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Portrait of Michel de Nostre-Dame, called Nostradamus, astrologer (1503-1566).
(Photo by Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images)

Article by Sara-Kettler as published in As author of ‘The Prophecies,’ Nostradamus produced 942 quatrains (four-line poems that rhyme) containing predictions for the future (until the year 3797, at least). And even though he was writing back in the 16th century, he remains a preeminent figure in the field of prognostication. Here’s a look at why that is, and how Nostradamus’s prophecies have affected our world.

Nostradamus has received credit for predicting how his king, Henri II of France, would die (the prophet wrote of a pierced eye, the fatal injury that Henri received in a jousting match). And by writing that 1792 would mark “a new age,” Nostradamus may have foreseen the French Revolution (1792 was the year the new Revolutionary calendar used for its starting point). Other Nostradamus lines seem to foretell the rise of Napoleon (“An emperor will be born near Italy, who will cost the Empire dear”). In more recent times, Nostradamus’ work has been seen as describing the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. A reference to a cruel villain terrorizing Mesopotamia was often considered to be Saddam Hussein. Even the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has been connected to Nostradamus’ writing: “The great shameless, audacious bawler. He will be elected governor of the army” (the president is commander-in-chief of the U.S. military).

Open to Interpretation

One thing that helps many people believe in Nostradamus’ ability to peer into the future is the overall vagueness of his prophecies. It’s a style he adopted deliberately, in part because he didn’t want attention from the Church or other critics. It also was a way to draw readers in (besides prophecies, Nostradamus produced horoscopes and almanacs, so he understood how to appeal to the public). The result is work so general that people can find their own meanings. For example, a prediction about the dangers of global warming can be seen in Nostradamus writing about the sea getting so hot that fish become half-cooked.

A Historical Connection

Yet there’s more than vagueness behind the popularity of Nostradamus. As noted by Peter Lemesurier, many of Nostradamus’ projections into the future were based on historical events. Similarities abound in human history, so drawing on the past gives his work another layer of believability. Read the full article at


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