Nostradamus’ real name was Michel de Nostradame. He was born on the 14th of December, 1503, in a small town in southern France. As a child he was very good at mathematics and astrology. At the age of 15, he became a university student, but the University was soon closed because of an outbreak of the plague. Nostradamus travelled across the country and helped victims of the plague using his own methods. It is said that he invented a ‘rose pill’ that could protect people against the plague. Sadly, his first wife and two small children later died of the plague.
Nostradamus continued to learn and practise medicine, but he also got interested in astrology. Soon legends began to grow about his strange ability to predict the future. One story said that when Nostradamus was in Italy, he met a monk. He immediately went down on his knees and called the monk ‘Your Holiness’. About 45 years later the monk became Pope.
Nostradamus realised that he had an unusual gift and started writing down his predictions in the form of four-line poems. He quickly became famous, and even Queen Catherine de Medici of France wanted to meet him. Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband, King Henry II, and in 1559 his prediction came true!
It is said that Nostradamus even predicted his own death! When his assistant wished him goodnight on the 1st of July 1, 1566, Nostradamus said: ‘You won’t find me alive at sunrise’. He was found dead on the 2nd of July.
All in all, Nostradamus wrote over 900 predictions about the future of the world. They were published in two books called The Centuries, which were published in 1555 and 1558.
Nostradamus’s four-line poems predicted events from the mid-1500s until the end of the world. People have studied and interpreted his predictions since the sixteenth century!
The problem with these predictions is that they are very vague and can mean many things. Nostradamus made his poems difficult to understand by using words from Latin, French, Greek and Italian. They have anagrams and riddles and are not placed in chronological order. This was because he didn’t want the Church to accuse him of being a magician or a heretic.
But just how did Nostradamus predict the future? He worked with ancient books, he studied the stars using his knowledge of astrology. He also used an ancient method of predicting the future — he looked into a bowl of water until he had an inspiration or saw an image.
People who believe him say that he predicted the Great Fire of London of 1666, the rise of both Napoleon and Hitler, the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy and even the terrorist attacks of the 11th of September, 2001.
Many of his predictions seem true. But some of the events never happened. Sceptics think that Nostradamus’ predictions can be interpreted to fit almost any event.