The Count of St. Germain

A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE IN the intrigues of 18th-century Europe was a secretive and colorful individual known as the Count of St. Germain.* St. Germain’s life has been the subject of many articles and at least one book. Ever since his reported death in 1784, there has been a tendency to either deify him or to dismiss him as an unimportant charlatan. Neither characterization seems to accurately reflect what he truly was.


*Not to be confused with the French general of the same name, nor Claude Louis de St. Germain, an 18th-century mystic.

St. Germain’s activities are important because his movements provide a fascinating link between the wars going on in Europe, the deeper levels of the Brotherhood, and the clique of German princes—particularly the House of Hesse.

The first of many mysteries concerning St. Germain is the circumstance of his birth. Many researchers believe him to have been the offspring of Francis II, ruler of the once powerful principality of Transylvania. Transylvania, famous in cinema as the home of the mythical human vampire, Dracula, and other assorted literary ne’er-do-wells, had ties to the dynasty in Hesse. Francis II of Transylvania had married sixteen-year-old Charlotte Amalie of Hessen-Reinfels on September 25, 1694 at the cathedral of Cologne in Germany.

Out of this union came two known children. However, when the will of Francis II was published in 1737, a third unnamed son was mentioned as a beneficiary. This third child proved to be Leopold-George, eldest son and heir to the Transylvanian throne. Leopold-George was born in either 1691 or 1696, depending upon which theory of his birth one accepts. Because of the uncertainty of his birth date, it is not known if he was the son of Charlotte of Hesse or of Francis II’s prior wife. What does appear certain is that Leopold-George’s early “death” in 1700 had been staged to save him from the deadly intrigues which were about to destroy the Transylvanian dynasty and end the independence of Transylvania.

Leopold-George is believed to have been the Count of St. Germain.

St. Germain first appeared in European society in 1743 when he would have been a man in his forties. Little is known about his life before that year. A dossier on the mysterious Count had been created by order of French Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870) but, unfortunately, all of the documents were destroyed in a fire that engulfed the house in which the dossier was stored. This resulted in the loss of irreplaceable information about St. Germain. St. Germain’s own secretiveness only deepens the mystery about his life. The surviving information indicates that St. Germain was raised to become one of the most active, colorful, and successful secret political agents of the Brotherhood in the 18th century.

Of St. Germain’s early life, Strict Observance leader Prince Karl of Hesse wrote that St. Germain had been raised in childhood by the last of the powerful Medici family of Italy. The Duke of Medici, like some earlier Medicis, was engrossed in the mystical philosophies prevalent in Italy at the time, which may account for St. Germain’s deep involvement in the Brotherhood network as an adult. While under Medici care, St. Germain is believed to have studied at the university in Siena.

St. Germain’s first documented appearance in European society occurred in England in 1743. At that time, the Jacobite cause was very strong and the 1745 invasion of Scotland was only two years away. During those two crucial years prior to the invasion, St. Germain resided in London. Only glimpses of his activities during that time are available. St. Germain was a gifted musician and several of his musical compositions were publicly performed in the Little Haymarket Theatre in early February 1745. St. Germain also had several of his trios published by the Walsh company of London.

British authorities did not believe that St. Germain was in London to pursue a musical career, however. In December 1745, with the Jacobite invasion underway, St. Germain was arrested by the British on suspicion of being a Jacobite agent. He was released when rumored letters from Charles Edward, leader of the Stuart invasion, were not found on his person.


Horace Walpole wrote of the arrest afterwards:

. .. t’other day they seized an odd man, who goes by the name of Count St. Germain. He has been here these two years, will not tell who he is or whence, but professes two very wonderful things, the first that he does not go by his right name, and the second, that he never had any dealings, or desire to have any dealings, with any woman—nay, nor with an succedaneum [substitute]. He sings, plays on the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad, and not very sensible.1

After his release, St. Germain departed England and spent one year as the guest of Prince Ferdinand von Lobkowitz, first minister to the Austrian emperor. The War of Austrian Succession was still raging at the time, in which Austria and England were allied against France and Prussia. During this visit to Austria, St. Germain was introduced to the French Minister of War, the Marshal de Belle-Isle, who, in turn, introduced St. Germain to the French court.

