for theft: Nostradamus
the name is heard, it conjures up wild discussion. Was he a prophet?
A charlatan? Whatever the opinion, most have not labelled him a “thief”.
Yet this newest in a long list of allegations made against Nostradamus
might be the only one that comes closest to explaining the enigma of
de Nostradame was born in Saint-Remy, in December 1503. The son of a
notary in this small Provencal town, he would study with the likes of
Scaliger, travel across Europe, settle as a doctor and become one of
the most famous prophets ever – a fame he already acquired when
still alive; fame that brought him into contact of the Catherine de
Medici, Queen and later Regent of France.
Nostradamus is currently best known for his prophecies, titled “Centuries”.
They are four-verses poems which do not particularly inspire poetic
wonderment. They are largely unintelligble and hence the perfect document
for creating one of the biggest mysteries of the past few centuries.
Hundreds of books have been written trying to link the centuries with
actual events, or events about to happen. The Nazis apparently were
interested in using them as propaganda for their cause. The Second World
War saw Capt. Louis de Wohl, a Hungarian born astrologer and refugee
to Britain in 1935 in charge of battling section VI RSHA, a section
of the Ministry of Propaganda, using astrology and fake prophecies to
convince the people of Germany’s cause and success. Germany’s
destiny was foretold in the stars. To counter German propaganda, de
Wohl wrote astrological articles arguing against the astrological possibility
of a German victory. At the same time, he adapted quatrain 3-30, substituting
Hister for Celuy, thus apparently removing a reference to Hitler. As
Randi observes: it was a poor attempt, for anyone could lay their hands
on an original copy of the centuries and spot the fake. Finally, after
September 11 2001, a fake verse circled the Internet, “illuminating”
the visionary powers of Nostradamus.
new form of allegation has now occurred, which is different from the
previous ones. Sceptics have often stated that Nostradamus did not have
any visionary powers. Some have stated that Nostradamus would sit alone
at night in secret study, and that he used the methods of the 4th century
neo-Platonist Iamblichus. In this, a bowl of water was used into which
the seer gazed until the water became cloudy and pictures of the future
were revealed... A reprint of Iamblichus’ book De Mysteriis Egyptorum
was published at Lyons in 1547 and almost certainly read by Nostradamus...
At the same time, the sceptics believe that many authors, like John
Hogue, have done a rather poor job in trying to explain the verses,
often opting for fire and brimstone and always trying to re-interpret
them to make them fit with important events, in an attempt to impress
the reader with the accuracy of Nostradamus’ prophetic powers.
“The Centuries were written between 1323 and 1328 by
a Cistercian monk, whose mother tongue was Picard, the vernacular
spoken in a region of Flanders between the Dendre and the Escaut.
The story of this text that flowed from the pen of Yves de Lessines,
Prior of the Cistercian Abbey of Cambron, in Hainaut, in the beginning
of the 14th century, is more extraordinary than the most extraordinary
prophecies that the disciples and translators of Nostradamus have
ever been able to think up.” That is the conclusion
of Rudy Cambier, a retired professor, who chanced upon the centuries
and noted that the French used by Nostradamus was not 16th century
French, but rather Picard from the 14th century. Why, asked Cambier,
would Nostradamus write in a language that was completely strange
to Nostradamus, which he had not grown up with, and for by using
it he would not receive any additional benefits. Cambier felt
obviously something was not right and he started his quest: reading
the Centuries the way they were supposed to be.
