Portrait de Nostradamus
Gravures Actualité



Astrological anomalies
in Almanachs, Pronostications and correspondence

by T. W. M. van Berkel

    Laurens Videl in Declaration des abus ignorances et seditions de Michel Nostradamus (1558 [1557]) :

... Regarde Michel ie te prye si tu es encores plus ignare & gros asne que ie ne dis la pleine lune que tu as mis en tes presages du moys de Ianuier de lan 1557. tu dis la lune estre à 37.degrez & 46.minutes de cancer: qu'est ce que tu dis grosse beste le soleil est en aquarius & la lune opposite seroit en cancer, qui t'a apris que cancer soit opposite a aquarius: vn qui n'aurait iamais veu liure d'astrologie scauroit il faire plus grand erreur que tu fais, n'est tu pas bien sot si tu n'entens que leo est opposite a aquarius, & non cancer, car il est opposite a capricorne, n'est ce pas l'a.b.c. des principes que l'on aprend en astrologie...

   The way Nostradamus practiced astrology was already criticized in his lifetime. In November 1557, his countryman Laurens Videl achieved Declaration des abus ignorances et seditions de Michel Nostradamus, a booklet which, according to the rest of the title, would be useful for anyone. Videl criticizes both the contents of Nostradamus' predictions and his astrological-technical skills. He bases himself upon investigation of a.o. a number of Almanachs.

   Videl mentions, for example, that Nostradamus in the description of the solar ingress in one of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) gives erroneous longitudes of the Sun; notes the time moments of planetary positions in an odd way, makes mistakes while determining aspects and special circumstances (such as “combust”) and gives erroneous longitudes of the Moon while discussing lunar phases. In the quotation, given at the top, he mentions that according to Nostradamus, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon during the Full Moon in January 1557 is 37:46 Cancer, while the Sun is in Aquarius and in astrology it is not the sign of Cancer which is diametrically opposed to Aquarius, but the sign of Leo. According to Videl, this shows that Nostradamus is not at all familiar with the fundamental principles of astrology (l'a.b.c. des principes que l'on aprend en astrologie).

   Likewise, the deceased Canadian professor Brind'Amour concluded in 1993, after thorough investigation, that the astrological-technical skills of Nostradamus were quite poor.

   In the investigation upon which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, a number of Almanachs and Pronostications were examined by means of application of present-day software. Also, horoscopes were examined, which are part of the leftover correspondence of Nostradamus. The findings of these examinations were compared with the findings of Brind'Amour and Videl. They point in the same direction. However, some errors and anomalies cannot be attributed to Nostradamus. These are printer's errors or errors, made by others who introduced texts or tables. It became also clear that some findings can be contested.

Date and time

   A more or less casual critic of Videl was that Nostradamus noted for example March 1, 1557, 03:47, as February 28, 1557, 15:47. In Nostradamus' lifetime, this way of notation was not unusual and had a good reason. In ephemeredes, made in that era, the day ran from 12:00 to 12:00 instead of from midnight to midnight. Because of a correct interpolation, this way of notation is quite useful. A time moment like 15:47 can be divided by 24 without any extra conversion, whereas one has to add 12 hours to 03:47 a.m. before dividing the result by 24.

   This way of mentioning data, in which the day runs from 12:00 to 12:00, has also consequences for the name of the day. The birth data of Hieronymus Purpurati (Jérôme Purpurat), one of Nostradamus' clients, are: An Chris M.D.XVII, D Mercurius, XIX augusti, h.XVI, m.XV PM, which is: 1517 A.D., Wednesday, August 19, 16:15 p.m., with the day running from 12:00 to 12:00.1 According to present-day standards, with the day running from midnight to midnight, this is Thursday, August 20, 1517, 04:15.

   Nostradamus was not the only astrologer who counted from 12:00 to 12:00. In Eclipsium omnium 1554-1606, which contains predictions for a series of Solar and Lunar Eclipses which occur between 1554 and 1606, Cyprianus Leovitius, the author, also counted from 12:00 to 12:00.

   Videl used his critic upon this way of notation as an upbeat for discussing the way Nostradamus dealt with lunar phases. He was right in criticizing the way Nostradamus dealt with lunar phases, but there is no reason to criticize the way of noting date or time.

Basic skills

   In the fragment, taken from Declaration des abus..., Videl mentions that in “predictions for January 1557”, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon during the Full Moon is 37:46 Cancer. According to Videl, this shows that Nostradamus does not have basic skills, in this case, skills regarding the sequence of the zodiacal signs. The text of the discussion of the lunar phases in the 1557-Prono-F invites to a further investigation.

