Portrait de Nostradamus
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Letter on Nostradamus to Théo Van Berkel

par Jacques Halbronn

    Le texte ci-après a été publié pour la première fois, le 17 juillet 2003,
sur le Site de Théo van Berkel : Nostradamus, Astrology and the Bible,
à la rubrique French Research, sous le titre : The research project of Dr. Jacques Halbronn.
Texte remanié le 20 juillet 2003.

    Dear sir,

   You ask me to summarize my approach of the Nostradamus phenomenon for your English-speaking and Dutch-speaking readers. It is indeed a good moment to do so, after the study on which you have collaborated, regarding the forgery of Les Significations de l'Eclipse de 1559, which were the only known explicit reference to the Centuries at such an early time.

   On the 500th birthday of this author, it is good to erase from his biography the activities that were not his, such as having published a certain volume of the Centuries in such or such year (1556, 1557, 1560). In most other areas, text historians have restored the historical truth and it seems that in the case of Nostradamus there has been some delay, like for esotericism in general, beginning with astrology. But, it seems that this is beginning to change and that people do not feel any longer the obligation to protect a certain nostradamian or astrological canon (since you yourself are also interested in astrology).

   What is important, dear sir, is the aptitude to follow, develop and criticize argumentation, by ignoring none of the accumulated observations. Those who maintain that they won't change their point of view until the day on which they receive a decisive, irrefutable proof, do they know what they are talking about ? For what is a counterfeit if not such a forged proof ? Ironically speaking, according to some nostradamists unable to follow an argument, and who pretend to stick to “facts”, it seems that a letter by Michel de Nostredame should first be found in which he would have declared that he is not the author of the Centuries which are attributed to him ! On a scientific level, nothing is 100% certain and there is nothing but probabilities, presumptions, founded on a bunch of indications, which go in this way or that way. Those who are not able to consider chronological arguments in favour of som0 thesis, disqualify and discredit themselves. Most searchers seem to be unable to link any sentence or any quatrain to some historical context of the time of Nostradamus or of the period subsequent to it and they only agree between themselves because they stick, cowardly, to the years indicated on the title page, which is a zero degree of investigation.

   We have elaborated a certain number of criteria in :

      - our thesis Le texte prophétique en France
      - our publication Documents inexploités sur le phénomène Nostradamus
      - the numerous studies, published on the Site of
      - and the studies, published on the Site Encyclopaedia Hermetica, which constitute, by now, a set of around 40 chapters.

   All this adds to the bibliographies of M. Chomarat and R. Benazra, and which in a certain way contain a critical comment, like the one made by Kepler in report to Tycho Brahé. One cannot any longer propose any chronological bibliography of the nostradamian corpus without taking those criteria in consideration, the mention of a certain year on the title page or at the end of the book, being just one data among so many others and to depend only on this evidence, from now on, would condemn any study to be epistemologically obsolete.

   We observe that actually only a few are in a position not to get lost in the nostradamian labyrinth and to separate the true from the false, but this occurs in all research areas. This reminds of what is said about the Cabala, an area which is quite dangerous to enter and particularly difficult to leave. Without a strict methodology, the searcher gets lost and ends by talking complete nonsense unless he would stick desperately to the dates complacently left to their attention by the forgerers. By doing that, such searcher would become an accomplice of those who wanted to exploit the name of Nostradamus for their own political interests in producing text under his name and supposedly published during his lifetime. In any case, the study of translations in italian, german and english of almanacs and prognostications and other works, at the time of Nostradamus is of significant help. Those forgerers certainly had not expected that their little tricks could have resisted to scientific investigation for centuries because they could not imagine that some of the authentic documents would disappear and only, at least in some cases, fake ones remain.

