From there, we have more trace of St Germain who probably left the city or even the country. He left only the memory of his music but without particularly attracting the protection of a patron or a powerful. It disappears.
After a few trips to Eastern Europe, he reappeared for a lasting period in Paris, where he claimed that he had lived before. You can follow his career thanks to a great fashion of the time: The memoirs. At the time, courtiers liked to meet in literary salons and leave testimonies of their daily lives.
In any case, by crossing them again, it seems that Saint-Germain made his entrance into Versailles in 1758. He has the support of two people of weight: First of all, Abel-François Poisson de Vandières, Marquis de Marigny, who is superintendent of buildings, that is to say that he is responsible for designing and maintaining the royal palaces and at the time of Versailles, it is not nothing! And then, Abel-François has a sister, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known as the Marquise de Pompadour. Mistress of the king until 1751, she still has much aura at court, and remains a friend, confidante and advisor of Louis XV.
So, with such support, the Comte de Saint-Germain does pretty much what he wants. To be maintained and to be housed and fed at court, it must, in return, entertain the king, distract them courting, therefore, become a worthwhile attraction and it must be recognized that it fulfills its part of the bargain.
As in London, his fortune of unknown origin is palpable. Sometimes, during a discussion, he offers a gem to someone, as if it were a worthless joke. He is a real Count of Monte Cristo, everyone wondering where he comes from.
He has a real talent for telling his stories and travels, but also his stories of the past, which he knows extremely well. He seems so cultured and so well educated, that he makes the French the opposite effect of the English: One cannot believe that he is not a true gentleman. In ten years, he has either improved to please, or he has really experienced exciting things.
Various witnesses attest to his erudition: he speaks many languages, masters science, medicine, history, plays music and paints wonderfully... So much so that he sometimes dined with Madame de Pompadour and King Louis XV in person.
he first time he made headlines, St Germain was in England during the reign of George II. He arrived in town in 1743. All kinds of rumors are circulating about him: It is believed to be Italian, Spanish, or Polish. He allegedly married a wealthy Mexican woman before stealing all her jewelry. Unless he is a priest, a talented professional violin player, or a wealthy nobleman.
The Prince of Wales launches an investigation into him because one would readily believe that he is a spy from abroad. Nothing was found and he was released. Even if as a result, his reputation suffered, people admired his musical compositions. That's about all we know about his life in London.
Dictated by Valérie Gay-Corajoud
Followed by excerpts from: Dragonfly in Amber
Abel-François Poisson de Vandières, marquis de Marigny,
Marquise de Pompadour
But it is another talent that will give birth to his legend, because indeed, Saint-Germain is a chemist.
He obtained a room inside the castle of Chambord, to conduct his experiments. Its purpose is to improve the processes of dyeing fabrics, so that the France and its king produce clothing, silks and tapestries of excellent quality. So, when it is towards the Loire, isolated and far from Paris, we begin to ask questions. What if Saint-Germain was not a simple chemist, but an alchemist?
At the time, alchemy, like magic, was a subject that fascinated, amazed and that many people, even very well educated, took seriously. Finally, the theory seems likely.
In addition, at the same time, Saint-Germain perfected its legend. Until then in England, he had been content to say nothing. But in France, it is certain, he takes charge of his story and reinvents a whole past. In fact, he even suggests that his past is much longer than we think. He has the appearance of a forty-year-old but when he tells an event of the ancient History of France, one would believe it. It tells the story of Henry VIII, who died in 1547, more than 200 years ago. Yes, he frequented Henry VIII and Francis 1st! But most of the time, he prefers to make innuendos, as if he possessed the secret of eternal youth.
Some repeat Saint-Germain's words, distort and exaggerate them, and soon all Paris fantasizes about this strange character. This propensity to the mythomania of Saint-Germain may cost him quite dearly because in the end, with such a vague past and such a fortune, he begins to intrigue the powerful and he is even involved in a case of espionage.
Castle of Chambord
The year was 1760. It will be 4 years that the Seven Years War opposes two camps: the France, Russia and the Habsburgs of Austria, allies against England, Prussia and Hanover. Nations, tired, try to negotiate peace in secret. But who to send as a diplomat to The Hague? Louis XV thinks of Saint-Germain. After all, he could be Polish, Italian or whatever. He is an impartial person. So the king sends him.
But he did not consult Étienne-François de Choiseul, who is his main minister. Absolute monarchy or not, Choiseul is not there to serve as a potiche. So, it is out of the question for a charlatan to pass in front of him! He therefore had Saint-Germain accused of treason and espionage and ordered his arrest. But this time, Saint-Germain who fled and traveled through Europe changing his name several times to escape his pursuers.
We find him three years later in Brussels, in the Austrian Netherlands. He called himself Count of Surmont and introduced himself to Count Charles de Cobenzl, a reformist minister. He claims that he has great powers as an alchemist and that he knows how to produce at will a metal similar to gold or provide remedies that cure all diseases and even prolong life. But for that, he refuses to show himself during the day and does not meet the minister until nightfall.
The only witness to this story is Charles de Cobenzl's own nephew who resents this scammer who swindles everyone. In his memoirs, he condemns this thief who ridicules his family, impoverishes his country and finally disappears without a trace, leaving behind huge debts.
Charles de Cobenzl
Étienne-François de Choiseul
We finally arrive on a slightly more certain ground, because the last days and the death of Saint-Germain are better known than his origins and birth.
In 1779, Saint-Germain arrived in Denmark, in Altona.
It was there that he met an eminent personage: Landgrave Charles of Hesse-Kassel, the former governor of Norway. He is suspicious of Saint-Germain who settles almost by force in his home, but little by little, a contact reassures him: he has frequented Saint-Germain who actually works miracles and can transform a worthless diamond into a stone of very high price.
Reassured, Hesse-Kassel confesses that he quickly becomes a disciple of his guest. He then tells her about his secret mission in The Hague, his adventures and his escapes. If he was a crook, according to Hesse-Cassel, Saint-Germain has effectively redeemed his conscience.
Together they set up a dyeing factory in Eckernförde and in fact its products are of good quality. As for his medicines, he sells them very expensive to the rich but distributes them free of charge to the poor. Plagued by rheumatism, Saint-Germain died on 27 February 1784.
Charles of Hesse-Kassel
The character comes off stage and, honestly, even today, we don't really know what to make of it. It would be possible to write an entire book solely on the memory of the Count of Saint-Germain. Very few historians have studied the case of this impostor who mainly served the whims of a few rich people of his time.
On the other hand, there has been a whole non-historical literature that has told and even overinterpreted his life. We pour into magic, spirituality mixing Buddhism, Christianity and esotericism and we reimagine history with ancient races of angels.
All this little world has completely rethought the existence of Saint-Germain based not on historical facts, but on their own beliefs.
Saint Germain described by Diana Gabaldon.
Excerpts from "Dragonfly in Amber "
Chapter 16, The Nature of Sulfur
"Saint-Germain?" I asked, surprising a familiar name in the incessant chatter of one of the maids. Did you say the Count of Saint-Germain?
Marguerite was small and plump, with a strange flattened face and big round eyes that made her look like turbot. She was kind and always willing to help. She interrupted her polishing of the parquet floor and made a mouth in a goosebump, a sign that she was about to confide in me a particularly scandalous secret. I looked as encouraging as possible.
"The Count has a very bad reputation, Madam," she announced solemnly.
Since the same was true, according to her, for most of those who came to dine at her master's house, I arched an interested eyebrow and waited for further details. She leaned towards me, casting a suspicious glance around her, as if there was a spy hidden behind each curtain.
"He sold his soul to the Devil, do you know?" she said in a low voice. It is said that he celebrates black masses during which Lucifer's followers devour innocent little children.
Bingo! I had again chosen the ideal person to make an enemy for me.
"But it is well known, Madam," Marguerite assured me. For what it changes! All women are crazy about him. Everywhere he goes, they throw themselves at his neck. What do you want, he is rich!
In his eyes, the latter quality apparently compensated for his real or supposed turpitude.
"How interesting! I said. But I understand that this "Mr. Count" was a competitor of Mr. Jared. Doesn't he import wine, too? In this case, why do we receive it in this house?