   In the discussion of the lunar phases January 1557 in the 1557-Prono-F, it reads that on January 14, 1557, there will be a Full Moon on 12:57 on 27:47 (!) Cancer.2 According to software, the Moon's zodiacal longitude on January 14, 1557, noon TLT (True Local Time) Venice, was 27:04 Cancer. In the 1557-Prono-F, Nostradamus mentioned the Moon's noon longitude, copied from an ephemeris which was probably calculated for noon TLT Venice.

   The question is, to which publication Videl refers: the 1557-Almanach-F or the 1557-Présages Merveilleux-F. One of these publications might contain a printer's error: 37:46 Cancer, whereas the 1557-Prono-F reads: 27:47 Cancer. Or does it read 27:46 Cancer in the 1557-Almanach-F or the 1557-Presages Merveilleux-F ? In that case, there might be a printer's error in Déclaration des abus..., meaning that instead of 27:46, 37:46 was printed. Then, there is the possibility that Videl himself wrote 37:46. The most obvious possibility is that the printer's error 37:46 instead of 27:46 occurs in Déclaration des abus... If the original longitude in the 1557-Almanach-F or the 1557-Presages Merveilleux-F would have been 37:46, Videl would have been the first to explain that a zodiacal sign consists of exactly 30 degrees of arc.

   In these lines, Videl did not discuss the impact of the sign of Cancer on the contents of the prediction for the Full Moon in January 1557. This impact is disastrous.

   In the discussion of the impact of lunar phases (New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter), Nostradamus often mentions the time moment of the exact lunar phase. He copied these time moments from ephemeredes, for example an ephemeris, calculated for noon TLT Venice. This copying of time moments, listed in ephemeredes, is a usual procedure, practiced by many astrologers, also today. The extensive version of Neil F. Michelsen's American Ephemeris contains aspect-tables with GMT-moments of aspects and lunar phases. If one wants to copy these time moments, one has to specify that they are based upon GMT, or one has to convert these moments into moments, based upon local time.

   Nostradamus does not do any of these measures. He does not specify that the time moments are based upon a different time standard than TLT Salon-de-Provence and does not convert the time moments into TLT Salon-de-Provence.

   So far, nothing is wrong, but the lunar longitudes, mentioned in the discussion of the lunar phases, are not the longitudes during the moment the lunar phase is exact, but the noon longitudes, given in the ephemeris. These noon longitudes are the fundament of the predictions, based upon lunar phases. Such an approach results in mistakes if the Moon during the exact lunar phase is in another zodiacal sign than in the one at noon.

   In the 1557-Prono-F, it reads that in January 1557 there is a Full Moon on January 14, 12:57. The given lunar longitude: 27:47 Cancer. This is not the Moon's longitude during the exact lunar phase, but the noon longitude on January 14 (noon TLT Venice).

   The specification in the 1557-Prono-F must be read as Full Moon on January 15, 1557, 0:57 TLT Venice. According to software, at that moment, the solar longitude is 4:52 Aquarius and the lunar longitude 4:49 Leo.

   The prediction in the 1557-Prono-F is not based upon the Moon in Leo, but upon the noon longitude of the Moon in Cancer: “Full Moon 12:57 on 27:42 Cancer, which because of its water-ness will be humid, with a couple of moderations...”3 The word “water-ness” is used because Cancer belongs to the water-signs of the Zodiac.

   Summary: the 1557-Prono-F contains a prediction for the Full Moon of January 14, 1557, based upon a Moon longitude in Cancer. It must be noted that this is the noon longitude (TLT Venice) instead of the longitude during the exact Full Moon. Further, it must be noticed that the exact Full Moon does not occur in Cancer, but in Leo. The prediction was based upon explanation of a longitude in Cancer, whereas it should have been based upon a longitude in Leo. Thus, this is a wrong prediction, caused by copying longitudes from ephemeredes instead of an interpolation for the Moon's longitude.

   In the remaining predictions, based upon lunar phases, this kind of error occurs regularly.

Charts in Nostradamus' correspondence

   A part of the correspondence of Nostradamus has been preserved and has been published by Jean Dupèbe in 1983. This publication is entitled: Nostradamus - Lettres inédites and contains 54 letters, written in the period February 1556 - December 1565. Twelve of these letters are written by Nostradamus, 42 are addressed to him.

   51 of these letters are in Latin. Dupèbe summarized each Latin letter in French and annotated all of these letters. Nostradamus - Lettres inédites also contains horoscope data (name, birthdata, hour of birth, altitude), but not a single chart is depicted.

   Bernadette Lecureux translated the 51 letters in French. This translation is, together with the remaining three French letters, published in Amadou's L'astrologie de Nostradamus - dossier (1992 [1987]). This book also contains reproductions of 15 original charts which are part of the correspondence, transcripts of these figures, made by Robert Morin and charts, based upon recalculations by “Méridien Informatique”, Toulon.

