Michel de Nostradame was born in France on 14th December 1503. A practicing physician, astronomer, astrologer and reputed āseerā he would famously become known by his Latin name, Nostradamus.
His rise to popularity came following the publication of his Almanac in 1550, a collection of 12 predictions, one for each month of the year. During his lifetime his credibility attracted the attention of Catherine DāMedici, the Queen of France who appointed him the physician of the royal court. Nostradamus is best known today for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies) published in 1555, which is still the subject of much debate.
Since its publication, the book has rarely been out of print and has led to numerous speculations from scholars and popular press the world over. Enthusiasts credit Nostradamus with correctly predicting major world events such as the rise and fall of Hitler, The Great Fire of London and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Some even claim his prophecies point towards the end of the world. Sceptics refute these claims as misinterpretations. Either way, the mystery surrounding Nostradamus and his quatrains cannot be denied.
Michel de Nostradame, more commonly known by his Latin name, Nostradamus, was born to Jewish parents on December 14, 1503, in St. Remy de Provence. When he was nine, the family converted to Catholicism in order to avoid persecution from the Spanish Inquisition, something which Nostradamus was mindful of throughout his life as a āheretic,ā despite appearing to practice as a devout catholic.
The oldest of four brothers Nostradamus was educated at Avignon where he was considered a child prodigy. At home he was schooled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Maths and Astrology by his grandfather, Jean de Nostradame. Nostradamus went on to attend Montpeillier University to study as a doctor and after obtaining a bachelor degree in Medicine he travelled round the countryside in the south of France treating impoverished victims of the black plague.
Even in the early stages of his career, Nostradamus had ideas that strayed from orthodox practices. He refused to cut patients or treat them with leeches ā a common practice at the time ā instead insisting the best cure was to allow patients water, air and clean bedding. After four years in the countryside he returned to Montpeillier to complete his doctorate, but due to his rebellious methods was expelled.
He then turned his attention to practicing medicine in Toulouse where he received a letter from Julius-Cesar Scaliger, a philosopher considered second only to Erasmus. Scaliger invited him to stay at his home in Agen where he mentored Nostradamus in metaphysics and esoteric studies. It was a happy time for the future prophet, epitomised by his marriage to an attractive and wealthy French girl in 1534. Her identity is unknown though some of speculated it was Henriette DāEncausse. With his wife he fathered a son and a daughter, but after three years of marriage his family ironically fell victim to bubonic plague. Despite his exposure to Black Death in the early days of his medicinal career, Nostradamus was unable to save his young family from the disease and they all died.
Nostradamus sunk into a deep depression and spent the next six years wandering through France and Italy. Little is known of him bout this period of his life though it was during this time of the ādark night of the soulā that Nostradamus nurtured his prophetic gift. Shortly afterwards the dawn of his now legendary ability would rise.
Whilst he was in Italy, Nostradamus encountered a group of Franciscan monks. As they passed the Frenchman gasped and threw himself to the ground, bowing his head and clutching at the habit of a monk by the name of Felice Peretti. Coming from a lowly standing, the former swine herder questioned Nostradamus why he behaved in such an unusual way. The psychic replied: āI must yield myself and bow before his Holiness.ā In 1585, 19 years after the death of Nostradamus, Peretti became Pope Sixtus V.
In 1547, Nostradamus settled in Salon de Provence, a small humble town in the Rhone region of southern France. It was here that he met and married Anne Ponsart Gemelle, a rich widow with whom he fathered a son they named Cesar after his former mentor in Italy. It was during his time in Salon that Nostradamus began to seriously practice metaphysics and further develop his psychic ability. He spent much of his time studying Egyptian and Alexandrian black magic and was greatly influenced by āDe Mysteriis Egyptorium,ā written by an ancient scholar from the Temple of Athena. It was from these readings that Nostradamus learned the techniques of communicating with the souls of spirits. In 1550, he published his first metaphysical records and produced an annual Almanac which contained
12 prophecies, one for each month of the year. Five years later he published the first of ten books, āLes Propheties.ā The volumes contained predictions from his own time until and predicts the end of the world in the future.
To enter the spirit world Nostradamus would go into a trance. One such method of inducing prophetic visions was taken from the ancient pagan art known as scrying; staring into a flame or a bowl of steaming water dowsed with pungent oils and spices. He would then consume nutmeg, a mild hallucogen which allowed him to travel into a hypnotic trance. Another form was a ritualistic practice associated with the Delphic priestess, Branchus, a soothsayer from the famed Oracle of Delphi in Greece. Sitting on a brass tripod stool, the legs of which were aligned to the exact angles of the Great Pyramids of Giza, he was able to create an electromagnetic energy that enabled him to pass from the material world into supernatural dimensions.
Nostradamusā predictions were to give him a sudden rise to fame and on July 14th, 1556 his credibility attracted the attention of Catherine de Medici. He was appointed court physician and asked to read horoscopes for the seven royal children. Nostradamus confided in the Queen his vision of the death of her husband, King Henry II of France and warned the King not to duel in his 41st year. His vision would come true when in 1559 at the age of 40, Henry died after a lance pierced his eye during a jousting contest held to celebrate the marriage of his daughter to King Philip II of Spain.
Other than a brief period in 1554 when he settled in Marseille, Nostradamus spent the remainder of his days in Salon. A renovated version of his house on the Place de la Poissonnerie can be visited today. The end came after the Frenchman developed gout which turned into a fatal form of dropsy. On July 1st 1566, Nostradamus sent for the local priest to read him his last rites. Before the priest left him that night, Nostradamus said it would be the last time anyone would see him alive. As he himself had predicted his limp body was found the next morning.
His wife carried out his last wishes and entombed his body upright in a wall of the Church of the Cordeliers and erected a marble plaque to celebrate his memory. His resting place became a pilgrimage and he remained there undisturbed for almost 150 years when in 1700 city officials decided to move this body to a more prominent position in the church. Whilst the tomb was open they couldnāt resist taking a look inside. Around the neck of the skeleton was a medallion inscribed with the date 1700.
In 1791, during the French Revolution ā another historic event predicted by Nostradamus ā drunken soldiers broke into the church and desecrated the great manās tomb. One soldier is said to have drunk from the skeletons skull in the hope the psychic powers of Nostradamus would pass to him. In battle the following day the soldier met a violent end when he was hit by a snipers bullet ā just as Nostradamus had predicted:
The man who opens the tomb when it is found
And who does not close it immediately,
Evil will come to him
That no one will be able to prove.
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