Nostradamus

Nostradamus

Nostradamus, (December 14, 1503 – July 2, 1566) born Michel de Nostredame, is one of the world's most famous authors of prophecies. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, which consists of one unrhymed and 941 rhymed quatrains, grouped into nine sets of 100 and one of 42, called 'Centuries'. Interest in the work of this prominent figure of the French Renaissance is still considerable, especially in the media and in popular culture.

Life

Childhood

Born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (see map) in the south of France in December 1503 (his claimed birthplace still exists), Michel de Nostredame was one of at least eight children of Reynière de St-Rémy and grain dealer Jaume de Nostredame, who was also a prosperous home-grown notary. The latter's family had originally been Jewish, but Jaume's father, Guy Gassonet, had converted to Catholicism circa 1455, taking the Christian name 'Pierre' and the surname 'Nostredame' (the latter apparently from the saint's-day on which his conversion was solemnized). In this, he was merely following the example of thousands of others, thanks to increasing official French persecution of Jews, many of whom were the descendants of former refugees from Spain, where they were known as the Marranos. The names of Nostredame's known forebears seem to reflect this. While practice of the ancestral religion was apparently continued in secret, nobody knows whether this applied to Nostredame's family, or whether it still applied to him two generations later. His adult religious leanings suggest, however, that his upbringing was devoutly Catholic.

His known siblings included Delphine, Jehan (c.1507-77), Pierre, Hector, Louis (b.1522), Bertrand, Jean and Antoine (b.1523).

Student years

Little is known about Nostredame's childhood, although there is a persistent tradition that he was educated by his maternal great-grandfather Jean de St-Rémy – which is vitiated by the equally persistent tradition that the latter died when the child was only one year old. It is known, however, that at the age of fifteen Nostredame entered the University of Avignon to study for his baccalaureate. After little more than a year (when he would have studied the regular Trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic, rather than the later Quadrivium of geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy/astrology) he was forced to leave Avignon when the university closed its doors in the face of an outbreak of the plague. In 1529, after some years as an apothecary, he entered the University of Montpellier to study for a doctorate in medicine. He was promptly expelled again shortly afterwards, though, when it was discovered that he had been an apothecary, which was a 'manual' trade expressly banned by the university statutes. The hand-written expulsion document (BIU Montpellier, Register S 2 folio 87 – see facsimile on p. 25 of Lemesurier [2] under Sources) still exists in the faculty library. After his expulsion, Nostredame continued working, presumably as an apothecary (though some of his publishers and correspondents would later call him 'Doctor'), and became famous for creating a "rose pill" that was widely believed (not least by himself) to protect against the plague.

Marriage and healing work

In 1531 he was invited by Jules-César Scaliger, a leading Renaissance scholar, to come to Agen. There Nostredame married a woman whose name is still in dispute (possibly Henriette d'Encausse), but who bore him two children. In 1534, however, his wife and children died, presumably from the plague. After their death he continued to travel, passing through France and possibly Italy.

On his return in 1545, he assisted the prominent physician Louis Serre in his fight against a major plague-outbreak in Marseille, and then tackled further outbreaks of disease on his own in Salon-de-Provence and in the regional capital, Aix-en-Provence. Finally, in 1547, he settled down in Salon-de-Provence in the house which is still there today, and where he married a rich widow named Anne Ponsarde (nicknamed Gemelle, or 'Twinny') and eventually had six children – three daughters (Madeleine, Anne and Diane) and three sons (César, Charles and André). Between 1556 and 1567, Nostredame and his wife would in due course acquire a one-thirteenth share in a huge canal project organized by Adam de Craponne to irrigate largely waterless Salon and the nearby Désert de la Crau from the river Durance. Parts of the network remain today: thanks to much larger supplementary canals, there is even a hydroelectric station in Salon itself.

The seer

After a further visit to Italy, Nostredame began to move away from medicine and towards the occult. Following popular trends, he wrote an almanac for 1550, for the first time Latinizing his name to 'Nostradamus'. He was so encouraged by its success that he decided to write one or more annually. Taken together, they are known to have contained at least 6,338 prophecies (most of them, in the event, failed predictions – see Chevignard and Lemesurier [2] under Sources), as well as at least eleven annual calendars, all of them starting on January 1 (and not, as is sometimes supposed, in March). It was mainly in reaction to the almanacs that nobility and other prominent persons from far and wide soon started asking for horoscopes and advice from him, though he generally expected them to supply the birth-charts on which the horoscopes would be based.

He then began his project of writing a book of one thousand quatrains, which constitute the largely undated prophecies for which he is most famous today. Feeling vulnerable to religious fanatics, however, he devised a method of obscuring his meaning by using "Virgilianized" syntax, word games and a mixture of languages such as Provençal, Greek, Latin and Italian. For technical reasons connected with their publication in three installments, the last fifty-eight quatrains of the seventh 'Century', or book of 100 verses, have not survived into any extant edition.

The quatrains, published in a book titled Les Propheties ('The Prophecies'), received a mixed reaction when they were published. Some people thought Nostradamus was a servant of evil, a fake, or insane, while many of the elite thought his quatrains were spiritually inspired prophecies. Catherine de Médicis, the queen consort of King Henri II of France, was one of Nostradamus' greatest admirers. After reading his almanacs for 1555, which hinted at unnamed threats to the royal family, she summoned him to Paris to explain them, and to draw up horoscopes for her children. At the time, he feared that he would be beheaded, but by the time of his death in 1566, Catherine had made him Counselor and Physician-in-Ordinary to the King.

Some biographical accounts of Nostradamus' life state that he was afraid of being persecuted for heresy by the Inquisition, but neither prophecy nor astrology fell under this bracket, and he would have been in danger only if he had practiced magic to support them. In fact, his relations with the Church as a prophet and healer were always excellent. His brief imprisonment at Marignane in late 1561 came about purely because he had published his 1562 almanac without the prior permission of a bishop, contrary to a recent royal decree.

Final years and death

By 1566 Nostradamus' gout, which had plagued him painfully for many years and made movement very difficult, turned into dropsy. In late June he summoned his lawyer to draw up an extensive will bequeathing his property plus 3444 crowns (around $300,000 today) – minus a few debts – to his wife pending her remarriage, in trust for her sons pending their twenty-fifth birthdays and her daughters pending their marriages. This was followed by a much shorter codicil. On the evening of July 1 he is alleged to have told his secretary Jean de Chavigny, "You will not find me alive by sunrise." The next morning he was reportedly found dead, lying on the floor between his bed and a makeshift bench. He was buried in the local Franciscan chapel (part of it now incorporated into the restaurant La Brocherie'), but re-interred in the Collégiale St-Laurent at the French Revolution, where his tomb remains to this day.