   As far as solar charts are discussed in the letters, these charts are recalculated by “Méridien Informatique”. Next, this part of L'astrologie de Nostradamus - dossier contains reproductions of horoscope figures and texts by Cyprianus Leovitius.

   The text of the letter to the canons of the Orange cathedral, together with the chart, is dated on February 4, 1562. It is not included in Nostradamus - Lettres inédites, but it is included in L'astrologie de Nostradamus - dossier.

   Brind'Amour concluded, regarding the charts, calculated by Nostradamus and discussed by him in his letters, that they contained three characteristic kinds of errors.4 The first category is that the planets are not always located in the proper houses. The second category is that the longitude of the Sun and the MC does not fit with the time moment for which the chart was calculated. According to Brind'Amour, Nostradamus did not interpolate, but took the most close Sidereal Time and copied the cusp longitudes, listed for that time. The third category is that the planetary longitudes are not the longitudes at the time of the horoscope, but the noon longitudes, listed in the ephemeredes. He copied these noon longitudes, a method which also can be seen in Almanachs and Pronostications.

   Brind'Amour notices that in his letters, Nostradamus writes that he uses several systems of house division, among which the Regiomontanus system of house division. However, in all charts, the cusp longitudes are based upon the Regiomontanus system of house division.

   As a possible explanation for the phenomenon of wrong house positions, Brind'Amour suggested that, due to preparation of the correspondence for publishing, in all charts which contained other systems of house division, the cusps of these houses were replaced by cusps, based upon the Regiomontanus system of house division, in order to standardize the charts. In a number of cases, such a revision should have resulted in different house positions for some planets. According to the hypothesis of Brind'Amour, the charts were only partly revised, i.e. all planets remained in the houses in which they were located originally. This might be a cause for wrong house positions.

   It is an open question who did this revision. Brind'Amour writes: “perhaps one recalculated the house cusps according to the Regiomontanus system of house division, while the planets remained in the same houses they were located in originally.”5 With this remark, he closes the discussion of the first category of errors and begins to discuss the second category of errors: copying cusp-longitudes from tables of houses, based upon the most close Sidereal Time.

   In his introduction to the letters, Dupèbe also mentions preparations because of publishing in the future. In fact, he writes that the collection consists of calligraphed revised versions, made in the second half of the 16th century. This collection was handed over by Cesar, Nostradamus' eldest son, in 1629. For centuries, this collection was considered to be lost, until the Frenchman Lhez found it in 1961.6

   As a result of the possibility raised by Brind'Amour, first, one should determine which charts are authentic, i.e. calculated, drawn and/or revised by Nostradamus in the way Brind'Amour described, and which charts (in the second half of the 16th century or later) were revised by others. In the case of the charts which are revised by others, neither the first category of errors (planets in the wrong houses), nor the second category (copied longitudes of the cusps instead of accurately interpolated longitudes) can be attributed to Nostradamus. He who replaced the cusp longitudes of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th house by longitudes, based upon the Regiomontanus system of house division, could have done that easily by copying from tables of houses, by relying on the closest listing of the MC and the Ascendant. Systems of house division differ from each other because of the cusp-longitudes of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th house. Ascendant and MC are identical in each system of house division.

   An answer to the question which charts were calculated, drawn and/or revised by Nostradamus, is also important because of a remark he made in a letter to Lorenz Tubbe, dated on May 13, 1562.7 He writes that he calculated Rosenberger's solar chart for 1562, recalculated his birth chart and wrote comments by himself. His secretaries however, too occupied, had not yet time to copy this. This copying was necessary because it was difficult to read Nostradamus' handwriting. The question is if the only task of the secretaries was to copy the letter, or if it was also their task to copy the charts. Mistakes are easily made during copying a chart.

The quarterchart for spring 1558

   In September 1557, Nostradamus sent two series of predictions to Jean Brotot, a Lyonese publisher. One of them contained a dedication, directed to the governor of the Provence; the other one contained a dedication, directed to Joseph des Panisses, prevost of Cavaillon, to whom the Prognostication nouvelle et prédiction portenteuse pour l'an M.D.L.V (de 1555-Prono-F) was dedicated.8

   On September 20, 1557, one day after receiving the predictions, Brotot wrote to Nostradamus that his texts were too long-winded. Time demanded concise texts and the average reader would not appreciate two series of predictions, based upon one source. Because of this, Brotot had the intention to publish only one series of predictions (Nostradamus had to decide which one), while adding to it “useful pieces” of the other series.9 Eventually, Brotot would publish both of them, and direct both dedications to the governor of the Provence and the prevost of Cavaillon. Next, he would complete the tables, destined for the “Bourguignons”, with feast days of saints, lunar phases and their meanings, quatrains and French texts.10