This is an intriguing sequence of events. Here we have a man arrested as a suspected enemy of England during a time of war, who then immediately went to stay with a top minister of a nation (Austria) which was allied to England. During that stay, this same man befriended the Minister of War of a nation (France) which was an enemy of Austria! St. Germain’s political contacts on all sides of a raging war were remarkable.

What St. Germain did for the next three years after leaving Austria is not certain.

St. Germain reappeared in European society again in 1749, this time as a guest of King Louis XV of France. France, a Catholic nation, actively supported the Jacobite cause against the Hanoverians of England. France was also involved in many other foreign intrigues. According to a lady of the French court who later wrote of St. Germain in her memoirs:

From 1749, the King [Louis XV] employed him [St. Germain] on diplomatic missions and he acquitted himself honorably in them.2

King Louis had gained fame as an architect of 18th century secret diplomacy. The acceptance of St. Germain into the French Court and his work for the French king as a political agent is significant for several reasons:

First, it points to the important role that Brotherhood members have played in the creation and operation of national and international intelligence networks throughout history; a matter we will consider in more detail in later chapters.

Secondly, as a Catholic, King Louis XV adhered to Papal decrees. The papacy was hostile to Freemasonry. Indeed, Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry are both factions with origins in the Brotherhood which have long opposed one another. In 1737, Louis XV issued an edict forbidding all French subjects to have anything to do with Freemasonry.

During the ensuing decades, the French government actively repressed the French Freemasons with police raids and imprisonment. Louis XV’s edict of 1737 was followed a year later by Pope Clement’s Papal Bull which forbade Catholics everywhere from participating in or supporting Freemasonry under penalty of excommunication; yet here was the Count of St. Germain, who would later reveal a life-long involvement in the Brotherhood, residing as a guest of the King. The likely explanation, based upon the known facts of St. Germain’s life, is that he was not so much a Freemason as he was an agent of the higher Brotherhood.


It is also unlikely that the French King understood St. Germain’s role in the Brotherhood network.

St. Germain’s exact activities from 1749 through 1755 are largely unknown. In 1755, he made a second trip to India. He went with English Commander Robert Clive who was on his way there to fight the French! India was a major theatre of war in which a great deal was at stake. Commander Clive was an important leader on the British side.


This trip highlighted once again St. Germain’s remarkable political contacts and his ability to travel back and forth between important leaders of warring camps. One biographer has suggested that the Count may have been acting as a secret agent of King Louis XV of France when he went to India with Clive, for when St. Germain returned, he was awarded in 1758 with an apartment in the French royal palace at Chambord. He was also given laboratory facilities for his chemical and alchemical experiments, in which Louis XV sometimes participated.

St. Germain was clearly a flamboyant and multifaceted character. One of the talents for which he achieved fame was his considerable knowledge of alchemy. (Alchemy mixes mysticism with chemistry and was a staple of Rosicrucian practice.) St. Germain became a topic of gossip in the French court because he claimed to possess the alchemical Elixir of Life. The Elixir was said to be a secret formula which made people physically immortal. This was the same Elixir many European Rosicrucians claimed to possess. St. Germain may have had tongue slightly in cheek when he made the claim, however. He is quoted as saying to King Louis XV,

“Sire, I sometimes amuse myself not by making it believed, but by allowing it to be believed, that I have lived in ancient times.”3

In 1760, St. Germain left France for the Hague in Holland. This trip was made during the height of the Seven Years War. Holland was a neutral country during that conflict. Exactly what St. Germain was trying to accomplish in Holland remains debated even today. After declaring himself to be a secret agent of King Louis XV, St. Germain tried to gain an audience with the English representative at the Hague. St. Germain claimed that he was there to negotiate a peace between England and France.


