It is little appreciated that prior to the bureaucracy of the League of Nations there were many odd bits of land on Earth that had not been colonized, either by their own wish or by rejection, which amounted to localities of tribes or minor nations but were not recognized states. Terra Incognita. Europe, though, was claimed and often reclaimed, disassembled and reassembled.

Even so there were small exceptions. Seventeenth Century papal soldiers occupied the Swiss Valtelline, officially undesired, as the valley lay between two Habsburg territories.

Nostredame lived in a time of small but distinct regions and their overlords. Today we would regard his Provence motherland as really quite local to Languedoc-Dauphine, Narbonne, Rodez, Orange Principality, Venaissin, d’Auvergne-Forez, the Bighorro Pyrenees over to the East and, across the state line to the West, the Italian land of Marquisat de Saluces.

Nostredame’s Epistle to the King  – quoted below in blue complete with ‘sloping’ commentaries from that webpage – speaks prophetically to us by way of degree:

And this other who has (shared) her great confusion and late repentance (yet) would ruin her, will have three extremely differing regions, to wit Italy, Germany, Spain, thereby to reinforce their particular partisanships by military means, going out from the 50th and the 52nd degree of latitude,

50th Parallel North; Brussels, Frankfurt, Krakow, Prague
52nd Parallel North; Birmingham, Berlin, The Hague, Warsaw

and all will render the homages of religions distant to the regions of Europe and the Seven Stars (Septrionalis) of the 48 degrees vertical,

Kuwait is at 48°North Longitude (Vienna is at 48°North Latitude).

out of whom the weak by their deficiency shall tremble first, then the most Westernmost, Southernmost and Easternmost parts will tremble, such will be their power, whether or no that which will be from their hostile conquests is an ironclad harmony or an insuperable union.

Then comes a prophesy of something similar to Field-Marshall Tito’s Jugoslavia and subsequent ‘Balkanization’ and chiming with Iraq’s chaos after Saddam Hussein: 

In the Adriatic will be made great discord, such that what first will be united will then be separated, and there will approach some habitation that before has been and will again be a great city, covering the Pompotam (a river like the Tigris, Euphrates, Alwand, though possibly a catch-all expression for any major river such as the Danube or Rhone) and Mesopotamia (the river’s hinterland), in Europe at 45 

The latitude 45th Parallel North  runs through France (Lyons is at 45.75°N) and Italy (Milan, Turin, Venice). Treating it as 44-46° ensures inclusions from Slovenia, Serbia and Romania. The Serbian city of Belgrade marks the birthplace of Europe’s largest prehistoric culture, the Neolithic Vinčas. Romania’s bustling Bucharest was burned down by the Ottomans and briefly abandoned in the early Seventeenth Century.

The Battle of Brioca led to the arquebusier/small arms becoming dominant in warfare. It took place across Latitude 45°N –45.52 (see the Nostradamus Quatrain X 64)

Babylon is at Longitude 44°E 

Rethinking this whole paragraph, the final remark “in Europe at 45” only starts to make solid sense if we presume that this activity in Europe is in addition to the previously mentioned activities rather than the location marker of them. Perhaps this paragraph refers to natural disasters, especially in Italy or France or Greece or even Turkey. A way to understand this paragraph better may be to treat the parts as if separate, although occurring at around the same time:
“In the Adriatic will be made great discord, such that what first will be united will then be separated,”
perhaps a fault-line seismic disturbance of signicance for the region
“and there will approach some habitation that before has been and will again be a great city, covering the Pompotam and Mesopotamia,“
an old-new great city across a major river is affected, plus
“in Europe at 45″
there will be further effects in Europe along Latitude 45°N.

and the others at 41,

Parallel 41 crosses the Med and the Adriatic touching Barcelona, Istanbul. Both New York’s Long Island and the Three Mile Island are at 41°NFort Calhoun Nebraska is at Latitude 41.5°N and has suffered nuclear cooling plant failure and flooding. (April 2012, plant now idled after ‘high safety significance fire’.) Cooper Nuclear Plant stands nearby. 41°N LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station, 2006 site area emergency declared, tritium contamination recorded at nearby Braidwood Plant

Rome, 41°55, has within it Vatican City to which Mussolini afforded its present sovereign status. (see the Nostradamus Quatrain VI 97)

42 and 37.

