French apothecary and purported prophet Nostradamus may havehis skeptics, but you can't deny his ideas have staying power.
He wrote his first book, "Les Propheties," in 1555, and publishing companies still roll out copies today. There's even a "Nostradamus For Dummies."
In the text of his book, each four-line block, called a quatrain, attempts to predict the future.
While logic might suggest Nostradamus' claims could apply to almost any event, some of them come eerily close to reality. In these 11 cases, we couldn't ignore his speculative prowess.
The Death of Henry II
"The young lion will overcome the older one,
On the field of combat in a single battle;
He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death."
France's King Henry II lined up to joust Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges, a nobleman six years his junior, in the summer of 1559.
In their final pass, Montgomery's lance tilted up and splintered into two shards. One went through the king's visor and hit his eye, and the other lodged in his temple. Henry suffered for 10 days before dying in his bed.
Some reports say their shields displayed lion emblems, though disagreement exists. Skeptics also claim "field of battle" in the quatrain probably shouldn't apply to the friendly jousting match that killed Henry II.
The Great Fire of London
"The blood of the just will be lacking in London,
Burnt up in the fire of '66:
The ancient Lady will topple from her high place,
Many of the same sect will be killed."
On Sept. 2, 1666, a small fire in Thomas Farriner's bakery on Pudding Lane in London turned into a three-day blaze that consumed the city. It became known as the Great Fire of London.
Peasant deaths weren't recorded at the time, but many historians claims at least eight people died in the blaze. Thousands of houses and businesses burned, as well.
"Blood of the just" might refer to the elimination of millions of flea-carrying rats that spread the Black Death. That deadly plague died out during the Great Fire.
The French Revolution
"Songs, chants, and demands will come from the enslaved
Held captive by the nobility in their prisons
At a later date, brainless idiots
Will take these as divine utterances."
In 1789, the French people decided they'd had enough of aristocratic rule. They revolted, storming the Bastille, a Paris fortress used as a prison. The fall of the Bastille, which symbolised the monarchy's abuses, marked the height of the French Revolution.
The peasants quickly took control of Paris and enforced their demands by kidnapping the royals. Some of them were even beheaded.
"Pau, Nay, Loron, more fire than blood,
Swimming in praise, the great man hurries to the confluence.
He will refuse entry to the magpies,
Pampon and Durrance will confine them. "
Pau, Nay, and Loron reference three towns in Paris, although the last is actually named Oloron. By using them, Nostradamus employed one of his favorite devices, the anagram.
Rearranging the cities' letters spells Napaulon Roy, which eerily resembles Napoleon the King in French.
"More of fire than of the blood" may refer to the non-noble lineage of Napoleon, who took power during a coup. "Refuse entry to the magpies" could refer to Popes Pius VI and VII, both of whom Napoleon imprisoned.
King Philip II of Spain's Reign
"For seven years Philip's fortunes will prosper,
He will reduce the Arab army,
Then, halfway through, things will perplexedly turn against him,
A young onion will destroy his fortune."
Catholic King Philip II of Spain started ruling the country in 1556, and Spain became unbelievably wealthy for the first part of his reign. "Seven" could be interpreted biblically, meaning "a long time."
His success, however, came to an unexpected halt in 1587 with the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, who was also Catholic. Her death effectively ended his alliance with England. A year later, he tried to invade England with his Spanish Armada fleet of ships, but England thwarted him.
The quatrain also hints at the Battle of Lepanto, where Spain slaughtered the fleet of the Ottoman Empire, an area to the South inhabited by many Arabs. Philip would later call for Muslim expulsion from Spain.
Lastly, the "young onion" refers to 36-year-old Henri IV of France, a Huguenot and thus, Protestant. He and Philip disagreed on religion and battled until Henri's death.
Louis Pasteur's Discoveries
"The lost thing is discovered, hidden for many centuries.
Pasteur will be celebrated almost as a God-like figure.
This is when the moon completes her great cycle,
But by other rumors he shall be dishonored."
Born in 1822, Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who discovered that the growth of micro-organisms causes fermentation. That discovery also proved bacteria doesn't simply appear spontaneously, as previously thought. Instead, it grows from already-living organisms in a process called biogenesis.
While Pasteur didn't first propose "germ theory," he convinced much of Europe of its validity. He invented a process for removing bacteria, "pasteurisation," which is named after him. His early work also led to the creation of vaccines for rabies and anthrax.
However, in 1995, science historian Gerald L. Geison published a book showing Pasteur incorporated a rival's findings to make his anthrax vaccine functional. That finding partly "dishonored" the great scientist, as Nostradamus predicted.
Hitler's Terror In Europe
"From the depths of the West of Europe,
A young child will be born of poor people,
He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop;
His fame will increase towards the realm of the East."
"Beasts ferocious with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister.
Into a cage of iron will the great one be drawn,
When the child of Germany observes nothing."
Hitler — who was born to poor parents in 1889 in Western Europe — used his intense oratory skills to mobilise the Nazi party in Germany in the years following World War I. Germany, as a part of the Axis powers, also allied with Japan in the East. While many believe "Hister" to be a typo, it's also an old name for the Danube River.
Hitler was born just miles from that river in what was then Austria-Hungary, also known as the "Danube Monarchy." Remember, Nostradamus often incorporated anagrams, such as "Hister," into his writing.
Charles De Gaulle's Leadership
"Hercules become king of Rome and of Annemarc,
A man named De Gaulle is a three-time leader,
Italy and the waters of Venice will tremble,
He will be renowned above all monarchs."
Charles de Gaulle — a three-time leader — began as the leader of the Free French Forces, France's government-in-exile based in London during World War II.
He then became prime minister of the provisional post-WWII government. Finally in 1959, he undertook the first presidency of the French Fifth Republic.
The Atomic Bomb
"The heavenly dart with stretch its course
Death in the speaking: a great achievement
The proud nation brought low by the stone in the tree
Rumours of a monstrous human, bring purge, then expiation."
In August of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the island nation of Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many historians argue the tragedy marked the end of World War II.
Those who escaped immediate detonation suffered painful radiation poisoning, and many died. A "stone in the tree" in Nostradamus' quatrain could describe the shape of the mushroom cloud that engulfed the sky above the city. It could also mean a land-bound object, like a stone and a bomb, paradoxically appearing where it shouldn't — a tree or the sky.
"The ancient task will be completed
From on high, evil will fall ont he great man
A dead innocent will be accused of the deed
The guilty on will remain in the mist."
John Kennedy's assassination in 1963 undoubtedly came from "on high." The bullet entered his head from roof-level.
The man accused of the crime, Lee Harvey Oswald, didn't live long enough to face trial. A Dallas nightclub owner killed him while in police custody. Oswald also persistently claimed he was a patsy, and therefore, innocent.
Even today, we don't know for sure who killed JFK. According to a recent Gallup poll, 61% of Americans believe it was a conspiracy.
11 September, 2001
"The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
Fire approaches the great new city.
By fire, he will destroy their city,
A cold and cruel heart, blood will pour.
Mercy to none."
On the morning of 11 September, 2001, hijacked planes crashed into the Two Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Scholars interpret forty-five degrees as either a reference to New York City's proximity to the 45th latitude or that the burning buildings would fall, creating a 45 degree angle to the ground — even though they collapsed onto themselves.
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