Marguerite looked up from the floor and burst out laughing.
"Well, let's see, Madam! It is so that Mr. Jared can serve him the best beaune in his cellar, slip him the air of nothing that he has just bought ten cases and, at the end of dinner, generously offer him a bottle to take home!
Chapter 7, The King's Rising.
Looking for a seat, I saw the Comte de Saint-Germain at the other end of the room. Maybe it was him that Jamie was watching so focusedly. In any case, it was me that the count was staring at, a small smile at the corner of his lips. This expression so unusual in him sent shivers down my spine. I greeted him courteously and walked away in the opposite direction. For the rest of the evening, I interfered with groups of ladies, chatted about anything and everything, and tried to steer the conversation on Scotland and its exiled king.
He may consider these signs to be mere foils, I pondered, but he obviously knows people for whom this is not the case. Who is he so suspicious of? Jamie nodded. "I have heard some rumors about black masses, involving people from the Court. At the time, I did not take them seriously, but I will have to find out. He suddenly burst out laughing and put an arm around my shoulder. "I'm going to ask Murtagh to go Saint-Germain. For once, M. le Comte will have to deal with a real demon
Chapter 18, A Rape in Paris
... We received the Duke of Sandringham, with a small group of handpicked friends: Mr. Duverney and his eldest son, a banker; Louise and Jules de La Tour; the Arbanvilles; and, to spice up the sauce, the Comte de Saint-Germain.
"Saint-Germain! But why? I had exclaimed a week earlier, when Jamie had told me the news. "I'm in business with him," he reminded me. And then I want to see his face when he chats with you over dinner. He's not the kind of man to hide his feelings. He seized Master Raymond's crystal, which he had mounted on a small gold chain. "It makes a pretty gem," he admitted. Wear it tonight and, if you are asked what it is, explain it clearly without taking your eyes off Saint-Germain. If he was the one who wanted to poison you the other day, we'll know right away...
... We made it to the third course without incident, and I began to relax a little, though my hand continued to tremble slightly above my consummate. "But it's fascinating! I replied to Mr. Duverney Jr. He was telling me a story that I wasn't listening to, all my attention turned to the upper floor, on the lookout for the slightest noise. I met the gaze of Magnus, busy serving the Count of Saint-Germain sitting opposite me, and gave him a small smile of congratulations. Too well trained to smile in public, he acknowledged my compliment with a slight bow of the leader and continued his service. I was ostensibly fiddling with the crystal around my neck, but the count attacked his almond trout without his Saturnian features betraying the slightest emotion...
... Jamie glanced at me and stood up.
"If you will allow me, ladies and gentlemen, I have in my cellar an old port that I would like to taste with His Grace. You will tell me news!
"La Belle Rouge, the best of Paris," commented Jules de La Tour, licking his lips in advance. You will love, Your Grace. I've never tasted anything like it.
"Ah!" said the Count of Saint-Germain. You haven't seen anything yet, my dear Jules. I will soon have even better things to offer you.
"There can't be better than the Belle Rouge! exclaimed General d'Arbanville.
"Aha! Wait and you'll see," said the Earl with a knowing air. I just found a new port, bottled on the island of Gostos, off the coast of Portugal. It has a ruby color and fragrance next to which the Belle Rouge looks like tinted water. I receive the entire vintage next August.
"Really, Monsieur le Comte!" Silas Hawkins interjected. So you've found a new partner? I understood that your resources were— How to say? a little dry these days, due to the regrettable destruction of Patagonia.
With these words, he gently slipped a marzipan into his mouth and smiled at the Earl as he chewed delicately. The count gritted his teeth and an angel passed over our table. Judging by Mr. Hawkins' little wry at me, he knew nothing of my role in the "regrettable destruction" of Patagonia. My hand immediately began to fiddle feverishly with the crystal. But Saint-Germain was none of my business; he had turned bright red and was staring at Mr. Hawkins with a murderous look. As Jamie had said, the Earl did not hide his emotions.
