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Source: Primitive Psycho-therapy And Quackery
MICHEL DE NOTREDAME, or NOSTRADAMUS, a celebrated French physician and
astrologer, of Jewish ancestry, was born at Saint-Remi, a small town in
Provence, December 14, 1503. Both of his grandfathers were practitioners
of medicine, and his father, Jacques de Notredame, was a notary of
Saint-Remi. Michel studied medicine at Avignon and afterwards at the
University of Montpellier, where he took his degree.
During the prevalence of an epidemic in the south of France, he acquired
distinction by his zealous ministrations to the stricken peasants, and
more especially by some remarkable cures attributed to a remedy of his
own invention. After the pestilence had subsided, Notredame devoted many
years to travel, after which, in the year 1544, he settled at Salon, a
little town in the present Department of Bouches-du-Rhone. During a
second visitation of the plague, which raged in Provence, he accepted an
invitation from the authorities of Lyons and Aix to visit those places.
Although his success in treating patients at this time served to enhance
his fame as a practitioner, his chief reputation was due to his capacity
as an astrologer. He claimed moreover to have the faculty of reading the
future, and became the subject of a bitter controversy. For while he
gained many adherents abroad, in his own country he was regarded as
little better than a charlatan. He became involved in controversies with
his professional confreres, who were jealous of his success and
doubtless also suspicious of his methods.
It is worthy of note that the most notorious quacks, often men of
genius and education, though mentally ill-balanced, and morally of low
standards, have been great travellers and shrewd observers of the weak
points in human nature. When such an one becomes ambitious to acquire
wealth, he is likely to prove a dangerous person in the community.
Notredame was regarded as a visionary by some of his contemporaries,
while others believed him to have illicit correspondence with the Devil.
Among those who were impressed by his pretensions as a soothsayer, was
Catherine de' Medici (regent for her son, Charles IX), who invited him
to visit the French Court, where he was received as a distinguished
Michel de Notredame published in 1555 his famous work entitled
"Centuries," a collection of prophecies, written in quatrains. His death
occurred at Salon, July 2, 1566.
We quote as follows from a rare volume, "The True Prophecies of Michel
Nostradamus, Physician to Henry II and Charles IX, Kings of France,
translated by Theophilus de Garencieres, Doctor in Physick, London,
He was popularly believed "to have naturally a genius for the
knowing of future things, as he himself confesseth in 2
Epistles to King Henry II, and to Caesar, his own son. And
besides that genius, the knowledge of astrology did smooth him
the way to discover many future events. He had a greater
disposition than others to receive those supernatural lights,
and as God is pleased to work sweetly in his creatures, and to
give some forerunning dispositions to those graces he
intendeth to bestow, it seemeth that to that purpose he did
choose our author to reveal him so many wonderful secrets. We
see every day that God in the distributing of his graces,
carrieth Himself towards us according to our humours and
natural inclinations. He employeth those that have a generous
martial heart, for the defence of His Church, and the
destruction of tyrants.
"He leadeth those of a melancholick humour into Colledges and
Colisters, and cherisheth tenderly those that are of a meek
and mild disposition.
"Even so, seeing that Nostradamus inclined to this kind of
knowledge, He gave him in a great measure the grace of it."