Michel de Nostredame (1503-66), later known as Nostradamus, was one of the leading lights of the late French Renaissance. A Jewish-French contemporary of Paracelsus and England's Dr John Dee, he was (from 1530) at medical college with Rabelais and much admired by the poet Ronsard. As a physician he came to specialise in the Plague, on which he was recognised as one of the foremost experts: in his 'Traité des fardemens', though, (see below) he frankly admits that none of his cures actually had much effect on the disease - not even the bleeding that some commentators insist that he never used.
He was also famed as a mathematician and astrologer. On his semi-retirement in around 1550 he turned to writing. Apart from a highly popular cookbook (actually, a 'Treatise on Cosmetics and Conserves') and a number of academic works, his main fields were astrology (with which, as a contemporary doctor, he was of course already fully conversant) and prophecy.
This brought him into great public prominence, and he became particularly influential at the French court. He also invested heavily in local public works - notably the irrigation of the vast Plaine de la Crau just to the west of his adopted home-town of Salon-de-Provence, a scheme whose results (like his house in the town) can still be seen today. Twice married, he had two children by his first wife Henriette d'Encausse (all three died) and six by his second.
Biography by Peter Lemesurier.
What you are about to read in this link is an objective examination of the practices and prophecies of Nostradamus. The reader is encouraged to lay down all preconceived biased opinions and consider only the facts. Truth based on the evidence should be your only consideration when evaluating this man and his ability to foretell events. The following quotes come from the book entitled, The Prophecies of Nostradamus by Erika Cheetham published by G. P. Putnam's Sons of New York, New York, copyrighted in 1973.
Permission to reproduce this article is hereby granted, but only in its entirety, including author's name and ministry address at the end of the article, and without any alterations.
MAGICIAN, SEER OR CHARLATAN?
Nostradamus was born in the Provencal city of St Remy on 14 December 1503 to a family of Jewish origin, albeit Catholic converts. According to one tradition his father's ancestors were eminent physicians, renowned for their learning, although there is hard evidence that many of the seer's direct forebears were Jewish traders in the papal enclave of Avignon. This fact does not entirely disprove the tradition, however, for there were plenty of quite humble Jewish trading families in 16th-century Europe who were collaterally or directly descended from learned rabbis, physicians and philosophers and the family of the prophet may have been one of these.
What is certain is that whatever his ancestry may have been, Nostradamus was an intelligent child who by the time he had reached puberty had mastered the rudiments of Greek, Latin and mathematics and had been sent away to study in Avignon.
In 1522, when he was 18 years old, Nostradamus left Avignon and was sent to Montpellier to study medicine. After three years, at the age of only 21, he received a licence to practise the healing art and for some years was a wanderer, specializing in the treatment of what was termed le charbon, a disease which was probably a variant of either bubonic or pneumonic plague.
He would seem to have been much more successful in treating victims of le charbon than most of his medical contemporaries. This was probably not because of any great virtue in the remedies he used in therapy, the formulae of some of which have survived. One of them, for instance, was compounded of rose petals, cloves, lignum aloes and the dried and powdered roots of iris and sweet flag. It could not have harmed his patients but it is unlikely that it did them any good; he more probably owed his success to the fact that he was opposed to the use of most of the violent--treatments then in vogue--bloodletting and the use of violent purgatives, for instance--all of which tended to reduce rather than increase the patient's chances of survival.
It was almost certainly during his years as a wandering physician that Nostradamus began to acquire a knowledge of some of the ancient techniques of prediction that he was later to use in order to tear aside the veils of time and look into the future. However, there is no need to assume, as some have done, that because of his abilities as a prophet Nostradamus was years ahead of his time as a medical practitioner. As far as one can tell, most of the mixtures he prescribed for his patients were quite as odd as any of the remedies commonly practiced at the time.
Take, for example, the ointment with which he claimed to have cured the Bishop of Carcassonne of a number of maladies. Its ingredients included powdered coral, lapis lazuli and gold beaten to sheets of such thinness that they were translucent; it could have done no great harm but it is difficult to believe that such a mixture did, as Nostradamus subsequently claimed, 'rejuvenate the person ... preserve from headaches and constipation ... and will augment the sperm in such abundance that a man can do as he will without damaging his health.' There was a distinct element of charlatanry in this claim but, as will be shown in this book, while Nostradamus may sometimes have aped the charlatan he was also an authentic prophet and a practicing magician.
NOSTRADAMUS AND THE VIRGIN
After his death, Nostradamus seems to have acquired a reputation as a man who had a sense of humour as well as the ability to perceive what was happening in places separated from him in time and space. Within just a few years of his death, for instance, it was asserted that one day he saw a demure young girl walking towards a locality where the adolescents of Salon were accustomed to meet one another. 'Bonjour pucelle (Good morning, maiden),' said the seer; 'Bonjour, Monsieur Nostredame,' replied the girl with a polite curtsey.