   Probably, Brotot's letter deals with two series of predictions for 1558: the Almanach pour 1558 (the 1558-Almanach-F), of which only one copy is preserved in a collection, to which access is denied, and the Pronostication nouvelle pour l'an mil cinq cens cinquante & huict (the 1558-Prono-F). The 1558-Prono-F was published in Lyon by Jean Brotot and Antoine Volant and in Paris by Guillaume le Noir; the version of Le Noir is identical to the one of Brotot and Volant.11 The permission to Brotot and Volant to print and publish the 1558-Prono-F is dated on July 5, 1557; the permission for Le Noir is dated on September 20, 1557.12 The dedication of both versions of the 1558-Prono-F is not directed to two persons, as Brotot had in mind, but to only one person: Guillaume de Guadagne, Lord Chamberlain of Lyon. It is not clear to what extent Brotot realized his other ideas. It is clear, however, that Nostradamus did not compile the tables.

   One of the items which is discussed in the 1558-Prono-F, are the quartercharts for spring, summer, autumn and winter. In the first lines of the discussion of the quarterchart for spring 1558, the astrological data read as follows:13

1 - The date of the quarterchart: March 11, 1558;
2 - The solar longitude on March 11, 1558: 0:53 Aries;
3 - The lunar longitude on March 11, 1558: 16:40 Leo;
4 - The location of Mars on March 11, 1558: Aries;
5 - A Sun-Jupiter conjunction and a Moon-Caput Draconis conjunction on December 29, 1557;
6 - A Mars-Saturn conjunction, in the preceding general description of 1558 dated on April 1, 1558;14
7 - A Lunar Eclipse, in the next paragraphs dated on April 2, 1558, 12:32.15

   Software data show as follows:

1 - December 29, 1557, 12:00 TLT Venice: Sun: 17:48 Capricorn, Jupiter: 19:15 Capricorn; Moon: 24:32 Aries, Caput Draconis: 3:25 Taurus;
2 - March 11, 1558: 12:00 TLT Venice: Sun: 0:17 Ariers, Moon: 23:41 Sagittarius, Mars: 25:35 Aries;
3 - April 1, 1558: 12:00 TLT Venice: Mars: 10:47 Taurus, Saturn: 9:09 Taurus;
4 - April 3, 1558, 0:27 TLT Venice: Sun: 22:25 Aries; Moon: 22:25 Libra, Caput Draconis: 28:25 Aries.

   The time moment of the quarterchart for spring 1558 is not given. According to software, the text deals with longitudes on March 11, 1558, 12:00 TLT Venice. Nostradamus did not calculate what time it would be in Salon-de-Provence if the Sun would arrive on 0:00 Aries on March 11, 1558.

   The astrological data in the text of the discussion of the quarterchart for spring 1558, December 29, 1557 and April 1 and 2, 1558, match pretty good with software. In fact, the data of the Lunar Eclipse match almost perfectly. Nostradamus counted the day from 12:00 to 12:00. April 2, 1558, 12:32, is in fact April 3, 1558, 0:32. According to software, the Lunar Eclipse occurred on April 3, 1558, 0:27 TLT Venice.

   According to the text of the quarterchart, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon on March 11, 1558, is 16:40 Leo. According to software, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon on March 11, 1558, 12:00 TLT Venice is 23:41 Sagittarius. A few lines further, in the discussion of the lunar phases, it reads that on March 11, a Last Quarter occurs, 14 minutes above the Equinox, with the Moon on 23:18 Sagittarius.16 This is not correct. According to software, the Moon's longitude at the time of the Last Quarter is 2 Capricorn. The given lunar longitude matches software data, calculated for March 11, 1558, 12:00 TLT Venice: 23:41 Sagittarius.

   In the 1558-Prono-F, there are two different lunar longitudes (Leo and Sagittarius) for one date, March 11, 1558. One can explain this as a clear example of the lack of skills of Nostradamus. However, the case seems to be more complicated.

   The date of the quarterchart for spring 1557, discussed in the 1557-Prono-F, is March 11, as is the date of the quarterchart for spring 1558.17 According to the text, the zodiacal longitude of the Sun in the quarterchart for spring 1557 is 0:53 Aries, as in the quarterchart for spring 1558.

   In the 1557-Prono-F, neither the lunar sign, nor the lunar longitude is given in the text of the quarterchart for spring 1557. In the discussion of the lunar phases in March 1557, it reads that a First Quarter occurs on March 7, 1557 (Moon in Gemini) and a Full Moon on March 14 (Moon in Virgo).18 Between March 7 and March 14, the Moon is in Leo during a couple of days. According to software, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon on March 11, 1557, 12:00 TLT Venice, was: 16:04 Leo.