However, the French Foreign Minister, the Duke of Choiseul, and the French ambassador to Holland, Count D’Affry, had not been notified by their king about St. Germain’s purported mission. The Duke of Choiseul therefore branded St. German a charlatan and ordered his arrest. To avoid imprisonment by Dutch authorities, St. Germain fled to London in the same year. St. Germain’s escape was aided by his influential friend, Count Bentinck, the President of the Dutch Council of Deputy Commissioners.

As a result of this debacle and the unwillingness of Louis XV to publicly acknowledge St. Germain as his agent, St. Germain was unable to openly return to French royal society until 1770—the year in which his enemy, the Duke of Choiseul, was disgraced and removed from power.

St. Germain had a second, and perhaps even more compelling, reason for making that ill-fated trip to Holland. A letter written on March 25, 1760 by Prince de Galitzin, Russian Minister to England, offered this insight into St.Germain’s aborted activities in Holland:

I know the Count de St. Germain well by reputation. This singular man has been staying for some time in this country, and I do not know whether he likes it. There is someone here with whom he appears to be in correspondence, and this person declares that the object of the Count’s journey to Holland is merely some financial business.4

The financial business mentioned by de Galitzen was very secret. It appeared to be the true purpose of St. Germain’s visit. St. Germain was in Holland to exploit the marriage of a Princess Caroline to the German prince of Nassau-Dillenburg for the purposes of establishing a “Fund” for France. St. Germain wanted to negotiate the formation of the Fund with Dutch bankers. According to French ambassador D’Affrey,

“his objective in general was to secure the credit of the principal bankers there for us.”5

In another letter, D’Affry stated that St. Germain,

“had come to Holland solely to complete the formation of a Company adequate to the responsibility of this Fund. . . .”6

The formation of the Fund was probably the true reason for St. Germain’s (and perhaps King Louis’s) extreme secrecy. France already had important financiers to the royal Court: the wealthy Paris-Duverney Brothers. The Paris Brothers had salvaged France’s financial standing after the disastrous Bank of France episode involving the inflated money of John Law. St. Germain was quite hostile to the Paris Brothers and he did not want them to gain control of the Fund. St. Germain is quoted by Monsieur de Kauderbach, a minister of the Saxon court in the Hague:

. . . he [King Louis XV of France] is surrounded only by creatures placed by the Brothers Paris, who alone cause all the trouble of France. It is they who corrupt everything, and thwarted the plans of the best citizen in France, the Marshal de Belle-Isle. Hence the disunion and jealousy amongst the Ministers. All is corrupted by the Brothers Paris; perish France, provided they may attain their object of gaining eight hundred millions.7

St. Germain may well have had legitimate grounds for objecting to the undue influence of the Paris Brothers. St. Germain’s mission in the Hague, however, was only an attempt to covertly wrest financial control from the Paris Brothers and put it back into the hands of the same clique of financiers whose predecessors had institutionalized the inflatable paper money system to begin with—the very system which had brought financial ruin to France and the consequent intervention of the Paris Brothers. Because of St. Germain’s sudden forced departure from Holland, he was never able to complete his financial mission.

Upon arriving in London after fleeing Holland, St. Germain was once again arrested and released. During this short stay in England, St. Germain published seven violin solos.

St. Germain continued his covert political activities after leaving London. In 1760, he returned secretly to Paris. There St. Germain is believed to have stayed with his friend, the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst. Anhalt-Zerbst was another German state which rented mercenaries to England, although it never accumulated the same wealth as some of its German neighbors.
The Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst had a daughter, Catherine II. On August 21, 1744, Catherine II had married Peter III of Russia. This marriage had been arranged by Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was a friend of the Anhalt-Zerbst family and, at least for a time, of St. Germain.

In 1762, two years after St. Germain’s quiet return to Paris, Peter III assumed the Russian throne. St. Germain traveled immediately to the Russian capital of St. Petersburg where he helped Catherine overthrow Peter and establish her as the Empress of Russia. Assisting in the coup d’etat was the Russian Orloff family. The Orloffs are believed to have murdered Peter by strangling him in a phony brawl. For his assistance in the coup, St. Germain was made a general of the Russian army and he remained a close friend of the Orloff family for many years. Catherine, who later became known as “Catherine the Great,” went on to rule Russia for twenty-nine years.

