©05 The Media Desk
[NOTE: this article is about the Count Saint Germain. And NOT about the Catholic Saint by the same surname who was the Bishop of Paris around the year 550AD, or Claude-Louis of Paris the French Army General. 'Saint Germain' was, and is, a rather common name / title in history so as to distinguish the subject of this piece, the title 'Count' or equivalent is used. Thank you ]
When the Desk first ran across the legend some time ago, it all but dismissed it as being a magnificently embellished tall tale perhaps with a tiny kernel of truth somewhere at its center.
Then it listened to somebody that claimed to know what they were talking about on a late night radio show discussing him. And they admitted that a lot of what we know about the man has been exaggerated, but a lot of it is true as well.
And so the Desk began a long term study of what is available about this mysterious figure.
And THAT is the best way to describe him. A Mysterious Figure.
Yes there was a man by the name of Count Saint Germain. He is recorded as living and 'working' throughout parts of Central Europe throughout the middle of the Eighteenth Century and speaking at least six languages fluently. He demonstrated a remarkable knowledge of history and culture. Had plenty of money and bestowed fabulous gifts at a whim. He moved in the circles of the aristocracy with remarkable ease. He made perfumes and dyes and tonics that astounded the people of the time. And, by most accounts, was an adept at the art and science of Alchemy even to the point of 'doctoring' some of the jewels owned by the French King Louis XV and removing flaws in them.
Yes there was a man by the name of Count Saint Germain. He is recorded as having NEVER revealed how he came by such a title, where or when he was born, nor even his rightful name. He seldom ate in public although he spent a lot of time 'at table' with his friends and associates. There is no documentation of the source of the fortune he evidently was able to tap into at will. He never provided any information about where or when he was educated. He never married, or for that matter, never appeared to indulge in female companionship although some of the most well known women of his age were among his 'fans' for lack of a better word, including Madam Pompadour of France and Catherine the Great of Russia.
Yes there was a man by the name of Count Saint Germain. He is recorded as being about forty years old in 1710 by fairly reliable witnesses, and is documented appearing to be about forty years old in 1760 by, in one case, the same witness who by then was elderly. He is rumored to have been deeply involved in mystical or secret societies ranging from the Masons to the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar. Some stories he himself told mention time in India and perhaps even China. At one point he claimed to be five hundred years old or more, and strangely, nobody had him committed to an insane asylum for it.
Yes there was a man by the name of Count Saint Germain. Horace Wadepool in London about 1745 said "He sings, plays the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad and not very sensible". Fredrick the Great of Germany dismissed him as a jokester. King Louis of France appointed him an ambassador to forestall a war with England. Voltaire said he was "a man who knows everything and never dies." Clearly the opinions around the continent were rather mixed.
And now the legend.
Some have claimed that he was thousands of years old. That he knew Christ. That at times he could work miracles, or had discovered the Elixer of Life. Those with an Alchemist bent talk about his having access to the Philosopher's Stone and that explains his wealth as he was transmuting base metal into gold and silver and the jewels he loved so much. The Theosophist camp goes even further, they call him an ascended master or an adept into mystical arts.
How far does his legend go?
How far do you want it to go?
There are reports that various ones claimed to be Count Saint Germain even up to the 1970's. And others make a dollar by claiming to be channeling the man's spirit.
Some cults and other groups have assigned him special powers or wisdom, or have 'promoted' him to some sort of ascended plane, from which he continues to advise the living... and solicit them for donations to the group.
So it gets difficult sorting out what he was, from what he wasn't, and what was tacked onto him later.
And thereby comes the problem. Exactly WHAT is true about the man?
Well. If we dismiss half the claims out of hand, he still presents to us a remarkable figure. One who spent money as if it were rainwater, who seemed to exist more or less unchanged physically for a period of fifty years or more, spoke various languages perfectly, composed and played music (two of his manuscripts are rumored to be in the British Museum), painted with great style and talent, and dabbled in various industrial arts.
One of the things mentioned in several accounts was how he was able to realistically portray gems and jewels in paintings.
Something else he seemed to be able to do was to move in and out of circles of political intrigue and be no worse for the wear while others so involved came to somewhat messy ends. Witness his dealings with the Jacobite rebellion in Britain and the coup that ended up with Catherine as Tsar in Russia. Many heads rolled in both incidents, much blood was shed, and many fortunes lost; however, none of it was his. He got out of town with his skin and his purse intact.
Even accounts of his death, supposedly in 1784 of pneumonia, are conflicting. For if he had died in 1784 he would have been unable to meet with Marie-Antoinette in 1788 to warn her of the then brewing French Revolution, which began in earnest the next year. A reasonable claim involving two of his hobbies, royalty and political unrest, considering he had been an intimate friend of the current King's father and was just as likely to be involved in both sides of the instability.
Rumors also circulated of him turning up in Paris once again in 1835 and even later. A remarkable feat for a man supposedly buried in Schleswig, Germany.
Which brings us to another aspect of the matter.
Just how many Comte Saint Germains were there?
There were pretenders at the time the original was alive. Famed courtiers like Giacomo Casanova (yes, That Casanova) entertained those in the Parisian salons with impersonations of the Count. And then Casanova attempted to sell a technique for dying cotton he had quite possibly stolen from Saint Germain.
And there are also two schools of thought that lead one to conclude that perhaps there were more than one individual living as the same person as well.
Some accounts make Count Saint Germain as an ascetic who remained celibate. Others have him engaged in affairs on par with Casanova himself, who is said to have been involved with over a hundred and twenty women by his own calculations.
There was the man that dressed in flashy clothes covered with gems, then there was the one who wore other costumes, including at one point, a Prussian (or some histories say Russian) military uniform.
Also there was the Saint Germain that enjoyed being the center of attention, and the one that would slink off into the shadows and stay out of sight for years at a stretch.
It would seem that either the man had long cycle bipolar disorder or multiple personality syndrome, or there may have been several of him that fit the same general physical description but had slightly different habits and personalities.
In any case.
You don't have to look very deep into the Count of Saint Germain to find something mysterious and perhaps, unexplainable.
As was said before, if even HALF of the legend is true, he was a most remarkable man.
Outside Resources not affiliated (as far as can be easily told) with 'religious' outfits:
will open in new window
Interesting Historical View from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: 1911encyclopedia.org
wikipedia.org The Free Online Encyclopedia.
The About.com article.
Britannica.com Membership needed for full article: Encyclopedia Britannica
The Desk's look at: the Voynich Manuscript. Another mystery that remains unsolved.
The Desk's look at The Philadelphia Experiment and the Hutchison Effect. It's an electrifying article!
The Desk's Non-Fiction Articles
[NOTE: The Desk Is NOT affiliated with any of the outside links listed above Thank you ]
Back to the Desk main page at: