PREFACE OF MICHEL NOSTRADAMUS : LETTER TO HIS SON CEASAR




Comments and interpretation : Michel Dufresne (©).
(Free translation, first casting (i.e. not checked thouroughfully), from Jean Guernon.)

1. AD CÆSAREM NOSTRADAMUM FILIUM, Vie & felicité.

TO CÉSAR NOSTRADAMUS, MY SON, Life and felicity.

NOTE : The text, as it appeared in the princeps edition, doesn't contain any numbering. To facilitate references, we have reproduced these as they were bequeathed by Anatole Le Pelletier, during the past century. The integral version presented here has been taken from the reprinting of the prophecies of Nostradamus (Lyon 1557), published at Michel Chomarat Editions, in 1993.

2. Ton tard aduenement Cesar Nostradame mon filz, m'afaict mettre mon long temps par continuelles vigilations nocturnes referer par escript, toy delaisser memoire apres la corporelle extinction de tonprogeniteur, au cômun profit des humains, de ce que la diuine essence par Astronomiques reuolutions m'ont donné congnoissance.

Your late advent, César de Nostredame, my son, has forced me to dedicate long evenings writing, for your edification, after my disappearance et for the common good of humanity, what the divine essence, by the intermediary of the science of the movement of the heavenly body, has revealed to me.

NOTE: César de Nostredame was born at the onset of the year 1554 since he later wrote: "Il arnva l'an d'après que Michel de Notredame me dédia, estant dans le bers, et mit au jour les Centuries..." " trad : It came to pass that, the year after Michel de Notre Dame dedicated to me in the crib, and thus gave birth to the centuries (to be revised-ndt)". This son so much expected was the first that his spouse, Anne Ponsarde, gave him after seven years of wedding. But obviously, it was not to him that this preface was truly addressed, like we will establish it further on.

3. Et despuis qu'il à pleu au Dieu immortel que tu ne sois venu en naturelle lumiere dans ceste terrene plaige, & ne veulx dire tes ans qui ne sont encores acompaignez, mais tes moys Martiaulx incapables à receuoir dans ton debile entendement, ce que ie seray côtrainct apres mes iours definer:

And since it pleased to the immortal God that you weren't born on this earth with the inner knowledge and since I don't wish to reveal to you the number of years that will be required to acquire the necessary knowledge, but rather the martial months required to do so, which you're not able to understand yet because of your weak understanding, which I'll be forced to enlighten after my extinction:

NOTE: To this day, the expression " martial month " hasn't received any satisfactory interpretation. Many have thought of the god Mars and of the long works of one of the future exegetes of the magus. Others have seen there the years of war preceding the accomplishment of the prophecy. We know that these two words have such a signification for Nostradamus that he judged it appropriate to intervene at the proper time to give them the meaning.

4. veu qu 'il n'est possible te laisser par escript ce que seroit par l'iniure du temps obliteré: car la parolle hereditaire de l'occulte prediction sera dans mon estomach intercluse:

since it is not possible to leave you in writing what could be altered by the ravages of time, for the hereditary word of the occult prediction will disappear with me :

NOTE: By this admission, the author tells us that he belongs to a long lineage of those who have been provided with the role of transmitting the occult tradition. He tells us at the same time that he has weakened his comments on nature and on the aspects of this gift because of the fact that the times and men would have eventually altered its sacred significance.

5. côsiderant aussi les aduentures de l'humain definement estre incertaines, & que le tout est regi & gouuerné par la puissance de Dieu inestimable, nous inspirant par baccante fureur, ne par l'imphatique monumêt, mais par astronomiques assertiôs

considering as well that the events remain uncertain and that the whole is regulated by the invaluable power of God who inspires us, neither by hallucination, nor by delirium, but rather by the truth revealed by the heavenly bodies

NOTE: First innuendo to the theological summation as to the contingency of the events on which God has yet cast his decision.

6. Soli numine diuino afflati præsagiunt & spiritu prophetico particularia.

Only those inspired by God can predict particular facts with a prophetic genius.

NOTE: Adaptation from another thought of Thomas d'Aquin: "prophecy, in the true and absolute sense of the word, proceed from the divine inspiration " .

7. Combien que de long temps par plusieurs fois i'aye predict long temps au parauant, ce que despuis est aduenu, & en parhculieres regions, attribuant le tout estre faict par la vertu & inspiration diuine, & autres felices & sinistres aduentures de accelerée promptitude prononcées, que despuis sont aduenues par les climatz du monde:

How many times have I predicted in advance what has since then happened in the given regions, imputing the whole to virtue and divine inspiration, as well as other happy and sinister events written with haste an which, since, have happened in the world :

NOTE: One must assume that Nostradamus had already acquired a certain prophetic reputation before the publication of his Centuries since he pretended already to the paternity of just predictions. Unfortunately for us, they haven't crossed the centuries like have his enigmatic quatrains.

8. ayât volu taire & delaissé par cause de l'iniure, & non tant seulement du temps present, mais aussi de la plus grande part du futur de mettre par escript pour ce q les regnes, sectes, & religions feront changes si opposites, voire au respect du present diametralement,

having wanted to conceal and not put in writing, in order to avoid to undergo the ravages, not only of the present times, but also of the greater part of the future, what the kingdoms, sects and religions would modify in a diametrically opposite sense,

NOTE: Nostradamus feared not only the people of his time, but also those of his future, for the guilty manipulations or false interpretations of his texts.

