Nostradamus: 500 Years Later   View more episodes

Aired at 01:30 PM on Sunday, Jul 19, 2009 (7/19/2009)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00Elieved to be a cure for jaundice; elder tree, whose branches were used to treat fever; grenade fruit, thought to increase strength; and a variety of flowering plants: Roses, lavender, and sage, whose uses were not yet fully understood.
00:00:21After eight years of collecting herbs, nostradamus reported-- >> having spent my youthful years in the knowledge and understanding of medicinal herbs, I moved through a number of lands and countries from 1521 to 1529, constantly in search of medicinal knowledge.
00:00:42>> It was now, as a twenty-six year old apothecary, that nostradamus enrolled in medical school at the prestigious montpellier university.
00:00:51But his hand-written application implies that he may not have been that serious about his studies.
00:00:57>> He signed the passage "mickey de nostradomina," you know, in a little bit of casualness.
00:01:10>> Most people believe it was here that the self-named "mickey" de nostradomina graduated from the rank of pharmacist to doctor.
00:01:19But that has now come into question.
00:01:23Although nostradamus called himself "doctor of medicine" in his later books, there is no record of him ever graduating from the montpellier medical school.
00:01:36In fact, a newly translated document from the university archives proclaims that nostradamus' name was scratched off the school register.
00:01:45The reason cited is that as a headstrong apothecary, he made rude comments about the doctors.
00:01:52>> If you'd asked me a few years ago who nostradamus was, I would probably have said that he was a doctor, an astrologer, and a prophet.
00:02:01Now, we know he went to the montpelier, medical facility, and was admitted.
00:02:07We also know that he was kicked out again.
00:02:12>> In spite of this setback, he was determined to become a doctor.
00:02:16And so michel de notredame latinized his name to "nostradamus" and set out in the great tradition of hippocrates.
00:02:23The greek father of medicine had once instructed that a doctor must be a traveler.
00:02:29For nostradamus, that meant following the plague.
00:02:33>> Nostradamus became very well-known as a plague doctor.
00:02:37Whether or not he was a doctor is another matter, but certainly when all the local doctors fled, he was one of those who tended to go in and try to treat the plague.
00:02:51>> As nostradamus' son cesar would later write, the task was daunting.
00:02:56>> "Persons stricken "by the furor of this malady "completely abandon all hope "of recovery.
00:03:03"The houses are abandoned "and empty--men disfigured, "women in tears-- "the stretcher bearers " >> nostradamus himself made this chilling observation upon entering a plague-stricken city.
00:03:28>> "Among the most admirable "things I saw was a woman "who was sewing herself, "unaided, into her own shroud, "starting at the feet.
00:03:38"Inside, she was found dead "in the middle of her house " >> in the medical practice of the 16th century, knowledge of the stars came first.
00:03:51Doctors used astrology and the birth date of the patient to diagnose the sickness.
00:03:57What followed were crude treatments.
00:04:00Thousands died, not only from disease, but from the practice of blood-letting and planting leeches on the skin-- procedures thought to release evil from the body.
00:04:11>> Nostradamus was not an unorthodox medical practitioner.
00:04:16He bled people when he thought it was necessary, applied leeches and so forth.
00:04:20A lot of our contemporary authors have seen him as the great 16th century medical man with all this modern insight, and this wasn't the case.
00:04:29His dictum was, use what worked.
00:04:31And he reports in one of his books that bleeding did no good at all.
00:04:37And so we can that, okay, he did bleed, but it didn't work as well as he would have liked.
00:04:45>> Nostradamus drew on his experience with herbs to concoct new remedies.
00:04:50The best known were his "rose lozenges," a formula he penned in 1555.
00:04:58>> Three to four hundred red roses plucked before dawn are pulverized and mixed with sawdust from the greenest cypress, iris of florence, cloves and oderated calamus root.
00:05:10>> Now, calamus root is a powerful antioxidant.
00:05:14It's also an immune booster, it aids in healing and so forth.
00:05:18And that was one of the major ingredients.
00:05:20So apparently what the rose pills did is it had a little bit of camphor, and the rosehips would give you a little vitamin c.
00:05:27The camphor would be a disinfectant.
00:05:34>> Little more is known of this remedy, but some hold that his best weapon against disease was a belief in cleanliness.
00:05:42>> What he did was he burned bodies, burned bedding, burned everything that the people who had contracted the plague had come in contact with.
00:05:55And he recommended airing the houses out, free-flowing water and so forth.
00:06:00Cleaning the streets, you know, washing the streets down.
00:06:03What this would have done, it would have driven the rats out, killed a lot of rats, and killed a lot of the fleas that caused the plague.
00:06:11He was able to bring it down to a month, two months duration of the plague, which was quite miraculous for that time period.
00:06:19>> In the town of agen, where his reputation as a healer had been affirmed, nostradamus met and married a woman named henrietta d'encausse in 1531.
00:06:28They had two children.
00:06:34Local history holds that during their years together, henrietta re-awakened her husband's interest in the mystical arts.
00:06:40He shared with her the ancient books he had once studied as a child-- even dabbling in ritual magic.
00:06:54But if nostradamus was indeed a prophet at that time, he knew that this happiness would soon come to a tragic end.
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00:11:00The nostradamus of lore and legend conjures up images of a mysterious wizard consorting with spirits, demons and angels.
00:11:10But looking back through the veils of time, a different image emerges-- that of a normal man from an average, even somewhat prominent family.
00:11:20>> This farmhouse belonged to nostradamus' younger brother, bertrand.