   In the 1558-Prono-F, the date of the quarterchart for spring 1558 is March 11. Two aspects, occurring on December 29, 1557, Mars in Aries on March 11, 1558, and subsequent aspects on April 1 and 2 (a Mars-Saturn conjunction and a Lunar Eclipse) are correctly described. The only fact which is not correct, is the noon longitude of the Moon on March 11, 1558 (16:40 Leo instead of 23:41 Sagittarius), though this longitude is given correctly in the discussion of the lunar phases on March 11, 1558, but one should note that this longitude is the noon longitude instead of the exact longitude during the Last Quarter.

   In the text of the 1557-Prono-F, the date of the quarterchart is March 11, as in the text of the 1558-Prono-F. In both texts, the zodiacal longitude of the Sun is 0:53 Aries. According to software, the noon position of the Moon in the quarterchart for spring 1557 is 16:04 Leo, which matches almost perfectly the given longitude (16:40 Leo) in the text of the quarterchart for spring 1558.

   These facts show that 16:40 Leo instead of 23:41 Sagittarius is not by definition the expectable example of a blunder during reading the ephemeris, characteristic for Nostradamus. Numerous surrounding data are given correctly. It looks as if one or two data, dealing with March 11, 1557, ended up in a text, dealing with March 11, 1558, a text which had the same subject (spring) as the text which dealt with 1557. Brotot had written to Nostradamus that it was his intention to first publish one series of predictions, to which he would add "useful pieces" of the other series. The question rises if his revision was restricted to what he proposed, or if he made other changes in the text.

The Solar Eclipse of April 18, 1558

   Several times in the 1558-Prono-F, Nostradamus discussed the Lunar Eclipse which was to occur on April 2, 12:32.19 He did not discuss the Solar Eclipse of April 18, 1558, in terms of a Solar Eclipse, but as an ordinary New Moon.20 In Eclipsium omnium... 1554-1606, Leovitius classified this lunar phase as a Solar Eclipse and dealt with it as such.

   In the 1559-Progno-GB, Nostradamus reflected on the April 1558 Lunar Eclipse, but not on the April 1558 Solar Eclipse.

   For several reasons, the fact that Nostradamus twice did not discuss a Solar Eclipse, is interesting. These reasons are related to the conditions to discuss a Solar Eclipse as such and with the periods in which the 1558-Prono-F and the 1559-Progno-GB are written.

   In each year, there are two Solar Eclipses and at least three Lunar Eclipses. From an astrological point of view, a Solar or Lunar Eclipse is a New or Full Moon, close to the axis Caput - Cauda Draconis, with an orb of about ten degrees of arc.

   In Eclipsium omnium... , Leovitius discussed those Eclipses, during which the eclipsed Sun or the eclipsed Moon on any moment were above the Ascendant - Descendant axis for the latitude of Augsburg. For this reason, he writes that no Eclipses will be visible in 1606, which means that he will not give any prediction, based on an Eclipse in that year. The Solar Eclipse of April 18, 1558, was in the ninth house of the Eclipse chart, calculated for Augsburg, and was discussed.

   During the examination of the authenticity of Les Significations de l'Eclipse du 16 septembre 1559, it became clear that Nostradamus did not copy Eclipse data from Eclipsium omnium..., but from ephemeredes. Not only does he classify the Solar Eclipse of April 18, 1558, as an ordinary New Moon, but also the Solar Eclipse of November 1556. The subsequent Lunar Eclipse of November 1556 was classified as an ordinary Full Moon.21

   The dedication of the 1558-Prono-F is dated on May 1, 1557. Around May 1, 1557, Nostradamus wrote predictions for the April 1558 Lunar Eclipse. He did not write predictions for a subsequent April 1558 Solar Eclipse, on the contrary. Next to this Lunar Eclipse is a New Moon.

   In the 1559-Progno-GB, Nostradamus looks back on the April 1558 Lunar Eclipse, while writing about the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse. According to bibliographical data in the 1559-Progno-GB, this was written in May 1558, i.e. shortly after the April 1558 Lunar Eclipse.

   In 1556, Leovitius expected that there would also be a Solar Eclipse in April 1558. In 1557, however, Nostradamus discusses a New Moon for April 1558 and - naturally - does not look back on that phenomenon.

   There are two possibilities. Either Nostradamus suppresses the fact that a Solar Eclipse occurred in April 1558, or the Solar Eclipse was not visible. NASA-tables show that the April 1558 Solar Eclipse was not visible for Europe.

