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The Immortal Count Saint Germain?

Updated on August 31, 2016
One of the few images of Count St Germain.
One of the few images of Count St Germain.

A legend has existed throughout Europe for hundreds of years of a nobleman who claimed to be over 300 years old, some believed him to be an immortal, others that he was a charlatan and a liar, whatever the truth about Count St Germain he was certainly an enigmatic figure that charmed the aristocracy and Royal Houses of Europe for many years.

The most likely year of the Counts birth is 1712 ( although some biographies claim he was the son of the Prince of Transylvania and born in the 1690s ), whatever ones personal opinion of the Count was, he was most certainly an expert in many fields, he was a virtuoso of the violin, his musical compositions include solos for violin, songs in English and Italian arias, 3 books are attributed to the Count, two being kept in the Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts in the Gettysburg museum, he was known to be fluent in many languages including Italian, French, English and Dutch, he was proficient in Chinese, Latin and Arabic but it was said his main languages were Spanish and Portuguese, it was claimed he knew the secret of the elixir of life and possessed the philosophers stone which when ground and added to molten base metals such as lead enabled him to produce silver or gold.

One the most well known and outrageous claims about St Germain is his supposed great age. much of this comes from an account by a Countess Von Gregory who at a soiree held at the home of Madame Pompadour ( Mistress of King Louis XV of France ) in 1760 met the Count and was astonished to find that he bore an amazing resemblance to a Count St Germain she had known in Venice in 1710,

after asking the Count if he was the son of the Count she had known in Venice he remarked that he was one and the same and had the pleasure to court her then, when the perplexed Countess announced that he must be around 100 years old the Count replied " Madame i am very old " and then proceeded to convince the Countess of their previous meeting with his intimate knowledge of their former conversations and his knowledge of Venice of 50 years previous.

Madame Pompadour
Madame Pompadour

When trying to research Count St Germain, his story becomes confused by his habit of addressing himself under different names, at times he had called himself Surmont or Count Welldone, and his historical personage is further confused by his various imitators including Jean Jacques Rousseau the Swiss writer and composer, even Casanova himself was known to have impersonated the Count, an English comedian and impressionist Milord Gower found fame impersonating the Count in Paris salons, fabricating outlandish stories about his life, for example that he had been present at the birth of Jesus and had attended the first council of Nicaea, it seems likely that some of Milord Gowers tall tales have unwittingly contributed to St Germain's legend.

Giacomo Casanova.
Giacomo Casanova.

Throughout his known life in the courts of 18th century Europe, St Germain always appeared to be around 45 years of age, he was known by Anton Mesmer, Catherine the Great, Louis XV, Robert Walpole,Voltaire, Casanova and many other historical figures, he was a known celibate and it was rumored it was very rare anyone witnessed him eat, he supposedly only ever ate Oatmeal, many witnesses including Casanova claimed him to be the greatest conversationist they had ever listened to. He would often make presents to the ladies of court of various creams and lotions that purported to preserve their beauty even though he was known not to have any interest in women ( sexually ) himself. It has been claimed that the Count was a member of various secret societies including the Masons, the Rosicrucians and the Illuminati,and he was certainly very knowledgeable in alchemy, as well as claiming to own a philosophers stone he claimed to be able to fuse several small diamonds into one large one.

The Count was reported to have died in Schleswig on the border between Denmark and Germany in 1784, the Count died in a factory presented to him in which to practice alchemy by Prince Charles of Hessel Kassel, his noted belongings recorded after his death were quite modest and certainly did not include any precious stones, gold or silver, any musical instruments or records of his extensive travels.

Oddly though since his death there have been several reports of Count St Germain being seen alive, strangely official Freemason records show that St Germain was chosen as their official representative at a convention held in 1785 a year after his death, during the storming of the Bastille during the French revolution a Comtesse d' Adhemar claimed to have had a lengthy conversation with the Count where he foretold of Frances immediate future to come, she then claimed she met him on numerous occasions during the early part of the 19th century with him never looking any more than 45 years of age . In 1821 a man calling himself Major Fraser regaled Albert Vandam with his stories of knowing Nero and Dante and claimed that his knowledge was learned not from books, Major Fraser disappeared without trace and his whereabouts were never found. There is even an alleged photograph of the well known mystic Helen Blavatsky with St Germain taken between 1880 and 1890 and the French singer Emma Calve dedicated an autographed photograph of herself to the Count in 1897. As recently as 1972 a man known as Richard Chanfray appeared on French television claiming to be the Count and appeared to turn lead into gold using heat from a camping stove to back up his claim, Chanfray was known to have committed suicide in 1983.

So was/is Count St Germain an immortal, able to turn lead into gold, a man who knew the secrets of the elixir of life?

My feeling is that there are some truths to these stories, some downright lies and certainly some exaggerations and embellishments, it is likely that the Count certainly was a very well educated man, a man who did know many languages, obviously very well traveled and an amazing conversationist who could charm and amuse people with his wit but i think his legend most likely stems from exaggerated tales, a sort of Chinese whispers that have grown throughout the proceeding years following his death, and of course he had many imitators during his life and probably after his death all of these contributing to the legend and confusion that surrounds this enigmatic and mysterious figure.

The enigmatic Richard Chanfray.
The enigmatic Richard Chanfray.


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    • profile image

      Elizabeth Hair 2 years ago

      If you find it, there is rather an interesting actual photo of Madame Helena Blavatsky taken in 1885 she is seated with three men standing behind her. Supposedly the man farthest right is St. Germain.

    • Paul W Andrews profile image

      Paul W Andrews 2 years ago from Durham, NC

      The Count, as least as a character continues to pop up. He was in the TV show Warehouse 13 last year, the German movie Rubinrot, the novel Foucault's Pendulum, and the Outlanders series by Diana Gabaldon. A lot of psychics claim to channel the 'Ascended Master' Count as part of the Theosophy movement. And not surprising. there is a chap in Europe claiming to be the real, one and only Count. Gotta love it.

    • Paul W Andrews profile image

      Paul W Andrews 3 years ago from Durham, NC

      Excellent piece and well researched. I've just epublished a historical mystery novel on the enigmtic Count Saint Germain entitled, "The Man Who Would Not Die," following his colorful adventures throughout the 18th century. More at my website

    • efeyas profile image

      efeyas 4 years ago from Some Sunny Beach, USA

      I wonder what he would look like today? Stranger things have happened. Voted up :)