A Healer of Souls in the Renaissance

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Denis Crouzel
Mark Greengrass
  • Maiden, MA: 
    Polity Books
    , December
     392 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Alanna Foster forthcoming.


One of the most enigmatic figures in  history, Nostradamus – apothecary, astrologer and  soothsayer – is a continual source of fascination. Indeed,  his predictions are so much the stock-in-trade of  the wildest merchants of imminent Doom that one could  be forgiven for ignoring the fact that Michel  de Nostredame, 1503-1566, was a figure firmly rooted  in the society of the French  Renaissance.

In this bold new account of the life and work  of Nostradamus, Denis Crouzet shows that any  attempt to interpret his Prophecies at face value is  misguided. Nostradamus was not trying to predict the future.  He saw himself, rather, as ‘prophesying’, i.e. bringing  the Word of God to humankind. In a century marked by  the extreme violence of the Wars of Religion, Nostradamus’ profound Christian faith placed  him among the ‘evangelicals’ of his generation.  Rejecting the confessional tensions tearing Europe apart,  he sought to coax his readers towards an  interiorised piety, based on the essential presence of Christ.  Like Rabelais, for whom laughter was a therapy to help  one cope with the misery of the times, Nostradamus  saw himself as a physician of the soul as much as of  the body. His unveiling of the menacing and  horrendous events which await us in the future was a way  of frightening his readers into the realisation that  inner hatred was truly the greatest peril of all, to which  the sole remedy was to live in the love and peace of  Christ.

This inspired interpretation penetrates the  imaginative world of Nostradamus, a man whose life is  as mysterious as his writings. It shows him in a  completely new dimension, securing for him a significant  place among the major thinkers of the  Renaissance.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Denis Crouzet is professor of modern history at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne. His work focuses on the French Wars of Religion and the use of violence in the Renaissance.

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