The life of Nostradamus: facts
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Most of the facts in this survey are taken from Nostradamus - ses origines, sa vie, son oeuvre (dr. E. Leroy, Saint-Rémy de Provence, 1993 [1972]). The survey is reduced to those facts, of which can be said fairly certain that they are reliable and not the result of the creation of legends or the distortion of facts.

The page The life of Nostradamus - legends and anecdotes contains stories about Nostradamus, which are either a mix of facts and fiction or which are legends, in which he is described as a clairvoyant or a man who performs miracles.



December 14: Nostradamus is born in Saint-Rémy de Provence, according to certain sources around noon (cf. the Brief Discours in Ianus Gallicus (1594): Michel de Nostredame [...] naquit en la ville de Saint-Remy, en Provence, l'an de grâce 1503, un jeudi 14 décembre, environ les douze heures de midi).
Nostradamus is the second child in a family of nine children. His sister Dauphine is the oldest child and the only girl in the family.

 ± 1521 - 1529

Journeys through several countries and regions, during which Nostradamus gets acquainted with herbs (Nostradamus: Traité de fardemens et confitures, Lyon, 1555).


October 3: Nostradamus appeals to obtain the student's rights, as is noted in the student registers of the Montpellier university. On a certain moment (the date is unknown), the name of Nostradamus was deleted from the registers (back in those days, all students who formerly worked as a barber or pharmacist, were systematically banned from the university; source: Benazra,, section Le Médécin; article Un médécin à Montpellier. Some students heard him defame a number of physicians (Brind'Amour 1993a, p.114).
October 23: subscription to the Montpellier university.
No record has been found which shows that Nostradamus obtained a doctor's degree.

± 1533

Contact with Jules-César Scaliger, physician and language scientist. Nostradamus settles in Agen, Scaliger's place of residence. He marries a "beautiful girl of distinction", who according to some was called Henriette d'Encausse, and gets a son and a daughter (Brief Discours), whose names are unknown. After their death because of what appears to be some kind of epidemic, Nostradamus starts travelling again. Around 1539, he seemed to have been in Bordeaux.


March: working as a physician in Port-Sainte-Marie, a village close to Agen. He is summoned by the Inquisition to come to Toulouse to reply charges of heresy. Nostradamus doesn't go to the court. According to the charges, around 1534 he told a monk who made a statue of the Virgin Mary that the statue looked like a devil. At the same time, he turned against the cult of saints (Brind'Amour 1993a, p.129; Hofstede, p.21).

± 1544

Nostradamus studies the plague and treats plague victims, under supervision of the physician Louis Serres.

± 1546

Nostradamus treats plague victims in Aix-en-Provence. At a certain moment in 1546, he settles in Salon-de-Provence.
By the end of 1546 or the beginning of 1547, his father dies.

± 1547

Nostradamus treats plague victims in Lyon.
November 11: Nostradamus marries with Anne Ponsarde, widow of Jean Beaulme. He gets six children:
- Madeleine (± 1551 - 1623)
- César (December 18, 1553 - ± 1630)
- Charles (1556 - 1629)
- André (1557 - 1601)
- Anne (1558 - ± 1597)
- Diane (1561 - ± 1630)

± 1548 - 1550

Nostradamus travels in Italy.


August 15: Nostradamus arrives in Paris to be received by the Court. After his arrival, he has to remain in bed for ten days because of gout. Next, he travels to Blois to meet the princes. After this meeting, an esteemed woman warns him that the Justice authorities of Paris want to interrogate him in order to find out what kind of science he practices and what methods he uses to make predictions. Nostradamus instantly returns to Salon-de-Provence (Nostradamus to Jean Morel, November 29, 1561).


Nostradamus once again travels in Italy.


December: Marguerite, sister of king Henry II, who deceased on July 10 this year, visits Nostradamus. In this month, Nostradamus prepares a journey to Paris in order to visit Cathérine de' Medici, the widow of Henry II.


April 4: after the ceremonies of Good Friday, the "Cabans", catholic farmers in Salon-de-Provence, launch persecution of Huguenots; they accuse Nostradamus to sympathize with them.
April 14: in order to escape from the religious riots, Nostradamus rents living accommodation in Avignon and settles there for about two months.
December 16: the governor of the Provence department, count Claude de Tende, imprisons Nostradamus for a couple of days on his castle (perhaps because of a command of the Court to obstruct his writing of Almanachs) and asks king Charles IX what should happen to him. The king's answer has not been preserved. After his release, Nostradamus resumes his astrological activities. (Brind'Amour 1993a, p.43).


October 17: Charles IX visits Nostradamus in Salon-de-Provence. Shortly after this visit, he invites Nostradamus to Arles and appoints him to councillor and royal physician.


June 17: Nostradamus draws up his last will.
June 30: an appendix is included in the testament. 
July 2: Nostradamus dies in his house in Salon-de-Provence.


De Meern, the Netherlands, November 25, 2005
T.W.M. van Berkel


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