Nostradamus: Predictions for the Past, Present and Future
Is it possible to see into the future? Many believe that a man named Michel de Nostradamus could. His predictions of the future have mystified scholars for over four hundred years. Nostradamus made over one thousand predictions and historians say that over half of them have already come true. The most startling of his predictions deal with the coming of three anti-Christs (Guentte). My paper will focus on these prophecies made by Michel de Nostradamus. If his predictions of the past are accurate, then his predictions for the future may also come true.
In order to establish Nostradamus' credibility, it is important to know facts concerning his actual life. Michel de Nostradame -who later latinized his name to Nostradamus- was born in 1503 in St. Remy de Provence, France. His family was Jewish but converted to Christianity, and the young Michel was brought up as a Catholic (Reader's Digest 511). Being a brilliant student, Michel learned classical languages, mathematics, and astrology from his grandfather. Later he decided to pursue medicine and enrolled at the University of Montpellier (Time Life 16). As a skilled physician, he became famous for his amazing success in treating victims of a deadly plague (Reader's Digest 511).
Beginning in 1532, Nostradamus enjoyed three years of happiness. During this time he got married and had children, but the terrible plague that Nostradamus himself had helped to fight returned killing his wife and children (Time Life 17). Deeply depressed, Nostradamus spent the next six years wandering around France and Italy. This is when he began to notice and take account of his strange prophetic gifts (Time Life 17). While wandering through Italy, Nostradamus encountered a group of Franciscan monks. Standing aside to let them pass Nostradamus suddenly exclaimed and threw himself on his knees, bowing his head and clutching at the garment of one of the monks. The monk, named Felice Peretti, was a former swine herder of very lowly birth. When asked why he had done such a silly act, Nostradamus replied, "I must yield myself and bow before his Holiness." Nineteen years after the death of Nostradamus, Peretti became Pope Sixtus V (Randi 25).
Many such stories arose as testimony to Nostradamus' alleged second sight. In one account, the visionary was challenged by a skeptic, the Seigneur de Florinville, while staying at his chateau in the province of Lorraine (Time Life 17). Nostradamus was shown two suckling pigs, one black, the other white. Florinville then asked Nostradamus to predict which they would eat that night for supper. Nostradamus replied they would eat the black pig. Florinville then told the cook to prepare the white pig. That evening at dinner, Nostradamus was again asked which pig they were eating, and again he replied the black one. Florinville triumphantly asked the cook to tell which pig it was that they were eating. The cook said that while preparing the white pig a tamed wolf cub had wandered into the kitchen and devoured it. The cook then slaughtered the remaining black pig and prepared it for the dinner (Randi 26).
In 1547, Nostradamus finally settled in the small town of Salon. There he remarried and began to compose prophecies, drawing on his accumulated knowledge and books on astrology and magic (Time Life 18). In 1555, Nostradamus published the first of ten books, all entitled Centuries. Each volume contained 100 predictions written in four line verses known as quatrains. He wrote in his native French but to protect himself from the superstitious which hunters of the day, he confused the verse with Latin, Greek, and even anagrams (Guentte). The following predictions and interpretations are based on the English translation of Nostradamus' prophecies.
Throughout Nostradamus' quatrains he speaks of three powerful and tyrannical leaders that he calls anti-Christs. He said they would lead their people through reigns of terror after first seducing them with promises of greatness (Guentte). Napoleon is thought to have been the first of these anti-Christs. Of Napoleon's rise to power and years as Emperor Nostradamus wrote:
An Emperor shall be born near Italy.
Who shall cost the Empire dear,
They shall say, with what people he keeps company
He shall be found less a Prince than a butcher.
Napoleon, who was considered a butcher even by his supporters, certainly cost the Empire dearly in both manpower and political
strength (Roberts 29).
From a simple soldier he will rise to the empire,
From the short robe he will attain the long.
Great swarms of bees shall arise.
After becoming Emperor, Napoleon adopted the beehive as his imperial crest (Ward 297). Some scholars say that Nostradamus was referring to Napoleon's destruction of Moscow when he wrote:
A great troop shall come through Russia.
The destroyer shall ruin a city.
Napoleon's forces drove too far and got trapped in the Russian winter (Guentte). The following verse resembles what could have been Napoleon's retreat across the icy part of Russia.
The rear guard will make defense.
The exhausted ones will die in the white territory. (Guentte)
Nostradamus made other predictions of Napoleon's fate:
The great Empire will soon be exchanged for a small place.
Which will soon begin to grow.
A small place of tiny area in the middle of which
He will come to lay down his scepter. (Reader's Digest 513)
The captive prince, conquered, is sent to Elba;
He will sail across the Gulf of Genoa to Marseilles.
By a great effort of the foreign forces he is overcome,
Though he escaped the fire, his bees yield blood by the barrel. (Ward 311)
Napoleon was exiled to the small island of Elba but escaped for 100 days. After a defeat at Waterloo he relinquished all power for exile on tiny St. Helena (Reader's Digest 513).
