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Thomas Freller

Colour Image Malta 1997

This book is. sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent- re-sold, re-hired, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior written consent in any from of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher.

© Thomas Freller, 1997

Printed & Published by Colour Image, Mgarr - Malta

Cover Design & Image Reproduction by Visual Grath Studio

ISBN 99909-84-04-2

Besides the essential help of MrLouis J. Scerri, MA the author would like to acknowledge the help of M r Joe Saliba

Ms Sharlene Cachia

Dolt, Gerard Bugeja

Mr RalphSchaub

Mr Stephen Degiorgio


Freimaurer Bibliothek, Bayreuth (Bavaria) Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome Osterreichische.Staaisbibliothek; Vienna Bibliotheque Nationale et Universitaire, Strasbourg Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; Munich Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bavaria)

Stadt- und Universitatsbibliothek Frankfurt a. M.

Universttatsbibliotnek Basel

Hessische Landesbibliothek Wiesbaden (Germany) Cathedral Museum and Archives, Mdina, (Malta) National Library of Malta.



Archives of the Order of St John,

National Library of Malta, Valletta (Malta) Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele, Rome Cathedral Archives Mdina (Malta) Freimaurerbibliothek Bayreuth (Bavaria) Melita Historica

Munich State Archives

National Library of Malta, Valletta (Malta)





1 a)


The Setting

The Spirit of the Time (Zeitgeist)


The Crisis of the Ancien Regime and Hospitaller Malta Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and Conservatism



The Malta Connection -A Fantastic Tale in the Style of the Arabian Nights



Interpretation and Legends

The Famous Malta Connection: A Claim and its Rebuttal



The Investigation


a) The Son of Grand Master Pinto and Friend of Althotas?

Cagliostro's Supposed Maltese Sojourns:

Fact or Seeking after Effect 29

b) Cagliostro's Later Career

Friend and Companion of the Greats of Europe? 40

c) Alchemy, Sorcery', and Superstition 48

d) Freemasonry 53

5 All Roads Lead to Rome Cagliostro on Trial







List of Illustrations





a) Sources

b) Literature

J08 J08 111


In the late 1780s an etching was published which depicted a fairly common belief: the mysterious 'Conte Cagliostro' .~ dressed in Oriental robes -accompanied by his retinue departing from Rhodes to go to Malta, his supposed place of birth.' Following his emergence into the limelight of European interest, many and varied were the speculations about Cagliostro's birth, life, and activities. That Malta and the colourful life and fate of Cagliostro were actually closely linked will be demonstrated later on in more detail. Indeed many of his contemporaries believed that he was born in Malta, some even alleging he was the illegitimate son of the Grand Master of the Order of St John, the Portuguese Manoel Pin to de Fonseca (1681-1773).

Iliustraiton 1 Cagiiostro leaving Rhodes on his way to Malta

Up to now, both in Malta and abroad, the discussion about Cagliostro' s li~ks with ~alta and the Order of St John has never been settled. Although this bO~k will not put any such discussion beyond debate, it will present a collectlOn of facts and documents, some of them hitherto unknown and

draw some conclusions from them. '

'Conte Alessandro Cagliostro' is the pseudonym of the Palermitan c~arlatan and impostor Giuseppe Balsamo, In this book the name 'Cagliostro' will be used to avoid confusion, as is also done in the case of his wife Lorenza Balsamo, who called herself Serafina Feliciani. Balsamo migh~ have assumed his name from his great-uncle from Messina who was named Cagliostro.

Although more than 200 years have passed since the acti vities and adventures o.fCa,gHostro, he remains right in the centre of European, not to s~y world-wide, mterest, In 1995-96, on the occasion of the bicentenary of his death, a. great number of festivities,exhibitions, and congresses were held and this colourful figure was again the subject of many articles and essays:2 Discussing the life of it divino Cagliostro is, on the one hand, attractive and tempting, but most difficult on the other, Only a few other characters have given rise to so many speculations and rumours. Where does legend end and truth starts? Although his identity and his descendance are still covered in mystery, the identity of the figures of Giuseppe Balsamo and of 'Conte Alessandro Cagliostro' is generally accepted.

In the 1770s and 1780s Cagliostro was among the most famous and celebrated personalities of the time, enjoying great popularity from Lisbon to Moscow and from Copenhagen to Malta. He was the friend of dukes cardinals, m:n. ~f le~ters, ~cientists, and authors, while his thrilling adven~ tures and acnvtues lit the Imagination of the most famous members of the intell~~entsi~. Many contemporary drawings and engravings show him pracnsmg hIS seances which included a mixture of hypnosis, cabbala, and Freemasonry: Cagliostro's life and activities inspired Germany's most renowned ~.\"lter,J ohann Wolfgang Goethe, to write Groj3kophta (1791), a comedy (SIC) about a Cagliostro~like figure and his revival of Egyptian cabbala, alchemy, and Freemasonry. Goethe's deep interest inCagliostro starte.d in ~ 78~ when he learned about the famous affair of QUeen Marie Antomette s dIamond necklace. This affair ridiculed Cardinal Louis de ~ohan - a nephew of the ruling Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan _ and involved some of the most renowned habitues of the Paris salons inc! uding th~ notorious Corntesse Jeanne de fa Motte, MIle d'Oliva, Retaux de :VIlet.te, and 'Comte Cagliostro' himself, and even led to the latter's Impnsonment in the Bastille in 1785-86. Goethe was himself a Freemason


and for a while kept close contacts with the Freemason and Illuminist J. Johann Christoph Bode,' who later published some pamphlets about

Cagliostro's life and activities. . , .... .

Cagliostro inspired the otherGerman 'classic author, Friedrieh Schiller, to write his novel Der Geisterseher (1791-92) and a ironic critical essay 'Calliostro (sic) - viel Larmens urn nichts' ('Calliostro - much ado about nothing').' A few years earlier, another famous German .author of the St~rm unci Drang movement, Maximilian Klinger - who had lived for a long ~lme in Italy and in 1781-82 might have even visited Malta - wrot~ Dern:ls~h, a work clearly influenced by the startling rumours and gossip whirling around Cagliostro,

Another lesser-known fact is that erudite Czarina Catherine II (the Great), who took a keen interest in literature, depicted Cagliostro in her comedies (sic) Der Betriiger (The Impostor') and Der Verblendete ('The Blinded') published in Russian and in German versions in Riga 1787 and in Berlin in 1788.s

Using the stories' around Cagliostro as inspiration for comedies seemed to have been fashionable. In 1791 Natale Roviglio wrote II Cagliostro, commedia di cinque atti in prosar while in France the stories around Cagliostro inspired a comic opera Cag liostro ou les Illumines (Paris, 1810) by Reveroni de St. Cyr and E. Dupaty which was lat~r tak~n up ~y. t~e renowned Alexandre Dumas the older for his Memoires dun medicin, Joseph Balsamo (Paris, 1846-48). Some years earlier, the German Romantic author Ludwig Tieck had used this subject in his novel Die Wundersiichtigen ('The wonder addicts').

In his heydays in the 1780s, Cagliostro was the centre of great European interest. An account of contemporary European authors who corrunented on this colourful character would fill a book on its own. When Goethe was in Sicily on the occasion of his Italian journey - when he also intended to visit Malta? - one of his first thoughts was to meet the family ofthis Cagliostro or Balsamo. In his Italian Journey, Goethe wrote more than nine pages about his meeting with Balsamo's sister and some other of his relatives on 13 April 1787.8 By comparison, his encounter with the viceroy of Sicily during which occasion he had a short chat with Conte Statella, a knight of Malta? who only shortly afterwards travelled to Weimar and visited Goethe's friends,'? takes up just one page! To avoid rumours and trouble, Goethe disguised himself as a Mr Wilton, an English gentleman with a message from 'Cagliostro' when he . met theBalsamo family in Palermo.

Even after Cagliostro's trial and imprisonment in 1790 and his death in August 1795, interest in him never ceased. Many books and essays about


, life lind activitie~, plans, scandals, and forgeries kept being published,

Ilthough th~re remain many unanswered questions about him. This book, ~owever, will conc~ntrate on. his involvement with the mighty and influentLal movement of eighteenth-century Freemasonry, his contacts with the members of the Order of St John, and his claims of having been born in Malta of noble ancestors.

. One of the principal questions should be how it was possible for the Inventor o~ a form of Freemasonry according to the 'Egyptian rite' and the self-proclaImed master of cabbala, alchemy, and hypnosis to link his destiny and person so ~]osely with a very strict Catholic Order composed of me~bers f.r0m the highest European aristocracy. Another, maybe even more lllterestmg, question is why did so many people believe his tales? To answer t~es~ QuestIOns and to understand the background and the lines of communrcanon between Malta and Europe better, one has first to take a closer look at Malta and the Order of St John at the end of the eighteenth century and at some of the contemporary spiritual and philosophical concerns,

\ II

Chapter 1

The Setting

a) The spirit of the time (Zeitgeist)

'Concerning the secret art of Cagliostro, I am very suspicious of these stories. I have hints and news of a large number of lies, lingering in the dark .... Believe me, our world of morality and policy is undermined by subterranean streets, cellars, and cloaks.'



Only a few other comments possess more significance for the period as these lines written in 1787 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the Swiss naturalist and author, Lavater. L

Generally speaking, eighteenth-century Europe has been characterized as the period of the Enlightenment and Illuminismo, the time distinguished by the development of a solid approach to nature and science, and a crucial phase on the way to empiric science. However, this century was also marked by a complex stream of old and new schools of thought, of inter-relationships between freethinkers and conservatives and circles of clerics and Freemasons. The contemporary existed concurrently with the 'non-contemporary', and this is best reflected in the events and aftermath of the French Revolution in the 1780s and 1790s, when the French ideas of Jacobinism, Gallicanism, and strong antic1ericalism spread throughout Europe. Spain and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, on the other hand, were still deeply marked by clerical and feudal structures and influences. That royalism and conservatism were far from dead was shown a few years later when, after the breakdown of Napoleon's Empire, European society underwent a restoration.

Meanwhile, the European communita letteraria in the second half of the eighteenth century paid its respect to the 'goddess of reason' in whose shade superstition and apprehension still lingered. Perhaps nothing reflects this fragile situation better than the famous

drawing El sueno de 10 razon produce monstruos (The sleep of reason produces monsters') by Francisco Goya, an eyewitness to the highest aspirations and most bitter setbacks of the time.

The vacuum created by the anticlerical movement and the struggle against Catholic 'superstition' was very often filled with a bizarre medley of 'new' pseudo-cults, occultism, and spiritualism pregnant with artificial rites. New phenomena, such as Mesmerism and Freemasonry, very often developed into movements with strange and aesthetically-oriented habits and celebrations and into quasi-religi~us cults. Indicative of the double-sidedness of the time, the centres of these new superstitions and cults, which were mostly practised in secret, were those same places where the movements of rationalism and empiric science reached its peak. Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), the 'father' of Mesmerism, a method to cure people by hypnosis and electrical fluid, experienced his most successful years in pre~revolutionary Paris. Mesmer also organized secret societies of Magnetism which had similar aims to the 'cosmetic' aspects of Freemasonry and of which, in the late 1780s, there were 30 centres in France and Germany.

Mesmer also had a considerable impact in Malta when one of his pupils, D' Amy, started to offer cures to knights, Maltese nobles, priests, and common people in Valletta in the early 1780s.2 The impact of Mesmer and his 'art' is even recorded in contemporary documents in the archives of the Order of St John.' In 1783 Grand Master Rohan commissioned a group of knights and doctors to conclude a detailed report on D' Amy's work. Although they were not favourably impressed, the donat of the Order Ovide Doublet in 1784 still saw the Frenchman enjoying a lot of popularity.'

Another most famous contemporary healer and hypnotizer was the Marquis de Puysegur, A good example of the quick-and~ready acceptance of the most avantgarde inventions and thoughts of all kinds in Malta is provided by Count Johann Michael of'Borch. Late in December 1776, Borch frequented some Maltese palaces and meeting places of the Maltese intelligentsia. He wrote to his friend:

'Today I attended a display of an experiment with the astringent water of the Abbe Grimaldi. I will tell you about the result of this experiment. You


know that the ancients had a very good remedy against inner h~e~orrhage and to close open wounds. However, the knowledge ofthis medicine, as the knowledge about so many other useful things: got ~os: later .... Now the Abbe Grimaldi has maintained to bein possession of this secre.t agam. Now the Prince de Rohan, who is a nephew of the Grand Master, Intends to be the Maecenas of the Abbe and told the latter to fix a day to demonstrate t~e efficiency of this medical mixture. I was allowed to be present at this experiment.' 5

Illustration 2 .

Francisco Goya, EI sueno de 10 razon produce monstruos


Vie~na in the I 780s under Emperor Joseph II, who was perhaps the stncte~t adher~nt of rationalism and secular thinking who ruled a country In the eighteenth century, was one of Europe's foremost cent~es of the new cult of Freemasonry. In the artistic field, this is p~sslb]y ~est reflected in. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's operas Don Gl~Vannl (1787)and V,le Zauberflote ('The magic flute') (1791) ~hlch both abound with references to Freemasonry and their rites."

. The self-styled Count Alessandro Cagliostro concerned himself WJ.t~ ne~ly all of the above-mentioned fashions of hypnosis spiritualism, occultism, alchemy, and, of course, Freemasonry. 7H~ furt.hermore used to his personal advantage humanity's millennial desire to prolong life and to see beyond death.


b) The crisis of the Ancien Regime and Hospitaller Malta Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and Conservatism

A biographer of Cagliostro very recently wrote:

'Concedendogli i fondi necessari, affido a Giuseppe la missione di mostrarsi al mondo corne vivente risultato dell'attivita del cavalieri di Malta. Vera e che in quel periodo il gran maestro aveva bisogno di cio che noi non esiteremmo a definire "propagandista", perche I' ordine di Malta, che militarmente non aveva piu ragione d'essere, era allinizio di un'inarrestabile decadenza ed era necessario dargli un nuovo motive per esistere, altrimenti sarebbe state ben presto predadel1e grandi potenze che guardavano con cupidigia al "piu terri bile fortezza del mondo nel cuore del Mediterraneo"."

That such a notorious character as Cagliostro - so obviously contrary to the very concepts and standards of Catholicism in his spirit and behaviour - could trick most of Europe into believing he was a distinguished person closely connected with the oldest Order of Catholic Christendom. is in itself a significant sign of the times. For Europeans to believe that Pinto's Malta could be scene of Cagliostro's obscure and occult activities, their perception of the Hospitaller State must have undergone a massive change. In fact, quite surprisingly and contrary to Malta's actual political and ideological relevance, there was a great revival of interest among French, German, and English intellectuals, poets, and writers in this remote island. Certainly this was helped by a kind of countermovement in the last decades of the century against the theories of strict rationality and materialism of writers such as Baron d'Holbach Jean Ie Rond d' Alembert or the other encyclopaedists. In the context of the pre-Romantic Gothic literature such as Horace Walpole's influential The Castle of Otranto or Ann Radcliffe's Mystery of Udolpho and such fantastic knight tales as Christian August Vulpius' best-sellers Der Maltheser and Rinaldo Rinaldini and Van der Velde's Der Maltheser, southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta had become places of the 'sublime' and the bizarre and symbols of feudal 'anachronism', European audiences were further influenced by those semi-fictitious travelogues and adventure


stories set in Hospitaller Malta, such as Carasi' s L 'Ordre de Malte devoile (Lyon, 1790) and the anonymous Reisen eines Weltmann (Breslau, 1790), which encouraged the belief that the anachronistic 'Gothic' regime of the Hospitallers was one of the places where the most bizarre and strange events could happen.

This change in the European perception of Malta of the Knights, formerly admired as the geographically-remote frontier of Christian fighting spirit, faith, and harmony, and the efficient training ground for French, Italian, and Spanish naval officers, was by no means caused only by the new spirit in French, English, and German philosophy and literature. Nor was it entirely connected with the change of the political and economic climates in central Europe towards a bourgeois society which was heading for its industrial revolution, a development which would give the last blow to the anti-mercantile ot old- mercantile patterns of the And en Regime. It was the Order's State itself which, during the long reign of the old Portuguese Grand Master Manuel Pinto, had missed reading the signs of the times- and therefore fell an easy victim to all the 'diseases' of European modernity. These various influences and pressures on the weakened Order led to a climate which made ~he .Abbe Boyer wri~e in his diary in August 1775: 'The spirit of intrigue has as much influence here as pretty women once had in the affairs of France under Louis XV.'3

Consciously or subconsciously, nearly every educated visitor to Malta in the late eighteenth century felt that the time of the Order as a sovereign state with its old traditions would soon come to an end. The case of Cagliostro was just one of the most interesting indicators of this development.

Hospitaller Malta appeared as rather bizarre, ambivalent, and multi-faceted to the educated and sophisticated 'authentic' travellers at the time of Cagliostro. It still exerted its own fascination, as can be proven from the considerable number of visitors who travelled further to tiny Malta from Naples on their GrandTour, On the other hand, there was a lot of disillusioned criticism, which gradually foun.d its way i~to many travelogues and books. In April 1767 Baron Riedesel pointed out the ill-treatment of the Maltese nobility by the knights," which was also confirmed in June 1778 by


the Dutch traveller Carel Dierkens.' In Palermo in the summer of 1782 an anonymous Russian nobleman. who in his travels in Germany and Italy had heard the latest stories about Cagliostro, witnessed the arrival of some galleys of the Order of St John. The Russian was curious to examine these famous ships and to get to know better these knights and officers so renowned for their bravery and skill. However, he soon realized that these knights had no real idea of seafaring," and was disgusted with the bad treatment of the galley slaves. He pointed out that the knights seemed to ~ave been more interested and experienced in participating in the vanous

feasts at Palermo.

That many of the knights in Malta did not respect their vow of

chastity is stated in various sixteenth- and seventeenth~century accounts and diaries.' However, such reports were then either not published or were 'corrected' and tampered with." Now, the comments about the matter by authors such as Patrick Brydone, Roland de la Platiere, and Francois Gabriel de Bray became more and more

ironic and harsh."

It comes, therefore, as no surprise that there were rumours

accusing Cagliostro and his wife Serafina of engaging in prostitution during their alleged stay in Malta. to That such a possibility was not at all unlikely - if Cagliostro and his wife visited the island at all-may be supported by many contemporary eye-witness accounts of Italy and Malta which maintain that Rome and Malta were the places with the most flourishing business in prostituti?h. Indeed, when in Malta in the summer of 1782, the above-mentioned noble Russian traveller disembarked at the Grand Harbour, the first thing he was told by the captain of the port - a certain 'Pusiello' - was to beware of the temptations of the numerous prostitutes of Valletta and the harbour area. II

That there had, been a lot of tension between the Maltese popu-

lation and clergy and the Order since the very beginning of the Order's stay was also an open secret.P although r~rely mentio~ed by visitors. In the late eighteenth century su~h t~nslon started being openly'mentioned in travelogues and descnpt.lOns. .

. What was really a new development was the mcreasmg loss of the knights' fighting spirit and their laxity in carrying out their statutory


Cllravans. Such behaviour was just the exterior manifestation of the deeper crisis within the Order.

The warning to the Order had been loud and clear and could hardly have been mistaken: 'Rejormez-vous; sinon, nous vous reformerons' ('Reform yourself; otherwise we will reform you'). !3 These were the words said by Count Kaunitz, chancellor of the Holy German Empress Maria Theresa, to BailliffColloredo, ambassador of the Order at the court of Vienna. Obviously the era for agreement and understanding between the centuries-old chivalric Order of St John and the States of Europe of the Ancien Regime was approaching its end. Still the Order was officially looked upon as an admirable and highly-reputed institution with an honourable ideology. However, as already indicated, behind the facade, the situation and the attitude towards the institution were gradual1y c~anging.

As a result of intensified economic links - especially by France - with Turkey and the Barbary States and treaties between the European States and the Sub1ime Porte, the Order had lost its main enemy. The Maltese corso and privateering were, therefore, restricted heavily. The Order's main raison d' etre. fighting the infidels, had more or less disappeared in the changing political climate and only the vow and mission of charity remained." The Ottoman threat had ceased to exist and the Order's desperate attempt to hold on to its anachronistic role as the policeman of the Mediterranean was being reduced to a mere farce, as will be shown later on.

Maybe even more threatening than these political and economic omens were the 'spiritual' dangers approaching from France, England, and Germany. Eighteenth-century Malta, with its anachronistic existence, conservative ideology, and climate of intolerance was not only attacked heavily by the European 'avantgarde', circles of freethinkers, and bourgeois intellectuals but, in the last decades of the century, also received considerable criticism from moderate circles. The nascent Classical movement and its emphasis on republican and bourgeois values, helped to change the perception of the Order's State from one of pure admiration to one of very mixed feelings. In April 1767 the German aristocrat, antiquarian, and diplomat Johann Hermann von Riedesel- perhaps the first real

classical traveller to visit Malta - after leaving the island, felt free again:

'I was so seized with fear and sadness, . , when walking round the wal,ls, and {saw myself shut in on all sides, that I was very anx~o~s to d~part again. How great a happiness is the liberty of mankind! How IS.lt pos~lbl~t~~; so many do not know it, or undervalue it, or even voluntarily resign It.

The former knight of the Order and natural scientist Deoda~ de Dolomieu commented even more drastically: 'To hold despotism fully in horror .. .one must have seen it exercised in a place as small

as Malta.' 16 .

Obviously the spirit of travellers to Malta had changed. 'Y"lth a new more morally-orientated approach, the decline of austenty and chastity in Malta could no longer be o.vers~en and left uncommen ted. In 1715 the renowned French antiquarian and author AnneClaude-Philippe de Thubieres, Comte de Caylus, although otherwise in favour of the ideas of chivalry and valour, had already felt a small 'Sodom and Gomorrah' 17 in a lively pleasure garden when visiting Malta. The government of the knights, especially that of the anachronistic Pinto, was not only ridiculed and criticized by many ofthe visiting members of the European intelligentsia, such as the Dutch 'Grand Tourist' Carel Dierkens, the German Baron lO.hann

. . . 19Abb' Dille 20

Hermann of Riedesel, 18 the naturahst C.S. Sonnini, eel,

the economist Roland de la Platiere," and the Oriental traveller and scientist Carsten Niebuhr,": but also by many knights itself.

The knight de la Tramblaye, who was in Malta in 1761 on the occasion of the threat of a Turkish attack as a revenge for the captu~e of La Corona Ottomanar' published an anonymous travelogue l.n 1788 where he frankly admitted it cost him a big effort to leave hIS maitresse behind in Paris. Furthermore, according to de la Tramblaye, who was obviously a careful reader of Rousseau and Montesquieu, the sexuallibertinage of the knights could be explained by Malta's furious hot climate. Although the French knight makes a plea for,the survival of the sovereign Order's State, statutes which g? agaln.st human nature, such as the vow of chastity and the monkish habit, should 'be abolished immediately. 24


In fact, various knights had contacts with French freethinkers encyclopaedists, and Freemasons," and even frequented most of the avantgarde salons of Paris. For example. it was common belief th~t BaiUiff Louis-Gabriel de Tesse de Froulay had close contacts with both Voltaire and Rousseau. Rousseau's impact on members of the Orderis referred to in the joint work by a group of knights and Freemasons from Lyon entitled L'Ordre de Malte devoile. The pseudonymous author, 'Carasi', writes: 'The more I readRousseau's Emile; the more I wanted to read.'26 Another well-known member of those liter~ circles, the author and poet Abbe Deli11e, actually came ~o Malta in 1776 accompanying the French antiquarian and connoisseur Comte Choiseul-Gouffier on his voyage to Greece. Although the visitors were well received by Grand Master Rohan and lodged in the Grand Master's palace in Valletta, Delille later wr~te anonymous spicy letters and articles against the Order," WhICh Offended some knights and occasioned several vehement replies. Although Delille retracted his statement," hostile spirits that would soon be clamouring for seizure of the Order's estates in France took car~f~l note. The changed spirit of the time emerges also from the wntmgs of the Comte Choiseul-Gouffier himself. It v:as not the military heritage of the Order but its hospitalite that he

singled out. 29 .

There is, therefore, no need to rely on those propagandistic antifeudal and anticlerical works. such as L 'Ordre de Malte devoile'" which was written only to discredit the Order's State and the authenticity of whose description of Malta is surely questionable. In fact. the authors behind 'Carasi' were a group of knights and chaplains ofthe Order belonging to the Masonic lodge 'St. Jean de Jerusalem d' ~cosse' of Lyon," masterminded by the knight Louis Gaspard Esprit Tullede Villefranche (1746-1823 y. Other members were the knights Joseph de Gain de Linars and Jean Baptiste du Bo~chet and the conventual chaplains Pernon, Boucher, and Muquet. ThIS Lyon lodge had also been known as 'Loge de Malte' for a time.v What makes this episode so especially interesting in the present cont~xt is ~hat ~ome o.f its members also attended Cagliostro' s seances during hIS sojourn 1D Lyon in 1784.33

The criticism of the Order was not connected solely with the


infiltration of immorality, libertinage, and corruption but especially with its very relevance which was being more and more questioned, the loss of its raison d' etre as a result of the decline of Turkish threat, and its anachronistic organization. The Order's guerre de course was regarded as one of the major causes for disturbing the economic exchanges between the Levant, North Africa, and Europe. Therefore more strong critiCism came from rational, pragmatic, and technocratic points of view. For example. although the famous German scientist and oriental traveller Carsten Niebuhr had visited Malta in June 1761, his description of his sojourn and activities only forms a short paragraph in his travelogue." More interestingly he used his observations of Malta and the Levant to write a detailed essay about the anachronistic role of the Order in the Mediterranean. In this essay. which was printed in a 1787 edition of the magazine Deutsches Museum, he not only recorded comments about the Order by Oriental merchants he had met in Cairo in the summer of 1761,35 but he also criticized the darnagewhicb the Order's squadrons and privateers did to Mediterranean shipping. With the open involvement of Turkey and the Barbary States in the European economy, the Order had lost one of the main columns of its raison d' etre, In France several persons had already called envious attention to the Order's commerce and riches. The Turkish threat was long over and, ironically, France and England were secretly discussing how to protect the Turks from the greedy hugs of the Russian bear.