Methods

Nostradamus claimed to base his predictions on judicial astrology – the assessment of the 'astrological quality' of expected future events – but was heavily criticized by professional astrologers of the day such as Laurens Videl for his incompetence and for assuming that 'comparative horoscopy' (comparison of future planetary configurations with the astrology of known past events) could predict the actual events themselves.

Recent research (Brind'Amour [1], Prévost, Gruber, Lemesurier [2] and [3]) has suggested that most of his prophetic work was in fact based on paraphrasing collections of ancient end-of-the-world prophecies (mainly Bible-based – the end of the world was expected at the time to occur in either 1800 or 1887, or possibly in 2242, depending on the system adopted) and supplementing their insights by projecting known historical events and identifiable anthologies of omen-reports into the future with the aid of comparative horoscopy. It is thanks to this that his work contains so many predictions involving ancient figures such as Sulla, Marius, Nero, Hannibal and so on, as well as descriptions of "battles in the clouds" and "frogs falling from the sky". Astrology itself is mentioned only twice in Nostradamus' Preface, and 41 times in the Centuries themselves, though rather more in his famously baffling dedicatory Letter to King Henri II.

His historical sources include easily identifiable passages from Livy, Suetonius, Plutarch and a range of other classical historians, as well as from the chronicles of medieval authors such as Villehardouin and Froissart. Many of his broader astrological references, by contrast, are taken almost word-for-word from the Livre de l'estat et mutations des temps of 1549/50 by Richard Roussat. Even the planetary tables, already published by professional astrologers, on which he based the birth-charts that he was unable to avoid preparing himself are easily identifiable by their detailed figures, even where (as is usually the case) he gets some of them wrong. (Refer to the seminal analysis of these charts by Brind'Amour, 1993, under Sources, and compare Gruber's comprehensive critique of Nostradamus’ horoscope for Crown Prince Rudolph Maximilian).

His major prophetic source was evidently the Mirabilis liber of 1522 (Brind'Amour, Lemesurier [2] and [3]), which contained a range of prophecies by Pseudo-Methodius, the Tiburtine Sibyl, Joachim of Fiore, Savonarola and others (his Preface contains no fewer than 24 biblical quotations, all but two of them in exactly the same order as Savonarola). The book had enjoyed considerable success in the 1520s, when it went through half-a-dozen editions (see Links below for facsimiles and translations). The obvious question – why the Mirabilis liber did not sustain its influence in the way that Nostadamus’ writings did – is explained mainly by the fact that the book (like the Bible) was mostly in Latin and in Gothic script and, to make matters even more complicated for the general reader, contained many abstruse scholastic abbreviations. Nostradamus was, in effect, one of the first to present its prophecies (and others) openly in the French vernacular – as was also happening to the Bible at the time – which is no doubt why he has retained all the credit for them. The Mirabilis liber, (some of the predictions of which had already lapsed by the time Nostradamus started writing) was not translated into French until 1831 – and this mainly for scholarly and antiquarian reasons at a time when knowledge of Latin was beginning to die out. See selected Engilsh translations from it here.

Meanwhile, if Nostradamus' many competitors – and he had many – never accused him of copying from it, it was because copying and/or paraphrasing, far from being regarded (as it is today) as mere plagiarism, was regarded at the time as what all good, educated people should do anyway. The whole Renaissance was based on the idea. Copying from the classics in particular, often without acknowledgement, and preferably from memory, was all the rage. Only in the 17th century did people start to be surprised by the fact that much of his output was evidently based on earlier and often classical originals – which was no doubt why, according to the early commentator Théophile de Garencières, his Prophecies started to be used as a classroom-reader at that time. Nostradamus, it should be remembered, denied in writing on several occasions that he was a prophet on his own account. In translation:

This last is presumably why he entitled his book

(which, in French, as easily means 'The Prophecies, by M. Michel Nostradamus' – which is precisely what they were – as 'The Prophecies of M. Michel Nostradamus' – which, except in a few cases, they weren't, other than in the manner of their editing, expression and re-application to the future). Any criticism of Nostradamus for claiming to be a prophet, in other words, would have been for doing what he never claimed to be doing in the first place.

Further material (see Brind'Amour, Gruber, Lemesurier [2] and [3]) was gleaned from the De honesta disciplina of 1504 by Petrus Crinitus, which included extracts from Michael Psellus's De daemonibus and the De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum..." (Concerning the mysteries of Egypt...), a book on Chaldean and Assyrian magic by Iamblichus, a 4th-century neo-Platonist. Latin versions of both had recently been published in Lyon, and extracts from both are paraphrased (in the second case almost literally) in his first two verses. While it is true that Nostradamus claimed in 1555 to have burned all the occult works in his library, no one can say exactly what books were destroyed in this fire. The fact that they reportedly burned with an unnaturally brilliant flame suggests, however, that some of them were manuscripts on vellum, which was routinely treated with saltpeter.

Given that his methodology, clearly, was mainly literary, it is doubtful whether Nostradamus used any particular methods for entering a trance state, other than contemplation, meditation and incubation (i.e. ritually 'sleeping on it'). His sole description of this process is contained in letter 41 of his collected Latin correspondence, as republished by Jean Dupèbe and translated by Lemesurier [2]. The popular legend that he attempted the ancient methods of flame gazing, water gazing or both simultaneously is based on an uninformed reading of his first two verses (see above), which merely liken his own efforts to those of the Delphic and Branchidic oracles. In his dedication to King Henri II Nostradamus describes "emptying my soul, mind and heart of all care, worry and unease through mental calm and tranquility", but his frequent references to the "bronze tripod" of the Delphic rite are usually preceded by the words "as though".

Works

A copy of his Prophecies dated 1672, located at The P.I. Nixon Medical History Library of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The Prophecies - In this book he collected his major, long-term divinations. The first edition was published in 1555. The second, with 289 further prophetic verses, was printed in 1557. The third edition, with three hundred new quatrains, was reportedly printed in 1558, but nowadays only survives as part of the omnibus edition that was published after his death in 1568. Given printing practices at the time, no two editions turned out to be identical, and it is relatively rare to find even two copies that are exactly the same.

The Almanacs - By far the most popular of his works, these were published annually from 1550 until his death. Often he published two or even three in a single year, entitled either Almanachs (detailed predictions), Prognostications or Presages (more generalized predictions). See also here.

