World Events of Nostradamus's Day

Part of the Nostradamus For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Nostradamus led a somewhat normal life — he studied and traveled, married and fathered two children, then saw his wife and children fall victim to the plague. He continued to travel and study; remarried and had six more children; and wrote his prophesies. During all of this, Nostradamus's world underwent notable events, presented in these sections as possible headlines:

Coming to a Town Near You — The Black Plague, Second European Tour

Like the plot of a disturbing movie, Europe and Asia spent years fighting the villainous enemy known as the Black Plague — a hideous virus that spread via fleas on rats and other animals and that showed up as black lesions before the person quickly passed beyond medical help. After a terrible outbreak in 1347, the plague returned in full force just before Nostradamus's birth. During the Renaissance years, this plague killed millions everywhere in the known world, an estimated one-third of the population.

We Have Questions, and We Want Answers: The Inquisition

After forcing the conversion of Jews to Christianity, the Christian Church established a religious court of sorts in Spain, France, and Italy to find and punish anyone who spoke or acted against the ideas and rules of the Church. If people confessed, great; otherwise, torture and death might be in order.

Sail West, Young Man

Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain bankrolled the explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, and the race to claim the newfound lands west of Europe began with a bang. The newly discovered lands provided natural resources, increased industry growth back home in Europe, and even began a booming slave trade. The country with the most land wins — or so that was the idea of the countries that fought for the right to claim lands far from home.

My God Is Better than Yours

France suffered through a series of troublesome wars and uprisings within its own borders between the Catholic faithful and the new Protestant believers. Even Queen Catherine de Medici got entangled around 1560 when she tried to allow the Protestants (sometimes called Huguenots) to worship quietly. The Protestants were inspired by Martin Luther, who objected in publicly posted statements in 1517 to the heavy-handed rules and double dealing of the centralized Christian Church.

Forget the Plow, Reach for the Paintbrush

The Renaissance was a time when art in every form was in fashion — from the revival of the old Greek and Roman writers and their ideas to the works of artists like Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo.

Hot off the Press, Get Your Insights Here!

The development of the printing press in the mid 1450s helped get the Bible and other important writings into the hands of those who could read. More people reading meant more people thinking and exploring ideas rather than listening to what they were told. During the Renaissance, it helped inspire painters, philosophers, and scientists but it also troubled the religious state of affairs by allowing doubt about received ideas of faith to gain a foothold.

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