ORACLES OF NOSTRADAMUS - Louis XIV
COMMENCEMENT OF HIS PERSONAL REIGN (MARCH 10, 1661). [I. 118.]
Quatrain added to the Xth Century. 1
When a fork sustained by two stakes (i.e. V, fourchu, sustained by two stakes upright, II. = M, a thousand,) and six half horns and six scissors open (CCCCCC, XXXXXX). (Half horn is the cor de chasse, or French horn cut in half, like a C, making altogether 1600).
The very mighty King, inheritor of the toads, shall subjugate to his power the whole universe.
THESE TWO first lines are clumsily employed in giving the date, but still were in print fifty-five years before the date named.
Mazarin died on March 9, 1661. The following day Louis XIV. became full inheritor of the lilies, took the reins of government, and subjected everything to his will.
Upon this Le Pelletier remarks that the toads, as emblematic of France, were standards borne under the early kings of the Merovingian race. The fleurs-de-lys were of later introduction, under Clovis, son of Childeric I., the founder of the Christian monarchy of the Franks.
TREATY OF WESTPHALIA, ETC. (1648-1661). [I. 119.]
Century X.--Quatrain 7.
A great conflict will approach Nancy;
The Æmathion will say, I submit all to me;
The isle of Britain will be agitated for lack of force and wisdom;
Metz will not hold out long against the two Philips.
Nancy was taken in 1660 by the French, when they razed the fortifications and united it with France. It appears to me that the first two lines of this quatrain should have formed the last two, but how any such error as that could have crept in is quite inexplicable. The reader will discern that a difference of about twelve years exists between the dates involved in the two distichs, that, as they are given, they are contrary to chronology, and that for such disarrangement
no reason is assignable. If this is the way in which visions presented themselves to our seer, there is no reason to suppose, as I do, that he shook up the separate quatrains purposely to destroy a sequence that would have rendered them too easy of interpretation. It might have been a printer's error.
We have already seen what is the classical meaning to be attributed to Æmathion--that it relates to the sun and to Alexander the Great. In Nostradamus it refers to Louis XIV. (Louis le Grand). Of him it is to be remembered that he assumed as his emblem and that of France, the sun, with the motto Nec pluribus impar. Now, the sun, in the language of alchemists, stands for gold, and, in the metaphorical language of the Church, for Christianity. Gold is all the Christianity that many Christians possess. Les Solaires, in Nostradamus, is used for Christians. It is especially connected with France, inasmuch as her King is held at Rome, that centre of titles and of prelatical humility, to be Christianissimus. But this stout Capetian glorious King meant it of sovereignty. It was to signify, as Nostradamus has it, tout le soubmets. What is this man's own choice of a posy, to be cut around his signet? Nec pluribus impar. What is the axiom his blind self-pride invents when the death of Mazarin emancipates him from tutelage, and he grips the reins of France in his sole left hand (in 1661)? L'État, c'est Moi. Can insolence rise higher? Wait an odd century or so and see a scaffold spring before your Tuilleries windows, see an Æmathion, but twice removed in blood, roll his head, red, gushing, spurting, and bounding on the sawdust-sprinkled planks there; its motto, could it speak, would be your axiom recast fatally, L'État du Capet! (Caput!)
We have not quite concluded yet. When the treaty of Westphalia shall be agreed to between France and Philip
[paragraph continues] IV. of Spain in 1648, and before the war of Succession to, seat Philip V., grandson of Louis XIV., on the throne, Metz shall be ceded to France, and lose for ever its title of Imperial City, between the two Philips--Philip IV. and, Philip V., protégé of France.
England about the same time, in revolution kindled by that imp of malevolence, Richelieu, shall behead its king, 1649, and be in anxiety because of the want of force and wisdom (vin et sel). This symbol Le Pelletier interprets thus: Wine is the symbol of force, because of its heat; and salt, because of its incorruptibility, is the symbol of wisdom.. I think it clear that this is not to be the interpretation here. He does not allude to want of force and wisdom; but anxiety (soucy) is caused by force and wisdom (à l'envers, as he puts again in reference to England, Century IX. 49; vol. i. 140 applied in the wrong direction.
