Portrait de Nostradamus
Gravures Actualité



Astrological traces of forgery
in Les significations de l’éclipse du 16-09-1559

An addition to “La fortune des emprunts à Leovitius…” by Dr. J. Halbronn
A reply to “Reconsidering the Nostradamus plot” by Dr. Elmar R. Gruber

by T. W. M. van Berkel

    While writing his essay about the quotations of Leovitius’ “Eclipsium” in the two Epistles, dated in 1558, Dr. Halbronn and I exchanged astrological data and source texts. The subject of this exchange was the zodiacal longitude of Mars in the horoscope of the Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559.1 It became clear that in “Les Significations de l’Eclipse du 16 Septembre 1559” incompatible astrological sources were used, which weakens the statement that Nostradamus is the author.

The comments of Dr. Elmar R. Gruber

   In his essay “Reconsidering the Nostradamus plot”, Dr. Elmar R. Gruber attributes this booklet to Nostradamus. To him, it does not make sense that long after the Lunar Eclipse of September 1559, a booklet was published, containing predictions about the effects of this Eclipse. His arguments in favour of the authenticity of “Les Significations…” :

   “In all probability, Nostradamus had in mind to publish a rejoinder to his critics, but he knew very well that such a book would be hard to sell. The public at large was not interested in fierce debates. Hence he decided to take advantage of the impending eclipse of the moon, to issue an interpretation of this prodigious sign in which he would also include a heated reply to his detractors. Most likely he wanted to bring the book out soon and did not want to lose time by writing a piece about the coming eclipse on his own. Therefore he relied on the work by Leovitius and had the brilliant idea of changing the subject from the interpretation of the celestial phenomenon without further notice on fol. Biir in the middle of a sentence and turn to the topic of the counter-attack - which was his central idea for this publication in the first place.”2

Sales figures

   The arguments of Dr. Gruber in favour of authenticity are entirely different from and in sharp contrast with arguments in favour of forgery.

   At first sight, the remarks about the public at large and low sales figures seem reasonable enough to suppose a counter-attack, packed in a series of predictions, based on an impending Lunar Eclipse. However, contemporary detractors like Couillard and Videl thought it worthwhile to publish an attack on Nostradamus without any prediction at all. Apparently, they had the opinion that such an attack would be interesting to the public at large and would sell ; otherwise, they would have looked for a different way of attacking Nostradamus. Therefore, Nostradamus could count on the same sales figures. Low sales figures of the writings of the detractors would have given him the opportunity to ignore their attacks and to remain quiet.

   Regarding authenticity, the arguments of Dr. Gruber are not sufficient and raise questions about the idea of sales figures, which nobody can verify.

The importance of astrological data

   The comments of Dr. Gruber do not contain astrological data like e.g. zodiacal longitudes. He does not take into account the incompatibility of astrological sources. He probably did not read recent publications about this matter on this Site, but relied on what Dr. Halbronn’ wrote in “Documents inploités sur le phénomène Nostradamus”. It was the incompatibility of astrological sources in one and the same booklet (one source: Mars in the tenth house, the other source: Mars in the eighth house conjunct Antares) which made the authenticity of “Les Significations…” dubious. According to Dr. Halbronn, the inclusion of sources which incompatibility is overlooked, is a feature of the labour of forgerers who are eager to finish their task.3

   As for the astrological significance of “Les Significations…”, Dr. Gruber assumes that Nostradamus relied on the “Eclipsium” by Leovitius because he was in a hurry and had no time to work out the interpretation of the impact of the eclipse by himself. The interesting thing is that there are other references to this Eclipse. They can be found in Chevignards “Présages de Nostradamus”, and in a draft by De Chavigny.

   Both the “Présages de Nostradamus” and “Les Significations…” contain prediction elements. It is worthwhile to examine them. Such an examination gives more insight in the authenticity of “Les Significations”.

The fourth book of the “Présages en prose”

   The book “Présages de Nostradamus” contains, amongst other works, the “Présages en prose”, compiled by De Chavigny. The fourth book of these “Présages en prose” begins with an extract of comments on the year 1559. In item #2, the introduction (mentioned without a dedicacy), it reads :

   “L’eclipse equinoctial qui apparoistra au mois de Septembre presage de si terribles avantures couchant les esmotions ecclesiastiques que, nonobstant ce que j’avois proposé…”4

   The Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559, will cause religious troubles. These kind of troubles are also mentioned in item #130, which deals with June 1559, as a kind of pre-impact of the Eclipse :

   “Le mal aux Ecclesiastiques presagé par l’eclipse est plus tost icy, & en plusieurs lieux provenir par mutination en la religion. DIEU pacifiera le tout…”5

   The impact of the Lunar Eclipse on religious matters is also described in item #184, following the Présage for September 1559. Item #184 reads :

   “Dans ce mois l’eclipse Lunaire apparoissant en signes equinoctiaux presage quelque grande chose ès divines ceremonies. Quinetiam aequinoctialia signa in sacerdotibus ac ceremoniis Deorum significationem habent [bien plus, les signes équinoxiaux trouvent leur sens dans le clergé et les rites sacrés].”6

   The fourth book also contains parts of “another prediction for the same year”. Unfortunately, it is not specified which original source is at stake. This “prediction for the same year” contains an introduction, dedicated to the cardinal of Lorraine. In item #305, the impact of the Lunar Eclipse on religious matters is described like this :

   “L’eclipse Lunaire, qui est à l’opposite du temps vernal, vient à signifier quelque tumulte & esmotion en la religion Chrestienne, ou bien aux culteurs d’icelle…”7

   All these descriptions point to religious troubles. In astrology, religious matters are indicated by Jupiter. At the time of the Lunar Eclipse, Jupiter retrograde was, according to present-day software, on 10:31:00 Pisces, in square with Saturn retrograde on 6:36:16 Gemini. Jupiter was located in the twelfth house. It might have been possible that these predictions were based on the horoscope, printed in the “Eclipsium”. In that horoscope, Mars is on 7:32 Sagittarius and Jupiter in Pisces is squaring a Mars-Saturn opposition.

   One might expect that religious troubles would be the main topic of “Les Significations…”, but this is not the case. In “Les Significations…”, religious troubles are only briefly mentioned.8 The description of the impact of the Lunar Eclipse in “Les Significations…” is based on Mars, either in the tenth house or in the eighth house conjunct Antares.

   It is clear that there is a discrepancy between the quartet of descriptions and the contents of “Les Significations…”

The death of Henry II

   In “Les Significations…”, the following time spans are mentioned regarding the impact of the Lunar Eclipse :

   “…ie doubte encores que les deux années futures ne soient du tout beaucoup plus pernicieuses…”9

   “…ses effectz craintifs commenceront à puruler le commencement dè Mars 1559 [...] mais principalement depuis le mois de Iuin iusques à la fin de l’annee, pour cause que Mars occidental meridional ascendant, est gouvernateur d’icelle eclipse estant au milieu du ciel…”10

   The full title of “Les Significations…” is :

   “Les Significations de l’Eclipse, qui sera le 16 Septembre 1559 laquelle fera sa maligne extension inclusivement, jusques à l’an 1560 diligemment observées par maistre Michel Nostradamus, docteur en medecine de Salon de Craux en Provence. Avec une sommaire à ses detracteurs.”11

   The title, printed at the beginning of the treatise by Leovitius, reads :

   “Praedictio astrologica ad annum dominum 1559 & 1560. Referenda estautem potissimum ad finem anni domini 1559. Deinde ad principium anni domini 1560. Quia tunc effectus eclipsis Lunaris faevient quae anno domini 1559. die 16.Septembris fiet, ut supra in descriptione progressionis eclipsium annotatum extat.”12

