For four centuries Nostradamus’s prophecies have inspired fear and
controversy. His followers say he predicted the French Revolution, the
birth and rise of Hitler, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Did he,
as his believers claim, predict some of history’s most monumental events –
from the Great Fire of London to the launch disaster of the space shuttle
Challenger? Nostradamus was typical of the Renaissance time period. He made
many prophecies and was a major contributor to not only the Renaissance but
the ‘Spirit of the Renaissance’.
Michel de Nostrodame (or his more used Latin name of Nostradamus) was born
a Jew in the small town of St.Remy de Province in southern France on the
14th of December 1503. Little is known about Nostradamus’s family apart
from Jean his youngest brother became Procurer of the Parliament of
As a small boy Nostradamus underwent significant changes in his life. While
Nostradamus was a child his family was forced to convert to Roman
Catholicism. Around this time he was sent to live with his grandfather who
taught him the basics of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Mathematics and Astrology.
A few years later Nostradamus’s grandfather died and he went to Avignon to
finish his schooling. Whilst at Avignon he also believed as did Galileo
that the Earth was round and circled the sun.
Nostradamus used his ability to help people through harsh times and did not
even fear for his own life. In 1525 he received his Bachelor’s degree for
Medicine and went to help the fight against the ‘Black Death’ that was
feared throughout the Renaissance period.
After traveling for almost four years helping the sufferers of the Plague,
he returned to Avignon and won fame for his eagerness for learning which
ties in with the spirit of the Renaissance.
In 1532 he earned his Doctorate and became a Professor at the Montipellier
University but resigned within the same year. He then moved to Agen,
married and had a son and daughter. His life now seemed complete until an
outbreak of the Plague in Agen that killed his wife and children.
In 1538, he was accused of heresy because of a remark about a statue of the
Virgin Mary being like a devil that he had made years before. The
Inquisitors sent him to Toulouse to stand trial.
Leoni, Edgar stated that in 1554 Nostradamus settled in Marseilles after
wandering for six years keeping well clear of the church authorities.
During these time legends started to appear about his foreseeing powers. It
was not until later however that he received his fame with his prophetic
visions of the future – 942 cryptic poems called The Centuries – that have
preoccupied generation after generation of readers.
The Centauries (ten in total) were written in poem like form and contained
hard-to-break codes that were use to stop attention being drawn to him self
as the church authorities could not arrest him for writing in gibberish,
because in that time prophecies were considered as witch craft or devil
work. The Centauries were written by night as not to be seen in 1555.
He eventually settled down in the town of Salon, France in 1554 where he
Married his second wife, Anne Ponsart Gemelle, with whom he rose six
Children – three boys and three girls.
Do these writings actually predict the death of popes, rise of tyrants, and
natural disasters to come? The code in which the prophecies were written
could be comprehended to mean many things, but if the people who claim to
be able to crack the code of Nostradamus’ work are right then World War
Three will reach its climax in the year 1999. Bio-warfare will be used –
which will virtually wipe out most of humanity with minimal survivors with
the human race living until the year 3797.
Nostradamus travelled to Paris and booked in at a hotel on the 15th of
August 1556 and the queen at the time sent a message to Nostradamus asking
him to see her. The queen talked to Nostradamus privately for two hours,
nothing is know about what they talked about. Two weeks later Nostradamus
was again summoned to speak with the queen. This time she asked him to give
horoscopes on all her children – all turned out correct except one
horoscope, her youngest child who died before taking the throne. In 1564
Nostradamus was appointed Royal Physician to King Charles IX.
On the 1st of July 1566 he sent for the local priest to give him this
message, “I will not be seen alive again”. That night Nostradamus died.
It was rumoured that Nostradamus’ coffin contained the a document that
would decode his long cryptic writings and give the answers. This proved to
be untrue because in 1700 Nostradamus’ body was moved to a different place
in the church, and while it was being moved a priest looked inside the
coffin to reveal an amulet on his skeleton with the year 1700 on it. In
1791, during the French Revolution, soldiers broke into the church in
search for money. While in the church the soldiers found food and alcohol
that they ate and drank. Claims that a soldier drank wine out of
Nostradamus’s skull, and the next day the soldier was shot.
Now over four hundred years after the death of Nostradamus the
interpretations on his prophecies have continued to come true. Nostradamus
made a total of 942 prophecies in his book The Centauries. A vast majority
of these predictions are in our past but there are some in the near future
that may let us know that;
A} he was not a prophet but just wrote gibberish, or
B} his prophecies have not been interpreted correctly.
No matter which of these is the case he helped many people through their
bad times and with the suffers of the plague. He also had a keen eagerness
to learn and with the help he gave that has fitted him in with ‘The Spirit
of the Renaissance’.
1.Barlow,Steve., Skidmore,Steve. (1993). The Unsolved Mysteries Project
Book. England: Hodder and Stoughton.
2.Crystal, David (1994). Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Press
Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
3.Leoni, Edgar (1982). Nostradamus and his Prophecies. New York: Wing
4.Erika, Cheetham (1973). The Prophecies of Nostradamus. New York: Berkley
5.Perry, Philippa (1995). Spine-Tingling Tales. London: Two-Can
6.Powell, Jillian (1996). Mysteries of the Supernatural. London: Aladdin
7.Stone, Reuben (1993). Mysteries of the Unexplained. United Kingdom:
8.’Nostradamus’ (1989). The World Book Encyclopedia, xiv, pg556.
9.’Nostradamus’ (1994). Microsoft Encarta ’95 CD – Rom. : Microsoft Inc.