"Fortunately, sir," he announced, with obvious effort to control himself, "I have indeed found a partner willing to invest in this business. Besides, he is a compatriot of our host. He turned sardonically towards the entrance to the dining room where Jamie had just reappeared, followed by Magnus loaded with a huge carafe of Belle Rouge. Hawkins stopped chewing for a moment, his mouth open with emotion.
"A Scotsman, you say?" But who? Apart from the Fraser house, I know of no other Scot in Paris in the liquor trade. An amused gleam crossed Saint-Germain's gaze. It may be premature of me to describe the investor in question as a "Scotsman" per se, but he is a compatriot of Lord Broch Tuarach. His name is Charles-Edouard Stuart.
Chapter 22, The Royal Stallion
The royal stud farms were immaculately clean, smelling of the sun and the smell of horses. In an open cubicle, Jamie was examining a mare, her eyes shining like those of a gadfly in love. "Oh, how beautiful you are, my filly! Come this way, show me your beautiful plump rump! There you go! You look great! "If only my husband could talk to me like that!" sighed the Duchess of Neve. This triggered a cascade of giggles from the ladies of our company, gathered in the central aisle. "He might do it, Madam," whistled the Comte de Saint-Germain, "if your hindquarters aroused in him so many emotions. But Monseigneur the Duke may not share Lord Broch Tuarach's taste for bouncy rumps. He gave me a look laden with contempt and I restrained myself from sticking my hand in his face. I tried to imagine his black eyes through the slits of a mask and succeeded easily. Unfortunately, her lace cuff covered almost her entire hand, masking the birth of her thumb.
Jamie, who had lost none of this exchange, turned to us, leaning against the side of the mare.
"Lord Broch Tuarach appreciates beauty in all its forms, Earl. in animals as in women. But, contrary to some whom I will refrain from quoting, he knows the difference between the two. He gave a mischievous smile to Saint-Germain, then patted the mare's neckline to the laughter of the guests.
Chapter 27, Royal Audience
"Look, Madam," said the king.
It was then that I saw two people, standing at the back of the room, two meters apart from each other: Master Raymond and the Count of Saint-Germain. The old apothecary looked at me as if he had never seen me before. His black batrachian eyes were like two unfathomable wells. On the other hand, the count could not hide his amazement when he recognized me. He pulled himself together and glared at me. As usual, he was sumptuously dressed and wore a white satin jacket over an ivory vest embroidered with pearls that the candlelight made sparkle. But apart from the splendor of his dress, he did not look very comfortable. His features were drawn and the lace of his crop and collar was drenched with perspiration. Master Raymond seemed very calm. He stood straight, both hands buried in the sleeves of his gray velvet coat. The king of France made a gesture towards the two men.
— These two men, Madame, are accused of witchcraft, black magic and a misuse of the legitimate quest for knowledge. He spoke in a cold, sinister voice.
Such practices were common in my great-grandfather's time,1 but we will not tolerate such infamy in our kingdom. The king snapped his fingers at one of the hooded men who was sitting in front of a bundle of documents, a pen and an inkwell. "Please read us the charges," he ordered.
"We have no quarrel with the pursuit of knowledge or with the quest for wisdom when they are conducted wisely," continued the king in a measured tone. The writings of the ancient philosophers are rich in lessons for those who approach them with prudence and humility. But if it is true that these writings can serve good, we can also find evil. The pursuit of knowledge can be perverted by the thirst for power and wealth. His gaze went from one of the accused to the other, and he evidently drew conclusions about the one to which his words related most. The count was sweating profusely. Dark spots were beginning to appear on the white silk of his jacket. "No, Your Majesty! he cried suddenly, taking a step forward. He turned contemptuously to Master Raymond, before continuing:
"It is true that vile spirits are agitated in your kingdom. The abject beings of which you speak are indeed circulating among us. But the bosom of your most loyal subject does not harbor such vilenies. He beat his chest with his fist in case we didn't understand who he was talking about.
"No, Your Majesty!" he resumed. It is not in the Court that we should look for perversions of knowledge and the use of forbidden arts! He did not openly accuse Master Raymond, but it was enough to follow his venomous gaze. The king seemed unimpressed by this moving plea. He stared at Saint-Germain with a gloomy eye, straightened up, and clapped his hands.