Nostradamus was not only a diviner, but a professional healer, too. We know that he wrote at least two books on medical science. One was an alleged "translation" of Galen, and in his so-called Traité des fardemens (basically a medical cookbook containing, once again, materials borrowed mainly from others) he included a description of the methods he used to treat the plague – none of which (not even the bloodletting) apparently worked. The same book also describes the preparation of cosmetics.

A manuscript normally known as the Orus Apollo also exists in the Lyon municipal library, where upwards of 2000 original documents relating to Nostradamus are stored under the aegis of Michel Chomarat. It is a purported translation of an ancient Greek work on Egyptian hieroglyphs based on later, Latin versions, all of them unfortunately ignorant of the true meanings of the ancient Egyptian script, which was not in fact deciphered until the advent of Champollion in the 19th century.

Since his death, only the Prophecies have continued to be popular, but in this case they have been quite extraordinarily so. Indeed, they have seldom, if ever, been out of print. This may be due partly to popular unease about the future, partly to people's desire to see their lives in some kind of over-all cosmic perspective and so to give meaning to them – but above all, possibly, to their vagueness and lack of dating, which enables them to be wheeled out after every major dramatic event and retrospectively claimed as 'hits'.

Hazards of interpretation

Skeptics of Nostradamus state that his reputation as a prophet is largely manufactured by modern-day supporters who shoehorn his words into events that have either already occurred or are so imminent as to be inevitable, a process known as "retroactive clairvoyance". It has been stated, probably correctly, that no Nostradamus quatrain has ever been interpreted as predicting a specific event before it occurred beyond a very general level (e.g., a fire will occur, a war will start).

A good demonstration of this flexible predicting is to take lyrics written by modern songwriters (e.g., Bob Dylan) and show that they are equally "prophetic". (For Dylan see Masters Of War , As I Went Out One Morning, Gates Of Eden, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), etc.)

Some scholars believe that Nostradamus wrote not to be a prophet, but to comment on events that were happening in his own time, writing in his elusive way – using highly metaphorical and cryptic language – in order to avoid persecution. This is similar to the Preterite interpretation of the Book of Revelation; John (the Divine) intended to write only about contemporary events, but over time his writings became seen as prophecies.

The well-known prophecy that "a great and terrifying leader would come out of the sky" in 1999 and 7 months "to resuscitate the great King from Angoumois" has been much over-stated. The phrase d'effraieur (of terror) in fact occurs nowhere in the original printing, which merely uses the word deffraieur (defraying, hosting). On the basis of Nostradamus's by-now well known technique of projecting past events into the future, Lemesurier [3] suggests that X.72 therefore refers back to the restoration to health of the captive Francis I of France (who was Duke of Angoulême) following a surprise visit to his cell by his host, the then Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1525. No fewer than five of the planets were in the same signs on both occasions.

The bulk of the quatrains deal with disasters of various sorts. The disasters include plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, battles and many other related themes. Some quatrains cover these in over-all terms; others concern a single person or small group of persons. Some cover a single town, others several towns in several countries. All of them are presented in the context of the supposedly imminent end of the world – a conviction that sparked numerous collections of end-time prophecies at the time, not least an unpublished collection by Christopher Columbus.

Misquotes and hoaxes

Nostradamus enthusiasts have credited him with predicting numerous events in world history, including the French Revolution, the atom bomb, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Indeed, they regularly make similar claims regarding each new world crisis as it comes along, for the most part shamelessly twisting either the words or the events to fit (see specific examples below). The tradition goes right back to Nostradamus' own day, and naturally does the seer himself no favors.

Nostradamus does not in fact mention any of the above specifically, not even Hitler: the name Hister, as he himself explains in his Presage for 1554, is merely the classical name for the Lower Danube, while Pau, Nay, Loron – often claimed to be an anagram of 'Napaulon Roy'– evidently refers simply to three neighboring towns in south-western France close to the seer's one-time home territory. This linguistic sleight of hand is particularly easy to carry out when the would-be commentator knows no French to start with, especially in its 16th-century form – to say nothing of French geography. Not surprisingly, then, detractors see such 'edited' predictions as examples of vaticinium ex eventu, retroactive clairvoyance and selective thinking, which find non-existent patterns in ambiguous statements. Because of this, it has been claimed that Nostradamus is "100% accurate at predicting events after they happen", while the seer has acquired even more disrepute than he possibly deserves.

Certainly, there is a persistent tendency to claim that 'Nostradamus predicted whatever has just happened'. As mentioned above, this applied most recently to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City. Almost as soon as the event had happened, the relevant Internet sites were deluged with enquiries into whether Nostradamus had predicted the event. In response, Nostradamus enthusiasts started searching for a Nostradamus quatrain that could be said to have done so. The nearest that they could come up with was quatrain VI.97, which in the original 1557 edition ran:

With instant evidently a version of the Latin instanter ('violently, vehemently'), a reasonable English translation would thus appear to be:

The various ways in which the enthusiasts chose to interpret the text, however, were almost universally panned by experts on the subject (compare the relevant sections of the Snopes and Lemesurier websites listed under External Links below, and see Gruber p.419 and Lemesurier [2] pp. 145-6 under Sources). 'Five and forty degrees' was said to be the latitude of New York City (this being incorrect in itself), or was interpreted as '40.5 degrees' (even though the decimal point had not yet come into use in the Europe of Nostradamus' day); the 'New City' was claimed to be New York (even though Nostradamus refers in this way to various 'New Cities' whose names, unlike 'New York', literally mean 'New City', and especially Naples – from Greek Neapolis, 'new city'); and most of the attempts to fit in the 'Normans' seemed contrived at best. After the factual nature of these claims was widely denied, some suggested instead that the first line might refer to the actual angle at which one of the hijacked airliners hit the World Trade Center (which seemed unlikely, even if the rest had fitted).

Lemesurier ([3], pp. 246-7; but compare Clébert) suggests that the verse is merely an undated projection into the future of the capture of Naples by the Normans in 1139 during a year marked by a notably violent eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius that is recorded in the contemporary Annales Cassini. In this case, the first expression may simply be a version of

– which is indeed the latitude of Naples.