00:11:24In its time, it was a splendid country home, and it shows us that bertrand was not only a wealthy landowner and merchant, and he was also captain of the local militia.
00:11:35>> The family's wealth no doubt contributed to nostradamus' ability to travel as he pleased.
00:11:42In 1533 he was again on a journey through europe and southern france.
00:11:47He referred to these wanderings as periods of study and learning.
00:11:53One such journey brought him to the home of julius cesar scaliger, an italian scientist, mathematician, and, most important to nostradamus, a renowned doctor and graduate of montpellier medical school, the same one from which he had been expelled.
00:12:12Researchers speculate that nostradamus scaliger with herbal medicines and that in exchange, scaliger mentored nostradamus in human anatomy, physiology, even dissection.
00:12:25These studies would have been conducted in secret because the church believed such work to be a crime against god.
00:12:33Nostradamus would later write a glowing testimonial to the renaissance figure-- praising him as his most influential teacher.
00:12:41>> Scaliger seems to have inherited cicero's ability in eloquence, virgil's in poetry, and galen's twice over in medicine.
00:12:50I owe him more than anyone else in the world.
00:12:57>> The other major influence in nostradamus' life was a family tragedy.
00:13:01In 1534, while he was away from home, nostradamus' wife and two children fell victim to the plague and died.
00:13:12At this point in his life, nostradamus was known only as a healer and an intellectual.
00:13:17But the death of his wife and children set him on the path of mysticism.
00:13:22Magic and the occult drove his life from this point forward.
00:13:31>> At the age of forty-seven, nostradamus got married for a second time, after having lost his first wife and two children.
00:13:39>> His second marriage was to anne ponsart, the widow of an affluent lawyer.
00:13:44Anne brought considerable wealth to their marriage and ultimately bore him six children.
00:13:51They settled in the southern french village OF salon De Provence.
00:13:55The town is now a fashionable tourist destination, but the presence of the five-hundred-year-old seer can still be felt.
00:14:02A giant likeness of nostradamus has recently been added to watch over visitors.
00:14:08The ancient clock tower, a monument to knowledge, still displays an image of the seven known planets of the 16th century.
00:14:16And the cobbled street where he made his home, now pays homage to its most famous resident.
00:14:24>> This is the street where nostradamus lived, and this is the house where nostradamus lived for the last twenty years of his life, and where he wrote the prophesies.
00:14:34His home in salon was substantial for the time.
00:14:37It would've been a little cramped with six children, servants and, you know, secretaries and so forth.
00:14:43About appropriate for a doctor who's making a good living, good income for the time.
00:14:52>> In 1550, nostradamus began to write almanacs that included practical information for farmers in the year ahead.
00:15:01>> Nostradamus' almanacs were very similar to benjamin franklin's " they predicted the weather, they gave you information about crops and food, suggestions as to how to live, what to eat.
00:15:20There might be quotes from other famous people of the time.
00:15:24There was certainly astrology and he published this to help bring him money to support his large family.
00:15:35>> The almanacs also contained vague prophesies of the future-- predictions that came true, if you believed them.
00:15:44>> At this new moon shall be born many monsters as much human as animal.
00:15:49Floods, droughts, bishops born and princes die.
00:15:54>> King henry ii read them almost daily.
00:16:00Nostradamus was one of the first persons to earn his living by writing annual almanacs.
00:16:08>> With the success of this publishing venture, nostradamus reached out to a wider audience with his "treatise on cosmetics " >> in the 16th century, the idea that, to be noble, to be a gentlewoman, required a certain look.
00:16:28This was a very powerful idea.
00:16:30Every well-to-do woman who wanted whiter teeth and clearer skin and a good remedy to get red hair picked up a copy.
00:16:39And nostradamus really cashed in on this.
00:16:41It was really the 16th century equivalent of a best-seller.
00:16:46>> The handbook included recipes for hair dyes, perfumes, cough medicine, and a sort of renaissance-strength toothpaste.
00:16:54>> To whiten the teeth no matter how black and brown grind three drams each of crystal, flint, white marble, glass, rock salt, and snail shells.
00:17:06Rub the teeth with this powder and in a few days you will see the teeth get whiter.
00:17:12>> While europeans sought vanity in his beauty products, nostradamus began seeking the future.
00:17:28>> Nostradamus made a workroom, or maybe even perhaps added a story to the top of his house.
00:17:34Bare in mind that he had six kids and that he needed quiet to do his work.
00:17:39So he needed somewhere away from them, and he needed time away from them.
00:17:43So what he seems to have done was to do most of his work up in his study, in the top story of the house, at night, when all his kids were asleep.
00:17:53>> Nostradamus left a record of the nightly ritual that unfolded as he gazed into a bowl of water placed on his desk-- a practice reminiscent of the oracle of delphi.
00:18:04>> Sitting alone at night in secret study, a slight flame comes out of the emptiness and makes successful that which should not be believed in vain.
00:18:17>> There's a whole school of thought that nostradamus was what was called " a theurgist is a medieval word " a person who, by means of talking to angels and so forth, had direct communication with god.
00:18:37>> The wand in the hand is placed in the middle-- with water he sprinkles both the hem of his garment and his foot.
00:18:47A voice, fear, he trembles in his robes.
00:18:50Divine splendor; the god sits nearby.
00:18:55>> I'm not sure what nostradamus himself used to get into the state that allowed him to make his prophecies, but certainly other seers, prophets, shamans, have quite set rituals and practices that they do use and these seem to be universal.
00:19:14Fasting is certainly one.
00:19:16Meditation or contemplation is another.