   In the ephemeredes Nostradamus used, the Solar Eclipse of April 18, 1558, was classified as an ordinary New Moon. This is not correct, given the fact that this New Moon occurred close to the axis Caput - Cauda Draconis. However, this Eclipse was not visible for Europe, which meant that Nostradamus did not get into trouble because of not mentioning a Solar Eclipse.

The authenticity Les Significations de l'Eclipse du 16 septembre 1559

   According to the general opinion, Nostradamus wrapped a reply to his critics in a prediction for the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, translated from Leovitius' Eclipsium omnium...

   In the first lines of Les Significations..., a chart of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse is mentioned. In this chart, Mars is in the tenth house, in square with the Cauda Draconis. In the chart of the Eclipse, drawn and discussed by Leovitius, Mars is in the eighth house, close to Antares, a Fixed Star. This points to the presence of two charts.

   The author of this essay has the opinion that the presence in one book of two series of conflicting chart data, does not point by definition to the way in which Nostradamus practiced astrology. The predictions for September and October 1559 in the 1559-Progno-GB clearly show that, according to the ephemeredes which were used by Nostradamus, Mars was in Capricorn. He discussed this with such a frequency, that it is very unlikely that shortly afterwards, he introduced two changes: a change in sign and a change in house position.

   The differences between the time data and the listing of Solar and Lunar Eclipses in the books by Nostradamus and those by Leovitius are that many, that one can doubt seriously if Nostradamus in 1558, the year in which he is supposed to have written Les Significations..., had a copy of Eclipsium omnium... at his disposal.

English versions of the Almanach pour 1559

   In the investigation upon which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, two English versions of the Almanach pour 1559 were discussed.22 One of them, the Almanacke for the yeare of our Lorde God, 1559 (the 1559-Almanacke-GB), contains the lunar calendars with a.o., lunar phases and quatrains. The other, the Prognostication of maister Michael Nostredamus, Doctour in Phisick. In Province for the yeare of our Lorde, 1559 (the 1559-Progno-GB) contains a translation of the predictions which are based upon lunar phases, astrological aspects and quartercharts.

   In a number of cases, the time moments of lunar phases in the 1559-Almanacke-GB differ from those in the 1559-Progno-GB. Or: the time moments in the tables differ from those in the text of the predictions. The suggestions, made by Brotot in his letter of September 20, 1557, might mean that these tables were not compiled by Nostradamus, but added by the publisher, and that Nostradamus based his predictions upon ephemeredes.

   It is not professional that in one book (the 1559-Almanach-F, split into the 1559-Almanacke-GB and the 1559-Progno-GB), the time moments of lunar phases are not identical. However, it looks as if the tables had a more decorative functions, as a result of the compilation of almanacs, en that Nostradamus, as explained, did not use these tables, but ephemeredes.

   A comparison between the contents of the 1559-Progno-GB with software data and data in book 4, part 1 of the Recueil des Présages Prosaïques, showed that the 1559-Progno-GB seriously lacks quality. There were ten lunar phases discussed in the prediction for January 1559, whereas the normal frequency is four or five. This is caused by the fact that the text of predictions, based upon lunar phases in August and December, ended up in the chapter which deals with January.

   Some lines in the 1559-Progno-GB differ from the original astrological context in the French source text, apparently with the aim to maintain the text which was already translated. This points to a deliberate attempt of the translator and/or the editor to suppress mistakes which occurred during translating and/or layouting.

Horay chart theft sacred objects, Orange, February 1562

   The letter which Nostradamus wrote to the canons of the Orange cathedral about a theft in 1561, is dated on February 4, 1562. This letter is accompanied by a chart, dated on February 3, 1562, “hora 7 post meridiem” (19:00).23

   In the chart, the number 7 is scarcely readable. In fact, it looks like a 4. The way in which the 7 is printed, raises the idea that it was added later. Other numbers in the chart are also scarcely readable.

   In the investigation upon which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, the first step during examining this chart was the deduction of the Sidereal Time from the longitudes of the MC and the Ascendant. The Sidereal Time: 4:20:39. The longitudes of the MC and the Ascendant matched with the coordinates of Salon-de-Provence. The TLT-moment for Salon-de-Provence turned out to be: 18:47:53. In other words, the scarcely readable number which follows the word “hora” is the number 7 and the difference between “hora 7 post meridiem” (19:00) and software data (18:47:53) turns out to be 12 minutes and 7 seconds. Unfortunately, the number of errors in the chart is that many, that it can not be derived if the planetary longitudes were those of February 3, 1562, noon, or those of February 3, 1562, 18:47:53 TLT Salon-de-Provence. According to software, the noon lunar longitude on February 3, 1562 (TLT Venice) is 21:04 Aquarius. The chart reads: 3 Aquarius.