   To put it mildly, the nostradamian area is full of endless obstacles and traps. One of them is that one is supposed to be in the area of prophecy, which prevents, a priori, any criticism based an anachronical evidence to be developed. Another difficulty is caused by the fact that some of the puzzle’s pieces lack, and as a consequence of that, one has no other choice but to try to reconstitute them. Another one is connected to the production of false documents, sometimes published to replace those which seem to lack. In certain cases, there is a short-circuit, i.e. a meeting between the original document and the false one. The most flagrant case is the one of the Epistle to Henry II, from which the original version is known, situated at the beginning of the Présages Merveilleux pour 1557 and reproduced in facsimile in Documents Inexploités sur le phénomène Nostradamus (Feyzin, Ed. Ramkat, 2002). It is incomprehensible that Nostradamus could have published, at such a short interval, a new letter to the King, referring to the same context, hence plagiarizing himself. Another short-circuit, on which we alluded already, is Les Significations de l'Eclipse de 1559, supposed to be drafted around the same date as the “new” Epistle to Henry II, which is situated at the beginning of certain centuries. Recently, it has been noted that these Significations contained imcompatible sources, which makes it clearly impossible that Michel de Nostredame can be considered the author of this work.

   To us, it turned out essential to take literally the reference of the pseudo-Epistle to Henry II to the existence of 1000 quatrains, and it is not because it is a false text that its testimony had to be diminished. On the contrary, since the text is precisely modified to suit the purpose of the forgerer. A miliade (a thousand) is mentioned, and we think that originally the Centuries were indeed complete, i.e. each consisting of 100 quatrains. By saying so, we are not attributing them to Michel de Nostredame but to the counterfeiters, but it makes it more easy to understand their labor. Likewise, it is not because Crespin is a counterfeiter, an usurper, that his testimony has no value and it is not by coincidence that his borrowings from the Centuries in 1572 - Michel de Nostredame died in 1566 - do not contain any line of a quatrain of the Centuries V, VI or VII, according to the numbering of the nostradamian canon. This means that there are several generations of counterfeiters and that after a generation, who produced complete Centuries, another generation came, who left out quatrains and produced editions with incomplete Centuries, especially Century VII which never even contained 50 quatrains in the known editions. From that time, editions, dating from 1557, are for more than one reason suspect, including the one which is preserved in the Utrecht University Library, close to your residence. In fact, these editions, presented as being published in 1557 in Lyon by Antoine du Rosne, cause a number of problems: on the one hand, one attributes texts to Michel de Nostredame which are not his, and on the other hand, one distorts the labour of the “first” counterfeiters, who have produced complete posthumous Centuries which in the beginning were 7 in total, as Crespin comfirms, as one has seen. This is why the editions, dated in 1557, in which Century VI contains 99 quatrains and Century VII contains 40 or 42 quatrains, are in many regards questionable. As to the Macé Bonhomme edition, dating from 1555, with 53 quatrains in Century IV, the same thing is shown: that is to say an incomplete Century and therefore a questionable attribution to the first centurical posthumous body. One must understand that the false was made with the truth : it is true that Michel de Nostredame composed quatrains, but these were the ones in his almanacs ; actually some centurical quatrains seem to have been fabricated from almanac’s quatrains, which is the best way to stick to the Nostradamus style. It is true that he composed a Letter to his son Cesar, but this was not a text at the beginning of the Centuries, but at the beginning of the Prophéties Perpétuelles. The advantage of these substitutions is that it is possible to base oneself on the testimonies of people like Antoine Couillard or Laurent Videl, who discuss different things than the things we are supposed to believe. In all this history, a pathetic statement is that the bibliographical discoveries of the last twenty years, which made it possible to exhume and publish editions, dating from 1555 or 1557, contributed to a blocking of the nostradamian research rather than to a progress of it. Instead of giving more clarity, confusion increased by these discoveries, most of the searchers resisted to the idea that these editions were late counterfeits, those from the second generation of counterfeiters (after 1585) and the first generation (after 1566). One should understand that these researches don't necesseraly affect the prophetic quality of the centurical corpus, at least from the midst of the 17th century, which excludes the first 100 years after the decease of Michel de Nostredame. Nothing restrains the idea that the counterfeiters, sometimes prophets despite their own will, had prophetic talents and by no means, to prove the prophetical quality of the Centuries would be a definite prove that Michel de Nostredame should necessarily be their author, if not by the use of a sophism : he was a prophet, hence if quatrains are prophetic, they are, ipso facto, his work ! Of course, one cannot consider texts as prophetic texts when they are written after the described events and subsequently integrated in the nostradamian canon and this process was not a small reason for the future success of this canon. One of the key moments of the nostradamian exegesis was certainly the execution of the King of England, Charles I Stuart, at least as significant as the Varennes quatrain, dealing with the flight of Louis XVI at the dawn of the French Revolution in 1789. Let us propose to begin the nostradamian exegesis in the 1650's and accept that earlier events are a time of genesis. So, the European career of the Centuries begins with the editions of Leiden (1650), Amsterdam (1667-1668), London (1672). This is why the Janus Gallicus (1594) is excluded from the proper exegesis area, since at the end of the 16th century one was still in the period of constituting the nostradamian canon. The publication, dating from 1656, entitled Eclaircissement des véritables quatrains should neither be taken into account since it only covers the events which happened to the last kings of the Valois dynasty, which would be replaced by the Bourbon dynasty. Certainly, these books belong to the history of nostradamian exegesis, but on the level of validation of the corpus they are not important, because of the number of interpolations this corpus had to endure until a certain part of the 17th century. So we would expect, dear sir, that the spirits were about to calm down and there would cease any desperate search to prove that the nostradamian canon is from Michel de Nostredame, based for instance on a pretended unity of inspiration. We would actually consider the argument if one could prove that the same unsuspected book was used and quoted all through the ten centuries but not just on the basis of certain lexical arguments : one should not forget that imitation has to do with reproducing a certain style ! Let us end with the question about religious wars and the Netherlands are able to understand the importance of these wars for France. It is quite likely that the two camps searched to put the Centuries to their favour, i.e. the inspiration of the Centuries is indeed quite heterogeneous, as the use of gog and magog, as we have seen, in our discussions, dear Sir, testifies, for instance, in the Epistle to Henry II, placed ahead of the Centuries, the content of which explicitly announces the victory of the Protestant camp (Mendosus, anagram of Vendôme), over the Catholic camp (Norlaris, anagram of Lorraine, the house of Guise) can hardly be understood without reference to the representations of the reformed prophetism.* It is not only by chance that under the Catholic Ligue (League), in Paris, the city which refused itself to the Protestant king Henry IV, the publised editions of the Centuries did not contain the Epistle to Henry II nor the Centuries VIII-X. There are enough copies at our disposal to know that this is not caused by a preservation’s failure.

   It is precisely at this period that the Centuries became censored and mutilated, which we have called the second centurical era. Finally, let us add that the search for the sources of the Centuries or the various other texts should not lead astray : often, such sources were used by counterfeiters, especially in the case of the Chemin de Guides de France, by Charles Estienne. But the interesting thing is that the use of this Guide is by no means unform in all the ten centuries. Indeed, it must be understood that counterfeiters are quite fond of getting such documents, more or less intelligently copied, like in the case of the Eclipsium by Leovitius. We can hardly imagine one Michel de Nostredame, using servile traveler guides to fulfill his quatrains or committing blunders and even not notice that the sources which are combined are incompatible and contradictory. On the contrary, this is more a typical mark of counterfeiters to look for shortcuts to accomplish their task. By no means, to identify a source is in itself a proof that a text is by Michel de Nostredame : forgerers can also read and copy. However, one cannot exclude that, in the mass, certain quatrains in the Centuries are not by Michel de Nostredame, especially thinking about historic quatrains, those which are related to historical events. Indeed, it looks like while our author published the Prophéties Perpétuelles, preceded by an Epistle to his son Cesar, not found, and about which Couillard gives us some excerpts, according to us, he had the idea to comment his oracles, coupled to precise years, by quatrains related to corresponding events. It is possible that a number of these quatrains had been preserved after his death and had justified the publication of the Centuries. But which quatrains of the Centuries are at stake ? One could indeed ask why Nostradamus would have spent time to put in verses such and such event if not in order to confirm a specific astrological and historical system of his own. One should not think that a century is necessarily made of just one piece. What is sure, is that these quatrains are certainly connected with years, since without such a connection such a work would make no sense. It gives us the occasion to say that for Michel de Nostredame all prophetic texts necessarily had to be connected with a date, like he did in his almanac. It appears that the very fact of publishing quatrains without dates is, according to us, incompatible with the way Michel de Nostredame did his prophetic-astrological work and you know very well, dear sir, that an astrologer who gives no dates in every phase of his plan, is not a real astrologer.

   Yours sincerely,

   Dr. Jacques Halbronn
   Paris, July 20, 2003


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