Michel de Nostredame was born on December 14th, 1503 in St.-Remy-de-Provence, France; the first son of a large and educated Jewish family. During this era, Jews were persecuted and often practiced their beliefs in shadows. His family converted to Christianity.
By the time he was 16, Michel was ready to enter the university in Avignon. His beginning studies were in classical grammar, rhetoric and logic along with basic sciences, but these were interrupted by the plague of 1520 and Michel took his place as physician among many other educated healers of the day. But Michel became known, even in this early time, as a miracle worker. It wasn't until after he spent many years of traveling around Europe that Michel actually enrolled into medical school at the famous Montpelier medical facility in October 1529.
His medical education was not without trouble however. His vast experience during the plague and through his travels boosted Michel's knowledge, in many cases, above those of the scholars doing the teaching. Michel was often at odds with his instructors over the causes or affects of illness in patients. He studied medicine in Montpellier and started a practice about 1525. Soon after, he began to treat victims of the plague in communities of southern France. Nostradamus used innovative methods of treatment, and his success in curing extremely ill patients earned him a reputation as an especially gifted healer. Unfornately, he lost his first wife and daughter to a plague, and was devestated. Even WITHOUT all of his 'visions' and 'prophecies,' Nostradamus would still have been a noteworthy for his medical acheivements.
After this loss, he focused more on Astrology and began to see his first visions.
Nostradamus explains that this was done to avoid persecution from the Inquisition. He also gives this as the reasoning why the quatrains are not in chronological order.
Nostradamus left his predictions in the form of several letters, almost 1000 4-line verses called quatrains (the Centuries), and a collection of 6-line verses called sixains. The prophesies are not sequential by date. Some interesting coincidences have been observed between the quatrain number (in the Centuries) and the last two digits of the year of the corresponding event, but this is not uniformly true. Nostradamus almost always concealed his meanings in anagrams, symbolism, and mythological allusions, and to top it all off Nostradamus wrote primarily in "early Modern French," with a mixture of archaic words mostly derived from Latin and Greek. Confusing huh? He also incorporates words from the "Languedoc" or Provencal dialect of southern France. That is why so many of his prophecies are left wide open to interpretation.
To put it in simple terms, he combined 3 languages, mixed it all together with symbolism and cryptic messages, and then put them into 4-line "verses" or "quatrains." Sort of like prophectic poetry I guess.
Another possible explanation for the obscurity of the quatrains has to do with the dynamics of Nostradamus' visions. His visions seem to span thousands of years. It was probably difficult for him to interpret 20th and 21st century technology using 16th century French. He simply lacked the vocabulary. Also, it is possible that a single quatrain could refer to several events. The incorporation of 'links' to several different events would further increase the obscurity of a quatrain. I would also like to point out from my studies:
-use of language that was, even when written, archaic and chaotic
-use of anagrams and unknown names (symbolism) locations and objects
-use of astrological or mythological references (references to planetary alignments and other phenomena).
-nonstandard word order, and sentence structure that seemingly doesn't flow
Death of Henry II & Other well documented predictions
The young lion will overcome the older one,
On the field of combat in a single battle;
He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.
(Century 1, Quatrain 35)
This quatrain foretelling the death of King Henry II of France in a jousting accident is one of the most famous, pre-documented, and perhaps one of the most studied.
In June 1559, Henry II ignored all warnings that Nostradamus gave him and participated in a jousting tournament against the Comte de Montgomery. Both men used shields embossed with lions. Montgomery was six years younger than Henry. A tournament is a field of ritual single combat.
During the final bout, Montgomery failed to lower his lance in time. It shattered, sending a large splinter through the king's gilded visor (golden cage). Along with minor punctures in the face and throat, there were two mortal wounds. One splinter destroyed the king's eye; the other impaled his temple just behind the eye. Both penetrated his brain. Henry lingered for ten agonizing days before dying a cruel death. Coincidence? The London Fire of 1666
The blood of the just will be demanded of London,
Burnt by the fire in the year 66
The ancient Lady will fall from her high place
And many of the same sect will be killed
(Century 2, Quatrain 51)
The Great fire destroyed London in 1666. This is one of the rare prophecies in which a date is given. Even many skeptics look at this one and realize it's accuracy. The fire itself burnt down nearly 3/4 of London. The French Revolution
Songs, chants, and refrains of the slavish mob,
Whilst the Princes and King are captive in prison,
Shall be received in the future as oracles divine
By headless idiots deprived of judgment.
The husband, alone afflicted, will be mitered;
Conflict will take place at the tile works by 500.
One betrayer will be titled.
In this quatrain, Nostradamus writes of a place he could not have even known of.. The Twilleries was the palace of King Louis. But this palace did not even exist in Nostradamus' day. In 1791 a gang of angry Frenchmen calling themselves the Marsi'es, meaning 500, attacked King Louis' palace.
By night he will come to the forest of Reines,
A devious rout, the white Queen of stone
And the gray King, to Varennes.
Scholars suggest this quatrain refers to the flight of King Louis and his Queen Marie Antoinette. Taking the odd and out of way route through the Forest of Reines, the king was dressed in a gray cloak posing as a monk. The two royals attempted their escape by carriage to Varennes.
The government taken over, will convict the king.
A new king invites guests to a wedding,
but others plot the lady's death,
as well as that of his mistress.
The people of France did convict King Louis and sentenced him to death. The Queen was tried by a jury chosen by lot and was also sentenced to death along with the King's mistress. The royals were taken to a square in Paris and beheaded at the guillotine. The three Anti-Christs
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. 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.
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. He was born near Italy on the island of Corsica, a most unlikely place for a ruler of France to come from. 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 attacked too far into the country, and got trapped in the Russian winter. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
All of these images certainly describe Adolf Hitler. After seducing his people, Hitler ignored all treaties and began a massive invasion of Europe. In the following verse, some experts say that Nostradamus actually referred to Hitler by name but missed by one letter. (A side note : "Hister" is the ancient name for the river Danube also.)
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 confirmed:
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.
The 3rd and final Anti-Christ
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 have said Sadaam Hussein, the dictator from Iraq (proved false now), or even Osama Bin Laden. Could he 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. 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. It doesn't make much sense to this author, but many are now saying that the 'war' was set 'in motion' in 1999, and now after September 11th these things are going to come true... as we are now 'at war with terror.' Interpret it how you will. He also tells us how long the war will last.
The war will last seven and twenty years. (so 27 years)
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. I know many of you are thinking of other websites that claim this means he predicted September 11th. Again, interpret it how you will. The sky did burn at 45 degrees, but New York was not destroyed, nor was it a nuclear attack.
By fire he will destroy their city,
A cold and cruel heart,
Blood will pour,
Mercy to none.
Although Nostradamus 's predictions for our future sound frightening, the accuracy and dates he gave do not seem to flow. Are they being misinterpreted, or are they just plain wrong? Is the New City at 45 degrees yet to be destroyed? 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.
Again, 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. Perhaps the two countries will work together against the source of evil.
The End of the World
Of course, not only have the "experts" on the prophets not always been correct - the seers themselves have not always been quite so accurate in their forecasts. Although people keep claiming that "it's the world will end" they often ignore other prophecies he wrote. Nostradamus NEVER said the world would end in 1666, 1999, 2012, 2096, or any of those years. In fact, he was quite clear we would survive through all of these other conflicts, and if we took it upon ourselves, we could change / prevent what was indeed going to happen.
Time will tell if the Iraq conflict or, indeed, the World Trade Center attack had put the spark to a bigger barrel. As for the end of the world... Nostradamus predicted it to be the year 3786 or 3797, depending on which Nostradamus expert you believe.