NOSTRADAMUS, ASTROLOGY AND THE BIBLE
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The date March 14, 1557 in the Epistle to Henry II
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie
 

The Epistle to Henry II, which precedes the centuries 8, 9 and 10, contains the date March 14, 1557. In this article, the functions and backgrounds of this date are discussed.
 

Epistle to Henry II


...toutesfois esperant de laisser par escrit les ans, villes, citez, regions où la plus part aduiendra, mesmes de l'annee 1585. et de l'annee 1606. acommençant depuis le temps present, qui est le 14. de Mars, 1557. & passant outre bien loing iusques à l'aduenement qui sera apres au commencement du septiesme millenaire profondement supputé...

facsimile-Chomarat-2000, p.355

...anyway, hoping by means of writing to mention the years, cities, locations and regions where the most part will take place, even for the year 1585 and the year 1606 to start from the present time which is the 14th of March, 1557, until far away until the event which will take place close to the thoroughly calculated beginning of the seventh millenary...

Van Berkel, 2009

 

Various ideas about the function of the date March 14, 1557
In the next lines, a number of ideas about the function of the date March 14, 1557 are described.

1. The beginning of the time span of a series of predictions
In Nostradamus, astrologie en de Bijbel, it is supposed that the date March 14, 1557, marks the beginning of the time span of the predictions which are related to the first biblical chronology in the Epistle to Henry II. These predictions run until the beginning of the seventh millenary, a moment which in Nostradamus, astrologie en de Bijbel is interpreted as the beginning of the seventh millennium in 1827 AD.[2] 
In Une influence de la Kabbale dans l'oeuvre de Nostradamus? (2002), the French Century-scholar Robert Benazra wrote that the date March 14, 1557 coincides with a lunar phase in the sign of Aries in the year 5317 (Jewish calendar), and that it marks the beginning of the time span of the Centuries. Between the year 1557 and the year 3797, mentioned in the Preface to Cesar, are 2240 years. According to Benazra, this number of years refers to the year 2240 AD, which is corresponding with the year 6000 in the Jewish calendar, the beginning of the seventh millennium, mentioned in the above given lines in the Epistle to Henry II.
[3]

2. A reference to a writing date
According to the Century-scholars Edgar Leoni (1961) and prof. Pierre Rodrigue Brind'Amour (1993), Nostradamus referred to a writing date while mentioning the date March 14, 1557. Leoni supposes that on March 14, 1557, Nostradamus started to write the Epistle to Henry II, and that he finished the Epistle around 15 months later, on June 27, 1558.[4] Brind'Amour supposes that Nostradamus wrote the first part of the Epistle to Henry II on March 14, 1557 and the second part on June 27, 1558.[5] 
The idea that the mentioning of the date March 14, 1557 is a reference to a writing date, is quite reasonable. References to a writing date are also present in a.o. The prognostication of maister Michael Nostredamus, Doctour in Phisick. In Province for the yeare of our Lorde, 1559. With the predictions and presages of every moneth, an English translation/version of an Almanach/Pronostication by Nostradamus, published in Antwerp. Apparently, the prediction for the Last Quarter on January 30, 1559 for example is written on May 23, 1558: And therefore this daie the 23.of May 1558.making suppotation of this present Ephemeris.[6] The difference between the references in The prognostication of maister Michael Nostredamus... and the date March 14, 1557 in the Epistle to Henry II is that the context of the Epistle does not show whether or not this is a writing date.
Whether or not an author, referring to a writing date, told the truth or on a certain moment chose that particular date in order to raise the impression or to emphasize that the lines in question were written on that particular date, is something which is impossible to verify. Sometimes, there are also other unclarities. The end of The prognostication of maister Michael Nostredamus... for example, next to the closing lines of the predictions for December 1559, reads as follows:

From Salon of Craux in Provence, the 27.of Aprill. 1558.
Faciebat Michael Nostradamus Solonae petreae Provinciae. 27 Aprilis. 1558.

It does not make sense that April 27, the achievement date, is prior to May 23, 1558, the date upon which the prediction for the Last Quarter on January 30, 1559, seems to be written.

 

...parachevant la miliade...
In connection with the contents of the Centuries, it reads in the Epistle to Henry II:

...à qui ie viendrois consacrer ces trois Centuries du restant de mes Propheties, paracheuant la miliade... [7]