With this bold coup, St. Germain had helped put Russia under the rule of the same small clique of German royal families under which other European countries had fallen. The same modus operandi was used: the marriage of a royal German into the victim dynasty followed by a revolution or coup. Here we find evidence of direct Brotherhood involvement in the person of St. Germain.

What St. Germain did between 1763 and 1769 after leaving Russia is a mystery. He is known to have spent approximately one year in Berlin and was a short-term guest of Friedrich August of Brunswick. From Brunswick, St. Germain continued his travels around Europe. He returned to France in 1770. In 1772, St. Germain again acted as an agent for Louis XV, this time during negotiations in Vienna over the partition of Poland.


Unfortunately for St. Germain, Louis XV died on May 10, 1774 and Louis’s nineteen-year-old grandson, Louis XVI, took the throne. The new king brought Choiseul back to power and took a personal dislike to St. Germain. The Count was forced to leave French society for the last time.

St. Germain immediately departed for Germany where, only eleven days after the death of Louis XV, he was a guest of William IX of Hesse—the prince who was to inherit the vast Hesse-Kassel fortune.


According to J. J. Bjornstahl, writing in his book of travels:

We were guests at the court of the Prince-Hereditary Wilhelm von Hessen-Cassel (brother of Karl von Hessen) at Hanau, near Frankfort.  As we returned on the 21st of May 1774 to the Castle of Hanau, we found there Lord Cavendish and the Comte de St. Germain; they had come from Lausanne, and were travelling to Cassel and Berlin. 8

After his visit to the home of the Hessian prince, St. Germain traveled about Europe some more. He was welcomed as a guest of the Margrave of Brandenburg and by others. Finally, in 1779, St. Germain was taken in by Prince Karl of Hesse, who was a top leader of the Strict Observance. St. Germain spent the last five years of his known life with Karl.

In 1784, St. Germain reportedly died. The church register of Eckenforde contained the entry:

Deceased on February 27, buried on March 2, 1784, the so-called Compte de St. Germain and Weldon*— further information not known—privately deposited in this Church.9


* St. Germain used many aliases. Weldon was one of them.

It was after his reported death that St. Germain’s true status within the Brotherhood emerged. Not only was St. Germain portrayed as one of the highest representatives of the Brotherhood, he was also deified as a physically immortal being who did not age or die. A number of his contemporary admirers claimed that they saw St. Germain at times when it should have been impossible for them to do so because of St. Germain’s age.


For example, Baron E. H. Gleichen, writing in his memoirs published in 1868, stated:

I have heard Rameau and an old relative of a French ambassador at Venice testify to having known St. Germain in 1710, when he had the appearance of a man of fifty years of age.10

If St. Germain was fifty years old in 1710, then he would have been 124 years old when he reportedly died. There are, however, those who claim that St. Germain did not die in 1784. A German mystical magazine published in 1857, Magazin der Beweisfuhrer fur Verurtheilung des Freimaurer-Ordens, stated that St. Germain was one of the French representatives to the 1785 Masonic convention in Paris, one year after his reported death. Another writer, Cantu Cesare, in his work, Gli Eretici d’Italia, stated that St. Germain was present at the famous Wilhelmsbad Masonic conference which was also held in 1785.

These reports are viewed by some people as evidence that St. Germain’s death had been staged (perhaps for the second time in his life) to enable him to escape the controversy which surrounded him so that he could live out the rest of his life in
relative quiet. 

St. Germain’s alleged appearances after death did not end in 1785, however. Countess D’Adhemar, a member of the French court who wrote her memoirs shortly before her death in 1822, alleged seeing St. Germain many times after his reported death, usually during times of upheaval. She claimed that St. Germain had sent warnings to the King and Queen of France (his enemy Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) just prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution which occurred in 1789. She also claimed that she saw him in 1793, 1804, 1813, and 1820.