   According to Leovitius, the impact of the Lunar Eclipse on September 16, 1559, begins at September 16, 1559, and ends in the beginning of 1560, i.e. January 4, 1560, as he writes in another part of the “Eclipsium”. This is according to the rules of Ptolemy about the determination of the time span of Lunar Eclipses. According to these rules, the influence will last as many months as the number of hours of the Lunar Eclipse.13

   A time span of several months is mentioned in the full title of “Les Significations…”. It is also mentioned in the quotation regarding the impact of Mars, being the ruler of the Eclipse (“…iusques à la fin de l’année…”). The first quotation, with the remark “…ie doubte encores que les deux années futures…” deals with two years : 1559 and 1560. Item #187 of the fourth book of the “Présages en prose”, valid for September 1559, reads as follows14 :

   “Mais quelles miseres, calamitez & facheries nous presage celle eclipse par le reste de ceste année, & Presque de toute celle de 1560 !”

   It looks as if this prediction must be read in the context of the preceding items (#184-186) and especially the first line of #186 :

   “Quelques uns des plus Grands mourir…”

   At that time, the reader of “Les Significations…” was supposed to interpret these lines as a prediction of the death of several prominent persons in the period 1559-1560, i.e. Henry II and Francis II.

   Neither Ptolemy, nor Leovitius mention an pre-impact, before the occurrence of an eclipse. In “Les Significations…”, the astrological argument for such an impact is based on Mars in the tenth house. The author of this essay does not know an astrological time system by which this pre-impact can be determined.

   Item #130 also contains a reference to June 1559, as we have seen. In the third book, which deals with comments on the year 1558, June 1559 is also mentioned. Item #257 reads :

   “Le 28 de Jun portera grand prejudice aux fruits de la terre & des arbres, mais par opposite portera grande utilité aux mains sanguinaires.”

   The comment on this phrase in the left margin :

   “Il remarque icy le jour que fut blessé à mort le Roy Henry II 1559.”

   The remark about June 28 is listed in a book which deals with 1558. Therefore, it is strange that it is related to 1559. Such an act means that the reference to June 1559 - in both the year-predictions and “Les Significations…” - is meant to imply that Nostradamus predicted the death of Henry II and, even more accurate, the very day he was deadly wounded. De Chavigny ignores the fact that the lethal accident of Henry II took place on June 30, 1559, one year and two days later.

   The statement that Nostradamus predicted the day of the lethal accident of Henry II, returns in the comment of De Chavigny on item #131 in the fourth book. This item deals with a Last Quarter and reads :

   “Ce dernier quart sera malin & adustif &n tellement enflame qu’il sera cause par son occulte inimitié de susciter plusieurs sinistres evenemens.”

   Present-day software situates this Last Quarter on June 27, 1559, shortly before midnight, with the Sun in Cancer and the Moon in Aries.

   The note of De Chavigny in the left margin :

   “Sinistres evenemens de la fin de Jun 1559 [Henri II blessé à mort].”

   In item #133, we read :

   “Quelque grand Prince, Seigneur & dominateur souverain mourir, autres defaillir, & autres grandement pericliter.”

   The note of De Chavigny in the left margin :

   “Icy infailliblement est presagée la mort du Roy Henry II.”

   Next comes item #134 :

   “La France grandement augmenter, triompher, magnifier, & beaucoup plus le sien Monarque.”

   The note of De Chavigny in the left margin :

   “Ceci est dit pour deguiser le fait.”

   Originally, the impact of the Eclipse was explained as an omen of religious troubles. De Chavigny went out of his way to show that Nostradamus accurately predicted both the lethal accident of Henry II and his death. He post-dated a prediction, made for June 28, 1558 (ignoring a difference of one year and two days), he annotated zealously a prediction for the Last Quarter of June 1559 and emphasized a prediction regarding the death of a prominent person. He postulated that a favourable prediction for France (glory, victory, expansion) was meant to disguise what was really at stake: a prediction regarding the death of Henry II.

   In “Les Significations…”, the mentioning of June 1559 has the same purpose as in the comments of De Chavigny on item #257 in the predictions for 1558 and item #130 regarding a pre-impact of the Lunar Eclipse: to show that Nostradamus predicted the date of the lethal accident of Henry II.