00:19:20>> It is through these kinds of rituals, many believe, that nostradamus recorded the prophesies of events to take place through the year 3797.
00:19:30Among them-- a terrifying foretelling of the end of the world.
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00:23:58>> The night.
00:24:02It was as important a tool to nostradamus as his ancient books, his quill pen, and the astrolabe that had been handed down to him by his grandfather.
00:24:13Time and again, nostradamus kept long vigils into the night, practicing a ritual " he would gaze into a mirror, a bowl of water or a crystal ball and try to see visions of the future.
00:24:27But experts believe there was more to his technique.
00:24:31>> According to a passage in the preface to the prophecies, he tells us that the true secret of his method was something that he was going to take with him to his grave.
00:24:40He combined alchemy with astrology and with kabalistic magic and christian mysticism as his method to see into the future.
00:24:50>> Some say that his "secret" method was the study of celestial events.
00:24:55>> From his study, he would get out onto the roof on a sort of turret on the corner of his house, where he could be next to the stars.
00:25:02>> What he used were astronomical and astrological conjunctions and alignments so he might say an event would happen when saturn and jupiter were in pisces.
00:25:16The problem with that is that these conjunctions reoccur.
00:25:21So you might have a choice of quite a number of dates that such an event could possibly happen.
00:25:32>> Nostradamus recorded his predictions in one thousand four-line poems " he wrote in his native french but to protect himself from the witch hunters of the day he obscured the verse with latin and greek-- even anagrams.
00:25:48He divided his writings into ten groups of a hundred quatrains each, " and as he completed his first set, nostradamus destroyed any evidence that the inquisition might label as criminal.
00:26:05>> "I have "at my disposal volumes which "have long been hidden.
00:26:09"But dreading what use "might be made of them, " >> nostradamus kept his sources secret, it would seem.
00:26:19But then that would be obvious if he's claiming to write a book of prophecies, he doesn't want, necessarily, everybody to know where he got them from.
00:26:24If he had any magical sources, he allegedly burned those.
00:26:28He didn't want the idea to get out that he was some sort of magician.
00:26:32The local people were pretty suspicious of him as it was.
00:26:38>> Europe at large got its first glimpse of nostradamus' quatrains in may, 1555 when the collection called "les propheties de michel de notredame" was published.
00:26:51>> The most famous was the quatrain about king henry ii, as to how he would die.
00:26:59Which was in a joust where a lance pierced his golden helmet.
00:27:19>> The young lion, you know, through the pierced visor into his brain, all of these are clues that are in the quatrain that point directly to a very specific event.
00:27:32>> As obscure as these verses sound to many of us, they were very clear in 16th century france.
00:27:38NOSTRADAMUS' 35th QUATRAIN Of the first century was immediately seized upon as suggesting that the reigning king of france, henry ii, would die in a jousting tournament.
00:27:52[Translated] the queen, catherine de medicis, tried to stop the king from dueling because of nostradamus' quatrain that predicted his tragic end.
00:28:00Thus this prediction is the most important one since it began his career as a world renown prophet.
00:28:07>> The fatal accident occurred in the summer of 1559 as the king celebrated his daughter's wedding with a joust.
00:28:15He rode against count montgomery, the captain of his scottish guard.
00:28:25>> They had three tilts.
00:28:27And on the third tilt, the count de montgomery's lance shattered and one of the shards went through the visor of henry ii's helmet and either pierced his eye or his left temple.
00:28:37And he lingered for 11 days in excruciating pain and then died.
00:28:43>> That night, count montgomery said of nostradamus: >> "Cursed be "the divine one who predicted it " >> before 1559, nostradamus had been a local legend and a curiosity.
00:29:01>> But he really wasn't an international superstar until after henry ii's death.
00:29:07Then suddenly, it was as if, "oh, this is more than just "someone writing some obscure " so, within a year or so of henry ii's death, "the propheties," the first volume of "the propheties" was being translated in london and he was an international, 16th century superstar.
00:29:30>> After the death of henry ii, queen catherine de medicis and her court toured france in an effort to reassure an uneasy nation.
00:29:39The historic procession, carried by no less than 7,000 royal horses, marched into salon de provence in 1564.
00:29:49When they arrived at their southern castle, the chateau l'emperi in salon, the queen sent for nostradamus.
00:29:56She later reported-- >> as we were passing through salon, we have seen nostradamus, who has promised to my son king charles ix long life.
00:30:07>> Nostradamus was summoned to court for an interview with catherine de medicis who was the queen at the time, and because he had accurately predicted what had happened to the late king, she asked him to tell her the fates of her seven children, who were small.
00:30:26They were fairly small at the time.
00:30:30>> The meeting was held in the salle d'honneur, otherwise known as " nostradamus examined each of the seven royal children and cast their horoscopes for the future.
00:30:43>> And he correctly told her that every one of her children would become kings and queens.
00:30:51They'd be crowned heads of different countries throughout europe.
00:30:56>> History proved his prediction to be correct.
00:30:59But the reason for the siblings' swift royal ascension was that four of them would suffer untimely deaths.
00:31:06In the edition of his prophesies published in 1557, nostradamus wrote of the royal family: >> If the "seven branches" were indeed the seven children of catherine de medicis, then nostradamus had correctly predicted the future.
00:31:27Only three--henry iii, francois and marguerite were still alive by 1576.
00:31:42Nostradamus may also have foreseen the american revolution.
00:31:46In several quatrains he is said to have written about the british colonists striking out on their own in a war for independence.
00:32:09>> Since that time, nostradamus' "centuries" have been credited with predicting a pantheon of world-shaping events and people.
