I posted the following in response to a comment on a Beatles group, of all places, and thought I might share it with you guys:
I was reading up on the real Nostradamus, as opposed to the mythical version, and he's a lot more interesting than you'd think.
Michel de Nostredame was actually a well-trained doctor and medical school teacher who traveled around France treating sick people with ideas like a better diet, clean beds, clean water and clean streets -- pretty revolutionary stuff for the 16th Century. He even tried treating the Plague with pills he'd invented which contained large doses of Vitamin C; this was about 400 years before the existence of vitamin C was discovered.
Some scholars claim that the poems he wrote which are supposedly prophecies were actually intended as some kind of commentary on then-current events, written obscurely so that the Inquisition wouldn't find out about his heretical views. He had to be especially careful about them, given that he was Jewish and a student of kabbalah.
Personally, I think what happened was that he found out everyone thought he had mystical powers, and Catherine de Medici and people like that wanted to meet him...so he played up the hocus pocus for all it was worth, to hobnob with royalty and celebrities. He was the Beatle of his time! He put on a big show of making up horoscopes and "foretelling the future" and so became an advisor to Queen Catherine rather than getting tortured and then burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. More power to him, I say.