(including Quatrain I 24)

Preamble: Talmudic Books – including the main books of the Qabbalists such as the First Century Sefer Bahir, the foundational Zohar, the Sefer Yetzirah or Book of Formation (possibly explaining the making of the material world from six of the Tree of Life’s Sephiroth in association with Hebrew letter-values) – all these and more were in Provence in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. Printing skills from China via Arabia came much later to Europe.

The first Talmuds of the print revolution, drawn from the schools of Jerusalem and Babylon, appeared at Venice – a city that more than once has welcomed talented rejects of Cremona, see I 24 below – during 1520 to 1523.

The associative tenor of the Talmud, the socio-religious guidebook of Pharisiacal leanings which emerged from the Exile, is enlivened by Hebrew punning, so we’re told, and it is deeply appreciated by Jews who try to live good Jewish lives. (The Pharisees, the class who wrote it, were repeatedly reviled by Jesus of Nazareth, in effect for killings of past prophets plus their recent departures from established Hebrewism so creating Judaism.)

Qabbalah on the other hand is the esoteric pursuit which first found expression in the South of France, in Nostredame’s own Provence, during the Twelfth-Thirteenth Centuries. The earliest known Qabbalists were Abraham ben David of the School of Provence and Ezra ben Solomon of the Ecole de Girona in Spain. The Qabbalah flourished especially in the North of Spain and reached heights in the Sixteenth Century at Safed in Upper Galilee. Rabbinical initiates retain their prerogative on the Qabbalah but by virtue of its universality it is constantly approached by many others world-wide, especially for its ‘Tree of Life’.


Michel Nostredame was undoubtedly aware of Jewish books. In his EPISTLE TO THE KING we find

“… to God, naturally, and for the most part accompanied by tracings of the celestial course, so that seeing is much like, so to speak, in a burning mirror”

which has its several echoes like Sukkah 45 b in the Talmud and other religious-spiritual books:

for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known 1Corinthians13:12 (YLT)

about which ‘Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible’ states

The two glasses, clear and not clear, the Cabalistic doctors call “tiphereth” and “malchuth”.

“Tiphereth” (they say) is a clear and well polished glass, by which Moses prophesied and had visions, “and saw all things most exactly”, in a very singular manner; “malchuth” is the glass that is not clear; so that he that prophesies by that, prophesies “by riddle”, and parable’

which seems related to this:

“… all the prophets saw the Lord through a dark mirror, while Moses, our Teacher, he saw through a transparent mirror.”  Zohar, Yevamoth 49 b (translator unknown)

For what it’s worth Sigmund Freud, a Jew, opined that Moses was not a Hebrew: others have claimed that he was Egyptian. Jesus was born Judean yet considered somewhat irregular for a Jew of his times. (See the article END-TIME NOSTRADAMUS SERIES (2) CHOSEN) The non-Judaen long-term converts – the majority of the diaspora – have a tendency to reject the Hebrew Torah, in which they have no felt stake, in favour of the Jewish Talmud. Nostredame though was of Sephardian descent.

It’s been remarked approvingly that the Book of the Zohar – which some call the Bible of Qabbalism – is in Aramaic, the softly slurring mother-tongue of Jesus, whilst overlooking

“Jews must always try to deceive Christians.”  Zohar 1,160a (translator unknown) which seems too socially Talmudic and at variance to its super-spiritual standing. (It was hidden away for 900 years for fear that people were not ready to understand it).

To make a basic comparison, followers of YVVH revere the consuming genius of fire

“The Angels are a fire that feeds on another light. And the fire that serves as food for angels and men do not see it comes from the degree sephirotic called Chesed” Zohar I,102a

whereas followers of Jesus revere the somehow indestructible nature of water which ever reforms its particles and waves for us to consume.

The Book of Zohar was printed-published for the first time in 1558 in both Cremona and Mantua in Italy. Moses ben Abraham Provencal, one of two well-known rabbis who had moved to Mantua from Provence – and who once philosophized on the theme of ‘Where do (parallel) lines meet?’ – was Rabbi of Mantua in the mid-Sixteenth Century. He and leading Qabbalists gave their approbation to the first printed edition of the Zohar. Abraham ben Meshullam of Modena, a Hebrew scholar and capable verse writer, was corrector of the first edition.