This line, preceding the date March 14, 1557, indicates that three centuries are at stake which complete the miliade, a word with which apparently a number of 1.000 quatrains is meant. The line implies that on March 14, 1557, 700 quatrains were already circulating. 
In  Répertoire Chronologique Nostradamique 1545-1989 (1990), Benazra supposed that the 1.000 quatrains to which is referred in the Epistle to Henry II, consist of the 640 quatrains in the copy of the 1557-Du Rosne-edition, dated on November 3, 1557, the 300 quatrains of the centuries 8, 9 and 10 and the 12 quatrains in the Pronostications of 1555, 1556, 1557, 1558 and 1559.[8] In Répertoire Chronologique Nostradamique, Benazra also paid attention to the ideas of the Peruvian Century-scholar Daniel Ruzo about the number of 300 new quatrains, mentioned in the subtitle of the copy of the 1557-Du Rosne-edition, dated on November 3, 1557. Ruzo supposed that Nostradamus in this subtitle referred to the quatrains 04-54 to 07-40, i.e. 287 quatrains, and the 13 quatrains in the 1556-Almanach.[9] 
The copy of the 1557-Du Rosne-edition of the Centuries, dated on November 3, 1557, contains the quatrains 01-01 to 06-99 and the quatrains 07-01 to 07-40. The total number of quatrains in this copy is not 640, but 639. Meanwhile, a copy of a 1557-Du Rosne-edition, dated on September 6, 1557, has been discovered. This copy contains 642 quatrains: the quatrains 01-01 to 06-99, the Legis Cautio and the quatrains 07-01 to 07-42. Neither the total of 639 quatrains, nor the total of 642 quatrains are suited to construct a miliade. Moreover, it makes no sense that annual quatrains (in 1557, one set, the one for 1559, was not even prepared) are part of what in the Epistle to Henry II is called Propheties, a series of one thousand quatrains which covers hundreds of years. 

 

The Easter calendar (style de Pâques)
In the ideas, described above, about the function of the date March 14, 1557, it has been assumed silently that this date is a date, according to the Julian calendar, in which the year runs from January 1 to December 31. Until the second half of the sixteenth century, various calendars were used in Europe, quite often next to each other. In France, not only the Julian calendar was used, but also the Easter calendar ( style de Pâques or style pascal). In this calendar, the year runs from Easter to Easter. For every year, the date of Easter is calculated according to the instructions, phrased at the time of the Council of Nicea (325 AD): the first Sunday which coincides with or comes next to the first Full Moon after the beginning of spring on March 21. Therefore, a new Easter year begins and ends about three or four months later than a new year according to the Julian calendar, which is the cause of the fact that in the first three or four months in the Julian calendar, the year of the Julian calendar exceeds 1 year, compared with the Easter calendar.[10]
The date June 27, 1558 at the end of the Epistle to Henry II, is a date upon which the Julian calendar and the Easter calendar run simultaneously. The Epistle to Henry II contains no indication that this date is according to the Julian calendar of the Easter calendar, but for the date itself, this is no problem. The lacking of such an indication in the lines of the Epistle to Henry II in which the date March 14, 1557 is given, does raise problems. In the Easter calendar, the year 1557 runs from April 18, 1557 to April 9, 1558.[11] If the date March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Easter calendar, this date is, when converted to the Julian calendar, March 14, 1558, a date upon which, according to Astroscoop Plus, there was a square between Jupiter on 5.27.59 Aquarius and Saturn on 6.58.52 Taurus, both in direct motion.
Some years ago, the French Century-scholar dr. Jacques Halbronn supposed that the date March 1, 1555, which closed the Preface to Cesar, was not a date according to the Julian calendar, but a date, according to the Easter calendar. Benazra refuted this, arguing that according to the 1555-Bonhomme-edition, its printing was achieved on May 4, 1555, a date which undoubtedly was a date, according to the Julian calendar.[12] 
The Epistle to Henry II contains not one clue which shows if the date March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Julian calendar or the Easter calendar. Until today, no 1555- or 1556-editions of the Centuries are discovered which consist of seven centuries. 
If the date March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Julian calendar, and if until then there were only Century-editions which contained the quatrains 01-01 to 04-53, this date indirectly refers to about 300 quatrains (the remaining quatrains of century 4 and the quatrains of the centuries 5, 6 and 7) which at that time not yet were handed over to the printer. If so, it is highly improbable that the date March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Julian calendar.[13]  
If on the other hand the date March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Easter calendar and therefore corresponding with March 14, 1558 in the Julian calendar, one could suppose that the Epistle to Henry II was written between March 14 and June 27, 1558, in a time span of about three and a half months. In that case, the words le restant de mes Propheties might be a reference to a 1557-Du Rosne-edition of the Centuries. In that case, the question is why in the Epistle to Henry II the Easter calendar has been used and in the Preface to Cesar the Julian calendar.
Of course, a printer's error might have been at stake and the text should have read March 14, 1558 (Julian calendar) instead of March 14, 1557.
There is another possibility: the possibility, advocated by Halbronn, that the Epistle to Henry II is an antedated piece of writing. In that case, as far as I can see, it has been tried to insert an extra detail, in order to emphasize that this writing has its origin in the period in which Henry II reigned France, by using a date, according to the Easter calendar, a calendar which was in use in the era in which Henry II was the king of France. In my eyes, the investigation of this possibility deserves every attention, especially since the Epistle to Henry II contains two time structures, one of 7.000 years, in which world history ends in 2242 AD in an astrological context, and one of 8.000 years, in which world history ends in 3827 AD in a biblical context. This kind of contradiction frequently indicates that more than several authors are involved, who did not fit their writings.[14] It will not be the first time that too much perfection is at stake in a forgery.