Perhaps in frustration, the searchers now turned to quatrain I.87, which in the original 1555 edition (Albi copy) ran:

or, in a possible English translation:

Here, once again, the cité neufve was claimed to be New York; au tour de had to refer to the Twin Towers (even though, in French, the word tour in the masculine – as it is here – has absolutely nothing to do with towers); the Deux grands rochiers had to be the Twin Towers themselves; and Arethusa was (naturally!) an anagram of 'the USA'. Once again, however, rather more sober investigation by Brind'Amour ([2, p. 170) had already revealed (bearing in mind that, in French, faire la guerre aux rochers, or 'to make war on the rocks', simply means 'to struggle fruitlessly') that the reference was probably to Naples and its nearby volcano. Subsequent investigation by Lemesurier ([3], pp. 40-41) and his colleagues suggested that it applied particularly to the Annales Cassini's report of its lava eruption of 1036, at a time when the Lombards of Capua and the Byzantine dukes of Naples were constantly at war over the city prior to the decisive intervention of the Normans. For 968, similarly, Leo Marsicanus had reported in the same annals that ‘Mount Vesuvius exploded into flames and sent out huge quantities of sticky, sulfurous matter that formed a river rushing down to the sea’. Thus, given that Arethusa was the classical nymph of springs and rivers, with a well-known 'spring of Arethusa' still visible today in the Sicilian port of Syracuse, the case for a '9/11' interpretation was evidently unfounded.

Meanwhile the following spoof text was already being circulated on the Internet, along with many more elaborate variants (one of them signed 'Nostradamus 1654' – when he would, of course, have been just 150 years old!):

As it turns out, the first four lines were indeed written before the attacks, but by a Canadian graduate student named Neil Marshall as part of a research paper in 1997. Ironically enough, the research paper included this poem as an illustrative example of how the validity of prophecies is often exaggerated. For example, the phrases "City of God" (why is New York City the City of God?), "great thunder" (this could apply to just about any disaster), "Two brothers" (many things come in pairs), and "the great leader will succumb" are so ambiguous as to be meaningless. The fifth line was added by an anonymous Internet user, completely ignoring the fact that Nostradamus wrote his Propheties in rhymed four-line decasyllables called quatrains. Nostradamus also never referred to a "third big war".

To verify the authenticity of a purported Nostradamus quatrain, compare the identifying number (e.g.: C1, Q25 or 'I.25' means Century 1, Quatrain 25) against an authoritative version of Nostradamus' works, which will probably also contain the original old French – or click on the appropriate External Links below to see facsimiles of the originals.

Nostradamus in popular culture

Film

He is the subject of many films and videos, including:

  • Nostradamus: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow at The Internet Movie Database (1981)
  • Nostradamus at The Internet Movie Database (2000)
  • Nostradamus at The Internet Movie Database (1994) Depicts Nostradamus's rise in influence, because of success in treating plague and his predictions, culminating in his appointment as court physician to Charles IX of France.

None of them can be regarded as factual or reliable.

Television

The television series Alias prominently features the character Milo Rambaldi, a fictional Nostradamus-like prophet. In the science fiction series First Wave, the protagonists use the quatrains of Nostradamus to fight back against an alien invasion. Nostradamus has also been parodied on Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show as Negrodamus.

Music

Composer Robert Steadman has twice used Nostradamus' prophecies in pieces of music: in the 1987's quatrains by Nostradamus were juxtaposed with the Latin Requiem Mass text and poems on environmental issues. And in 1999, he set what was thought by some to be Nostradamus's prediction of the end of the world for soprano and chamber ensemble in The Final Prophecy.

In 2005, Dutch band Kayak released a rock opera called Nostradamus - Fate of Man. English singer/songwriter Al Stewart wrote a song called "Nostradamus", concerning the prophecies, for his 1973 album Past, Present, and Future.

Rapper Nas referred to himself as Nastradamus.

Maksim, the cross-over piano player, plays a song entitled Nostradamus on his third CD. It is composed by Tonci Huljic.

Comics

In an Italian Mickey Mouse story, Mickey and Goofy travel back in time and by accident a young boy followed them back to the present. The boy had to go back to his own time and his memory of the future was erased, but before that he grabbed pieces of books. The boy of course became Nostradamus and the ripped pages from books explained his visions of the future. The story was made by Massimo Marconi and Massimo De Vita.

A Phantom story from 1983 by Ulf Granberg and Jaime Vallvé featured an appearance by Nostradamus.

In the DC Comics Universe, Nostradamus was an ancestor of Zatara and Zatanna.

In Scott Adams's comic strip Dilbert, "Nostradogbert" is a pseudonym of Dogbert.

Games

In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the prophecy of 1999 was used as the ressurection of Dracula and added that all born of the day of Dracula's demise are "Dark Candidates" meaning that that they'll be next in line to be Dark Lord.


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In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the prophecy of 1999 was used as the ressurection of Dracula and added that all born of the day of Dracula's demise are "Dark Candidates" meaning that that they'll be next in line to be Dark Lord. Since the observer is generally closer to the light source, crystal orientation matters less in the formation of these pillars. In Scott Adams's comic strip Dilbert, "Nostradogbert" is a pseudonym of Dogbert. Pillars forming from ground-based light sources may appear much taller than those associated with the sun or moon. In the DC Comics Universe, Nostradamus was an ancestor of Zatara and Zatanna. Light pillars can also form around the moon, and around street lights or other bright lights. A Phantom story from 1983 by Ulf Granberg and Jaime Vallvé featured an appearance by Nostradamus. The crystals tend to orient themselves near-horizontally as they fall or float through the air, and the width and visibility of a sun pillar depends on crystal alignment.

The story was made by Massimo Marconi and Massimo De Vita. Plate crystals generally cause pillars only when the sun is within 6 degrees of the horizon, or below it; column crystals can cause a pillar when the sun is as high as 20 degrees above the horizon. The boy of course became Nostradamus and the ripped pages from books explained his visions of the future. Hexagonal plate- and column-shaped ice crystals cause the phenomenon. The boy had to go back to his own time and his memory of the future was erased, but before that he grabbed pieces of books. A sun pillar appears most often as a vertical pillar or column of light rising from the sun near sunset or sunrise, though it can appear below the sun, particularly if the observer is at a high elevation or altitude. In an Italian Mickey Mouse story, Mickey and Goofy travel back in time and by accident a young boy followed them back to the present. When the sun dog phenomenon is seen around the Moon rather than the Sun, it is called a mock moon, moon dog, or by the proper name paraselene.

It is composed by Tonci Huljic. The crystals are hexagonal cylinders, and they have to be oriented vertically. Maksim, the cross-over piano player, plays a song entitled Nostradamus on his third CD. The orientation of the ice crystals involved in this process is important. Rapper Nas referred to himself as Nastradamus. Sun dogs are uncommon and typically appear only when a low sun shines through loose cirrus clouds, e.g., in a milky-white winter afternoon sky. English singer/songwriter Al Stewart wrote a song called "Nostradamus", concerning the prophecies, for his 1973 album Past, Present, and Future. Sun dogs, also known as parhelia (single parhelion), appear as near-horizontal colored spots or bars on both sides of the sun, at nearly a 22 degree angle.

