Thursday, August 5, 2010


In 1503, Nostradamus was born in France. His birth name was Michel de Nostredame. At school, Nostradamus studied to be a doctor. In those days, astrology was a required subject for medical students. Nostradamus studied the subject more thoroughly than anyone. When Nostradamus became a doctor, he helped victims of the bubonic plague. This disease, also called the Black Death, killed millions of people in Europe and Asia. At that time, doctors had only useless remedies to offer. One of these was bleeding their patients to get rid of “bad blood.” Nostradamus’s cure actually helped many plague victims. He told them to drink clean water and get plenty of fresh air. He also gave them his special pills. These contained sawdust from cypress trees, cloves, aloe, and powdered rose petals. (Rose petals are full of vitamin C.) His success with plague victims seemed to be astonishing. But when his wife and children died from the plague, people turned against him. Soon he was ordered to stand trial. His crime? He had made a humorous remark about demons several years earlier. Nostradamus did not want to stand trial. So he packed up his belongings and disappeared. Ten years later, he returned. At last his reputation had been restored—but not as a doctor. This time, Nostradamus had become famous for his predictions. One of his predictions concerned the King of France, Henry II. He predicted Henry’s death in a verse: The young lion shall overcome the old In warlike fields in a single duel; In a cage of gold he will pierce his eyes, Two wounds one, then die, a cruel death. He Saw the Future Four years later, in 1559, it happened. Henry II died in a jousting tournament (in warlike fields in a single duel). His opponent was a younger man (the young lion overcoming the old). The younger man’s spear splintered and wounded Henry in two places (two wounds). Part of the spear hit the king’s throat, and the other part went though his golden helmet (the cage of gold) and pierced his eye (he will pierce his eyes). Henry died that night. That prediction added new luster to Nostradamus’s reputation. Many people wondered if he was a witch who’d planned to kill the king. But other powerful people were on his side. After inviting Nostradamus to Paris, Queen Catherine made him her personal astrologer. King Charles IX chose him as his doctor. Royalty from all over Europe listened to his predictions. No one knows how Nostradamus made his predictions. It is known that he learned where the stars and planets were on certain dates. Then, perhaps, he figured out how likely events in the past—such as wars, earthquakes, and plagues—were to take place once again. The predictions of Nostradamus were collected in a book called Centuries. The book was supposed to foretell the future of the world. It isn’t easy to read, because Nostradamus used several languages in his writing. It’s also difficult to figure out what ideas he was trying to convey. Hundreds of books have been written to interpret his writings. Many of his predictions turned out to be correct. He predicted Louis Pasteur’s discoveries and the date of the great London fire (1666). He predicted many events of the French Revolution. According to many interpreters, Nostradamus predicted Hitler’s rise to power and World War II. During the war, the Nazis used their interpretations of Centuries as propaganda. They also He Saw the Future claimed he’d predicted a Nazi victory. Nazi planes dropped copies of these predictions over Belgium and France. The British fought back with their own propaganda. Their interpretation of Centuries predicted a victory for the British and the other Allies. They, too, dropped leaflets over Belgium and France. Nostradamus predicted his own death, at age 63. In 1566, he wrote: “He will be found dead near the bed and the bench.” A few months later, his family found his body. He was lying across a bench he used to help him get out of bed. The predictions of Nostradamus are still read today. Centuries, in fact, is one of the few books that have remained in print for hundreds of years!


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