   The chart of the theft is also discussed by Amadou, Brind'Amour and Leroy.

   Amadou depicted three charts: the original one, a transcript and a recalculated one for February 3, 1562, 16:00 TLT Salon-de-Provence. Amadou read the 7 as a 4 and does not discuss the question why in the original chart the house cusps have longitudes the way they have them. He presents a recalculated chart, based upon 16:00 TLT Salon-de-Provence, in which for example the MC is on 24:55 Aries, whereas in the original chart, the MC was located on 7 Gemini.

   Brind'Amour, such is listed in a survey, provided by Peter Lemesurier, concluded that the given time of the chart was 155 minutes (2 hours and 35 minutes) too early, compared with the actual time of the chart. Apparently, Brind'Amour also read the 7 as a 4 and in the end got the result of 18:35. If he would have read the time moment as “hora 7 post meridiem”, he might have concluded that this was only 25 minutes later than the actual time of the chart.

   Leroy made a couple of mistakes while copying the chart: the date, the time and the longitude of a cusp. If the reader of his book does not know the original chart, he wrongly attributes these mistakes to Nostradamus.

Quartercharts in the Almanach pour l'an M.D.LX.VI (the 1566-Almanach-F)

   It has been said that Nostradamus had too little knowledge of the astrological theory to understand Videl's critics. Videl criticized for example the fact that Nostradamus, while discussing the ingress of the Sun in Aries in 1557, wrote that the longitude of the Sun was 0:53 Aries, whereas it should be 0:00 Aries, a way of dealing with ephemeris data which once again points to copying them instead of interpolate them.

   The Almanach pour l'an M.D.L.X.VI (the 1566-Almanach-F) contains charts for each of the four seasons, i.e. each solar ingress in a cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn). In each chart, the zodiacal longitude of the Sun is 0:00. This longitude, and the longitude of the Moon, show that these charts are the result of accurate interpolation. The longitudes of the cusps match the chart data; it looks as if an ephemeris for 12:00 TLT Venice is used and the charts seem to be calculated for 46 degrees Northern Latitude.

   The charts have not a merely decorative function, they are truly analyzed, as is shown by the remark that in the quarterchart for winter 1566 Saturn is stationary. In the chart, Saturn is indeed labeled as such.

   The question is if Nostradamus calculated these charts by himself or copied them. Whatever the answer may be, he discussed quartercharts in which the Sun had the correct zodiacal longitude: 0:00. Compared with the 1557-Prono-F and the 1558-Prono-F, this might be considered to be an improvement. However, data and times of lunar phases and lunar longitudes contain the same errors as those in the 1557-Prono-F and the 1558-Prono-F: noon-longitudes instead of longitudes during the exact lunar phase and time moments which are neither specified nor converted, but based upon 12:00 TLT Venice.

Present-day software

   Brind'Amour verified the astrological data in Almanachs, Pronostications and charts with ephemeredes, used by Nostradamus. Christian Wöllner, the author of Das Mysterium des Nostradamus (1926), had to use a.o. the Alfonsinian tables. The German searcher Noll-Husum used a.o. Schoch's Planetentafeln für Jedermann, added with the Oxford-tables.24 In the beginning of the investigation upon which Nostradamus, astrology and the Bible is based, the Tuckerman Ephemeris was used, added with algorithms to calculate the Sidereal Time and the zodiacal longitude of the Caput Draconis. Since a couple of years, the AstroScoop Plus program is used (Schors publishers, Amsterdam, 1999).

   Despite some limitations, due to the nature of the research, the use of AstroScoop Plus gives much satisfaction. The noon longitudes of Sun, Moon and Caput Draconis and the time moments of the lunar phases, given in the text of Almanachs and Pronostications, match pretty well with AstroScoop Plus. This made it possible to correct quickly the errors in the 1559-Progno-GB.

   The difference in planetary longitudes between the ephemeredes of Nostradamus' age and AstroScoop Plus is sometimes two degrees of arc. There can be a difference of about two days in the date on which a planet changes its direction (direct into retrograde or vice versa). One must keep this in mind if one wants to compare astrological data in Almanachs, Pronostications and correspondence with those of AstroScoop Plus, which then result into a trend instead of in a reflection of what was calculated long time ago. However, such a trend can be very revealing, such as in the case of Les Significations...

   With AstroScoop Plus, it is possible to select astrological factors. In the case of this investigation, these are the seven classic planets, the Caput Draconis, the major aspects and the old systems of house division (Campanus, Porphyry and Regiomontanus).

