Thursday, 4 April 2013



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'A good read'
Dominic McGlynn

'It is written in an easily readable style... and it will educate people to a much higher level than many who actually write about Nostradamus, but just want to spread spooky popular theories. I give it a big thumbs up.'
Mark Smith, leader of the Nostradamus Research Group 

'The concept has significant merit.'
Jim Schuler, scholar and linguist

'A wealth of fascinating contemporary references!'
Julian Robbins, literary editor

'A most enjoyable and informative read... a treat and source of information for us all'
 David Hill, Emeritus Professor,University of Calgary





Up! Flee far, far across the land
And let this dark, mysterious tome
From Nostradamus' very hand
Suffice to guide you as you roam!
Goethe, Faust I:1                     

Learn the truth about Nostradamus from this first complete published account of his life in English that incorporates all the latest research. Learn how people's favourite myths -- about how he predicted his king's death, the advent of Napoleon (to say nothing of Hitler!), a third world war (let alone two earlier ones), a Third Antichrist, and the end of the world -- have no basis in historical reality at all, other than in the over-fertile minds of certain popular commentators.  Learn in fact how he was not even a prophet (and never claimed to be) let alone an astrologer or a doctor. In other words, prepare to be disillusioned -- and to have all the materials to hand for disillusioning your friends as well.

This cutting-edge book by Peter Lemesurier, which is cast as a fact-packed historical novel, at last supplies you with the unvarnished, documented  truth about the man. From it, consequently, you can learn the fundamental reason why, for example, this pre-eminent prophet failed to predict the telescope, the industrial revolution, trains, cars, aircraft,  nuclear weapons or space-travel -- as might reasonably have been expected of so eminent an alleged 'psychic'.

Peter Lemesurier writes:
Dry, factual accounts of famous lives are all very well, but often they have to be presented in semi-fictional narrative form before they truly to spring to life, as numerous biographical historians have discovered to their cost. That is why I in turn have chosen this particular format for my latest book on the subject, which has allowed me not merely to present the known sequence of events, but to hazard a series of informed guesses at precisely what it was that linked them all together -- a series of developments and occurrences and personal reactions that are merely hinted at in the annals. The results, in the event, turn out to be convincing enough to surprise even me, while casting surprising new light on what are supposed to be his Prophecies for our time...


Ditching modern preconceptions
As readers of Nostradamus, Prophet of Provence will discover, Nostradamus used a surprising technique for foretelling the future -- and it didn't involve either visions or clairvoyance. In its pages you can read about just what that technique was and how he applied it.

Read, too, about how that technique was a demonstration, albeit in a somewhat broadened sense, of Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'

Which no doubt is why his predictions have been regarded by those who are not privy to his secrets as 'magical' ever since, and why generations of ill-informed commentators have done their best to twist his words (even those few who actually knew what these were and what they meant) to make them fit subsequent events, thus making his insights seem even more 'magical' than they actually were.

As you will see, it then needed only the assertion (not in fact supported by the archives) that he was a doctor, and the further age-old assertion that he was a leading astrologer (which he certainly wasn't), to give him the aura of medieval mystery and magic that has surrounded him ever since.

In this book you can see where it all began and trace the development of the whole tradition that would lead to today's extensive Nostradamus industry...


Now it can be told
These are among the little-known yet mind-blowing facts that inform Peter Lemesurier's latest book Nostradamus, Prophet of Provence, which bids fair to blast apart the traditional Nostradamus industry. Thoroughly researched and documented, this vastly detailed 480-page biography -- cast as a historical novel for reasons of digestibility -- consists of an extended saga of dramatic cameos supplemented by a stimulating series of imagined discussions between the seer and the book’s author, in the process revealing much that is unknown to the general public about the seer's life, methodology and predictions. In the course of it Nostradamus is revealed in all his many facets – as youth, student, apothecary, family man, letter-writer, astrological guru, author of almanacs, mangler of prose, failed poet, astrophile, reputed magician, polemicist, unreliable seer and ultimately royal adviser. The story is compelling, the format highly original, the wealth of detail fascinating, and the account of the seer’s death particularly poignant.



