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Michel de Nostredame
BornDecember 1503
DiedJuly 1566
(aged 62)
Salon-de-Provence, Provence, Kingdom of France (modern-day France)
Cause of deathOedema
Occupation(s)Physician, apothecary, author, translator, astrological consultant
Known forProphecy, treating plague
Notable workLés Propheties
  • Jaume de Nostredame (father)
  • Reynière de Nostredame (mother)

Michel de Nostredame (December 1503 – July 1566), usually latinised as Nostradamus, was a French physician, apothecary, author, translator, and astrological consultant. Some people believe that Nostradamus was even a seer, but this was never proven. He is best known for his book called Les Propheties (The Prophecies), first published in 1555, a collection of 942 quatrains (a type of poem). The quatrains allegedly predict future events.

Life[change | change source]

Childhood and family[change | change source]

Nostradamus was born as de Nostredame sometime in December 1503, somewhere located in Provence, Kingdom of France (in modern-day France). His first name was only given to him, when he was baptised as Michel (French for "Michael"). While it is disputed how many children his parents had, it is known thst they had at least 9 children. Michel was the son of a notary named Jaume de Nostredame and his spouse Reynière de Nostredame. Reynière was the granddaughter of Pierre de Saint-Rémy, who worked as a physician in Saint Rémy. Jaume and his family originally celebrated Judaism as their religion, but his father, Cresquas Gassonet, a grain and money dealer who worked in Avignon, had converted to Roman Catholicism sometime in the second half of the 15th century, abandoned his Jewish name, and took the French name Pierre de Nostredame. Nostredame in French means Our Lady. The other family members followed in his footsteps and converted, as well, to Roman Catholicism, abandoned their Jewish names, and took the surname "de Nostredame". The earliest ancestor in Michel's father's line is identified as Astruge of Carcassonne. Astruge died around 1420. Michel's known siblings include Delphine de Nostredame (year of birth unknown; and year of death unknown), Jean I (born in approximately 1507; and died in 1577), Pierre (year of birth unknown; and year of death unknown), Hector (year of birth unknown; and year of death unknown), Louis (year of birth unknown; and year of death unknown), Bertrand (born in 1511; and died in 1602), Jean II (born in 1522; and year of death unknown), and Antoine (born in 1523; and died in 1597). Other than this information, little is known about his childhood. There is a tradition that when Michel was a child, he was educated by his mother's grandfather named Jean de Saint-Rémy. However, historical records show that Jean disappeared from records in 1504, in Michel's first year of life, making him still too little. This made some people to believe that Jean died shortly after disappearing from historical records.

Education[change | change source]

When he was 14, Nostradamus succesfully passed the test and was accepted to attend the University of Avignon. He attended the university to study for his baccalauréat. In the university, he studied trivium, rhetoric, and logic, rather than something more advanced. It was only later in time, that universities had studies more advanced, such as quadrivium, astronomy, and astrology. He only studied in the university for more than one year, when the university closed due to a plague outbreak. All of the inhabitants of Avignon were forced to leave. According to Nostradamus' journals, as a result of the plague outbreak, after he left Avignon, he escaped to the countryside for 8 years, where he worked as a medical researcher starting from 1521. By 1529, when Nostradamus was already a apothecary for some years, he successfully passed the test and was accepted to enter the University of Montpelier to study for a doctorate in medicine, but shortly after his attendance, he was expelled by the student procurator, Guillaume Rondelet, when it was discovered he worked as a apothecary. Back in the day, apothecaries were banned from attending universities in France because it was considered a "manual trade" and had been slandering physicians. The explosion document still exists in the university's library. Some of his publishers and correspondents would later call him a "doctor". After his explusion, Nostradamus still continued working, though it is disputed whether he was still a apothecary (after he got expelled), and succesfully invented a "rose pill". Some people believe that the pill was used to protect people from the plague.

Marriage and healing work[change | change source]

In 1531, Nostradamus was invited by Jules-César Scaliger, a leading Renaissance scholar, to come to Agen. There , he married a woman with whom he had two children. The name of that woman is disputed. Three years later in 1534, his wife and two children died from unknown causes (some people believe they died from the plague). After their deaths, he continued to travel, passing through France. Some people speculate that he may have even traveled to Italy, during this time. He returned to his hometown only in 1545.

After his return, he assisted a prominent physician named Louis Serre to help fight against a major plague outbreak in Marseille, and then tackled further disease outbreaks on his own in Salon-de-Provence and in Aix-en-Provence, the capital of Provence. In 1547, he settled in Salon-de-Provence in the house which still exists today where he married a rich widow named Anne Posarde. With her he had six children (three daughters and three sons). In 1556 and 1557, he and his second wife acquired a one-thirteenth share in a huge canal project. The project was organised by Adam de Craponne to construct the Canal de Craponne to irrigate Salon-de-Provence, which was largely waterless, and the nearby Désert de la Crau from the river Durance.

Sources[change | change source]

  • Lemesurier, Peter, The Nostradamus Encyclopedia, 1997; The Unknown Nostradamus, 2003; Nostradamus: The Illustrated Prophecies, 2003

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Michel de Nostredame at Wikimedia Commons Quotations related to Nostradamus at Wikiquote