"Good! he said as if the time had come to get down to business. He reached out to me.
— We have a witness here. An infallible judge of the truth and purity of souls... the White Lady. I startled and he resumed in a softer tone:
"The White Lady doesn't know how to lie. It reads the hearts and souls of men. Woe to him who lies or harbors dark designs! It will reduce it to ashes with a single glance. The unreal atmosphere that had hitherto hovered over this evening suddenly dissipated.
I opened my mouth, closed it, finding nothing to say.
When the king explained his intentions, I felt overcome by terror: two pentagons were to be drawn on the ground, in the middle of which the two alleged sorcerers would take place. Then, everyone would set out their facts and motives. After which the White Lady would distinguish between the true and the false. "And!" I swore mentally.
Her Majesty set to work herself, armed with white chalk. Only a king could treat an authentic Aubusson carpet with such contempt.
"Monsieur le Comte?" invited the king by making a gesture towards the first pentagon. Saint-Germain passed by me to reach the location intended for him. When he reached my height, I heard him hissing between his teeth:
"Beware, Madam, I am not alone.
He took his place and waved at me with a wry smile. The message was clear: if I condemned him, his acolytes would come and cut off my breasts and burn Jared's warehouses. I cursed Louis inwardly. Why didn't he just abuse my body? Master Raymond stepped forward and gave me a kind smile. I had no idea what I had to do now. The king beckoned me to come and stand in front of him, between the two pentagons. The hooded men stood up and came to stand behind the king, forming a dark and menacing mass. There was a long silence. The smoke from the candles rose in slow volutes towards the gilded ceiling and danced gracefully according to the drafts. All eyes were on me. I turned to Saint-Germain and nodded:
"You may begin, Monsieur le Comte," I said. He paused and went for it. He began with an explanation of the origins of Kabbalah, before exegesis of each of the twenty-three letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the deeper meaning of their symbolism. His speech was purely academic, totally harmless and terribly boring. His Majesty yawned, not bothering to cover his mouth. Meanwhile, I examined the issues I had left. This man had already threatened and attacked me. He had tried to have Jamie murdered, for personal or political reasons, it didn't matter. And he was presumably the head of the gang of rapists who assaulted Mary and me. Beyond these considerations and the rumours that were circulating, he represented a considerable threat to the success of our enterprise concerning Charles-Edouard Stuart. Was I going to let him get away with it? Should I let him continue to exert his influence over the king for the benefit of the Stuarts, and pursue exactions in the dark streets of Paris with his band of masked scoundrels? My nipples were erect in fear under the silk of my dress. But I gritted my teeth and returned an evil look to him.
"Wait a minute, Monsieur le Comte," I interrupted him. Everything you have said so far is accurate, but I see a shadow behind your words. The count was speechless. Louis, suddenly interested, straightened up in his chair. I closed my eyes and pressed my hands on my eyelids, just to make it look like I was looking inward.
"I see a name in your mind," I continued. "The Disciples of Evil". Does that name ring a bell, Monsieur le Comte? The count did not possess the art of hiding his emotions. His eyes seemed about to pop out of their sockets and he was livid. Despite my fear, I felt a small hint of satisfaction. Apparently, this name was not unknown to the king. His eyes narrowed, forming two horizontal slits. Saint-Germain may have been a crook and a charlatan, but it was not raining. He glared at me and threw his head back.
"This woman is lying, Your Majesty! he cried with the same aplomb as when he explained to us a few moments earlier that the letter Aleph symbolized the blood of Christ. She is not a White Lady! She is Satan's handmaiden! She is in cahoots with this notorious wizard, the apprentice of Du Carrefours! He pointed a theatrical finger at Master Raymond, who took on a slightly surprised look. One of the hooded men signed himself and I heard a murmur of prayers behind the king.
"I can prove it! continued Saint-Germain without giving anyone time to reply.
He slipped a hand into an inside pocket of his jacket. I remembered the dagger he had made appear from his sleeve on dinner night and got ready to dive to the ground. But he brandishes something else entirely.