The book contains translations of many original documents, and concludes with a full bibliography.



CHAPTER OF THE WEEK (see the sample offered by Amazon...) 





Wednesday 17th October, 1554


NEWS OF THE UNEXPECTED ROYAL VISIT DIDN’T REACH NOSTREDAME until the almost the day it happened. After visiting Bordeaux, the Queen Mother, along with the young King Charles and all their Court, had set out from Avignon at the end of a three-week stay at the Papal palace. Thence they had made for St-Rémy, where they had stayed the following night. Now, it seemed, they were heading for Salon.
            The whole circus, in fact, was starting to resemble the famous travelling Courts of earlier centuries.
            It had started at least a couple of months before, when, seizing the opportunity offered by a temporary lull in the religious conflict, the royals had embarked on a two-year royal progress through the country designed as an exercise in pacification and national reconciliation. And now, this very morning, the huge cloud of dust that signalled the vast concourse’s imminent arrival was already advancing on the town from the north!
            They numbered over eight hundred – not merely the entire Court (including the popularly-dubbed ‘harem’ – the thirty-five most beautiful and celebrated ladies in the land), but the Royal Council, four companies of foot-soldiers and a squadron of light cavalry. On top of that there was a whole regiment of royal guards and a straggling rabble of cooks, grooms, huntsmen and common servants. That made the actual total several thousand. And in the midst of all of them rode the Queen Mother herself in a sumptuous, if funereal litter, and clad from head to foot in deepest black, accompanied by the fourteen-year-old King on a magnificent Arab grey that was similarly harnessed in black velvet with gold trappings. His youthful Majesty himself, though, was dressed in violet Phoenician velvet picked out with silver embroidery, with a plumed hat to match. Golden chains and great diamonds glinted about his neck.
            At the Avignon gate he was met under a canopy of violet and white damask by that year’s twin Consuls and a deputation of the town’s foremost citizens, who bade him welcome in the most flowery terms they could muster (in truth, though, it was Nostredame who had once again had to write more than one of the speeches). But before they could finish their interminable deferential platitudes, the King interrupted them with a curt wave of the hand.
            ‘I have only come to see Nostradamus,’ he announced to everyone’s surprise, in an adolescent voice that one could only call arrogant.
            Hurriedly the old man was part-pushed, part-dragged forward. He bowed as low as his stiff bones would allow and, doffing his hat, quoted as loudly as he could the well-known Latin line from Virgil: Vir magnus bello, nulli pietate secundus!
            Then he turned to the onlookers and continued, almost sotto voce: O ingratia Patria, veluti Abdera Democrito!
            The classically-trained Chavigny apart, only young Caesar understood his father’s condemnation of his ungrateful fellow townsfolk in terms of the occasion when the inhabitants of ancient Abdera, having summoned the healer Hippocrates to pronounce the philosopher Democritus mad, found themselves pronounced even madder than he was.
            Most of the bystanders, indeed, still convinced that Nostredame was some sort of magician, clearly thought that he was muttering some sort of spell not only over the King and his gracious Mother, but over them too, and ostentatiously crossed themselves. As far as the royals were concerned, though, he was merely buttering them up. ‘Great in war and second to none in piety’ – which was how he had actually described the King in Latin – was, after all, hardly an accurate description of either of them.
            Still, the King seemed to appreciate the seer’s brevity. At once he ordered him to accompany him on foot, as the procession made its way slowly through the decorated streets that had been strewn with flowers and perfumed sand, and up towards the castle on its lofty rock. Nostredame hobbled along as best he could, his velvet hat in one hand (hurriedly purchased especially for the occasion, as he was tempted to tell the King) and his silver-decorated walking-stick in the other – for the gout was plaguing him more than ever these days.
            ‘Bring your family, too,’ called the Queen imperiously from her litter, and so Anne and the children, who were standing close by, duly came and walked by the sage’s side, Madeleine supporting him as best she could.
            Suddenly, though, the young King stopped, evidently struck by something that had not occurred to him before.
            ‘But where are all the people?’ he demanded.
