Nostradamus(The man who saw tomorrow): Life and prophecies of Nostradamus


Nostradamus: The Life and Prophecies of the Man Who Saw Tomorrow

It is now over five centuries since the birth of an amazing and infamous man. Everyone has heard of Nostradamus – Michel de Nostradame – born on December 14, 1503, in St. Remy de Provence, in France. He was a seer, adept in astrology and astronomy, and used both sciences to interpret the visions he received in the secrecy of his study.
The visions have puzzled and fascinated those who have wanted to interpret them for five centuries, because they are written in such a confusing way. However, many claim that he predicted some of history’s most monumental events, from the Great Fire of London (1666) to the awful destruction of the space shuttle Challenger.
Nostradamus’s great intellect became apparent while he was still very young, and his education was placed into the hands of his grandfather, Jean, who taught him the rudiments of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Mathematics and Astrology. When his grandfather died, Nostradamus was sent to Avignon to study. He showed a great interest in astrology, believing that the world was round and circled around the sun more than 100 years before Galileo was prosecuted for the same belief.
It was the age of the Inquisition, Catholicism was the only tolerated religion, and his parents were quite worried. As ex-Jews they were more vulnerable than most, so they sent him off to study medicine at Montpellier in 1522. He obtained his bachelor’s degree after three years, and decided to go out into the countryside and help the many victims of the plague.
Nostradamus used unorthodox remedies and treatments, but his learning and ability could not be denied and he obtained his doctorate. Around 1534 he married a young girl of high estate, whose name is unknown, and had a son and a daughter by her in the village of Agen. The tragedy of the plague hit the town a few years later, and he lost his entire family.
In 1538, he was accused of heresy, wrongly, and having no wish to stand trial, kept well clear of the Church authorities for the next six years. We know little of this period, but legends about his powers of prophecy began to appear at this time. After 1550 he produced a yearly Almanac – and after 1554 undertook the much more onerous task of the Prophecies.
He converted the top room of his house at Salon into a study and as he tells us in the Prophecies, worked there at night with his occult books. The main source of his magical inspirations was a book called De Mysteriis Egyptorum. By 1555 Nostradamus had completed the first part of his book of prophecies that were to contain predictions from his time to the end of the world.
Often referred to as ‘the prophet of doom’ because his visions often involved death and war, it seems that he predicted the French Revolution, the birth and rise to power of Hitler, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His prophecies are contained in 942 cryptic poems called “The Centuries”. A single verse is called a quatrain and 100 quatrains a Century.
The word Century has nothing to do with one hundred years; it was so called because there were a hundred verses or quatrains in each book. The verses are written in a crabbed, obscure style, with a polyglot of vocabulary of French, Provencal, Italian, Greek and Latin. In order to avoid being prosecuted as a magician, Nostradamus writes that he deliberately confused the time sequence of the Prophecies so that their secrets would not be revealed to the non-initiate.
His fame spread across France and Europe rapidly, on the strength of the Prophecies, published in their incomplete form of 1555. The book contained only the first three Centuries and part of the fourth. The prophecies became all the rage, and the Queen, Catherine de Medici, sent for him to come to Court, on August 16th, 1556.
Nostradamus and the Queen spoke for two hours. She reputedly asked him about the quatrain concerning the King’s death and was happy with his answer. Certainly she continued to believe in Nostradamus’ predictions until her death.
Soon afterwards, suffering from gout and arthritis, he seems to have done little except draw up horoscopes for his many distinguished visitors and complete the writing of the Prophecies, though apparently the completed book didn’t come off the printing press until 1568, two years after his death.
In 1564 Catherine, now Queen Regent, decided to tour the countryside of France, during which time she visited Nostradamus, giving him the title of Physician in Ordinary, which carried with it a salary and other benefits. But by now the gout from which he suffered was turning to dropsy and the doctor realized that his end was near.
Nostradamus made his will on 17th June, 1566 and on 1st July sent for the local priest to give him the last rites, telling the man that he would not see him alive again. As he himself had predicted, his body was found the next morning. He was buried upright in one of the walls of the Church of the Cordeliers at Salon, where there is a marble plaque to his memory.
It was rumoured that a very secret document existed in his coffin that would decode his prophecies. In 1700, the coffin was moved to a prominent wall of the Church. With care taken not to disturb his body, a quick look inside revealed an amulet on his skeleton, with the year 1700 on it. One night in 1791 during the French Revolution, soldiers from Marseilles broke into the church in search of loot, desecrating the grave. The next morning those same defilers were ambushed by Royalist troops. The soldier who had used the skull as a wine glass the night before died by a sniper’s bullet.
Nostradamus was not always right, if those who claim to have decoded his strange prophecies are correct, because the world did not end in 1999, but in 500 years of fortune telling, it seems that he was correct far more often than not. This was a gifted and unusual man, and the chances are that people will still be wondering about his warnings for centuries to come, if the world doesn’t end, that is.

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