Parallel 42N touches Andalusia (Sevilla), Italy, France and various countries in South Eastern Europe including Turkey (Sofia).

42°N, Byron Nuclear Generating Station, Rockvale, Illinois, USA, 2006 radioactive hydrogen (tritium) contaminated groundwater, 2007 escape of nitrogen inside building.

A ‘nuclear event’ (a semi-official term) took place September 2011 at Latitude 42°N in Palisades Plant, South Haven, Michigan.

Of course the 37th Parallel North engirdles many places and covers large population clusters. It also links all of the Western Economic World together, i.e. the USA, Europe and Japan. As a matter of fact the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is on latitude 37N as is the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant and also the Surry Virginia USA plant.

   (Latitudes & longitudes on merged maps of Ptolemy: property University of California)

Likewise Nostradamus Quatrain VI 97 starts with “Cinq & quarante degres ciel bruslera”, “The sky will be combust at 45°”. The Hale-Bopp comet at its brightest was located around and about the declination 45° immediately above 45° Latitude North. (Contrastingly, the descent path of the second jet on September 11th 2001 was estimated at an angle of around 45° before it straightened-out at high speed. Despite seeming wider than the Tower, at least on film, it more or less fitted-in to the building’s surface on frontal impact after rolling approximately an eighth of a turn just before entry.)

Most of the geography in the Centuries’ obscurant Quatrains, however, is not so much prophecy as an ascertainment of place via Judicial Astrology to ‘fix’ a particular prophetic vision. We are served with antique placenames relevant to the Sixteenth Century and before. Italy and Germany did not exist then as unified nations. France was a central Kingdom with associated outlying regions and a papal state in its midst. Poland was Europe’s largest country at that time.

Surprisingly, old placenames were changed about quite considerably prior to trams, trains, and airliner timetables. A survey of the more recent biblical ones showed that some must have moved out-of-place today (if Bible journeytimes are to be believed) whilst others have disappeared without trace as if they never were so named. Astrological ideas about which localities were ruled by a particular Zodiac Sign were challengeable over the ages and never unanimously agreed. Antique astrological land registers had been compiled long-before the Nostradamus Quatrains but we cannot know for sure which books Michel used.

Nostredame announced in the Epistle to the King that his Quatrains had encompassed Europe and Africa and some of Asia. The spread of France and the Italian Cities form the Nostradamus heartland (referenced by one third of all quatrains in the Centuries) which was surrounded by West and East Christian Europe with adjacent Mediterranean-Adriatic  lands spreading over the Ottoman  territories and down into the Middle East. The odd quatrain will refer to further afield and Americans do recognize the USA generally even though it is not mentioned specifically in the Centuries.

Named places occur in over half of all the quatrains and some locate countries we all know today like England, France, Persia/Iran, Italy, Morocco, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and Tunisia.

A prevalent Sixteenth Century European fear of Islamics generally and the Ottomans specifically may account for their occupying almost one eighth of all quatrains. Likewise the wars between the Holy Roman Emperor and France, the proximity of Provence to Spain, the strategic importances of Switzerland and Malta plus the historical link between French and English royalty probably accounts for these jointly taking up another eighth, or more, of the total. Persia, Portugal and Tunis just creep in here as they get mentioned in more than one quatrain each.

Although there are quatrains that refer to France or Europe or Italy or Spain/Portugal or England or Malta or the Ottoman Empire in general territorial terms, many others will name a specific locality, usually a city. However, the few ‘one-quatrain apiece’ entrants are all named countries rather than towns or cities.

Much of this may reflect the astrological land registers he used as his post-vision books of reference. Here the system of The Centuries is creaking under its greatest strain. This external variable is the weakest point of Nostradamus.

