Nostradamus-Prophet or Fraud?

I have read a few of these “quatrains” and I find them totally devoid of any meaning (that I can decipher). My question is, when did people decide that these verses were prophecies of the future? They don’t make any sense at all-perhaps they are coded in some way?
Anyway, Nostradamus was very well regarded during his life-he was (I believe) fairly well off. So we must accept that either:

  1. his prophecies made sense to the people of his time
    OR 2) his verse were not intended to be prophecies; they were instead some kind of political commentary, relevant to his time and place.
    To me, you have to be extraordinarily creative to find anything resembling predictions in this stuff-I mean “Hister” = “Hitler”?? Or identifying Napoleon with this one :”…he raises and depresses the priests like water a sponge”.
    I know that these criticisms are widely known-I’m just wondering if the people of his time were as foolish as today-clearly the “Quatrains’ were meant to mean something, but just what isn’t clear.

This appears to be a question with a factual answer (what was the historical reaction by others to his publications?) rather than a Great Debate, so I am going to pass it over to General Questions. (I don’t think there are many of his believers on the SDMB, so i don’t think there would be much of a debate. You can also check out the Wiki article.)

[ /Moderating ]

C.S. Lewis asserted that logically, Jesus must have been either a madman, a liar, or our Lord. C.S. Lewis was wrong. He overlooked the possibility Jesus was simply mistaken.

Unca Cecil’s column

I think mistaken falls under madman. To make the claims he made and them not to be true, he’d have to be insane.

Doubtless when they first read them in Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus. In other words, they were marketed from the start as prophecies. (Not that this rules out the possibility that they were actually political commentary.)

Here’s a thread on the subject that I found interesting. The OP was pretty well-versed in the original texts.

I had forgotten the earlier thread. As i say, it is strange that contempories of Nostradamus didn’t criticize him more-there is no way that this stuff has any meaning, even if you contort the words and meanings. Or were people entertained by this rubbish, much as people read astrology columns today?

Lewis missed an important fourth possibility:

  • madman
  • liar
  • our Lord
  • grossly misrepresented and misquoted through oral history and selective canonization of records

…any guess which one I subscribe to? :wink:

The earlier thread, Nostradamus, the man who predicted NOTHING! has now been revived in GD [grumble, grumble] so please recall which Forum you are in and post appropriately.

[ /Moderating ]