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Sources: 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.

ng 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."