            And it was true, the streets were almost empty. There was almost nobody there to applaud him. Some hours before the procession’s arrival some idiot had put it about that Plague had broken out in the town. Three or four hundred people had allegedly been carried off by it – notwithstanding the fact that neither Nostredame nor anybody else had seen any corpses. Whereupon almost the entire population had gathered their possessions together and set off for the Craux or the hills to the east, evidently preferring life and health to spectacle and glory.
            Nobody knew who had spread the rumour or why. Perhaps it was somebody with a religious or political axe to grind. Nobody seemed to realise that, if there had been even the slightest whiff of Plague in the area, they would not have seen the royal party for dust.
            As, indeed, was nearly the case – but only because the weather was particularly dry that day.
            But the King wasn’t having it. At once he sent out heralds telling all the inhabitants to return at once. And just in case, he sent out his cavalry, too, to make sure that they did.
            And so it was that, that evening, the seer was formally summoned to the royal apartments in the castle, along with Anne and the children. The Queen expressed her admiration for Madeleine, who was now thirteen, while the King chucked ten-year-old Caesar awkwardly under the chin and asked him what he was reading. He even seemed to listen attentively – at least until Caesar actually started to tell him. Charles and Anne both looked shy, while André refused to look anyone in the eye and merely kicked moodily at the royal dogs. But it was little Diane, nestling in her mother’s arms, who most attracted the Queen’s attention.
            ‘What a little dear!’ she cooed.
            And so the evening passed amicably enough under the benign auspices of the Archbishopric of Arles – even though the seat itself was temporarily vacant – until the family were dismissed and Nostredame was told to make himself ready for a further session in the morning, equipped with all his books and astrological tables.
            This duly took place shortly before lunch. He was again quizzed about the King’s future, as well as about that of his younger brothers and sisters. The Queen Mother particularly wanted him to assess the future of the King’s thirteen-year-old brother Henri, who was Duke of Anjou and next in line to the throne. This he duly performed to her satisfaction, having first examined him privately, just as he had done long before at St-Germain-en-Laye, confirming that he would indeed become king in his turn and be surrounded by many of like mind.
            He did not tell her, however, that the previous evening he had been contacted secretly by the entourage of the accompanying eleven-year-old Protestant cousin of the King of Navarre – another Henri – with a request to visit him and pronounce on his future prospects. This he duly did. First, he drew up a rough horoscope on the basis of the birth-details they offered him. He then asked for him to be stripped (as the custom was) so that he could examine him for significant marks, just as he would afterwards do for the young Duc of Anjou. At this, the child (who must have had a stern, Protestant upbringing!) fled from the chamber, apparently thinking that the old man was proposing to beat him with his stick.
            Instead, therefore, Nostredame arranged to examine him early next morning when he awoke – before he had the chance to be dressed or he himself had had the chance to be summoned to the castle – at the house of his own prospective kinsman Pierre Tronc de Coudoulet, where the boy was being lodged (Coudoulet, a former Consul of Salon, was due to be married to Jeanne, daughter of Nostredame’s brother Bertrand, the following year).
            Accordingly, he took care to be present at his official lever, and proceeded to scrutinise him from head to foot as he slid out of bed in the nude, before the courtiers could put on his shirt. At the end of his examination – mainly for significant moles – the old man stood up, if with some difficulty, and pronounced his verdict.
            ‘He shall indeed inherit,’ he solemnly pronounced, wincing with the pain in his knees as he turned to face the onlookers.
            He was not at all sure, though, exactly what it was that the boy would inherit. The throne of Navarre, he assumed. He was not to know that the boy’s supporters had their eyes on that of France, and that the boy would indeed eventually inherit it as the resplendent King Henri IV, who would at last put an end to the Wars of Religion by voluntarily renouncing his own Protestant religion in favour of Catholicism.
            ‘Paris is well worth the odd Mass,’ he would be reported as saying at the time.
            Naturally, Nostredame said nothing of this to the Queen at their session later on in the morning. Consequently she would never know that she was harbouring in the midst of her own retinue the very child who would put paid to her whole Valois dynasty.
            Which was just as well, since, as a full-blooded Medici, she was more than capable of liquidating unmercifully anybody whom she saw as posing the slightest threat to her own succession, positively dazzling though she might appear to her admirers, including Nostredame himself...