00:32:17The most startling involve powerful and tyrannical leaders like napoleon bonaparte.
00:32:26>> Many of his quatrains were about napoleon.
00:32:30He talks about napoleon being born on an island in italy.
00:32:34And then also being exiled to an island.
00:32:39He referred to him as a butcher.
00:32:59>> Born in italy, napoleon did, in fact, begin in the short robe of a soldier, and later take on the long robes of an emperor.
00:33:12>> Indeed, napoleons' reign of war & terror began in november 1799 and lasted 14 years, until he was exiled on elba in april, 1814.
00:33:26Another quatrain may have been written as an anagram to predict napoleon's bloody wars.
00:33:38>> If you're prepared to use anagrams, then, because nostradamus on one occasion talks about three places called "na, po, and loren," you can anagraitize that to say "napoleon roi," napoleon the king.
00:33:54>> Perhaps because he was french, many of nostradamus' writings focused upon his native country.
00:34:00Some believe he predicted the french revolution of 1789, two hundred and thirty-four years before it happened.
00:34:09His quatrains describe the lurid details of the executions by guillotine of marie antoinette and king louis the sixteenth.
00:34:19>> Revolt destroys the old order and lifts its head to heaven.
00:34:23The mouth will swim in its own blood, elected french king causes tempest, fire, blood, slice.
00:34:33>> Predictions like these have fascinated and baffled the world as one after another have appeared to come true, even through the twentieth century.
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00:38:42>> There is a rich history in interpreting and manipulating nostradamus' writings.
00:38:47Over the centuries, certain words and phrases in his works have led many to believe he predicted dozens of history's most significant milestones.
00:38:58>> Although I have often foretold long before what hath afterwards come to pass, I was willing to hold my peace.
00:39:06But afterwards, I wrote in dark and cryptic sentences clouding my writing in obscure but, above all, prophetic language, the events of the future evolution of human kind, especially the most urgent ones.
00:39:23>> In 1555, nostradamus wrote: >> This quatrain may foretell of the work of pioneer scientist louis pasteur, creator of the food preserving process that bears his name.
00:39:46Or it may simply be a verse that includes the french word for church pastor, which is also "pasteur".
00:40:05>> Some believe that this passage offers definitive proof that nostradamus predicted the future of space travel.
00:40:13>> The landing on the moon was one of the most amazing predictions nostradamus ever made, and here's the reason why.
00:40:19He states that, "he will come to travel "to the corner of the luna.
00:40:23"Where he'll be placed " and if you look at the word "luna," that's an obvious reference to the moon.
00:40:32" and that event occurred in 1969.
00:40:37That's one of the most clearly stated prophecies that nostradamus ever made.
00:40:42>> That's one small step ..
00:40:51>> Some nostradamians hold that quatrain number 1-46 even foretells the appearance of ufo's--describing an extra terrestrial sighting and landing that brings great benefits to humanity, as well as an earthquake.
00:41:19>> Experts agree that the most serious examination of nostradamus' writings centers on a series of controversial quatrains that seem to foretell one of the world's most horrific events: The rise of adolf hitler and nazi germany.
00:41:51>> When it comes to hitler he had quite a bit to say about hitler and germany.
00:41:56He never uses " instead he uses the ancient term for the danube, which is " >> in quatrain 2-24, nostradamus wrote, "the greater part of the army " and if you look at history and see all the number of nations who oppose the axis powers, you can see that hitler was, indeed, opposed by the greater army of the world and the greater army of the world conquered the nazis.
00:42:42>> But why would nostradamus use the term "hister" to refer to the german dictator?
00:42:48>> Nostradamus used allusions to symbolically represent people and things.
00:42:52And one of the words " and in my mind it's rather clear that hister is an allusion to adolf hitler.
00:43:02It's only one letter off " >> we're talking about an anagram of hitler with a double meaning, which is something that he liked to do.
00:43:14>> Many believe that the use of the phrase "iron cage" was another symbol used by nostradamus to represent the iron machinery of war.
00:43:39>> In quatrain 3-35 nostradamus stated that someone would seduce a great troop by his speech.
00:43:48And if we look at that from an historical viewpoint, we see that adolf hitler was a great orator and he was well-known as a silver-tongued devil, so to speak.
00:43:58And he, indeed, seduced a great troop of people with his speech.
00:44:02>> The nazi's seized upon the flexible meanings of nostradamus' quatrains for their own benefit.
00:44:08And hitler capitalized on the familiar name of nostradamus by quoting prophesies like this in his propaganda.
00:44:17>> He will transfer into greater germany, brabant, ghent, bruges and boulogne.
00:44:22The truce a sham, the great duke will attack vienna and cologne.
00:44:29>> Bear in mind that magda goebbels, the wife of hitler's propaganda minister, thought that nostradamus prophesied the triumph of the nazis and that generally permeated the party.
00:44:41>> But if nostradamus predicted a triumph for hitler, he also spelled out the great suffering of his victims.
00:44:59>> Quatrain number 4-56 appears to be a direct reference to the holocaust.
00:45:05Nostradamus wrote, "during "the battle, the bloody victor "made speeches, roasting " and, to me, that's a very, very candid observation of the horrible tragedy of the holocaust because a lot of people were burned to death.
00:45:25>> Suffering, tyrants, and even conquest.
00:45:29Some believe that nostradamus predicted one of the greatest military battles in history.
00:45:35June 6th, 1944.
00:45:37More than 5,000 ships and aircraft landed 22,000 allied troops on the shores of normandy in france.
