For 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 also the ‘Spirit of the Renaissance’.
Michael 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 Province.
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, Jean de Saint Remy, who taught him the basics of Latin, Greek,
Hebrew, Mathematics and Astrology?
A few years later Nostradamus’s grandfather died and he went to
schooling. Whilst at Avignon he also believed, as did Galileo, that the Earth was round and circled
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
Leoni, Edgar stated that in 1554 Nostradamus settled in Marseilles after wandering for six
years keeping well clear of the church authorities. During this 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 – nine hundred forty two cryptic poems called The Centuries – which have
preoccupied generation after generation of readers.
The Centuries (ten in total) were written in poem like form and contained hard-to-break
codes that were use to stop attention being drawn to himself, as the church authorities could not
arrest him for writing gibberish, because in that time prophecies were considered as witch craft or
devil work. The Centuries 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 writing 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-warface will be used – which will
virtually wipe out most of humanity with minimal survivors with the human race living until the
Nostradamus traveled to Paris and booked in at a hotel on the 15th for 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 known 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
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 rumored that Nostradamus’ coffin contained the document that would decode his long
cryptic writings and give the answers. This proved to be untrue becausein 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 nine hundred forty two
prophecies in his book The Centuries. A vast majority of these predictions are in our past but there are some in the near future that may let us now 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
sufferers 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’.
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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 Books.
4.Erika, Cheetham (1973). The Prophecies of Nostradamus. New York: Berkley Books.
5.Powell, Jillian (1996). Mysteries of the Supernatural. London: Aladdin Books Ltd.
6.Stone, Reuben (1993). Mysteries of the Unexplained. United Kingdom: Amazon Publishing.
7.’Nostradamus’ (1989). The World Book Encyclopedia, XIV, page 556.
8.’Nostradamus’ (1994). Microsoft Encarta ’95 CD – Rom. : Microsoft Inc.