Such sceptical writings were not entirely based on political and spiritual changes in central Europe but also on the perception of the thoroughly-rotten state of the government of the Order, reflected even in the authentic writings of competent knights themselves. In 1784 the erudite and promising young Chevalier Francois Gabriel de Bray (1765-1832)took part with the Order's fleet in a joint naval expedition with the Spanish and Venetian navies to attack Algiers. De Bray, who was certainly no Republican and Jacobin supporter and who later wrote bitterly against L' Ordre de Malte devoiLe/6 had to- admit to a complete disaster: the ships of the Order ..- in previous centuries the epitome of Christian bravery - tried their utmost to avoid contact with the enemy. De Bray was so disgusted


with the situation that he soon left Malta. Used to the sophisticated European salons and the new concept of the Enlightenment, he drew a rather negative sketch of contemporary Maltese 'high society' in his diary:

'The company on here is disgusting. Loose women, nowhere education and grace, raw and bad habits, an appearance of self-styled proud ness and vanity, injustice, bad manners, and nothing from religion .... Persons who are captured and blinded by their bad habits might find-a certain cornmody and well-being on here. Their laziness will be never disturbed. One wakes up late, takes his breakfast, makes a walk through the city, eats well, and starts gambling. After the game, those people take a sleep. Then there will be the supper, another round of gambling. Finally one goes to sleep. For the people on here that is the most desirable life they can think about. ... No one dares to complain about this useless living as most of the inhabitants are

the same lazy.'37 .

Obviously a man like de Bray, brought up and educated in close contact with the concepts of bienveillance, utility, and reserve of the French Enlightenment could not agree with the things he saw in Malta which, like Sicily and Spain, held on to its baroque aristocratism. As with his compatriots de la Tramblaye and Delille, it was the lack of bienveillance which annoyed de Bray most:

'~n France, they would not accept the existence of a man who only exists for himself, In France, there does not exist the disgusting freedom to be useless andto sho~ i.ts weak :xistence publicly. Those people are driven to activity only when It 18 for their own vanity. There is no other country so fruitful and rich at intrigues, fraud, bribery, and private and public enmity. They attack each other, treat each other without any scruple and further thinking. However, even here not all good sentiments are gone. There are a few who try to live a.hoTI?urable life. T?ey are as much distinguished as the morality of the rest IS miserable and disgusting.' >R

De Bray's close friend, Grand Master Rohan, was well aware what was going on and at certain moments did fear with good reason that the Order would soon fold up like the Templars had done in the early fourteenth century ,39 But Rohan was too tied up with tradition to undertake a real modernization of the institution. In some cases,


however, he was prepared to abandon old patterns and rules. While de Bray was still a knight, Rohan had written to him:

'Should you have the occasion to find a suitable Woman to marry and should it be possible for you then to .settle in Germany, we should consider itthe best for you to do. If this should happen, we give you our guarantee that you will be allowed to keep the cross and the uniform of our Order .... '40

Rather paradoxically, de Bray later served as the official representative of the Order at the congresses of Amiens and Rastadt." Throughout his life de Bray remained a staunch defender of the rights and the political sovereignty of the Order, writing several treatises about the subject."

Those non-official sources about such a renowned and respected institution may sound strange and exaggerated, but sometimes the facts were even worse. In 1782 Baron Ferdinand of Waldstein, a knight of the Teutonic Order and a member of one of the leading families of Bohemia, came to Malta to complete his military experience. He joined the Order's navy only to discover that the guerre de course was a mere farce. To avoid danger and not to interrupt commercial relations, the knights even communicated the destinations of their warships before their departure to the Barbary States." Ovide Doublet, from 1787 onwards Grand Master Rohan's secretary, wrote in similar terms: 'I have heard captains of galleys boast that they did not want to attack Barbary Corsairs. , . in order to spare themselves the expenses and inconvenience of quarantine, '44

After suffering cuts in their income, some knights even engaged in robberies in the Basilicata and Calabria." Such revealing information does not come from authors who were natural1y and ideologically opposed to the Order but from eyewitnesses, such as the Danish scholar Friedrich MUnter, Baron Ferdinand ofWaldstein, Chevalier de Bray, and C. S. Sonnini, who have to be treated as most trustworthy sources. It was the change in the European mentality which the Order could not escape and which took a grip on Malta as well.

All this helps us to visualize a society and a Christian military Order which had drifted far from its former austerity and loyalty and


did not exclude at all the infiltration of charlatans, adventurers, and crimin.als. P.er~aps it was Freemasonry which led to the deepest COITOSlOn within the Order and in the context of which Cagliostro comes directly into the game.

Both Clement XII, by means of the Papal Bull In Eminenti (1738), and Benedict XIV, in his Bull Providas Romanorum Pontificum (1751), had forbidden Masonic activity. In 1740, on the insistence of Ludovico Gualtieri, then inquisitor in Malta, the text of In Eminent; had also been published in Malta. In 1789 Cardinal Giuseppe Firrao had prohibited Catholics from belonging to Masonic societies under pain of death without absolution and the confiscation of their property, while a landlord who allowed a Masonic gathering in his house was liable to have it demolished. In accordance with In Eminenti, Pinto had expelled six knights from Malta in 1741 for allegedly practising Masonic rites." Ultimately, however, all the steps of the Inquisition and the Order against the spread of Freemasonry in its various manifestations had no real effect.

Without further research, one cannot say that Malta fell to the French in June 1798 because of the infiltration of Freemasons and their conspiracy with post-revolutionary France, the Directory, and ~apoleon.47. Still many European conservatives and some knights liked to beheve so. The French contemporary historian and antiJacobin, Abbe Barruel - who before 1789 had been a Freemasom himself and had access to many now lost papers - attributed the defeat of the Order to the undermining activities of the 'sect with Dolomieu ... , with Bosredon and the pusillanimous Hornpesch" and the Austrian knight Charles Joseph Mayer de Knonau," and the anonymous author of an account of the fall of Malta (Denkwardigkeiten)50 speak of a planned 'revolution' in June 1798. . From the 1760s onwards Freemasonry played a majorpart in the Island's society and politics. The Processo Lante of April 1776 _ maybe the last real effort to fight Freemasonry - was a farce." Inquisitors Scotti and Carpegna never had a real chance to control this spreading movement, especially since the highest dignitaries of the Order were involved in it. Although they were accused of active participation in Freemasonry, various knights and also members of the Maltese nobility, such as Agostino Formosa de Fremeux, Giovanni


Francesco Dorell, and the Marchese Diego Muscati, found no opposition on Rohan's part."

Officially the first Masonic lodge 'St Jean du Secret et de L' Harmonie' in Malta was installed on 30 June 1788 with the patent, which had been acquired from the Grand Lodge 'of London' .60 The patent was dated 30 March 1789, Perhaps the most important driving force behind the new lodge was the Grand Prior of Bohemia, Count Heinrich of Kolowrat," who wrote several letters to the London Grand Lodge to hasten acknowledgement and facilitate other administrative aspects. Count Kolowrat was a special protege of the freethinking enlightened EmperorJoseph II who never acknowledged the papal condemnation of Freemasonry ~n his te:rit?ries:

A very clear indication of the organization of this lodge is given in a letter sent to the Austrian Lodge 'Zu den symbolischen Bergen' (lnnsbruck, Austria) dated 2 July 1788. It introduces the new Maltese lodge and is signed by the bailliff and grand cross of the Order Giovanni Battista Tommasi, who was later to become grand master (1803-05) when the Order had its headquarters in exile in Messina." as master of the lodge; Bailliff Charles Abel de Loras (deputy master); and the knights Count Litta (first supervisor); de Royer (seco.n~ supervis~r); and Ventimiglia (master of ceremonies)," Therefore It IS no surpnse that a man like Cagliostro, a good friend of Bailiff de Loras' S,57 could manage to convince diplomats, members of the intelligentsia, and the circles of the salons, that he had very close ties with the Order.

The structure of the Lodge 'St Jean du Secret et de l'Harmonie' originally reflected the structure and hierarchy of the Order. At first only members of the Order were allowed to become me~bers .. In 1789 it had 'only' about 40 knights ~s members," including Doublet, Rohan's secretary. That the Grand Master was not mformed about such developments is very unlikely. One of the most common meeting places of this lodge was the palace of the knight

de Sesmaisons.

The Order itself had sowed the seed which later brought several

of its members to discredit. Besides the role pLayed by Kolowrat, Lineel, and Tommasi, a crucial boost to Freemasonry in Malta was given in the early 1780s by the installation of the new AngloBavarian langue." Many of the Bavarian knights were Freemasons


and Illuminists, some of them being named in the 'list of traitors' wh ich the knight Mayer de Knonau compiled in October 1798 while in exile with Grand Master Hompesch.s? For the final negotiations for the installation of the new langue in the spring of 1782. a delegation which included Count Manucci as the plenipotentiary of the Archduke, the Baron of Vieregg, and the staunch Freemason BailIif Flachslanden, arrived in Malta on 14 March.s' The mastermind of the delegation was the close consultant of Archduke Karl Theodor, the Freemason and prelate (sic) Haffelin.v- while Baillifde Almeyda supported the delegation in Malta." Most of the negotiations with Grand Master Rohan were carried out secretly behind the back of the Ordinary Council.s- Abbe Haffelin would later playa decisive role in uniting the Anglo-Bavarian knights to vote for Hompesch as the new grand master.

Both Baillif Jean Baptiste-Antoine de Flachslanden,» who came from an old Alsatian family, and this somewhat mysterious character Haffelin had contacts with various European Freemasons, spiritists, and Illuminists. The Order of the Illuminists had been founded in 1776 in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt (1748-82), Soon afterwards some Bavarian knights came in contact with the Illuminists.w Haffelin visited Malta in March 1782 and was made a member of both the Anglo-Bavarian and the German langues of the Order.'? In the spring of 1796 when it was obvious that Rohan - who had suffered from a stroke since 1791 - would not live for a long time, 'Commandeur Hoeffelin'w was set for another visit to Malta 69

. ~ . ~

presumably to promote the claims of a suitable German successor.

However, this was not the actual beginning of Freemasonry in Malta, which was certainly practised some decades before the installation of the CSt Jean du Secret et de L'Harmonie' lodge in 1788. A previous - later dissolved - lodge (,Parfait harmonie') seems to have been established on 13 February 1765. According to the files of the Processo Lante, in the year 'G.L. 5766' (AD 1765) the knight of Malta T.C.F. de Lincel was entitled to erect a lodge in Malta by means of a decree issued by a certain 'Master' Beufier de la Lourie of Toulon, Although most of its members were knights, some others belonged to the Maltese nobility and even the clergy. Their meeting places were villas and houses belonging to their


members in Msida, Paola, Valletta, and Zejtun.?? There were even hints of an earlier lodge erected by some knights of Malta and s~me Maltese nobles, namely Agostino Formosa de Fremeux, Diego Muscati, Gaspare Maurin, Monsu de Bufferant, and Giov~nm Francesco Dorell. This lodge did not seem to have had any direct connection with the French masterlodge.

Illustration 3 Cagliostro


Illustration 4 Serafina Feliciani

However, it was not just Freemasonry which caused havoc with the old statutes and the monastic spirit of the knights as Mayer de ~onau liked to believe. Nearly all of the new streams of European Id~as found their way to cosmopolitan HospitallerMalta. Despite all this, the O~der as ~~ instit.ution composed of members of old leading anstocractic families still attracted international interest in the Europe of the Ancien Regime.

AIl this explains why there was nothing sensational in the close contacts and relations which a man like Cagliostro had with members of the Order. The development of these contacts will be discussed later on.


Chapter 2

The Malta connection - A fantastic tale in the style of the Arabian Nights?

In the eighteenth-century, London and Paris were the most ad vanced centres of European avantgarde culture and spirit. The two cities were also the stage for the century's most famous and notorious quack and charlatan, the Sicilian Giuseppe Balsamo or Conte Alessandro Cagliostro, as he styled himself. The circle of it divino Cagliostro included important personalities while the members of the Masonic lodges of the 'Egyptian Rite' , which Cagliostro founded all over Europe, included scholars, noblemen, merchants, politicians, clerics, and even members of the Order of St John, then still famous throughout Europe for its anachronistic role as the 'policeman of the Mediterranean' and as a fierce defender of the Catholic Faith.

Typical of the age's spiritual climate, Cagliostro's claim that he could be a son ofthe former Grand Master Pinto (1741-73) and the Princess of Trabezunt did not cause any scandal. Most probably, Cagliostro's statement was only intended to give himself a sense of importance and mystery and to make himself 'untouchable'. On several occasions, Cagliostro claimed to have visited Malta twice and to have received his final 'European' education there. This claim appeared both in the exhaustive (although incomplete) manuscript source of the Cagliostro trial at Rome - the 'Raccolta di scritture legali riguardanti il processo di Giuseppe Balsamo detto Alessandro Conte di Cagliostro e di P. Francesco Giuseppe da S. Maurizio Capuccino, innanzi al Tribunale del S. Uffizio di Roma' 1_ and in the widely-read contemporary publication Compendia della vita, e delle gesta di Giuseppe Balsamo denominato il Conte Cagliostro (Rome, 1791). The latter was an excerpt of the minutes of Cagliostro' s trial published by the priest Marcello. Unfortunately, by decrees of 4 May and 8 June 1791 given at the Minerva in Rome, most of the

manuscripts and papers belonging to Cagliostro's circles and lodge were burnt.'

References to Cagliostro's stay in Malta are given in numerous contemporary books and pamphlets, such as the popular Memoire pour le Comte de Cagliostro ... and the Reponse pour fa Comtesse de Valois La Motte, au memoire du Comte de Cagliostro, both published 1786 in Paris on the occasion of the diamond necklace affair," and the rare publication Confessions du Cornte de C* * * avec l'histoire de ses voyages en Russie, Turquie, ltalie, et dans les pyramides (Paris, 1787). In the 1780s and early 1790s dozens of treatises, essays. and pamphlets circulated about the life or activities of Cagliostre. Many of them, such as Ma correspondence avec le Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1786) and the Echten Nachrichten von dem Grafen Cagliostro, .QUS der Handschrift seines entflohenen Kammerdieners ('True information about Count Cagliostro, from the manuscript of his escaped servant') (Berlin, 1786), claim to be first-hand sources. Since they do not differ much concerning the 'Maltese episode' , they are therefore not all utilized here. Amongst the more reliable and well-researched publications there is Clementino Vannetti's Liber Memorialis de Caleostro (sic) (Mori, 1789). The scholar Vannetti who was secretary of the Accademia degli Agiati of Rovereto met Cagliostro at the end of September 1788 in the Italian city.

The fragmentary information which Cagliostro gave about his birth and youth is as mysterious as it is vague. The version he gave and which was ornamented by his followers suggests that he grew up in Medina, the holy city of the Arabs, although he never got to know exact details of his parentage. When he tried to ask his servants about this matter, they gave him to understand that this was a forbidden subject for discussion although he obviously had noble parents and distinguished forebears. It was later indicated to him that he was the son of Grand Master Pinto a~d a princess of Trabezunt who had been captured by the galleys of the Order and brought to Malta. Later the Grand Master set the Princess and her three-month-old child free and her parents then handed over the child to the Mufti of Medina for a proper education. It was certain - as Cagliostro later said - that his parents were Christians not


Muslims." In his M emoire (Paris, 1786) and his apologias against the accusations which followed the necklace affair and which were mostly drafted by his friend, Jean-Charles Thilorier, Cagliostro names four persons who looked after him in the palace of the Mufti Salahaym in Medina: his mentor, Althotas, then a man in his fifties and two black and one white servant. The name under which he was brought up was Acharat.

Cagliostro's versions of his birth and youth vary slightly. When he was being interrogated on 30 January 1786 in the course of the necklace affair. the question of his place of birth came up. Cagliostro answered:

'I cannot say for sure if I was born in Malta or Medina. I was always accompanied by my mentor and chamberlain, who told me that I come from noble descendance. According to the others, I lost my parents when I was three months old.' 5

Although the Mufti tried his utmost to bring up his distinguished ward in an Oriental environment, the young man's desire to see foreign countries was too strong. With his mysterious elderly friend and mentor Althotas, he travelled to some Oriental and Mediterranean countries. It was this Althotas who taught the young Cagliostro the Oriental languages and all the mysteries of alchemy, the cabbala, and other arcane knowledge. After the group left Rhodes (the medieval residence of the lrnights ofSt John) for Cairo, strong winds caused them to drift to Malta. Other contemporary sources indicate that Cagliostro' s group embarked on a French ship which was bound for Malta.? This supposedly took place in 1762 although Thilorier and other sources suggest 1766,7 which contradicts Cagliostro's claim to have visited Malta at the age of eighteen. Although for ships calling from Oriental countries which were always suspected of harbouring the plague and other epidemics a 40-day quarantine was generally imposed, Cagliostro's group were allowed to land after only two days.

Cagliostro and Althotas were received with all honours by Grand Master Pinto and accommodated in his palace. To his great surprise, Cagliostro even saw Althotas wearing the cross of the Order over the


habit of the Brotherhood. Pinto ordered a knight, the Cavaliere d' Aquino of the distinguished house of Caramanico, to show the guests around. Together with d' Aquino, Cagliostro was received by all the dignitaries of the island and the grand crosses of the Order. Pinto also gave them all the facilities to work in his laboratory. However, in the course of one of the experiments, there was an explosion which killed his beloved adviser. Cagliostro recounts the last words of Althotas: 'My son! obey the Almighty and love your brethren. Soon the truth about all the knowledge which I taught you will prove right.' H

All the efforts and promises of Pinto - who seems to have known about his special 'relation' with the young visitor - to convince Cagliostro fo stay, including posible promotion to the high ranks of the Order, proved fruitless. After three months Cagliostro communicated to Pinto his decision to proceed to Italy. Pinto directed d' Aquino to accompany Cagliostro to whom he also gave a considerable sum of money and made him promise to visit the island again. Cagliostro and d' Arpino sailed to Sicily from where they crossed over to the Greek archipelago before returning to Italy. In Naples Cagliostro lived for a while in d' Aquino's palace. Before bidding him farewell, d' Aquino gave Cagliostro letters of credit for the banker Bellone in Rome. In Rome Cagliostro soon became familiar with the Orders' ambassador de Breteuil.

Cagliostro's further activities and adventures. are not of great interest in the present circumstances. What is interesting is that Cagliostro claimed to have returned to Malta in 1766 and was again entertained by Pinto. This time he received invitations from and had dinner with most of the high dignitaries of the Order, including the future grand master, Emanuel de Rohan.

Cagliostro's story - all of it, actually - sounds very much like literary fiction. There are elements of biographies; fictitious and non-fictitious contemporary travelogues; cabbalistic and spiritistic literature; and contemporary fiction. Cagliostro was a great storyteller but what did he know about Malta's culture and history, beside its being the residence of the Order of St John? Remembering his early education in a monk's school, his story has some tempting ingredients. In fact his first travels and Maltese sojourn is reminiscent of St Paul's visit as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles


(Chaps. 27 & 28). It was unfortunate winds which took Cagliostro to the shores of Malta, on a journey which also started on a Greek island. Cagliostro's stay, like St Paul's, lasted three months before he proceeded to Sicily and Naples.


Chapter 3

Interpretation and Legends

The Malta Connection - A Claim and its Rebuttal

In 1786, after studying Cagliostro' s report about his birth, youth, and career, the Comte de Mirabeau, wrote: 'The confessions of the Count Cagliostn~ resemble a tale from the thousand and one nights.' I Nevertheless the Sicilian's claim of having been born in and also visited Malta was readily believed by many con~emporary and modem authors. The foHowing selection of modem authors shows how this subject was treated, sometimes seriously, sometimes in a colourful manner more fitting a novel: Carlo Liberto," Claire Eliane Engel,' Sir Harry Luke," Enzo Petraccone,5 Frank King,» Francois Ribadeau Dumas," Rudolf Harms," Friedrich zu Oppe lnBronikowski,9 W.H.R. Trowbridge,IO Elizabeth Wheeler Schermerhorn, II Pericle Maruzzi,12 Heinrich Conrad," Constantin Photiades,14 Denyse Dalbian,15 Raymond Silva," and Roderick Cavaliero." Even more recent authors include Philippe Brunet," Virginia M. Fellows, 19 Marcello Vannucct,> AJ. Agius," and many others. Most of these authors regard it as a fact that Cagliostro visited Malta and found a friend in Grand Master Pinto, this 'admirer of alchemy'<?

For example, Carlo Liberto wrote:

'But iEit is wrong [to believe] that Cagliostro was born in Malta, however it is true that he sojourned and lived in the islam! for some months. It is ascertained that, following his travels and his first daring feats in Sicily (fraud, extortion. betrayal), Giuseppe Balsamo did come to Malta in the company of a certain Althotas, who tried to train Cagliostro in the mysterious labyrinths of the supernatural, and one has to admit that the student learned quickly and diligently. It is also ascertained that in Malta, in the company of this colourful Althotas, Cagliostro was received and welcomed by the then Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca. The two conjurors

could not find a more opportune time to appear, since among the many pastimes, sacred and profane, which Pinto practised, there were those of occultism and alchemy. '23

Despite all these claims and interpretations, solid documents concerning Cagliostro's stay were never presented," but w,e are often faced by strange and bizarre theories and arguments. ":'lthout investigating further, AJ. Agius copied S~r Harry Luke's hint that the National Library of Malta is in possession of adoc~ment by:he Maltese eighteenth-century diarist Ignazio Saverio MIfsud testifyfig to Cagliostro' s sojourn at Malta and his activiti~s i~ ~ laboratory at the grand master's palace." Agius, like Luke, significantly does not give the exact bibliographic~ sou.rce nor the ex~ct d~te ~~! vaguely indicates 'Ignatius Saveno Mifsud, Manuscn~t DIary. ' The reason for all this soon becomes clear. The paragraph 10 question in the diary reads:

Illustration 5 Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca



'For Some months there has been lodging in the Palace of His Most Serene Highness a man who claims to be a chemist. This man was received by the afore-mentioned Highness and admitted to his full confidence, being lodged in his Palace and maintained at his own expense, occupying the rooms surrounding the loggia of the fountain made by His Highness in the Garden Court. And the reason of all this is that he has announced his intention to concoct a certain elixir of life designed to keep man sound in health and strength and mind. '27

On the right side of the page, a later hand wrote down 'II Conte Cagliostro' . This manuscript further quotes - and that is left out both by Luke and by Agius - that Pinto himself later ordered this anOnymous charlatan out of Malta, presumably because he was disappointed with the results of the charlatan's experiments. In fact, Pinto's quest for alchemy was well-known throughout Europe,28 but the reference Mifsud gives datesto February 1754, when Cagliostro, alias Giuseppe Balsamo, was only 11 years old!" Whichevernineteenth- or early twentieth-century reader discovered this passage in Mifsud's diary and added 'II Conte Cagliostro' must have been driven bya rich and tempting imagination.

Illustration 6 Reproduction of a manuscript (Ignaria Saverio Mifsud's 'Stromata', 1754) in the National Library of Malta which allegedly presumes a stay by Cagliostro in Malta


Illustration 7 The grand master's palace

1.:===;;;;;;;;::;;:;.- .. in Valletta

The most glaring example of an uncritical approach regarding the Sicilian impostor and Malta is to be found in Francois Ribadeau Dumas' modem biography of Cagliostro, Here Cagliostro's supposed Maltese sojourn is the time when Giuseppe Balsamo was made 'Conte Cagliostro'; indeed his first visit to Malta is regarded as the decisive and real starting point of his illustrious career. Pinto is described as the man who 'made' Cagliostro. Cagliostro con .. sciously used the Order's spirit and structure to determine his further life:

'Grand Master Pinto ... this over-ambitious man, opened up the eyes ofthe young Balsamo to the wonders of occultism. He showed him the mea)'lina. and truth behind the visual reality, he showed him the fight methods and the ways to find the tools to be master of the powers and to use them in handlin, people, he showed him the belief on material and spiritu~ljoy. In brief, he introduced him to and implemented in him the wish to gain all the relevant


knowledge and th~ desire to gain powerthrough the use of the supernatural and the occult. SImultaneously Pinto explained to him that this century would .hav~ the strong tendency to philosophy, to rationalism, to the dynamism In development of science, and, consequently, it would cultivate a s~rong scepticism. But there would be also a strong counter-movement Whl~h favours theosophy, astrology, alchemy. All this would be for the pr~flt of spiritism. Spiritism would be shown new ways and developments. This movement had a strong base in St John, the beloved apostle of Jesus and master of the esoterics. It was St John who had received the Holy Word and ~ad discovered the secrets .... Don Manoel 'made' Balsamo to Cagllostro. In the commandery Balsamo recei ved the spiritual baptism and his 'initiation'. 'You have to be reborn' (John, 3,7). 'JO

This desire for fabulation and tempting interpretations in modem au~hor~ and biographers did not stop here. Like others, including Priedrich von Oppeln-Bronikowski, Dumas also accepted Caglios,tro's claim of having revisited Malta a few years later. According to Oppeln-Bronikowski, Cagliostro stayed another three ~onths on the island, busying himself concocting elixirs to prolong life and re-create youth." However, like all his followers in these fantastic interpretations, Oppeln-Bronikowski gives no serious sour~e. Even the most recent authors and ambitious biographers of Cagliostro, such as Philippe Brunet, describe Pinto's Malta as the place ",:,here Balsamo 'became' Count Cagliostro ('it was at the age of 23, III the Church of St John, that Giovanni Balsamo became C~u~t Ca?liostro'),32 and refer to him as 'l'allievo' OJ:' 'il figlio s~l:lluale of Grand Master Pinto.>' Cagliostro's alleged Malta

VISItS are presented as facts." '

.But what are the facts concerning Cagliostro and his relations with .the O;der ~f,S.t John and Malta? Thre~ main facts regarding Cagliostro s actrvitiss and sources of possible links with Malta of the Knights need investigation: (a) whether he was Grand Master Pinto's son, (b) whether he carried out alchemical activities in Malta, and (c) whether, as a leading figure in the circles of spiritism and Freemasonry, he had close contacts with many members of the Order of St John,


Chapter 4

The Investigation

a) The Son of Pinto and friend of Althotas?