9. que si ie venois à referer ce que à l'aduenir sera, ceulx de regne, secte, religion, & foy trouueroient si mal accordant à leur fantasie auriculaire, qu'ilz viedroiêt à damner, ce que par les siecles aduenir on congnoistra estre veu & apperceu.

That if I came to reveal what will happen to kingdoms, to sects and to the Church, these would find my remarks so contrary to their understanding that they would come to deny what, in the centuries to come, will happen and be recognized as true.

NOTE: His fear to see his work altered concern mainly the temporal monarchs, the Roman curia and the great reformers of Faith.

10. Considerant aussi la sentence du vray Sauueur: Nolite sanctum dare canibus nec mittatis margaritas ante porcos ne conculcent pedibus & conuersi dirumpant vos. Qui à esté la cause de faire retirer ma langue au populaire, & la plume au papier,

Considering also the maim of the true Savior " Don't give holy things to dogs and don't throw pearls to swine in fear that they trample them and that, turning against you, they tear you up ", I judged that it was better to make my writings difficult of access and to withdraw the pen from the paper,

NOTE: Extract from the Sermon on the Mount. (Mathieu, VII, 6) "Do not give dogs what is holy ; and do not throw pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you "

11. puis me suis volu estendre declarant pour le cômun aduenemêt, par obstruses & perplexes sentêces les causes futures, mesmes les plus vrgentes, & celles que i'ay apperceu quelque humaine mutahon que aduiêne ne scandalizer l'auriculaire fragilité, & le tout escript soubz figure nubileuse, plus que du tout prophetique,

and I have wanted to dwell on the coming of the people, by obscure and enigmatic sentences, on the events to come, even the most imminent, that I foresaw, whatever the reaction of the people, the whole composed under nebulous form, more than any other written prophecies,

NOTE: By this first allusion to the coming of the common, Nostradamus couldn't expressed in a better fashion to forecast, in the same momentum, the French Revolution of 1789 and its resultant, at the dawn of the twentieth century. It is moreover interesting to put in parallel this comment with the text of the third quatrain of the first Century.

12. combiê que Abscondisti hæc à sapientibus, & prudentibus, id est. potentibus & regibus, & enucleasti ea exiguis & tenuibus, & aux Prophetes: par le moyen de Dieu immortel & des bôs anges ont rece@ I'esprit de vaticination, par lequel ilz voyent les causes loingtaines, & viennent à preuoir les futurs aduenemêts:

how much " you have hidden those things from the wise and the cautious, in other words to the mighty and the kings, but you have revealed them to the small and the weak ", and to the prophets who, by the intervention of the immortal God et de good angels, have received the gift of predictions, by which they foresee the things of the future and achieve to predict events :

NOTE: Extract from the Gospel of Saint Matthew (XI, 25): "I bless you, father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things to the wise and the cautious, and you have revealed them to the simple minded... "

13. car rien ne se peult paracheuer sans luy, ausquelz si grande est la puissance & la bonté aux subiectz, quependant qu'ilz demeurent en eulx, toutesfois aux autres effectz subiectz, pour la similitude de la cause du bon genius, celle chaleur & puissance vaticinatrice s 'approche de nous: comme il nous aduient des rayons du Soleil, qui se viennent gettans leur influêce aux corps elemêtaires (& non elementaires).

Because nothing can be perfected without him, to whom (i.e. the good angels) so great is the might and the goodness towards the subjects (those of God), that while they are in them, every time whence they're submitted to the other effects that akin to the cause of what presides over life, this warmness and this power come in us as it goes for the rays of the Sun, transmitting their heat to the elementary bodies (and to the non-elementary ones).

NOTE: The complementary words "de Dieu" don't appear in the 1557 Edition but we find it in the 1558 one (Pierre Rigaud). Concerning the last part of the paragraph, it probably constitutes a recall of the writings of saint Augustin where it is written : " We see the pictures of the bodies that are produced in the soul like we perceive bodies in reality... ". Lastly, it seems that the future is not as unattainable than we conceive it in general, since the effects would simply proceed from the causes, like, moreover, has tried to convince us about the Platon.

14. Quât à nous qui sommes humains, ne pouuons rien de nostre naturelle congnoissance & inclination d'engin, congnoistre des secretz obstruses de Dieu le Createur. Quia non est nostrum noscere tempora, nec momenta etc.

As for us humans, we can't know nothing, neither from our knowledge, nor from our intelligence, of the hidden secrets of God the Creator. Because " it is not for us to know neither the times, nor the moments " .

NOTE: Nostradamus paraphrase here saint Mark (XIII 32): "As for this day and time, no one know them, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, but the Father. "

15. Combien que aussi de present peuuêt aduenir & estre personnaiges, que Dieu le Createur aye voulu reueler par imaginatiues impressions, quelques secretz de l'aduenir, accordés à l'astrologie iudicielle, côme du passé, que certaine puissance & volontaire faculté venoit par eulx, comme flambe de feu apparoit, que luy inspirant, on venoit à iuger les diuines & humaines inspirations.

How much also, from the present moment on, can be shown to us of the personages that God the Creator has wished to reveal to us with the help of pictures generated by creative imagination, thus revealing us some secrets of the future in accord with the judiciary astrology, like it was in the past, when a certain might or voluntary faculty would come in them like the flame of the fire appears and that, by inspiration, we could achieve to distinct those that are of divine origin from those that are human.

