Submitted by C. Johnson

Nostradamus did not write the quatrain now being attributed to him. (One wonders how a guy who died in 1566 could have written an item identified as being penned in 1654 anyway.) It originated with a student at Brock University in Canada in the 1990s, appearing on a web page essay on Nostradamus. That particular quatrain was offered by the page's author, Neil Marshall, as a fabricated example to illustrate how easily an important-sounding prophecy can be crafted through the use of abstract imagery. He pointed out how the terms he used were so deliberately vague they could be interpreted to fit any number of cataclysmic events.

(A dissertation on a somewhat similar-sounding real prophecy of Nostradamus' which contains the line "From the sky will come a great King of Terror" can be found here. Note that even a liberal reading places the events it describes in July of 1999, not September of 2001, and the same prophecy has already long since been applied to a wide variety of different events -- both real and imagined.)

It appears someone mistook Marshall's illustrative example for an actual Nostradamus prophecy and, not content to let well enough alone, added "The third big war will begin when the big city is burning." A fabrication was thus further fabricated. But that wasn't the end of it. More fakery was piled on in later versions that now included all of the text quoted in the Example section above but now concluded with:

"on the 11th day of the 9 month that...
two metal birds would crash into two tall statues...
in the new city...
and the world will end soon after"

Similarly, another enhanced version incorporates the Example text into a more detailed prophecy:

And Nostradamus predicted this (who knows how long ago):

"In the year of the new century and nine months,
From the sky will come a great King of Terror...
The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
Fire approaches the great new city..."

"In the city of york there will be a great collapse,
2 twin brothers torn apart by chaos
while the fortress falls the great leader will succumb
third big war will begin when the big city is burning"

Another version asserts:

"The third great war will start when the two tall
lances fall in the great city. The day birds offer
themselves up to the heavens"

The closest any true Nostradamus writing comes to any of these is the one often cited as Century 6, Quatrain 97:

Cinq and quarante degrez ciel bruslera
Feu approcher de la grand cité neuve
Instant grand flamme esparse sautera
Quand on voudra des Normans faire preuue.

An approximate English translation would be:

Five and forty steps the sky will burn
Fire approaching the large new city
Instantly a great thin flame will leap
When someone will want to test the Normans.

Even if this is a real prophecy of Nostradamus', it simply provides more evidence of how much shoehorning has to be performed to get one of these vague "predictions" to fit modern occurrences. It cites no date whatsoever. The line about a sky that "will burn at forty-five steps" is interpreted to refer to New York City, the "forty-five steps" being the Big Apple's latitude -- never mind that New York City is actually below the 41° latitude mark, and that several major North American cities (e.g., Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal) are much closer to 45° latitude than Gotham. As well, New York (one of North America's oldest cities) is only "new" in the sense that its name contains the word "new" (a criterion which describes many other of the world's large cities, such as New Delhi), the flames resulting from the terrorist attack in New York were anything but "thin" (or "scattered"); and nobody has a clue what "Normans" have to do with hijacked airliners crashing into American cities.

All in all, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is a much better fit for this one. So is the explosion resulting from the collision of the ships Mont Blanc and Imo in 1917, which killed thousands of people and destroyed much of Halifax -- a city just a few degrees shy of 45° latitude. To top it all off, this very same verse was widely cited five years ago as having "predicted" the mysterious crash of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996.

Just once, we'd like someone to tell us what one of Nostradamus' "prophecies" means in advance of the event it supposedly describes.

Barbara "la cosa nostradamus" Mikkelson