Nostradamus

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Michel de Nostredame1 (14 December 15032 – 2 July 1566), usually Latinised to Nostradamus, was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies), the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since the publication of this book, which has rarely been out of print since his death, Nostradamus has attracted a following that, along with the popular press, credits him with predicting many major world events.

Most academic sources maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus’s quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power.3 Nevertheless, occasional commentators have successfully used a process of free interpretation and determined ‘twisting’ of their words to predict an apparently imminent event. In 1867, three years before it happened, for example, Le Pelletier did so to anticipate either the triumph or the defeat of Napoleon III in a war that, in the event, begged to be identified as the Franco-Prussian war, while admitting that he could not specify either which or when.4

In The Prophecies he compiled his collection of major, long-term predictions. The first installment was published in 1555. The second, with 289 further prophetic verses, was printed in 1557. The third edition, with three hundred new quatrains, was reportedly printed in 1558, but now only survives as part of the omnibus edition that was published after his death in 1568. This version contains one unrhymed and 941 rhymed quatrains, grouped into nine sets of 100 and one of 42, called “Centuries”.


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Nostradamus

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