The Mantua edition (published in three successive volumes (probably by a Christian printer for a Jewish clientele) styles itself “the gate to Jehovah” (from Psalm 118:20, YTL) proclaiming itself “on the Torah” and claiming “with Secrets of the Torah, The Hidden Midrash”. The author was Rabbi Simon ben Yohai.

The linked Italian cities of Cremona & Mantua are found in this Nostradamus Quatrain:

I 24

1555 Lyon Bonhomme

A cité neufue pensif pour condemner,
Loysel de proye au ciel se vient offrir:
Apres victoire a captifs pardonner,
Cremone & Mantoue grands maux aura souffert.

A city newly preoccupied by its damnation,
The perching prey the wind blows to the skies:
OR The wind presents skeins of the prey to the heavens:
Understanding an advantage held over an enemy the captives are to be pardoned,
At Cremona and Mantua great moral ills must be suffered.

Line 1, OF pensif = preoccupied by. (If ‘pensif’ was originally ‘juif’ it would have given us ‘A new city to condemn the Jews’) OF ‘condemner/condamner’ is ‘to be found culpable’, either by a plea of guilty or a conviction by trial or else to be damned and rejected as evil. OF ‘neuf’ has various meanings including renovated (made anew) naiive (new to such experiences) or new (most recent). With an object it could mean ‘made but not commissioned’ or New Old Stock.

Line 2, OF ‘Loysel’ could be OF ‘loissel’, a skein of yarn or wire or a thread or hank of hair, or OF ‘lisel’, or else a verge or a perch ot possibly ‘because/for that’. OF ‘proie’ = prey, a hunted or captured animal. OF ‘victoire’ = victory as in “avantage remporté sur l’ennemi à la guerre” (Twelfth Century, ‘Roland’ éd. Bédier). Here OF ‘offrir’ could mean an offering to the Heavens or simply to expose something.

Line 3, OF ‘Apres’ with an acute accent would mean after but without the mark it is a tense of the verb to apprehend. (See HOMEPAGE, the 7 T’s, ‘TONGUES’)

Line 4. OF ‘Cremone’ = a lower casement bolt or else higher-casement Cremona in Italy. OF ‘Mantoue’ = Mantova (Italian) = Mantua (Latin). OF ‘maux’ = moral ills, badness. ‘souffert’ = suffered.

Summary One

Hundreds of Jews are to be dispersed from their homes in Cremona (in 1597) and Nostradame sees them dispossessed and distraught, unkempt with shocks of hair turning white and falling out, their exposed possessions mouldy and moth-eaten, clothes muddied and ripped by cart or boat travel, worried witless, driven from their homes by the grinding wind of change. They had been summarily summonsed for a crime and told to leave en masse by the King yet they were nevertheless allowed to cling-on and treated kindly and fairly by the governor of Milan until he could resist the King no longer and they were blewn over the edge, like chasing-off birds that have perched on a window-ledge. Selling-up, now homeless and raising cash at a terrible time they would surely have been taken advantage of in a million misery-inducing ways.

Summary Two

The Jews of Cremona were under the protection of the Gonzaga’s of Mantua and the official protection of Francesco Sforza from 1456. Their numbers duly swelled until the non-Jewish residents, the majority, openly protested the fact. The cities were together a ‘treasure trove of the Arts and Music’. When under Charles I of Spain, however, popular preaching priests were permitted to religiously rabble-rouse residents against their Jewish neighbours and did so up until 1541 when the Pope’s Chamberlain Guido Sforza revoked this permit. But there was still a major killing of Jews in 1547 at Castellaccio da Asola near Mantua. The society courts were perhaps different. Solomon Rossi who was from an old-established Mantua family, joined his sister Europa as a musician-singer at the court of Duke Vincenze I of Mantua whereby he had a dispensation not to wear the obligatory yellow badge of a Mantua Jew. The histories of Cremona and Mantua are linked and have much to do with their Jewish communities be they farmers, merchants, moneylenders, musicians, intellectuals, religious printer-publishers, mystical writers, rabbis or entertainers.

Summary Three

Five years before the Zohar published there had been a major upset in the ghetto at Cremona as steps were taken to enforce a papal bull ordering that all Talmudic works were to be burned. In 1559 the Inquisitore Generale di Cremona ordered, to a mixed response, that the Jews deliver all their copies of the Talmud. Despite that the governor of Milan had intervened in their favor the Inquisition held their course steady and the Dominicans (the jumbled letters of ‘Ordre dominicain’ are in the First Couplet) rallied ‘round them.

