Nostradamus’ family (Jewish newly converted) came from Carpentras’ area (Southern France). His dad, Jaume Nostredame, was a lawyer. The legend says that one of his ancestor was the king’s doctor!
Michel, for his part, was born in December 14th 1503, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. His grandad Jean taught him to read secrets from nature, from the sky.
Little Michel always wanted to learn more! So, he went to study in Avignon. Then, he went to Montpellier, in the prestigious University, to study medicine.
That was good, a plague epidemic began in Southern France: so Michel had to cure sick persons. He especially created his own remedy… which blocked the symptoms’ apparition!
So, in 1530, he passed his exams and became a doctor. But Michel had itchy feet: he traveled from place to place, in Provence. What did he do? He made his own creams, cosmetics and love-potions. He succeeded in living on that!
Then, he turned up in Aix-en-Provence, where the plague hit again. We were in 1546: Michel cured sick persons with his miracle powder…
Hey, Michel! Give us your recipe, pleeease… He made it with cypress peels, iris, grey amber, musk and aloe, plus… the secret ingredient: petals from a red rose picked up in the morning… Of course, that powder didn’t heal at all!
But it purified the air full of miasmas and prevented the plague from propagating in closed spaces. Once again, Michel saved the situation… but all those success made people jealous of him.
And Michel settled in Salon. Here, he married Anne Ponsard. They had 6 kids, in their house located at number 2 of the rue Nostradamus: Michel lived here 19 years, until his death. Like in the good old days, he sold his cosmetics.
Yes, he wrote his book Traité des fardements (″Treaty about make-up″, 1552) in Salon! He taught to distillate waters, make perfumes and other lotions for the bad breath, for instance.
Among those recipes:
• ″a cream with a supreme smell″
• a ″powder made with violets″
• a ″nutmeg oil″
• a ″powder to make black teeth whiter, white like ivory″ (and he added he had a recipe for ″rotting teeth″!)
• a cream to make the hands ″white and sweet″
• the ″virginal milk″, to ″remove all stains from the face″...
Michel also published a treaty about jams and candies (1555). He taught to make ″jams of all kinds, with sugar, honey or wine.″ Among those recipes, we find: ″Spanish nougat″, ″jam with cherries″, ″jam with green ginger″, ″jelly made with quinces″...
But Michel started to make astrology: the forecast by the stars. And at this time too, he published his first forecasts, La grande pronostication. At the same time, he held consultations: a pretty lucrative activity! He became rich.
So people became jealous: ″Heretic! Sorcerer″ they yelled… Oooo, but Michel didn’t care. He had lot of thing to do, like writing a best-seller!
Yes: he published his Centuries in 1555, and after that, Les Prophéties: forecasts, pretty vague and obscure. So, people could interpret them in several ways! Anyway, the book was a real bestseller.
Even among the royal court, they red it! Especially the queen Catherine of Medici, who was fond of weird and magical stuffs. She hosted Michel in Paris, in the summer 1555. This one predicted her sons’ future and he went back in Provence with his pockets full of money...
But, wait… are Michel’s predictions exact? Well, I think he understood he could play with people’s frights and naivety, and make money with that. His quatrains are pretty enigmatic, cryptic, appropriated for multiples interpretations.
Hey! But now, we know the truth: Nostradamus knew how to make buzz! Today we know his prophecies were false ones: there were just the narration of news stories, stories from the 16th centuries! He added a specific construction for his sentences (notice the use of infinitive and the lack of dates), and the doubt was sown...
For instance: in 1554, farmers came to show him a veal with 2 heads. Damned! Michel said to them it was a bad omen… whoa! A sign of war of Religion! And 8 years later, baron de Crussol turned up with his troops in Southern France to quell Protestants…
Crussol passed by Salon: he asked Michel if everything was OK. Michel answered that his mission would end ″when the trees will be full of new fruits″…
Few days later, he learned the Catholics slaughtered Protestants in Barjols. Crussol turned up and punished everyone… by hanging them on trees! The new fruits??… so, was it a real prediction?
Nooo, not at all: Michel simply observed the situation, he saw the climb of the religious troubles, so he thought it would burst one day. In those kind of situations, everything always ended in a bloodbath, anyway… Pretty observer, Michel!
The museum is located in the house where Nostradamus lived in Salon. He wrote here the 1000 quatrains of his Centuries: today, it’s still the most-read book after the Bible, with 5000 printings! We discover 10 scenes representing Nostradamus’ greatest moments. We also learn more about his family, his prophecies…