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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Happy birthday Nostradamus
The man we know now as Nostradamus was born on either the 14th or the 21st of December, 1503, in St. Remy de Provence, in the south of France.
All his life, he was haunted by plague (though he actually died of gout).
First, he had to leave the University of Avignon, because of an outbreak of the terrible disease. So instead of studying grammar and logic, he roamed the countryside collecting herbs, and researching herbal remedies.
In 1529, after practising as an apothecary, he entered the University of Montpellier to study for a medical degree. Then someone found that -- shock, horror! -- he had been engaged in the menial work of dispensing herbs, and he was expelled. So he went back to fighting sporadic outbreaks of plague, losing his first wife and two children to the disease, and inventing a "rose pill" that was supposed to prevent it.
About 1550, after an advantageous marriage to a rich woman, he moved from herbs to the occult, changing his name from Nostredame to Nostradamus, and publishing yearly almanacs. Altogether, these contained 6,338 prophesies (more or less), which became so famous that prominent people began to pay him to make predictions. (He accepted the jobs -- on the condition that his clients supplied their own astrological charts!)
He then set to the task of rewriting his prophesies into 1,000 quatrains, divided into "centuries." These were published as The Prophesies in three instalments, starting 1555.
One of his most successful predictions was of his own death. On the evening of 1 July 1566 he told his secretary "You will not find me alive at sunrise," and lo, it was so.
Another was of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The blood of the just will be demanded of London
Burnt by the fire in 66
(Century 2, Quatrain 66)