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11 Nostradamus Prophecies That Actually Came True

Updated June 14, 2019 67.5k views11 items

While the vast majority of Nostradamus prophecies are either totally wrong or so vague they could mean anything, a few have been singled out as eerily correct. His "centuries" of four-line "quatrains," written from 1550 to 1566, do appear, at first glance, to have some correct predictions. Some familiar names seem to crop up, as do events that are easy to interpret as visions of modern occurrences.

Of course, any list of predictions Nostradamus got right needs to be taken with some skepticism. Many depend on translations that aren't supported by the original French. Others are vary loose interpretations, dependent on taking predictions that are extremely vague and making them specific. But a few, especially those referring to events just a few decades after his writing, seem like they're correct.

Here are some things Nostradamus predicted and might have gotten right. Or maybe not at all. It's up to the beholder.
  • Napoleon's Rise

    The Predictions:

    "A ruler will be born near Italy, Whose cost to the Empire shall be quite dear; They will say from those whom he shall rally, That he is less a prince than a butcher." I:60

    "PAU, NAY, LORON, more fire than blood, Swimming in praise, the great man hurries to the confluence. He will refuse entry to the magpies, Pampon and Durrance will confine them." VIII:1

    How They Came True: 

    Two different quatrains appear to predict the ascendancy of the French tyrant Napoleon. In the first, Nostradamus gets Napoleon's birth location right, although it's extremely vague, and "near Italy" could be used to refer to any number of European tyrants - including Hitler.

    In the second, Nostradamus uses a series of anagrams and analogies, both favorite tools of his. Pau, Nay, and Loron reference three towns in the South of France that form a triangle, although the last one is actually named Oloron.
     

    Rearranging the letters in the three cities spells either "NAYPAULORON" or "Napaulon Roy," a close match to "Napoleon the King" in French. "More of fire than of the blood" may refer to the general's non-noble lineage, as he took power during a coup, while "Refuse entry to the magpies" has been speculated to refer to Popes Pius VI and VII, both of whom Napoleon had imprisoned.

    As always, Nostradamus skeptics point out the logical leaps needed to make these predictions. Napoleon wasn't a king, and one of the towns' names is written incorrectly.

  • The Discoveries of Louis Pasteur

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    The Prediction:

    "The lost thing is discovered, hidden for many centuries. Pasteur will be celebrated almost as a God-like figure. This is when the moon completes her great cycle, But by other rumors he shall be dishonored." I:25
     

    How It Came True:

    Born in 1822, Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who discovered that the growth of micro-organisms causes fermentation, and that bacteria grows from already-living organisms - a process called biogenesis. Later, he invented a process for removing bacteria from milk, called"pasteurization," that greatly increased its safety.

    He later did groundbreaking work in vaccine development, particularly for anthrax.

    However, in 1995, science historian Gerald L. Geison published a book that alleged Pasteur incorporated the findings of a rival scientist into his own work to make his anthrax vaccine functional - the "dishonor" predicted by Nostradamus.

    Skeptics point out that the word for "pastor" in French is "pasteur" and that it's extremely unlikely Nostradamus pointed out the scientist by name, centuries before he was born.

  • Hitler's Birth and Rise to Power

    Photo: RV1864 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The Predictions:
    "From the depths of the West of Europe, A young child will be born of poor people, He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop; His fame will increase towards the realm of the East." III:35


    "Beasts ferocious with hunger will cross the rivers, The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister. Into a cage of iron will the great one be drawn, When the child of Germany observes nothing." II:24

    "In the place very near not far from Venus,The two greatest ones of Asia and of Africa, From the Rhine and Hister they will be said to have come, Cries, tears at Malta and the Ligurian side." IV:68
     

    What Happened:

    Hitler was born to an aged civil servant and a young homemaker in 1889 in Austria-Hungary, and used his intense oratory skills to mobilize German anger and resentment toward Western Europe.. Germany, as a part of the Axis powers, also allied with Japan in the East. Intense battles were fought near the island of Malta, and Germany also allied with Italy, of which Liguria is a region. Contrary to common skepticism, "Hister" isn't a typo, but a Roman name for the Danube River.


    Again, Nostradamus makes use of vague proclamations and anagrams, and it's arguable that Hitler wasn't a "child of Germany" at all. Most of this could be applied to numerous German rulers in history, and nothing is specifically about Nazis. Incidentally, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels's wife was a devotee of Nostradamus, and the Nazi propaganda machine often used the French seer's writings to claim they were destined to rule the world.

  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    The Prediction:
    "Near the gates and within the cities, there will be two scourges the like of which was never seen,famine within plague, people put out by steel; crying to the great immortal God for relief." II:6

    How It Came True:
    The "two scourges" could easily be seen as the atomic bombs, which caused a plague of radiation sickness, the pollution of crops, and fell from the sky in steel case.

    As with all Nostradamus predictions, the efficacy of the prediction depends on translation. It's also easy to look at this not as about atomic death, but about the actual plague, which had ravaged Europe multiple times, and of the steel of weapons.