NOTE: By this explication barely hidden, Nostradamus brings us back to the ancient divinatory practices from Chaldea, Egypt, Asia Minor and Greece. His insistance concerning judiciary astrology leads us to believe that he considered this art as essential to the knowledge and the understanding of the principles to the inspired Revelation.

16. Car les oeuures diuines, que totallement sont absoluës, Dieu les vient paracheuer: la moyenne qui est au millieu les Anges: la troisiesme, les mauuais.

For the divine deeds, which are all absolute, God comes to perfect them : the second plan which is in the middle, the Angels ; the third, the bad (angels).

NOTE: Saint Thomas d'Aquin had written: " Beyond human intelligence is, not only the divine intelligence, but also according to the order of nature, those of the good and bad angels... "

17. Mais mon filz, ie te parle icy vn peu trop obstrusernent::

But, my son, I speak to you here in a too confusing fashion :

NOTE: Short prelude to the explanation that the author wants to give of his understanding of the inspired divination.

18. mais quant aux occultes vaticinations que on vient à receuoir par le subtil esperit du feu qui quelquefois par l'entendement agité, contemplant le plus hault des Astres comme estant vigilant, mesme que aux prononciations estant surprins escriptz, prononcant sans crainte moins attaint d'inuerecûde loquacité: mais guoy? tout procedoit de la puissance diuine du grand Dieu eternel, de qui toute bôté procede.

But about the occult predictions that we come to perceive by the subtle spirit of fire, the one that sometimes, by its overexcited spirit, while still being vigilant and contemplating the star on the zenith, is surprised of the consonance of the words pronounced and written without fear, without impudent verbiage, that which proceed from the might of the great eternal God from whom comes all goodness.

NOTE: The subtle spirit of fire refers probably to the first quatrain where he wrote " Flamme exiguë sortant de solitude " (to speak about the terrestrial representation of the spiritual light. Concerning the mention made on the highest of stars, Nostradamus wants to make us understand how it was possible for him to match a precise moment to what was revealed to him. Lastly, the last part deals with the divine intervention without which he couldn't have accomplished his wonders.

19. Encores, mon filz, que i'aye inseré le nom de prophete ie ne me veux attribuer tiltre de si haulte sublimité, pour le temps present: car gui propheta dicitur hodie, olim vocabatur videns: car prophete propremêt mon filz, est celuy qui voit choses loingtaines de la côgnoissance naturelle de toute creature.

Even though, my son, that I have used the name prophet, I don't want to confer myself such a sublime title for the present for the one " that we today call prophet was once in the past called a seer " : because is really prophet, my son, he who see future things by the natural knowledge given to all creature.

NOTE: Reference to the 2nd Book of Kings (XVII, 13): "Yahweh testify against Israël and against Judea by all their prophets and all the seers, by saying : " "Come back from your wicked ways, and observe my Commandments and my prescriptions, by following all of the law that I have prescribed to your fathers and that I have sent through the organ of my servants the prophets. "" The dialog of Timea (Platon), taken up by Bouché-Leclercq, tells us moreover: "When God has spoken, by an unconscious organ or at least removed in part from his own initiative, the inspired words are commented, with the lights of reason, by a " prophet " that one must not confuse with a " diviner ". The seer, in contrast, interprets by means of hypothesis, signs among which many may have no supernatural characteristic. "

20. Et cas aduenant que le prophete, moyennant la parfaicte lumiere de la prophetie, luy appaire manifestement des choses diuines, comme humaines que ce ne peult faire, veu les effectz de la future prediction s'estêdent loing.

In the eventuality where the prophet would see, in a precise fashion, all the extent of the future, as much about the divine, than the human, things, which can't be done, since the range of the prediction spans over a long period.

NOTE: The idea of Nostradamus reflect the thoughts of saint Thomas d'Aquin, who wrote: "It is thus not required that they have the knowledge of all prophetic truths, but each prophet grasp but only some of them, following the special revelation that has been made to him."

21. Car les secretz de Dieu sont incomprehensibles, & la vertu effectrice contingent de longue estendue de la congnoissance naturelle, prenêt leur plus prochain original du liberal arbitre, faict apparoir les causes qui d'elles mesmes ne peuuent acquerir celle notice pour estre cognues, ne par les humains augures, ne par autre congnoissance ou vertu occulte, comprinse soubz la concauité du ciel, mesme du faict present de la totale eternité, que vient en soy embrasser tout le temps.

For the secrets of God can't be understood and the effective virtue is, since long, contingent to the innate or natural knowledge which takes its farthest origin in free will and makes appear the causes which, by themselves, can't possess this notion, nor be known by the augurs of men or by the occult knowledge, and which is included under the celestial vault which contains the present and all eternity, coming in itself to embrace all time.

NOTE: Since each human being would be born, at the same time, with certain auspicious predispositions as well as with the limits inherent to his condition, it would then be impossible to obtain a general view of the spectrum of the human light which includes the three times : past, present and future.

22. Mais moyennant quelque indiusible eternité par comitiale agitation Hiraclienne les causes par le celeste mouuement sont côgneuës.

But, despite the fact that eternity is indivisible, the near epileptic crisis state of transe can bring about, with the help of the movement of the stars, the causes to be known.

