2003, 2007 and 2008, J. Halbronn D.Litt., being invited by www.nostradamusresearch.org,
wrote several articles in which he explained his approach to
Nostradamus and the Centuries, his findings and his
Halbronn originally wrote the article which you are about to read,
as a preparation for
an interview which he gave to the National Geographic. In this article, he clearly and
comprehensively describes the present state of affairs of his
research on Nostradamus and the Centuries
and presents a survey of his main findings.
For further articles and backgrounds, the interested reader
is referred to the section Estudes
Nostradamiennes of Halbronn's website Grande
would like to summarize the most important points regarding
Nostradamus as a result of my last years of research.
A certain Preface to Cesar has actually been published during the lifetime of Nostradamus as an Epistle
of Nostradamus to King Henry II (Présages Merveilleux, 1557).
Those documents have been used to forge false addresses.
Preface to Cesar refers to a "memoir" that
Nostradamus will leave for after his death. The
1555 document was not supposed to have been printed at this moment but
was only written as a sort of will. It opens the edition of the Centuries
and confirms their posthumous character. There is
no doubt, however, that an Epistle to Cesar was published in 1555, but
not introducing centuries and not having a posthumous tone (see
Antoine Couillard's commentary of 1556).
Certain quatrains have been made from manuscript notes left by
Nostradamus as "touristic" quatrains due to Nostradamus
travels, and deprived originally of any prophetical character
Prophéties used for many editions of the
Centuries was used by Nostradamus for a certain type of
that has not been preserved but which is mentioned in archives of book
keepers. We know, on the other hand, that imitators of Nostradamus did
publish predictions covering several years at the same time. It was
probably what Nostradamus called his Prophéties, quite a
different genre as the Centuries. As a matter of fact, in 1672, the
first English version is entitled Prophecies or Prognostications of Michel Nostradamus,
that "prophecies" may just be synonymic for "prognostications".
The Centuries appeared first as a posthumous work, made of documents
showing different dates when Nostradamus did or was supposed to have
written (but not published them). In a later stage, the dates of those
manuscript documents were used to forge editions as 1555 for instance.
This posthumous edition has not been preserved but 1568 seems
to be a good guess since many editions were later connected with 1568,
which is two years after Nostradamus 's death.
From this lost first posthumous edition, appeared in the 1580's,
new editions with quatrains changed and adapted to the political
situation, connected with the death of the Duke of Alençon (1584),
the death of Henry III (1589), the civil war between
"Paris" and "Tours", the attempt to elect a new
king of France by both sides, the abjuration of Protestantism by Henry
IV (1593) and his coronation in Chartres (1594).
One important document is the 1588's edition of only four "centuries", in
Rouen, This book belongs to the Ruzo-collection and has been described by Benazra, although no copy
circulates for the time being. This edition does not include quatrain
04-46, connected with Tours. In 1589, this quatrain appeared in another Rouen
edition. Some say it has disappeared for some reason, and then
We believe that such quatrains (04-44 to 04-47) did not exist before and
that the first group of quatrains did not include 353 quatrains but
only 349 quatrains, the last century having less than 50 quatrains, in
the same way that century 07 does not pass the line of 50 quatrains.
The Guide des Chemins de France of Charles Estienne - a sort of travel
guide of the 1550's - is one important source of some quatrains, which
affords to identify additions to the original text, especially in
quatrain 09-86 in which Chartres is mentioned. This travel guide is
also the source of the famous
"Varennes" quatrain, which is connected with Louis XVI. Such a
content reveals that the notes and elements used had nothing to do with
prophecy and were made prophetical later on.
The iconography of the title pages of the Prophéties shows
that the source of the forgery came from false editions (not of the
Centuries of course but of Almanachs), published even before the death
of Nostradamus. The woodcut used is clearly different from the
official editions of the Prognostications. The forgeries
were made possible by the conservation of all sorts of documents
and prints) which were combined to create them. As a matter of fact,
such a collection included false and authentic documents but the
forgers were unable to distinguish between them, so they used false
elements to produce antedated editions of the Centuries. They
neglected the fact that already in the 1560's, when Nostradamus was
still alive, false Almanachs were published under his name with a
special type of woodcut which was not the one used in the authentic
Prognostications of Nostradamus.
The first (posthumous) "edition" of the Centuries has
probably been a manuscript and reserved to "happy few". As
late as 1570, Jean de Chevigny was offering one of
those quatrains to Larcher, which would not make sense if the book had
been in circulation (in print). In 1572, Antoine Crespin gave extracts
of the quatrains in his Prophéties dédiées à la Puissance
and other publications, which leads us in the same direction. The
expression "not yet printed" which appears in the title of
additions to the first centuries, confirms the fact
that at first, only manuscripts circulated.
The first seven centuries were manipulated by the Catholic Camp
while the last three were used by the camp of Henry IV. One
will find attacks, in the lost four quatrains (absent from the 1588-Rouen-
edition of four centuries but present in the 1589-Rouen-edition), against Tours, the capital of
Henry IV (IV, 46), a quatrain in favour of the Marquis du Pont, catholic
candidate to the throne of France (VII, 24). The use of the Guide des
Chemins de France is limited to the last three centuries. The
last three centuries were never published in Paris or Rouen in
1588-1589 since they were announcing the
victory of the Bourbons (Vendome, Mendosus) against the Guise -
The antedated editions include elements which were
added in the 1580's-1590's or which are corrupted as the Preface to
We have versions of the first versions of the Preface to Cesar which
do not show such corruption (see the first sentences of the said
Preface) and which were published only in the second half of the
17th century (see the English translation and Antoine
Besson's French edition). In the Besson-edition (1690's), the Preface
is announced as addressée à son filz Cesar Nostradamus pour
luy donner une idée des Centuries de ses
Propheties, that is: "to give him an idea of the Centuries
of his Prophecies", and it became at a later period, according to
us, Preface de M.
Michel Nostradamus à ses Propheties, which is the canonical
J. Halbronn D.Litt.
on this website:
- Letter on Nostradamus (July 17, 2003);
- Le Dominicain Giffré de Réchac et la naissance de la critique
nostradamique au XVIIème siècle (May 26, 2007);
- Les deux quatrains "86" du couronnement (September 14,