 

March 14, 1557 and the emperorship of Ferdinand I
In the preceding lines, the possibility is discussed that March 14, 1557 is a date, according to the Easter calendar. In the Julian calendar, this date equals March 14, 1558. On that date, there was a square aspect, according to Astroscoop Plus, between Jupiter on 5.27.59 Aquarius and Saturn on 6.58.52 Taurus. Whether or not this configuration was reason to mention this date in the Epistle to Henry II is something which can only be guessed. 
Another possible background, to which also only can be guessed, is the approval by the German Electors on March 14, 1558 (Julian calendar) of the emperorship of Ferdinand I, who in September 1556 got the imperial dignities upon the Holy Roman Empire from Charles V, who in 1555 had abdicated.[15] Perhaps quatrain 10-31, the only quatrain in which is written about "the holy empire" which comes to Germany, contains an allusion to this event.

Le saint empire viendra en Germanie,
Ismaeites trouueront lieux ouuerts.
Anes vouldront aussi la Carmanie,
Les soustenens de terre tous couuerts.

If the election of Ferdinand I is the background of the (Easter calendar) date March 14, 1557 in the Epistle to Henry II, this implies that the text of the Epistle dates from later than March 14, 1558, Julian calendar.

 

Invitation
The aim of the articles in the section Debate platform is to give those who do research on the life and work of Nostradamus, the possibility to react, on this site, to findings and hypotheses, presented in the articles which are included in this section. Like this, a public debate might be developed, which the readers of this site can follow.
I am eager to know the results of your investigation of the function and the background of the date March 14, 1557. Contributions in English are preferable. Since this site is also in Dutch, your contribution will not only be published in English, but also translated in Dutch and published on the Dutch part of this site.
Contributions can be send by using the page Questions/remarks.

 

De Meern,the Netherlands, August 23, 2009
T.W.M. van Berkel
last updated on August 30, 2009

 

Notes
The titles, places and year of issue of the mentioned authors are listed in the bibliography.

  1. The version of the Epistle to Henry II in the 1668-Amsterdam and -Ribou editions of the Centuries does not contain the date March 14, 1557, but the date March 14, 1547. In these editions, the Epistle to Henry II precedes century 1. In this article, the date March 14, 1557 is the starting point. [text]

  2. Van Berkel-2002, p.98. See also: Van Berkel: The Epistle to Henry II: elements of the biblical chronologies. [text]

  3. Benazra: Une influence de la Kabbale dans l'oeuvre de Nostradamus?. Benazra did not specify the lunar phase. According to Astroscoop Plus, there was a Full Moon on March 15, 1557 at 02:53 GMT (Moon on 4.07.33 Libra; Sun on 4.07.33 Aries). [text]

  4. Leoni, p.679-680. [text]

  5. Brind'Amour 1993a, p.171. [text]

  6. Van Berkel: The Prognostication for the yeare of our Lorde 1559 and the Recueil des présages prosaïques. [text]

  7. Facsimile-Chomarat-2000, p.154. [text]

  8. Benazra-1990, p.9. [text]

  9. Benazra-1990, p.23. [text]

  10. Zie: http://compagnonsdevalerien.over-blog.com/article-5092623.html. In either 1563 or 1564, the French king Charles IX issued a decree in which he ordered the use of the Julian calendar (French: style de Circoncision; on January 1, the catholic Church celebrates the circumcision of Jesus Christ). 
    On page 180 of the 1981-re-edition of Roussat's Livre de l'estat et mutation des temps (Lyon,1550) it reads that the text was achieved on February 15, 1548. This is a date, according to the Easter calendar. In terms of the Julian calendar, this is February 15, 1549. [text]

  11. See: http://boysset.ifrance.com/boysset/calendar.htm. [text]

  12. Benazra: Une réflexion sur la Lettre à César. Both the Albi-copy and the Vienna-copy of the 1555-Bonhomme-edition contain the date May 4, 1555. The date April 30, 1555, the date of the privilege (monopoly), granted to Bonhomme to print and publish Les Propheties de Michel Nostradamus for a period of two years, is also a date upon which the Julian calendar and the Easter calendar run simultaneously. [text]

  13. The Preface to Cesar is dated on March 1, 1555; the printing of the 1555-Bonhomme-edition was achieved about two months later, on May 4, 1555. The application of such a time span to the printing of the copy of the 1557-Du Rosne edition which is dated on September 6, 1557, implies that the text of this edition might have been handed over to the publisher around July 1557. [text]

  14. Van Berkel: The Epistle to Henry II: elements of the biblical chronologies. [text]

  15. See: Wapedia: Wiki: Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Brainy History. [text]

 
 

 
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