NOTE: Despite the assertion which states that eternity constitutes an entity, inseparable in its elements, it would be possible, because of the study of the movement of the stars, to have a glance at what its component tied up to the future, holds. Besides, the allusion of Nostradamus to the state of "enthusiasm" bring us back of course to the Pythia who, before uttering her oracles, would condition herself by a state of trance near the convulsive crisis. The sacred laurel, the bronze tripod, and the purifying ritual by water wouldn't then be totally foreign to this matter.

23. Ie ne dis pas mon filz afin que bien l'entendes que la congnoissance de ceste matiere ne se peut encores imprimer dans ton debile cerueau que les causes futures bien loingtaines, ne soient à la congnoissance de la creature raisonable: si sont nonobstant bonnement la creature de l'ame intellectuelle des causes presentes loingtaines, ne luy sont du tout ne trop occultes, ne trop reserées:

I don't say, my son, in order that you understand well, that the knowledge in this matter can't still impregnate itself in your feeble brain and that the remote events of the future can't be known by the reasonable being ; but if these causes are brought to the attention of the intelligent man, the events of the future will not be too concealed nor too accessible to him.

NOTE: By this parenthesis, Nostradamus tells us that certain facts of the future are neither hidden obscurely nor too accessible, from which it ensues that the reasonable being can access them, a bit like if it was a question of natural faculty to be discovered within oneself.

24. mais la parfaicte des causes notices ne se pealt acquerir sans celle diuine inspiratiô: veu que toute inspiration prophetique recoit prenant son principal principe mouant de Dieu le createur, puis de l'heur. & de nature.

But the perfect knowledge of the causes can't be acquired without this divine revelation, considering that all prophetic inspiration received takes its driving principle from God the creator, then from fate an from nature.

NOTE: Once again, the author insist on the importance of the divine participation in this quest of the future. By associating nature to this principle, Nostradamus thus brings us back to the great laws of the universal Harmony, concept and human representation of the supreme being.

25. Parquoy estant les causes indifferantes indifferentement produictes nô produictes, le presaige partie aduient ou à esté predit.

In view of the identical causes, whether they have happened or not, the presage realizes itself anyway, in part, at the place where it was predicted.

NOTE: Since the same cause ought to beget the same effects, it goes without saying that if the events resulting from similar causes are not identical, nevertheless the prophecy remains veracious, at least in part.

26. Car l'entendement crée intellectuellemêt ne peult voir occultement, sinô par la voix faicte au Iymbe, moyennant la exigue flâme, en laquelle partie les causes futures se viendront à incliner.

For the understanding created intellectually cannot see what is hidden, except through the voice heard from limbo, by means of the little flame under which, in part, the future causes will come to be inclined.

NOTE: Limbo being by definition the place where the souls of the righteous were staying before the coming of Christ and, since, the place of the souls of the non-baptized, we must believe that the voices of these unwanted would add to the little flame of the den of the prophet in this knowledge awareness.

27. Et aussi mou filz, ie te supplie q iamais tu ne vueilles emploier ton entendement à telles resueries & vanités, qui seichêt le corps, & mettent à perdition l'ame, dônât trouble au foible sens: mesmes la vanité de la plus que execrable magie, reprouuée iadis par les sacrées escriptures & par les diuins canons,

Also, my son, I implore you never to use your brain for these reveries and vanities which dry up the body and push the soul to a state of perdition, troubling those whose senses are already fragile, even the vanity of the very execrable magic reprobated in olden days by the Holy Scriptures and by the divine laws,

NOTE: Nostradamus castigate here some of the divinatory practices that were in fashion during his epoch, maybe to distance from him the Inquisition and the stake which were then threatening anyone who would deviate even a little from the narrow path traced by Rome.

28. au chef duquel est excepté le iugement de l'astrologie iudicielle: par laquelle & moyennât l'inspiration & reuelation diuine par côtinuelles supputations, auôs noz prapheties redigé par escript.

On top of which is excluded the judgment of the judiciary astrology, by means of which and provided the divine inspiration and revelation, by endless calculations, we have drafted our prophecies.

NOTE: Judiciary astrology had not yet been condemned by Rome at the time Nostradamus wrote those lines, but it was at the onset of the Council of Trente, in 1564, some two years before his death.

29. Et côbien que, celle occulte Philosophie ne fusse reprouuée, n'ay onques volu presenter leurs effrenées persuations: côbien que plusieurs volumes gui ont esté cachés par long siecles ne sont estés manifestés.

And although this occult philosophy is not outcast, I have not wanted to elaborate on its tremendous power of persuasion, even though many revealing books, hidden during long centuries, have fallen into my hands.

NOTE: Nostradamus would have thus consulted certain secular manuscripts, refering to judiciary astrology, from which he would have derived his science.

30. Mais doutant ce qui aduiendroit en ay faict apres la lecture, present à Vulcan, que ce pendaut qu'il les venoit à deuorer la flâme leschant l'air rendoit vne darté insolite, plus claire que naturelle flamme, comme lumiere de feu de clistre fulgurant illuminant subit la maison, comme si elle fust esté en subite conflagration.

But fearing what would become, after the reading, I offered them as a present to Vulcan, and while he was devouring them, the flame licking them, the air took an unwonted brightness, brighter than the normal flame, like the light of the flashing thunder lighting suddenly the house, as if it had been at the center of a conflagration.

NOTE: Despite this shameful gesture, one must understand that Nostradamus was just complying to the directives of the Church which, itself, burned with zeal anything that could threaten the traditional faith.

