Preface by M. Nostradamus to His Prophecies
Greetings and happiness to Cesar Nostradamus my son. Your late arrival,
Cesar Nostredame, my son, has made me spend much time in constant nightly
reflection so that I could communicate with you by letter and leave you this
reminder, after my death, for the benefit of all men, of which the divine
spirit has vouchsafed me to know by means of astronomy. And since it was the
Almighty's will that you were not born here in this region and I do not want
to talk of years to come but of the months during which you will struggle to
grasp and understand the work I shall be compelled to leave you after my
death: assuming that it will not be possible for me to leave you such writing
as may be destroyed through the injustice of the age. The key to the hidden
prediction which you will inherit will be locked inside my heart.
Also bear in mind that the events here described have not yet come to pass,
and that all is ruled and governed by the power of Almighty God, inspiring us
not by bacchic frenzy nor by enchantments but by astronomical assurances:
predictions have been made through the inspiration of divine will alone
and the spirit of prophecy in particular.
On numerous occasions and over a long period of time I have predicted
specific events far in advance, attributing all to the workings of divine
power and inspiration, together with other fortunate or unfortunate
happenings, foreseen in their full unexpectedness, which have already come to
pass in various regions of the earth. Yet I have wished to remain silent and
abandon my work because of the injustice not only of the present time but
also for most of the future. I will not commit to writing.
Since governments, sects and countries will undergo such sweeping changes,
diametrically opposed to what now obtains, that were I to relate events to
come, those in power now - monarchs, leaders of sects and religions - would
find these so different from their own imaginings that they would be led to
condemn what later centuries will learn how to see and understand. Bear in
mind also Our Saviour's words: "Do not give anything holy to the dogs, nor
throw pearls in front of swine lest they trample them with their feet and
turn on you and tear you apart." For this reason I withdrew my pen from the
paper, because I wished to amplify my statement touching the Vulgar Advent by
means of ambiguous and enigmatic comments about future causes, even those
closest to us and those I have perceived, so that some human change which may
come to pass shall not unduly scandalize delicate sensibilities. The whole
work is thus written in a nebulous rather than plainly prophetic form.
So much so that, "You have hidden these things from the wise and the
circumspect, that is from the mighty and the rulers, and you have purified
those things for the small and the poor," and through Almighty God's will,
revealed unto those prophets with the power to perceive what is distant and
thereby to foretell things to come. For nothing can be accomplished without
this faculty, whose power and goodness work so strongly in those to whom
it is given that, while they contemplate within themselves, these powers are
subject to other influences arising from the force of good. This warmth and
strength of prophecy invests us with its influence as the sun's rays affect
both animate and inanimate entities.
We human beings cannot through our natural consciousness and intelligence
know anything of God the Creator's hidden secrets, For it is not for us to
know the times or the instants, etc.
So much so that persons of future times may be seen in present ones, because
God Almighty has wished to reveal them by means of images, together with
various secrets of the future vouchsafed to orthodox astrology, as was the
case in the past, so that a measure of power and divination passed through
them, the flame of the spirit inspiring them to pronounce upon inspiration
both human and divine. God may bring into being divine works, which are
absolute; there is another level, that of angelic works; and a third way,
that of the evildoers.
But my son, I address you here a little too obscurely. As regards the occult
prophecies one is vouchsafed through the subtle spirit of fire, which the
understanding sometimes stirs through contemplation of the distant stars as
if in vigil, likewise by means of pronouncements, one finds oneself surprised
at producing writings without fear of being stricken for such impudent
loquacity. The reason is that all this proceeds from the divine power of
Almighty God from whom all bounty proceeds.
And so once again, my son, if I have eschewed the word prophet, I do not wish
to attribute to myself such lofty title at the present time, for whoever is
called a prophet now was once called a seer; since a prophet, my son, is
properly speaking one who sees distant things through a natural knowledge of
all creatures. And it can happen that the prophet bringing about the perfect
light of prophecy may make manifest things both human and divine, because
this cannot be done otherwise, given that the effects of predicting the
future extend far off into time.
God's mysteries are incomprehensible and the power to influence events is
bound up with the great expanse of natural knowledge, having its nearest most
immediate origin in free will and describing future events which cannot be
understood simply through being revealed. Neither can they be grasped through
men's interpretations nor through another mode of cognizance or occult power
under the firmament, neither in the present nor in the total eternity to come
But bringing about such an indivisible eternity through Herculean efforts,
things are revealed by the planetary movements.
I am not saying, my son - mark me well, here - that knowledge of such things
cannot be implanted in your deficient mind, or that events in the distant
future may not be within the understanding of any reasoning being.
Nevertheless, if these things current or distant are brought to the awareness
of this reasoning and intelligent being they will be neither too obscure nor
too clearly revealed.
Perfect knowledge of such things cannot be acquired without divine
inspiration, given that all prophetic inspiration derives its initial origin
from God Almighty, then from chance and nature. Since all these portents are
produced impartially, prophecy comes to pass partly as predicted. For
understanding created by the intellect cannot be acquired by means of the
occult, only by the aid of the zodiac, bringing forth that small flame by
whose light part of the future may be discerned.
Also, my son, I beseech you not to exercise your mind upon such reveries and
vanities as drain the body and incur the soul's perdition, and which trouble
our feeble frames. Above all avoid the vanity of that most execrable magic
formerly reproved by the Holy Scriptures - only excepting the use of official
For by the latter, with the help of inspiration and divine revelation, and
continual calculations, I have set down my prophecies in writing. Fearing
lest this occult philosophy be condemned, I did not therefore wish to make
known its dire import; also fearful that several books which had lain hidden
for long centuries might be discovered, and of what might become of them,
after reading them I presented them to Vulcan. And while he devoured them,
the flame licking the air gave out such an unexpected light, clearer than
that of an ordinary flame and resembling fire from some flashing cataclysm,
and suddenly illumined the house as if it were caught in a furnace. Which is
why I reduced them to ashes then, so that none might be tempted to use occult
labours in searching for the perfect transmutation, whether lunar or solar,
of incorruptible metals.
