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Nostradamus Essay, Research Paper

NOSTRADAMUS (1503-1566) Nostradamus was a French physician and astrologer who wrote Centuries, a famous collection of prophecies published in 1555. The prophecies in Centuries appear in four-line rhyming verses called quatrains. In vague language, they describe events from the mid-1500s through the end of the world, which is predicted to come in AD 3797. Many people have interpreted the prophecies in Centuries, connecting certain ones with events that have taken place since Nostradamus’s time. About 1550, Nostradamus moved to Salon, where he began to write his prophecies. The publication of Centuries increased his fame, bringing many people to visit him in Salon during the rest of his life. Catherine de Medicis, queen of France, asked him to plot the horoscopes of her husband, King Henry II, and their children. In 1560, King Charles IX of France appointed Nostradamus, court physician. The name “Nostradamus” is a Latin name he used in place of his original name, Michel de Nostredame. Nostradamus was born on December 14th 1503, in St. Remy de Provence, in Southern France. He was raised Catholic. His parents were of simple lineage from around Avignon. Nostradamus was the oldest son, and had four brothers; the youngest, Jean, became Procureur of the Parliament of the Provence. Nostradamus’ great intellect became apparent while he was still very young, and his education was put 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 already showed a great interest in astrology and it became common talk among his fellow students. He upheld the Copernican theory that the world was round and circled around the sun more than 100 years before Galileo was prosecuted for the same belief. Since it was the age of the Inquisition and the family was converted from Judaism to the Catholic faith by the time Nostradamus was nine years old, his parents were quite worried, because as ex-Jews they were more vulnerable than most. So they sent him of to study medicine at Montpellier in 1522. He studied and Nostradamus obtained his bachelor’s degree after three years, with apparent ease, and once he had his license to practise medicine he decided to go out into the countryside and help the many victims of the Bubonic plague, better known as the Black Death, in communities of southern France. His cure basically consisted of cleanliness and vitamin C. The first step was to have all the corpses removed from the streets, and he then prescribed for his patients, plenty of fresh air, unpolluted water, and his rose’ pills which consisted of rose petals, sawdust from green cypress, iris, cloves, calamus, and lign-aloes. He eventually started a practice about 1525. Nostradamus used innovative methods of treatment, and his success in curing extremely ill patients earned him a reputation as a specially gifted healer. After nearly four years he returned to Montpellier to complete his doctorate and re-enrolled on October 23rd,1529. Nostradamus had some trouble in explaining his unorthodox remedies and treatments he used in the countryside. Nevertheless his learning and ability could not be denied and he obtained his doctorate. While practising in Toulouse he received a letter from Julius-Cesar Scaliger, the philosopher considered second only to Erasmus throughout Europe. Apparently Nostradamus’ reply so pleased Scaliger that he invited him to stay at his home in Agen. This life suited Nostradamus admirably, and circa 1534 he married a young girl “of high estate, very beautiful and admirable,” whose name was lost to us. He had a son and a daughter by her and his life seemed complete. Then a series of tragedies struck. The plague came to Agen and, despite all his efforts, killed Nostradamus’ wife and two children. The fact that he was unable to save his own family had a disastrous effect on his practice. Then he quarrelled with Scaliger and lost his friendship. His late wife’s family tried to sue him for the return of her dowry and as the final straw, in 1538, he was accused of heresy because of a chance remark made some years before. To a workman casting a bronze statue of the Virgin, Nostradamus had commented that he was making devils. His plea that he was only describing the lack of aesthetic appeal inherent in the statue was ignored and the Inquisitors sent for him to go to Toulouse. Nostradamus, having no wish to stand trial, set out on his wandering again and kept well clear of the Church authorities for the next six years. We know little of this period. From references in later books we know he travelled in the Lorraine and went to Venice and Sicily. Legends about Nostradamus’ prophetic powers also start to appear at this time. By 1554 Nostradamus had settled in Marseilles. In November that year, the Provence experienced one of the worst floods of its history. The plague redoubled in virulence, spread by the waters and the polluted corpses. Nostradamus worked ceaselessly. Once the city had recovered, Nostradamus moved onto Salon, which he found so pleasant a town that he determined to settle there for the rest of his life. In November he married Anne Ponsart Gemelle, a rich widow. The house in which he spent the remainder of his days can still be seen off the Place de la Poissonnerie. After 1550 he produced a yearly Almanac – and after 1554 The Prognostications – which seem to have been successful, and encouraged him to undertake 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. 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.