One assistant to the I-G was Sixtus of Siena known throughout Italy as a raving anti-Jew and a censorious commission was introduced. (‘Sisto di Siena’ is available from the jumbled letters of the First Couplet and ‘Sixtus de Siena’ from the letteration of the Second Couplet.)

A convert called Vettoria Eliano was appointed (this name may be extracted from the letters of the First Couplet) with a Jew named Joshua dei Cantori. (By substituting either ‘y’ or ‘i’ for the letter ‘j’ and taking the ampersand ‘&’ to represent any one missing letter – I will take ‘h’ as read – we can find this name available from the letters of the First Couplet). Cantori had been in a state of feud with Joseph Ottolenghi a man who had helped make Cremona a centre for Talmud scholarship. (The letters of that name may be found by the Medieval custom of substituting ‘f’ for ‘ph’ or converting ‘&’ to ‘h’ as mentioned above.)

Joshua put his weight behind the Dominican denunciations of Ottolenghi and the commission came out against rabbinical works and the Talmud. Spanish soldiers made house-to-house and printshop searches for copies of these works. In 1559 about 11,000 books were burned in a month.

Pius V (First Couplet) ordered the Jews to wear a distinctive badge and forbade interest on moneylending as that was usury, then a Christian crime.

Following a census the Jews were ordered expelled in 1592 but this order was not put into effect by Juan Fernández de Velasco the Governor of Milan. (Juan Fernández de Velasco is available from the quatrain as a whole by substituting an ‘i’ for a ‘j’ and an ‘s’ for a ‘z’, as was commonplace in OF)

(Either ‘Governatore di Milano’ or ‘Gouverneur de Milan’ may be found in the Second Couplet by borrowing the letter ‘l’ from the First Couplet OR conversely each may be found in the First Couplet by borrowing the letter ‘g’ from the Second Couplet.)

Instead he backed Samuel Coen di Alessandria (lettered into the quatrain as a whole or from the First Couplet alone should we allow repititions of the letter ‘a’) who offered to take a petition to Madrid (jumbled into each couplet) whereby Coen persuaded the king to withdraw the order only to be confounded by the latter’s Catholic confessor who urged the king to fulfill the considerable bribe offered by non-Jewish citizens of Cremona and Padua. The Jews suffered a general accusation of tax fraud and the protection of the state was removed from them. In 1597 they were gone save two families who had been allowed to remain until the fraud trial finished. After a verdict of not guilty was awarded them they too were gone.

(The letters of ‘Cremona e Padova’ and ‘Crémone et Padoue’ are each fully available from the Second Couplet. Alternatively ‘Cremona e Padova’ is lettered into the First Couplet by borrowing an ‘a’ from the Second Couplet and ‘Crémone et Padoue’ is there in full. We have the king’s name, ‘Re Filippo II’, in the First Couplet also. Or by using ampersand ‘&’ as an ‘h’ or substituting letter ‘f’ for ‘ph’, we may extract ‘Philip II Roi’ giving us both the Italian and the French renderings of his regal address.)

Summary Four

The community at Cremona had always been ready to give aid to such as the persecuted Maranos of Pesaro (‘Marrani di Pesaro’ and ‘Marranes de Pesaro’ are equally available from the Second Couplet although not at the same time.) When the publication of Hebrew printed works was interfered with elsewhere in Italy, such as by public book burnings, Cremona with Mantua would complete their works for them.

1556-67 Vincenzo Conti (the letters of which name may may be found in the Second Couplet by substituting a letter ‘s’ for letter ‘z’, as was customary) published at Cremona three important Hebrew works the Psalms (the letters of ‘Psaumes’ may be found in each couplet) the Pentateuch (‘Pentateuch’ is available from either couplet by substituting the ampersand ‘&’ for ‘h’) and the Megillah (available from the quatrain as a whole on allowing the ampersand ‘&’ for the mising letter ‘h’) probably in 1566. The publisher’s emblem apparently showed Hercules (Ercole and Hercule are simulataneously available from the First Couplet should we allow the missing silent ‘h’) together with the motto Superavit ac virtus. (‘Superavit ac virtus’ is lettered in the quatrain as a whole.)

