Did Nostradamus Predict the End of the World?

Some say World War III and the end of the world were foreseen by Nostradamus

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Nostradamus isn't 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 studied his work believe that Nostradamus has been uncanny in his predictions of some of the most dramatic events of the 20th and previous centuries.

Nostradamus's Predictions for the 21st Century

But what of the 21st century? What, if anything, does Nostradamus have to say about the events of not only this new century but this new millennium? 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, the modern doomsday or Armageddon.​

Some say it's right around the corner, and with the events of September 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

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 said, would continue to stir up anti-American feelings within Islamic nations and 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.

Nostradamus Interpretations and September 11

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 interpreted Nostradamus as saying that even Israel would be defeated in this war led by bin Laden and later Saddam Hussein, both of whom, he said, is the Antichrist. The subsequent deaths of both figures seem to cast doubt upon this prophecy.

The war would go in favor of the Eastern forces (Muslims, China, and Poland) for a while until the Western allies were joined by Russia and were 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.

Even John Hogue, author of "Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies" and considered by many to be one of the world's leading authorities on Nostradamus, agreed that the prophet's writings indicated that next world war would probably begin sometime in the last decade.

Skeptics of Nostradamus

Not everyone takes Nostradamus seriously. James Randi, for instance, doesn't think Nostradamus's predictions are worth the crystal ball he saw them in.

In his book "The Mask of Nostradamus," magic 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 as referring to events once they had taken place, and that it is often the case that Nostradamus's "prophecies" are sought out after a tragic event to see if any of his quatrains fit. 

The events of September 11 are a prime example. No one before September 11 held up a Nostradamus prophecy that warned of the attacks on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon, yet afterward, a few quatrains were said to accurately describe the tragedy. (Some hoaxers even completely fabricated a quatrain or two in the style of Nostradamus.)

However, those who say Nostradamus has predicted World War III, possibly in the near future, is giving us the word ahead of time. If he's wrong, time will tell and we'll be grateful. But if he's right, will enough of civilization be around to celebrate his most dramatic and powerful prophecy of all?