It is extraordinary how quickly the fame of Nostradamus spread across France and Europe 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 at Court, the Queen, Catherine de Medici, sent for Nostradamus to come to Court, and he set out for Paris on 14th July 1556. On 15th August, Nostradamus booked a room at the Inn of St. Michel, and the next day the queen sent for him. One could only wish that there had been a witness to record their meeting. Nostradamus and the Queen spoke together for apparently two hours. She is reputed to have asked him about the quatrain concerning the king’s death and to have been satisfied with Nostradamus’ answer. Certainly she continued to believe in Nostradamus’ predictions until her death. The king, Henri II, granted Nostradamus only a brief audience and was obviously not greatly interested. Two weeks later the queen sent for him a second time and now Nostradamus was faced with the delicate and difficult task of drawing up the horoscopes of the seven Valois children, whose tragic fates he had already revealed in the centuries. All he would tell Catherine was that all of her sons would be kings, which is slightly inaccurate since one of them, Francois, died before he could inherit. Soon afterwards Nostradamus was warned that the Justices of Paris were inquiring about his magic practices, and he swiftly returned to Salon. From this time on, 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. Apparently he allowed a few manuscript copies to circulate before publication, because many of the predictions were understood and quoted before the completed book came off the printing press in 1568, two years after his death. The reason for this reticence was probably the king’s death in 1559. Nostradamus had predicted it in I545 and may have felt that it was too explicit for comfort and that it would be advisible to wait some years until things had quietened down. But the following year, 1560, King Francis II died, and this time he was openly quoted. In 1564 Catherine, now Queen Regent, decided to make a Royal Progress through France. While travelling she came to Salon and visited Nostradamus. They dined and Catherine gave Nostradamus the title of Physician in Ordinary, which carried with it a salary and other benefits. But by now the gout from which Nostradamus suffered was turning for the worse, and he, the doctor, realized that his end was near. He made his will on 17th June 1566 and left the large sum, for those days, of 3444 crowns over and above his other possessions. On July 1st, he sent for the local priest to give him the last rites, and when the Priest Chavigny took leave of him that night, he told him 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, and his wife Anne erected a splendid marble plaque to his memory. Nostradamus’ grave was opened by superstitious soldiers during the Revolution but his remains were reburied in the other church at Salon, the Church of St. Laurent, where his grave and portrait can still be seen. Nostradamus was an amazing figure of his time with his prophecies. He had apparently predicted the birth of Adolf Hitler, the Revolutionary War, the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte, The Holocaust, the fall of the Soviets, the 3rd Antichrist, the landing on the moon, the hale-bopp comet, the assassination of JFK, etc, just to name a few. His most chilling prediction, however, is the World War III, which is supposedly the war of all wars. It is also predicted that some time next year, in the year 1999, that there will be a man, nicknamed, “The Great King of Terror,” whom will supposedly be the greatest terrorist in the world. One of Nostradamus’ most famous prediction was about King Henry II, which eventually convinced people right away that Nostradamus was indeed, not a madman, but a prophetic healer.Here is a sample of one of his quatrains about King Henry; The younger lion shall surmount the old On martial field in duel man to man. Two breaks at once, eyes pierced in cage of gold, Death shall come hard as only dying can. (Lemesurier 28) When King Henry II insisted on taking part in a series of duels with Conte de Montgomery during a marriage celebration, this prediction faithfully came true. The king, clad in full armor and golden helmet, bore a shield with a lion. Montgomery’s shield also bore a lion. During the duel Montgomery’s lance shattered, part entering the kings throat and the other penetrating the kings golden visor, piercing his eye and entering his brain. The king died from his wounds after ten days of agony. One can examine the quatrain and see the resemblance with the actual events. A more current event that was predicted by Nostradamus is the Gulf War in Kuwait Nostradamus was an extremely fascinating person to read about. Its hard to say whether or not I believe in him. I know I believe in something, but only to a certain extent. Nostradamus has made some pretty incredible predictions into the future and I think I believe that he did make those predictions, and that none of them were purely coincidental. In this day and age, its hard to have a rational thought, a rational belief about psychic people, healers, etc. But in some way, I do believe that even today, there is such thing, as that reverts to this old term, “Seeing is believing.”

31e


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