Wednesday, 9 March 2011


By Peter Lemesurier

Given the well-known fact that the Nostradamaniacs constantly try to kid you that Nostradamus predicted the future Antichrist, please bear in mind that his Prophecies mention the idea only twice, and in neither case in association with either Hitler or Napoleon, as is often claimed. These verses are VIII.77 and X.66. He also mentions him in his dedicatory covering letter to King Henri II of France.
            Here are the texts in question. They are followed by my own translations of them, taken (in the case of the verses) from my Nostradamus: The Illustrated Prophecies (O Books, 2003). For more literal, word-for-word translations, see my Nostradamus, Bibliomancer (Career Press, 2010, featured below). You can explore all the originals for yourself either in high resolution on the CD supplied with this latter book or in low resolution online here

VIII. 77. Original text of 1568 edition
L’antechrist trois bien tost annichilez,
Vingt & sept ans sang durera sa guerre,
Les heretiques mortz, captifs, exilez,
Sang corps humain eau rogie gresler terre.

                        The antichrist – three very soon laid low –
                        His war of blood shall last seven years and twenty.
                        Heretics dead, captives to exile go:
                        Blood, corpses: reddened hail on earth a-plenty.

Source: The murderous contemporary Wars of Religion (1559-), in which over a million were killed, presided over by John Calvin (1509-64), who had been a prominent Protestant from about 1533 and became leader of the Protestant cause in Geneva from 1541. Calvin was widely regarded by Catholics at the time as the Antichrist in person, and had persecuted Pierre Ameaux, exiled Ami Perrin and Jérôme Bolsec, had had Jacques Gruet beheaded and, in 1553, Michael Servetus burnt at the stake. (The original, now-lost 1558 manuscript may well have said Dix & sept ans s'endurera sa guerre, or 'His war shall become grimmer for 17 years' -- so dating the conflict back to Calvin's assumption of full power in 1541.)

Note that l'antechrist trois does not mean 'the third Antichrist' or consequently show that Nostradamus believed that there would be three of them, as is often claimed by those ignorant of 16th-century French. Had he meant 'the third Antichrist' he would have written tiers antichrist or l'antechrist tiers: the use of cardinal numbers (Henri Deux for Henri II) in place of ordinal numbers (Henri Deuxieme or Henri Second -- as used by Nostradamus in the letter to the king included in the 1568 edition of his Prophecies) did not become established until the end of the 17th century. It would in any case only have applied had the original expression been l'antechrist III, which nobody has suggested, given that such formulations applied only to the names of Kings and Dukes. The fact that the word antechrist has no capital letter suggests that Nostradamus didn't regard it as a name in the first place, while the plural annichilez reveals that it is the 'three' who are annihilated, and not the 'antichrist' in question.

X. 66. Original text of 1568 edition
Le chef de Londres par regne l’Americh,
L’isle d’Escosse tempiera par gellee:
Roy Reb auront un si faux antechrist,
Que les mettra trestous dans la meslee.
                        Through lady’s realm disputed, London’s lord
                        In icy winds shall rack the Scottish isle:
                        A rebel king and Antichrist abhorred
                        Shall draw them all into the fray awhile.

Source: The brutal military campaigns against Scotland mounted by King Edward I of England (ever since known as the ‘Hammer of the Scots’), which grew out of the power-vacuum that resulted when King Alexander III of Scotland died and the kingdom fell to his granddaughter Margaret (ever since known as the ‘Maid of Norway'), who herself died on her way back to Scotland from Norway to claim her crown in 1290  – hence d’Americh could be a misprint for [de] dame erist[ique] (‘of the disputed lady’), or even of [de] dame riche. This was the same year when Edward notoriously expelled all the Jews from England - which might explain why Nostradamus knew about it, presumably from his family. The verse, in other words, has the standard Nostradamian format of ‘omen plus corollary’: just as Edward I mounted a brutal and ruinous invasion of Scotland as a consequence of the premature ending of Margaret's reign – so causing King Robert the Bruce eventually to embark on his famous counter-campaign as recorded in Froissart’s Chroniques, which Nostradamujs knew and referred to – so the rebellious Antichrist (rebellious, this time, against the Word of God) will conduct an equally brutal and ruinous invasion of Europe, as predicted by Nostradamus’s prime source, the Mirabilis liber. Compare I.9, I.75, II.24 for the invasion, and I.47, I.76, II.9 for the Antichrist. The reading erist[ique] for the last word of line one is suggested by the fact that Americh simply does not rhyme with Antechrist in line three as printed: one assumes that the printer was currently obsessed with the latest news from the New World, which for people of the day evoked all the excitement of today’s news from outer space. The ‘icy winds’, one imagines, reflect the warm Provençal Nostradamus’s idea of what the weather away up there in snowy Scotland’s ‘island’ must be like...

