The Centuries
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Nostradamus used the quatrain, the four-line verse, to write his predictions. While writing, he used also words from the Provencal dialect, Greek, Latin and Portuguese. 
The book of prophecies of Nostradamus is a milliade, consisting of ten centuries, chapters, each containing 100 quatrains. The seventh century, which contains only 42 quatrains, is an exception. There are 942 quatrains. Nostradamus arranged them at random. 
The first seven centuries were published in 1555-57, together with a letter of Nostradamus to his son Cesar. The last three centuries were published in 1558, together with a letter of Nostradamus to the French king Henry II. In most of the quatrains wars are predicted, political troubles and various kinds of disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes and epidemics. The letters contain predictions as well as clues to the methods and ideas of Nostradamus.

During the past centuries, the Centuries were translated in many languages and were published over and over again. These translations and re-editions sometimes contained alterations and additions.
In 1996, a reproduction was published of the very first edition of the Centuries, in 1555 in Lyon. This reproduction is entitled Les premières centuries ou propheties  (ISBN 2-600-00138-7). It contains:

  • The letter to César.

  • The quatrains 01-01 to 04-53.

The author, the late Pierre Rodrigue Brind'Amour, gave in detail comment to the quatrains and the letter to Cesar, not only from a historical point of view, but also from a literary and astrological point of view. To a deep extent, he treated the books that Nostradamus used while conceiving the quatrains. An earlier publication of Brind'Amour, entitled Nostradamus Astrophile, is at this moment out of print.

In 2000, Michel Chomarat published the book Les Prophéties Lyon, 1568 (ISBN 2-908185-47-4). According to Chomarat, this book is a reproduction of the most early integral edition of the quatrains and letters that is preserved up till today. On this website, this reproduction is named the 2000-Chomarat-facsimile. 
The quatrains and letters are not annotated. The 2000-Chomarat-facsimile contains:

  • An introduction by Michel Chomarat.

  • The letter to César.

  • The quatrains 01-01 to 06-99.

  • The legis cautio (a warning against inept critics).

  • The quatrains 07-01 to 07-42.

  • The letter to Henry II.

  • The quatrains 08-01 to 10-100.

In 1941, the first, complete, Dutch translation of the Centuries was published by Servire publishers, The Hague, NL. The translation was done by prof. dr. mr. H. Houwens Post (1904-1986), who used the pseudonym mr. dr. W.L. Vreede. In the research upon which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, this translation is entitled: the 1941-Vreede-translation. In the '80's, Schors publishers, Amsterdam, published this translation in facsimile (ISBN 90 6378 068 0). Nowadays, this book is only available in second-hand bookstores. In 1998, a linguistic modernized version of the 1941-Vreede-translation was published, entitled: Nostradamus - De grootste ziener aller tijden (Jan Vandervoort, Amsterdam, NL).
Houwens Post wrote that his translation was based upon a complete edition of the Centuries, published in Lyon in 1558. In the investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, it became clear that he used several source texts. For the translation of the quatrains, Houwens Post used a photocopy of the 1668-Amsterdam-edition, entitled Texte intégral de Nostradamus réproduction agrandie en phototypie de l'édition d'Amsterdam, 1668, précédée de la réimpression de la Lettre à César, son fils, d'après l'édition de Lyon, 1558, made by the Frenchman P.V. Piobb and published by Adyar publishers, Paris, in 1927. For the translation of the Preface to Cesar and the Epistle to Henry II, Houwens Post used the German translation of these letters, made by dr. Christian Wöllner and published in Leipzig in 1926 in Das Mysterium des Nostradamus.

The contents of the 1941-Vreede-translation:

  • A biography of Nostradamus by H. Houwens Post.

  • An introduction to the Prophecies by H. Houwens Post.

  • The Preface to Cesar.

  • The quatrains 01-01 to 06-100.

  • The legis cautio (a warning against inept critics).

  • The quatrains 07-01 to 07-44.

  • The Epistle to Henry II.

  • The quatrains 08-01 to 10-100.

The quatrains and letters are not commented. In an appendix, Houwens Post gave the French text of 29 quatrains that caused unsolvable problems while translating. 
Originally, the quatrains 06-100, 07-43 and 07-44 were not published before 1605. They were included in e.g. the 1668-Amsterdam-edition.

In the investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, the 2000-Chomarat-facsimile and the 1941-Vreede-translation were used, together with a compendium by Edgar Leoni, entitled Nostradamus and His Prophecies (ISBN 0-517-38809X).

Related page: The 1941-Vreede-translation and the 1558-Lyon-edition


De Meern, the Netherlands, March 14, 2004
T.W.M. van Berkel


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