Cagliostro's supposed Maltese sojourns - fact or seeking after Effect?

What are the facts which suggest that Cagliostro' s visits to Malta did, at least, did at least take place? Was Pinto really the 'master of theatre, who guided Cagliostro' ,1 as modem biographers ofCagliostro attest? That Pinto might have had children from a number of women cannot be denied. Various contemporary sources point to the belief that the Grand Master had had affairs, 2 Doublet gossiped about Pinto in his Memoires,

'd'avoir donne jusqu'a fa mort, qui le surprit euflagrant delit a l'age de quatre-vingt-dix ans, l' exemple du libertinage le plus scandaleux avec des femmes sans pudeur, exemple qui ne fut que trop imite par une quantite de membres de L'Ordre de tout grade, et qui fut porte a un tel exces que plusieurs honnetes Maltais furent indignement exiles du pays, parce qu 'ils avaient eu Ie malheur d' epouser de jolies femmes convoit'es pour des chevaliers riches et dehontes .. , ,'3

However, as already shown by Claire Eliane Engel, there is no indication that any princess of Trabezunt was captured by the Order's galleys or corsairs in the early 1740s.4 It is even more farfetched to consider Cagliostro as the fruit of an affair of the Grand Master with the wife of the Maltese judge Massimiliano Balzan, as suggested by the late Chevalier Joseph Galea.'

But what might have led to this theory of Cagliostro being Pinto's son? A contemporary source, Ludwig Ernst Borowsky, who, through his academic correspondence and his numerous acquaintances in the highest circles, was one of the best-informed men about Cagliostro and his trial, gives some interesting indications. In the mid-1780s he

started collecting and analysing every piece of information about the mysterious 'count' he could lay his hands on. Soon he got also interested in the question of Cagliostro's parentage and place of birth. Besides the version about the princess of Trabezunt and Pinto, he recounts another slightly different tale which circulated during Cagliostro's imprisonment in the Bastille and which was already published in the 1786 and 1787.issues of the Courier de I' Europe. It was not a princess of Trabezunt but the daughter of the pasha of Medina who was brought to Malta and who gave birth to Cagliostro. Later the. pasha sent the young Cagliostro to Pinto to educateh-Lm according to the Christ jan rite (sic). Pinto is supposed, to have transferred a yearly pension of 300,000 livres for his son to a bank in Venice. Cagliostro is said to have shown close friends his certificate of baptism which apparently indicated that he really was the son of the late Grand Master. 6 This rumour and Cagliostro' sown claims in his 'memoirs' published in 1786 in Paris soon reached Malta. The French representatives concerned with the investigation into the diamond necklace affair in 1785-867 made inquiries in Malta, while the Order's representatives, on their part, must have contacted the French side.

~he ~s~er from Malta was somewhat mysterious. During the penod mdtcared by Cagliostro for his first appearance in Malta, c.1760, a young boy of IO or 12 years of age, was actually brought to Malta by a certain Sicilian priest named Puzzo. When the Order's representatives checked this priest's papers it emerged that he had travelled to Oriental countries. This priest died in Malta but the boy, who was named Michael and to whom Pinto awarded the cross of the Order, was sent to Rome, accompanied by the knight d' Aquino who is mentioned several times by CagJiostro. The Maltese investigators got the impression that Cagliostro was this 'Michael' ,s especially since the description of this boy and Cagliostro's own features were very similar. Not much should be read into Cagliostro' s account that he was released from quarantine by the Grand Master's personal intervention after just two days and which was very much doubted by 'authentic' visitors to Malta. The Grand Master _ as Borowsky says - did have the right to overrule the rules of quarantine in special circumstances.


The contemporary author 'detective' of Cagliostro' s life goes on to report that, although it was widely known that Pinto had quite a few illegitimate children, he was normally not very generous to them, although there could always be an exception on whom he could have bestowed special financial favours. After this stunning - unfortunately anonymous and therefore not reliable" - information from Malta, Borowsky came to the conclusion that Cagliostro, while he was still in Sicily. probably got to know about this mysterious 'Michael' whose later destiny is .not know~ ~d us~d .it for his own story. His features, dark complexion, and Sicilian ongm all helped him to adapt to this new mysterious identity.

The identification of the mysterious 'Michael' with Cagliostro was later taken up in Michael A, Kusmin's semi-realistic biography Das wundersame Leben des Joseph Balsamo, Graj Cagliostro ('The wondrous life of Joseph Balsamo, Count Cagliostro").!? According to Kusmin, Cagliostros first voyage from Sicily to Malta was made in 1766 in the company of the priest Puzzo and Cavaliere d' Aquino. D' Aquino is referred to as an old friend of Puzzo's.'! After a sojourn in Malta, d'Aquino and Cagliostro left Malta for Spain (Sic)12 while Puzzo remained behind.

A blow against the possibility of Cagliostro's 'Maltese' roots was given when, after the publication of Cagliostro's Memoire Jean Pierre Louis de la Roche du Maine, Marquis de Luchet published his Memoires authentiques pour servir a l'histoire du comte de Cagliostro. The Marquis reports how the Order's ambassador in Paris protested that Cagliostro' s account of his first visit to Malta was nothing but a fairy tale. His description of his landing, the reception by the Order's grand crosses, his residence in the palace, and, especially, the sudden 'metamorphosis' of his Oriental friend to a knight of Malta were nothing but a fiction. 13 Also very sceptical was the author of the Reponse pour fa Comtesse de Valois La Motte, au memoire du Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1786) whose arguments against a Malta sojourn for the young 'Acharat' or Cagliostro and the mysterious Althotas sound quite convincing:

'The claim of this sojourn in Malta is absurd. Just as absurd is the assertion of having lodged in the palace of Grand Master Pinto. This event would


have created strong interest in an island so small as Malta where everyone knows everyone else. No one in Malta saw the old Althotas nor the young A~har:at. Furthennore.no one else witnessed the quick 'metamorphosis' of this slxty·y~ar.old (SIC) man dressed in Oriental clothes into a .person decorated with the cross of the Order of St John. To wear this cross needs proofs of a legitimate birth, nobility, and the profession of the Catholic religion.' 14

Again research has brought us into vagueness and lack of certainty.

Another aspect which has created even more questions is the attempt to reveal the identity of Cagliostro' s friend and mentor with the Greek-!ounding name of Althotas. The Roman inqUisition in 17?0 seemmglycould not uncover the truth behind this episode; neither could the early biographers of Cagliostro. 15 Enzo Petraccone, who had a good knowledge of the Roman archives, could find no clue.w Frank King, however. identified this man with Kolmer, a ~erchant from Jutland, 17 who had lived for some time in Egypt. After hI~ ~~tum to Europe he taught old Egyptian magic rites to many spmnsts, It was also said that he had spent some time in Malta in the time of Pinto. Cagliostro could have had knowledge of Kolmer's adventurous life and used it to 'invent' his' Althotas'. Still there are a number of differences. According to Cagliostro, this Althotas had revealed himself as a knight of Malta and had died while conducting alchemical experiments in Pinto's laboratory during their 1762 visit to Malta. The present author could not trace the death certificates of either KOlmer or of the cryptic 'Althotas' While no knight of the Order with either of these names existed in the relevant period. The docume~ts only indic~te that Pinto did have a laboratory in his palace and that tt was sometImes used by foreigners. 18

What about the names of the knights whom Cagliostro encountered in Malta? In fact there was a knight of the Order with the illustrious name of d' Aquino: Fra LUigi d' Aquino di Caramanico (1739-83) Who came from a famous and highly-reputed Neapolitan f~ily. Fra~uigi was the brother ofD. Francesco d' Aquino, Principe dr C~ama01co who later became viceroy of Sicily. Although no mennon of a passage by Luigi d' Aquino to Naples in 1762 could be discovered. Baron de Breteuil was indeed the Order's ambassador in


Rome in the late 1760s. In 1786 and in 1790, wh~n Cagliostro introduced them into the story, both Pinto and d' A~U1~o were dead and could not give their testimony. Pinto had d~ed to 1 ~73 and d' Aquino in 1783. Baron.de Bret~uil: whom Cagliostro claimed to

have met in Rome, had himself died-in 1785. .

Nearly every other attempt to prove a real .Malta .soJourn for Cagliostro in 1762 and 1766 ~ails. Th~ quarantine regl~ters· of the relevant years give no indication;" neIt~er do the Ar~h1Ves of the Inquisition at the Cathedral Museum, Mdina. That Caguostro - as he alleged - was released from quarantine before respecting the due period is very unlikely:

'No ship was allowed to disembark passengers •. ~rew, ~r goods befo~e she was granted pratique by the port sanitary authorities. Disregard of ~hlS rule involved the culprit in the death penalty if the ship came fron: an mf~cted place .... No regard was paid to personal liberty, property, or international commerce .... '20

The strictness of Maltese quarantine was well-k?0:-vn, .and n~ exceptions were made, not even in case of the most dlstmgU1.sh~d.

Definitely invented was Cagliostro's claim to have ~e~~ invited by B aiUiff Rohan on the occasion of his second Malta VIsIt ~n 1766. Rohan was at that time a bailiff of the Order but he was not III Malta between 1763 and 1769 when he resided in France an~ Italy."

In general these stories circulated orally or as quo~tlOns ~rom the September and November 1786 issues of the Courier de I Euro~e and other contemporary gazettes and pamphlets and sta~ed that a Maltese galley had captured a Turkish pleasure boat Wl~ several young ladies of distinction on board, one of whom - a ?nn,c:.ss of Trabizond - had exchanged hearts with Grand Master Pinto .' - The whole story is reminiscent of a mixture of the th~n. fashionable Oriental novels and the countless relationi and descriptions po~ular all over Europe which recounted heroic and adventurous exploits of thegalleys of the Order. There might also be an echo of the popular mid-eighteenth-century novels featuring knights of St John ~Y authors such. as Abbe Prevost or the Comte de Caylus. The latter s Contes des fees was indeed a very popular fictitious account of


g~lant adventu~es and mysterious episodes. These tales were set in Onental countnes and exploited their exotic locations.

Still audiences in Europe generally believed in Cagliostro' s Maltese connections." A typical example of this uncritical approach can be ,seen in t?e the anonymous pamphlet Les principaux even~men~ de la vze merveilleurs des fameux Comte de Cagliostro, pubh~hedm 1786, where it is stated that: 'We ... believe. .. .that [C~ghostro] had been in Malta, exactly as he himself recounts.V' ThIS cornmon belief that Cagliostro had at least visited Malta also featured in iIlust~ations. and engravings . Reference has already been m~de to the et:hmg which was circulating in the late 1780s showing this voyageur noble on his departure from Rhodes for Malta.

. ~arlo Liberto in his collection of essays Siciliani illustri a Malta ~dlc~tes that ;~ere was a print in France which shows Cagliostro in ~lDto s Malta, although the present author has been unable to trace n. In. 1786 and 1787 other illustrations were published indicating Cagliostro's supposed stay in the island. In most of them Cagliostro appears as a keen traveller." The caption of a copper engraving of 1787 says:

'Th!S man who looked so extraordinary and about whom much is spoken in vanous reports was educated in the city of Medina. Three servants and a mentor took care of him. The sciences in which he made the most notable progress wer~ botany and medicine. His desire for travelling finally led him to leave ~abIa. After vi~iting,Egypt~ ~e turned to Malta where he adapted the name Count of Cagliostro '. He visited the Greek islands and from there he tr~v~ned to Naples and Rome, At the age of22, he got married in Rome. H~ visited all. kingdoms of Europe and, because he practised as doctor Without charging any fees. he was received very wen in every country.:"

In o~her contemporary illustrations, Cagliostro was even described as 'Prince of Trabisonde' .29

Mode~ investig~tions are complicated by the more than 200 years WhICh have since passed and by the dearth of reliable documents. It is strange, however, that a contemporary critical essay seems t~ have been completely ignored by modem research. In 1791 Francois Emmanuel Guignard, Comte de St. Priest, a former knight of the Order who was in Malta in 1753 and 1754 to perform his


'caravans' and also visited the island several times again later, published an anonymous description of Malta known as Malthe par un voyageur francaise. After St. Priest returned to France in 1754, he resigned from the Order and was absolved from his vows.

In 1797 a slightly shortened and reworked version of St Priest's book was published in Paris in the collection Malthe, Corse, Minorque et Gibraltar. At the end of his description of Malta, St Priest now added an essay based on his own research entitled 'Cagliostro and Malta' ,30 'This adventurer had played too great a role, ... and that he came to Malta - as he claims in his memoi re -is one ofhislies.'J\ Most of St. Priest's infonnation was obtained at first-hand although some of it was presumably taken from Cajetan Tschink's critical review of Fr. Marcello's excerpts of the minutes of the trial of Cagliostro in 1791 in Rome.F Like Goethe, St. Priest also visited Palermo to find out the real family background of Cagliostro. What St. Priest learned should have finished all speculation concerning Cagliostro's birth in Malta:

'Cagliostro was not born in Malta: he never had relations with Malta. It is possible that he had visited the island, but his sojourn was not of any significance. He also did not keep any correspondence. Cagliostro was born in Palermo on 8 June 1743. His name is Joseph Balsamo. I have seen his mother, his sisters, and his relatives. His father was a merchant. After his death ... he was sent to the seminary of St Roch at Palermo.'~:1

St. Priest, like the Jesuit Father Marcello and the author of the Compendia, gives 8 June 1743 as the date of birth of Giuseppe Balsamo alias Cagliostro. However, baptismal records in Palermo give 2 June as Cagliostro' s birthday. The incongruity is explained by the fact that both St. Priest and the author of the Compendia looked

at the date of his baptism.

As a novice in the convent of Caltagirone, Balsamo was employed

. in a pharmacy where he got his first contacts with alchemy and a knowledge of chemistry. After leaving the convent, he gave start to his illustrious, or better notorious, career by forging documents and stealing, According to St. Priest, it was in Messina and not in the Oriental countries that he met this mysterious figure Althotas,34 with


v.:h?ffi he started on his travels, in course of which they might have visited Malta. Of this, however, no proof exists,

do~fter t~e deat~ of,Alt.hotas, about the causes of which St. Priest . s not give ~y indication, Cagliostro went to Naples and to Ro ,;here he ~arned the notorious Serafina Feliciani. St. Priest c~:~ flrm~ ~hat In the late 1760s the couple got involved in sellin ack

(~,cm;s, beauty ,,:ater". elix~ of life, and other dubio!sq~tuff

au aes jeunesse and vm egyptien ') 35 Ho h d

. th .. J, • wever, e oes not

~ate ~y sold these thmgs during their second visit to Malta in 1766

.ccording to the twentieth-century author Heinrich Co d ho gives no sources, Cagliostro and his wife dealt.not onlyn,rab, W 0 waters and" , . In eauty , ~ acqu l ~wventu, 36 and elixirs to extend life but were also

engaged in the business of prostitution in Malta in 176637 An~ther trustworthy contemporary critic of Cagliost~o' s deeds ~as t e ~onymous author of the essay 'Etwas tiber Ca liostro' ~so:"thtn~ about Cagliostro'), which was published at th: time of

e ramon ~ecklace affair in the Viennese Journal for Freemasons. In th~s. essay Cagliostro's connection with Malta was carefully s~rut1~IZe?, The author proves to be very well info d

about the situation In the island: rme

Late eighteenth-century view of Valletta.


'Cagliostro's story resembles an unfinished novel. There are so many gaps which need to be filled to confinn the author's claims. Many ofthe honourable persons whom he mentions in his story are dead. The present Grand Master of the Order of St John, the Prince de Rohan, did not live in Malta when Cagliostro maintained that he visited the island but was in Brittany. The knight of the Order d' Aquino, whom Cagliostro claimed to have visited at his death bed in Naples, did not die in Naples but in


The author further refutes the plausibility of Cagliostro' s early release from Maltese quarantine:

'Quarantine obeys a strict law in Malta. No traveller whatsoever is exempt from it. Even the grand master has no right to interfere. In spite of all this, Cagliostro claims to have been released from quarantine after two days .' ,9

After consulting a knight of Malta who was present at that time in Malta," the author questioned Pinto's overwhelming hospitality to


'Rules of hospitality demand taking care of and supporting travellers. If Count Cagtiostro had come to Malta, he would have been received like every other traveller. A reliable knight of Malta who was in Malta during Cagliostro's supposed sojourn maintained that the whole tale was devoid of truth, but was all invented. Everyone who wanted to join the Order had to

present legal and fun proofs of nobility. '41

That there were investigations and inquiries about Cagliostro and his relation with the late Grand Master Pinto in France and in Malta was only to be expected. With the necklace affair, Cagliostro _ although in this case he was more or less innocent": had found himself involved in big politics. After Cagliostro had publicized his Maltese adventure in his Memoires and his Lettre , .. au Peuple anglais (1786-87), the ambassador of the Order in Paris immediately denied every element of truth in this tale with the French court." The 'metamorphosis' of Althotas to a knight of the Order

was most strongly contradicted.


Illus~ration 9 . Copper plate (1786) with portrait of Cagliostro and caption quottng a stay m Malta where he took the name 'Comte de Cagliastro'


Illustration 10 Family tree of the Balsamo family (after a drawing by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

That the French court started to inquire in other countries in the course of the necklace affair is also mentioned by Goethe. When the latter visited Palermo in April 1787 , he had a long discussion with a local advocate. Antonio Vivona, who had been commissioned by the French to investigate Cagliostro's family and descendance. This advocate showed him a detailed family tree of the Balsamo family based on careful research and the perusal of authentic papers and marriage records. Goethe; immediately made a copy of this document." Two years later, these minutes seemed to have been communicated to Rome to be used in Cagliostro's trial.

b) Cagliostro's Later Career

Friend and companion of the greats of Europe?

In Rome in the late 1760s Cagliostro met a 'Prussian colonel'. This was none other than the impostor Agliata who had somehow managed fa get the 'medal of honour of the State of Prussia' which was to help him considerably in his future activities.' Needless to say, even this medal was a fake.

Early in the 1770s Giuseppe Balsamo changed his name to Count Alessandro Cagliostro. From then on he started insisting that this notorious charlatan Giuseppe Balsamo had nothing to do with the 'noble Count Cagliostro'. This, however, is not the place to recount in detail the future life and activities of the famous -and immortal 'Conte Cagliostro' ; the present publication is limited to Cagliostro' s activities in so far as they touch Malta and the Order of St John and its members.

His activities as quack, charlatan, and grand master of various Masonic lodges of the Egyptian rite in the 1770s and 1780s took Cagliostro and his wife to Marseilles, London, Barcelona, Valencia, Cadiz, Lisbon, Strasbourg, Lyon.! Berlin, Warsaw, Mitau in Kurland, St Petersburg, and several times to Paris.

Other Maltese sojourns by Cagliostro and his wife are sometimes described both in contemporary sources as well as in modern accounts. In 1790 Ludwig Friedrich Borowsky - usually a reliable source - maintained that Cagliostro and Serafina Feliciani travelled ~o Malta in 1773 after Cagliostro had been sentenced for imposture m Naples. Giuseppe D' Amato mentions another visit to Malta in 17773 in the course ofCagliostro's voyage to Cadiz and Lisbon: 'in this year he travelled in a few months to Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Tanger, Cadiz. Lisbon, ... '.4 Such a voyage is neither confirmed in Cagliostro's own writings nor in any other document.

One of Cagliostro's most remarkable successes occurred in the Alsatian metropolis of Strasbourg,' where he contacted Cardinal Louis Rene Edouard, Prince de Rohan (1735-1803) soon after his arrival there. Doubtless these encounters with influential aristocrats and Freemasons, such as the Duke of Braunschweig-WolfenbtittelO


and the Duke of Pietraperzia, helped hint further to cultivate and implement his position in aristocratic and Masonic circles.

A few words have to be said about Cagliostro's familiarity with Cardinal Louis de Rohan. That Cagliostro knew about the Cardinal's lust for life and good-living is very likely. Some believed that the connection started because of the Cardinal's passion for Cagliostro's wife, Serafina. Indeed some contemporaries regarded Serafina as Rohan's mistress, a fact which might explain the long sojourn ofCagliostro and his wife in Strasbourg.? That Cagliostro used his young wife' to establish contacts with distinguished, influential, and rich personalities was rumoured by various sources and is also repeated by his modem biographers .

. A similar case seemed to have happened in the late 1760s in Rome when an influential member of the Order of St John was the 'victi~'. During this period Cagliostro and his wife entered the circle of Fra Laurent Ie Tonnellier Baron de Breteuil, then ambas-


sador of the Order in Rome.s These contacts only became better known in the course ofCagliostro' s trialin Rome in 1790, When this trial started Breteuil had already died, A passage in the records? seems to indicate that Cagliostro' s wife had been Breteuil' s maitresse for some time. lO According to the 'Ritrattazione di Serafina Cagliostro fatta a Brienne', in July 1787 Cagliostro's wife was paid a pension by Bret.euil f~r some time, 11 Similar rumours were later spread about a relatIOnshIp between Cagliostro's wife and Bailiff Loras." According to Trowbridge, it must have been Breteuil himself who in 1768, introduced Cagliostroto Cardinals York and Orsini." '

, In Strasbo~rg in the summer of 1781Cagliostro met again his old fnend, the knight of Malta Luigi d' Aquino. According to Cagliostro d' Aquino had expressly travelled to Strasbourg because of him. 1; D' Aquino informed all the dignitaries of the city how Cagliostro had been so warmly welcomed in Malta especially by Pinto himself.'> ~ontempor~ sources confirm d' Aquino'S presence in Strasbourg In 1781, ThIS close friendship between Cagliostro and d' Aquino seems to have lasted for some time: When in the summer of 1783 ~aglio.stro was i~ Stras~ou~g and he got to know by a letter that

.. d. Aqum~ was senously sickin Naples, hedid not hesitateto go to his SIde and Just made it to his friend's death-bed.s

What are the facts behind this story? LUigi d' Aquino di Caramanico did die in 1783, as Cagliostro indicated, but in Malta and not in Naples. 17 Th.e Caramani~o family had doubts about the relationship between their dead relative and Cagliostro.» Most of CagIiostro's comments ab,out his encounters and contacts in Strasbourg and Naples can neither be proved nor disproved completely, Cagliostro' s departure from Strasbourg was probably connected with one of his worst setbacks. When the famous Swedish professor of Oriental languages at the University ofU psala and traveller Matthias Norberg (1747-1826) stopped in the city on his return from his Eastern jou,rney he was brought in contact with Cagliostro. Cagliostro, who claimed to have lived so many years in his youth in Mecca and Medina, could not even understand nor speak one word of Arabic. 19

In course of these travelsCagliostro sometimes used other aliases, such as 'Marquis Pellegrini', 'Marquis de St Anne', 'Marquis Balsam', or 'Comte Phenix', although that of 'Conte Alessandro


Cagliostro' seems to have been his favourite. When, during his interrogation in the necklace affair in 1785-86 he was asked for the reason of his change of names and identities, Cagliostro explained that it was all due to his wish to travel more comfortably incognito.

The necklace affair itse1ffinally did not actually harm Cagliostro much. He was summoned before Parliament on 30 May 1786 where h~ repeated his stories about his mysterious descendance and childhood." The protagonists of the trial were the notorious Jeanne de la Motte-Valois, who was the mastermind of the affair, Mlle. d' Oliva, Retaux de Vilette, and their 'victim' , Cardinal Rohan. That knights of Malta belonged to Madame la Motte's circle was an open secret." Cagliostro himself was unanimously acquitted and released from the Bastille on 1 June 1786. His innocence was admitted by nearly all persons involved in the trial. However, Cagliostro and his wife were ordered to leave Paris within a week and France within three. He could still keep his elegant but vague reputation of a noble voyageur, the rolein which he wanted to be seen by European society.

One can only guess when Cagliostro started to launch his claim to be of 'Maltese' descendance. The contemporary investigator of Cagliostro's life, the Count of St. Priest, provides no date when he recounts how Cagliostro started to style himself as being immortal, as having been born in Malta to a princess of Trabezunt and Grand Master Pinto, and as having travelled all the Oriental countries." This epi sode was certainly well-known in Europe when the necklace affair brought Cagliostro back into the limelight in 1785-86. Especially during his nine-month-long rather 'mild' imprisonment in the Bastille, then the prison ofthe noble, rich, and famous. wild speculations were spread about his origin and previous life. In his essay

. Der entlarvte Scharlatan ('The charlatan revealed') which was published in 1787 in Frankfurt a . .M., an anonymous priest m,aintained that Cagliostro was born in Portugal. Even the notonous Countess la Motte in her Memoire at times declared him a Portuguese Jew, at times a Greek, and at times an Egyptian. The December 1784 issue ofthe gazette Berlinische M onatsschrift 23 and the Venetian Nuovo Postiglione were also on the same track: 'People who met him frequently agreed that Cagliostro must be a Portuguese Jew. His


incorrect use of the French and Italian languages and many other things lead to this conclusion.'>

According to the contemporary research of the· German Prof.