   One must remember that the determination of the impact of an eclipse does not result in a kind of pre-impact, suggested by the mentioning of June 1559.

   The quoted Ptolemeic rules regarding the determination of the time span of a Lunar Eclipse were known to Nostradamus, as one can read in his “Pronostication Nouvelle pour 1558”, where the Lunar Elipse of April 2, 1558 is discussed : “...son sinistre presage durera autant de moys comme quadruplicant les heures de sa duration [...] comme afferme Ptolomée en son second livre de Quadripart. chap 7 au milieu...”15 No pre-impact of a Lunar Eclipse is mentioned in this case.

De Chavigny’s treatise on the Lunar Eclipse

   The “Présages de Nostradamus” contain a treatise by De Chavigny on the Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559.16 This treatise contains extracts of “Les Significations…” and annotations in the margin.

   A careful comparison between this treatise and “Les Significations…” shows differences between the quotations by De Chavigny and the text in “Les Significations…”. To some extent, Chevignard annotates these differences. According to him, some of these differences are due to clarifications or summarizing quotations by De Chavigny.

   In items #441 and #442 of this treatise (which appear in reverse order, compared with “Les Significations…”), the extreme time span is mentioned, running from March 1559 until [the end of] 1560. However, De Chavigny does not refer one time to the death of Henry II or Francis II. Most annotations regarding the impact of the Eclipse are dealing with religious troubles. Regarding #460, Chevignard writes that De Chavigny had the opinion that this item referred to the fears of the Catholics close to the era of the Ligue.17


   The comparison of the contents of “Les Significations…” with comments on other predictions of Nostradamus regarding the Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559, shows two things. First, the Lunar Eclipse was presented as having an impact on religion. Second, in the explanation of the impact, the emphasis changed from religious troubles into royal troubles, i.e. the death of Henry II and Francis II. In “Les Significations…”, this “royal” emphasis was supposed to have an astrological fundament (Mars in the tenth house) at the time of the lethal accident of Henry II. This determination of time is not based on traditional rules regarding determination of the time span of the impact of a lunar eclipse. Such determination should have resulted in a couple of months, as originally indicated in the “Eclipsium”. In traditional astrology, there is no such thing as a pre-impact of an Eclipse.

   The presented astrological data enforce the thesis that Nostradamus is not the author of “Les Significations…” and that this booklet was compiled after his death. In addition to the conclusions, drawn by Dr. Halbronn, astrology reveals traces of forgery.

   It might be one step too far to consider De Chavigny as the author, but the supposed pre-impact of the Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559 in both “Les Significations…” and several interpretations by De Chavigny might justify such an idea.

T. W. M. van Berkel
De Meern, July 23, 2003


      - B. Chevignard, Présages de Nostradamus, Saint-Amand, 1999.

      - C. Leovitius, Eclipsium omnium ab ano dominum 1554 usque in annum domini 1606.

      - C. Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Den Haag, 1985.


1 See : “La fortune des emprunts à Leovitius dans les deux epîtres nostradamiques de 1558”, Site Retour

2 See Site CURA, Retour

3 See: Letter on Nostradamus to Théo van Berkel, Site Retour

4 Chevignard, p. 326. Retour

5 Chevignard, p. 341. Retour

6 Chevignard, p. 347. Retour

7 Chevignard, p. 361. Retour

8 Chevignard, p. 449 - 450. Retour

9 Chevignard, p. 447. Retour

10 Chevignard, p. 448. Retour

11 Chevignard, p. 443 and 445. Retour

12 Leovitius. The author of this essay regrets it that he cannot specify the exact location of the quotations of the “Eclipsium”, since the pages do not contain numbers. Retour

13 Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, book 2, chapter 7. Retour

14 Chevignard, p. 347. Retour

15 Chevignard, p. 428. Retour

16 Chevignard, p. 376 - 383. Retour

17 Chevignard, p. 380. Retour


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