*          *          *

MEDDLING IN HIGH POLITICS NOW, THEN, ARE WE, MICHEL?
            – Not intentionally. I didn’t realise it at the time.
            – That’s what they all say!
            – Besides, if the Court are so keen to consult me, I can’t help but become involved, can I?
            – The Duc de Guise was involved, too – and remember what happened to him! Remember what nearly happened to Condé, for that matter!
            – Yes, but the one was a rabid Catholic and the other a rabid Protestant. I am neither.
            You know that, and I know that, but other people may be quicker to jump to conclusions. You are a friend of the brothers Marc, after all, and they are keen Protestants. Your friend the former Governor inclined towards  the Protestant cause, too. People are liable to put two and two together.
            – And make five! You can’t judge people by the company they keep.
            – True, but if that’s what they make of it, that’s what they make of it. Think of what they thought about Jesus Christ and the company he kept! More like a case of making six or seven in his case, I would have thought. Besides, your own mathematics are not as hot as all that, are they?
            – Now come, come! There’s no need to be rude!
            – But what happens if the supporters of the young Prince Henri of Navarre start putting it about that you are supporting their rival candidate to the throne?
            – I shall deny it.
            – Until he actually succeeds, you mean?
            – Well of course. You have to swim with the tide. That’s how we all survive.
            – So far.
            – It seems to have worked pretty well up to now. The Court seem quite impressed with me. In fact I get the impression that the Queen increasingly regards me as indispensable. Otherwise why else would they have come?
            – Well, Salon just happens to lie on the direct route from Avignon to Aix – and to Marseilles, too, come to that. Have you any idea which one they’re heading for next?
            – None at all. They seem to like keeping everybody guessing.
            – Including the Seer of Salon?
            – I have already told you that I don’t claim to be a prophet.
            – Except when people ask you whether a boy is going to inherit or not?
            – That’s different. My examination merely revealed his potential.
            – You didn’t say, ‘He has the potential to inherit.’ You said, ‘He shall inherit.’
            – But I didn’t say what or when!
            – Ah no, that’s a point! You could be dead before...
            – I almost certainly shall be. So shall we let it rest?












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REVIEWS


A good read.

                        Dominic McGlynn, Nostradamus Research Group



I've very much enjoyed reading it – a wealth of fascinating contemporary references! It would work really well as a film.... I think N.'s assumption would make a wonderful ending!

                        Julian Robbins, literary editor



I was hugely impressed by the Queen, particularly liked the death scene, and loved the 'Oo-er' bit!!

                        Elen Sandhu, former teaching assistant


"Prophet of Provence" is a most enjoyable and informative read. The combination of an historically accurate account of some of the highlights of Nostredame's life, interpersed with a modern commentary (and Nostredame's creatively concocted reactions) in the form of a "familiar" is a most successful tactic. This not only raises the information about Nostredame from a dry account of facts (there's plenty of useful added colour that brings the story to life), but also gives insight into both the real nature of Nostredame's basis for "prophecy", and his disingenuous/self-serving "denial" that he was either a prophet or an astrologer (whilst blaming others for the confusion). It also relates in both suitably general and specific terms, the truth, the sources, and the consequences of what he did. For such an accomplished scholar as Lemesurier to take the trouble to write what amounts to an historical novel, coupled with commentary in the form of a knowledgeable modern source (the "familiar"), is a treat and source of information for us all.

                   David Hill, Emeritus Professor, Department of 
                   Computer Science,  University of Calgary








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  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Filament Publishing; 1 edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908691972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908691972
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • List prices: softback $25 / £14.99 (subject to online discount), Kindle $10.38 / £6.15

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