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 [Provence] 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 [clearer] writing as may be destroyed through the
injustice of the age [1555]. 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 [the Inquisition] 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 the pigs 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

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
calles 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 (2),
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. [i.e. burned them]. 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 (3).

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 [past, present, and future] are understood
as Eternity whose unfolding contains them all: for all whings nare naked and

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 (4); 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 prophet's

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 (5).

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 (6), 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 [1999].

For before war ends the [twentieth] century and in its final stages [1975-99]
it will hold the century under its sway. Some countries will be in the grip of
revolution (7) 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 (8).
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 (9) - 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 done.

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 (10)
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 fulfilment (sic) 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 (11)
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


1.Le commun advčnement, the Vulgar Advent, or the accession of the people to
power, is generally taken by commentators to refer first to republicanism (via
the French Revolution), then to its development towards and change into
communism. (Tr.)

2.Nostradamus here compares his work, the twelve Centuries, to the Twelve
Labours of Hercules, in order to stress their difficulty and importance.

3.Moon and Sun are constant symbols in Nostradamus of the republic and the
monarchy respectively, hence the alchemic imagery also has a political aspect

4.Reference to toute la concavitE de la lune. Cf. note 3 above.

5.Ether: originally personified as a deity of the upper atmosphere, and later
confused with Zeus. (DL7V).

6.Water and flooding are often as a symbol of revolution in Nostradamus.

7.The French text refers to Aquarius, i.e. the water-bearer. Cf. note 6 above.

8.Golden Age: rule of Saturn, the happy, peaceful time, to commemorate which
the Romans celebrated with Saturnalia.

9.1555 + 177 = 1732, the exact date when Rousseau arrived in Paris,
Nostradamus considered Rousseau the father of revolutionary and atheistic

10.Breath or inspiration, oracular possession.

11.Upheavals and revolution. Cf. notes 6 and 7 above.


Cf. "confer", Latin, compare. DL7V "Dictionnaire Larousse", 7 vol. etc. et
cetera, French, and others. i.e. "id est", Latin, that is. M. Michel or
Monsieur. Tr. translator. vol. volumes.

Notes Specific to This Reproduction

This text is reproduced from Nostradamus, Countdown to Apocalypse written by
Jean-Charles de Fontbrune, translated by Alexis Lykiard, prefaced by Liz
Greene, and published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., New York, 1983. This
largely literal translation is reproduced, here, as accurately as possible.

The "original" source is Les ProphEties de M. Michel Nostradamus, the edition
of 1568 by Benoist Rigaud at Lyon; stored in 8. B.U. "Montepellier", no.

De Fontbrune uses the second edition of 1605 by Benoist Rigaud at Lyon. This
is a complete copy of the 1568 edition which is considered the most reliable.
If we accept the 1568 edition as an accurate reproduction, which is
reasonable, then this reproduction, here, has been copied once from the 1568
edition to the 1605, copied again by De Fontbrune, translated once from 16th-
century French with a Proven&cced;al accent to modern English by Alexis
Lykiard, and finally copied to the form you see here.

The Latin (sic), meaning thus, has been inserted after words to indicate an
exact reproduction of the original, including spelling mistakes and
grammatical errors due to translation. Ray.Lampman@FullFeed.Com