Did Nostradamus Predict World War III?
Nostradamus is not known for his cheery prophecies. Most interpreters of the 16th-century physician, astrologer, and prophet say he accurately predicted two world wars, the rise of two Antichrists—Napoleon and Hitler—and even the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
While skeptics are quick to point out that Nostradamus’s quatrains, the four-line verses in which he wrote his prophecies, are so cryptic that they can be interpreted in any number of ways, scholars who have meticulously studied his work conclude that Nostradamus has been uncanny in his predictions of some of the most dramatic events of the 20th and previous centuries.
But what of the 21st century? What, if anything, does Nostradamus have to say about the events of the current century? Many fear that his prophecies point to the event that most of the world has been dreading since the end of World War II and the introduction of nuclear weapons: World War III. Some say it’s right around the corner, and with the events of Sept. 11 still haunting our psyche and the continuing tensions in the Middle East, a new war with global involvement isn’t hard to imagine.
Predictions of World War III
Decades ago, author David S. Montaigne predicted the next world war would start in 2002 in his unambiguously tilted book, Nostradamus: World War III 2002. Although Nostradamus never specifically names the year in which World War III would begin, Montaigne cites this quatrain:
From brick to marble, the walls will be converted,
Seven and fifty peaceful years:
Joy to mankind, the aqueduct renewed,
Health, abundant fruits, joy and honey-making times.
– Quatrain 10:89
Although it can be debated that the 57 years previous to 2002 were peaceful and a joy to mankind, Montaigne interpreted this quatrain as meaning “progress for fifty-seven years between World War II and World War III.” And since the Second World War ended in 1945, 57 years brought us to 2002.
Who would start the war and how? Montaigne pointed the finger at Osama bin Laden who, he says, would continue to stir up anti-American feelings within Islamic nations and would mastermind his attacks on the West from Istanbul, Turkey (Byzantium):
Of beyond the Black Sea and of the great Tartary,
A king comes who will see Gaul,
Piercing across Alania and Armenia,
And within Byzantium he will leave his bloody rod.
Was Montaigne wrong? Some would argue that the September 11 attacks and our subsequent “War on Terrorism” could represent the opening battles in a conflict that could eventually escalate to World War III.
From there, things get worse, of course. Montaigne suggests that Muslim armies will see their first big victory over Spain. Soon after, Rome will be destroyed with nuclear weapons, forcing the Pope to relocate:
For seven days the great star will burn,
The cloud shall make two suns to appear:
The big mastiff will howl all night
When the great pontiff changes country.
Montaigne interprets Nostradamus to say that even Israel will be defeated in this war led by bin Laden and later Saddam Hussein, both of whom, he says, are the Antichrist. (Obviously, he was wrong by naming those two leaders since they are both dead. But what of their followers and successors?) The war goes in favor of the Eastern forces (Muslims, China, and Poland) for a while until the Western allies are joined by Russia and are finally victorious around the year 2012:
When those of the arctic pole are united together,
In the East great dread and fear:
Newly elected, supporting the great trembling,
Rhodes, Byzantium with Barbarian blood stained.
Well, 2012 has come and gone with no world war, so is the timing just off? And will it all work out in the end? If these interpretations of Nostradamus are to be believed, it’s going to be after a lot of death and suffering, much of it caused by the use of nuclear weapons by both sides in the fight. And Montaigne isn’t alone in his reading of Nostradamus.
Not everyone takes Nostradamus seriously either, of course. James Randi, for instance, doesn’t think Nostradamus’s predictions are worth the scrying mirror he saw them in. In his book, magician and pseudoscience debunker Randi contends that Nostradamus was not a prophet at all, but rather a clever writer who used purposefully ambiguous and cryptic language so that his quatrains could be interpreted to be referring to events once they had taken place.
And more often than not, Nostradamus’s “prophecies” are sought out after a tragic event to see if any of his quatrains fit. The events of Sept. 11 are a prime example. No one before Sept. 11 held up a Nostradamus prophecy that warned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, yet after the fact, a few quatrains were said to accurately describe the tragedy.
However, those who say Nostradamus has predicted World War III, possibly in the near future, are giving us the word ahead of time. If he’s wrong, time will tell and we’ll be grateful.