31. Parquoy afin que à l'aduenir ne fusses abusé, perscrutant la parfaicte trâsformation, tant seline solaire, & soubz terre metaulx incorruptibles & aux vndes occultes, les ay en cendres conuertis

And in order that in the future you may not be abused, searching the perfect transmutation, in silver as much as in gold, searching the earth and the seas for incorruptible metals, I have preferred to convert them to ashes.

NOTE: From what he tells us, these ancients manuscripts would have also bear down upon alchemy and upon those reprehensible practices that were mentioned in paragraph 27, which would provide a certain justification to his guilty gesture.

32. Mais quât au iugement qui se vient paracheuer moyênât le iugement celeste, cela te veulx ie manifester: parquoy auoir congnoissance des causes futures, reiectât loing les fantastiques imaginations qui aduiendront, limitât la particulanté des lieux, par diuine inspiration supernaturelle:

But concerning the judgment that is getting completed provided the approbation of heaven, this I do want to manifest to you, in order to have the knowledge of the future causes, moving away from the imaginations pertaining from fantasy that won't fail to happen, delimiting the particularities of the places, by divine and supernatural inspiration,

NOTE: Nostradamus takes great care in guarding us against the inopportune intervention of the senses in the acquisition of the prophetic knowledge.

33. acordant aux celestes figures, les lieux & vne partie du temps de proprieté occulte par vertu, puissance, & faculté diuine: en presence a laguelle les trois temps sont comprins par eternité, reuolution tenant à la cause passée presente & future: quia omnia sunt nuda et aperta etc.

matching to the heavenly bodies the places and a part of the time hidden by divine virtue, might and faculty, in presence of which the three times are understood in eternity, the movement of revolution of those referring to the past, present and future event " because those things are naked and exposed, etc. "

NOTE: The author tells us that he has been able to establish the places and moments from the calculations referring to the movements of the heavenly bodies. Since only the moon and the sun have a relation with the calendars and their foundations, one must thus believe that his technique would have a certain relation with the calendars and their foundations. As for the given quotation, it would have been taken from the epistle of Saint-Paul to the Hebrews (IV,13) : " And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. "

34. Parquoy mon filz tu peulx facilement (nonobstant ton tendre cerueau) compredre, que les choses qui doiuent aduenir, se peuuent prophetiser par les nocturnes & celestes lumieres, que sont naturelles, & par l'esprit de prophetie

That is why, my son, you can easily (despite your weak understanding) understand that the things that must happen may be prophesized by the light of the heavenly bodies which is natural as well as by the spirit of prophecy.

NOTE: The expression in parenthesis doesn't appear in the 1557 edition, but it appears on the other hand in the Pierre Rigaud edition (1558 ?). One must nevertheless convene that it doesn't add much to the content, but to remind us of the limits of the disciple of predilection targeted by this letter. Lastly, the principal argument merely establishes that the stars have as their main function to reproduce the intrinsic light of the divine essence.

35. non que ie me vueille attribuer nomination ny effect prophetique, mais par reuelée inspiratiô, comme hôme mortel, esloigné non moins de sens au ciel, q des piedz en terre.

Not that I want to allot myself the name and quality of prophet, but by revealed inspiration, as a mortal man not less apart from heaven by my senses as I have my feet well anchored to the ground.

NOTE: Recall of the paragraph 18 to the effect that he prefers to be attributed the appellation " seer " rather than " prophet ", for which he admits feeling unworthy.

36. Possum non errare falli decipi: suis pecheur plus grand que nul de ce monde, subiect a toutes humaines afflictions

" I cannot therefore be mistaken, neither fail nor be abused ", even if I am sinner greater than any in this world and subject to all human afflictions.

NOTE: Humility act which reminds Thomas d'Aquin: "Prophecy requires, indeed, a very great spirit lifting, to contemplate the spiritual realities ; well then, to that is opposed the vehemence of passions or the untidy preoccupation of exterior realities... "

37. Mais estant surprins parfois la sepmaine limphatiguant, & par longue calculation, rendât les estudes nocturnes de souefue odeur: ie a composé liures de propheties, côtenât chascun cent quatrains astronomiques de propheties, lesquelles i'ay vn peu voulu rabouter obscurement sont perpetuelles vaticinations, pour d'icy à l'année 3797.

But being sometimes surprised, in state of ecstasy and absorbed in long calculations conferring to the nocturnal studies a sweet odor, I have composed divinatory books containing each one hundred quatrains of prophecies pertaining to judiciary astrology, which I have wanted to put end to end in an obscure fashion and that constitute perpetual vaticinations from now until the year 3797.

NOTE: These precisions turn out to be of a capital importance since the author concedes that each of the Centuries should contain exactly one hundred quatrains, all established on the basis of the knowledge peculiar to judiciary astrology. He also tells us having " obscurely joined end to end" his prophecies by presenting them in an order that, although obscure, remained nonetheless decipherable. Lastly, he specifies that his visions would bring us up to the year 3797 of the Christian era.

38. Que possible fera retirer le front a quelques vns, en voyant si longue extension, & par soubz toute la concauité de la Lune aura lieu & intelligêce: & ce entendât vniuersellement par toute la terre (les causesJ mon filz. Que si tu vis l'aage naturel & humain, tu verras deuers ton climat au propre ciel de ta natiuité, les futures aduentures preuoir.