A Rosicrucian writer, Franz Graeffer, stated that St. Germain had made appearances in Austria after his reported death, and was honored there as an advanced Adept of the Brotherhood. In the late 1800’s, Madame Helena Blavatsky, one of the cofounders of the Theosophical Society, declared that St. Germain was one of the Hidden Masters of Tibet who secretly controlled the destiny of the world. In 1919, a man claiming to be St. Germain appeared in Hungary at a time when a successful communist-led revolution was underway in that country. Finally, in 1930, a man named Guy Ballard claimed that he met St. Germain on Mount Shasta in California, and that St. Germain had helped him establish a new Brotherhood branch known as the “I AM.” We will look at the “I AM” in a later chapter.

Were all of these witnesses lying? Probably not. The Brotherhood occasionally sponsored “resurrections” as a way to deify select members. That is what had been done with Jesus. In fact, those Brotherhood branches which deify St. Germain (which is certainly not all of them) often give St. Germain the same spiritual status as Jesus. Why St. Germain was chosen for deification may never be fully understood. Perhaps his successes on behalf of the Brotherhood were far more numerous than we know. Whatever the reason might have been, it is clear that St. Germain was mortal. He did die, if not on the reported date of his demise, then surely within a decade of it.

During his lifetime, and still today, many people have labeled St. Germain a fraud and charlatan. Some critics contend that St. Germain was nothing more than a glib con-artist of common birth whose entry into royal society came about solely through his wiles and colorful personality. The evidence we have looked at clearly does not support this argument. It was not easy for an outsider to enter so many royal circles and remain there.


St. Germain’s involvement in the overthrow of Peter of Russia was not a petty scam; it was a major coup which altered the political landscape of Europe. Yes, St. Germain was a charlatan on a number of matters, but that made his political activities and connections no less significant. St. Germain’s color and flamboyance obscured a deadly serious side to his life. His travels and activities tied the Brotherhood to the Hessian princes, the intrigues of France, the wars of Europe, and the paper money bankers.


The personality of St. Germain reveals that when we discuss “behind-the-scenes” influences, we are not necessarily talking about eerie characters who skulk about in shadows doing incomprehensible things. We are usually discussing people who are as lively and colorful as the rest of us. They succeed and they fail. They have their charms and their quirks like everyone else. They exercise influence over people, but not puppet like control. They are affected by the same things that everyone else is affected by.


These observations lead to an important point:

When some writers describe the influence of the Brotherhood network in history, and when some readers read about it, they envision strange subterranean “occult” forces at work. This is an illusion generated by the mysticism and secrecy of the Brotherhood itself. Changes in society, whether for good or bad, are caused by people doing things. The Brotherhood network has simply been an effective channel to get people to act, and to keep much of what they do secret. The influence of the Brotherhood network only appears mysterious and “occult” because so many actions have gone unrecorded and unknown to outsiders. The corrupted Brotherhood network does not have today, nor has it ever had, effective “occult” powers. The world can therefore be remade for the better by people simply acting and doing. No magic wand is needed. Just some elbow grease.

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Here a Knight, There a Knight...

EVEN AFTER THE collapse of the Stuart cause, the Knight degrees remained popular and spread rapidly. The pro-Stuart slant vanished in favor of an antimonarchical philosophy in some Templar organizations, and a pro-monarchial sentiment in others. Freemasons practicing the Templar degrees played important political roles on both sides of the monarchy vs. antimonarchy battles going on in the 18thcentury, thereby helping to keep that issue alive in such a way that people would find it something to continuously fight over.


For example, King Gustavus III of Sweden and his brother, Karl, the Duke of Sodermanland, had been initiated into the Strict Observance in 1770. In the following year, one of Gustavus’s first acts upon assuming the Swedish throne was to mount a coupd’etat against the Swedish Riksdag [parliament] and reestablish greater powers in the Crown. According to Samuel Harrison Baynard, writing in his book, History of the Supreme Council, Gustavus was assisted largely by fellow Freemasons.