This, though a highly unsatisfactory quatrain, as I have: shown above, is, nevertheless, one of the most remarkable of the whole series. The time of the Westphalian treaty synchronises with the revolt in England--a revolt which we have seen to be fostered out of mere pique by the vulpine Richelieu; a Churchman plotting royal murder, taught by Rome's consent that regicide was God's service, when a king (Henri III.) stood in her way; and when the Church once corrupted herself, baptizing her St. Bartholomew whose emblem was a knife, in blood, she absolved Paris, [cité au glaive, i. 182] who in midsummer madness stained her kennels red. The example of Whitehall--in re-enactment before the Tuilleries (vin et sel a l'envers), with force and wisdom converted into violence and democratic sensibility,--next turned Paris rouge, and the blood carnation burst into bloom at every street corner.
"When nations are to perish in their sins,
'Tis in the Church the leprosy begins;"
says the wise, mild, thoughtful, but much underrated bard, Cowper, who has done Gilpin inimitably, and Homer better than anybody else, by a long way.
LOSS OF DE LA FERRIÈRE'S SQUADRON (1655). [I. 121.]
Century III.--Quatrain 87.
Approach not Corsica, thou fleet of France,
Nor yet Sardinia, lest thou rue the chance:
For ye no headland aids, ye all shall die,
The captive drown, for unbelieved am I.
M. le Pelletier tells us of a French squadron, commanded by the Chevalier de la Ferrière in 1655, that foundered in the Gulf of Lyons in coasting Corsica and Sardinia. All hands perished: they did not, he says, pass Cape Pourceau. He points out that Grogne is the synonym of Pourceau, which is a cape with a little port in the Mediterranean. This may have more to support it than appears at first sight, but I think it much simpler to take it for what it says. Grogne is the same as Groin, cape, or headland which runs out into the sea. In other words: nothing will put off to you from the headland where you founder; there will you all be drowned; for what the better will your master pilot be for this advertisement of mine? Jean de Rian was this master pilot, and Le Captif was his nickname, as he had been a slave.
Though perfectly useless for interpretation, Garencières makes annotations on this quatrain, that have an interest of their own. He takes the fulfilment to have been in 1555, just about the time when the quatrains were copied out for presentation to Henri II. But he remarks that Greigne, which is the word in his reading, signifies galley in the Provençal language, which was that of Nostradamus by his mother's side; and this makes very good sense: "they shall all founder without a galley putting out to them from the shore."
Of course Garencières knows nothing about Jean de Rian, or the curious precision with which Nostradamus gives us his nickname Captif; but he appends to his "Poor prisoner, thou shalt not believe me" the following comment that is worth recording, as it may furnish a link to some inquiry in the future:
"We find in this work many examples of those who went to consult with the author concerning the success of their undertakings, as did the Earl of Sommerive, before the besieging of Bagnole; to whom he answered, that he should leave the trees loaded with a new kind of fruit, that is to say, the rebels, whom he caused to be hanged on the trees."
FORTIFICATIONS OF VAUBAN AND THE CANAL OF LANGUENDOC
(1659-1666). [I. 122.]
Century IX.--Quatrain 93.
When the enemy are driven from French soil,
And earthworks or bastions are brought by carts;
When the walls of Bourges have crumbled by time,
Then will Æmathion undertake a work of Hercules.
When the peace of the Pyrenees, concluded with Spain in 1659, had removed the enemy from the French frontiers, and Vauban had invented earthworks: at least so says Le Pelletier; Nostradamus only says he used them. Moreri tells us that the castle of Grosse Tour at Bourges was not repaired by Louis XIV., and was already partly ruined in 1651. This line seems to be a whimsical, but special announcement of the fact. Then Æmathion, or Louis XIV., will undertake the Herculean labour of constructing the Canal of Languedoc, which opened the Mediterranean to the ocean. It was begun by Paul Riquet in 1666, and terminated in 1681. It cost thirty-four million francs. It is said that when Vauban visited it he gave some useful hints that were acted upon with advantage. Vauban, like Turenne, was a glory, not to France, but to mankind. He was truly great, for he despised riches, and loved truth to indiscretion; yet his life shows that in judgment he much excelled those who loved truth less.
PEACE OF THE PYRENEES (NOVEMBER 7, 1659). [I. 123.]
Century X.--Quatrain 58.
When the court of France shall be in mourning, the cat-like monarch shall make war against the young Æmathien. France will stagger; the bark of St. Peter be in danger. Marseilles will be taken. Two great personages will meet in the West of France.