That it is possible that this will make the forefront of some recede by seeing so long an extension, and everywhere, under the concavity of the moon, this will happen and will be understood ; and by that I mean universally, throughout the whole earth (the causes), my son. That if you live the normal age of the human, you will see in the sky of your part of the country, under the very sky of your own birth, the events of the future that are forecast.

NOTE: The expression given in parenthesis has been introduced by the edition of Pierre Rigaud. Moreover, there is no doubt that his disciple of predilection should be contemporary to many of the great events (the causes), but only if God decide to grant him the normal longevity devolved to the human age.

39. Combien que le seul Dieu eternel, soit celuy seul qui congnoit l'eternité de sa lumiere, procedant de luy mesmes:

For the unique eternal God is the only one who knows the eternity of His light, since it proceeds from his person :

NOTE: Nostradamus is keen on adding that the fixed deadline (year 3797) could be changed since God always reserves himself the right to act upon the times and the moments (allusion to patragraph 14).

40. & ie dis franchement que à ceulx à qui sa magnitude immêse (qui est sans mesure & incôprehensible), ha volu par longue inspiration melâcoligue reueler, que moyênât icelle cause occulte manifestée diuinement: principallement de deux causes (principales), qui sont comprinses à l'entendement de celuy inspiré, qui prophetise, l'vne est que vient à infuser esclarcissant la lumiere supernaturelle, au personaige qui predit par la doctrine des Astres, & prophetise par inspiree reuelatiô laquelle est vne certaine participation de la diuine eternité, moyennant le prophete vient à iuger de cela que son diuin esperit luy à donné, par le moyen de Dieu le createur, & par vne naturelle instigation:

and I say frankly to those to whom he has wanted to reveal his greatness (which is immeasurable and incomprehensible) by long melancholic inspiration, only under the condition that this occult cause be manifested by the divine intervention : essentially, from two (main) causes which are integral part of the understanding of the one who is inspired and who prophetizes, one comes to infuse the intelligence of the surnatural light to the one who predicts by the science of the stars and prophesizes by inspired revelation, which constitutes a certain participation to divine eternity, provided that the prophet understands that what his spirit has revealed to him comes from the Creator, the other (which comes from) his natural predispositions:

NOTE: Nostradamus reaffirm the absolute necessity of the divine intervention in the revealed prophecy, but insists at the very end on the natural predispositions that must possess the seer in order to act as a privileged intermediary between God and the humans.

41. c'est assauoir ce qu'il predit estre vray, & à pris son origine etheréement: & telle lumiere & flambe exigue est de toute efficace & de telle altitude, non moins que la nature, la clarté, & naturelle lumiere rend les philosophes si asseurés, que moyennât les principes de la premiere cause ont attainct à plus profondes abysmes de plus haultes doctrines.

It is namely that what he predicts is true and has taken its origin in an ethereal fashion and from such light and slender flame which is of all efficiency and of such greatness, not less than nature, the brightness and the natural light which makes philosophers so sure of themselves, considering that the principles of the main cause have reached the deepest depths and the highest doctrines.

NOTE: To him, the light illuminating the prophet's intelligence is as natural as the one which reveals to philosophers the argumentation militating in favour of the most arduous concepts of their science.

42. Mais à celle fin mon filz que ie ne vague trop profondement pour la capacité future de tô sens, & aussi que ie trouue que les lettres feront si grâde & incomparable iactuse que ie trouue le môde auant l'vniuerselle conflagratiô aduenir tant de deluges & si hautes inondations, qu'il ne sera guieres terroir qui ne soit couert d'eau & sera par si lôg temps que hors mis enographies & topographies, q le tout ne soit pery:

But, to this end, my son, that I do not speculate too much on the future capacity of your understanding, and since I know that the literature will produce such a great and unprecedented bragging over my vision before the universal conflagration to come, which concerns to so many floods and to so many great inundations that there will be hardly any territories that wont be covered by water, and will be so for so long, excepted in certain places, that everything will be destroyed :

NOTE: This new destructive deluge is also the subject of commentaries in the epistle to Henri II, king of France. (...)

43. aussi auât telles & apres inundutiôs, en plusieurs contrées les pluyes seront si exigues, & tombera du ciel si grâde abondance de feu, & de pierres candêtes gui ny demourera rien qu'il ne soit côsummé: & cecy aduenir, en brief & auant la derniere conflagratiô.

also, before and after such inundations, in many regions the rain will become so rare and will fall from the skies such an abundance of incandescent stones that nothing will remain that won't be consumed : this will happen, briefly, before the last conflagration.

NOTE: The inundations forecast in paragraph 42 should be preceded and followed by unending droughts, accompanied by volcanic eruptions. Moreover, these cataclysms would constitute but few of the preliminary signs before the " great conflagration ".

44. Car encores que la planette de Mars paracheue son siecle, & à la fin de son dernier periode, si le repreêdra il mais assemblés, les vns en Aquarius par plusieurs années, les autres en Cancer parplus longues continues.

For before the planet Mars has completed his cycle and at the end of its last period, and if it starts it over, gathered together some in Aquarius for several years, the others in Cancer longer and more often.