Various types of Medieval maps show quite different political characteristics, i.e. distinct regions claimed and named or else historic redistributions. Here’s a more modern version:

In this way an ecclesiastical mapping, for instance, would redefine Northern Spain, France, Northern Italy, Switzerland and West Germany according to their cathedral cities and the bishop’s sees or boroughs. This world was immediate and real to Michel de Nostredame and his neighbours, distantly encircled by an encroaching England to the North-West, the perplexing religiosity to the East and raiding barbarians to the South. Ecclesiastical Burgos so became a significant territory the equal of ecclesiatical Bourges in France. Other ecclesiastical regions within defined bounds were called Auch, Narbonne, Arles (Marseilles) Aix, Bourdeaux, Vienne, Lyons, Tours, Sens, Rouen, Reims, Cologne (Germany) Embrun (French Riviera) Besancon (across Switzerland)  and the Italian Tarentaise, Milan, Aqueleia, Genoa, Ravenne, mighty big Rome and little Bari.

Placenames in the ‘Opera Nostradamus’ can often confuse matters and some even seem misplaced/misnamed. Searching-out alternatives to the state or royal boundaried maps (that may have been almost as meaningful to travellers, such as a map of religious houses or traveller’s lodges) could help a little and Chantal Liaroutzos’s study of the well-used Guide des Voyages by Charles Estienne (1553) has rendered some earlier misconceptions remediable.

Most things in life are the product of a specific history, including placenames. Territories of Fifteenth Century France differed considerably from the expansive Sixteenth Century political map, yet old names can cling conversationally even alongside the new. There were many areas named after their ruling Houses such as Valois-Angouleme and Burgundy-Nevers or Counties such as Foix and Blois or Duchies such as Anjou and Auvergne and there were bigger regions called Guyenne, Languedoc and Dauphine in the South of France. Marking the Spain-France political border was the Kingdom of Navarre that would yield an important King of France, Henri IV, d.1610.

What of Michel de Nostredame’s homeland, the large County of Provence? The ‘SEXT’ group of quatrains are relevant here. Some of the many quatrains featuring Old Roman history – befitting the age – probably came from Nostredame’s youthful experiences among the Roman artifacts and memorials of Provence. The Greeks had visited, the Phonecians had traded, the Saracens looted  but the Romans settled extensively in Provence with its sunny plains, startling lavender fields, vineyards, aromatic pine forests and olive groves crowned by distant heights under blue skies. It is bordered by the River Rhone, the Mediterranean and the Alps. The Camargue is a zoologically fascinating wilderness. The Northern edge of the region is marked by the tree-line as the olives surrender to a less blessed climate. Its most famous town was, and is, gentle Aix-en-Provence (Aagen) under the massive Mont St. Victoire. The Aix inhabitants, Aixois, were occasionally called Aquisextains.

Having envisioned a future event, Nostradame determined by judicial/mundane astrology which locales would be involved when the prophecies were fulfilled and the appropriate astro-aspects to insert. These are a divined ‘cross-section’ adding dimension to the vision. Astrologers can trace the astral momenta both backwards and forward in time. Occasionally, one fits to Michel’s lifetime and the other comes much later, leading to conjecture that the former date is that of the vision-composition and the latter that of the realised event. If the former is during a ‘travelling time’ then the astro-researcher is placed at quite a disadvantage. For some years, Nostredame’s whereabouts are not clear as he visited Italy and unspecified other destinations for quite extensive periods.

The four times of travelling, possibly as a wandering physician and teacher or as a pilgrim, were 1521-1529, 1532-1533, 1538-1544 and 1547-1551.

A matter of concern in several quatrains is the overflowing of rivers in very high flood, destroying their hinterlands in France and Italy (possibly starting in Switzerland and rushing the Saone-Rhone corridor to the Med) and as all this seems more collectively specific than the comets or earthquakes that clutter all prophecies, I shall tackle it on a separate page. (See the Article STORED UP IN THE NORTH WIND)  There is a ready inclination of both South-Western France (below) and South-Eastern France to speed this watery descent, e.g. the Garonne, Dordogne, Loire :

Nostredame also tackled one physical geography subject in the Centuries that produced a startling revelation. Does the gravitational tug of the Sun and Moon have an effect on physical activity down here on Earth? The Sun and Moon draw the tides (jointly, the Spring tide) and the land also which is at varying degrees of softness beneath sections of crust, themselves light on mass, and is perceptibly stretched by tiny shifts. The ‘dynamic oblateness’ of the Earth is affected by many things including melting of the Poles that will change the mass. Is this sufficient to trigger eruptions in the more fluid sections of the magma, even creating new land in the sea?