00:45:45Did nostradamus allude to the epic world war ii assault known as d-day?
00:46:03>> It's fascinating how he's trying to describe these battle scenes in words that he knows, because he has never seen these events before.
00:46:17He doesn't use the word, "d-day" and he doesn't use "troops" either.
00:46:20He uses other words like the "the marine locusts," and "strange and terrible ships" coming onto the shore.
00:46:35>> Nostradamus' obscure verses have also been credited with predicting the atomic blasts in japan that ended world war ii.
00:46:59>> It appears to reference the nuclear attacks of hiroshima and nagasaki.
00:47:03And the line reads, "within two cities, "there will be two scourges, "the likes of which have never " and if you look at the pictures of the destruction of nagasaki and hiroshima, you will see that there's twisted metal everywhere.
00:47:19To me, that very strongly suggests, describes a nuclear blast, which had never occurred before in history until the year 1945.
00:47:29>> In addition to the destruction wrought by the second world war, nostradamus may have also foretold the great social changes that would sweep through eastern europe, half a century later.
00:48:00>> He predicted the fall of communism.
00:48:02A number of quatrains talk about russia.
00:48:05He talks about the berlin wall.
00:48:06He doesn't use " >> as numerous as nostradamus' prophesies are, they were written in a comparatively brief span of time--his collected quatrains were completed in just over two years.
00:48:21But in that time, his vision stretched all the way to the year 3797.
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00:52:21n HStop >> Many believe that nostradamus predicted the epic warfare and unimaginable destruction that would take place hundreds of years after his lifetime.
00:52:30But if his prophesies are real, he wrote of people he could never have imagined in places that didn't yet exist.
00:52:43>> The ancient work shall be accomplished from the roof, evil lightning shall fall on the great man.
00:52:50Being dead, they will accuse an innocent man of the deed.
00:52:54The guilty one hidden in the misty copse.
00:52:58>> In quatrain number 6-37, nostradamus appears to make a reference to the kennedy assassination.
00:53:05And there's two lines that really stick out in my mind.
00:53:08The first one is, "being dead, they will accuse " if you stop and think about it, lee harvey oswald was a self- admitted patsy of that crime.
00:53:20In my opinion, he was the one who was falsely accused.
00:53:24>> The quatrain continues with a reference to "the guilty " >> and if you look up the definition of the word "copse," you'll see that it describes a small thicket of trees and shrubs.
00:53:39And being one who lived in dallas I can tell you that that's an exact description of the infamous grassy knoll.
00:53:45>> Another quatrain, written in 1556, apparently foretells of the misfortune that would befall another u.s. president, richard nixon.
00:54:05>> This vague passage may predict the disgrace of yet another u.s. president.
00:54:21>> Believers say this quatrain refers to the white house scandal involving monica lewinsky and then-president, bill clinton.
00:54:30>> I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
00:54:38>> Quatrain number 2-28 allegedly predicts tragedy for another renowned figure-- princess diana, who died IN PARIS ON AUGUST 31st, 1997.
00:54:57>> The first line has been said to refer to dodi al fayed, the son of harrods' owner, mohammed al fayed, whose name resembles that of an islamic prophet.
00:55:07The second line, "his day and rest" may refer to sunday, the traditional sabbath and the day of the week that she died.
00:55:17The words, "day of rest" may also refer to the public holiday on the day of diana's funeral.
00:55:23All shops and businesses were closed in england, as the world shared an outpouring of grief for one of the most popular women of the century.
00:55:33It may be hard to imagine that the prophesies of nostradamus were actually written in the sixteenth century, an age so radically different from our own.
00:55:43Yet much like his contemporary, leonardo da vinci, nostradamus seemed to describe technologies which no one of his time had ever seen.
00:55:53>> Earthly and watery fish is thrown upon the shore by a great wave.
00:55:58Its strange form wild and horrifying, from the sea to the walls, they instantly reach the enemy.
00:56:06>> Nostradamus definitely predicted airplanes, submarines and a great deal of modern technology.
00:56:15>> At night they will think they have seen the sun.
00:56:18They will see the pig-like half man.
00:56:21Noise, shouts, battles seen in the heavens.
00:56:26>> Is this fighter pilot, the "pig-like" half man of nostradamus' vision?
00:56:32>> We can see that even though he saw these things, he didn't quite understand them and he saw them very much as modern marvels.
00:56:39Airplanes, in particular, seem to have been a double-edged sword.
00:56:42He could see that they would have benefit, but he could also see that they would be a great instrument of war.
00:56:56>> Some nostradamians believe that his writings describe the first gulf war with its massive troop movements, stealth technologies and burning oil fields.
00:57:09>> Very nearly a million men toward persia.
00:57:12The true serpent will invade byzantium and egypt.
00:57:16He will enter wicked infamous villain.
00:57:18Tyrannizing over mesopotamia.
00:57:21The land horrible and black in appearance.
00:57:25>> Nostradamus uses ancient terms for certain areas of the world.
00:57:30Libya, persia, the middle east, generally islam, mohammedism.
00:57:36He talks about men with turbans.
00:57:42>> Many experts suggest that there is another quatrain even more specific to the recent war waged against saddam hussein.
00:58:05>> Quatrain number 6-33 appears to be a reference to combat and military activity in iraq.
00:58:12And the two lines that really hit me hard are the lines: "Between two rivers, "he will fear the military hand.
00:58:20"The black one, irate, " so, it appears to me that this is a reference to combat in and around iraq, because baghdad is located in between two rivers.
00:58:33The tigress and euphrates rivers, which are two of the oldest rivers in history.
