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Michel de Nostredame, more popularly known as Nostradamus (14th December 1503 – 1st July 1566) was one of the finest authors of prophesies the world has ever known. Born in the south of France, he was a devout Catholic. He worked as an apothecary and discovered the “rose pill” which was an antidote to the much feared plague.

In 1550, he Latinised his name to Nostradamus when he wrote an almanac. It was so successful that he was encouraged to write one or more annually. In totality, it contained 6338 prophecies, most of which failed. He also authored 11 annual calendars. Undaunted by the failure of his predictions, he then set out to write 1000 quatrains, for which he is renowned today. Not wanting to upset the religious scholars, he wrote his prophecies in a mixture of languages (Greek, Italian, Latin & Provencal) replete with word play. These quatrains were 4 line poems grouped into 100 each called centuries and were compiled into a book now celebrated as Les Propheties.

The book, when released, drew mixed reactions. Some called him satanic while others praised his spiritual inclinations. Later, he became an eminent figure with the nobility who came to him for their horoscopes. He is believed to have foretold his own death.

In a letter to Privy Counsillor Birague (1566,) Nostradamus wrote “I do but make bold to predict (not that I guarantee the slightest thing at all), thanks to my researches and the consideration of what judicial Astrology promises me and sometimes gives me to know, principally in the form of warnings, so that folk may know that with which the celestial stars do threaten them. Not that I am foolish enough to pretend to be a prophet...”

Famous works

The Prophecies – First published in 1555, this book contains his long term futuristic predictions. The copies that exist today were printed after his death and since no two copies are exactly the same, it is very difficult to guess what he actually meant.

The Almanacs – Beginning in 1550, these were annual publishings, which continued upto the year of his death. However, sometimes two or three were released in a year and these were either called Almanachs (detailed prophecies) or Presages (generalized predictions).

Traitè de fardemens – Primarily a medical cookbook, it also contained methods of treating plague in addition to the descriptions regarding preparation of cosmetics. This is why Nostradamus was a famous professional healer alongwith being a diviner.

Nostradamus is believed to have predicted the French Revolution, the rise of Hitler and more recently, the September 11 attacks in New York. What is noteworthy is that Nostradamus did not specifically write about these events but his words were contorted in retrospect, by enthusiasts. There is a well-known inclination to assert that “Nostradamus predicted what has just happened”.

Contrary to popular belief, Nostradamus also never actually referred to any “third big war”.