In 2005, Dutch band Kayak released a rock opera called Nostradamus - Fate of Man. This sign is supposed to have prompted him to become a Christian. And in 1999, he set what was thought by some to be Nostradamus's prediction of the end of the world for soprano and chamber ensemble in The Final Prophecy. Emperor Constantine I of the Roman Empire is said to have seen such a halo in 313 near Trier. Composer Robert Steadman has twice used Nostradamus' prophecies in pieces of music: in the 1987's quatrains by Nostradamus were juxtaposed with the Latin Requiem Mass text and poems on environmental issues. Halos can also have unusual shapes, for example a cross. Nostradamus has also been parodied on Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show as Negrodamus. Atmospheric phenomena such as halos were used as an empirical means of weather forecasting before meteorology was developed.

In the science fiction series First Wave, the protagonists use the quatrains of Nostradamus to fight back against an alien invasion. The crystals behave like jewels, refracting and reflecting sunlight between their faces, sending shafts of light in particular directions. The television series Alias prominently features the character Milo Rambaldi, a fictional Nostradamus-like prophet. Sometimes in very cold weather optical halos are formed by crystals close to ground level, called diamond dust. None of them can be regarded as factual or reliable. A more Christian interpretation, less dualistic in its assumptions, is that the halo represents the light of divine grace suffusing the soul, which is perfectly united and in harmony with the physical body. He is the subject of many films and videos, including:. Some think the halo symbolizes the saint's consciousness as 'radiating' beyond the physical body, and that it serves as a pictorial reminder to the saint's devotees of the saint's transcendence of the physical body.

To verify the authenticity of a purported Nostradamus quatrain, compare the identifying number (e.g.: C1, Q25 or 'I.25' means Century 1, Quatrain 25) against an authoritative version of Nostradamus' works, which will probably also contain the original old French – or click on the appropriate External Links below to see facsimiles of the originals. Tibetan Buddhism uses halos extensively in the Thangka paintings of Buddhist saints such as Milarepa and Padmasambhava. Nostradamus also never referred to a "third big war". In Pure Land Buddhism the halo is used in depicting the image of Amida Buddha. The fifth line was added by an anonymous Internet user, completely ignoring the fact that Nostradamus wrote his Propheties in rhymed four-line decasyllables called quatrains. In Zen Buddhism, ink brush paintings also commonly use the halo in depictions of saints such as Bodhidharma. For example, the phrases "City of God" (why is New York City the City of God?), "great thunder" (this could apply to just about any disaster), "Two brothers" (many things come in pairs), and "the great leader will succumb" are so ambiguous as to be meaningless. Halos are found in Buddhist sculpture and painting from the Gandharan period, influenced by Greek artists brought to India with the army of Alexander the Great.

Ironically enough, the research paper included this poem as an illustrative example of how the validity of prophecies is often exaggerated. The halo has been widely used in Buddhist iconography as well since at least the 1st century AD. As it turns out, the first four lines were indeed written before the attacks, but by a Canadian graduate student named Neil Marshall as part of a research paper in 1997. This form of halo is still used in many popular depictions of angels and of blessed souls in heaven. Meanwhile the following spoof text was already being circulated on the Internet, along with many more elaborate variants (one of them signed 'Nostradamus 1654' – when he would, of course, have been just 150 years old!):. During the Renaissance, when rigorous perspective came to be considered essential, the halo was changed from an aura surrounding the head to a golden ring that appeared in perspective, mysteriously floating above the heads of the saints. Thus, given that Arethusa was the classical nymph of springs and rivers, with a well-known 'spring of Arethusa' still visible today in the Sicilian port of Syracuse, the case for a '9/11' interpretation was evidently unfounded. The term "glory" may also refer to a glowing effusion —used in art to cover up depictions of genitalia.

For 968, similarly, Leo Marsicanus had reported in the same annals that ‘Mount Vesuvius exploded into flames and sent out huge quantities of sticky, sulfurous matter that formed a river rushing down to the sea’. This whole-body image of radiance is sometimes called the 'aureole', a lemon-drop-shaped item that appears to radiate from the entire body of the saints' being. 40-41) and his colleagues suggested that it applied particularly to the Annales Cassini's report of its lava eruption of 1036, at a time when the Lombards of Capua and the Byzantine dukes of Naples were constantly at war over the city prior to the decisive intervention of the Normans. Of the many stories about saints, some reports claimed that a saint was literally glowing. Subsequent investigation by Lemesurier ([3], pp. Some faithful believe the halo to be equivalent to the Eastern religion aura, and as with the latter, believe that halos are visible to those with perception. 170) had already revealed (bearing in mind that, in French, faire la guerre aux rochers, or 'to make war on the rocks', simply means 'to struggle fruitlessly') that the reference was probably to Naples and its nearby volcano. In popular piety, this practice has led to the literal belief that saints' have visible halos around their heads, rather than it be understood as a metaphorical representation.

Once again, however, rather more sober investigation by Brind'Amour ([2, p. Especially noteworthy in this respect is Michelangelo Buonarroti's statue of Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli. Here, once again, the cité neufve was claimed to be New York; au tour de had to refer to the Twin Towers (even though, in French, the word tour in the masculine – as it is here – has absolutely nothing to do with towers); the Deux grands rochiers had to be the Twin Towers themselves; and Arethusa was (naturally!) an anagram of 'the USA'. This description was taken literally by Medieval and Renaissance artists, who depicted Moses with small horns growing from his forehead. or, in a possible English translation:. Jerome avoided this by translating the phrase into Latin as "cornuta esset facies sua" (his face was horned). Perhaps in frustration, the searchers now turned to quatrain I.87, which in the original 1555 edition (Albi copy) ran:. However, this would have implied a halo, which was reserved for Christian-era saints.

– which is indeed the latitude of Naples. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the tablets of the law, he is said in the Hebrew text (Exodus 34,29) to have a glowing or radiant face. In this case, the first expression may simply be a version of. The use of halos to designate Christian saints presented a problem in the translation of the Hebrew Bible. 246-7; but compare Clébert) suggests that the verse is merely an undated projection into the future of the capture of Naples by the Normans in 1139 during a year marked by a notably violent eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius that is recorded in the contemporary Annales Cassini. Square halos are used to depict unusually saintly living personages. Lemesurier ([3], pp. Triangular halos are used for representations of the Trinity.

