FROM NOSTRADAMUS TO SHAKESPEARE
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By Morten St. George
According to biographies of Nostradamus (d. 1566), partial editions of the prophecies were published in 1555 and 1557, followed by a complete edition in 1568. The next publication, a partial edition, was dated 1588, and the twenty-year gap in publications is inexplicable if, as reported, Nostradamus was already a famous prophet during his lifetime. Moreover, this period of French history, from 1568 to 1588, was marked by widespread superstitions (highly conducive for the sale of prophetic books) and by vicious religious warfare between Catholics and Protestants, but there is no record of either side citing a specific prophecy for propaganda purposes.
All of the early editions, dated 1555, 1557, and 1568, respectively, reflect corrections of manuscript-reading errors found in the partial edition dated 1588 or in the complete edition dated 1590, that is, the earlier editions were very likely backdated. Above all, as demonstrated by Morten St. George, author of this website, the Nostradamus prophecies reflect explicit familiarity with the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) and with the rise of Henry IV to the throne of France (1589). Consequently, there is ample reason to question Nostradamus authorship of the prophecies attributed to him.
If Nostradamus did not write the famous prophecies, then who did? The prophecies refer to large number of ancient places, many quite obscure, scattered across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. In the 16th century, there was only one writer whose nomenclature matched that of Nostradamus, place by place, all across the ancient world. That writer did not live in France. He lived in England, and his name was William Shakespeare.
The Shakespeare Authorship Enigma
There appears to be no historical record that William Shakespeare, widely recognized as the greatest writer ever in English history, had an education of any type. His home town of Stratford-upon-Avon did indeed have a grammar school, but since the school's attendance records have vanished, there can be no confirmation that Shakespeare actually attended. No teacher or student of that grammar school has acknowledged having known him. Shakespeare's parents and children are reported to have been illiterate and some have suspected the same for Shakespeare himself.
The characters in Shakespeare's plays blurt out sentences in many foreign languages but that grammar school, if Shakespeare attended, appears to have taught only Latin and perhaps Greek. His plays display considerable insider knowledge of royal courts and royal families but Shakespeare is not known for having contacts with royalty. His plays express familiarity with Italy but Shakespeare apparently never traveled outside of England. His plays make use of a vast number of books as source material but Shakespeare is not known to have had contact with any of the few people in England who had a library. His Will makes no mention of his owning books or having unpublished plays, nothing at all in connection with writing. No manuscript or letter of his has survived, nor has such been recorded as seen by anyone, reaffirming suspicions that he was illiterate.
What the massive Shakespearean canon does not do is make any mention at all of his hometown of Stratford, where William was born, grew up, died, and maintained a residence throughout life. Perhaps with just a single reference to Stratford, or a single dedication to his wife or children, the Shakespeare authorship question would have never arisen. But, in fact, there is nothing in the entire canon that would link authorship of the plays to William of Stratford.
For the above reasons and more, several people in the past, including distinguished writers like Mark Twain, have questioned the authenticity of Shakespeare's authorship of the famous plays. For these few individuals, a thousand testimonials swearing that Shakespeare was Shakespeare cannot change the fact that a man with Shakespeare background could not have possibly written those plays. But those rare outcries of doubt have been crushed by the establishment and it is now almost universally accepted by scholars that Shakespeare was Shakespeare. The published plays clearly state "by William Shakespeare." End of story.
Shakespeare died in 1616 and a collection of his plays (First Folio) was published in 1623. The First Folio included quite a few plays that were never published previously, from where the skeptical among us might surmise that some of them were written between 1616 and 1623, that is, after Shakespeare's death. Unfortunately, it has never occurred to the anti-Stratfordians that they should be looking for a candidate who was still alive in 1623. Instead, they insist that the Earl of Oxford (who died in 1604) or Christopher Marlowe (who died in 1593) was the real Shakespeare. This makes the anti-Stratfordians just as ridiculous as the Stratfordians: illiterate men cannot write plays, but neither can dead men.
The "dead man" argument that the Stratfordians have so effectively employed against the anti-Stratfordians can in fact be turned around and applied against the Stratfordians because, as just noted, several plays only came to light in 1623, seven years after the death of William of Stratford.
The Marlovians, for their part, argue that Marlowe merely staged his death, but what the Marlovians fail to comprehend is that it makes absolutely no difference whether or not Marlowe died in 1593 because they cannot prove that Marlowe wrote Marlowe. After all, if Shakespeare was a fake, why not Marlowe too? If anything, arguments that Marlowe wrote Marlowe are weaker than arguments that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Just ask yourself: Who is more likely to write a high quality play: A full-time spy working in the Netherlands, or a part-time actor working in the London theater?
It was just insinuated that Marlowe joins Shakespeare in the field of authorship conspiracy. As you may have already surmised, Nostradamus completes the trio, and as we shall see, a secret society sponsored the works of all three.