analysis, recently published, is a revelation: all the little
enigmas of the Pyrenees apparently located near Athens disappear,
as Cambier is able to interpret the bizarre words which people
thought were 16th century French but actually are 14th century
Picardian. The outcome? The document reveals the name of its author,
Yves de Lessines, prior of a Cistercian abbey who had been entrusted
with safeguarding certain documents when the Templars were about
to be suppressed. De Lessines writes how before the end of the
Temple, certain people within the Temple knew of its imminent
demise, even though not all were convinced. Nevertheless, they
prudently wanted to safeguard certain Templar possessions and
moved them to Cambron, an area nicknamed “Terre des debats”,
The Disputed Land, as the area was a sore point between France,
Flanders and other claimants, throughout the centuries. It was
a no-one’s land, where everyone lay claim to, but no-one
ruled over. The idea was that after the demise of the Templars,
envoys would be sent to collect the possessions. Three people
were enthrusted with knowledge of the whereabouts of the cache,
but all died before an envoy arrived. When de Lessines was the
sole survivor, he realised an envoy was not on his way and not
wanting to take the secret with him to his grave, he wrote the
story down in 1000 verses – often repeating parts of the
story, describing the location of the treasure and how to reach
it, depending from what direction you come. And it was near Cambron
that Cambier realised that there were locations named both Pyrenees
and Athens – the mysteries of the Centuries had suddenly
found their correct surroundings. And not only this verse, but
all others suddenly made sense. But rather than prophecies, they
were a poetic guide.
has thus linked an answer to the Nostradamus enigma with the big question
of whether the Templars survived. So on the one hand it seems that one
enigma is answered by adding another one… The survival of the
Templars has been the subject of many books. The Knights Templar were
originally warrior-monks defending pilgrims to the Holy Land. But they
became more, including powerful bankers, and it was the loss of the
Holy Land and their powerful allies and economic position that made
the French king to act, calling for the arrest of all Templars in France
on Friday, October 13, 1307. Originally arguing their innocence, torture
made them confess; when they later retracted their confession, there
was a legal loophole to condemn them – some to death, the Order
into dissolution. But in October 2001, an Italian historian has discovered
that there is still an existing document detailing that the Templars
were indeed found innocent by papal investigators; but innocence was
not enough cause for the Pope not to follow the desires of the French
Particularly in the 18th and 19th century, with the rise of freemasonry,
Scottish and French aristocrats stated they had evidence for the secret
survival of the Templars beyond 1312. They allegedly became some sort
of underground esoteric resistance force. In the 20th century, this
idea took on new momentum: the myth of the Priory of Sion was created,
in which certain Templars were said to have continued a belief if not
knowledge that there were descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene still
living, ready to take on the throne of a United Europe. It has lead
to many bogus claims by people claiming to possess secret documents
that if revealed will show the true dimensions of the Templar mystery.
It has also lead to the mass suicides of the Order of the Solar Temple
in Switzerland, France and Canada, all of them believing they were continuing
a Templar tradition and that their actions would somehow herald in a
“New Age” for the Temple.
first, it might seem that Cambier has merely added to this mythology.
But instead, he has actually stated that it seems the Templar tradition
did not continue. If his interpretation of the verses is correct, the
Temple was not continued and the treasure remained where it was buried
so long ago. When Cambier located the position detailed in the verses,
superficial digs revealed that there was indeed a now filled-in chamber.
When he officially informed the authorities of his intent to dig in
land which was in his name, he was at first gently denied permission.
He then ordered for groundscans to occur. These showed that there were
indeed barrels in the underground. The scans were even able to show
there was some metal in them, thus identifying what de Lessines wrote
in his verses: documents (detailed as the rules, the decisions of the
chapters, and writs proving the betrayal of the Pope) and also, because
they are practical people, silver and gold, the whole stored in twenty-one
barrels duly greased on the outside to protect their contents from water
So documents which the Templars felt would be important are still in
existence. They are ready to be excavated, an enterprise which will
require great care to guarantee the survival of the documents once exposed
to air. But the Belgian authorities try to block the enterprise, which
has received massive amounts of interest from neo-Templar organisations,
who obviously hope the discovery will look benign on their own efforts.
what is the case for Cambier? A lot hinges on the fact that for some
bizarre reason, Nostradamus did destroy the original manuscript of the
Centuries – whereas he preserved his other manuscripts. Why did
he, as he mentions himself, thrown them into the flames? For Cambier,
the only logical answer is that he was destroying the evidence: he had
profited from his crime, now he did away with the evidence. The absence
of the manuscript has been a major issue. In 1930, an anyomous author
even wrote a twelve-page essay arguing there never was an original manuscript.