After the factual nature of these claims was widely denied, some suggested instead that the first line might refer to the actual angle at which one of the hijacked airliners hit the World Trade Center (which seemed unlikely, even if the rest had fitted). A cross within a halo is used to represent Jesus. 'Five and forty degrees' was said to be the latitude of New York City (this being incorrect in itself), or was interpreted as '40.5 degrees' (even though the decimal point had not yet come into use in the Europe of Nostradamus' day); the 'New City' was claimed to be New York (even though Nostradamus refers in this way to various 'New Cities' whose names, unlike 'New York', literally mean 'New City', and especially Naples – from Greek Neapolis, 'new city'); and most of the attempts to fit in the 'Normans' seemed contrived at best. people considered as spiritually gifted. 145-6 under Sources). Round halos are typically used to signify saints —ie. The various ways in which the enthusiasts chose to interpret the text, however, were almost universally panned by experts on the subject (compare the relevant sections of the Snopes and Lemesurier websites listed under External Links below, and see Gruber p.419 and Lemesurier [2] pp. It first appeared culture in the art of ancient Greece and Rome, and was incorporated into Christian art sometime in the 4th century.

With instant evidently a version of the Latin instanter ('violently, vehemently'), a reasonable English translation would thus appear to be:. The halo represents an aura or glow of sanctity which was most prominent around the head and was conventionally drawn as a circle. The nearest that they could come up with was quatrain VI.97, which in the original 1557 edition ran:. The halo has become an object of religious iconography in both Christian and Buddhist traditions. In response, Nostradamus enthusiasts started searching for a Nostradamus quatrain that could be said to have done so. . Almost as soon as the event had happened, the relevant Internet sites were deluged with enquiries into whether Nostradamus had predicted the event. Light is reflected and refracted by the ice crystals and may split up into colors because of dispersion, similarly to the rainbow.

As mentioned above, this applied most recently to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City. The particular shape and orientation of the crystals is responsible for the type of halo observed. Certainly, there is a persistent tendency to claim that 'Nostradamus predicted whatever has just happened'. There are many types of optical halos, but they are mostly caused by ice crystals in cold cirrus clouds located high (5-10 km, or 3-6 miles) in the upper troposphere. Because of this, it has been claimed that Nostradamus is "100% accurate at predicting events after they happen", while the seer has acquired even more disrepute than he possibly deserves. Halos, also known as icebows, are also optical phenomena that appear near or around the Sun or Moon, and sometimes near other strong light sources such as street lights. Not surprisingly, then, detractors see such 'edited' predictions as examples of vaticinium ex eventu, retroactive clairvoyance and selective thinking, which find non-existent patterns in ambiguous statements. In Christian sacred art (Eastern and Western churches), holy persons (saints) are depicted with a halo, a golden, yellow or white circular glow, around the head.

This linguistic sleight of hand is particularly easy to carry out when the would-be commentator knows no French to start with, especially in its 16th-century form – to say nothing of French geography. They are often used in religious works to depict holy or sacred figures. Nostradamus does not in fact mention any of the above specifically, not even Hitler: the name Hister, as he himself explains in his Presage for 1554, is merely the classical name for the Lower Danube, while Pau, Nay, Loron – often claimed to be an anagram of 'Napaulon Roy'– evidently refers simply to three neighboring towns in south-western France close to the seer's one-time home territory. A halo (also known as a nimbus or Gloriole) is a ring of light that surrounds an object. The tradition goes right back to Nostradamus' own day, and naturally does the seer himself no favors. Indeed, they regularly make similar claims regarding each new world crisis as it comes along, for the most part shamelessly twisting either the words or the events to fit (see specific examples below).

Nostradamus enthusiasts have credited him with predicting numerous events in world history, including the French Revolution, the atom bomb, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. All of them are presented in the context of the supposedly imminent end of the world – a conviction that sparked numerous collections of end-time prophecies at the time, not least an unpublished collection by Christopher Columbus. Some cover a single town, others several towns in several countries. Some quatrains cover these in over-all terms; others concern a single person or small group of persons.

The disasters include plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, battles and many other related themes. The bulk of the quatrains deal with disasters of various sorts. No fewer than five of the planets were in the same signs on both occasions. On the basis of Nostradamus's by-now well known technique of projecting past events into the future, Lemesurier [3] suggests that X.72 therefore refers back to the restoration to health of the captive Francis I of France (who was Duke of Angoulême) following a surprise visit to his cell by his host, the then Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1525.

The phrase d'effraieur (of terror) in fact occurs nowhere in the original printing, which merely uses the word deffraieur (defraying, hosting). The well-known prophecy that "a great and terrifying leader would come out of the sky" in 1999 and 7 months "to resuscitate the great King from Angoumois" has been much over-stated. This is similar to the Preterite interpretation of the Book of Revelation; John (the Divine) intended to write only about contemporary events, but over time his writings became seen as prophecies. Some scholars believe that Nostradamus wrote not to be a prophet, but to comment on events that were happening in his own time, writing in his elusive way – using highly metaphorical and cryptic language – in order to avoid persecution.

(For Dylan see Masters Of War , As I Went Out One Morning, Gates Of Eden, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), etc.). A good demonstration of this flexible predicting is to take lyrics written by modern songwriters (e.g., Bob Dylan) and show that they are equally "prophetic". It has been stated, probably correctly, that no Nostradamus quatrain has ever been interpreted as predicting a specific event before it occurred beyond a very general level (e.g., a fire will occur, a war will start). Skeptics of Nostradamus state that his reputation as a prophet is largely manufactured by modern-day supporters who shoehorn his words into events that have either already occurred or are so imminent as to be inevitable, a process known as "retroactive clairvoyance".

This may be due partly to popular unease about the future, partly to people's desire to see their lives in some kind of over-all cosmic perspective and so to give meaning to them – but above all, possibly, to their vagueness and lack of dating, which enables them to be wheeled out after every major dramatic event and retrospectively claimed as 'hits'. Indeed, they have seldom, if ever, been out of print. Since his death, only the Prophecies have continued to be popular, but in this case they have been quite extraordinarily so. It is a purported translation of an ancient Greek work on Egyptian hieroglyphs based on later, Latin versions, all of them unfortunately ignorant of the true meanings of the ancient Egyptian script, which was not in fact deciphered until the advent of Champollion in the 19th century.

A manuscript normally known as the Orus Apollo also exists in the Lyon municipal library, where upwards of 2000 original documents relating to Nostradamus are stored under the aegis of Michel Chomarat. The same book also describes the preparation of cosmetics. One was an alleged "translation" of Galen, and in his so-called Traité des fardemens (basically a medical cookbook containing, once again, materials borrowed mainly from others) he included a description of the methods he used to treat the plague – none of which (not even the bloodletting) apparently worked. We know that he wrote at least two books on medical science.

Nostradamus was not only a diviner, but a professional healer, too. See also here. Often he published two or even three in a single year, entitled either Almanachs (detailed predictions), Prognostications or Presages (more generalized predictions). The Almanacs - By far the most popular of his works, these were published annually from 1550 until his death.

Given printing practices at the time, no two editions turned out to be identical, and it is relatively rare to find even two copies that are exactly the same. The third edition, with three hundred new quatrains, was reportedly printed in 1558, but nowadays only survives as part of the omnibus edition that was published after his death in 1568. The second, with 289 further prophetic verses, was printed in 1557. The first edition was published in 1555.

The Prophecies - In this book he collected his major, long-term divinations. In his dedication to King Henri II Nostradamus describes "emptying my soul, mind and heart of all care, worry and unease through mental calm and tranquility", but his frequent references to the "bronze tripod" of the Delphic rite are usually preceded by the words "as though". The popular legend that he attempted the ancient methods of flame gazing, water gazing or both simultaneously is based on an uninformed reading of his first two verses (see above), which merely liken his own efforts to those of the Delphic and Branchidic oracles. His sole description of this process is contained in letter 41 of his collected Latin correspondence, as republished by Jean Dupèbe and translated by Lemesurier [2].

ritually 'sleeping on it'). Given that his methodology, clearly, was mainly literary, it is doubtful whether Nostradamus used any particular methods for entering a trance state, other than contemplation, meditation and incubation (i.e. The fact that they reportedly burned with an unnaturally brilliant flame suggests, however, that some of them were manuscripts on vellum, which was routinely treated with saltpeter. While it is true that Nostradamus claimed in 1555 to have burned all the occult works in his library, no one can say exactly what books were destroyed in this fire.

Latin versions of both had recently been published in Lyon, and extracts from both are paraphrased (in the second case almost literally) in his first two verses. Further material (see Brind'Amour, Gruber, Lemesurier [2] and [3]) was gleaned from the De honesta disciplina of 1504 by Petrus Crinitus, which included extracts from Michael Psellus's De daemonibus and the De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum..." (Concerning the mysteries of Egypt...), a book on Chaldean and Assyrian magic by Iamblichus, a 4th-century neo-Platonist. Any criticism of Nostradamus for claiming to be a prophet, in other words, would have been for doing what he never claimed to be doing in the first place. Michel Nostradamus' – which, except in a few cases, they weren't, other than in the manner of their editing, expression and re-application to the future).

Michel Nostradamus' – which is precisely what they were – as 'The Prophecies of M. (which, in French, as easily means 'The Prophecies, by M. This last is presumably why he entitled his book. In translation:.

Nostradamus, it should be remembered, denied in writing on several occasions that he was a prophet on his own account. Only in the 17th century did people start to be surprised by the fact that much of his output was evidently based on earlier and often classical originals – which was no doubt why, according to the early commentator Théophile de Garencières, his Prophecies started to be used as a classroom-reader at that time. Copying from the classics in particular, often without acknowledgement, and preferably from memory, was all the rage. The whole Renaissance was based on the idea.

Meanwhile, if Nostradamus' many competitors – and he had many – never accused him of copying from it, it was because copying and/or paraphrasing, far from being regarded (as it is today) as mere plagiarism, was regarded at the time as what all good, educated people should do anyway. See selected Engilsh translations from it here. The Mirabilis liber, (some of the predictions of which had already lapsed by the time Nostradamus started writing) was not translated into French until 1831 – and this mainly for scholarly and antiquarian reasons at a time when knowledge of Latin was beginning to die out. Nostradamus was, in effect, one of the first to present its prophecies (and others) openly in the French vernacular – as was also happening to the Bible at the time – which is no doubt why he has retained all the credit for them.

The obvious question – why the Mirabilis liber did not sustain its influence in the way that Nostadamus’ writings did – is explained mainly by the fact that the book (like the Bible) was mostly in Latin and in Gothic script and, to make matters even more complicated for the general reader, contained many abstruse scholastic abbreviations. The book had enjoyed considerable success in the 1520s, when it went through half-a-dozen editions (see Links below for facsimiles and translations). His major prophetic source was evidently the Mirabilis liber of 1522 (Brind'Amour, Lemesurier [2] and [3]), which contained a range of prophecies by Pseudo-Methodius, the Tiburtine Sibyl, Joachim of Fiore, Savonarola and others (his Preface contains no fewer than 24 biblical quotations, all but two of them in exactly the same order as Savonarola). (Refer to the seminal analysis of these charts by Brind'Amour, 1993, under Sources, and compare Gruber's comprehensive critique of Nostradamus’ horoscope for Crown Prince Rudolph Maximilian).

Even the planetary tables, already published by professional astrologers, on which he based the birth-charts that he was unable to avoid preparing himself are easily identifiable by their detailed figures, even where (as is usually the case) he gets some of them wrong. Many of his broader astrological references, by contrast, are taken almost word-for-word from the Livre de l'estat et mutations des temps of 1549/50 by Richard Roussat. His historical sources include easily identifiable passages from Livy, Suetonius, Plutarch and a range of other classical historians, as well as from the chronicles of medieval authors such as Villehardouin and Froissart. Astrology itself is mentioned only twice in Nostradamus' Preface, and 41 times in the Centuries themselves, though rather more in his famously baffling dedicatory Letter to King Henri II.

It is thanks to this that his work contains so many predictions involving ancient figures such as Sulla, Marius, Nero, Hannibal and so on, as well as descriptions of "battles in the clouds" and "frogs falling from the sky". Recent research (Brind'Amour [1], Prévost, Gruber, Lemesurier [2] and [3]) has suggested that most of his prophetic work was in fact based on paraphrasing collections of ancient end-of-the-world prophecies (mainly Bible-based – the end of the world was expected at the time to occur in either 1800 or 1887, or possibly in 2242, depending on the system adopted) and supplementing their insights by projecting known historical events and identifiable anthologies of omen-reports into the future with the aid of comparative horoscopy. Nostradamus claimed to base his predictions on judicial astrology – the assessment of the 'astrological quality' of expected future events – but was heavily criticized by professional astrologers of the day such as Laurens Videl for his incompetence and for assuming that 'comparative horoscopy' (comparison of future planetary configurations with the astrology of known past events) could predict the actual events themselves. He was buried in the local Franciscan chapel (part of it now incorporated into the restaurant La Brocherie'), but re-interred in the Collégiale St-Laurent at the French Revolution, where his tomb remains to this day.