Eggers, which was published on 9 March 1787, an uncle of Cagliostro's had testified that the count was nobody but the son of the Palermitan Pietro Balsamo and his wife Felicia Bracconieri. 25 The father died soon after the child's birth, while his mother and a sister were still alive. Rumours about this ordinary origin had already started the previous year. When the editor of the gazette Courier de I' Europe which was read 'in every comer of Europe' ,26 Theveneau de Morande (1748-1803) who was paid by the French court to agitate against Cagliostro, accused him to be nothing but of ordinary Sicilian origin,27 Cagliostro did not hesitate to publish an open letter which was dated 6 September 1786. Not being too conversant with writing in French and Italian, Cagliostro obtained the assistance of the French author Jean-Charles Thilorier, Cagliostro wrote:

'I myself have no idea where I was born .... I speak the lingua franca" and Italian only very incompletely. Mr Morande maintains that I am a Sicilian. That is wrong. He also maintains Iwas born in Naples. I only stayed for two months in this city in 1783. I was a friend of the knight of St John Aquino, who died when I visited this city .... What does it concern the audience whether I was bornin Malta. Medina, or Trabezunt, whether I am a Sicilian, a Calabria~, or, a Neapolitan? .. I admit that I am not a count nor arnarquis ?or a captain. Maybe one day the people will get to know whether my status is above or beneath [whether I have the right to] the claimed titles. But the people cannot blame me for acting so, since I, like all travellers, tried to keep myself incognito. '29

On another occasion, he answered the accusations in this manner:

'AU over Europe I called myselfCagliostro. Concerning this noble title, one should judge according my education and consider the honours which I received from persons so distinguished as the Mufti Salahaym, the Sherif of Mecca, Grand Master Pinto, Pope Rezzonico [Clement XIII]. and other European greats. Isn't therefore my title rather an underestimation than an exaggeration?' 30


A few months earlier Cagliostro had been much clearer. In his Memoire pour le Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1786), Cagliostro proposed a version which was very similar in structure to the one he was to present four years later during his trial at Rome. Th~ 178,6 version, however, lacks many of the later spicy details and implications, when he said that he had proceeded from Egypt to Europ~, stopping in Rhodes and in Malta on the way. Apparent~y b~m m mysterious circumstances in the Muslim holy cit~ ?fMedma, It ,,:as in Malta - a place which he felt somehow familiar - t~at he first witnessed European habits and traditions, Although Pinto promised him a knighthood and promotion to the high ranks of th~ ~rder, he insisted on moving on, especially since his faithful and mtimate friend and mentor Althotas had died in Malta. Already here Cagliostro presents this mysterious Althotas as a knight of Malta and a master of alchemy. 31 In the September, October, and November1786 issues of the Courier de l'Europe there are attacks on Cagliostro and on his claims to noble descent. Theveneair de Morande's accusations were repeated by the Dutch Gazette de Leyden (25 September 1786). This controversy between Cagliostro and Theveneau de Morande and the debate about Cagliostro's childhood and his supposed sojourns in Malta in 1787 finally became the subject of the ironic pamphlet, Proces comique & instructifpendant entre le fameux Cagliostro & le Sr. de M orandes. 32

However, the belief that Cagliostro had been born in Malta was older and must have already been in circulation before the necklace affair and the 1786 publications. As in so many cases, the track leads to Lyon, then not only a 'veritable stronghold of Freemasonry' 33 but also the headquarters of the langue of Au vergne and the seat of a considerable contingent of young novices of the Order. 34 It was in Lyon that the Loge de Malte, connue aujourd'hui sous le titre distinctif de Loge de St. Jean de Jerusalem ('Lodge of Malta, known today under the special title of Lodge of St John of Jerusalem' )35 was sited. It was its members, the knights Louis Gaspar~ de Tulle de Villefranche, Joseph de Gain de Linars, and Jean Baptiste Sabin Michel du Bouchet, together with the conventual chaplains Pernon, Bouchet, and Muguet, who wrote the joint-work L 'Ordre de Malte devoile. In Lyon Cagliostro established his first contacts


with the Freemason and baillif of the Order Charles Abel de Loras and other knights."

Following Cagliostro' s 1784 visit to Lyon, 37 the wealthy merchant and Freemason Jean Baptiste Willermoz (1730-1824) got to know about the famous visitor's alleged Maltese origin. From the beginning Willermoz was very suspicious of Cagliostro' s claims. 3R After he got fresh information from Paris about the necklace affair, in November 1785 he wrote to fellow-Freemason Carl, the Landgra ve . of Hessen- Kassel (1743-1836) :39

'Cagliostro has been imprisoned in the Bastille since August. One does not know anythi.Jlg about his descendance. Some believe that he is a Jew, that he is pretending to be of Maltese descent. One says that he cannot write nor read. No one who met him had seen him writing or reading. He dislikes every interrogation ... and hides his descendance and his age .... ' 4()

Indeed Cagliostro had, on the occasion of his arrest and interrogations in August 1785, insisted to be a 'natif africain maltais '.41 Unfortunately the direct answer of the Landgrave of Hessen Kassel to Willennoz' s letter has been apparently lost. That Landgrave Carl was informed about Cagliostro and his activities in detail is more than presumable. A few years before Landgrave Carl had hosted for many years another famous sorcerer and charlatan of the century, the mysterious Count de Saint Germain," This colourful figure was said to have presided over a secret SOCiety of alchemists and cabbalists together with Grand Master Pinto."

Up to a few time ago no proof could be found thatCagliostro spoke about a Supposed 'Maltese' descendance and connection before his appearance in Lyon in 1784. However, it seems that from the beginning of his career he promoted his 'Arabic' background. In 1781 the Hofrat Johann Joachim Christoph Bode, who his whole life long took an interest in illuminism, Freemasonry, and also the life of Cagliostro, wrote;'He does not mind being held as an Arab or an Egyptian. Sometimes he indicates that he was born at the Red Sea and describes the pyramids as the place where he acquired his knowledge. '44 So, right from the beginning of his career, Cagliostro claimed to have travelled in the Orient.


Moreover the 'Maltese' connections seemed to have formed an integral part of the life and personality of it divino Cagliostro from the beginning. Presumably leaked by Cagliostro himself, rum?urs about his connection with Malta and the Order had started circulatmg at lea~t from his early days in Strasbourg and were soon twiste~ by some ?f hIS enemies. The very first written reference to Malta IS found m ~ anonymous affiche that circulated in Strasbourg.in August 17~ 1. ThIS short curriculum vitae reads: 'Count Cagliostro IS a merchant 10 drugs from Orvieto in Malta. He arrived in Malta in Turkish habit; he was a charlatan in Toulouse and Rennes, an impostor in Russia, a mentor ~d an adventurer in Strasbourg, ... andSaverne .... ' 45 By then, three maIO aspects of his career had already appeared: Malta is p~sented as ~e first stage of his illustrious and notorious career; he ~v~ on t~e Island (from the Orient?) in Turkish habit; and he OCCUPIed himself 10 Mal~ making elixirs in a business somewhat connected to alche~y. About his claim to be Pinto's son, nothing is heard as yet. Already 10 May of that same year, an experienced French traveller - one of the few who had really visited Sicily, up to thel770s more or l~s.s .offt?e beaten track of European travel - decribes Cagliostro as a Sicilian: For all tra~e~l~rs who made the Giro through Italy, [Cagliostro] is apparently of Sicilian descendance. '46

Illustration 12 Giovanni Battista Lusieri, View ofPalenno (c. 1782~99) 47

c) Alchemy, Sorcery, and Superstititon

.'N? one should dare t~ practise any kind of sorcery, or be involved in it, Or Imltat~ any form ~f ~t; ~nyone found guilty of practising any of these sorceries, or COnUlllSSlOnmg such practices to others, will be condemned to rowan the gall~ys for five years. The same punishment will be meted out to those goldsmIths ~d sil vers~iths who dare recei ve or work any kind of me.tal for alchemy, WI thout earning any exemption of the penalty On the plea of Ignorance.' 1

!his extract from statutes of the Order of St John indicates how st?c;l y t~epJ;ictice of alchemy and sorcery was forbidden in Malta. Still this busmess.' and. beli~f in miraculous healing and sorcery must have been deep1y mgramed m Maltese society, as can be seen in various exa~ples, Most of the practising healers and sorcerers until the end of the elg~teenth c~ntury on the island were Muslim slaves or Turks. 2 That a m~ l~e Cagliostro would have found a ready market for 'drugs from OrvletomMalta'30r 'l'eaudesjeunesse 'and 'vlnegyptien ',4asclaimed by m~y contemporary sources, cannot be questioned.

ThIS belief m superstition and sorcery in .Malta was not limited to the c~mmon. people. The upper classes knew of the most recent t~eones .and Ideas in Rome or Paris. Many of the members of the hIg.her CIrcles Of. the Order in the eighteenth century had long Jost their zeal for then statutes and their vows. Pinto himself seemed to h~ve followed the habits of a long list of seventeenth- and early cighteenth-cennn-, absolutist monarchs and more or less secretly promo~ed alchemists and sorcerers. Doublet, who as Grand Master Rohan s secretary had good access to the archives and private documents, wrote:

,'Mais si dans ces divers occasions le grand maitre Pinto a meriti des eloges, cela ne sauraii le faire absoudre de torts graves qu' on a eu a lui reproc~er: .... 3. d' avoir dissipe des sommes immenses solt a la recherche d: la pierre Phllo~0l!ha~e , .. on assure qu 'it a sacrificie plus d'un million d ecus pour counr tnutitmeni pres cette chimere. -s

Pinto's inter~st in alchemy and spiritism is referred to in other more or less reliable contemporary writings." That Pinto still stuck


to the old alchemical search for the philosophers' stone must, however, be questioned. Interestingly none of Cagliostro's critics nor those who were sceptical of his claims of being Pinto' s son ever questioned the existence of a laboratory for alchemy in the palace in Valletta." Since the existence of this laboratory seems to have been quite well known in Europe, the recent publication by Virginia M. Fellows of excerpts from a deciphered manuscript which seem to reveal Pinto as the mastermind and leader of a circle of twentythree specially chosen young noblemen to learn 'the secrets of the cabbala, the mysteries of divination, the science of alchemy, and other areas of arcane practice' is somewhat surprising, to say the least." This claim was made by the Scottish nobleman and traveller William Baird who visited Malta in 1770 together with his friend Ian Douglas. These two claimed to have participated in the meetings of this group which were always presided by the old Grand Master himself. Pinto's instructions to his students and the subject of his lectures seem to confirm the claim that Cagliostro received his final education in alchemy and the cabbala in Malta. Fellows quotes the Grand Master as reported by Baird:

'When you leave this isle, you will be skilled and skilful and very formidable practitioners of the hermetic arts. Nothing happens by accident, except disasters. If-you are here tonight, it is because you were drawn by that great emanation of God that attracts all who desire wisdom. It is because of willingness to learn that you have been chosen to receive the teachings of the most benevolent wizards (magi) of yore. Over the next few years all of your questions will be answered .... When you leave Malta you will understand why events happen or not. You will be able to shape happenings toward the good of humanity."

All this sounds quite similar to Althotas's words spoken on his death bed. Baird's account of his encounter with Pinto becomes even more more fascinating when it mentions that the Grand Master claimed to be 'at the same level' with one of the great figures of contemporary European alchemy, the 'Great Count Saint Germain' who had achieved considerable fame in the cabbalistic arts and had attracted a large number of followers towards the middle of the eighteenth century.


Illustration 13 The Count of Saint Germain

According to his contemporaries, Saint Germain spoke all the European languages together with Sanskrit and Arabic. His critics called him a Portuguese Jew who had made himself a master in the art of imposture. According to his many influential friends and followers, including Louis XV and his mistress Madame Pompadour, he was more than 300 years old (sic) and could make artificial diamonds. In 1759 Saint Germain left France and retired to the court of the Landgrave of Hesse with whom he furthered his studies in the occult sciences. According to Baird, Pinto and Saint Germain together seemed to have set up a secret society with members from all over Europe which was later threatened by the founder of the ?r~er of the Illu.minists, Adam Weishaupt, 'who attempted to infiltrate and dominate the ranks of Pinto's and St Germain's secret society for sinister political purposes' .10


All this seems to reflect the new Zeitgeist which was marked by heterogeneity and great uncertainty. The new phenomenon of secret societies intermingled desires for political reform, questions about society and social attitudes, a new approach to morality, and anti-clericalism. On the other hand, there was still the conflict with the archaic conservative and mystic form of alchemy. As for Cagliostro, it is quoted that Pinto had a very low opinion of Cagliostro and 'considered him a fraud, and claimed that he had stolen alchemical secrets from his deceased friend [Althotas]' .11 The story told here about Cagliostro's Malta visit is therefore different from the other versions. Cagliostro is said to have met Althotas, 'a person of singular dress and countenance and accompanied by an Albanian greyhound', while walking one day by the sea. Althotas invited him to his residence, a place furnished with everything necessary for the practice of alchemy. Finally Althotas invited Cagliostro to accompany him to Malta. In Malta, they were received by Pinto who was 'avidly experimenting with alchemy'." After the death of Althotas, Cagliostro left for Europe to, as Pinto said, 'defraud people with his false Egyptian Mysteries' .13 The Grand Master 'promised that these would be exposed in time'.

Fellows claims to be quoting from the deciphered version of Baird's voluminous manuscript, which was later inherited by his relative John Baird, although there are some serious questions about its authenticity. In fact some statements are definitely false and even a eighteenth-century Scottish traveller, unfamiliar with the situation in Hospitaller Malta and its statutes, could hardly be so mistaken to describe a 'Grand Duchess of Malta' (sic) and 'arbiter ofloeal society' who refused to receive Pinto because of hi I 'reputation for fearful mystical powers' . 14 Even more irritating the stories which Baird reported about Pinto. That Pinto was at Lamego on 24 May 1681 to Miguel Alvaro da Fonseca and Teixeira Pinto and had died on 24 January 1773 in the IJ'UI:'~.~ Valletta was then well known throughout Europe." Baird, however, there was a mystery about the Grand H .... " .....


'Although his name was known throughout Europe, very little was known about the man himself. Pinto was a master alchemist on equal footing with the Count of Saint Germain, And, like the illustrious Count, Pinto's past and identity are points of much dispute. Some claim him to be the son of a wealthy Venetian merchant (sic) who learned the magical arts while travelling throughout Asia. Others were of the opinion that Pinto was the illegitimate son of a certain Spanish prince and had learned magic and

mystery in Africa.l" .

That such rumours, not recorded anywhere else, were spread about a grand master of the Order of St John and a descendant of a high aristocratic Portuguese family is most unlikely. Similarly unlikely aid far-fetched is the report which Baird gave of Pinto's death:

'The most disquieting thing about the rumours of Pinto were those ofhis death. Some said he was executed (sic) for heresy while teaching in Spain. Others said he died of a strange fever in Egypt. Many of the natives considered Pinto to be a vampire who could not die.' 17

This belief of Pinto as an immortal vampire seems to recall various Maltese folk tales which cropped up because of Pinto's old age - he died at the age of 92 - and his 'endless' reign of almost 32 years (1741-73). In fact, as a result of a bizarre joke engineered by some knights against the unpopular Grand Master, a Parisian newspaper had announced Pinto's death in 1758.18All in all, the excerpts of the manuscript published by Fellows have to be taken with the utmost care; indeed, contrary to what the editor claims, they do not seemat least entirely - to derive from an original contemporary source.


d) Freemasonry

While the previous stories of sorcery and Cagliostro's stay in Ma1ta still remain somewhat vague and undocumented, his connections with Freemasonry are clearer and actually documented. Cagliostro' s contacts with the bailliffs of the Order Charles Abel de Loras, Camille de Rohan, and Jean Baptiste-Antoine Flachslanden; the knights Maisonneuve, Antinori, de Brat, Tulle de Villefranche, and de la Salle; and the chaplain of the Order Onorato Bres are incontrovertibly documented.' Except for Bres, all the above-mentioned persons were Freemasons. Cagliostro's involvement in the European Masonic circles has been investigated several times. Some of these studies, such as those by Gagniere' and D' Almeras.' are of direct interest to this study. Such works. however, only touch obliquely Cagliostro's connection with members of the Order.

In the early 1770s Cagliostro started looking for closer contacts with the prosperous and 'fashionable' European Freemasonry. He mingled existing rites with the then extremely popular amalgam of Oriental mysticism, cabbalism, and the latest theories of hypnosis, psychology, and Mesmerism. His extraordinary success among the high nobility as well as the fame he achieved among the common people show that he managed to hit the nerve of the time. Although this is not the place for a detailed picture of late eighteenth-century Freemasonry, it is necessary to describe in brief how this movement infiltrated Malta and how it was used by Cagliostro.

When Cagliostro entered the European scene, Freemasonry had changed. The first lodges erected in France, Spain, and Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century, although deriving many patterns from English ones," maintained an aristocratic and conservative character, while late eighteenth-century Freemasonry was more 'bourgeois' , anticlerical, and politically liberal. This 'bourgeois' class retained a strong affection for and fascination with noble and ancient rites. For most European nobles, however, Freemasonry was still a fashionable pursuit, a medium of 'secret communication' I and 'object ofinterest'. According to Alain Blondy in his study about the Order of St John in the late eighteenth century, Freemasonry then still held an attraction for European high society and, subsequently.


~or the members of th.e Order. This fascination could express itself ~n the contemp?rary dlScuss~on ~f class, e~onomies, and philosophy.

It was a fragile glue to disguise the diversity of situations and ?ccupa~ions.'5 To say that the Masonic lodges had great direct and Imm::dmte power on politics in France, Italy, and the German duchies as well as in Malta is to exaggerate the matter. It is more correct to speak of an indirect influence, although this can be even sai~ with more justice of the ideas of freethinkers, anti-clerical wnters, or the encyclopaedists. Once received in this 'in-crowd' of soci.ety and p01i!ics, ~ersons like Cagliostro could find a ready audience for their projects. Therefore Cagliostro's claim to be of noble origib w~s a rather necessary aspect of self-styling to lend SUP~?rt to the air of mystery around him and bolster his untouchable posinon.

It is .interesting to note that rumours about his close - but at the same time vague and never exactly expressed - connections with ~ospitaller Malta wer~ intensified and gained common acceptance ~n the 1780s when Saghostro was e~periencing his biggest successes ill Fr~c~ by erecting new Mas~mc lodges which adapted the so~ calle~ Rituel de La Maconnerie Egyptienne' or 'Egyptian rite'. That Caghostro, as the' architect' and later head or so-called grand master of these lodges of the 'Egyptian Rite', was conversant with at least ~he ~ost i~portant contemporary literature about Freemasonry and Its history is more than a supposition. It may be at this time that he ~ust have came across how the Order of St John had been instrumentalized in the fashioning and historical legitimization of Freemasonry .

,Perhaps the best-known publication about the subject is the I?lscours prononcee a fa reception des franc-macons by the EngIish Free.mason Andre Michael Ramsay. Ramsay had lived in Fr~~ce smce 1710 and soon became a friend of Fenelon and ~hlhp~~ of Orleans, the pretender to the French throne. By promotmg Philippe of Orleans, Ramsay became a member of the Order of St Lazarus and, for more or less opportunistic reasons, converted from Prot~stantism to Catholicisrn.s Although the circulation and open read.lll.g of the Discours was soon forbidden by the powerful French munster Fleury, its spread could not be stopped. By 1740 it


had already been secretly published in Paris with the title Discours d'un Gr. maitre dans La Gr. -Loge assemblee solemnement. Of great present interest are some passages about the origin a~d inves~,i~ure of Freemasonry. In an attempt to combine histoncal tradirion, legend. ,and certain aspects of conservatism and European identity,

Ramsay wrote:

'During the time of the first crusades to Palestine , .. several pri~c.es, noblemen, and citizens assembled and vowed to restore all the ChnstIan churches in the Holy Land. They promised to restore or re-erect these churches in the same manner as they had been built before. They agreed about several old symbols and signs which were taken from the religion. That was done to distinguish themselves from the infidels and Saracens. Only to those vowed not to reveal them were these words communicated. Therefore this holy promise was no bad or unworthy oath, but a most noble band or tie to unify the Christians of all nations in a kind of brotherhood. Some time later this our Order (sic) tied itself very closely with the Knights of St John. This unification happened according to the example of the Israelites, when they were building the second temple, when they held trowel and mortar in one hand and the sword and shield in the other.'?

It did. not take long for this interpretation of history and the legends it created to find acceptance in other contemporary works dealing with Freemasonry. This historical connection with the knights of St John found its way into the procedure of acceptance in the French Lodges. A passage of the standard book of constitution of De la Tierce quotes the so-called 69th and 70th question of

the ceremony:

'Question: To whom your lodge was dedicated? Answer: To St John.

Question: Why?

Answer: Because in the time of the war in Palestine the Knight-masons

(Chevaliers macons) unified themselves with the Knights of St John of

Jerusalem.' 8

To imply even deeper connections with the Order of Sf John could therefore only be of considerable benefit for Cagliostro and must have fitted ideally in the picture of how he wanted to have his



legitimation and basis of power understood. Another reason for Cagliostros idea to style himself as being in close contact with the Order and Malta might be that, in fact, some very distant members of the Balsamo family of Palermo had been members of the Order of St John. Perhaps the best -known was Giovanni Sal vatore Balsamo who in 1618 became grand prior of Messina."

In general it was a fashion for Illuminists, spiritists, as well as Freemasons in the late eighteenth century to carry out pseudoscientific research on the past, especially on the medieval period and the history of the Christian military Orders and to draw parallels with modem times. It became essential to insert fragments of the 'heroic' chhalric past and specimens of ancient prophecies and sermons in the statutes and laws of the secret societies.

Cagliostro did not hesitate to instrurnentalize those episodes and prophecies for his own sake. During his trial he recalled one especially bizarre but significant episode which had happened to him. In 1780, while on his way from Poland to Strasbourg, he had stopped in Frankfurt where he met Anselm Robert and Friedrich Hermann, the heads of the local Illuminists who had showed him their secret archive in a cellar. Amongst other important items, the Germans presented him with a pledge written in human blood, Twelve grand masters of the Knight.Templars had solemnly vowed to fight all despotic monarchs. The first attack was aimed at the house of Bourbon (sic), but Rome was also not to be left.out.PThis experience of the use of mystery, the inflation of one's importance, the occult, and personal cult were put to good use by Cagliostro when he founded 'Sagesse triomphante ', the mother lodge of his 'Egyptian rite', on 26 December 1784 in Lyon."

Cagliostro's illustrious career met its sudden and dramatic end in Rome where some of his connections with the Order of St John became better known, although the full background and various details of his stay in Rome are still uncertain. Even the very motivation for his going to Rome on 30 May 178912 has remained a mystery up to now. It seems that after he had sullied some of his reputation in France and Germany, he played all his cards at once and tried to start a new beginning exactly where his most formidable enemy, the Roman inquisition, had its headquarters. He must


have been conscious of the dangers lying in wait for him there but he seems that he believed his connections and influence would save him from any trial and imprisonment. That his influential.and hi?hl~reputed Roman friends were many, cannot be doubted. When, m hIS trial he was asked the motivation for his coming to Rome, he answered the Eternal City seemed most suitable for his plan .to transform Egyptian Freemasonry to an institution similar to the Order of St John, l3 This might have been just a convenient or evasive answer but that Cagliostro tried to re-establish closer contacts with the Order cannot be denied. He had already contacts with the bailiffs Charles Abel de Loras: Camille de Rohan (1737-1816), nephew of the reigning grand master; de Brillane, formerly plenipote.nti~ry extraordinary to the court of Portugal and grand prior of Aqultame; and Laurent le Tonnellier, Baron de Breteuil, since his former stays in Rome, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Paris. Together with the former knight, the natural scientist Deodar de Dolomieu, Prince Camille de Rohan was a member of the parisian 'Loge des Neuf Soeurs';" which had been founded by Jerome de Lalande. Another member of the lodge was the famous painter and artist Jean Pierre Louis Laurent Houel(1735-1813), who had visited Malta in 1770 and 1776-77 and had been received by Grand Master Rohan during the latter occasion. IS

Before Bailliff de Brillane was nominated ambassador of the Order to Rome, he had carried out the same duties in Paris. 16 Cagliostro had first met Brillane in Paris, while Brillane' s predecessor in Rome, Baron Breteuil also knew the Sicilian.'? It was mostly in Paris, Lyon, and Strasbo~g that Cagliostro came in contact with oth~r ~i~~ts w~o occupied themselves with Freemasonry and followed his ~cttvittes :WIth interest." Between 1780 and 1783, with some lon~ mterrupnons, Cagliostro stayed mostly in Strasbourg where he got to know not only Cardinal Louis de Rohan, the grand nephew of the Grand Master, but also with the knights and Freemasons de la Salle" and Jean BaptisteAntoine Flachslanden. The knights Antinori,.de Maisonneuve, and de Brat and the young Maltese scholar and conventual chaplain Onorato Bres (1758-1818) were other members of the Order with whom Cagliostro became familiar in Paris and Rome.