The Jews of Cremona, now fugitives (letteration of ‘fugutives/fugitifs’ may be found in the quatrain as a whole) dispersed to Mantua, Modena, Monticelli, Reggio, Verona, and Padua (all of which are available separately from the jumbled letters of the quatrain once allowing for duplication of the letter ‘g’ to make ‘Reggio’ as was customary for anagrams in the Middle Ages.)

We are out of balance if we omit the Bible or the Q’ran from this webpage. The Bible was printed in around 16 editions in France by the middle of the Sixteenth Century. Paganino & Paganini of Venice bravely published the first printed Q’ran in Arabic in 1537-8, possibly for export. By 1620 all copies were reported destroyed as desired by the papacy. But of course a single copy did survive and was spotted in modern times at Isola di San Michele in the library of the Franciscan Friars.

(As it happens the words ‘Corano, Frati francescano, Isola di San Michele’ and ‘Coran, Frères franciscaine, Île de San Michele’ are each separately available from the jumbled letters of quatrain I 24 if we read the ampersand ‘&’ as an ‘h’ and so is ‘Paganino & Paganini’ from the Second and First Couplets respectively should we allow duplication of the letter ‘g’. We could also find ‘Venise’ and other proper nouns but I think that’s quite enough done, for now.)

Summary 1 was based on my English Translation. Summaries 2, 3 and 4 were taken sequentially from entries in the Catholic Encyclopedia until I felt that I had to draw a line even though I could have gone further, including my patent letteration discoveries based on Medieval anagram practice. (The modern anagram rules which we presume reasonable and logical first fitted in tandem with the diagrammatic constraints of the crossword-puzzle.) I don’t know what to make of the account of the first printed Q’ran’s recent rediscovery. Even though it slots in so well to the letteration of Nostradamus Quatrain I 24 I’ll leave that without comment except that there was a trail of human talent from Cremona to Venice back then, for one reason or another.

Here’s a pocket profile of Europe in the Middle Ages taken from the HOME page:

The universe of discourse was different back in the Sixteenth Century. For sure life was not seen nihilistically as a ‘thing’ – some reasoned aggregation of scientifically acceptable categories of evolution – but more immediately with full awareness of a plentiful vivacity frequently vented by fate and its fatalities and the spiritual dimension streaming through the whole.

Now let’s bring that down-to-earth a little with some worldly Medieval diversions:

As if deadly intrigues and entrapping superstitions were not enough for the Medieval mindset, entering into jolly jousting was as endangering to the elite as ‘mob football’ (Third Century-onward) was punishing to the peasantry. (Basically a field invasion without any rules fought-out by competing villages.) Fortunately for some, only the nobles and knights were allowed to carry swords in public by law and although the later Civil Wars were to change all that the double-edged blade is still widely illegal today. Fourteenth Century billiards was played out on level ground. Skittles had no bowling ball. Stick combat – two tethered men striking out blind-fold at a large bird or animal within their small pound – was indulged in by kings. Three-legged stool ball (embryonic cricket) was a Spring ritual of the sexes. Homely board games were mostly mathematical. When chess swept East to West the harvests became neglected. That’s entertainment.

(About the written Medieval word generally please also see the sections SOME POETRY OF MID-SIXTEENTH CENTURY FRANCE and NOSTRADAMUS: STYLE, SUBSTANCE AND STANCE in the Article UNDERSTANDING NOSTRADAMUS: KEYING THE ARCH and the Article OF POETRY AND SONG: PRE-NOSTRADAMUS or for Medieval cardplay try V 75 & IV 31 THE TAROT CARDS)

The suppressed zeal of mendicant Buddhist preachers in foreign lands pre-dates Judaism. Buddhism (as the spiritual practice that it is, not the more worldly religion that its temple worshippers demand) has given us a unique definition of victory. It is the counterweight to ‘acquired knowledge is acquired power’. This is from the long-exiled Tibetan child-abbot Chogyam Trungpa:

When the current of thoughts is sef-liberated
And the essence of Dharma is known,
Everything is understood
And apparent phenomena
Are all the books one needs.

I’d had experience of something similar but could not articulate it winningly until I first saw this verse – in print!

Nigel Raymond Offord © 2015