On the evening of July 1 he is alleged to have told his secretary Jean de Chavigny, "You will not find me alive by sunrise." The next morning he was reportedly found dead, lying on the floor between his bed and a makeshift bench. This was followed by a much shorter codicil. In late June he summoned his lawyer to draw up an extensive will bequeathing his property plus 3444 crowns (around $300,000 today) – minus a few debts – to his wife pending her remarriage, in trust for her sons pending their twenty-fifth birthdays and her daughters pending their marriages. By 1566 Nostradamus' gout, which had plagued him painfully for many years and made movement very difficult, turned into dropsy.

His brief imprisonment at Marignane in late 1561 came about purely because he had published his 1562 almanac without the prior permission of a bishop, contrary to a recent royal decree. In fact, his relations with the Church as a prophet and healer were always excellent. Some biographical accounts of Nostradamus' life state that he was afraid of being persecuted for heresy by the Inquisition, but neither prophecy nor astrology fell under this bracket, and he would have been in danger only if he had practiced magic to support them. At the time, he feared that he would be beheaded, but by the time of his death in 1566, Catherine had made him Counselor and Physician-in-Ordinary to the King.

After reading his almanacs for 1555, which hinted at unnamed threats to the royal family, she summoned him to Paris to explain them, and to draw up horoscopes for her children. Catherine de Médicis, the queen consort of King Henri II of France, was one of Nostradamus' greatest admirers. Some people thought Nostradamus was a servant of evil, a fake, or insane, while many of the elite thought his quatrains were spiritually inspired prophecies. The quatrains, published in a book titled Les Propheties ('The Prophecies'), received a mixed reaction when they were published.

For technical reasons connected with their publication in three installments, the last fifty-eight quatrains of the seventh 'Century', or book of 100 verses, have not survived into any extant edition. Feeling vulnerable to religious fanatics, however, he devised a method of obscuring his meaning by using "Virgilianized" syntax, word games and a mixture of languages such as Provençal, Greek, Latin and Italian. He then began his project of writing a book of one thousand quatrains, which constitute the largely undated prophecies for which he is most famous today. It was mainly in reaction to the almanacs that nobility and other prominent persons from far and wide soon started asking for horoscopes and advice from him, though he generally expected them to supply the birth-charts on which the horoscopes would be based.

Taken together, they are known to have contained at least 6,338 prophecies (most of them, in the event, failed predictions – see Chevignard and Lemesurier [2] under Sources), as well as at least eleven annual calendars, all of them starting on January 1 (and not, as is sometimes supposed, in March). He was so encouraged by its success that he decided to write one or more annually. Following popular trends, he wrote an almanac for 1550, for the first time Latinizing his name to 'Nostradamus'. After a further visit to Italy, Nostredame began to move away from medicine and towards the occult.

Parts of the network remain today: thanks to much larger supplementary canals, there is even a hydroelectric station in Salon itself. Between 1556 and 1567, Nostredame and his wife would in due course acquire a one-thirteenth share in a huge canal project organized by Adam de Craponne to irrigate largely waterless Salon and the nearby Désert de la Crau from the river Durance. Finally, in 1547, he settled down in Salon-de-Provence in the house which is still there today, and where he married a rich widow named Anne Ponsarde (nicknamed Gemelle, or 'Twinny') and eventually had six children – three daughters (Madeleine, Anne and Diane) and three sons (César, Charles and André). On his return in 1545, he assisted the prominent physician Louis Serre in his fight against a major plague-outbreak in Marseille, and then tackled further outbreaks of disease on his own in Salon-de-Provence and in the regional capital, Aix-en-Provence.

After their death he continued to travel, passing through France and possibly Italy. In 1534, however, his wife and children died, presumably from the plague. There Nostredame married a woman whose name is still in dispute (possibly Henriette d'Encausse), but who bore him two children. In 1531 he was invited by Jules-César Scaliger, a leading Renaissance scholar, to come to Agen.

After his expulsion, Nostredame continued working, presumably as an apothecary (though some of his publishers and correspondents would later call him 'Doctor'), and became famous for creating a "rose pill" that was widely believed (not least by himself) to protect against the plague. 25 of Lemesurier [2] under Sources) still exists in the faculty library. The hand-written expulsion document (BIU Montpellier, Register S 2 folio 87 – see facsimile on p. He was promptly expelled again shortly afterwards, though, when it was discovered that he had been an apothecary, which was a 'manual' trade expressly banned by the university statutes.

In 1529, after some years as an apothecary, he entered the University of Montpellier to study for a doctorate in medicine. After little more than a year (when he would have studied the regular Trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic, rather than the later Quadrivium of geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy/astrology) he was forced to leave Avignon when the university closed its doors in the face of an outbreak of the plague. It is known, however, that at the age of fifteen Nostredame entered the University of Avignon to study for his baccalaureate. Little is known about Nostredame's childhood, although there is a persistent tradition that he was educated by his maternal great-grandfather Jean de St-Rémy – which is vitiated by the equally persistent tradition that the latter died when the child was only one year old.

His known siblings included Delphine, Jehan (c.1507-77), Pierre, Hector, Louis (b.1522), Bertrand, Jean and Antoine (b.1523). His adult religious leanings suggest, however, that his upbringing was devoutly Catholic. While practice of the ancestral religion was apparently continued in secret, nobody knows whether this applied to Nostredame's family, or whether it still applied to him two generations later. The names of Nostredame's known forebears seem to reflect this.

In this, he was merely following the example of thousands of others, thanks to increasing official French persecution of Jews, many of whom were the descendants of former refugees from Spain, where they were known as the Marranos. The latter's family had originally been Jewish, but Jaume's father, Guy Gassonet, had converted to Catholicism circa 1455, taking the Christian name 'Pierre' and the surname 'Nostredame' (the latter apparently from the saint's-day on which his conversion was solemnized). Born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (see map) in the south of France in December 1503 (his claimed birthplace still exists), Michel de Nostredame was one of at least eight children of Reynière de St-Rémy and grain dealer Jaume de Nostredame, who was also a prosperous home-grown notary. .

Interest in the work of this prominent figure of the French Renaissance is still considerable, especially in the media and in popular culture. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, which consists of one unrhymed and 941 rhymed quatrains, grouped into nine sets of 100 and one of 42, called 'Centuries'. Nostradamus, (December 14, 1503 – July 2, 1566) born Michel de Nostredame, is one of the world's most famous authors of prophecies. Nostradamus at The Internet Movie Database (1994) Depicts Nostradamus's rise in influence, because of success in treating plague and his predictions, culminating in his appointment as court physician to Charles IX of France.

Nostradamus at The Internet Movie Database (2000). Nostradamus: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow at The Internet Movie Database (1981).

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