More at large this may be read, that at the death of Louis XIII., when the French Court is in mourning, shrewd Philip IV. of Spain will make war on the boy King. France will be greatly shaken (1648-1653) by the civil war of the Fronde, whilst Rome will be endangered by the growth of Jansenism. This is Le Pelletier's version. Garencières says that Paris is signified, as she carries a ship represented in her arms. The 2nd of March, 1660, Louis XIV. enters Phocea or Marseilles by a breach, after which it submits to him. He then hurries to the west of the Isle of Conference on the Bidassoa, and there concludes the peace of the Pyrenees with Philip IV., and marries his daughter, the infanta Maria Theresa, of Austria.
THE EXPEDITION TO IRELAND IN SUPPORT OF JAMES II. (1689-1691). [I. 125.]
Century II.--Quatrain 68.
Ireland, on the north of England, shall make great efforts. The door of the ocean shall be opened to the fleets of France; the kingdom in the island of Ireland shall be set up again; London shall tremble at the discovery of sails.
When William III., in 1688, shall have established himself on the throne, when James II. absconded; Ireland will still be a stronghold, and the French fleets, commanded by Chateau Renaud and Tourville, will convoy the King to Ireland, in spite of the combined fleets of England and Holland, in 1689-1690. They will become masters of the sea, and London will for a moment tremble before the
fleets of Louis XIV. This is Le Pelletier's statement. After the fight off Beachy Head on June 30, 1690, it seems to have been pretty much as he relates; for Smollett's account (ed. 1822, i. 93) is that;
"Torrington retreated without further interruption into the mouth of the Thames; and, having taken precautions against any attempts of the enemy in that quarter, returned to London, the inhabitants of which were overwhelmed with consternation."
There is a most remarkable passage in the work of M. Bouys on this quatrain. He professes to apply it to the coming victory that was to confer on Napoleon the coveted command of the seas, saying that you need not always wait until after the event to interpret Nostradamus. His own conduct, however, in this very instance does but enforce the rule. He pretends not to know anything of the fulfilment in 1689-1690. In furtherance of the same view he cites Century VIII., Quatrain 37:
La forteresse auprès de la Thamise
Cherra pour lors le roi dedans serré,
Auprès du pont sera vu en chemise,
Un devant mort, puis dans le fort barré.
The word cherra presents the only difficulty here as to the mere words. It is the future of the verb choir, tomber, to fall. Of the prophecy I know of no interpretation. Garencières significantly quotes Dan. iv. 10: "The dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies."
WAR OF THE CAMISARDS (1702-1704). [I. 126.]
Century IX.--Quatrain 38.
L'entrée de Blaye par Rochelle et l'Anglois,
Passera outre le grand Æmathien:
Non loin d'Agen attendra le Gaulois,
Secours Narbonne deceu par entretien.
The great Æmathion shall pass out of the Garonne at Blaye, the seaport of Bordeaux, no longer impeded by Rochelle and the English; the Camisards shall look for aid from their co-religionists on the side of Agen and Narbonne, but will be disappointed by an arrangement.
Louis XIV. shall pass out by the Pâté de Blaye, a fort of that name, built by him in 1689 to command the entrance of the Gironde against the English and the Protestants of Rochelle. The Camisards in revolt in the Cévennes (les Gaulois) will wait at Agens and Narbonne for promised help, but quite in vain, after the submission of Jean Cavalier (1704) to Marshal Villars, at a Conference held at Nîmes. Louis XIV. was so beset by the enemies of France that he sent the Marshal into Languedoc to pacify the districts he despaired of subduing by force.
In this quatrain, Garencières shows that there is some analogy between Æmathien, which we are quite sure is Louis XIV. from the frequency of the application to him. and the country of Macedon, so-called, where Cæsar and Pompey fought their last battle in the field of Pharsalia; and he quotes Lucan's line--
Bella per Æmathios plus quam civilia campos.
It is very probable that line was in the mind of Nostradamus at the moment.
WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION (1701-1713). [I. 127.]
Century IV.--Quatrain 2.
Par mort la France prendra voyage à faire,
Classe 1 par mer, marcher Incurs Pyrenées,
Espaigne en trouble, marcher gent militaire;
Des plus grands Dames en France emmenées.
By reason of a death, France shall, undertake a foreign expedition. The p. 142 fleet will go by sea, the troops will cross the Pyrenees. Spain in trouble will march her military forces, because great ladies have migrated to France.
