Nostradamus, Michel

, a physician and celebrated astrologer, was born Dec. 14, | 1503, at St. Remy, in the diocese of Avignon. His father was a notary public, and his grandfather a physician, who instructed him in the elements of the mathematics. He Afterwards completed his courses of humanity and philo^ sophy at Avignon, and studied physic at Montpelier; but the plague raging in 1525, he became a travelling physician for five years, and undertook all such patients as were willing to put themselves under his care. After this fee returned to Montpelier, and was created doctor of his faculty in 1529, and then revisited the places where he had practised physic before. At Agen, he contracted an acquaintance with Julius Caesar Scaliger, which induced him to make some stay in that town, where he married; but upon the death of his wife, four years after, he went first to Marseilles, and then, in 154-4, to Salon, where he married a second time.

In 1546, Aix being afflicted with the plague, he went thither, at the solicitation of the inhabitants, and was of so great service, by a powder of his own invention, that the town gave him a considerable pension for several years after the contagion ceased. He appears to have been equally successful in 1547, when the city of Lyons, being visited with the same distemper, had recourse to him; but upon his return to Salon, found that his popularity had decreased. This occasioned his having more leisure to apply to his studies; and now he began to think himself inspired, and miraculously illuminated with a prospect into futurity, notions which he had partially entertained for some time. When these pretended illuminations discovered to him any future evenl, he entered it in writing, in prose, but he afterwards thought the sentences would savour more of a prophetic spirit, if they were expressed in verse. This opinion determined him to throw them all into quatrains, and he afterwards ranged them into centuries. When this was done, he resolved to print them, with a dedication addressed to his son Caesar, an infant only some months old, in the form of a letter, or preface. This first edition, which is included in seven centuries, was printed by Rigault at Lyons in 1568, 8vo. He prefixed his name in Latin, but gave to his son Caesar the name as it is pronounced, Notradame. This work was reprinted twice in the same year, and while some considered him as an impostor, there were others, and among them persons of considerable rank aud influence, who believed him to be really | endued with the supernatural gift of prophecy. However, Henry II. and queen Catharine of Medicis, his mother, very graciously received him at court; and, besides other marks of respect paid to him, he received a present of 200 crowns. He was sent afterwards to Blois, to visit his majesty’s children there, and report what he should be able to discover concerning their destinies; and thence he returned to Salon loaded with honours and presents. Animated with this success, he augmented his work from 300 quatrains to the number of a complete miliiade, and pub* lished it with adedication to the king in 1558. That prince dying the next year of a wound which he received, as is well known, at a tournament, the book of our prophet was immediately consulted; and this unfortunate event was found in the 35th quatrain of the first century, in these lines:

"Le lion jeune le vieux surmontera,

En champ bellique par singulier duel,

Dans cage d’or les yieux lui cr^vera,

Deux classes une puis mourir, mort cruelle."

So remarkable a prediction not a little increased the credulity of the public, and he was honoured shortly after with a visit from Emanuel duke of Savoy, and the princess Margaret of France, his consort. Charles IX. coming to Salon, being eager to see him, Nostradamus complained of the little esteem his countrymen had for him, on which the monarch publicly declared, that he should hold the enemies of Nostradamus to be his enemies. In passing, not Jong after, through the city of Aries, he sent for Nostradamus, presented him with a purse of 200 crowns, together with a brevet, constituting him his physician in ordinary, with the same appointment as the rest. But our prophet enjoyed these honours only for the space of sixteen, months, for he died July 2, 1566, at Salon. Besides his “Centuries,” we have some other pieces of his composition,*

*

These are, “A Treatise de fardemens & de senteurs,1552. A book of singular receipts, “pour entretenir la sante dn corps,” 1556. A piece “des Conitures,” 1557. “A French translation of the Latin of Galen’s Paraphrase, exhorting Menedotus to study, especially to that of physic,1557. Some years before his death, he published a small instruction for husbandmen, shewing the best seasons for their several labours, which he entitled “The Almanac of Nostradamus.” Lastly, after his death, there came out “The eleventh and twelfth Centuries of his Quatrains,” added to the

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former ten, which had been printed three times in two separate parts. It is only in these first editions, that our author’s “Centuries” are found without alterations, additions, &c.

and his prophetical works have been translated into English. | He left three sons and three daughters John, his second son, exercised with reputation the business of a proctor in the parliament of Provence: he wrote the “Lives of the ancient Provencal Poets, called Troubadours,” which was printed at Lyons in 1575, 8vo. Cæsar, the eldest son, was born at Salon in 1555, and died in 1629: he left a “Manuscript giving an Account ofthe most remarkable events in the History of Provence, from 1080 to 1494,” in which he inserted the lives of the poets of that country. These memoirs falling into the hands of his nephew Caesar Nostradamus, gentleman to the duke of Guise, he undertook to complete the work; and being encouraged by a present, of 3000 livres from the estates of the country, he carried the account up to the Celtic Gauls the impression was finished at Lyons, in 1614, and published under the title of “Chronique de l’Histoire de Provence,” The next son of Michel is said to have imitated his father, and ventured to predict, that Pouzin, which was then besieged; would be destroyed by fire. In order to prove the truth of his prophecy, he was seen, during the tumult, setting fire to all parts of the town; which so much enraged M. De Saint Luke, that he rode over him with his horse, and killed him. But this story has been justly called in question, 1
1

Moreri.—Eloy, —Dict. Hist. de Medicine.—Hutton’s Dictionary.