00:58:38The black one making him regret it, might be a reference to colin powell, making saddam hussein regret his actions.
00:58:48>> One thing is certain, nostradamus seldom wrote about peaceful times.
00:58:53The majority of his quatrains deal with destruction and loss.
00:58:57One of his designations for impending disaster has come to be recognized as the comet.
00:59:05>> After a great misery for mankind, an even greater approaches.
00:59:09The great motor of the centuries it will rain blood, milk, famine, iron and pestilence.
00:59:16In the sky will be seen a fire, dragging a trail of sparks.
00:59:22>> If you look at the "comet and the trailing clouds of sparks" quatrain, then you begin to see that the idea of a comet and the shuttle disaster sort of overlapped each other, they became part of the same metaphor, part of the same image.
00:59:39>> But the comet of nostradamus' quatrains, may signify more than looming tragedy.
00:59:45>> He does talk about comets, but usually as presages to an event.
00:59:53Not that we're necessarily going to be struck by a comet.
00:59:58>> In fact, some believe it may be nostradamus' indication of a series of events that are unfolding right now.
01:00:07>> When the comet shall come, mabus shall come and soon after shall die.
01:00:12Of people and beasts shall be a horrible destruction.
01:00:15Then on sudden vengeance shall be seen, blood, hand, thirst, famine.
01:00:22>> When we start looking at some of these quatrains that apparently relate to our time period, we have to look for anagrams, we have to look for events, we have to look for interpretations that maybe are not apparent on the surface.
01:00:37>> Quatrain number 2-62 names an evil leader, or leaders, by a strange name-- " >> "mabus" is an anagram that is apparently made up of osama bin laden and george bush.
01:00:53Components that go together " so apparently nostradamus is pointing us to a time period in which, from his point of view, it was very hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys; just there's a lot of strange stuff going on and things blew up.
01:01:06>> Are the tragic events described by nostradamus in his "mabus quatrain" already happening?
01:01:13>> At forty-five degrees the sky will burn, fire approaches the new city.
01:01:24Instantly, a huge scattered flame leaps up when they demand proof of the normans.
01:01:31>> Regarding the events of nine-eleven, there are several key words contained in six or seven quatrains that really seem to reference that tragedy.
01:01:40One is a reference to a huge fireball that leaps up into the sky.
01:01:45>> Experts also point out the line that contains " >> the "new city," being a reference to new york city.
01:01:55And if you think about the line, the great new city, you put a blank between new and city, you could easily put york in there and you can realize that the new city was the allusion that nostradamus used for new york city.
01:02:10>> The most sobering line of the quatrain seems to predict the exact location.
01:02:16>> "At forty-five degrees, the sky will burn," is a reference to the events of nine-eleven because the forty-fifth degree of latitude travels across the northern edge of new york state.
01:02:32>> Nostradamus seems to have written these verses about a country that was not yet born some 3,000 miles away.
01:02:39But some experts are skeptical.
01:02:43>> What I'd like the "nostradamians" to do is tell us about the next world trade center disaster before it happens, not after.
01:02:51It's not fair to go and see what happened and take the headlines and go, " >> in fact, many are convinced that nostradamus possessed no special powers whatsoever and was, in fact, nothing more than a charlatan.
01:03:06>> It's just another one of the crank nonsense things that weak people believe in.
01:03:11There's not any mystery about nostradamus.
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01:07:19>> For nearly five hundred years, the sixteenth century seer, nostradamus, has been touted as one of the most important prophets in history.
01:07:27But he has also had his naysayers.
01:07:31>> There's not any mystery about nostradamus, that's the interesting thing, I mean we pretty much know that everything he predicts, he predicts after the fact.
01:07:38You look back at something he's written that's nonsense, and then after it's happened you're able to say, " >> vagueness was part of nostradamus stock in trade.
01:07:49His prophecies needed to be "catch-all" so that a whole range of events could be seen to apply to them.
01:07:57So that they would cover almost anything that might happen in that general area.
01:08:02>> Some skeptics believe this vague language was a device used by nostradamus to launch attacks upon the leaders of his day without risking his own life.
01:08:14>> When he said, you know, the '3-headed beast', or whatever, he could always then have an out.
01:08:18Say, no, I wasn't talking about our king.
01:08:19C'mon, now.
01:08:20I was talking about the future, or something like that.
01:08:23In my opinion, nostradamus was neither a psychic nor a con artist.
01:08:27I think he was a social commentator, much like opinion editorial writers today.
01:08:32He was writing in a time, however, when the idea of free-speech and commentary that was critical of the political system, or the king, and so forth, of the day was not allowed.
01:08:46>> Why then, do so many people continue to believe that nostradamus was writing about the future and predicted such dire events as hiroshima and the explosion of the two space shuttle missions?
01:09:01>> People always want something to believe, and they are always looking for the greater order to the world and the idea that somebody five hundred years ago might have seen our entire world makes it, I think, gives some people a sense of security that if they read his readings, then they know what's going to happen too.
01:09:20>> Skeptics, however, are critical of nostradamus' collected prophesies.
01:09:25>> Where are the nostradamus people in 1925 talking about the stock market crash?
01:09:31Where are the nostradamus people in september, 1963 talking about jfk and dallas?
01:09:39Where are they before the fact?
01:09:40I mean, that is the easiest test you could possibly do on nostradamus.
01:09:47>> Nostradamus' first and most famous prediction was that the french king, henry ii, would die in a joust.
01:10:00>> But close inspection of this quatrain reveals little to connect it to a specific event.
01:10:05>> It talks about the "young lion " well, montgomery and henry ii were very close of age.
