The enigmatic Count of Saint-Germain was a true Renaissance Man

Saint-GermaineThe Count’s amazing talents attracted as much attention as his believed immortality. We know he was a gifted musician, a talented alchemist, a trusted spy, and a confidant of kings. He could speak over dozen languages with such perfect diction no one could pin point his origin. He dropped into local dialects with such ease people thought him a native no matter where he traveled. And travel he did, from the gilded palaces of Versailles and Peterhof, to the exotic capitals of the Persian and Mughal Empires.

A skilled raconteur, Saint-Germain regaled nobility with stories from centuries past. Whether scandals of ancient Rome or exploits from the Dark Ages, his audiences were always glued to their seats. He spun tales with such exquisite detail, relaying intimate conversations, listeners believed he had been present in the flesh. He often slipped into the first person, then back to narrator, leaving guests bewildered.

Many courtesans were convinced he was hundreds if not thousands of years old.

As for his other abilities, the Count was an accomplished composer. He played several musical instruments ‘like an orchestra,’ including his favourites, the violin and harpsichord. This was the Classical Age, with prolific geniuses like Handel, Mozart and Hayden as his contemporaries. In London, Saint-Germain presented a pasticcio opera at the Haymarket Theatre and published several of his own compositions. At Versailles, he entertained King Louis XV and Madame Pompadour with his violin.

His chemical skills were also known far and wide. He offered ladies beautifying cosmetics for the skin and pomades for their hair. For the Russian Navy he developed a purge tea during the Turkish War. For the Venetians, he started a factory to dye fabrics, wood and skins. Many believed he possessed the secret to removing flaws from gems and enlarging pearls.  Rumors abounded he possessed the Philosopher’s Stone or the Fountain of Youth.

In typical fashion, he would smile at such theories; wave a hand in the air and neither confirm nor deny it.

Saint-Germain was a high-ranking member of several Masonic Lodges throughout Europe. Everyone wanted the ‘Immortal Count’ amongst their ranks. He used the Freemasons to expand his network of contacts worldwide. He was whispered to be amongst the inner circle of the Illuminati, the Knights Templar and perhaps the most secret society of all, the Rosicrucians [Brotherhood of the Rose and Cross]. He used such societies to move about freely and gain acceptance at courts across Europe.

The Count’s detractors labeled him a charlatan and a fraud. His enemies tried in vain to discover his true identity or the source of his wealth. Over the decades, the Count accumulated a long list of rivals, including Casanova.. To his credit, they failed to prove him guilty of a single crime. He offered his talents to many kingdoms, but never asked for payment. Though at times vague and wily, he never swindled his patrons. Today we would label such a man eccentric, but in the Count’s day, he was a true Renaissance man.

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