French astrologer, apothecary, physician and reputed seer Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566) is best known for his book Les Prophéties (published in 1555), which, via its 942 poetic quatrains, allegedly predicts future events. An extraordinary text, it has never gone out of print, in part because there is a cult movement that suggests that it can indeed accurately predict what is yet to come.
It has been claimed that Les Prophéties predicted the execution of Charles I, the Great Fire of London, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Hitler and Napoleon, the assassinations of JFK and Benazir Bhutto, the 9/11 attacks, the 2015 mass murders in Paris and the coronavirus pandemic.
Ardent followers of Nostradamus’ Les Prophéties claim that almost 70 percent of his predictions have proved to be true. So who was Nostradamus, and what are his predictions for 2023?
Read on to find out.
He was a self-proclaimed prophesier
Michel de Nostradame was born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Though his family were converted Catholics, he later capitalised upon his Jewish ancestry to claim that his natural instinct for prophecy was ‘inherited from my forbears’. He made a living as a travelling apothecary, tending especially to plague victims, and was particularly well-known for creating a ‘rose pill’ that purportedly protected against the disease.
He lived at a time where the newly-invented printing press meant that the transmission of ideas was much more readily available. In addition, it was an era of significant social division and uncertainty, meaning that his supposed ability to see into the future was welcomed by many. From 1550 onwards, he capitalised upon these circumstances, producing annual almanacs that included thousands of prophetic verses. It was also at this time that he first Latinised his name to ‘Nostradamus’.
He may have made the predictions while high on nutmeg
In 1555, Nostradamus published Les Prophéties, in which he aimed to set out the future of the world in 1,000 quatrains. A number of these, as many of his prophecies had been beforehand, were reportedly dictated to his secretary while he was high on nutmeg, which causes hallucinations when taken in large doses.
Indeed, he was seen by many as a madman. In 1558, First Invective of the Lord Hercules the Frenchman Against Monstradamus was published which claimed that Nostradamus was a ‘certain brainless and lunatic idiot’ who shouted his ‘nonsense… fantasies on the streets’.
Nonetheless, his fame grew and he became a close friend of Catherine de Médici, the queen of France, the death of whose husband, Henry II, he is reported to have predicted.
He predicted his own death… sort of
It is commonly stated that Nostradamus predicted his own death in 1566. However, he made this prediction a day before he died when he was near-bedridden with arthritis, dropsy and arteriosclerosis.
Indeed, there are a number of examples of Nostradamus predicting events that appear to be inevitable, just days before the event. There are also examples of Nostradamus writing ‘predictions’ of events that had already happened, thus skewing the perceived extraordinary accuracy of his prophecies.
He predicts a sharp rise in inflation… and cannibalism
Nostradamus states that rising prices will result in a failing economy in 2023. He said, ‘No abbots, monks, no novices to learn;/Honey shall cost far more than candle-wax/So high the price of wheat,/That man is stirred/His fellow man to eat in his despair.’
While political instability, Brexit and a worldwide pandemic have all contributed to a boom in inflation in recent years, it’s not necessarily the case that people will be driven to eating each other… though only time will tell.
He predicts that there will be a great war
Nostradamus’ predictions for 2023 are pretty grim. His writings predict a European apocalypse, stating, ‘Seven months the Great War, people dead of evil-doing. / Rouen, Evreux shall not fall to the King.’ Some have suggested that this relates to a significant escalation in the Russia-Ukraine war into a full-blown third world war. According to Nostradamus, Parisians should probably hole up in Rouen to wait out the threat of nuclear annihilation.
He predicts that there will be a disaster on Mars
He has also suggested that there will be a disaster on Mars, stating that a ‘celestial fire when the lights of Mars will go out’ is imminent, perhaps thwarting Elon Musk’s plans to colonise the planet.
He says the world will be plagued by droughts and flooding
He also suggests that countries will be plagued by droughts and flooding, stating that extreme weather events will be commonplace and have a huge impact. He wrote ‘The dry earth will grow more parched, and there will be great floods when the rainbow is seen’. In light of the disastrous effects of climate change, extreme weather events are indeed becoming more common and destructive.
He says that civil unrest will be more widespread
Nostradamus also predicts that civil unrest will become more pronounced, stating that the political landscape will be characterised by ‘trumpets shaking with great discord’ and ‘an agreement broken’. Cheerfully, he also states that ‘Sooner or later you will see great changes made – dreadful horrors and vengeances.’
Whether all of this comes true remains to be seen.