The second anti-Christ Nostradamus wrote about was "a man stained with murder...the great enemy of the human race...one who was worse than any who had gone before...bloody and inhuman." Experts are in agreement that the sixteenth century prophet was referring to Adolf Hitler (Guentte).
Out of the deepest part of the west of Europe,
From poor people a young child shall be born,
Who with his tongue shall seduce many people,
His fame shall increase in the Eastern Kingdom.
Adolf Hitler, born in Austria of poor parents, with his knowledge of mob psychology and powers of speech, was successful in seducing many people , even in the Eastern Empire of Japan (Roberts 88). In some quatrains Nostradamus refers to Hitler as the child or sometimes captain of Germany. Here are two examples:
He shall come to tyrannize the land.
He shall raise up a hatred that had long been dormant.
The child of Germany observes no law.
Cries, and tears, fire, blood, and battle.
A captain of Germany shall come to yield himself by false hope,
So that his revolt shall cause great bloodshed. (Guentte)
All of these images certainly describe Adolf Hitler. After seducing his people, Hitler ignored all treaties and began a massive invasion of Europe (Guentte). In the following verse, some experts say that Nostradamus actually referred to Hitler by name but missed by one letter.
Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers
The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister.
Finally, Nostradamus sums up Hitler's life and even predicts the fact that his death in Berlin in 1945 would never be satisfactorily
Near the Rhine from the Austrian mountains
Will be born a great man of the people, come too late.
A man who will defend Poland and Hungary
And whose fate will never be certain (Reader's Digest 515).
According to Nostradamus, the first two anti-Christs were extremely evil, and history has shown this to be so; however, Nostradamus speaks of a third anti-Christ who is more hideous than all the others combined. Some say Sadaam Hussein, the dictator from Iraq, could be this evil tyrant. Others say that he has not yet appeared. What does Nostradamus say about this third anti-Christ? First, Nostradamus tells us he will come from the Middle East.
Out of the country of Greater Arabia
Shall be born a strong master of Mohammed...
He will enter Europe wearing a blue turban.
He will be the terror of mankind.
Never more horror.
Here, Nostradamus says that a man from Greater Arabia will lead his forces on an invasion through Europe. This invasion will start a third world war that will be far worse than all the other wars put together (Guentte). When will all this take place? In one quatrain Nostradamus gives us an exact date in which the war will be well under way.
In the year 1999 and seven months
From the sky will come the great King of Terror.
He will bring back to life the King of the Mongols;
Before and after war reigns.
Nostradamus predicts the war will begin shortly before the year 1999 (Roberts 191). He also tells us how long the war will last.
The war will last seven and twenty years. (Guentte)
Nostradamus says that the war will be so terrible that the world will come face to face with final annihilation. Here, he implies that the war might involve some kind of horrible weapon, possibly nuclear. Nostradamus tells what the first target will be.
The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
Fire approaches the great new city.
In this phrase, Nostradamus refers to a great city in the new world of America near forty-five degrees latitude. Experts agree this could only be New York.
By fire he will destroy their city,
A cold and cruel heart,
Blood will pour,
Mercy to none. (Guentte)
Although Nostradamus 's predictions for our future sound frightening he does give us some hope by telling us how this third world war will end. He says it will end as a result of an unexpected alliance.
When those of the Northern Pole are united,
In the East will be great fear and dread...
One day the two great leaders will be friends;
Their great powers will be seen to grow.
The New Land will be at the height of its power:
To the man of blood the number is reported.
The new land was a common term used by Nostradamus to refer to what we now call America. The countries of the northern pole could be Russia and the United States. We have recently seen the breakdown of Communism in Russia and an increasing friendship between Russia and the U.S. (Reader's Digest 515).
Was Nostradamus a fraud or a prophet? There are some who say that the seeming accuracy of his quatrains are a result of their facile interpretations (Guentte). Still, more than four hundred books and essays about his prophecies have been published since his death in 1566, along with a great number of articles and other commentaries, in numerous languages (Randi 5). Even skeptics pay careful attention to Nostradamus' predictions of the three anti-Christs. If Nostradamus truly predicted Napoleon and Hitler we should take heed of his words about the future. Perhaps we can prevent the dismal fate Nostradamus has predicted (Guentte).
Guentte, Robert. The Man Who Saw Tomorrow. narrated by Orson Wells, 1981.
Randi, James. The Mask of Nostradamus. New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990.
Reader's Digest. Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. Pleaseantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1976.
Roberts, Henry. The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus. Great Neck, New York: Nostradamus, Inc., 1972.
Time Life. Visions and Prophecies. Mysteries of the Unknown. Alexandria, Virginia: Time Life Books, Inc., 1988.
Ward, Charles A. Oracles of Nostradamus. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940.