"It is written in the Holy Bible: They will caress the serpents without danger," he thundered. And so you will know that they are the servants of the true God!
It must have been a small python. It was just under a meter long, with yellow and brown rings, flexible and shining like an oiled rope, and disconcerting golden eyes. There was a panicked murmur in the audience, and two of the judges took a step back. Louis jumped and glanced around in search of his bodyguard, planted near the door and rolling wide eyes. The snake darted its tongue once or twice, to take room temperature. Having verified that the mixture of wax and incense was not edible, he squirmed and pretended to want to plunge back into the pocket from which he had been extracted with so little care. The count grabbed him in the back of the head with an expert gesture and brandished him towards me.
"See! he exclaimed, triumphant. She's scared! She's a witch.
To tell the truth, compared to one of the judges who was pressed against the wall, trembling like a leaf, I showed heroic courage; But it was true that I had recoiled when I saw him brandishing his dirty critter towards me. Now I was moving forward again, intending to take it from him. After all, it wasn't a poisonous snake and I wanted to see Saint-Germain's head if I tied it around his neck. But before I could reach it, Master Raymond's voice rose behind me.
"Count, your quotation from the Bible is incomplete!
The whispers immediately ceased and the king turned to him.
"What do you mean?"
The apothecary plunged his hands into his large pockets and took out a bottle and a cup. "They will pet snakes safely... he quoted in turn. And if they drink a deadly poison, they will not die from it.
With one hand he stretched the cup in front of him, and with the other he tilted the bottle, ready to pour.
"Since Lady Broch Tuarach and I have been accused," he continued, giving me a brief glance, "I propose that the three of us take part in this ordeal. With your permission, Your Majesty.
Louis seemed rather bewildered by this rapid sequence of events, but he nodded and a trickle of amber liquid poured into the cup. It immediately turned red and began to bubble.
"Dragon's blood," Master Raymond explained nonchalantly. Perfectly harmless to those with a pure heart.
He gave me an encouraging smile and handed me the cup. I didn't have thirty-six solutions: I had to accept it. Dragon blood turned out to be a kind of baking soda. It tasted like effervescent brandy. I took three small sips and returned the cup. Master Raymond drank in turn and turned to the king.
"If the White Lady will give the cup to M. le Comte?" he asked.
He made a gesture towards the pentagon, at his feet, reminding him that he could not get out of the figure traced with chalk. At a nod from the king, I took the cup and mechanically turned to the count. I had about six steps to take. I did one, then another, my knees trembling. The White Lady sees the true nature of a man. Was this true? What did I really know about the count or the apothecary? Could I still stop this killing game? Was it possible to act otherwise? I thought briefly of Charles-Edouard and the thought that had crossed my mind when we first met: if he could have died, he would have arranged everyone! But do we have the right to kill a man because he has dreams of greatness? Even if these dreams could cost the lives of thousands of innocent people? I didn't know. I did not know whether the Earl was guilty or whether Master Raymond was innocent. I did not know whether the pursuit of an honourable case justified the use of means that were much less honourable. I didn't know the true value of revenge.
On the other hand, I knew that the cup I was holding in my hands was death. I hadn't seen Master Raymond add anything to it, like no one else. But I didn't need to dip the crystal sphere hanging from my neck in it to know what's in it now. The count also understood it in my face. The White Lady does not know how to lie. He hesitated, his eyes fixed on the bubbling liquid.
"Come on, sir, drink! enjoined the king. Are you scared?
I didn't carry the count in my heart, but I had to admit that he had guts. He raised his pale face towards the king and bravely held his gaze.
"No, Your Majesty.
He took the cup from my hands and emptied it in one go. His gaze, which did not leave me, reflected the consciousness of his imminent death. The White Lady can save a man's soul... or reduce it to nothing. He collapsed on the floor, his body agitated with convulsions. Exclamations and shouts rose in the audience, muffling his grunts of agony. His heels briefly pounded the ground, he arched his loins and fell back heavily, inert. The serpent, in a very wicked mood, slipped out of the folds of white satin and zigzagged quickly on the carpet, seeking refuge between the feet of the king. Then there was complete chaos