(see Quatrain I 21  WHITE CLAY)

The so-called ‘pseudo-sciences’ that support metaphysical ideas such as independent energy, Atlantis or the esoteric aspects of Astrology are a touchy subject with scientists, especially as Science cannot state once and for all exactly what Gravity is – the most fundamental force of all which they brush aside as ‘particularly weak’ – and so cannot truthfully claim the high moral ground. The fanfare announcements of inexplicables such as dark matter, dark energy and neutrinos appear to be a kind of scientific Freudian slip during their greater debate over the Something (the material) versus the nothing (God).

Now that we can observe tidal volcanic activity on the moons of Jupiter, why not some gravitational vulcanizing down here on Earth? Some seek a new cyclical connection between Heaven and Earth. Due to fast-improving measurement devices we can now record earthquakes, comets and sunspots of all sizes on a daily basis. The regular sightings of visiting comets alone would have amazed Michel Nostredame who was engaged by their apparent rarity.

Geography is a difficult aspect of the Centuries. Almost 60% of the quatrains make reference to locations, often Western European cities. Whilst “imagining” his visions did he feel transported? How accurate were his futuristic time and space references, if any were observed in these ‘travels’ at all, and if so how exactly could he place or reconstruct them? Was the locating of events in the Centuries a mixture of unstable memories and subsequent deductions? Were some of these faulty?

He indicates that he took astral references as his starting point and matched the locations against ancient map-books of sorts that were not perfect registers. The Preface and the Epistle are now taken as obvious top-and-tail prose explications of the Centuries with straightened chronography although they were not necesarily first composed for that purpose. In fact, the Almanacs were his lifetime’s achievement, the Centuries growing more popular after his death. (Jacques Holbronn even feels confident that this fragmented corpus that we now call the assembled Centuries was hugely retroactive and fraudulent in part or as a whole. I beg to disagree.)

The self-styled secretary to Michel Nostredame, Jacques de Chavingy is one of several eccentrics who have imposed their presumed special position upon the Centuries after his death. These efforts plus the various printer errors and alterations plus several attempts to subvert the prophet’s words to political ends may indeed have served us with a cocktail-bar of confused concoctions, a few being spiced-up, some inadvertently. Of course, to lie is both human nature and of special abhorrence to human nature. As such lying is almost always rooted in the truth, if only to relieve the deceiver’s inevitable stress, which then complicates matters further. I do not agree that anybody invented the Centuries out of thin air but I do feel that all hands that touched its plural publications may have reinvented small parts of it, incidentally or accidentally.

Astral calculations delimited his visions, restricting them mostly to Europe, Mediterranean Africa, old Asia Minor and a small portion of continental Asia. As with the religio-political prophecies found in the Bible, the USA seems out of the picture but Mesapotamia is in it. Perhaps they are Old Babylon and New Babylon. Most of the modern world seems exempted by name in the ‘Opera Nostradamus’ excepting perhaps Great Britain (whose symbolic lion is teamed with eagle phalanxes in one quatrain). However ‘Aquilon’ or the ‘Kings of the North’ are included emphatically suggesting that the Political Geography of the globe may yet consolidate toward the North-West quarter. By the time of Louis XIV only “Northern Kings” and the Grand Falconer had the right to display a falcon on his regal hand.

I feel that the main thrust of Nostredame’s Centuries is toward End Time and the very purpose of their construction is to force us into a recognition of ourselves that becomes more useful the nearer we get to that End, the better to mitigate or postpone it for humanity’s sake.

Geography is an important but potentially insecure part of that vast puzzle which the genius Michel de Nostredame has laid out before us.

