The Most Disturbing Nostradamus Predictions That Came True

Michel de Nostredame — aka Nostradamus — is without a doubt history's most well-known prognosticator. Some folks think that his "prophecies" are a bunch of bull, while others are true believers who swear by his every word. But for the purpose of this article let's be clear: When we talk about any of Nostradamus' predictions coming true — "prediction" and "true" placed in giant parentheses — we're not saying that everyone's favorite black hat-wearing Frenchman actually predicted anything. 

Nostradamus' 1555 book, "Les Prophéties" ("The Prophecies") is a work of poetry containing 942 quatrains, or four-line poems. These stanzas are transcriptions of apparent visions that Nostradamus beheld while starring into a bowl of herb-filled water. Most of the poems are vague enough to mean practically anything, like 2021's dire-sounding but ultimately empty, "The Great Mover renews the ages: / Rain, blood, milk, famine, steel, and plague." It's evocative and makes for good death metal lyrics, but without the application of some imagination on our part, it only means what people think it means. 

Sometimes, however, certain historical events do seem to line up with Nostradamus' poetry better than others — at least when we get more specific than "blood" and "plague." Such events come across as curiously on the nose, and are always of the doom and gloom variety. They include the Great Fire of London, the rise of Adolf Hitler, the World War II bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the assassination of JFK, and the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

The Great Fire of London

The Great Fire of London in 1666 consumed an astonishing 13,200 houses and 87 churches, displacing thousands. Many died from exposure the following winter. In total, four-fifths of the entire city burned to ash. The blaze altered the landscape of London forever, as the city took nearly 30 years to be rebuilt and reshaped. Ridiculously so, the fire started in a baker's shop, and the owner was unable to extinguish the flames. There was no organized firefighting force in London at the time, and by 1:00 a.m. on September 3 his home was consumed by a blaze that spread throughout the entire city. Strong winds blew it toward the River Thames where it lit up warehouses of combustible items that fueled the fire further. 

Out of all Nostradamus' apparently true prophecies, this one wins the prize for the most accurate. Besides describing what happened in the Great Fire of London, the prophecy cites the exact year Nostradamus seemingly foresaw it happening: "The blood of the just will be lacking in London, / Burnt up in the fire of '66: / The ancient Lady will topple from her high place, / Many of the same sect will be killed." Granted, only certain parts of this prophecy — the specific ones — add up, like "London," "fire," and "66." Some suggest that the "blood of the just" refers to the Black Death-carrying rats that got wiped out in the fire. However, it's unclear who the "ancient Lady" is, although "the same sect" sounds obviously religious.

The rise of Adolf Hitler

Our next item on the list highlights the rise of one of history's most well-known and well-despised dictators: Adolf Hitler. Hitler came to power in the years between World War I and World War II during Germany's very short-lived Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933). The country was reeling from its defeat during World War I and subsequent humiliation at the Treaty of Versailles, when the nation was saddled with so much war reparations that it took 92 years to pay it off. The Great Depression spread out from the United States and hit Germany at a vulnerable time — a time perfect for a charismatic, powerful orator to rise to power.

On that note, Nostradamus' Hitler-related prophecy reads as follows: "From the depths of the West of Europe, / A young child will be born of poor people, / He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop; / His fame will increase towards the realm of the East." Each point of the prophecy fits: Yes, Hitler came from a poor family in Western Europe. Yes, he wrangled Germany with the power of words. And yes, he first directed Nazi military power toward Poland in the east. While Nostradamus' lines are still vague enough to not necessarily point only to Hitler, there's enough specificity to make this bit of poetic prophecy seem true.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Our next item also relates to World War II, particularly its cataclysmic, murderous denouement: The U.S. atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively. As World War II drew to a close and Japanese resistance to Allied powers showed no sign of waning, the U.S. and its J. Robert Oppenheimer-led Manhattan Project developed a weapon to end all weapons, and possibly the world itself. Rather than invade the Japanese mainland and prolong World War II further, the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the end, nearly a quarter-of-a-million Japanese citizens and soldiers died from a combination of the initial blasts and fallout-related radiation sickness and cancer.

Nostradamus' prophecy about these events reads: "The heavenly dart will stretch its course / Death in the speaking: a great achievement / The proud nation brought low by the stone in the tree / Rumors of a monstrous human bring purge, then expiation." This prophecy does come across as a bit creepy if we assume it's talking about World War II's atomic bomb attacks. The "heavenly dart" is the bomb, death was indeed the "great achievement" (if we could call it that), and Japan was a "proud nation." The "stone in the tree" part is odd, and could maybe refer to uranium. The "monstrous human" might be none other than Oppenheimer, whose regret about the Manhattan Project stands as a powerful moment in history.

The assassination of JFK

The November 22, 1963 assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy Jr. stunned the U.S. and stands as a crucial historical milestone in the nation's 20th-century history. As the well-tread tale goes, JFK was sitting next to his wife Jacqueline in a convertible in a motorcade near Dealey Plaza in Dallas ahead of his presidential reelection campaign. Around 12:30 p.m. gunfire rang out as the president's car passed the Texas School Book Depository. JFK was hit in the head and neck and pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m. That same day police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination, and he too was shot and assassinated two days later on November 24 by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

The Nostradamus prophecy related to the events of JFK's assassination reads: "The ancient task will be completed / From on high, evil will fall on the great man / A dead innocent will be accused of the deed / The guilty one will remain in the mist." Despite the lack of any proper nouns, specific regions, etc., the prophecy fits well — at least if we believe the more conspiratorial version of JFK's assassination. Namely, that Lee Harvey Oswald was indeed the "patsy" he claimed to be, and the real killer remained alive and unknown. The first bit of the prophecy — "ancient task," "evil," "great man," etc. — is generic and vague unless we take "on high" to mean the sniping height from which JFK was shot, or the governmental heights that conspired to assassinate him. 

The 9/11 terrorist attacks

Finally, we've got Nostradamus' prophecy regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the former World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the World Trade Center's North Tower in New York City. At 9:03 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 flew into the World Trade Center's South Tower. At 9:37 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. The nearly 3,000 lost lives on that day marked the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. Of equal importance was the fallout to the event, which shaped the course of U.S. domestic and foreign policy from that point forward, and in no small way altered the course of global history.  

Out of all of Nostradamus' supposedly accurate prophecies, this one might be the vaguest. It sounds like the 9/11 terrorist attacks if we go into the quatrain expecting to see it, but if we do, it sounds spot on. The lines read: "The sky will burn at forty-five degrees. / Fire approaches the great new city. / By fire, he will destroy their city, / A cold and cruel heart, blood will pour. / Mercy to none." Some parts of the prophecy are clear, like high temperatures, a great city, fire and blood (Nostradamus favorites), etc. The "he" in the prophecy could refer to none other than Osama bin Laden, the head of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda who orchestrated the 9/11 attack. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military operation on May 2, 2011.