The extent of Cagliostro' s knowledge about the supposed sympathy of Grand Master Rohan towards Freemasonry cannot be i


lllust!ation 14 BaillifJ Jean Baptiste-Antoine Flachslanden

Illustrauon 15

Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan (1775-97)


proved. Roderick Cavaliere believes that Rohan had been admitted to

a lodge while he was living at the court of Parma in the mid-I? 50s2°but he gives no sources. Gould's History of Freemasonry2 t quotes an early nineteenth.century letter by the British Freemason Waller Rodwell Wright which maintains that Rohan was a Freemason 'but policy and the prejudice of the people prevented him from making a profession of it' .22 Even in this case no defmite sources are given. J ahn Webb is even more courageous and maintains that Rohan became a member of a Masonic lodge in Panna in July 1756.23 That the court of Panna, under Prime Minister Guillaume du Tillot, Marchese di Felino. became one of the Italian centres for political and cultural tolerance and attracted various freethinkers is a well-known fact." Virieu de Beauvoir, a knight of the Order of St John and a close consultant of Du Tillot's, was the drlvingforce behind the setting up of a library in Parma which preserved one of the biggest collections of contemporary enlightened and anticlericalliterature,25 Although Rohan kept close contacts with the court of Parma until his death," no document has yet been found whichproves that Rohan was himself a Freemason.l7 The connections between Cagliostro and the knigbts of St John should explain some of the events leading to the tragic end of il divino Cagliostro.

Illustration 16

Ferdinand von Hompesch, the last grand master of thl Knights of St John in Medt4


Chapter 5

All Roads lead to Rome

Cagliostro in Rome 1789-90

Muc~ more concrete than Rohan's supposed links with Freemasonry and hIS knowledge ofCagliostro, but also far from exhaustive are the sources dealing with Cagliostro' s activities in Rome in the summer and autumn of 1789. It did not take long for Cagliostro to become the centre of .secret seafices held in Villa Malta on the Aventine. I Bailliffs· de Brill~e, de Loras, .and Antinori also attended the meetings of the EgyptIan Lodge whIch Cagliostro had established secretly in Rome.' According to this rite, emphasis was laid not only on the traditional feast-day of St John the Baptist, as in various rites of traditional ~reemasonry, but also on the cult of St John the Evangelist. For a time It really seemed that Cagliostro was trying to adapt his lodges in Rome ~o a ~ore or le~s orthodox Catholic religion with the rather utopian intention of getting them acknowledged as real religious Orders, like the Order of St John or the Teutonic Order.

Illustration 17 Jonathan Skelton, Veduta di Roma con il Tevere (c. 1750)

Although at first the Conte tried his utmost to work in secret, some of his prophecies and sermons during the Lodge's seances and meetings were soon spread around. In fact, there is a remarkable difference between his former activities in France and Germany and his actions in Rome. In spite of suggestions by Loras and Maisonneuve, Cagliostro hesitated to associate the lodge more closely with the 'Les Amis Sinceres' Lodge, which included mostly French diplomats, students, and artists living in Rome. When Loras, who had arrived in Rome at the end of 1788,3 invited him to attend the solemngathering of the French lodge on the anniversary of the nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Cagliostro refused," for reasons one can only speculate about. Was he eager not to lose the reputation and exclusivity of his own lodge or was he simply afraid of the spies of the Holy Office and therefore tried not to get involved too much? However, he still attended seances and spiritistic meetings. In late eighteenth-century Rome, Cagliostro's prophecies about the fall of the Bastille and about the pontificate of Pius VI being the last one could not have been kept secret. Cagliostro was particulary considered suspicious and dangerous owing to his perceived involvement with the Illuminists and Freemasonry. As soon as the Inquisition in Rome got notice of his stay, it started to investigate.

Cagliostro' s efforts to establish contacts with members of the Order seem to have found a readyresponse. An interesting and of tenquoted letter by Cagliostro' s friend Charles Abel de Loras to Grand Master Rohan, dated June 1789, indicates that Cagliostro really wanted to settle in Malta:

' ... Count Cagliostro has been here for a couple of days. I have renewed my company with him and now 1 am so familiar with him that he will certainly share secrets with me he won't definitely tell to anyone else. Besides his knowledge of chemistry which is the base of his learning, he isa Freemason of all grades and founder of a rite which unifies all secrets in itself. The mother lodge of this system is in Lyon. She seems very generous, distributing considerable resources to her daughter lodges, allowing every member only what he himself achieves, and providing them with a good pension. This extraordinary man, tired of a vagabond life and persuaded by my suggestion, would be quite ready to settle in Malta for the rest of his life, if Your Highness deigned to promise him free asylum and the protection of


Your government. No expense wou1d be incurred on his behalf. This proposal seems to me honourable as well as useful. Therefore I did not hesitate to communicate this secret to you."

Grand Master Rohan must have certainly known about Cagliostro's mysterious role in the famous affair of Marie Antoinette's diamond necklace, particularly since his relative, Cardinal Louis de Rohan, 'had been a chief victim. Moreover the Grand Master was already in considerable embarrassment owing to his relationship with the Curia because of his 'enlightened' A vvocato del Principato. Dr Gio. Niccolo Muscat," and knew very well the consequences of hosting such a persona non grata and demurred with an answer. It is questionable whether Cagliostro really intended to settle in tiny Malta, a place much too limited and restricted for Cagliostro' s 'business' , or did Loras exaggerate, gratified as he was by his friendship with such an 'extraordinary man'? Or was Cagliostro just trying to keep several options open? At the same time as Loras was writing to Malta, Cagliostros secretary, the Capuchin Francois Joseph, drafted a Memoriale to Paris on behalf of his master:

'With the admiration and love that he felt for the French nation and the respect for its legislations and august representatives, Alexander de Cagliostro ventured to submit to the Assembly in Paris, which was striving to restore their liberty to the French people and its original splendour to the first kingdom hi the world, that he desired to be allowed to return and pass the rest of his days in a country whose glory and welfare had always been dear to his heart.'?

Whatever Cagliostro' s real intentions, his close relationship with Bailliff Charles Abel de Loras - until 1787 Rohan's secretary and still a very close advisor of the Grand Master - was becoming more and more unbearable. Cagliostro openly cultivated this friendship and, in his letters to European dignitaries, referred to the Baillif as his 'figlio Loras' .8 In his role of 'Grand Kophta' of his lodge and making full use of his contacts, Cagliostro went so far as to promote Loras as the next ambassador of the Order in Rome," The Order's ambassador in Rome, Bailliff Brillane, also frequented Cagliostro's


seances. That Brillane should be removed from his post because of the bad service he was giving was an open secret. Although Loras had a supporter in Cardinal de Bemis, the influential French ambassador in Rome, Pope Pius VI opposed Loras' appointment as the Order's ambassador in Rome, according to what Cardinal de Bemis wrote to the French ministre des aifairesftrangeres Armand-Marc Comte de Montmorin-Saint-Heren (1750-92) in Paris.

Pius VI favoured Prince Camille de Rohan as the Order's new ambassador, even though it is likely that he knew that the Prince was also a Freemason. When Grand Master Rohan finally proposed. Prince Camille as ambassador to Rome, Cardinal Bemis wrote tothe Cornte de Montmorin in Paris: 'Since it is so, it would be useless for M. de Loras to try and enlist the support of all the European governments in his favour. But he will remain, for a while, in Rome, to watch developments and try to get round Prince Camille, '10 It was only when he realized that he could not manage t~ change the situation by interceding with Grand Master Rohan, PIUS VI,. or de Bemis, that he consulted his friend Cagliostro. The latter still felt powerful enough to write to Grand Master Rohan's nephew, the Cardinal Louis de Rohan in Strasbourg:

'Be assured that the interest of your family and the happiness of Prince Camille himself are bound up with the execution of the explicit and formal order we are giving you to use all. your power and influence in this cause. Compel Prince Camille therefore to do all that is necessary to secure the appointment of our son de Loras in his place.' 11

This intrusion into the internal affairs of the Order not only brought antipathy against Cagliostro himself but weakened de Lor-as's position.

The events of the French Revolution in the summer of 1789 and the resultant social upheaval greatly alarmed the Curia and the Inquisition in Rome. A considerable number of French refugees. noblemen and members of the bourgeoisie, some of them Freemasons also came to Rome. Many of them were of 'suspicious' political and religious character and the situation in Italy got more and more tense. Not a few of them later proceeded to Malta ..


The Ro?,an Inquisiti~n Soon turned on Freemasons. Illuminists, an~ freethinkers of all kinds. Even slight 'connections' and friendShIPS caused various intellectuals and dignitaries to be investigated On 2~ December 1789 the French Academy near Santa Trinita dei Monti was the object of a raid. For a long time the Inquisition had suspected the Academy as the centre of a lodge (' Les Amis Sinceres') m?stly frequented by French students. The head and mastennind of ~hlS lodge was the French painter Augustine Louis Belle. Upon mterrogation, Belle reported that his lodge was in close contact with other lodges i? Paris, Naples, and Malta: Indeed it was known in Rome that va!"'ous members of this lodge wete also members of the newly-erected 'Secret et Harmonie' Lodge in Malta, as can be confirmed by contemporary monographs on Cagliostro." Also known

was the exchange of letters between Rome and Malta .


matter~relat1v~ to Fr~~masonry. 13 Among the papers and documents

found In Belle s pOSItIOn there was a letter to the Malta lodge with the addres~ 'M. le bailli de Loras, marechal de L'Ordre'<"

The Cu~a ordered Monsignor Ranucc], the governor of Rome to arres~ Caghostro. It is not known if it was Belle who indicated where Cagho~tro could be found. Cagliostro was captured and arrested that same night," together with his personal secretary Father Francois Jose~h, a Cap.uchin monk of the convent of the Marais in Paris and a native of Saint Maurice, S~itzer1and. Before he took holy orders, he had been k~own as Hyacinthe Antoine Roulier. Cagliostro and Father Fran~01s Joseph .were !mp?sOned in Castel Sant' Angelo. By order of the Pope" Caghos.tro, S WIfe was confined to the monastery of Santa Appoloma. Serafina s comments about her husband would subs~quently figure very prominently in the accusations against Caghostro. Letters ~mplicatin? de Loras and other knights were not o?ly found at Belle s but also In the possession of Cagliostro and of hIS secretary, Cagliostro's various letters to Cardinal Louis de Rohan, the c,or:respondence with the lodge of Lyon, as well as two lette~s by Baillif Laras to Cardinal Bemis and by Cardinal Rohan 'to C~ghostro wou.ld all form part of the material used in the Cagliostro tnal the following year. J6

Th~ ne~s of ~he impriscnmenr of other persons and new and farreaching mvesugauons brought quite a few knights of the Order _


especially those 'partisans de Loras' 17_to discredit. 18 The Cagliostro affair came like a bolt out of the blue and all of a sudden many of these 'subterranean cellars and cloaks of culture and society', as Goethe put it, were brought into the light An eyewitness, the Frenchman de Pisancon, in a comrnuncation to his friend Deodat Dolomieu, described how this affair' drew the attention of the whole city of Rome' from the very beginning."

Even men of letters and intellectuals, like the poet and author Carlo Castone Torre de Rezzonico who only had loose connections with Cagliostro' s circles, ended up being prosecuted." Cagliostro and Rezzonico had first met in Trento in December 1788.21 Rezzonico was named by Cagliostro in his trial as one of his followers, a declaration which ultimately ruined Rezzonico's career. Later, in an attempt to get away from Italy, Rezzonico, who had met Grand Master Rohan at the court of Panna in 1756, applied to become a member of the Order and travelled to Malta in 1793,22

On 30 December Cardinal Bemis informed the Comte de Montmorin:

'Three days ago Count Cagliostro and his wife were arrested and taken, the one to the Chateau St. Ange and the other to a convent. The charlatan, who is more celebrated than he deserves to be, was permitted to enter Rome, last spring, at the keen solicitation of the Archbishop of Trente (sic). Little is being said about his activities here, But it is alleged that he has been holding secret Masonic meetings, which are proscribed by a bull of Benedict XIV, and that, at these meetings. he thought to introduce, by means of superstitious ceremonies, the ideas of the German and Dutch sect of Illuminists. '2~

Presumably asked by Loras to use his influence to help in this case," Cardinal Bemis concluded otherwise: 'It would be very imprudent of me to interfere directly or indirectly in the affairs of Cagliostro and his confident, Father Joseph.i"

That this affair was watched carefully by European diplomats is not surprising. The position of Cagliostro's intimate friend, the Baillifde Loras, by now must have appeared especially.shaky, On 2 January 1790 Loras dispatched aletter of apology to Grand Master Rohan." However. the situation in Rome remained tense and uncertain, In February 1790 Comte de Montmorin wrote to Cardinal


Bemis: 'I will not be surprised if Baillif de Loras will be caught in the trap of the Cagliostro case. '27

Another man who watched the developments in Rome very carefully was the natural scientist, traveller, author, and former knight, Deodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801).28 Dolomieu had met Cagliostro personally in Rome in the autumn of 1789 and he was not fascinated by the man at all. The rational anti-mystical Dolomieu described Cagliostro as one of the most mediocre charlatans he ever had encountered: 'A man without esprit, without culture and rhetorical abilities. It is unbelievable how a man like him could play such an important role and could have so many followers. '29

Although Coras and Dolomieu were both Freemasons, they had been bitter enemies for many years. In fact, they broadly represented the two parties of the new generation of knights. Loras still kept to the aristocratic and elitist way of thought, while Dolomieu's political tendencies clearly favoured anti-clericalism, a constitutional monarchy, and theocracy. Their moral and political positions were profoundly contrasting. Even while still a knight of the Order in the 1770s and early 1780s, Dolomieu had been the decisive force in the Club de Feuillants, a group which favoured a constitutional monarchy. Dolomieu left Malta and the Order after being accused of conspiring against the Order'? but retained an interest in the internal affairs of Hospitaller Malta.

Only two days after Cagliostro's imprisonment, Dolomieu delightedly wrote to the Sicilian scholar and antiquarian Cavaliere Gioeni: 'Cagliostro has been imprisoned because he and his assistant, a Capuchin, had tried to set up the sect of the Illuminists in Rome. It is said that they elected Baillif Loras as the head ofthe branch.'>'

However, here Dolornieu is not correct. Like many others, Dolomieu jumped on the rurnour that Cagliostro tried to install himself as the head of the Order of the Illuminists. Those rumours have been accepted uncritically by various modern writers: 'It is quite certain that Cagliostro was connected with the Illumines and fmanced by them. The nature of the connection is not so clear. '32

Only a few months after Cagliostro' s imprisonment a real Illumi. nist, the German J. Johann Christoph Bode (1730-93), refuted this theory in an anonymous treatise,


There is no documented proof of any deep involvement by Cagliostro and Baillif Loras in the movement of the Illuminists." This subject had already been discussed in the Essai sur la secte des Illumines (Paris, 1789) by the Marquis de Luchet. On 9 January 1790 Loras, in a letter to Cardinal Zelada, bitterly accused his 'enemy' Dolornieu of blackmailing him and of dragging him deeperinto the affair." In this letter Loras tried to style himself as someone who had hardly had any contact with Cagliostro and his main follower, the notorious Marquis Vivaldi. Despite all his efforts, Loras could not stop the rumours and attempts at blackmail. This mixture of fact and fiction around Cagliostro, Marquis Vivaldi, and Loras soon reached Malta. Even the wen-informed Doublet, the secretary of grand master, believed that Cagliostro, Vivaldi, and Loras were engaged in practising the rites of the Illuminists." At around the same time Cardinal Bemis wrote to the Comte de Montmorin about this affair:

'The Tribunal of the Holy Office is still making inquiries with a view to discovering if Cagliostro was not the head of this sect of Illuminists who are beginning to cause disquiet to the authorities here. It is said that a document has been found among Cagliostro's papers, announcing that Pius VI would be the last pope and that the Church would be deprived of her territories.i"

It was obvious that Loras's position was becoming more and more difficult. He had tried his utmost to obtain support from Cardinals Bemis and Zelada, both persons highly influential in the state affairs of France, as well as in the Curia." He also tried to convince Zelada to speak on his behalf to the Pope and to hand over some of his letters to the Holy Father." When Loras turned to Bemis, he was advised to exculpate himself before the Cardinal Secretary of State, Finally, in March 1790, before Cagliostro' s trial really started, Loras left Rome. Dolomieu commented:

'The Cagliostro affair is going on ... BaillifLoras is surely involved in this affair. This relationship between Cagliostro and the Capuchin and Loras up to now could only be guessed at;.now the papers found at Cagliostro's and at Loras' confmn it. One says that it is only out of respect towards the Order


of St John that he has not been imprisoned yet. But doubtlessly he will be put in prison further on during the trial.'39

Obviously Dolomieu wished to have his old enemy and his friends imprisoned or removed from the political scene by all means. A few days later he communicated to his friend Gioeni, then in Naples, the latest news from Rome:

'I am very curious as to what is circulating in Naples about BaillifLoras. We know that he was refused a passport to travel to Naples. He went in public to testify that the refusal of this passport is unjustified. This week he is set to depart for Malta. The Pope has refused him a last audience. '40

Dolomieu's personal 'triumph', however, turned into disappointment when he found out that, owing to his influential friends in the Order and in Naples, Loras' career did not come to an end at all. At the beginning of April Dolomieu received fresh information from Gioeni about Loras' plans to travel to Malta. He replied: 'I am extremely surprised to hear that when in Naples BaillifLoras showed himself in public. This appears to me as an enigma since, as I have told you, itis sure that in Rome he was refused a passport to travel.':" As far as the involvement of members of the Order of St John was involved, the outcome of Cagliostro' s trial would prove even more 'disappointing' .

The tribunal of the 'Cagliostro case' was presided over by Cardinal Zelada, the secretary of state, and consisted of Cardinals Ranucci, Pall otto, and Antonelli, and the governor of Rome, Campanelli. The trial began on 4 May 1790 and ended on 12 November. It cannot be said that the prosecutors did not work carefully and scrupulously. Besides the chaplain of the Order of St John, 'Sig.re Avvocato Onorato Bres', even Gio~anni Modo, the cook, and a certain Romolo Allegati, a servant of Loras', were summoned as witnesses." As mentioned above, Loras himself had very wisely left for Malta in Match of the ·year before the trial. Cagliostro had to appear in 43 sessions. He was first given a death sentence but it was later commuted to life imprisonment. However, the papers which Dolomieu hoped would be revealed by the Inquisition and damage the careers of Loras and his friends were


never really used nor even presented. This aspect of the Cagliostro case was closed very discretely. No knight was involved in the trial; the only member of the Order who was summoned as a special witness, 'reo prevenuto, indi rispettivo denunciato', was the young chaplain Onorato Bres."

That the documents of the Cagliostro trial were doctored and filtered has already been indicated by Goethe." It is also interesting that Marcello's Compendia edited out Cagliostro' s contacts with the knights of St John in Rome and carefully eliminated the relevant passages of the minutes of the trial. What the Compendia mentions is the encounter between Cagliostro and Baron de Breteuil in Rome in 1768.45 In the long run Loras 'career was not damaged and, as in the so-called 'Processo Lante" in 1776, Grand Master Rohan kept both his eyes closed concerning the involvement of the knights 'in Freemasonry and mysticism.

Cagliostro was kept in prison for the rest of his lifetime. In April 1791 he was transferred to the prison of San Leo near Forli, The circumstances of his death on 26 August 1795 are still not completely clear. According to official documents, he died of apoplexy, but a recently-published manuscript states that a Capuchin monk killed Cagliostro when the latter attempted to escape from prison."

A deeper investigation of the case of Cagliostro and his Malta connections should start by the review ofthe protocols and minutes of Cagliostro's interrogation by the Inquisition in 1790 in Rome. Unfortunately the file 'Raccolta di scritture legali riguardanti il processo di Giuseppe Balsamo detto Alessandro Conte di Cagliostro e di P. Francesco Giuseppe da S. Maurizio Capuccino, inanzi al Tribunaledel S. Uffizio diRoma' which is preserved inthe Biblioteoa Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele di Roma" is not complete. In nartto'J. lar some references about Cagliostro' s contacts with the Order John seem to be missing. During his interrogations changed his previous versions of the circumstances of his recanted confessions about his intentions. Some of these

might have been caused by pressure and the use of torture. as far as his 'Maltese' origin was concerned, he stuck to version. During the trial he kept saying that be was most descended from noble and 'Maltese' forebears.


As has already been mentioned, the documents which were read during the public audience - the 'Compendio della vita e delli gesti di Giuseppe Balsamo, iI denominato Conte Alessandro Cagliostro' - today form part of the manuscripts and minutes of the trial preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale of Rome. In 1791 it was edited and published by the Jesuit Father Marcello. Because of the tremendous international interest they generated, they were soon translated and published in French, English, German, Dutch. and Russian. Most of the rumours about Cagliostro's 'Maltese' connections can be traced to the 'Compendio'.

By now it was generally agreed that the Sicilian impostor and charlatan anCi the Conte Alessandro Cagliostro were one and the same person. It was also generally accepted that Cagliostro was not the legendary head of the I1luminists and he was not tbat almighty master of spiritism he had styled himself to be in previous years. The stories Cagllostro recounted in court were adventurous enough to keep the interest in his person alive.

Although Cagliostro was condemned to life imprisonment at San Leo, his memory lived on in Malta. In the National Library of Malta there are various, mostly anonymous, contemporary manuscripts about Freemasonry and Cagliostro. For example. there is no doubt that the anti-Masonic essay Reflections, written in May 1792, is attacking Cagliostro when it speaks about 'Le Magnetiseur, Ie Grand Cophte' and 'L'Egiptien' ,49 On the other hand, there are also pro-Masonic writings. It was most presumably a member of the 'Secret et Harmonie' Lodge who wrote the poem 'Apologie des francmacons' also preserved in the same library . so


Illustration] 8 Reproduction of a manu~cript in ~he National Library (Libr. MS, 133, ff. 294 seq.) which con tams the poem 'Apologie des francmacons'


the ancien regime. In the eighteenth century, the knight had an honnete homme, a cultured aristocrat who did not want and

not afford to be left out of international society. The old religious zeal, and strict obedience to the medieval statutes had long disappeared. It was inevitable that the members of the Order, spread all over Europe and especially in France and Germany, naturally always in touch with the latest fashions of thinking, should also get in contact with the charismatic Cagliostro. There are indeed two sides to Cagliostros connection with Malta and the Order of St


On the one hand, there are the most probably fictional claims that

he was the son of Grand Master Pinto and a princess of Trabezunt and that he was familiar with many of the Orders grandees; this was a mere seeking for effect. On the other hand, there were a considerable number of members of the Order who were fascinated by the ideas of Freemasonry , occultism, and the cabbala and therefore also admired Cagliostro as one of its exponents and, subsequently, sought to establish contacts with him. One either loved or hate.d Cagliostro, but that is in itself yet another indicatio~ that hIS colourful life and activities exactly hit the nerve of the trmes, As a result of this interest, his 'Maltese' connection was discussed over and over in the late eighteenth century. Popular perceptions, the craving for the fantastic, and the scientific approach sometimes became deeply intermingled in this discussion and they have also heavily determined modern research on this subject. Whil~ t~e documented involvement of members of the Order of St ] ohn m hIS activities is significant for the Zeitgeist of the late eighteenth century, Cagliostro' s claims of being Pinto's son and to have had two long sojourns in Malta seem to be a fabulous but cleverly orchestrated aspect of a timeless 'work of art': the figure oUi divino Conte Cagliostro himself.


In a wider frame, the case of Cagliostro and Malta and indeed even the whole career of this mysterious figure are indicative of the' fragility of the concept of the 'Goddess of Reason' and the structure of the Age of Enlightenment in the late.eighteenth century. Even the leaders of that time were still vulnerable to 'attacks' of sensationalism, impostors, charlatans, mystery, and the so-called 'unknown'. One of the few really critical and mostly neutral investigators of Cagliostro's life and 'Maltese' connections, the contemporary antiquarian and author Comte de St Priest, wrote in 1797:

Qu'on vante tant qu'on voudra ce Siecle de lumieres; les succes de Cagliostro, sa ce16brite prouveront du moins que les lumieres de ce siecle ne sont-pas de celles dont on devroit se vanter. Jamais on n'a vu tant d' erreurs, tant d' ecarts.jarnais l' ordre social n' a ete si violemment tourmente, etjamais Ie retentissement des secousses subversives n'a ete propage avec tantde virulence. Fuisse le siecle qui va suivre nous donnermoins de fausses lumieres et plus de veritables vertus."

Cagliostro's case is even more interesting as it was no exception, but just the most illustrious example of a syndrome of society: the crisis of Enlightenment. In the context of this book, Cagliostro was also an indicator of the crisis of the old institution of the chivalric religious Order of St John and its statutes and moral values. What brought about this crisis? It was a counter movement against antisensuality. anti-mythology, and anti-metaphysics and derived from the desireto fill the vacuum of imagination and fantasy which the rational Enlightenment had tried to abolish. In literature and art this development was mirrored in the countless tales of chivalry and Gothic novels with their world of knights, medieval atmosphere, ghosts, and spiritism.

