Frequently Asked Questions
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Who was Nostradamus?
Nostradamus was a French physician. He was born in 1503 in Saint-Rémy de Provence, France. He died in 1566 in Salon-de-Provence, France. He was a catholic. His parents and grandparents were Jewish from origin, but had themselves baptized catholic.

For what did Nostradamus become famous?
As a physician, Nostradamus became famous because of fighting the plague. He traveled through the infected areas and applied, with success, medicines that were uncommon in his time. He translated a book by Claudius Galenus, the founder of West European healing.
As an astrologer, Nostradamus became famous for the yearly publishing of almanacs (beginning in 1550). These almanacs contained political predictions for each month, later known as the Présages. In 1999, Bernard Chevignard published Présages de Nostradamus (ISBN 2-02-035960-X). This book contains a compilation by De Chavigny of the Présages and some of the almanacs. 
Nostradamus became famous for his Prophecies, which he published in parts between 1555 and 1558.
As a writer, Nostradamus is famous for books with topics like travel journals, gastronomy, herbal medicines and advices regarding beauty.

What are the Prophecies?
The word Prophecies is a name for a series of more than 940 predictions which are written as quatrains, four-line verses. The Prophecies are published in parts. The publishing of the first four chapters went together with a letter from Nostradamus to Cesar, his oldest son. The publishing of the last three chapters went together with a letter from Nostradamus to Henry II, king of France.


What are the contents of the Prophecies?
In the Prophecies, wars are predicted, political quarrels and various kinds of disasters such as floods, famine and epidemics. The language of the Prophecies is most of the time unclear and Nostradamus gives only a couple of times a hint to a fulfilment date.

Which are the original editions of the Prophecies?
The Prophecies were published in parts between 1555 and 1558. Only a few copies of the original editions have been preserved in e.g. national libraries. After 1558, translations and reprints were published, sometimes with additions or alterations. Most translators give the title of the French edition they used as source. In some cases, their books also contain the French text of the source edition. 
During the last decades, some of the original editions were published again, in most cases by means of facsimile, in some cases also annotated. 

The first edition of the Prophecies was published in 1555 in Lyon by Macé Bonhomme. This edition contained the letter to Cesar and the quatrains 01-01 to 04-53. In 1996, Droz publishers (Geneva) published a book, entitled: Les premières centuries ou prophéties (ISBN 2-600-00138-7). This book contains the complete text of the 1555-Bonhomme-edition, carefully annotated by the late Pierre Rodrigue Brind'Amour, who also compared the text of the 1555-Bonhomme-edition with later French editions.

In 1557, Antoine du Rosne (Lyon) published an extended edition of the Prophecies. One copy of this edition is preserved in the national library in Budapest, Hungary. It contains the letter to Cesar, the quatrains 01-01 to 06-99 and the quatrains 07-01 to 07-40. In 1993, the society "Les Amis de Nostradamus" published this book again, entitled Les Propheties de Maître Michel Nostradamus (ISBN 2-908 185-20.2). Another copy of this edition, with different print and contents, is preserved in the University Library in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It contains the letter to Cesar, the quatrains 01-01 to 06-99, a "warning" and the quatrains 07-01 to 07-42.

On June 27, 1558, Nostradamus wrote a letter to Henry II, which accompanied the quatrains 08-01 to 10-100, the remaining part of the quatrains. In later editions, there are references to a 1558-Lyon-edition which contains the eighth, the ninth and the tenth century. An original copy of this edition has never been found.

In 2000, Michel Chomarat published a book, entitled: Les prophéties, Lyon, 1568 (ISBN 2-908185-47-4). This book is a reproduction of the most early complete edition of the quatrains and letters that is preserved, the 1568-Lyon-edition. It contains the letter to Cesar, the quatrains 01-01 to 06-99, a "warning", the quatrains 07-01 to 07-42, the letter to Henry II and the quatrains 08-01 to 10-100.

After the decease of Nostradamus (1566), the quatrains 06-100, 07-43 and 07-44 were published. It is almost certain that he wrote them. He did not write the centuries 11 and 12. Neither he wrote additions to the centuries 8 and 10. He also did not write the Sixains, six-line verses with predictions for the 17th century.

In 1989, Michel Chomarat and Jean-Paul Laroche published the Bibliographie Nostradamus XVIe-XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles. (ISBN 3-87320-123-2). This book contains all editions in the 16th, 17th and 18th century of writings by Nostradamus or attributed to him.
In 1990, Robert Benazra  published Répertoire Chronologique Nostradamique 1545-1989 (ISBN 2-85707-418-2). Besides all editions of the writings by Nostradamus or attributed to him, this book also contains information about numerous comments on his work.
In 2002,  Jacques Halbronn D.Litt. published Documents inexploités sur le phénomène Nostradamus (ISBN 2-95-16324-1-X). This book contains a critical investigation of the authenticity of the most early editions of the Centuries and the most early references to them.