The Knight degrees also found a home in Ireland where they attached themselves to the Order of Orange. As we recall, the Orange Order was a militant organization patterned after Freemasonry. It was founded to ensure that Protestantism remained England’s dominant religion. Members of the Orange Order vowed to support the Hanoverians as long as the Hanoverians continued their support of Protestantism. The Knight degrees were grafted onto the Order of Orange in the early 1790’s, by which time the Stuart cause was nearly dead.


The Orange Order’s Templar degrees were, and still are today, called the “Black Preceptory.” Although the Orange Order and the Black Preceptory are supposed to be equal in status and rank, entry into the Black Preceptory is accomplished only after a person has first passed through the degrees of the Orange Order. According to Tony Gray, writing in his fascinating book, The Orange Order, the Black Preceptory today has eleven degrees and “a great deal of secrecy still shrouds the inner workings of this curious institution.”1


Approximately 50% to 60% of all Orange members become members of the Preceptory. The Orange Order itself continues to be strongly Protestant and anti-Catholic, and in this way it contributes to some of the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland today.

Another interesting chapter in the history of the Templar Degrees concerns the creation of a bogus “Illuminati.” “Illuminati,” as we recall, was the Latin name given to the Brotherhood. In 1779, a second “Illuminati” was started in the Strict Observance Lodge of Munich. This second bogus ”Illuminati” was led by an ex-Jesuit priest named Adam Weishaupt and was structured as a semiautonomous organization.


Openly political and antimonarchical, Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” formed another channel of “higher degrees” for Freemasons to graduate into after completing the Blue Degrees. Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” had its own “hidden master” known as the “Ancient Scot Superior.” The Strict Observance members who were initiated into this “Illuminati” apparently believed that they were being initiated into the highest echelons of the real Illuminati, or Brotherhood. Once initiated under strict vows of secrecy, members were “revealed” a great deal of political and antimonarchical philosophy.

Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” was soon attacked, however. Its headquarters in German Bavaria were raided by the Elector
of Bavaria in 1786. Many radical political aims of the Illuminati were discovered in documents seized during the raid.

The Duke of Brunswick, acting as Grand Master of German Freemasonry, finally issued a manifesto eight years later, in 1794, to counteract Weishaupt’s bogus “Illuminati” after the public scandal could no longer be contained. Joining in the suppression of Weishaupt’s Bavarian “Illuminati” were many Rosicrucians. Despite the repression, this “Illuminati” survived and still exists today.

Many people have mistakenly believed that Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” was the true Illuminati and that it took over all of Freemasonry. This error is caused by Weishaupt’s express desire to have his degrees become the only “higher degrees” of Freemasonry. One can still find books today which theorize that Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” was, and still is, the source of nearly all of mankind’s social ills.


A careful study of the evidence indicates that Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” is actually a red herring in this respect. Although Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” did contribute to some of the revolutionary agitation going on in Europe, its impact on history does not appear to have been as great as some people believe, despite the enormous publicity it received. The social ills which have sometimes been blamed on Weishaupt’s “Illuminati” existed long before the birth of Adam Weishaupt. What did takeover nearly all of Freemasonry in the eighteenth century were the Templar degrees, which were not the same thing as Weishaupt’s “Illuminati.”


The true significance of the Bavarian Illuminati is that is was an antimonarchy faction allowed to operate out of Strict Observance lodges; meanwhile, the Strict Observance was generally considered pro-monarchy and it supported pro-monarchy causes, as in the Swedish Ricksdag overthrow, mentioned earlier. This made the Strict Observance a source of secret agitation on both sides of the monarchy-versus-antimonarchy conflicts for a number of years—another example of Brotherhood Machiavellianism.

The worldwide transformation of human society announced in the Rosicrucian Fama Fraternitis gained momentum as Freemasons and other mystical network members led numerous revolutions around the world. The uprisings were not confined to Europe; they spilled across the Atlantic Ocean and took root in the European colonies in North America.


There they gave birth to the single most influential nation on Earth today: the United States of America.

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