By the eighteenth century Malta and Maltese society had become completely European. Absolutism, improved means of transport and communication, and a new lingua franca, French, had to a certain extent unified and shaped Europe. The knights of St John formed a colourful and integral part of this Europe in the twilight of




CHRONOLOGY 1768 20 April: marriage of Giuseppe B.a~sa~o/Count [I',
Cagliostro and Lorenza (Serafina) Feliciani ill Rome.
1717 Erection of the firstEngJish Grand Lodge as an ensemble Meetings with the ambassador of the Order of St John
of four lodges in Rome, Baron de Breteuil
'. Cagliostro and Serafina Feliciani in Loreto [Ii'
1738 Papal Bull of Clement XII - In Eminenti against 1769
Freemasonry Journeys to Barcellona, Madrid, Lisbon, and London
1741 1771
Election of Emanuel Pinto de Fonseca as grand master
of the Order of St John. Expulsion of six knights of the 1772 Longer sojourn in Paris I
Order from Malta as presumed Freemasons Death of Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca. Election of
1773 II
1743 2 June: Birth of GiusepPe Balsamo in Palermo Ximenez de Texada as grand master of the Order of St
1751 Papal Bull of Benedict XIV - Providas Romanorum John. The Pope abolishes the 'Compagnia di Gesu'
Pontificum - against Freemasonry 1773-76 Various journeys by Cagliostro through Europe (Na-
1756-58 Giuseppe Balsamo, novice in the monastery of the ples, Marseilles, Cadiz, Lisbon) and maybe North
Africa and Malta again
Benfrate1Ii in Caltagirone Election of Emanuel de Rohan as grand master of the
1762-66 ? 1775 Iii
Alleged first sojourn of the Count ofCagliostro/Giuseppe Order of St John. The 'Processo Lante' in Malta
Balsamo and Althotas in Malta. Residence in Grand
~aster' s palace in Valletta. Death of Althotas. Alleged 1776 Foundation of the Order of the Illuminists by Adam II
J~urne~ by Cagliostro and the knight of Malta Luigi Weishaupt I
d AqUInO from Malta to Sicily and to the Greek I
Archipelago and finally to Naples 1776-77 Second sojourn of Cagliostro in London
1763-64 Giuseppe Balsamo/Count Cagliostro in Messina 1777 Cagliostro is accepted as member of the London /1
1765 'Esperance' Masonic Lodge
Installation of the 'Parfait Harmonie' Lodge in Malta I'
Franz Anton Mesmer starts his successful activities in [,
1766-67 1778
Various Journeys by Giuseppe Balsamo/Count Paris. Cagliostro travels to Den Haag, Venice, Nurem- I
Cagliostro. In Malta again? Alleged encounter with berg, Berlin, Konigsberg I
Emanuel de ROhan, subsequently grand master of the II
Order 1779-80 Cagliostro in Mitau, St Petersburg, Warsaw, Frankfurt
a. M., and Strasbourg II
74 75 i 1780-83

Sojourn in Strasbourg only interrupted by short journeys to Paris and Basle. Contacts with Cardinal Louis de Rohan and the knights of St John de la Salle and Flachslanden. Allegedly visited by the knight of St John Luigi d' Aquino in Strasbourg

First reference to a Maltese sojourn by Cagliostro in an anonymous affiche



C:a~~iostro tra~els to Switzerland, Naples (allegedly V1SlPng the knight ofMaltad' Aquino on his deathbed), and the south of France. In the course of the setting-up of the new Bavarian-English langue of the Order of St John, Malta is visited by a Bavarian delegation formed by Count Minucci, Baron Vieregg, and the Freemasons Flachslanden and Haefelin


Longer sojourn in Bordeaux


C~gliostro in Lyon. Foundation of the Iodge 'Sagesse Tnomphante'. Encount~r with the knwhts of St John and Freemasons Tullede Villefranclie and Charles Abel de Loras


Decree to dissolve the order of the Illuminists in Bavaria. Investigation of the Illuminists


Cagliostro in Paris. The diamond necklace affair. Imprisonment of Cardinal Louis de Rohan and Cagliostro in the Bastille


Trial of the diamond necklace affair. Cagliostro interrogated. Identification of Cagliostro with the Sicilian impostor Giuseppe Balsamo. Publication of several articles and pamphlets in favour of Cagliostro as well against him. Cagliostro has to leave France and

proceeds to London .




April: Johann Wolfgang Goethe visits Sicily and the family of Giuseppe Balsamo in Palermo

Cagliostro returns from London to the continent. V ~sits Basle, Bienne, Aix-les-Bains, Turin, Geneva, Milan,

Rovereto, and Verona


Erection of the 'Secret et Harmonie' Lodge in Malta, masterminded by the Bohemian knight Count Heinrich

de Kollowrat


30 May: Cagliostro arrives in Rome. Seances at Villa Malta and contact with various members of the Order of St John. 14 July: fall of Bastille and revolution in France which led finally to the confiscation of the Order's property in France. 27 December: Cagliostro and his assistant, Father Joseph, imprisoned by the

Roman Inquisition


Start of Cagliostro' s trial in Rome. March: Cagliostro' s friend Baillif Loras leaves Rome for Malta.The Freemason Camille de Rohan is appointed the Order's

ambassador to Rome


7 April: Cagliostro sentenced to death. Sentence later commuted to life imprisonment. Transfer of Cagliostro from the prison in Rome to San Leo near Forll

Execution of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette




26 August: death of Cagliostro in Castello San Leo. The death certificate mentions 'apoplexy' as the cause of death. Other sources allege he was murdered while

trying to escape



Death of Grand Master Rohan. Thanksto promotion of the German and Bavarian-English langue, election of Ferdinand von Hompesch as grand master


11 June: fleet of Napoleon Buonaparte reaches Malta. Malta surrenders to the French and expulsion of the Order of St John expelled from the island



List of illustrations

1. Cagliostro leaving Rhodes on his way to Malta.

2. Francisco Goya, El sueno de 10 razon produce monstruos.

3. Cagliostro.

4. Serafina Feliciano.

5. Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca .

6. Reproduction of a manuscript (Ignazio Saverio Mifsud's 'Stromata', 1752) in National Library of Malta which presumes a stay by Cagliostro in Malta.

7. The Grand Master's Palace in Valletta.

8. View of Valletta (late eighteenth century).

9. Copper plate (1786) with portrait of Cagliostro and caption quoting a stay in Malta and taking up there thename 'Cornte de Cagliostro' ,

10. Family tree of the Balsamo family (after a drawing by Goethe).

11. Cardinal Louis de Rohan.

12. Giovanni Battista Lusieri, Veduta di Palermo (c. 1782-99).

13. Cornte de Saint-Germain.

14. Saillif Jean Baptiste-Antoine Flachslanden.

15. Grand Master Emanuel de Rohan.

16. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch.


17. Jonathan Skelton, Veduta di Roma con il Tevere (c. 1750).

18. R~production of a manuscript in the National Library of Malta (Libr, MS. 133, ff. 294 et seq.) which contains poem' Apolo ie

des francmacons'. g




1 The etching 'Ernbarquement du Comte de Cagliostro pour aller a Malte' was published again in the most detailed modern collection of documents regarding Cagliostro available: Cagliostro. Dokumente zu Aujklarung und Okkultismus. ed. by Klaus H. Kiefer (Munich, 1991),725. For more depictions and illustrations of Cagliostro's activities, cf. F.J:.BegueClavel, Histoire pittoresque de 1a franc-maconnerle et de socutes secretes anciennes et modernes (Paris, 1844).

2 Cf. the exhibition held between 27 May and 31 October 1995 in the castle of San Leo, 'Cagliostro e l'arte di sanare nel '700' or 'Incontro con Alessandro Conte di Cagliostro' held in Palermo on 25 August 1996 .

3 For Goethe as a Freemason, cf. in detail H.C. Freiesleben, Goethe also Freimaurer. Seine Bedeutungfiir die kimigliche Kunst (Hamburg, 1949). 4 Published in 'Nachrichten zum Nutzen und Vergnugen', 1781, text reprinted in Kiefer, 175-6.

S Czarina Catarina's Der Betruger was reprinted in German in Johannes GuntherIed.), Der Erzsauberer Cagliostro (Munich, 1919),329-73.

6 Published in Rome in 1791.

"For Goethe's intention to visit Malta and his comments about the island, cf Thomas Freller, 'Malta in World Literature. Poetry and Realism in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's relation to Malta' in The Maltese Cross. ed. by Toni Cortis (Malta, 1995), 183-96.

8 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1786-1788) (San Francisco, 1982), 240---9.

9 Cf. ibid., 229 et seq. For the identification of the knight of Malta that Goethe met as the Conte de Statella, cf. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 'Italienische Reise' in Sdmtliche Werke nach Epochen seines Schaff ens (Munich, n. y.), commentary, 1024.

IOCf. ibid, 1025 et seq.

Chapter 1 The Setting

a) The spirit of the time (Zeitgeist)

1 English translation quoted from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Gedenkausgabe der Werke, Briefe und Gespriiche (Zurich, 1949), vi, 112 et seq.

2 Cf. N[ational] L[ibrary of] M[alta], A[rchives of the] O[rder of St John of] M[alta], MS. 6407, ff. 10-8 (December 1783). For a criticism ofD' Amy


and his activities, see Calogero Vinazzo, Lettera responsiva alia memoria di Mr. Court de Gebelin su il Magnetismo Animale del Dottor D. Calogero Vinazzo medico della citta dl Noto all' amico ... in Malta (Catania, 1784),21 et seq. Cf. also Paul Cassar, Medical History of Malta (London, 1964), 144etseq. ForCagliostro,cf.146.Fortheready acceptance of Mesmer's art in Malta, cf. also P. Janet, Psychological Healing (London, 1925),32.

30ne of the manuscripts is a poem, NLM, Libr. MS. 133 ff. 294-6, cf.

NLM, AOM 6408, ff. 37 et seq. (4 May 1792).

4 P.I.O.L. Doublet, Memoires historiques sur l'invasion et I' occupation de Malte (Paris, 1883),46.

5 Here quoted from Johann Michael von Berch, Reisen durek Sicilien und Maltha, und von den Revolutionen, so dieses Land erlitten hat. 2 Vols., (Bern, 1796), here i, 174 et seq.

6 For Mozart and the artistic scene of Vienna and Freemasonry, cf. Elisabeth GroBegger, Freimaurer und Theater 1770-1800 (Vienna-Cologne-Graz, 1981).

7 For a good introduction to late eighteenth-century occultism, see W.H.R.

Trowbridge, Cagliostro. The splendour and misery of a Master of Magic (London, 1910),74-110.

b) The crisiS of the Ancien Regime and its effect on Hospitaller Malta A society in question

Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and Conservatism

1 Philippe Brunet, Cagliostro (Milan, 1994),39.

2 Evena calm-tempered and conservative observer such as the Count of Borch, in the winter of 1776-77 speaks of 'misgovernment' (Mij3wirtscha/t) by previous grand masters. That was why the new Grand Master Rohan called a chapter general in 1776. Barch, ii, 8.

3NLM, Libr, MS. 137, 'Recueil de Lettres ecritez de Malte par Av. L' Abbe Boyer', f. 4, 4 August 1775. 'Frere Claude Francois Boyer Docteur en Theologie,pretre Conventual de la Venerable Langue d'Auvergne' had lived for a long time in Malta. Cf. also Roderick Cavaliere, The Last of the Crusaders (London, 1960), 162.

4 Johann Hermann von Riedesel, Travels through Sicily and that part of Italy formerly called Magna Graecia and a tour through Egypt with an accurate description of its Cities, and the modem State of the Country (London, 1773),56 et seq. Cf such comments as:


'Necessity, and their intolerance with foreigners. have instilled the love of money, and the ideas of accumulating riches, into them, and the knights, to their shame be it said, have rendered the manners to depraved , that there is not an honest woman or girl to be met which in the whole town [of Valletta], except those of the old nobility. 'These few noble families. who live entirely recluse, and whose houses are more impregnable than the fortresses of the island, are so contemptibly treated by the knights of the Order, that I heartily pitied them.' or 'The ... inhabitants of the town employ the basest and most abject means, even the beauty of their wives and daughters, to obtain protection, public places, pensions, and presents from the Baillis, commanders, etc. of the Order. The countryman and the sailor are alone inexplorable upon this point, they suffer the greatest hardships from the grand master, they work hard, live upon a small

pittance •... ' .

5 J.W. Niemeijer; J. Th. De Booy (ed.), Voyage enltalie, enSicileetaMalte . -1778 (Paris, n.y .), i, 164: 'La noblesse de L'Ile ne peut etre admise dans L' ordre, et souffre impartienmment le dedain et la durete avec laquelle les

chevaliers les traitent' (The nobility of the island is not allowed to be admitted into the Order and suffers the injustice and the hardness the knights treat them with).

6 Bemerkungen tiber Sicilien und Malta von einem vornehmen reisenden

. Russen (ruga-Leipzig, 1793), 71 'Es war ein klaglicher Anblick die unglucklichen Sclaven, beinahe nackend und zu schwerer Arbeit verdammet, an ihren ketten schmachten zu sehen. Soviel ich -merkte, verstunden die Offiziere sehr wenig vom Kriegsdienste, nur eins zu beruhren, so konnten sie uns keine ordentliche Auskunft tiber die Anzahl ihrer Leute geben ... .' ('It was a miserable scene to see so many unfortunate slaves, almost naked and condemned to hard work, mistreated with their chains. As far as I could notice, the officers of the ship only understood little marine affairs. They did not even know how many sailors were serving on the ships ... .')

7 Cf. The diary' of the nobleman and poet Barthold von Gadensted who visited Malta in 1588 preserved in the B iblioteca Augusta in Wolfenbiittel (Germany). It was partly published in Karl Steinacker, 'Italienische Studienfahrt eines Ostfalen und ihre Auswertung zur Zeit beginnender Barockgesinnung' in Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch. Dritte Folge, iii (1941-42),3-120.

A year before, the Swabian traveller Samuel Kiechel had made similar comments; cf. Samuel Kiechel,Die Reisen des Samuel Kiechel.Aus drei Handschriften herausgegeben von Dr. K.D. Haszler (Stuttgart, 1866),


12Cf. Fr. Filippo Borg's, 'Relazione scritta nel 1622, sullo stato civile

dell'Isola di Malta', NLM, Libr. MS. 5. .'

n Here quoted from Claire Eliane Engel, L' Ordre de Malte en Medue rranee

(1530-1798) (Monaco, 1957),229. . ." .. .

14 A good contemporary discussion of thl~ develop~en.t lS found m Uber

den Maltheserorden und seine gegenwartzgen Verhaltmsse zu Deutschland

(Frankfurt- Leipzig, 1804).

15 Riedesel, 55'. . .

16 Letter by Deodat de Dolomieu to his friend the scientist Lapegrousse on

15 December 1790. Here quoted from Cavaliero, 196, 11 Cf. Pons, 235 et seq.

13 Cf. Riedesel, 55 et seq.

19C.S. Sonnini, Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt, undertaken by .t~e ~~der

ojthe Old GovernmentofFrance (London, 18(0), 40 et seq. Sonmm visited

Malta in 1778. . .

20 Cf. Baron Melchior Grimm, Correspondance litteraire (Pans, 1880), Xl v,

108 et seq. d' . d S"I t d

21 Roland de la Platiere, Lettres eerits de Suisse, . ltalie, e lei e e e

Malthe (Amsterdam, 1780), iii, 20 et seq. ,

22Cf. Carsten, Niebuhr, 'Von den christlichen und mohammedamschen

Korsaren', Deutsches Museum (September, 17~7), part 9, 177-204.

23 Cf This event was publicized in Europe by various pamphlets.

24 Chevalier de la Tramblaye, Sur quelques contrees de I' Europe ou =: du Chevalier de *** a Madame la Comtesse de *** (London, 1788),1, 140 et

25 ~:'the example of the Chevalier de Quinsonnas, described by Engel, Knights of Malta. A Gallery of Portraits (London, 196~),125-8. . , 26 'L'ouvre 'L'Emile' de Rousseau, plus je le lis, plus je veux le lire.' L'Ordre de Malte devoiIee. 2 Vols, (Lyon, 1790); here quoted from I,

preface, no pagination.

27 Cf. Louis Petit de Bachaumonta.o., Memoires secrets. 36 Vols. (London,

1762-1787), here xxix, 8 August 1785. .

2sCf. ibid., 192 et seq., 210 and Elisabeth Badinter (ed.), Correspondance

inedite de Condorcet et Mme. Suard (Paris, 1988~, 230.

2~ Cf. G.F.A. Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, VoyageplUOresque de La Grece.

3 Vols. (Paris 1787-1822), here ii (Paris, 1809).67 et seq.

3llThe full title reads Le Ordre de Malte divoiIe ou ~~yage de Prf~lte, avec des observations historiques, philosophiques et critiques sur I =r-: des Chevaliers de Malte et leurs moeurs; ou la nature, les productIOns de I'Ile, ta religon et les moeurs de ses habitants. 2 Vols. (Lyon, 1790).1n

195 et seq. For another travel diary which was only published this century, cf. Amilda A. Pons (ed.), Comte de Caylus. Voyage d'Italie 1714-1715 (Paris, 1914), here 235 et seq. The year after Cay Ius, the Venetian Giacomo Capello visited the island and commented badly on the chastity and the genera~ habits of ~e knights: 'La superbia, li concubinati, gl' adulterij, Ie ' sodomie, Ie stocchi, le usure, Ie querelIe, Ii duelli, il giocco, l' ebrieta sono cose molto ben ordinarie; il tenersi ie donne a luoco e fuoco; l'allevare bastardi, Iasciando loro il cognome, e gloriorsene e cosa comune; e che sia ~ero, vi fu un ~avaliere, che monacando una sua figlia feee publico invitto: 11 prottegere li corsari contra le chiese in Gretia profanate e rubate, contra poveri greei christiani quottidianamente spogliati, dessolati, e l' effetto della maggi~r. auto~.; rna i1 tutto per ricevere regali.' Giacomo Capello, Descrittione dl Malta Anno J716 - A Venetian Account. ed. by Victor Mallia-Milanes (Malta. 1988),95.

8 Jean Du. Mont ~lks about an apparently common understanding and pragmatic handling of this matter: 'Au reste les Courtisans sont ici fort communes. Leur metier n'a rien d'infament, & quand elles ont gagne quelque chose, elles peuvent se marier & sont reputees aussi honnetes Femmes .... Les Courtisans ont etabli iei une coutume fort plaissante, & fort c?rnmode pour Les I?ebauchez qui passant par Malthe & n'y conn~lssa~t personne, servl~nt quelques fois obligez d'eu sortir, quant que d avoirpu gouter dufruit defendu. Ceux la n'ont seulement qu'a se promener dans les rues de la Ville, & tenir dans la main un sequin d' or en sorte qu' on le puisse voir. C' est un signal qui sera sortir vingt Ambassades galantesen mains d'une heure.' Jean Du Mont, Voyages de Mr. Du.Mont en France, en Italie, en Allemagne, a Malthe, et en Turquie. 4 Vols. (Le

Haye, 1699), here ii, 36. '

9 In 1770 the Scottish traveller Patrick Brydone witnessed the departure of some galleys of the knights from the Grand Harbour and observed: 'There we~~ a?out thirty knights in each galley, making signals all the way to their mistresses, who were weeping for their departure upon the bastions; for thes~ gentlemen pay almost as little regard to their vows of chastity, as the pnests and confessors do.' Patrick Brydone, A Tour through Sicily

and Malta (London, 1774), i, 342. '

ie Cf. Heinrich Conrad (ed.), Der Graf Cagliostro. Die Geschichte eines Mysteriensthwindlers (Stuttgart, 1921), 58. For a discussion as to how far Cagliostro promoted his wife as a prostitute, cf. Giuseppe D' Amato La

moglie di Cagliostro (Florence. 1931), 19-25. '

11 Bemerkungen iiber Sicllien und Malta von einem vornehmen reisenden Russen 1793 (Riga-Leipzig), 132.






1793 this work was translated into German and published in Leipzig. The title was now more precise, Lebensart und schlechte Sitten der .' Ritter auf Malta (The way of life and bad habi ts 0 f the Kni ghts of Mal ta).

31 The background to this book is given in Alain BIondy, 'Un pamphlet scandaleux contreMalte etl'Ordre de Stjean: 'L'Ordre de Malte devoile' du pseudo Carasi', Melita Historica, xi, No.1 (1992),59-75.

32 The merchants of Lyon, Louis Emery and Francois Billiemaz, described 'La Loge de Malte, connue ajourd'hui sous le titre distinctif deLoge de St. Jean de Jerusaleme' in 1784. Here quoted from Alain BIondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte a l'Epreuve des idees nouvelles (1740-1820)', unpublished habilitation thesis, 4 Vols. (1993); here ii, 395.

33 For Cagliostro's activities in Lyon in 1784, cf. in more detail Conrad,

244-6. -

34 Carsten Niebuhr, Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und anderen umliegenden Landern (Copenhagen, 1774); for Malta, seei, 18 et seq. 3S Niebuhr, 'Von den christlichen', part 9, 177-204. 36 CL NLM Libr, MS. 1259, 'Memoire sur l'importance de conserver L'Isle de Malte dans les mains de ses Souverains actuels. M. De Bray 1794' , f. 24 et seq.

37 English translation from A us dem Leben eines Diplomaten alter Schule.

Aufzeichnungen und Denkwiirdigkeiten des Grafen Francois Gabriel de Bray (Leipzig, 1901),2 et seq. For Francois Gabriel de Bray, cf. 'Un temoin de la Revolution francaise al' etranger, d' apres la correspondance inedite du Chevalier de Bray', Revue d'histoire diplomatique (Paris, 1909), 23e annee, 354-597 and ibid., (1911), 25e annee, 559-90.

38Here quoted from Aus dem Leben eines Diplomaten alter Schule.

Aufzeichnungen und Denkwurdigkeiten des Grafen Francois Gabriel de Bray (Leipzig, 1901),2.

39 'Nous avons Ia morgue des anciens Templiers, avec une avidite qui nuira a la fin comme a eux.' Here quoted from Blondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte', ii, 160. Blondy quotes from NLM, AOM MS. 1622.

4flEnglish translation quoted by Wolf-Dieter Barz, 'Die letzte Karawane des Johanniterordens von 1784. Betrachtet im Zusammenhang mit seinem Niedergang auf Malta' • Militiirgesehiehtliche Mitteilungen, No. 44,41- 9, here 43.

4l Cf. Alfred Ritter von Vivenot, Zur Geschichte des Rastadter Congresses (Vienna, 1871).

42 The National Library of Malta possesses one of his manuscript treatises; cf. 'Memoire sur l'importance de conserver L'isle de Malte dans les mains de ses Souverains actuels' written in 1794; NLM Libr. MS. 1259.1,....27.


43 Here quoted from Ojvind Andreasen, Aus den Tagebuchern Friedrich Miinters. Wander- und Lehrjahre eines ddnischen Gelehrten (Copenhagen, 1937), ii, 94 et seq.

The famous Danish antiquarian and professor of theology at Copenhagen Friedrich Munter visited Sicily in 1785-86 where he met the Count of Waldstein in Messina. Like Goethe, Munter intended to visit Malta but then changed his mind. In case of the Freemason Munter this change of plans seemed to have been based on his fear of the Roman Inquisition in Malta. Munter had good contacts with the knight and Freemason Deodat de Dolomieu. Both met in 1785 in Velletri. For their exchange of letters, cf. A. Lacroix, Deodat de Dolomieu. 2 Vols. (Paris, 1921),242 et seq.

44Here quoted from Cavaliere, 176.

45Cf. Andreasen, ii, 224, cf. also 94 et seq. and 73 et seq.

46 The relevant studies however are not very clear in their descriptions of the beginning of Freemasonry in Hospitaller Malta. Richard Woof in Sketch of the Knight Templar ... (n. pI., 1865),70 writes about the effects of the Papal Bull: 'On this occasion several knights and many citizens left the island, and. in 1741 the Inquisition pursued the Freemasons at Malta. The Grand Master proscribed their assemblies under severe penalties, and six knights were banished from the island in perpetuity for having assisted at a meeting .... ' However Woof gives no further sources for his descriptions of the infiltration of Masonic rites in Malta in the 1730s and 1740s. Also very unprecise is Kenneth Mackenzie'sRoyalMasonic Cyclopedia (n. pl., 1987),552: ' ... it is', however, a fact that the knights who were expelled in 1738 for being Freemasons, have influenced the higher degrees' . The fact is that in.l 738 no knight of the Order was expelled from Malta. Similar faults regard the beginning of Freemasonry in Malta can be found in Ulrich von Merkart' s Welifreimaurerei. Ein Uberblick von ihrem Beginn bis zur Gegenwart (Hamburg. 1969), 170 et seq. Cf. also Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei (Leipzig, 1901) (third-edition), ii, 7.

47 'Parler d'un complot maconnique dans l'epuissement et la chute de L'Ordre ne parait done pas serieux, L'irrunense majorite des Chevaliers qui jouerent, d'une facon au d'une autre, un role sous le principat de Rohan, appartenait a la maconnerie, ce qui n' empechait pas les uns d' etre les ennemis des autres. Peut-on imaginer une lutte entre des tendances opposees de la maconnerie? C'est peu probable et quai qu'il en suit, la complexite d'une telle etude la place tres au-dessus de nos competences.' Blondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte, 'ii, 283.

48 The 'secte avec Dolomieu ... , avec Bosredon et la lache Hompesch':

Abbe Barruel, Memoires pour servir a l'histoire du Jacobinisme


(Hamburg, 1800), v, 232; about Masonic activities in Malta, see 231-3.

49Chev. Mayer de Knonau, Revolution de Malte en 1798 (Trieste. 1799).

The Austrian knight of the Order Mayer de Knonau was a colonel of the cavalry in the French and Austrian armies. He resided in Malta between 1791and 1794. For his correspondence, cf. NLM, Libr. MS. 4~ 7 and 418 (2 Vols.). For the exchange of letters between Doublet and Mayer de Knonau, cf. NLM, Libr. MS. 418, i, f. 197 et seq., 208 et seq.; for relations with the knight and Freemason Maisonneuve, cf. NLM, Libr, MS. 418, i, f. 199 et seq.

50 See 'Die Revolution auf Malta (1798)' in Friedrich Hurter (ed.), Denkwiirdigkeiten aus dem letzten Decenium des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts (Schaffhausen. 184C»), 61-126; cf. also Friedrich Hurter's commentary, ~p. iv-xiii.

51 This was even indicated indirectly later in the letters ofInquisitor Scotti to the Supreme Congragation in Rome: cf. Cathedral Archives, Mdina, A[rchives of the] I[nquisition in] M[alta), Lettere della Suprema Congregazione, xxxv (1758-93), f. 63, f. 75.

52 Cf. for the side ofthe Maltese nobility, cf. in more detail John Montalto, The Nobles of Malta, 1530-1800 (Malta, 1979),334.