01:10:13It was not a young and old.
01:10:15And it wasn't on a field of battle.
01:10:17In fact, it was a game-- a duel on a gaming field.
01:10:21And, in any case, it was an accident.
01:10:23They were just dueling.
01:10:24They weren't supposed to draw blood, it was a game-- try to knock the other guy off.
01:10:28The spear splintered and accidentally went through his helmet and killed him.
01:10:31So it was not at all like what's described in the quatrain.
01:10:35>> Some say nostradamus foresaw one of the most famous events in europe's history, london's great fire of 1666.
01:10:44>> The blood of the just will be demanded at london, burnt by lightning fire in twenty-three the sixes.
01:10:51The ancient lady will fall from her high place, and many of the same sect will be killed.
01:10:59>> But these lines, written by nostradamus in 1564, could also describe disturbing events taking place in his own lifetime.
01:11:08>> Another famous alleged prophecy by nostradamus was the great fire of london, but in actuality it was probably another social commentary by nostradamus.
01:11:17This on the burning of the innocents in london having nothing to do with a fire a hundred years later.
01:11:22But, in his own time, the burning of women as witches.
01:11:25And the thunderbolts and the references to flames and things that were burning is in reference to the lit sticks that get the bonfire going, to which you put the woman on and she's burned to death.
01:11:37So, he was horrified by this.
01:11:38And, that was what the commentary was about.
01:11:42>> Naysayers also offer an alternative explanation for the "scientific breakthroughs" foretold of in the quatrains.
01:11:49They believe nostradamus was merely recounting the fanciful visions his contemporaries often reported seeing in the clouds.
01:11:58>> The prophecies which are alleged to apply to submarines or aircraft or even space travel are, for the most part, complete misunderstandings of nostradamus's reworkings of known events.
01:12:09In this case, visions that people were reported to seeing in the clouds, that's the airplane.
01:12:16And not only do we have accounts of these, but we actually have illustrations, woodcuts of these monsters, of these visions in the clouds.
01:12:24So, they re not, they're not airplanes.
01:12:26They're not submarines.
01:12:32>> The figure of napoleon bonaparte is said to be at the center of several quatrains.
01:12:54>> But while the verse seems to describe napoleon, in truth, it could be about anyone.
01:13:00>> The quatrain that allegedly has to do with napoleon talks about "from a simple soldier, " of course, this could apply to almost anybody.
01:13:07I mean harry truman, for gosh sakes, who was a simple soldier in the first world war.
01:13:11By the end of the second world war, he was president of the united states and dropped the atomic bomb.
01:13:15This could apply to anybody.
01:13:17>> For nostradamians, the clearest and most chilling of the quatrains seem to describe adolf hitler.
01:13:32>> Hitler is nowhere predicted in nostradamus.
01:13:36True, on one occasion he talks about a captain of great germany, which I suppose, would vaguely fit.
01:13:42But the normal assertion, is that because he uses the word "hister," h-i-s-t-e-r, on a number of occasions, this is actually a sort of slight reworking " >> why wouldn't he just write " why not just write that word?
01:13:58That could be important, you know?
01:14:00>> And if, as many believe, nostradamus' prophesies addressed the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001, they offered nothing in the way of warning.
01:14:11>> Anyone who believes in nostradamus and thinks nine-eleven was in those books needs to be brought up to trial.
01:14:19Where were they on nine-ten?
01:14:22I don't care about nine-eleven, because remember, it was airplanes, which means if you knew on nine-ten, you could stop it.
01:14:30If I had a book in my possession that had anything at all about what was going to happen nine-eleven and I did not give that information over to people who could stop it, I don't think you have a more direct textbook definition of evil.
01:14:46>> Despite the rational arguments criticizing his most outrageous prophesies, nostradamus continues to be seen as a prophet by many.
01:14:56[Translated] the world is interested in nostradamus every time there is a serious world crisis, because we open the text of the prophecies to find an answer to the crisis.
01:15:05>> And if the printed word has been his vehicle for the last five hundred years, the events of nine-eleven propelled nostradamus into a medium even he may have never predicted.
01:15:16>> One of the real manifestations of nostradamus of recent years has been the hoo-ha following 9-11.
01:15:23There were over 8,000 inquiries as to whether nostradamus had predicted it, directed to the main nostradamus newsgroup on the internet.
01:15:32At the same time, the main nostradamus site had been absolutely inundated with inquiries.
01:15:37One of them had over half a million inquiries and had to close down.
01:15:41>> In the days after september eleventh nostradamus was all over the internet it was one of the top searches in google, the number one best-selling book com was a biography of nostradamus, as well as five other books that were in the top twenty-five best-selling books com, so he was everywhere.
01:16:01>> This chilling prophesy, allegedly penned by nostradamus, was splashed across internet screens two days after the tragic attacks.
01:16:11>> In the city of god, there will be a great thunder, two brothers torn apart by chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb.
01:16:21The third big war will begin when the big city is burning -nostradamus 1654 >> but nostradamus died in 1566.
01:16:34He could not have written this passage in 1654 and the quatrain was not to be found in his published work--- it was a hoax.
01:16:43Still, while skeptical inquiries put his so-called predictions in doubt, nostradamus continues to be a household name and a best-selling author.
01:16:51The question that remains is why?
01:16:55>> Nostradamus is still popular for a couple of reasons.
01:16:58One, we have this sage from the middle ages, and we have this notion that there's a certain kind of deep ancient wisdom that we can inherit.
01:17:07Part of it, I think, is just media driven.