Philip V., grandson of Louis le Grand, by will of Charles II., will ascend the Spanish throne. But Austria, England, Holland, Prussia, Portugal, and Savoy will coalesce to support the pretensions of the Archduke Charles. The fleets of France will put to sea, her armies will cross the Pyrenees. Spain, in two camps, will be trampled by troops in every direction: all springing out of Bourbon marriages with the two Infantas; one, daughter of Philip III. married to Louis XIII., the other, a daughter of Philip IV., married to Louis XIV. This war lasted twelve years, and was disastrous to France. Philip V. found himself chased from Spain by the Austrians. By the Peace of Utrecht, 1713, the Spanish monarchy was dismembered, and some of his earlier conquests were snatched from Louis XIV.
OVERTHROW OF PHILIP V., grandson of Louis XIV. (1706). [I. 129.]
Century IX.--Quatrain 64.
The Æmathion is to pass the Pyrenean Mount;
In Narbo Martius no resistance shows;
By sea and land are greatest efforts made;
The Capet holds no foot of land is safe.
Louis XIV. will leap the Pyrenees, and will treat (as we have before seen) with the Camisards of Narbonne. He
will make desperate efforts by sea and land. But the Capetian, his grandson, Philip V., will be driven out of Spain by the Imperial forces, and not retain a foot of soil on which to live.
In all these passages of history, quite detached as they seem to be, we find analogies springing up at all points: Æmathion the Macedonian, and Louis le Grand; the Spanish succession which came up again in Louis Philippe's time, even to uniting the very two names of Louis XIV. and his grandson Philip V. in his own baptismal one. Louis wished to expel a Charles, and Louis Philippe actually expelled Charles X. Leibnitz made an express journey to Paris to persuade Louis XIV. to undertake a grand expedition against Egypt. Napoleon, the next Æmathion or Apollon leading France to mischief, was thrust into an Egyptian expedition, and entered into a desperate Spanish war to follow, that crippled France again. History repeats itself, they say. It seems at every turn to be perpetually engaged in a process of replaiting its old lines and once-discarded threads.
132:1 Added to the text in the edition of 1605.
132:2 Paux, plural of pal, pieu, a term of blazonry, stake.
132:3 Read cors, horns.
133:1 Æmathien, or Emathion, Le Pelletier says, son of Cephalus and Aurora, who opened the gates of the morning to the sun. I do not find this account of him anywhere. Cephalus is the chaste Joseph of mythology, tempted by Aurora. But Hesiod makes him father of Phaeton by her. Possibly M. le Pelletier has mistaken Emathion for Phaeton. Generally. Emathion is reckoned as son of Titan and Aurora, and a King of Macedonia. His connection in some way however with the sun is certain, and this suffices for the use made of his name by Nostradamus. Ἠμαθιων is given by Suidas as a proper name. Now, Ἠμάθιος is daily, with but the change of one letter. Further than this Ἠμάθιος is Macedonian, and Alexander is called Emathius dux, as in Milton, "the Emathian conqueror bid spare;" implying that Louis le Grand should be a counterpart to Alexander the Great, an impostor who also pretended birth from Apollo. By which flight of ambition he bastardized himself by choice, dishonoured his mother, and put his father outside the door. Shakespeare says, "By this sin fell the angels;" but a too prosperous fool seems equally ready to annihilate himself by it, and all belonging to him, of his own act.
133:2 Latin, per, through.
133:3 Romance, emmy, entre, between.
133:4 Phi, for Philip.
136:1 Latin, classis, fleet.
136:2 Carseque, Romance for Corsica.
137:1 Romance, esgrongné, or esgruné, pulverised.
137:2 Turn this; when Æmathion shall build Hercules.
138:1 Latin, felinus, like a cat.
138:2 La barque of St. Peter, the Holy Seat, Rome.
138:3 Latin, tentare, to assail.
138:4 Phocen is another reading. Marseilles, founded by the Phocians, A.C. 660.
138:5 Old word for west, or sundown.
139:1 Latin, per, because of.
139:2 Voiles, for vessels.
141:1 Latin, classis, fleet.
142:1 Latin, Narbo Martius, Narbonne, in the department de l'Aude, said to be so called from its founder Martius. [See p. 140, ix. 38.]
142:2 Romance, si, very.
142:3 Cap, for Capet.