53 For Freemasonry and Hospitaller Malta, see Desmond Caywood, 'Freemasonry and the Knights of Malta' ,Ars Quattuor Coronatorum, No 83, (1970),71-95; see also Blondy, 'Malte etL'Ordre de Malte', ii, 276-84. 54 For the Masonic activities of 'Conte di Kollowrat, buemo' , cf. also A. Vassallo, Storia di Malta (Malta, 1854), 721. Cf. also Doublet, 81-108.

55 A short but good contemporary eyewitness description of the residence of the Order in Messina is given in Caspar Fehr, Die Inset Sizilien mit ihren umliegenden Eilanden (St. Gallen, 1835).290.

S6 The original letter is in a private collection. It is printed by Ludwig Rapp, Freimaurer in Tirol (Innsbruck, 1867), 134et seq.

57 Cf. in detail infra.

58 Blondy gives a list of the knights, chaplains, donats, and Maltese who were members of this lodge, Cf. Blondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte' , ii, 278. Also a Freemason was for example, Francois Emanuel Guignard de S1. Priest, the author of the anonymously-published Malte par un voyageur francoise (Malta, 1791). For Malta and the Order of St John and Freemasonry, cf. also Merkart, 26 et seq., 170 et seq.

59 The best investigation of this subject is presented in Ludwig Steinbauer, Die Griindung der baierischen Zunge des Johanniterordens. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Kurfursten. Max II. Emanuel, Max ill. Joseph und Karl Theodor von Baiern (Berlin, 1911).


6OCf. NLM, Libr. MS. 421, f. 333 etseq.

6lCf. MST, Kschw., 398/l,report 'copie a Malthe le tijanvier 1786' , MST, A., Kbl., 427-4.

62For the role of, the Abbe Haeffelin cf, Steinbauer, 200 et seq. and

Caywood, 71 et seq.

63Cf. MST, A.. Kschw., 398/1.

MCf. MST, A. Kbl. 427-4, f. 3et seq.

65 For the Bailiff of Flachslanden,cf. also Blondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte', ii, 276.

66ef. Steinbauer, 200 et seq. and Alice Joly, Un mystique Lyonnals et les secrets de la franc-maconnerie: Jean Baptiste Willermoz (1730-1824) (Paris, 1986),205-7 and Caywood, 71-95.

67MST. A. Kschw. 398n125.

68 Cf. Doublet, 387; for the erection of the Bavarian langue, cf. ibid. 30 et seq. 69Ibid,387.

7°Cf. in more detail, Montalto, 340 et seq.

2 The Malta connection: A fantastic tale in the style of the Arabian nights?

1 Cf. Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele di Roma, Fonda Vitt.

Emanuele, MS. 245.

2Cf. Moniteur Universel, 8 June 1791.

3Cf. Memoire pour le Comte de Cagliostro ... (Paris, 1786); 10 et seq. "For this and Cagliostro's early suspicion that he was born in Malta, cf.

Ludwig Ernst Borowsky, Cagliostro, einer der merkwurdigsten Abenseurerunsres Jahrhunderts (Konigsberg, 1790); reprinted in Kiefer, 332-455, here 340.

S Here quoted from Jean-Charles Thilorier, 'Verteidigungsschrift des Grafen von Cagliostro'; reprinted in Kiefer, 199-244, here 224.

6 According to the anonymous author of the essay 'Etwas tiber Cagliostro' ('Something about Cagliostro'),published in the Joumalfiir Freimaurer (' J ournal for Freemasons') in 1786, it was a French ship which Cagliostro and his retinue boarded to go straight to Malta. Here quoted from the reprint in Kiefer, 288.

7 Ibid., 206.

8 Quoted from the contemporary author Borowsky in Kiefer, 344.



The Malta Connection - A Claim and its Rebuttal

1 La confession du Comte du Comte de Cagliostro ressemble ~ un conte des mille & une nuits.' Honore Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, Lettre a *** sur M M. de Cagliostro et Lavater (Berlin, 1786), 8.

2 Carlo Liberto, Siciltani illustri a Malta (Malta, 1992), 11-6. Liberto lists Cagliostro as one of the famous Sicilians who visited Malta. However, like other modern authors, he does not present documented facts of his visits.

'Engel, L'Ordre de Malte en Mediterranie, 104, 110,241-50 et seq.; cf. id., Knights of Malta, 281, 289-90 and id .• Les Chevaliers de Malte (Paris, 1972).269 et seq.

"Harry Luke, Malta. An account and appreciation (second edition), (London-Toronto-Sidney-Wellington, n, y.), 106.

sCf. Enzo Petraccone, Cagliostro nella storia e nella leggenda (Naples, 1922; Milan, 1936),29 et seq., 49, 64.

6Prank King, Cagliostro. The Last of the Sorcerers. A portrait (London, n.y), 48 et seq.; (Althotas), 52 et seq.; (Pinto), 225 et seq., 264. 7PrancoisRibadeau Dumas, Cagliostro. Ein Lebensbericht (n, p., 1968), 9-18,210 et seq.

8Rudolf Harms's Cagliostro (n. pl., 1960) is a typical example of the careless use of original Sources and documents. Although claiming to write on the basis of documents and authentic sources, Harms presents a more or less fictional account of CagHostro. Harms also regards Cagliostro's sojourn in Malta as a definite fact. For Cagliostro and Malta, cf. 38, 228 et seq. Similarly unreliable and fictional are Etienne Gril, Cagliostro le magicien (Paris, 1938) and E. Castiglioni, Incantation et Magi (Paris, 1951).

9 Friedrich zu Oppeln- Bronikowski, Der Schwarzklinstl~rCagliostro. Nach zeitgenosSischen Berichten berausgegeben (Dresden, 1922),9 et seq.

"Trowbridge, 33 et seq., 236,239.

Il Elizabeth Wheeler Schermerhorn, Malta of the Knights (n. pl., 1929),


12PericIe Maruzzi, Yangelo di Cagliostro (Todi, 1914), 10 et seq. 13 Conrad; for Malta, see 53, 58, 6i, 64.

13 Constantin Photiades, Count Cagliostro. An authentic story of a mysterious life (London. 1932); cf especially 247.

15 Denyse Dalbian, Le Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1983).


16 Raymond Silva, Joseph Balsamo, alias Cagliostro (Geneve .. 19~5) ..

17 Cavaliere, 25, 123 et seq., 178 et seq., 189. Even. a serious historian hke Cavaliero does not think that a sojourn by Caghostro at Malta was not very unlikely: 'There is nothing inherently improbable that Jose~h Balsamo detto Cagliostro, came to Malta after his flight from Palermo in

the ~ixties' (124). .' 7 et

18Cf. Philippe Brunet, Cagliostro (Milan, 1994), 11-23,27,32,39,4

seq., 65, 74,93 et seq., 114. .

19Virginia M. Fellows, 'Secrets of Malta', Gnosis Magazine (Summer

1996), 42-9. ,. F'

2°Marcello Vannucci, Cagliostro, la fantasia dell tnganno ( irenze,


21 A.J. Agius, The Genesis of Freemasonry in Malta (1730-1843) (Ma1ta~ 1993), 14.

22Cf. Oppeln-Bronikowski, 7, 9. ,.

23 'Ma se e falso che Cagliostro nacque a Malta ... e vera mvece che nell'isola soggiorno e visse per ~cuni.me~i . .: . E .. :". ass?~a~o che l? seguito ai suoi vagabondaggi e at SUOl pnmi colpi m ~lcI1.1a (frodi, estorsioni, inganni), Giuseppe Balsamo parti i.n c?mp~g~la di un ~brto Althotas che cercio di iniziare Cagliostro ne~ mls.tenos~ meandn ~el sovrannaturale, e bisogna ammettere ehe I'allievo Imparo con ra~ld1ta e diligenza .... Ii communque accertato che a M~lta, 10 co~pagflla del pittoresco Althotas, Cagliostro fu accolto e osp~tato da11 allora Gran Maestro Emanuele Pinto de Fonseca. I due maghi non pot~vano ca~car meglio, poiche tra le tante passioni, sacre. e ~rofan;, c.he Pinto nutnva, v'eran queUe deU'occultismo e dell'alchlmIa: ... ~lberto, 12 et seq.

24 Although his book presents a sojourn of Cagliostro In Malta ~s a fact, when contacted, Carlo Liberto could not present a proof of this. Letter communicatiori, 30 August 1993.

25Cf. Agius, 14, . . Lib

26 Cf. ibid., 76. The exact location reads 'Strornatum Mehten~lU~, 1 er

XVIII' in NLM, Libr. MS. 11; the diary passage here dealt WIth isf. 339.

27EngUsh translation from Luke. 106. .. ,.

28 See in detail chapter' Alchemy, sorcery, and superstition infra. 29 If i June 1743 is the birthday of Giuseppe Balsamo.

30 English translation from Dumas, 10 et seq.; for Cagliostro and Malta, see 8-12, 15-7,210.

31 Oppeln-Bronikowski, 9 et seq. .

32 Cf. Brunet, 16. Cf. also 'In effetti, era a Palermo .che 11 Gran C?fta.era venuto a1 mondo, rna solo a venitre anni, a Malta, VIde la luce per 11 prima




volta. E lungi da noi l'idea di giocare can Ie parole: per il cristiano il giorno della sua vera nascita non e forse quello del battesimo? Del pari, perCagliostro I'insegnamento ricevuto dal gran maestro Pinto de Fonseca segno la sua vera rinascita.' 11.

33 Brunet, 32, cf. also 65, 74.

34 'NeI1766, Giuseppe Balsamo sbarca neIl'isola di Malta .. .' Brunet, 16.

At least Brunet tries to balance the picture when mentioning sources which refuse to believe in Cagliostro's stay in Malta in 1762-66, cf. 37. For Cagliostro's attempt to confirm his stay in Malta, cf. Brunet, 114.

4) The Investigation


a) The son of Pinto and friend ofAlthotas?

Cagliostro's supposed Maltese sojourns - fact or seeking after effect?

I Cf. Dumas, 15.

2Cf. Doublet, 5; Carasi, 1793 (in German), i, 81 et seq. or Borowsky, here quoted from the reprint in Kiefer, 342 et seq.: for Malta, see also 363.The subject of Pinto's libertinage was again taken up by Schermerhorn, 272 et seq. The French traveller, economist, and politician Roland de la Platiere who had come to Malta in 1776 gave a kind of gist of the bad reputation in which Pinto was held. According to de la Platiere, the old Portuguese Grand Master was a 'homme sans moeurs, sans decence, qui se moquoit de tout, avait brouille toutes les affaires, ruine le tresor de L'Universite, & autorise toutes sortes de pilleries, de debauches & de brigandages.' Roland de la Platiere, iii, 29.

3 Doublet, 5.

4Cf. Engel, L'Ordre de Malte en Mediterannee, 243 et seq.

5 Cf. Luke, 107 and Giovanni Bonello, 'The Maltese who fooled Urban VIII and Richelieu', The Sunday Times [of Malia], 11 April 1993, 34-5, here 35.

6Cf. Borowsky, here quoted from Kiefer, 332-456.

7 For the affair of the diamond necklace and the role of Cagliostro still useful to consult is F. Funck-Brentano, L 'affaire du collier d'apres de nouveaux documents (Paris, 1906).

gCf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 354.

9 The present author could notfindthe original of this letter. Unfortunately Borowsky - in general a reliable source - does not give any further indication of names and dates.


10 Michael A. Kusmin,Das wundersame.Leben des Joseph Balsamo, Graf Cagliostro (Frankfurt a. M. -Leipzig 1991), 15 et seq.

II Ibid., 16.

J2 Ibid., 17 et seq. For Cagliostro's further friendship with d' Aquino, cf. 20.

[3 Cf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 354.

14L'assertion de la dispense a Malte est absurde, Le cri n'a pas etemoins universel sur le logement dans le palais de dom Pinto. L'evenement eut fait sensation dans une ile peu etendu, OU tout le monde se connoit, & 6u personne n' a vu ni le vieil Althotas, ni le jeune Acharat, ni beacoumoins encore la metamorphose d'un viellard de quatre-vingt' ans, depouille tout-a-conde I 'habit asiatique, & tout-a-coudecore de lacroix, qui exige des preuves d'une naissance legitime, des preuves de noblesse & de religion.' Reponse pour fa Comtesse de Valois la Motte, au memoire du Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1786), 13 et seq., for Cagliostro and Malta see 12-8; for Cagliostro's claim to be born in Malta, ct. 31,44.

is Cf. Trowbridge, 32 et seq., 238 et seq., 242 et seq. 1,6 Cf. Petraccone, 48 et seq.

17 Frank King, Cagliostro. The last of the sorcerers. A portrait (London, n. y),264.

(SCf. NLM Libr. MS. 11, manuscript diary of Ignazio Saverio Mifsud.

19 Unfortunately the relevant quarantine registers of the Order of St John give only names of ships, captains of the ships, place of embarking and destination and the subject of the freight of the ships but no names of passengers; cf. NLM, AOM MSS. 6529, 6530, 6531. NLM Libr, MS. 818, Vol. 1 presents other 'Registri arrivi del 1763 aI1792'. When, for example. the pages relevant to 1766 (i, ff. 38v-51 v), one of the supposed years ofCagliostro's first coming to Malta, were checked, all arrivals from the Levant without a clear bill of health had to undergo normal quarantine. There was no exception granted by Grand Master Pinto. That year a considerable number of ships from Alexandria and the Oriental harbours stopped at Malta. On 16 May e. 'Polacca Francese' from Smyrna called at Malta, with its passengers not aU in good health. The passengers of the ship immediately had to undergo 'doppio quarantena'. On 23 June, a French ship entered the Grand Harbour from Alexandria. Since she presented a clear bill of health, no double quarantine was demanded, Cf. NLM, Libr. MS. 818, i, ff, 43r & v.

2itCassar, Medical History, 286 et seq.

21 Cf. id., 'Malta's role in maritime health under the auspices of the Order of St John in the eighteenth century', Lombard Bank (Malta) Limited,


. ,


Annual Report 89, 1-25 and Thomas Freller, 'Der Kampf gegen den "Schwarzen Tod". Quarantane und Epidemiebekampfung der fruhen Neuzeit im Mittelmeer autgezeigt am Beispiel Maltas', Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, June 1994, 17 (2), 122-8.

22Cf. also Reponse pour La Comtesse de Valois fa Motte .. ; , 1786, 14. 23 English translation from Trowbridge, 242.

24Cf. 'Leben und Thaten Joseph Balsamos, des so genannten Grafen Cagliostro ... .' in Neuer Teutscher Merkur (1791), ii, 181-385; for Malta, see 188 et seq., 241 et seq. See also the collectionof contemporary papers and essays on Cagliostro and his life and activities edited by Oppeln-Bronikowski,9.

2:1 'Nous voulons croire aussi qu'il a ete a Malthe, precisement de ia manier qu'ille raconte ... .' Les principaux evenements de la vie merveilleurs des fameux Comte de Cagliostro (Milan, 1786), 10; cf. also 14, 17.

Z6Liberto, 39.

27 About this connotation, Philippe Brunet wrote quite rightly that 'L'idea del "viaggio" impensieriva Giuseppe (Balsamo) ... ', Brunet, 27.

28 'Cet homme qui a paru extraordinaire et dont on parle si diversernent rapporte qu'il a ete eleve en Arabic dans la Ville de Medine ayant trois Dornestiques et un Gouverneur qui prit un soin tout particuIier de son education, la Bothanique et la Medicine furent les Sciences qu'il cultiva avec le plus de succes. Son gout pour voyageur lui fit quitter de bonheur l' Arabic. n parcout l'Egypte se rend aMalthe ou il prend le nom de Comte de Cagiiostro, visite les Isles de I' Archipel ensuite Naples et Rome ou il s' est marie a I' age de 22 ans et depuis a visite tous les Royaumes d' Europe et recu par tout avec destinction exercant la medicine gratuitement envers tout le monde.' Quoted from Kiefer, 717 et seq.

29Cf. ibid., 720 et seq.

30 Malthe, Corse, Minorque etGibraltar ... (Paris, 1797), 147-60.

31 'Cet Aventurier a joue un trogrand role, pour que je ne croie pas devoir detruire (du moins quant a e qu'il a avanee sur Malte dans son memoire ... quelques uns de ses mensonges.' Ibid, 147.

32Cajetan Tschink, Unpartheyische Priifung des zu Rom erschienen kurten Inbegriffs von dem Leben und den Thaten des ... Cagliostro (Vienna, 1791).

33 'Cagliostro n'est point ne a Malte: il n'a eu aucune relation a Malte: il est possible quil y ait aborde, mais il n'yafait ni un sejour marquant, ni etabli Ia moindre Correspondence. Cagliostro est n' aPalerme.Ie 8. Iuin 1743. Son nom est Joseph Balsamo. J' ai vu sa mere, ses soeurs, et parens. Son pere etai: marchand: apres sa mort, ses freres prirent soin de Cagliostro


leur neveu, il fut mis au Seminaire de S. Roch a Palerme.' Malthe, Corse, Minorque et Gibraltar ... , 147.

34Cf. ibid, 148.

33 Cf. ibid, 148, 150 et seq.

36 Par Cagliostro's recipes, see the treatise ofthe eyewitness Ernst Wilhelm Martius, Erinnerungen aus einem neunzigjahrigenLeben (Leipzig, 1847), 75 et.seq.

37 Cf. Conrad, 58.

38 'Etwas tiber Cagliostro'; the original essay was printed in the Journalfur FreimauredVienna) 3 Jg., (1786), 216-38, reprinted in Kiefer, 281-93, here 291. This fact was overlooked by most of the modern biographers of Cagliostro; cf, Trowbridge. 184.

39Cf. Kiefer, 289.

40 This could not have been Guignard de St. Priest who was also investigating the matter. The Comte de St. Priest was not in Malta in the 1760s but visited the island again in the early 1770s.

41 Cf. Kiefer, 289.

42Cf. ibid.

43 Reprinted in ibid., 5-19. For Goethe and Cagliostro, cf. also Uta Treder, 'Wundermann oder Scharlatan? Die Figur Cagliostros bei Schiller und Goethe' in Monatshefte (Madison), lxxix (1987), No.1, 30-43 and Winfried Schroder, 'Goethe's GroB-Cophta. Cagliostro und die Vorgeschichte der Franzosischen Revolution'. Goethe-Jahrbuch, cv (1988),181-211.

b) Cagliostro's Later Career

Friend and companion of the greats of Europe?

I This was discussed also in the trial in Rome in 1790. Cf. BNVER, Fondo Vittorio Em. MS. 245 'Raccolta .. .', 'Ristretto del processo, difesa di Mons. Constantini', f. 229.

2Cf. Trowbridge, 156.

3 Cf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 363. Kiefer believed in this visit to Malta in 1773 and included it in his chronology of Cagliostro's life. Cf. ibid., 639.

4 '[ Cagliostro] ... in pochi mesi fu a Malta, Tunisi, Algeri, Tangeri, Cadice, Lisbona ... ', Cf. Giuseppe D' Amato, La moglie di Cagliostro (Florence, 1931),93.


5 Cf. Brunet, 93 et seq.

6Cf. Thilorier in Kiefer, 209; cf. also Borowsky in ibid., 344. 7 Cf. Trowbridge, 181.

8 BNVER, Fondo Vittorio Em" MS. 245, 'Raccolta ... ', xxii, 26 'Lettera di Giuseppe Feliciani scritta da Roma li 6 giugno 1789 alIa figlia in Brienne can direzione a madame Durand'; ct. also Trowbridge, 259. For Baron de Breteuil, d. also Raoul Erymarin, 'La collection inedite du bailli de Breteuil', Connaissance des Arts (1986), Nos. 413-4, 7(}...5.

9 BNVER, Fonda Vittorio Em. MS. 245, 'Raccolta ... ', IX 'Accusa libert.

Cagliostro', ff. 225 et seq.

10 This su bject of the encounter of Cagliostro, his wife, and de Breteuil was taken up by Giuseppe D' Amato, La moglie di Cagliostro (Florence, 1~31), 19-25. For a discussion as to how far Cagliostro promoted his wife as a prostitute, cf. ibid. For Loras, see also 86.

II BNVER, Fonda Vittorio Em., MS. 245, 'Raccolta ... ' XXII, 1. 12 Cf. D' Amato, 24.

13 Cf Trowbridge, 33.

14Cf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 345. Hef. Evenements ... , 18. 1fiCf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 347.

17This mix-up of the place of death of the Cavaliere d'Aquino is also confirmed in the Reponse pour fa Comtesse de Valois fa Motte. .. 15.

18 Cf. Ibid. '

19Cf. Borowsky in Kiefer, 360. Cf. Also Oppeln-Bronikowski 32. This episode with Professor Norberg is quoted from Oppeln-Bronikowski from the report of Countess Elisa von der Recke (1754-1833) who met Cagliostro in Mitau.

2°Cf. Trowbridge, 247 et seq.

~~Cf. Memoire pour la demoiselle le Guay D'Oliva (Paris, 1787),37.

Cf. Malthe, Corse, Minorque et Gibraltar ... , 153.

23 'Der Pseudo-GrafCagliostro', Berlinische Monatsschrift, iv (1784), part


24 Berlinische Monatsschrift 1784, 538.

25Cf. Deutsches gemeinnutziges Magazin, 1788, 4th Quarter, 324. 26 Trowbridge, 264.

27 This subj.ectwas taken up in various issues of the Courier de l'Europe, cf. especially No. 15 (22 August 1786) and No. 22 (5 September 1786). For Thevenau de Morande and his activities, cf. iii detail P. Rosiquet, Thevenau de Morande (Paris, 1882).

28 Cagliostro is speaking of the French language.


29 'Le sieur Morande, apres avoir dit qu' iI est tres certain que je ne suis nee a Medine, ni a Malte, ni ~ Trebisonde, ... Eh! Qu'importe au public que je fois ne a Malte, a Medicine, a Trebisonde? ... On peut me donner pour . patrie tellieu de la terre que '1' on voudra; je I' acceptera l' avec reconnaissance, sije puis a-ce prix engager mes enemis.a ne plus troubler.' Lettre

du Comte de Cagliostro au Peuple anglais (Paris, 1786; also Strasbourg, 1787), no pagination.

30Thilorier in Kiefer, 232.

31 Memoire(1786); for-Malta, see 10 et seq.

32 Proces comique & instructiJpendantentre le fameux Cagliostro & le Sr. de Morandes (London, 1787); for Cagliostro and Malta, cf. 7,16 et seq.; for the mysterious figure of Althotas, cf. 14 et seq.

33 'This city was a veritable stronghold of Freemasonry. Lodges of all descriptions flourished here, notably those founded by Saint-Martin, the most mystical of occultists, in which the Swedenborgian Rite was observed .... It was here that Cagliostro found his most ardent and loyal supporters. Their enthusiasm was such that they built a "temple" expressly for the observance of the Egyptian Rite.' , Trowbridge,188 et seq.

Cf. in more detail Joly. .

34 Cf. the private notes of the knight Francois Gabriel de Bray, a contemporary of Cagliostro; Aus dem Leben eines Diplomaten alter Schute ...• 2.

35 Here quoted by Blondy, 'Un pamphlet scandaleux', 74. For the 'St Jean de Jerusalem d'Ecosse' Lodge and its members, see the pamphlet Tableau des officiers du souverain chapitre provincial ecossais de l'Orient de Lyon (Lyon, 1786).

36 For Cagliostro' s sojourn in Lyon; cf. in more detail Conrad, 244-6; Joly, 205 et seq., E. Vacheron, Ephemeride des Loges maconniques de Lyon (Lyon, 1875); and 'Cagliostro et les Franc-Macons devant I' Inquisition' , Nouvelle Revue (1903), 22-56. Enzo Petraccone believes thatCagliostro met Bailliff Loras for the first time in the house of Baron de Breteuil in Rome in the late 1760s. Cf. Petraccone, 147.

37 Cf. also the Comte de Sf. Priest, 'Lettre sur Cagliostro', Malthe, Corse,

Minorque et Gibraltar ...• 156.

38 For the activities ofCagliostro in Lyon and his erection of a lodge adapting the 'Egyptian Rite', see the collection of letters 'Cagliostro. In de Briefwisseling zijner Tijedgenooten, JeanBapiste Willermozen den Landgraf Karel van Hessen-Cassel (17 84-1785).' This collection is preserved in the Freimaurer Bibliothek; Bayreuth (Bavaria), Sign. 5815 A. See especially the letters from Willermoz to Landgrave Carl of Hess en-Kassel, 8 November 1784, 1 August 1785, and 6-8 November1785.


39 Landgrave Carl of Hessen- Kassel succeeded Ferdinand of Braunschweig as 'Groftmeister aller Kapitel des Ordens der Tempelherren der Strikten Observanz' (Grand Master of all the chapters of the Order of the Knight Templars following the strict observance).

40 'Cagliostro est toujours depuis le rnois d' A6ut a la Bastille er on ne sait quand ilen sortira, on le croitJuif, on pretend qu'il est originaire de I'ile de Malthe, en asure qu'il ne sait ni lire ne ecrire, aucun de ceux qui l'ont connu ne luy, ent vu faire ni l'un ni l'autre; il n'aime pas qu'on l'interroge sur cela il y repond brusquement. ... Il cache son origine er son age mais saris s'expliquer jamais clairement.' FBB 5815 A. Letter from Willennoz to Karl of Hessen-Kassel, 8 November 1785. .

41 Cf. 'Proces-Verbal de Perquisition fait par le commissaire Chenon, le 23 Aout 1785. ChezleSieurCagliostro, en vertu deL'OrdreduRoy', Archive Nationale, Paris X2 B 1417, here quoted from Henri D' Almeras,Les romans de l'histoire. Cagliostro (1. Balsamoi.la Franc-Maconnerie et l'occultisme au XVIII siecle, d'apres des documents inedits (paris, 1904),250.