Re Satan and Shakespeare: "They are the best-known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon the planet." --Mark Twain
"I am 'a sort of' haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world." --Henry James
It is not surprising that great writers like Mark Twain and Henry James are first and foremost in expressing doubts about William of Stratford. Being accomplished writers themselves, they -- more than anyone else -- know that you cannot write about Greek mythology and all the rest in multiple languages without having an education that far exceeds grammar school. And having enormous love for literature, as all great writers do, they -- more than anyone else -- cannot imagine allowing their children to grow up illiterate. The who, why, and how may not be known, but enough is known about William of Stratford to conclude that he is definitely not the one.
The Nostradamus Authorship Enigma
With the conclusion that Marlowe and Shakespeare used Nostradamus as source material, there is an implied assumption that the prophecies of Nostradamus predate the writing careers of Marlowe and Shakespeare. Wikipedia notes that a French scholar is effectively challenging that assumption: "A range of quite different views are expressed in printed literature and on the Internet. At one end of the spectrum, there are extreme academic views such as those of Jacques Halbronn, suggesting at great length and with great complexity that Nostradamus's Prophecies are antedated forgeries written by later hands with a political axe to grind."
Specifically, Halbronn believes that the prophecies were written in 1588/89 because of the line "Garde toy Tours de ta proche ruine" found in prophecy IV-46. At that time, King Henry III of France joined forces with Henry of Navarre (the future King Henry IV) near Tours.
The first prophecy in the second part of Nostradamus' book also looks retroactive:
Here, in prophecy VIII-1, we find "Pau" (the place of birth of Henry of Navarre) and "Pamplon" (Pamplona, capital of Navarre), and in prophecy VIII-44 we encounter "Pau" and "Navarre," reflecting, in both cases, awareness of the rise of Henry of Bourbon, then King of Navarre, to the throne of France, which occurred in 1589.
Similar to how the first prophecy of the second part of Nostradamus reflects knowledge of recent events (1589), the last prophecy of the second part also reflects knowledge of recent events:
Prophecy X-100 predicts a great empire for England based on its domination of the seas (the "pempotam"), something that could not be imagined until after the miraculous defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The point is that the Spanish Armada did not depart from Spain. It departed from Lisbon, capital of Lusitania (the "Lusitains"). Moreover, prophecy X-48 puts the Spanish at the ends of Europe, i.e. sailing around the British Isles, and this too alludes to the Spanish Armada.
Between the edition dated 1568 and the edition dated 1590, there is no historical record of the publication of the three hundred prophecies numbered VIII-1 through to X-100 anywhere in the world, and this in itself is sufficient to cast serious doubt on the authenticity of the edition of 1568. And this could leave us with quite a mystery: we find instances of Marlowe using the second part of Nostradamus as source material before the second part ever saw the light of day. Some of Marlowe predates Nostradamus, not the other way around.
The Nostradamus Bibliographic Enigma
The first verifiable publication of the Nostradamus prophecies in England, in either French or English, occurred in the year 1672, quite a few decades after the death of Marlowe and Shakespeare.
The Library of the British Museum has French publications of the prophecies dated 1588 and 1589 respectively, but these are partial editions containing only seven of the ten Centuries. However, Marlowe and Shakespeare borrow from the last three Centuries as well as from the first seven.
The earliest French publication of all ten Centuries in the Library of the British Museum is dated 1605 (more than a decade after the death of Marlowe and subsequent to many Shakespearean plays).
The only publication of all ten Centuries prior to the time of Marlowe and Shakespeare is a rare edition dated 1568. This edition is not mentioned in the first biography of Nostradamus (1594), does not appear in bibliographies of French books of the late 16th century, and has yet to be found in the catalog of any British library of the Elizabethan period.
The Rigaud edition dated 1568 includes numerous refinements and corrections of manuscript-reading errors found in the Cahors edition of 1590. This makes it likely that the Rigaud edition postdates 1590.
Many frauds (false dates) of the Nostradamus prophecies have been identified by experts. In contrast to most of these recognized frauds, the 1568 edition displays plausible orthography for the 16th century (as opposed to the orthography of the 17th or 18th century), but it has never been subjected to dating via radiocarbon analysis.
It has been pointed out that there are striking disparities between the Nostradamus edition of 1568 and other Benoist Rigaud publications of the same epoch.
These disparities encompass fonts (note the Y's in LYON), style (e.g., RIGAVD versus Rigaud), typography (e.g., permiſſion versus permiſsion), and artwork (less intricate). Two editions of Nostradamus by an elderly Benoist Rigaud (each dated 1594 for the first part and 1596 for the second part) that were in the possession of bibliographer Daniel Ruzo have mysteriously vanished and hence are unavailable for comparison.
A French scholar has raised doubts about the authenticity of the Nostradamus prophecies. Wikipedia: "A range of quite different views are expressed in printed literature and on the Internet. At one end of the spectrum, there are extreme academic views such as those of Jacques Halbronn, suggesting at great length and with great complexity that Nostradamus's Prophecies are antedated forgeries written by later hands with a political axe to grind." Halbronn's Researches are available online.
CONCLUSION: The argument that the prophecies of Nostradamus predate the writing careers of Marlowe and Shakespeare cannot be sustained, opening up the possibility that these playwrights played a role in the redaction of the prophecies.
On the next two pages, we will take a look at a historian and then a philosopher whose writings, like the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare, reflect a close connection with the prophecies of Nostradamus.