Others, throughout the centuries, have searched the widths of Europe
in search of an original edition of Nostradamus’ prophecies, often
to be disappointed. The evidence seemed to argue that Nostradamus never
wrote them, and that only after his death, they created Centuries, attributing
them to Nostradamus. However, more recently, the accepted theory is
that Nostradamus indeed wrote what he said he wrote… or, to use
Cambier’s position, that he published what de Lessines had written
two centuries earlier.
it possible Nostradamus is a thief? Nostradamus had a tormented early
life, losing his family as well as losing the support of Scaliger, a
renowned scholar and his best friend. As a result, Nostradamus travelled
for five years (1540-1545) across Europe. He had nothing to lose and
seems to have been paranoid. In essence, this is a five-year vacuum
that some have tried to fill with legends of how he apparently knelt
in front of a poor Franciscan novice Felice Peretti, who many years
later would become pope. It is said he sailed to Egypt or even Persia,
and that he was initiated in the ancient mysteries. There is no evidence
for such voyages, but it is known he did travel: he visited Lyons, Vienne,
Valence, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Arles, where he eventually would
settle down. The area of his voyages seem to have been Southern France,
but it seems he also went further north.
A French author, Patrick Ferté, believes that Nostradamus stayed
in Orval, where he was known as the “Solitaire d’Orval”.
This prophet wrote some predictions in 1542, which included references
to the “Great Monarch”, which also show up in the writings
of Nostradamus. The author, Philippe-Dieu-donné-Noel, Olivarius,
was, according to Ferté, as Nostradamus, a doctor, surgeon and
astrologer. However, others feel that the “Solitaire d’Orval”
was an invention of Napeolonic times.
Others, building on this theory, stated that Nostradamus had become
exposed, in Orval, to secret teachings, linked to the mystical Priory
of Sion. As such, he became a “secret agent” of the Guises
and Lorraines family. “There is abundant evidence to suggest that
Nostradamus was indeed a secret agent working for Francois de Guise
and Charles, cardinal of Lorraine”, writes one author on the Internet.
In truth, there is no evidence. Nevertheless, these people have seen
the centuries not as prophecies, but as coded, cryptic messages, to
inform his allies of plans to topple the regime.
the truth, it does not matter, as it is known that Nostradamus stayed
in the castle of Fain, near Bar-le-Duc, one hour’s walk from Orval.
Orval is close to Cambron, where according to Cambier, the Centuries
were stowed away in the library. Even though there is no record of Nostradamus
visiting Cambron, it is possible as the house, like all religious centres,
doubled as hotel for pilgrims and travellers, of which Nostradamus was
Others have alleged that Nostradamus was not an opportune thief. They
believe he had a mission. One of these authors, André Douzet,
believes that Nostradamus hung out with a group of people that were
interested in “lost knowledge” to do with the Templars and
that Nostradamus’ travels around France and abroad were a reconnaissance
mission. Even if true, it is clear that he seems to have missed the
importance of the Centuries of Cambron, as he nor anyone else ever took
an effort to retrieve the cache of documents and valuables from their
is known is that Nostradamus after his travels settled down. In
1547, he remarried: Anne Ponsard like Nostradamus was a young
widow from Salon-de-Provence. Nostradamus, obviously having excorcised
the ghosts of his past, started a new family, etching his life
as a writer, specifically that of an astrologer. After the successful
publications of almanacs, it is clear that Nostradamus wanted
more. In short, Nostradamus saw a hole in the market, and felt
the publication of the Centuries would be a success. Did he do
a hurried job and write nonsensical texts on purpose? Or did he
decide to publish the stolen verses of Cambron? The answer remains
hidden under ground. It is known something is hidden near Cambron
and only when the Belgian authorities relent, will it be discovered
whether a part of the Templar treasure is indeed located there
– and whether or not Nostradamus should be labelled a thief.
article originally appeared in Frontier Magazine in 2002 (the
Netherlands/Belgium) and in Hera Magazine (Italy) in 2003.