The Letter to Henri II. Original text of 1568 edition

Puis le grand Empyre de l'Antechrist commencera dans la Atila et Zerses descendre en nombre grand et innumerable, tellement que la venue du sainct Esprit procedant du 48 degrez, fera transmigration, deschassant à l'abomination de l'Antechrist, faisant guerre contre le royal qui sera le grand Vicaire de Iesus Christ, et contre son Eglise, et son regne per tempus et in occasione temporis, . .

Les arcs edifiez par les antiques Martiaux, s'accompagneront aux ondes de Neptune. En l'Adriatique sera faicte discorde grande, ce que sera uny sera separé, approchera de maison ce que paravant estoit et est grande cité, comprenant le Pempotam la Mesopotamie de l'Europe à quarante cinq, et autres de quarante un, quarante deux et trente sept. Et dans iceluy temps, et en icelles contrees la puissance infernalle mettra à l'encontre de l'Eglise de Jesus Christ la puissance des adversaires de sa loy, qui sera le second Antechrist, lequel persecutera icelle Eglise et son vray Vicaire, par moyen de la puissance des Roys temporels, qui seront par leur ignorance seduicts par langues, qui trencheront plus que nul glaive entre les mains de l'insensé. Le susdict regne de l'Antechrist ne durera que jusques au definement de ce nay pres de l'aage et de l'autre à la cité de Plancus; accompagnez de l'esleu de Modone Fulcy, par Ferrare maintenue par Liguriens Adriactiques, et de la proximité de la grande Trinacrie. 

‘Great ships from Turkey, acquired from former military powers to the north (Russia and the Ukraine?), will sail to Italy, provoking vast naval battles in the Adriatic. Many cities (including the former all-powerful 'Babylon' of Europe) will be destroyed utterly on the 45th, 41st, 42nd and 37th parallels (Turin, Naples, Rome and Syracuse), and the Church and Pope will be persecuted by maniacal political leaders.

'Then the great Empire of the Antichrist shall arise in the Altai, and [a new] Xerxes shall descend [on the world] with a great and countless host. As a  result, the religion centred on the 48th degree of latitude [I have reason to suspect that the lost original 1558 edition may have said '24th', the latitude of Medina - thus referring to Islam] shall migrate abroad, driving [everybody] before it with the abomination of the Antichrist, and making war on the Prince who is the great Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth and on his Church and Kingdom per tempus et in occasione temporis [Latin - 'for a time, and at the end of time']…

'And at that time and in those countries the power of hell shall confront the Church of Jesus Christ with all the might of those who oppose its teachings [ex Tiburtine Sibyl], who shall be the second Antichrist [ex John of Rupescissa; Hermit Reynard; St Brigid], and who shall persecute the said Church and its true Vicar [ex Tiburtine Sibyl; Pseudo-Methodius; St Cesarius] via the authority of the temporal rulers who in their ignorance shall be seduced by tongues that shall cut more deeply than any maniac’s sword. The said reign of the Antichrist [ex Hermit Reynard; St Brigid] shall last only [ex ‘St Vincent’] until the death of him who was born near [our] age and of the other in the city of Plancus [back-reference to the Emperors Claudius and Caracalla, both born in Lyon, which was founded by Lucius Munatius Plancus in 43 BC], accompanied by the elected [ruler] of Modena Fulcy [unidentified place‑name], near a Ferrara that is supported by Adriatic Italians [Venetians], as well as by a not‑far‑distant Sicily.'

Source: The former Mongol and Persian invasions of Europe under Genghis Khan and Xerxes respectively, re-applied after the model of the Mirabilis Liber to the contemporary Ottomans and Arabs (the former had advanced westward as far as Vienna during Nostradamus’s own youth, and would do so again during the following century) and supplemented by details from a range of medieval prophecies and especially contemporary events.

Thus, Nostradamus is evidently applying the word ‘Antichrist’, like the Bible’s First Letter of John, not to any particular figure or figures, but to anybody (and especially anybody prominent) who opposes Christianity, such as the contemporary Ottomans -- 'those who appose his teachings': it simply means ‘Christ-denier’ (try substituting it throughout!).

In particular the assertions by numerous textually unreliable commentators from Erika Cheetham to John Hogue can be safely disregarded: there is absolutely no suggestion in Nostradamus that the two alleged previous Antichrists were Napoleon and Hitler, or that there is to be a future third one called Mabus (actually just a 16th-century Flemish painter whose death is used in the Prophecies to date a cometary flyby and a historical invasion). These suggestions are purely Cheetham's (albeit based in one case on a tentative suggestion by Leoni). All the characters referred to are from the past. Playing speculative games with the Prophecies is all very well, but it adds nothing to the public understanding of Nostradamus and merely spreads unnecessary alarm and despondency. Indeed, it is frankly irresponsible.

Please refer to my:

(see details below) or, for the very latest full biography of Nostradamus: