Michel de Nostredame was born in 1503, in the town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, southern France.
At the age of fifteen, he went to study at the University of Avignon for his baccalaureate. Next, he worked as a pharmacist and, a few years later, he enrolled at the University of Montpellier to study medicine. However, when the university doctors discovered that he was not properly qualified to be studying medicine, he was expelled.
He continued to work as a pharmacist (called an apothecary in olden days) and became famous for producing a pill to protect people from the terrifying and common disease of the time: - the plague.
Michel de Nostredame began to become interested in horoscopes and foreseeing the future. He wrote an almanac (a chart with a year's information on the stars, planets and tides) for 1550.
He started to write horoscopes at the request of many famous people in France. Even the French Queen, Catherine de Médicis, was a great admirer of Michel de Nostredame and asked him to write prophesies for her family.
Michel de Nostredame changed his surname to Nostradamus. He wrote a famous book of one thousand prophesies. The book was named Les Propheties. Each prophesy is written in a short verse of four lines - known as a quatrain. These little rhymes were put together in groups of one hundred. Each group is called une centurie.
A famous quatrain foresees the death of the French King Henri II. In 1556, the French Queen was so worried that the rhyme was a prediction of her husband's death in a duel that she invited Nostradamus to the royal palace for a discussion.
The quatrain refers to 'the lion' 'in a field' 'a duel' 'golden cage' 'eyes' and 'death.'
Le lyon ieune le vieux surmontera,
En champ bellique par singulier duelle,
Dans cage d'or les yeux luy creuera,
Deux classes vne, puis mourir, mort cruelle.
(Written in old French)
In fact, King Henri II died a few years later, after fighting in a duel against Le Comte de Montgomery. They both had a lion as their emblem. The duel took place in a field. King Henri wore a golden helmet. His eye was pierced by his opponent's lance. As a consequence, he died.
The quatrains of Nostradamus refer to all kinds of events - such as war, earthquakes, storms and floods, deaths, kings, the end of the world, etc. They do not say when the events will take place. Many people believe that his rhymes are truly foreseeing the future. Others believe that they are not.
Some of the predictions are said to refer to: landing on the moon, the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, various wars, the death of Princess Diana, the great fire of London and so on....
An interesting fact:
Nostradamus was fascinated by cookery and the creation of potions and cosmetics for which he wrote recipes.
His famous recipe book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is called Le Traité des Fardements and it is all about the preparation of cosmetics and perfumes. Part 2 is called Le Traité des Confitures and it is all about the preparation of jams, preserves and potions for good health.
The book was first published in 1555. That makes it a very old recipe book!
On the evening of 1st. July 1566, Nostradamus told his secretary that "You will not find me alive at sunrise." This prediction was correct. In the morning, Michel de Nostredame was found dead, lying on the floor of his bedroom.
His tomb can be found in the church called Collégiale St.-Laurent in the town of Salon-de-Provence.