An hour later he encountered her once more, still looking as demure as ever. She curtseyed again and repeated: 'Bonjour, Monsieur Nostredame'--to which the seer responded with a smile and the words 'Bonjour petite femme (Good morning, grown up little woman).'
This and similar stories can safely be dismissed as fiction, but their very existence is an indication of the prophet's reputation for being a man capable of freeing himself from the bonds of everyday existence and discerning the hidden realities that lurk beneath outward appearances. This reputation would appear to have been well justified for, as will be demonstrated on numerous subsequent pages, many of his predictions--some of them including both names and implied or actual dates for specific events--have been fulfilled to the very letter.
NOSTRADAMUS THE ASTROLOGER
For a time Nostradamus abandoned his wandering life, married and settled down in the town of Agen, but he soon began to encounter both ill fortune and personal tragedies. His wife and two children died of plague, his dead wife's family sued him for the return of her dowry and, worst of all, in 1538 he fell under suspicion of heresy because of an observation he had made to someone engaged in casting a bronze image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He had remarked that the man was 'casting the statue of a devil'--an unfortunate statement, but one which, he insisted, was only intended as a judgement on the artistic merit of the work.
These events led to Nostradamus resuming the life of a wandering physician. Little definite is known of his activities over the next few years until 1544, by which date he was in Marseilles, although there is some evidence that he had previously travelled in Lombardy, in the territories under Venetian rule, and in Sicily.
In 1546 he was invited to Aix, where the plague had broken out in such a virulent form that, so it was said, women attacked by the first symptoms of the disease sewed themselves into shrouds so that their naked corpses would not be on public view when they were carted through the city on their way to the communal burial pits. It would seem that a surprisingly high proportion of Nostradamus's patients recovered and that the grateful citizens of Aix voted him a pension. Nevertheless, he soon moved to Salon de Craux--hence the frequent literary references to him as 'the seer of Salon'--where he married a second wife who bore him a number of children.
Soon after his move to Salon he was summoned to Lyons to help treat the victims of what has been described as an outbreak of a particularly virulent form of whooping cough but was more likely to have been an epidemic of bubonic plague. For some reason his good reputation as a physician declined amongst the citizens of Salon during his absence and it was this, according to one 19th-century source, that induced him to commence a serious study of astrology and other of the occult sciences.
I am somewhat sceptical of this claim, think that it is likely that Nostradamus's concern with matters esoteric commenced at a much earlier period of his life. In relation to this it is interesting to note that Theophile de Garencieres, a 17th-century student of the life and prophecies of Nostradamus, asserted that the seer took up the serious study of astrology because he was convinced that a truly competent physician had need of some knowledge of it--in which case his practical acquaintance with ancient predictive and other occult techniques may have begun when he was not much more than 18 years old.
Whatever the truth of the matter may have been, it is certain that from 1550 Nostradamus was issuing annual almanacs containing a considerable amount of astrological material and that these enjoyed a surprisingly wide circulation; one of them seems to have been published in English translation as the Almanacke For 1559 almost as soon as its French original.
In 1555 Nostradamus published the first edition of the Centuries, which contained less than 400 quatrains. It attracted wide attention, though some thought its author must be either an impostor or a madman. However, it really made its mark four years later with what was widely regarded as an accurate prediction of the accidental death of King Henri II of France an event that took place in the summer of 1559.
From that time onward the seer's reputation as a true prophet steadily grew, and by 1566. when he died (probably of kidney failure resulting from a diseased heart), his fame fully justified the inscription carved upon his memorial:
Here lie the bones of the illustrious Michael Nostradamus, whose near divine pen was alone, in the judgement of all mortals, worthy to record under the inspiration of the stars, the future events of the whole world ... Posterity, invade not his rest ...
Nostradamus certainly did practise astrology and his memorialist claimed that he recorded the future 'under the inspiration of the stars'. However, there is no doubt at all that most of the predictions made in the Centuries--both those that have already been fulfilled and those that appear to prophesy a bloody age of force and fire which is close upon us -- were arrived at by methods other than astrology. More is said of these powerful (and perhaps perilous).
The forty-second quatrain of Nostradamus's Century I is of major importance in relation to the nature of the methods used by the seer in order to look down the long vistas of time.
One line of the same quatrain is significant in quite another way: it is evidence that Nostradamus knew of coming events long before they happened. In translation, this line reads, 'The tenth day of the Gothic Calends of April'.
This dating seems simple enough--yet it demonstrates beyond any doubt that the seer was aware of a coming reform of the Christian calendar which did not even begin until 16 years after his death and is still not quite completed.
Nostradamus's use of the word 'Calends' was derived from antiquity. In the Roman calendar the 'Calends of April' was the first of April, 'Calends' simply meaning the first day of any month. So by the phrase 'the tenth day of the ... Calends of April' Nostradamus meant 10 April, but by qualifying the words with the adjective 'Gothic' he was stating that the date he had in mind was one which 'Goths' called the tenth day of April but was not the true 10 April.