How did Nostradamus conceive the Prophecies?
The investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, showed by means of the quatrains and the letters to Cesar and Henry II, that Nostradamus had the strong conviction that God gave to him the gift of prophecy. During 29 years, from October 16, 1524 to October 11, 1553, he got "imaginations" (visions). These "imaginations" contained hints to wars, disasters and the like. After each "imagination", he calculated a horoscope in order to determine where and when would occur what he "saw". After the birth of Cesar, his eldest son, he elaborated his notes in the form of quatrains, four-line verses. A couple of times he also applied biblical verses. He published the quatrains in parts in the period 1555-1558.

Where and when will the Prophecies become fulfilled?
According to Nostradamus, the events which he predicts in the Prophecies, will take place in the whole of Europe, Africa and a part of Asia. The investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, showed that his predictions refer to West-, Central- and Southeast-Europe, Asia Minor and the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. He did not predict events for North-, Central- and South America, Africa, East-Europe, Asia or Australia.
Nostradamus wrote to his son Cesar that the Prophecies cover a time span from March 1, 1555, to 3797. The investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, showed that the beginning date indeed is March 1, 1555. The closing date is November 9, 3797.

What is the message of Nostradamus?
The message Nostradamus wants to give to humanity, can be read most clearly in his letter to Cesar. Some of its elements can also be found in the quatrains and the letter to Henry II. Between 1555 and 3827, God will execute his judgment regarding the world. This will happen by means of one thousand disastrous events, that will take place irrevocably. These events are described in the quatrains and will occur between 1555 and 3797. In 2827, the biblical kingdom of one thousand years will begin. Satan will be locked up for a period of 970 years. Then, from November 3797 to April 3827, Satan fights for the last time with the heavenly armies. In April 3827 he will disappear forever.

Why are the Prophecies so famous?
From 1550, Nostradamus became increasingly famous by his almanacs and books about health and beauty. When Henry II, the French king, died in July 1559, Nostradamus suddenly became famous because rumours spread that he predicted this in one of his Prophecies.
The reputation of the Prophecies up till today is caused by the controversy they always evoke. Despite the vague contents, people think that some of his predictions really became fulfilled. Next, it is fascinating that they cover such a long time span and it is a challenge to find out how Nostradamus conceived them.

Why is it so difficult to understand the Prophecies?
At a first sight, the Prophecies can be interpreted in many ways. Nostradamus warned for this in his letters to Cesar and Henry II. He has put the quatrains in order at random. He almost never gives fulfilment data. Sometimes, the contents of the quatrains seems to point to an astrological, geographic, historic, cabbalistic, linguistic or numerological clue, or to more clues, but the number of concrete hints is very small. Nostradamus wrote the quatrains in French, but he also used words from the Provencal dialect, Greek, Latin and Portuguese. Another difficulty is the fact that the events, predicted by Nostradamus, occur in all ages, thus enhancing the risk of interpreting in favour of one's own lifetime.

How many times were the Prophecies investigated?
The Prophecies are investigated countless times. The number of surveys, in book or otherwise, is estimated at least 600. The first survey was written in 1594 by Jean-Aymes de Chavigny, Nostradamus' secretary. Well-known surveys are those of Torné-Chavigny (1861), Leoni (1961) and Brind'Amour (1993 and 1996).
Some investigators do not restrict themselves to give comment on quatrains which, according to them, are fulfilled. They also try to describe the future of the world by interpreting quatrains. They predict for example the beginning of the Third World War, the rise of wars of religion or the occurrence of various kinds of disasters.

Are there Prophecies which are fulfilled?
A large number of investigators will answer this question with "yes". However, a comparison between their comments shows in many cases that they differ from each other regarding the interpretation of the quatrains. In only a minor number of cases, they have a uniform opinion about the nature and the date of the event that Nostradamus would have meant.
The investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, shows that the astrological foundation of the Prophecies is obsolete, so they simply cannot be fulfilled. Also other arguments of Nostradamus regarding the fundaments of his predictions, are insufficient. A number of predictions, from which in the investigation the moment of expiration was established, turned out not to be fulfilled at all.

Did Nostradamus know about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?
The name of Neptune can be found in a number of quatrains as well as in a number of the Présages. However, there is nothing that shows that Nostradamus knew about the existence of other planets than the seven "classic" planets of his lifetime: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. If he gave lists of planets, he always listed one or more of these planets and never one or more of the transsaturnial planets.
Some investigators think that Nostradamus predicted the discovery of Neptune in quatrain 04-33. They say that the name of Neptune is connected to the name of Venus in terms of a configuration. The investigation on which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, showed that this quatrain deals with a configuration which occurred on November 4, 1542.

T.W.M. van Berkel


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