In sixteenth century France there lived a great magician named Nostradamus. We have all heard the name, and you can even read his predictions in books. The truth is he really did live at the Royal Court of France in the sixteenth century during the reign of Henri II and Catherine de Medici.
Queen Catherine greatly admired the seer. She often went to him for advice and for his services of prophecy. Catherine was born an Italian noblewoman, and brought to her marriage money but no title. By the time she got to court it was obvious her husband would never love her. His heart would always belong to his mistress Diane de Poitiers.
As a member of the notorious Medici family Catherine is believed to have learned the art of poison and intrigue. She was also of course very superstitious and truly believed in the powers of Nostradamus. She would even make him counselor to her son Charles IX of France.
The history of Nostradamus before he came to be a court seer starts by his being born as Michel de Nostradame. He would go to study at the University of Avignon, and he would marry but unfortunately his wife and children would die (it is believed of the plague).
Nostradamus would become an astrologer and physician as well as beginning to practice occultism during time spent in Italy. Eventually he was brought to the French court and the ensuing prophecies and the books they were collected in would make him a household name!
The time he spent at the French court is very well known. To modern audiences it may best be remembered by the depiction within the CW television show Reign. While that show was not historically accurate at all, it is still a very fun thing to watch. Reign would have four seasons depicting the most important events in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. In the first two seasons Nostradamus is featured because Mary was the daughter-in-law of Catherine de Medici. The depiction of Nostradamus as a person rather than a simple archetype is also refreshing!
I hope this gives you a jumping off point in learning about Nostradamus, and other court seers that can be seen as real life counterparts of Merlin!
Below are some recommendations on further reading and watching to learn more about Nostradamus.
- Les Prophéties by Nostradamus
- Nostradamus: The Man Behind the Prophecies by Ian Wilson
- Reign (The first two seasons feature Rossif Sutherland as Nostradamus)