Exactly who was Nostradamus and is there anything to his predictions?

As the Millennium approached, almost everyone making predictions about the future invoked the name of Nostradamus. Who was this guy?

A 16th century French doctor, Michel de Nostredame was also an astrologer. Some of his predictions, written in a cryptic form, seemed to foretell the future. In that golden age of astrology, Nostradamus (his Latin name) became a celebrity and was appointed a Court physician and asked to cast the horoscopes of the King’s children. The Church condemned his writings, but they have remained popular.

Nostradamus’ non-specific, poetic language probably accounts for his staying power. “The young lion shall overcome the old,” for example, like a wild card, can mean whatever you want it to mean. If you like Tarot cards, you’ll love Nostradamus. And who can resist anyone whose name sounds like the first word of a medieval chant?

Source: Return of the Straight Dope by Cecil Adams
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