42 Cf. the still-useful Eugen Sierke, Schwdrmer und Schwindler zu Ende des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1874).

43 Cf. in detail chapter on 'Alchemy, sorcery, and superstition', infra. 44English translation from J.I. Chr. Bode, Ein paar Tropflein aus dem Brunnen der Wahrheit. Ausgegossen vor dem neuen Thaumaturgen Caljostros (sic) (Weimar, 1781), here quoted from the reprint in Kiefer, 77-98, here 80.

45 The French original reads: 'Le Comte Cagliostro, marchand d' orvietan en Malta, y etant arrive en habit turque, charlatan a Toulouse et Rennes, fourbe et imposteur en Russie, menteur et aventurier a Strasbourg, ... Ii Saverne. Sera regarde partout de msme.': reprinted in Kiefer, 659.

46. 'A l'egard de sa naissance, il [Cagliostro], est visiblement Sfcilien pour tous ceux qui ont voyage en Italie, ' Louis-Petit de Bachaumont, M emotres secrets pour servir a l'histoire et la republique des lettres en France depuis 1762 jusqu'a nous jours ou Journal d'un observateur. 31 vols. (London, 1777-91), here xvii (1782).

c) Alchemy, Sorcery, and Superstition

I 'Nessuna Persona ardisca lavorare, ne mettere in opera sane alcuna d'alchimia, ne esercitarsi in quella, ne dare principia ana fabrica d'essa sotto pena di vogare il remo in Galera per anni cinque, nella quale incorrano cosi quei, che lavoreranno, coma qualsiasi altro, che


commettesse, 0 ordinasse ed altri simili lavori: Nell'istessa pena incorrano gl' Orefici, ed Argentieri, se presumeranno ricevere, e lavorare qualunquemetallo d' alchimia,senzache gli possasuffragare qualunque scusa d'ignoranza.' Leggi, e costituzioni prammaticali. rinovate, riformate, ed ampliate dal Serenissimo, ed eminentissimo signor Fra. D. Antonio Manoel de Vilhena de C,onti di Villaflor Gran Maestro della

Sacm Religione Gerosolimitana (Malta, 1724). 132. .

2 Cf. Paul Cassar, 'Healing by sorcery in 17th and 18th century Malta' , The St Luke's Hospital Gazette. (Malta, 1976), xi, No.2. 79-88. For the late eighteenth century, cf, especially Francis Ciappara, 'Lay Healers and Sorcerers in Malta (1770-1798)" Storja 78, 60-78.

3 Cf. 'Affiche' circulating in Strasbourg in August 1781. Here quoted from

the reprint in Kiefer, 659.

4Cf. Malthe, Corse, Minorque et Gibraltar ... , 148 et seq., 150.


6Cf. 'Leben und Thaten Joseph Balsamos, des so genannten Grafen

Cagliostro', Neuer Teutscher Merkur (1791), ii, 188, see also the joint work by several members of the Masonic lodge from Lyon, L' Ordre de Malte devoile . . . , and the German translation published under the more precise title Lebensart und schlechte Sitten der Ritter auf Malta ... 2

Vols. (Leipzig, 1793).

7 Cf. the contemporary source 'Etwas tiber Cagliostro' (1786). here quoted

from Kiefer, 281-2.

8Virginia M. Fellows, 'Secrets of Malta', Gnosis Magazine (Summer

1996).42-9, here 47 tit seq. The author wishes to express his thanks to Mr Stephen Degiorgio who drew his attention to this article.

9 Ibid., 48.


11 Ibid., 46 et seq. 12 Ibid., 47.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

IS For the most extensive monograph about Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca, see Carmel Testa, The life and times of Grand Master Pinto1741-1773 (Malta. 1989). Testa, who based his book entirely on the archives in Malta. does not mention any connection between Pinto and Cagliostro.

16 Fellows, 47. 11 Ibid., 47.

18 This was recorded by the contemporary diarist Ignazio Saverio Mifsud;

cf. NLM, Libr, MS. 12; diary entries, 21-25 December 1758.


d) Freemasonry

I Cf. 'Etwas uber Cagliostro' in Kiefer, 290. For the Chevalier de Maisonneuve, cf. also Photiades, 247; for more details, cf. chapter 'All roads lead to Rome' ,.infra.

zCf. 'Cagliostro et les Francs-Macons devant l'lnquisition', Nouvelle Revue (1903), 25-56.

3 Cf. Henri d' Almeras, Cagliostro. La francmaconnerie et I' occultisme au XV/lle siecle, d'apres des documents inedits (Paris, 1904).

4 Since 1735 there had been a lodge in Rome which mainly used English as the language of its rites and for communication.

5 'La maconnerie etait alors un phenomene de mode, un phenomene mondain; I' engouement pouvant s' en expliquerpar Ie goOt contemporain du secret et des idees philosophiques. Lorsque la tourmente s'abattit, chacun retrouve ses interets, qui .de caste, qui economiques, qui philosophiques et Ie fragile ciment qui unissait les inities lie put plus masquer la disparite des situations et des engagement.' Blondy, 'Malte et L'Ordre de Malte', ii, 284. For the discussion of Freemasonry in eighteenth-century French society, Blondy uses the Memoires sur la cour de Louis XVI et la societe francaise en 1789 (Paris, 1989) by the Baroness d'Oberkirch (1754-1803) as his main source.

6 For times and life of Ramsay, see G.A. Schiffmann, A.M. Ramsay (Leipzig, 1878). Cf. also Ales Mellor, Logen, Rituale, Hochgrade. Handbuch der Freimaurerei (n. pl., 1967), 244 et seq.

7 English translation of Heinrich Boos, Geschichte der Freimaurerei. Ein Beitrag zur Kultur- und Literatur - Geschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts (Aarau, 1906) (second edition), 187.

s English translation of'M, de la Tierce, Histoire, Obligations et Statuts .... (Frankfurt a. M., 1742), here quoted from Boos, 187 et seq. Also printed in Mellor, 245-52. For other references to connections and 'unifications' between Freemasonry and the Order of St John, see Merkart, 26 et seq. For connections with the Order of StJohn, cf. also 104 et seq., 108, and J.N.J. Schmidt, Wurzeln der Freimaurerischen Gesellschaft, Ruckblick und Ausblick (Zurich, 1981), 39, 50 et seq.

9The 'Lista dei Cavalieri, Cappellani e serventi d'Ordine ricevuti nell'Ordine di S. Giovanni di Gerusalemme dall1555 al 1797' lists the following members of the Balsamo family as members of the Order: f. 65, Francesco Balsamo (Cap. bb.) 22 December 1588 (= date of 'Ricezione");

f. 66, Giovanni Salvatore Balsamo, 4 April 1591;


f. 79, Giovanni Salvatore Balsamo, 1 March 1619; f. 85, Giacomo Balsamo, to July 1633.

For the grand prior of the Order of St John Giovanni Salvatore Balsamo, cf. also Brunet, 12.

For the Balsamo family, see also Enciclopedia Storico Nobiliare Italiano (Milano, 1968), year VII, 491; cf. also Kiefer, 649, and most recently Ninetta Cangialosi, 'A duecento anni dalla morte. Ancora intatto il mistero di Cagliostro', La Sicilia, 26 August 1996, 36.

10 Here quoted from Photiades, 262.

11 Cf. in more detail Henri d' Almeras, 1904 and Marc Haven, Le Rituel de fa maconnerie egypteenne (Paris, 1978).

12This date is given by the contemporary investigator ofCagliostro's life, the Count of St. Priest in Mattke, Corse, Minorque et Gibraltar 159.

13 This argument is also briefly discussed in Cavaliere, 180.

14 For this lodge and Deodat de Dolomieu, see Barruel, v, 90-2. For a mixup between Deodat de Dolomieu and Prince Camille de Rohan, cf. Petraccone, 105.

It> The visit to Sicily and Malta in 1776-77 was done to carry out sketches for the monumental work Voyage pittoresque des ties de Sicile, de Malte et de Lipari ... 4 Vols, (Paris, 1782-87).

16 Cf. also the appendix in Petraccone, 213-6, see also 49 et seq. For a brief review of the contacts of Cagliostro and his wife Serafina Peliciani with

Baron de Breteuil, cf. also D' Amato, 19-34; .

17 Cf. infra.

1sCf. also Conrad, 100.

1.9 For the contacts of Cagliostro with the Knights de la Salle and Flachslanden in Strasbourg at the end of 1780 and the beginning of 1781, see also 'Etwas tiber Cagliostro' ('Something about Cagliostro') (1786), here quoted from Kiefer, 281-92, here 290. Cf. also Borowsky in Kiefer, 344. Concerning FIachslanden, the indications in the abovequoted works is not clear. However, it must have _been Jean BaptisteAntoine de Flachslanden whom Cagliostro met, as his brother Fieldmarshal Jean Francois Henri de Flachslanden (1743-97) was not in Strasbourg at this particular time.

20Cf. Cavallero, 180.

21 (London, n. y.), iv, 282.

72Cf. also A.M. Broadley, The history of Freemasonry in the district of Malta (London. 1880),5.

23 John Webb. 'The Order of St John and its relationship to Freemasonry', Ars Quattuor Coronatorum, xci (1979),47-76, here 60 et seq.


24Cf. in detail H. Bedarida, Parme et La France (Paris, 1928) and Emilio Nasalli Rocca di Comeliano, 'N otizie sul soggiorno in Parma di Emanuele de Rohan, BaH dell' Ordine di Malta', Archivio Storico di Malta, Anno X, 28 Ott. 1938,28 Genn. 1939, xvii, Fasc. I, 164-71.

15 For Virieu de Beau voir, cf. B edarida, 170 et seq., 264. 26Cf. NLM, AOM, MS. 1241, ff. 1-12,24-5,33-4,62-8,76.

27 Cf. also Uniberto Benassi, 'Guiglielmo du Tillot, un ministro riforrnatore del sec. XVIII', Archivio Storieo di Parma (1916),318 et seq.

5) All Roads lead to Rome

The Final Chapter - Cagliostro in Rome 1789-90

I Cf. E. Silvagni, La Corte e fa Societa Romano nei secoli XVIIl e XIX (Florence, 1891), Vol. 1 and Oppeln-Bronikowski, 12.

Z 'Cagliostro still had followers in the Order of Malta, including Commander de Maisonneuve and the lawyer Brest (sic). But deLoras was to introduce to him a proselyte of quite a different type ... ', Photiades, 250. ~or the members of the Order of St John in the circle around Cagliostro

3 In Rome, cf. the not always reliable Dumas, 254-8, 264 et seq., 273.

For Loras in Rome, d. also Petraccone, 115 et seq. 4 Cf. Photiades, 248.

5 English translation from the French original in NLM, AOMMS. 1241, ff. ~~ et se~.; letter from Loras to Rohan from 16 June 1789. ('Nous avons

ICI dep.Ul~ quelques jours Ie celebre CagJiostro La loge prineipale

dece sistrme est a Lyon .... Cette proposition pam bonnete et

susceptible de procurer quelque utilite, au moyen de quoi je me suis charge avec empressement de vous la presenter au secret en vous supp.liant de me donner des ordres ... ') Excerpts of this letter are published by Engel, L' Ordre de Malte en Mediterranee 247 and

Cavaliero, 179. '

6Cf. in detail Francis Ciappara, 'Gio Niccolo Muscat: Church-State Relations in HospitalIer Malta during the Enlightenment, 1786-1793' in Victor Mallia-MiIanes (ed.), Studies on Early Modern Malta and the Order of Sf John oj Jerusalem (Malta, 1993), 605-58.

7 BNVER, Fondo Vittorio Em. MS. 245, 'Raccolta ... ', XXII 'Documenti allegati relativi al processo di Cagliostro e del Padre Francesco Giuseppe da S. Maurizio', 5. 'Memorials di Cagliostro an' Assemblea di Francia> English version quoted from Photiades, 251. '


SLetter from Cagliostro in Rome to Cardinal Louis de Rohan, BNVER, FondoVittorio Em. MS. 245 'Raccolta ... ', XXII 'Documenti allegati re]a6.vi al processo di Cagliostro e del Padre Francesco Giuseppe da S. . Maurizio'; 2 'Lettera di Cagliostro al Cardinal di Rohan scritta da Roma nel Novembre 1789'.

9 Made known by Cavaliero, 180.

LOHere quoted from Photiades, 251. . . 11 BNVER, Fondo Vittorio Em. MS. 245, 'Raccolta ... ', XXII; 'Documenti

allegati relativi a1 processo di Cagliostro e del Padre Francesco Giuseppe da S. Maurizio';2. 'Lettera di Cagliostro al Cardinal di Rohan scritta da

. Roma nel Novembre 1789,' here English translation quoted from Photiades, 251. The Italian original is printed in full in Petraccone, Appendice III, 220: ' ... In virtu dunque di questa medesima autorita noi vogliamo, ordiniamo e diciamo che il Bali di Loras nostro FigIio le gi ttimo sia Arnbasciatore dell'Ordine rispettabile di Malta presso la Corte di Roma, senza che vi sia aleun concorso, ne opposizione, ne pratica contraria per parte del Principe Camillo, ne che Egli aderisca direttamente o indirettamente ad alcun partito opposto al d. Bali di Loras. Noi 10 vedremo colla maggior soddisfazione che si unisca egualmente che Voi all' essecuzione dei nostri voti .... Siate persuaso che il bene della vostra famiglia, quello anche del Principe Camillo e congiunto all'Ordine formale et expresso che Noi vi diamo, di porre in opera tutto cia che dipendera da voi per quest' effetto. Obligate dunque i1 d. Principe Camillo ad agire ed operare egli stesso per far mettere e sostituire in suo luogo il d.Figlio di Loras .... '

IZCf. Giovanni Barberi, 'Leben und Tatendes Joseph Balsamo, sogenannten Grafen Cagliostro', chapter 'Kurzer Begriff der Maurerei uberhaupt, und vollstandige Schilderung der agyptischen Maurerei ... ', here quoted from Kiefer, 456-606, here 598.

13 Cf. ibid., 600.

14Cf. in detail Caywood, 71-95.

IS The decree of Cagliostro' s imprisonment was issued 'la mattina de12T.

Cf. Petraecone, 162 et seq.

16Cf. BNVER, Fondo Vittorio Em. MS. 245, XXII 'Documenti allegati relativi al processo di Cagliostro e del Padre Francesco Giuseppe da S. Maurizio', 2. 'Lettera di Cagliostro al Cardinal di Rohan scritta da Roma nel Novembre 1789', 3. 'Lettera corrispondente all' antecedente del P. Capuccino al sudetto Cardinale di Rohan' 8. 'Lettera del Cardinale di Rohan a Cagliostro' , 10 .' Altra letteradel Cardinale di Rohan a Cagliostro', 14. 'Lettera della Loggia di Lione a Cagliostro", 15. 'Altra lettera a


Cagliostro da l.ione', 16. 'Altra letteraa Cagliostro daLione' ,25 'Lettera del Baly de Loras al Cardinale de Bemis', XXIX 'Lettera scritta da Baly de Loras (?) at Cardinale de Bemis (?) per seolparsi da accuse mossegli da Cagliostro nei suoi interrogatori'.

17 Cf. Letter by Deodat de Dolomieu to Cavaliere Gioeni, dated 30 December 1789, printed in A. Lacroix Deodat Dolomieu (Paris, 1921),i, 228 et seq. 18 Cf.BNVER,Fondo Vittorio Em. MS. 245, 'Raccolta .. .' ,XIII, 'Relazione della loggia de' LiberiMuratoridiRoma' and XIV, 'Catalogo de' Liberi Muratori che hanno avuto parte nella loggia di Roma'.

19 Cf. Letter of Deodat de Dolomieu to Cavaliere Gioeni, dated 30 December

1789, in Lacroix, i, 2~8 et seq. 20 Cf. D' Amato, 87 et seq.

21Cf. ibid. •

22 Cf. in detail Joseph E ynaud (ed.), Carlo Castone della Torre di R ezzonico.

Viaggio a Malta: anna 1793 (Malta, 1989). 23 English version quoted from Photiades, 254.

24Cf. BNVER, Fonda Vittorio Em. MS. 245 XXIX 'Lettera scritta da Baly de Loras (?) al Cardinale de Bemis (?) per scolparsi da accuse mossegli de Cagliostro nei suoi interrogatori'.

2S Photiades, 255.

26Cf. NLM, AOM MS. 1241, f. 33r.

27' Je ne suis point surpris que Ie Bailli de Loras soit tombe dans lespiege de Cagliostro', letter dated 9 February 1790. Here quoted from A. de Montaignon; 1. Giffy (ed), Correspondence des Directeurs de L 'Academic francaise a Rome (Paris, n. y.), xv, 387.

28 For life and times of Diedonne Sylvian Guy Tancred de Grater de Dolomieu, cf. A. Lacroix, Notice sur Deodat de Dolomieu (Paris. 1918) and id., Deodat de Dolomieu.

29 'On continue le proces de Cagliostro, il se fait dans le plus grand secret, de maniere qu'on ne saitpas quels sontses crimes. Mais il est certain que c'est un des plus charlatans que j' aie connu. Sans esprit, sons connaissances, sans eloquence, i1 est inconcevable qu 'un pareil homme ait pu jouer un role et se faire des partisans; tant il est vrai que le seul ton d' impudence suffit pour en imposer au vulgaire.' Letter from Dolomieu to Friedrich Munter, dated Rome 5 June 1790. Here quoted from Lacroix, Deodat de Dolomieu, i, 244.

JOCf. a letter by Loras in Rome to Grand Master Rohan, dated 16 February 1790, headed by the remark 'secrets importants'. Here Loras, although still involved in the Cagliostro affair, accused Dolomieu and other members of the Order of planning a secret conspiracy, NLM, AOM MS. 1241, f. 34r-35r.


31 Cf. the French original: 'Man ami, ... le M. de Pisancon pourra vous donner les details concernant le fameux Cagliostrc qui a etearrete pour avoir essays d'introduire it Rome la secte des Illumines; un capucin etait son associe et lui servait de secretaire. Us avaient, dit-on, mis It leur tete et reconnu pour leur chefle bailli de Loras. Si ce dernier n' est pas encore arrete, c'est par egard pour l'Ordre, mais on croit qu'on ne tardera pas a lui faire partager la prison de ses intimes, Le Gouvernement ne Ie perd pas de vue, et on croit que s'il voulait se sauver, on l'en empecherait. C'est done ainsi que doivent finir tous les plats intrigants,et ceux qui les out proteges doivent etre bien honteux. Un marquis Vivaldi qui etait compromis dans cette meme affaire a pu s' echapper. Cet evenement occupe toute la ville, et surement, il fournira aux conversations de Naples. Le nombre des gens impliques dans cette affaire sera peut-etre tres grand. Vous devez croire que je n'en suis pas fache. On connaitra enfin ce qu'etaient mes ad versaires. Les partisans de Loras apprendront a quel homme ils ant fait prodiguer les faveurs de la Cour de Naples .' Lacroix, Deodat de Dolomieu, i, 228 etseq. Excerpts of this.letter were partly printed in Engel, L'Ordre de Malte en Mediterranee, 249, cf. also id., Knights of Malta, 174 and Dumas, 264.

32 King, 281.

33 Ist Cagliostro der Chef der llluminaten? (n. p., 1790).

34Loras to'S. E. Mgr. Le Cardinaux Zelada, Secretaire d'Etat, samedi 2 Janvier 1790:

'Monseigneur, plein de confiance dans les bontes de Votre Eminence. je prends la liberte de lui faire part de ce qui s' est passe hier au soir a I' Assemblee de Son Em. Mgr. Le Cardinal de Bemis: vingt personnes au moins de cette nombreuse Societe m'ont repete le discours suivant:

"M. Le Com. De Dolomieu, citant l'autorite de Son Em. Mgr. Le Cardinal Secretaire d'Etat, ainsi que des Em. Cardinaux qui composent la commission etablie contre 1e Comte Cagliostro, repand de touscotes Ie bruit que ce matin Sa Saintete a donne ordre de transferer ce prisonnier a I'Inquisition et de vous arreter vous meme. Ce Chevalier ajoute ensuite, avec un air de mystere, qu'Ilsait a n'en pouvoir douter que vous avez ete prevenu cinqfois par des Emissaires que Mgr, Le Cardinal Zelada a eu la generosite de vous deputer pour vous en gager a quitter Rome, mais que vous avez I' obstination de vous y refuser ... quelqu'un lui a repondu - mais, le Bailli de Loras est ici,et il ne se montre pas comme un homme poursuivi, ni meme menace; - cela est vrai, .a-t-il republique, et c'est ce qui m'etonne, car avant deux jours VOllS verrez l' accomplissement de ce que je vous annonce." Cette


conduite temeraire de mon enemi ne saurait me troubler, parce que d'aussi fausses insinuations tourneront dans .deux jours a la honte de c~~ui qui les accredit~, rnais je n'en suis pas moins dans l'obligation d informer votre Eminence de tout ce qui vient a rna connaissance relativement a un objet auquel elle a daigne prendre part. C'est aujourd'hui, Monseigneur, que Votre Eminence a eu la bonte de communiquermes deux lettres au tres St. Pere.je la supplie de permettre que lundi matin j'aille m'informer aupres d'elle des dispositions du Souverain Pontife .... Le tres humble et obeissant serviteur. Bailli de Loras.' NLM, AOM 1241 f. 33r-33v. In excerpts also printed in Lacroix, Deodat de Dolomieu, i, 229 et seq., footnote 5.

35' ••. Le Bailli deLoras revint de Rome non seulement sans avoir gagne son . proces, mais s' y etant fortement compromis dans la societe des fameux Marquis Vivaldi, Comte de Cagliostro et autres illumines, et par consequent perdu de reputation.' Doublet, 137.

36 English translation from Photiades 256

31 Cf. his letter to Cardinal Zelada, 2Ja~uar; 1790. NLM, AOM 1241 f. 34r- 35r. Cf. also Engel, Les Chevaliers de Matte, 250. For Loras' attempt to obtain support, see also Petraccone, 239 et seq.

38 NLM, AOM 1241, f. 33r & v.

39 Letter Dolomieu's to Gioeni dated Rome, 8 March 1790:

'Le proces de Cagliostro se poursuit; c' est l'Inquisition qui le fait, mais on croit qu'il sera rendu publie, lorsque Ie jugement sera prononce. On s'imagine toujours que son principal delit est d'avoir voulu introduire la secte de,S Illumines, par Ie moyen de laquelle il aurait peut-etre pu executer des projetsplus coupables encore. Le B. De Loras est res certainement implique dans cette affaire. Ses liaisons intimes avec Cagliostro et Ie capucin le faisaient soupconner, mais les papiers trouves chez I' un et chez l'autre en ont fourni des preuves. C'est, <lit-on, par egard pour I'Ordre de Malte qu'on ne l' apas encore arrete, maison nedoutepasqu'ilnelesoit dans le ~ours de cette affaire. On lui avait conseille de fuir, mais je crois qu' il ne san ?u ~ler, a moins qu' it n 'hasarde de se refugier a Naples, et je doute qu 'il y son bien accueilli, car j' ai oui dire que le gouvemement empechait a toutes ses sectes differentes de s' introduire dans l' etat ou el1es pourraient etre une occasion de grands desordres. J' espere que la conduite de mon adversaire fera enfin ouvrir les yeux a ceux qui le protegent aN aples et que l' on jugera avec plus d'impartialite entre lui et moi. Je suis curieux de savoir ce qu'on pense a Naples de cetre affaire de Cagliostro.' Here quoted from Lacroix, Deodatde Dolomieu, i, 232. Cf partly wrongly quoted by Engel, L' Ordre de Malte en M editerranee, 25 L


40Letter from Dolomieu to Gioeni, Rome, 16 March 1790; 1;1\101" ...

Lacroix, Deodat de Dolomieu, i, 233.

41 'J'ai ete extremement surpris d'apprendre que le Bailli de Loral Naples et qu' il s' y montrait publiquement; expliquez moi ce qui est moi une enigme, car vous m' avez mande que tres reellement on lui refuse un passeport ... ' Letter from Dolomieu to Gioeni, dated Rome. 2 April )790. Here quoted from ibid.,~35.

42BNVER, Fonda Vittorio Em. MS, 245, V, 'Ristretto della denunzia,

arresta, perquisizioni e testimonianze per il processo di Cagliostrc' .

43Cf. ibid.: 'Sig.re Avvocato Onorato Brest (sic), Cappelano Conventuale di Malta. reo prevenuto, indi rispettivo denunciante'. The 'lawyer (sic) Brest' is also referred to in Photiades, 248. Dumas, who calls Bres a 'Knight of St John' (p, 255), is completely wrong, Later Bres gained fame as an antiquarian and scholar. In 1816 he published his Malta antica lllusirata co' Monumenti e coll'lstoria in Rome.

44Cf. Conrad, 50.

45 Cf. Compendia della vita, e delle gesta di Giuseppe Balsamo denominate

it Conte Cagliastro (Rome, 1791), 15; for Malta, cf. also 14, 55,

46 Cf. Cathedral Archives, Mdina (Malta), A.I.M. 'Processo Lante'. For a detailed investigation of the 'Processo Lante' and its consequences for the Maltese nobility, see Montalto. Chap. xix.

47Cf. Gian Luigi Berti (ed.), La vera fine di Cagliostro (Milano, 1995).

48BNVER Fondo Vitt. Emanuele, MS, 245.

49NLM, AOM MS. 6408, ff. 37 et seq" dated 4 May 1792. ~QNLM, Libr. MS. 133, ff. 294-6.


.1 Cf, 'Lettre surCagliostro', Malthe, Corse, Minorque etGibraltar ... ,159 et seq.



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