Was Nostradamus a prophet or did he just have a gift for vague poetry?

By: Staff writer

Michel de Nostredame, known as Nostradamus, was a French physician who lived in the mid-1500s. Some people think he could predict the future. His book Les Propheties contains 942 poetic quatrains that supposedly predict historical events. Doubters argue that the predictions are too vague and the translations too inaccurate. Was Nostradamus a prophet or charlatan? Here are some of his most famous predictions.

Dropping Nazi knowledge

Nostradamus’s possible prediction of Hitler is one of the Frenchman’s most well-known.

“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.”

“Hister” isn’t quite Hitler, but it’s phonetically close. The Germany connection is there too. But what does it mean for “the child of Germany to observe nothing?” The quatrain provides more clues earlier on when it says “From the depths of the West of Europe, A young child will be born of poor people.” All this seems to be stunningly reminiscent of Hitler’s life and rise to power. 

September 11, 2001

When the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11, there wasn’t an email inbox in America that didn’t get forwarded the following Nostradamus quote: 

“Earthshaking fire from the center of the Earth

Will cause tremors around the New City

Two great rocks will war for a long time…”

This one’s a little bit more of a stretch, but if you consider “two great rocks” to mean the Twin Towers, he might have been onto something. The main problem is that most of it has nothing to do with the al-Qaeda attack on New York City. “New City” could refer to New York, but it could refer to any recently built metropolis.

The bombings of Japan

Nostradamus enthusiasts argue that he may have predicted the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Again, this quatrain is even more general.

“Near the gates and within two cities

There will be scourges the like of which was never seen,

Famine within plague, people put out by steel…”

Again, nothing much specific being laid down here, but you can be the judge. Japan did go through a food shortage, and “plague” could refer to the illness caused by radiation. Accurate or not, Nostradamus is one of the most infamous clairvoyants of all time. If nothing else, he’s the original master of going viral.