But whom did Nostradamus mean to indicate by his reference to 'Goths', and what was so peculiar about their calendar that they got the days of the month wrong?
What seems certain to be the right answer to this question was given more than 300 years ago by Theophile de Garencieres in The True Prophecies or Prognostications of Michel Nostradamus (1672). De Garencieres pointed out that the Julian calendar, which was in general use throughout Christendom during the lifetime of Nostradamus, ran slightly fast--it contained the occasional leap year too many. Over the centuries the cumulative error had steadily grown until by the 16th century the calendar that was used by all Christians was 10 days behind the true, solar calendar. For instance, what the Julian calendar called midsummer day (i.e. the longest day of the year) was actually 10 days after what was in reality the longest day.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar by the simple expedient of adding 10 days to the nominal date and arranging that in future an occasional leap year should be omitted. The reform was quickly adopted by the Catholic states of Europe, but the largely Protestant peoples of northern Europe, the 'Goths', meaning non-Latins, retained the old and incorrect Julian calendar until much later. Indeed, at the time that de Garencieres published his book England had not yet accepted the Gregorian calendar, which the English seem to have thought of as an unpleasant Papistical innovation, and was not to do so until 80 years later.
The 'Goths' who ruled Czarist Russia (in the 16th century the word Goth was often used as a term for any Christian barbarian) were even more conservative than the English, and Russia did not abandon the Julian calendar until after the 1917 revolution. (The Orthodox and monophysite churches of the world still cling to the inaccurate Julian calendar, which the passage of time has now made no less than 13 days slow.)
A lucky guess on Nostradamus's part? Perhaps. After all, the quatrain contained no names (such as that of Pope Gregory) relevant to the reform nor any indication of the date at which it might begin to be put into action. In any case, at the time when Nostradamus penned his prediction, suggestions for the reform of the Julian calendar had been around for some time and some of the seer's fellow-seekers after hidden knowledge (such as England's John Dee) were keen supporters of the idea.
Yet no hypotheses concerning chance or lucky guesses would seem to explain other of the predictive hits to be found in quatrains of the Centuries, such as those which do contain specific names--sometimes in anagrammatic or slightly distorted form--or dates. Take, for instance, the sixteenth quatrain of Century IX, which reads:
From Castel [i.e. Castille, Spain]
Franco will bring out the Assembly,
The Ambassadors will not agree and cause splitting,
The people of Ribiere will be in the crowd,
And the great man will be denied entry to the Gulf.
This quatrain contains references to two names, Franco and Ribiere, which are relevant to its content. It seems to refer to the diplomatic differences which arose in 1940 between Adolf Hitler and the Spanish dictator, General Franco, and denied 'the great man', Hitler, entry to the Gulf--in this context, control of the Straits of Gibraltar.
What of the mysterious person whom Nostradamus referred to as 'Ribiere'? He cannot be identified with complete certainty, but his name bears a resemblance to that of the murdered founder of Spanish fascism, Jose Primo de Rivera--whose 'people', leading officials of the Falange Party, were certainly 'amongst the crowd' at the time of the unsuccessful negotiations held between Hitler and Franco.
Chapter from the Book: Nostradamus Prophecies Fulfilled and Predictions for the Millennium and Beyond By: Francis X. King Stephen Skinner
The really interesting stuff is the Centuries. This name comes from the fact that each Centurie contains 100 prophetic verses of 4 lines. These verses are called quatrains. Nostradamus wrote 10 Centuries, which are commonly numbered by roman numerals I to X.
Nostradamus specifically said in one of his letters that he does not predict the end of the world. He also stated that his prophesies extend out several thousand years, which is far beyond the present age. The perception that there are more bad events than ever before may also be an artifact of observation. There have always been fires, earthquakes, genocide, wars, etc. It's just that CNN has not been around until recently.
There is a lot of discussion as to who Mabus is. Currently the best three guesses are Saddam, Rabin, or the current (early 1996) U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raymond Mabus. Only time will tell if any of the aforementioned people are THE Mabus that Nostradamus refers to.
Some specific events have been predicted for the period 1996-1998 by astrological dating and by the sequence of Popes of the Catholic Church -- see the essay "At 45 Degrees the Sky will Burn" by Goro Adachi available on the internet (see below). Stay tuned to see if the future unfolds as Goro predicts. (This FAQ were written in early 1996).
Another possible explanation for the obscurity of the quatrains has to do with the breadth of Nostradamus' visions. His visions seem to span thousands of years. It was proabably difficult for him to describe 20th and 21st century technology using 16th century French. Also, it is possible that a single quatrain could refer to several events. The incorporation of 'links' to several different events would further increase the obscurity of a quatrain.
Some more reasons that Nostradamus' writings are
difficult to understand and interpret include:
last updated 5/7/96
Author/Editor: Jeffrey Koenke (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Original Author: James Flanagan
Significant Contributions from:
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