01:17:09It's like an urban legend, a story that just gets repeated over and over and over.
01:17:16>> But if nostradamus' story is simply an urban legend, it has stood the test of time.
01:17:24Nowhere is this more apparent than in his hometown of salon de provence.
01:17:29Five hundred years after his death, the spirit of nostradamus continues to instill fear and trepidation in even the bravest of souls.
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01:21:29Hryis >> Salon de provence, the sunny walled city in the south of france, is still the perfect place for the nostradamus legend to flourish.
01:21:56It was here that he wrote some 36,000 words of prophesy and prediction, raised six children, and began a publishing legacy that has lasted longer than anyone, save nostradamus himself, could have ever predicted.
01:22:11By the time he was 62, his almanacs and collections of four-line quatrains were being printed throughout europe and read in german, italian, english, spanish and their original french.
01:22:24During the last year and a half of his life, he penned the majority of his prophesies.
01:22:30In 1565, his tenth and final collection of quatrains was completed.
01:22:36But as he approached his 63rd birthday, his health began to decline.
01:22:42>> Arthritis and gout and dropsy, edema.
01:22:48The gout had been increasing for some time.
01:22:50It was quite a common complaint at the time.
01:22:53>> Records indicate that nostradamus began writing his will in 1566.
01:22:58His vast collection of treasures and coins, amassed during his wanderings across europe, was worth the equivalent of nearly a million dollars today.
01:23:08Although the prophet had made much of his living selling the future to his clients, he could not be sure which of his own sons would survive to inherit his most important possessions.
01:23:20And so his collection of books and letters was bequeathed to whichever of his three sons survived to reach adulthood first.
01:23:28His son cesar was named to inherit the brass astrolabe that nostradamus received from his grandfather.
01:23:37In june of 1566, he asked that his bed be moved upstairs into his secret study where he awaited his end.
01:23:46He dictated his last prediction to his secretary and scribe, jean chavigny, on july first, 1566.
01:23:55>> That he really knew the time of his death to the day, even to the hour, I can attest as fact.
01:24:00He said "you will not see me " >> chavigny reports that he told him that he wouldn't see him alive by the next morning and that was true.
01:24:11They found him standing dead at his workplace the next morning.
01:24:27>> Nostradamus' wife, anne ponsart, carried out his final wishes.
01:24:37He was entombed in a franciscan church in salon where he remained undisturbed for two hundred years.
01:24:45But in 1789, during the chaos of the french revolution, his tomb was opened and desecrated by looters.
01:24:52The event spawned a legend that the perpetrators had found nostradamus' skeletal remains and a medallion around his bony neck.
01:25:00It was said to be inscribed with the roman numerals for the exact year that the tomb would be opened and plundered.
01:25:15That same year nostradamus' remains were collected and moved to their final resting place laurent in salon de provence.
01:25:24>> Now originally nostradamus was buried standing up the way he was found the morning after he died.
01:25:29After his original tomb was looted, a few bones were returned and this is what's buried here.
01:25:35>> His crypt occupies a place of honor in the aptly named " >> this is the second burial place of nostradamus.
01:25:45The inscription reads "the blessed bones "of michel nostradame who "in the opinion of all mortals, "with his almost divine pen, "predicted the calamitous "future events by means " >> although it has been nearly five centuries since nostradamus walked these cobblestone streets, it is impossible to visit salon de provence today without bumping into him.
01:26:16The house where he wrote his famous prophesies in seclusion is now a museum.
01:26:23A wax effigy of the seer works tirelessly in a "secret study" near the entrance.
01:26:33[Translated] each year at the museum, we have visitors from 60 to 70 foreign countries that come to discover nostradamus or to work with his writings and history.
01:26:43>> Indeed, on his 500th birthday, nostradamus' legend is still very much alive.
01:26:52The grand chateau de l'emperi-- once the place where he met with the queen of france-- now beckons visitors who come to walk in the prophet's footsteps and buy a nostradamus t-shirt, book, or souvenir doll.
01:27:07But, skeptic or believer, there is no doubt people are drawn by his memory and his mystery.
01:27:16[Translated] each person interested in the writings of nostradamus has the right to make his own interpretation and we are not here to say "think this" " we have much factual knowledge about his life mixed with areas of shadows and uncertainties.
01:27:33We are here to tell the public, ok, this is fact but other things we don't know.
01:27:41>> It has been said that nostradamus' darkest writings are warnings of armageddon.
01:28:05>> But experts believe these are warnings, not promises.
01:28:09And that the most important concept nostradamus left behind is that the future is not set in stone.
01:28:16>> All the wordplay, all the green language puns and so forth were meant to set the situation up so that the person reading the prophecies would only understand them as the event happened.
01:28:27In other words, nostradamus wasn't trying to predict the future.
01:28:31He was trying to give us a road map to alternative futures.
01:28:35>> The last date mentioned in nostradamus' prophecies is 3797.
01:28:39But he doesn't say anything is going to happen then, merely that that's when his prophecies run out.
01:28:44So, you might think that's the end of the world.
01:28:50[Translated] in reality, nostradamus tells us that he made cyclical calculations after the ancient babylonian method and that using this cyclical calculation, he was able to see as far which leaves us enough additional time to better study nostradamus.
01:29:11>> Those who cannot wait until the year 3797 to find out, must judge for themselves whether the prophesies of nostradamus have proved true in the past and whether they may still anticipate events that are yet to come.
01:29:24But of one bold prediction we can be sure, in the preface of his final verses of "prophesies," dated 1557, nostradamus solemnly predicted: >> No one can deny that here,