NOTE: According to Richard Roussat (Book of the State and Mutation of Times, 1550), seven cycles, of 354 years and 4 months span each, identified in the following order to the heavenly bodies that are Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, the Moon and the Sun, will follow in succession to engender the great planetary cycle. Since we know by him the starting point of the last reign of the Moon (1534), we can thus trace the following portrait of the past and upcoming cycles: Moon (1534-1888); Sun (1888-2242); Saturn (2242-2597); Venus (2597- 2951); Jupiter (2951-3305); Mercury (3305-3659), Mars (3659 4013). Now, we note that the last period contains the year 3797, foreseen term of the prophecies, which fully justifies the expression " before the planet Mars has completed his cycle". Moreover, since he mentions the presence, during many years, of some planets in the midst of the Aquarius and cancer constellations, we must conclude that the solar system will have experienced important disruption since, of the actual satellites of the sun, only Saturn remains presently more than a year within a given zodiacal sign.

45. Et maintenant que sommes conduictz par la lune, moyennât la totale puissance de Dieu eternel que auant qu'elle aye paracheué son total circuit, le soleil viendra & puis Saturne.

And now that we are driven by the moon, thanks to the all-mighty power of the eternal God before it (the Earth) has accomplished its great cycle, the Sun will come, then Saturn.

NOTE: As we have seen in the previous paragraph, the last cycle of the Moon would have started in 1534 and would have ended in 1888, year which coincide also with the starting point of that of the sun.

46. Car selon les signes celestes le regne de Saturne sera de retour, q le tout calculé le monde, s'aproche, d'vne anaragonique reuolution:

For, according to the celestial signs, the reign of Saturn will be back and, the whole well calculated, the world is getting nearer of a destructive mutation.

NOTE: According to Nostradamus, the starting again of the cycle of Saturn (2242 of the Christian era) should mark the onset of a period of great changes, imputable to the coming back of this great cycle of the seven heavenly bodies regulating our destiny.

47. & que de present que cecy i'escripz auant cent septate sept ans trois moys vnze iours par pestilence, longue famine, & guerres, & plus par les inundatios le môde entre cy & ce terme prefix, auant & apres par plusieursfoys, sera si diminué & si peu de môde sera, que lon ne trouuera q vueille prendre les châps qui deuiendront liberes aussi lôguemêt qu'ilz sont estés en seruitude:

and that from the period when I write, before one hundred seventy seven years three months and eleven days, by disease, long famine and wars, and even more by inundations, the world, between the present times and the established term, before and after, in many occasions, will be so diminished and there will be so little people, that we will find no one who will want to work in the fields, which will then become abandoned for a time as long as they have been exploited.

NOTE: By this superabundance of precisions on the forecast of events that should spread out over many years (before and after), the author certainly didn't wish to bring us to consider the given period as taking its origin from the year 1555. We note moreover that this period is equivalent to approximately half of one of the cycles described previously (0.50052 X 354.3333 years) which makes us think that the expression " from the present " would concern the beginning of the following cycle, t hat is to say the year 1888 of our era. From this fact, the period of the great tribulations evoked would be situated before and after the year 2065, median point of the actual Sun's cycle.

48. & ce quant au visible iugement celeste, que encores q nous soions au septiesme nôbre de mille qui paracheue le tout, nous approchât du huictiesme ou est le firmamêt de la huichesme sphere, q est en dimensiô latitudinaire: ou le grâd Dieu eternel viendra paracheuer la reuolution: ou les images celestes retournerôt à se mouuoir & le monument superieur qui nous rend la terre stable & ferme, non inclinabitur in sæculum sæculi: hors mis que son vouloir sera accôply, ce sera, mais nô point autremêt:

and this, concerning the visible judgment of heaven, yet that we are at the seventh number of one thousand which complete the whole, bringing us near to the eighth where the firmament of the eighth sphere, which is of very important dimension, where the great eternal God will come to complete the revolution, where the celestial pictures will begin over their cycle and the superior movement which makes the earth stable and firm to us, " will not be eternally tilted " lest his wishes be accomplished, and not in any way otherwise.

NOTE: Since the year 2065 of our era correspond to the year 6157 in the great Nostradamic Calendar and since it is the 157th of its seventh millennium, the beginning of the eighth will manifest itself in the year 2908 of our era, that is to say at the end of the reign of Venus of our great temporal cycle.

49. côbien que par ambigues opiniôs excedâts toutes raisons naturelles par songes Machometiqs, aussi aucune fois, Dieu le createur par les ministres de ses messagiers de feu en flâme missiue vient à proposer aux sens exterieurs, mesmement à noz yeulx les causes de future prediction significatnces du cas futur qui se doit à celuy qui presaige manifester.

How much that, by ambiguous opinions exceeding all natural reasons, by diverting dreams, that is why God the Creator, by the mediation of his messengers, by the flame of fire sent, never comes to propose to the exterior senses, not even to our eyes, the predictions which address the future and manifest themselves to the one who wants to witness them.

NOTE: One established the great temporal stages of his work, Nostradamus prefers come back to the philosophical considerations by saying that the exterior senses of man cannot play a significant role in the awareness of the seer because they are naturally inclined to divert the true sense of the prophetic message.

50. Car le presaige gui se faict de la lumiere exterieure vient infailliblemêt à iuger partie auecqs & moyennant le lume exterieur: combien vrayemêt q la partie qui semble auoir par l'oeil de l'entêdemêt, ce q n'est pas la lesiô du sens imaginatif

For the omen that is cast from the exterior light will infallibly combine and compare in part with the interior light of the seer, even though that the one who thinks he sees by his eyes is but an effect of his passionate imagination.

NOTE: Only the interior light gives the prophecy the certainty that characterizes it, while the exterior light just provokes the imagination of the one who receives it.