   With AstroScoop Plus, it is possible to create a database by means of directories. For example, the astrological data in the 1557-Prono-F are saved in a directory, named 1557-Prono-F, with a number of subdirectories, regarding aspects, quartercharts and lunar phases.

   Ideas of long time ago regarding planetary cycles or planetary longitudes are not reflected in present-day data sources (ephemeredes, software). This can lead to interpretation problems. As an example: note 9 of J.P. Brach in Livre de l'estat et mutation des temps.

   Brach writes: “Abu-Masha Djafar ibn Mohammed, in the Middle Ages called Albumazar, Arabian astrologer, 9th century, was the first one (known to us) who predicted the great turbulences for the exact date in 1789, to which is referred by Turrel, Roussat, Carrion, Nostradamus etc.” Brach refers to a “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn in 1789.

   According to present-day data sources, there was no such “great conjunction” in 1789. In 1789, Saturn was in Pisces and Jupiter went from the last degrees of Cancer into the first degrees of Virgo. There was a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in 1782, but that one occurred on 28 Sagittarius and was not a “great conjunction”.

   One can only understand the meaning of Albumazar's prediction after consulting literature. Present-day material does not provide an anwer to these ideas. However, this material answers the question to what extent earlier ideas about planetary cycles are confirmed by “the reality of the ephemeris”. Albumazar's predictions turns out to be sheer luck: a predicted event took place on the predicted date, but was not accompanied by the described phenomenon.

   These kind of things ask for permanent awareness during research in the nostradamian field, when one wants to apply present-day data sources.

T. W. M. van Berkel
De Meern, July 3, 2004


      - Robert Amadou: L’astrologie de Nostradamus - dossier. Poissy, 1992 (1987).

      - Pierre Brind’Amour: L’astrologie chez Nostradamus. Site 1993.

      - Bernard Chevignard: Présages de Nostradamus. Saint-Amand, 1999.

      - Jean Dupèbe: Nostradamus - Lettres inédites. Genève, 1983.

      - Cyprianus Leovitius: Eclipsium omnium…1554-1606. Augsburg, 1556.

      - Michel Nostradamus: An Almanacke for the year of our Lorde God, 1559. London.

      - Michel Nostradamus: The Prognostication of maister Michael Nostredamus, Doctour in Phisick. In Province for the yeare of our Lorde, 1559. Antwerp (Great Britain).

      - Michel Nostradamus: Almanach pour l'an M.D.LX.VI. (published in Cahiers Nostradamus). Lyon, 1565.

      - Richard Roussat: Livre de l’estat et de mutation des temps. Paris, 1981 (1550 / 1548).

      - Laurens Videl: Déclaration des abus, ignorances et seditions de Michel Nostradamus. Avignon, 1558 (1557).


1 Amadou, p.208. Retour

2 Chevignard, p.414. Retour

3 Chevignard, p.414: Pleine Lune le 14.a 12.heu.75.minu.à 27.deg.47.mi de Cancer, qui sera par aquosité humide. auc quelque moderatió... Retour

4 Brind'Amour, site Retour

5 Brind'Amour: Peut-être aura-t-on recalculé les pointes des maisons d'après le système de Regiomontanus tout en gardant les astres dans les mêmes maisons qu'avant. Retour

6 Dupèbe, p.11-13. His introduction does not show if this was restricted to the letters, or if the horoscope figures were also drawn again. In the horoscope figures in L'astrologie de Nostradamus - dossier, the legenda (horoscope data) are printed instead of written. Retour

7 Amadou, p.139-143; Dupèbe, p.131-139. Retour

8 Benazra: The Predictions and Almanachs of Michel Nostradamus, site Retour

9 According to Dupèbe, Brotot had in mind to publish the 1558-Prono-F (Dupèbe, p.15). Retour

10 Amadou, p.64; Dupèbe, p.31-32. Retour

11 Benazra: Les Pronostications et Almanachs de Nostradamus, site Retour

12 Benazra: The Predictions and Almanachs of Michel Nostradamus, site Retour

13 Chevignard, p.426-427. Retour

14 Chevignard, p.421. Retour

15 Chevignard, p.428 en 439. Retour

16 Chevignard, p.439. Retour

17 Chevignard, p.401. Retour

18 Chevignard, p.414. Retour

19 Chevignard, p.427 en 438-439. Retour

20 Chevignard, p.439. Retour

21 See: Van Berkel: Les Significations de l'Eclipse 1559 and the Prognostication for the year 1559, site Retour

22 See: Van Berkel: The Prognostication for the year 1559 and the Recueil des Présages Prosaïques, site Retour

23 See: Van Berkel: Horary chart theft sacred objects from the Orange cathedral, site Retour

24 Noll-Husum, 1936, in: Amadou, p.369. Retour


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