Before the early Sixteenth Century, maps had strong inputs from religion, legends and myths. In fact, in Western Europe they predicated the arrival date of the End Time by mapping the temporal march of Christianity. Later they would become empirical and literal, echoing the mariner’s chart. In the start of the Sixteenth Century they were some of each. It could be argued that humanism arose in parallel as map-making and printing-publishing evolved.

Some significant geographica developments during the first 21 years of Michel Nostredame’s lifetime were;

1503         Alberto Cantino, an Italian diplomat in Lisbon, has surreptitiously obtained a fine manuscript map of the known world. Portugal was the most far-reaching colonial power of the Age of Discovery. They funded the voyages of Cabral to Brazil, de Gama to East Africa and India, and the Corte-Reals to Greenland and Newfoundland. This map was based on these plus a Columbus Caribbean voyage.

1507        “Cosmographiae Introductio” or the Waldseemüller Map was published by German geographer(s) on the French side of Strasbourg and credited Amerigo Vespucci (Americus, d.1512) with discovery of the New World, naming it “America” in consequence. It was drawn partly from his accounts of four great voyages plus geometrical and astronomical inputs. It’s likely that Amerigo was never a ship’s captain and that only three voyages took place. Nevertheless Vespucci’s duplicated letter ‘Mundus Novus’ argued for the existence of a new continent and not a new route to Asia as Columbus was claiming.

1510         Early New World maps included a 1510 version by cartographer Juan de la Cosa. Maps of theNew World  were to flourish in the later Sixteenth Century. Well over 100 whole-world maps have also survived from then.

1511        A fully expanded, heart-shaped, Ptolemaic projection map was produced by Sylvanus.

1512        The great Gerardus Mercator (d.1594) was born in Flanders.

1515        Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon describes the Gulf Stream.

1517        Piri Reis, a ship’s Captain who would become the Chief Admiral of the Ottoman Navy presented a manuscript map he had drawn to Ottoman Sultan Selim I. The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries housed the Great Age of Western map-making and this runs alongside the highgrounds of the Ottoman Empire also. Reis had a very fine library of ancient maps at hand in Istanbul and he sourced readily from them. How far back does map-making go? Both an island like Atlantis and a defined edge of Antarctica complete with hundreds of dotted islands were included despite that the latter was not yet discovered and had been buried under ice sheets for millennia.

1524        German Peter Bennewitz, a mathematician, produced his own “Cosmographia”, the first theoretical geography textbook.

One problem of  ‘textbook Geography’ today is keeping a degee of separation from the History Department. Explaining the cultural geography flowing from a physical location or a nodal point on a route may resemble a social history lesson. Medieval geographers had no such qualms. Here’s Nice besieged in 1534 by French land artillery (West) whilst Ottoman and some French ships are landing at Villefranche (East) as the surprising combination of the King of France’s and Hayreddin Barbarossa’s galleys approach from the open Mediterranean Sea:

 Despite that Nice is very nicely placed, it was all an eruption about an inconvenient bride.

The natural volcanic centre of France is here:

this diagram at full-size and a mineralogical map of La Chaîne des Puys may be found at…  

  Jean-Etienne Guettard,who drew the first geological map of France, determined the volcanic nature of the Auvergne’s Chaîne des Puys (around Latitude 45°N) in the 1750’s. The Puys or Domes, a chain of fractional crystallization, are over one hundred single-eruption volcanic edifices up to 10,000 years old which are aligned along a North-South axis for forty kilometers across a horst with faults West and East. They are notably pitted being cinder cones or cumulative domes. Magma with dissolved gases has been sprayed like uncorked fizz leaving signatures on the lava slag or breaking the mound chaotically with lava fountains and setting-up the later explosions, sometimes plural, at the mouths. There are also one or two ‘maars’ where groundwater was superheated and punched a ‘reversed volcano’ into the land. The commonest section is of columnar basalt. The Chaîne des Puys form the vulcanic backbone of France’s Massif Central and they have, of course, romantic views with a Roman Temple to Mercury set astride the highest from which Michel de Nostredame a.k.a. Nostradamus might once have viewed the night sky.

                                                                      Nigel Raymond Offord © 2011