will be the measure of the man and his ultimate tragedy of assassination." [McCann, p. 283-84]

Bold assertions on a weak basis.

Now let us dwell on the interpreter's claim, that Protestants were lice. It is a simile. As for gold, if you cannot exchange it, you cannot get food for it throughout times when food is missing.

Another problem with Nostradamus verses is that many of them are corrupt, resulting in differing French versions. And,

Most of the quatrains deal with disasters, such as plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, and battles all undated . . . A major, underlying theme is an impending invasion of Europe by Muslim forces . . . All of this is presented in the context of the supposedly imminent end of the world . . . Nostradamus enthusiasts have credited him with predicting numerous events in world history, from the Great Fire of London, and the rise of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, to the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center, but only ever in hindsight . . . There is no evidence in the academic literature to suggest that any Nostradamus quatrain has ever been interpreted as predicting a specific event before it occurred, other than in vague, general terms that could equally apply to any number of other events [Wikipedia, s.v. "Nostradamus"].

In 1983, Nostradamus's private correspondence was published, and also the original editions of 1555 and 1557. Moreover, much original archival material that was dug up, revealed that much that was claimed about Nostradamus did not fit the documented facts of any known contemporary documentary evidence. Most of them had evidently been based on unsourced rumours, renders the Wikipedia in short [Ibid.] Thus, there is good reason to consider that many of Nostradamus prophesies are corrupted, or hardly original ones, and perhaps twisted to suit happenings after the happenigns, and so on. There are many fallacy risks involved.

It is better to be circumspect than taken in. It is better to be a little careful in unchartered waters than rash and credulous to one's harm. It is better to be balanced than imbalanced too. So careful balance should be good to aim at.


Nostradamus, Michel de Notredame, Literature  

McCann, Lee. Nostradamus: The Man Who Saw Through Time. New York: Creative Age Press, 1941.

Ward, Charles A. The Oracles of Nostradamus. London, The Leadenhall Press, 1891.

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