But as to that discernment which can be achieved by the aid of planetary
scrutiny, I should like to tell you this. Eschewing any fantastic imaginings,
you may through good judgement have insight into the future if you keep to
the specific names of places that accord with planetary configurations, and
with inspiration places and aspects yield up hidden properties, namely that
power in whose presence the three times are understood as Eternity whose
unfolding contains them all: for all things are naked and open.
That is why, my son, you can easily, despite your young brain, understand
that events can be foretold naturally by the heavenly bodies and by the
spirit of prophecy: I do not wish to ascribe to myself the title and role of
prophet, but emphasize inspiration revealed to a mortal man whose perception
is no further from heaven than the feet are from the earth. I cannot fail,
err or be deceived, although I may be as great a sinner as anyone else upon
this earth and subject to all human afflictions.
But after being surprised sometimes by day while in a trance, and having long
fallen into the habit of agreeable nocturnal studies, I have composed books
of prophecies, each containing one hundred astronomical quatrains, which I
want to condense somewhat obscurely. The work comprises prophecies from today
to the year 3797.
This may perturb some, when they see such a long timespan, and this will
occur and be understood in all the fullness of the Republic; these things
will be universally understood upon earth, my son. If you live the normal
lifetime of man you will know upon your own soil, under your native sky,
how future events are to turn out.
For only Eternal God knows the eternity of His light which proceeds from Him,
and I speak frankly to those to whom His immeasurable, immense and
incomprehensible greatness has been disposed to grant revelations through
long, melancholy inspiration, that with the aid of this hidden element
manifested by God, there are two principal factors which make up the
The first is when the supernatural light fills and illuminates the person who
predicts by astral science, while the second allows him to prophesy through
inspired revelation, which is only a part of the divine eternity, whereby the
prophet comes to assess what his divinatory power has given him through the
grace of God and by a natural gift, namely, that what is foretold is true and
ethereal in origin.
And such a light and small flame is of great efficacy and scope, and nothing
less than the clarity of nature itself. The light of human nature makes the
philosophers so sure of themselves that with the principles of the first
cause they reach the loftiest doctrines and the deepest abysses.
But my son, lest I venture too far for your future perception, be aware that
men of letters shall make grand and usually boastful claims about the way I
interpreted the world, before the worldwide conflagration which is to bring
so many catastrophes and such revolutions that scarcely any lands will not be
covered by water, and this will last until all has perished save history
and geography themselves. This is why, before and after these revolutions in
various countries, the rains will be so diminished and such abundance of fire
and fiery missiles shall fall from the heavens that nothing shall escape the
holocaust. And this will occur before the last conflagration.
For before war ends the century and in its final stages it will hold the
century under its sway. Some countries will be in the grip of revolution for
several years, and others ruined for a still longer period. And now that we
are in a republican era, with Almighty God's aid, and before completing its
full cycle, the monarchy will return, then the Golden Age. For according to
the celestial signs, the Golden Age shall return, and after all calculations,
with the world near to an all-encompassing revolution - from the time of
writing 177 years 3 months 11 days - plague, long famine and wars, and still
more floods from now until the stated time. Before and after these, humanity
shall several times be so severely diminished that scarcely anyone shall be
found who wishes to take over the fields, which shall become free where they
had previously been tied.
This will be after the visible judgement of heaven, before we reach the
millennium which shall complete all. In the firmament of the eighth sphere,
a dimension whereon Almighty God will complete the revolution, and where the
constellations will resume their motion which will render the earth stable
and firm, but only if He will remain unchanged for ever until His will be
This is in spite of all the ambiguous opinions surpassing all natural reason,
expressed by Mahomet; which is why God the Creator, through the ministry of
his fiery agents with their flames, will come to propose to our perceptions
as well as our eyes the reasons for future predictions.
Signs of events to come must be manifested to whomever prophesies. For
prophecy which stems from exterior illumination is part of that light and
seeks to ally with it and bring it into being so that the part which seems to
possess the faculty of understanding is not subject to a sickness of the mind.
Reason is only too evident. Everything is predicted by divine afflatus and
thanks to an angelic spirit inspiring the one prophesying, consecrating his
predictions through divine unction. It also divests him of all fantasies by
means of various nocturnal apparitions, while with daily certainty he
prophesies through the science of astronomy, with the aid of sacred prophecy,
his only consideration being his courage in freedom.
So come, my son, strive to understand what I have found out through my
calculations which accord with revealed inspiration, because now the sword
of death approaches us, with pestilence and war more horrible than there has
ever been - because of three men's work - and famine. And this sword shall
smite the earth and return to it often, for the stars confirm this upheaval
and it is also written: "I shall punish their injustices with iron rods, and
shall strike them with blows."
For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment is
complete. Then several times in the course of the doleful tempests the Lord
shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and show no mercy; and many
other circumstances shall result from floods and continual rain of which I
have written more fully in my other prophecies, composed at some length, not
in a chronological sequence, in prose, limiting the places and times and
exact dates so that future generations will see, while experiencing these
inevitable events, how I have listed others in clearer language, so that
despite their obscurities these things shall be understood: When the time
comes for the removal of ignorance, the matter will be clearer still.
So in conclusion, my son, take this gift from your father M. Nostradamus,
who hopes you will understand each prophecy in every quatrain herein. May
Immortal God grant you a long life of good and prosperous happiness.
Salon, 1 March 1555