51. Ia raison est par trop euidente, le tout estre predict par afflatiô de diuinité, & par le moyê de l'esprit angelique inspiré à l'hôme prophetisant rêdât ioinctes de vaticinatiôs le venant à illuminer luy esmouuât le deuat de la phâtasie par diuerses nocturnes aparitiôs que par diurne certitude prophetise par administratiô astronomicq coioincte de la sanctissime future prediction, ne côsiderât ailleurs q au couraige libre.

The reason is too obvious, the whole must be predicted by the divine breath and by the intervention of the spirit of the angels, inspired to the man who prophecizes, together with the vaticination that comes to enlighten him, moving him as much by diverse nocturnal apparitions than by the certainty of the day, by its knowledge of the stars, together with the sanctity of the true vision of the future, considering nothing else than the affirmation of self.

NOTE: Like Thomas d'Aquin, Nostradamus advocates the absolute necessity of the angels in the transmission of the Revelation. He adds also that the light then illuminating his spirit, makes appear the vision of events to come that the knowledge of the science of the movement of the heavenly bodies allows him then to fix in time.

52. Vient asture entendre mon filz q ie trouue par mes reuolutiôs q sont accordâtes à reuelée inspiratiô que le mortel glaiue s'aproche de nous maintenât, par peste, guerre plus hornble q à vie de trois hommes n'à esté, & famine lequel tombera en terre, & y retournera souuêt,

Come listen at this hour, my son, what I discover by my calculations of the movements of the heavenly bodies that are tuned with the revealed inspiration, that the mortal sword gets nearer to us now, by disease, war more horrible than ever was, by the fact of three men, and drought which will come on earth and will come back on it often,

NOTE: The magus speaks here of three world war caused by as many individuals and of a fourth one even more destructive. Now, the two world war of the XXth century can easily impose themselves as the first part of this prophecy, letting us think that the two personages concerned could correspond to Guillaume II and to Adolf Hitler. As for the third one, it could maybe concern the Chiren Selin of Islam, Iranian by origin, that puts in exergue a great number of quatrains. Lastly, the fourth seems to refer to the second antichrist that is talked about in the epistle of Henry II.

53. car les Astres s'accordent à la reuolution: & aussi à dict. Visitabo in virga ferrea iniquitates eorum et in verberibus et percutiam eos:

because the heavenly bodies tune themselves to the revolution (translation) and also we say : " I will repress your iniquity with an iron rod and will chastise them with whips. "

NOTE: Reference to the book 1 of Kings (XII, 14): "...my father has chastised you with whips, but I'll chastise you with iron tips whips. "

54. car la misericorde du Seignr ne sera point dispergée vn temps, mon filz, que la pluspart de mes propheties serôt accomplies, & viendront estre par acôplissemêt reuolues

for the mercifulness of the Lord won't be spread anymore during a certain period, my son, lest that most of my prophecies be accomplished and will come to pass by their accomplishment.

NOTE: This great chastisement, also underlined by the Apocalypse of john, would not correspond nevertheless to the end of times since Nostradamus uses the expression " during a certain period ".

55. Alors par plusieurs fois durât les sinistres tempestes, Conteram ergo, dira le Seignr, et confringam, & non miserebor:

So, many times, during the sinister tempests, will say the Lord : "I will trample them under my feet, I will break them and won't have any pity for them."

NOTE: As it was during the universal deluge when Noah and his family were saved, some survivors should be able to tell about the extent of the cataclysm.

56. & mille autres aduentures, qui aduiendront par eaux & continuelles pluies comme plus à plain i'ay redigé par escript aux miennes autres propheties, qui sont côposées tout au lôg, in soluta oratione, limitant les lieux, temps, & le terme prefix que les humains apres venuz, verront cognoissants les aduêtures aduenues infailliblement

and a thousand more adventures that will happen by waters and continuous rains, as I have in full drawn up in writing my other prophecies which are composed all along " in clear ", delimiting the places, the times and the term fixed that the humans that will come after will see, in full knowledge, the adventures infallibly came to pass.

NOTE: In reference to his other texts in prose, Nostradamus probably allude to the epistle dedicated to Henry II, intercalated between his seventh and his eighth Century.

57. côme auons noté par les autres parlât plus clairement, (nonobstant que soubs nuee seront comprises les intelligences: sed quando submouenda erit ignorentia, le cas sera plus esclaircy).

As we have indicated it for the others expressed more clearly (although recovered by a cloud, will be understood by intelligent men : " but when the time will come when ignorance must be dissipated ", the affair will become clear).

NOTE: Nostradamus agrees here that his address to Henry II of France is expressed more clearly, but he admits the numerous traps that are set in it.

58. (Faisant fin, mon fils, prens donc ce don de ton pere Michel Nostradamus, esperant toy declarer vne chacune Prophetie des quatrains cy mis) Priant au Dieu immortel qu'il te vueille prester vie longue, en bonne & prospere felicité.

(To conclude, my son, accept this gift from your father Michel de Nostredame, hoping to give you the span of each of the prophecies of the quatrains presented here) Praying the immortal God that he will want to lend you long life, in good and prosperous felicity..

NOTE: By this wish, Nostradamus hopes that his spiritual son will know, as much as himself has, how to take advantage of this gift and perpetuate the secular tradition.

59. De Salon ce premier iour de Mars. 1555

From Salon, this first day of March 1555.

NOTE: From salon, first day of March 1555, according to the ancient " comput ".

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