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Alessandro Cagliostro

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"Count" Alessandro di Cagliostro, born Giuseppe Balsamo (1743 - 1795) became a roving adventurer, freemason and alchemist in the late 18th century.

Cagliostro was born to a poor family in Palermo, Sicily; his claim to the title of 'count' was fabricated. He claimed to have been initiated into the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, and to have studied alchemy, the Kabbalah, and magic under their auspices. He did become involved in Freemasonry in London, England and used his Masonic connections and personal charm to roam through aristocratic circles throughout Europe, where he peddled various magical elixirs and charms.

He was in the affair of the diamond necklace which involved Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette, and was imprisoned in France for fraud. After being released from prison in France, he travelled to Rome, where he attempted to set up a lodge of "Egyptian Freemasonry." He died in prison after falling foul of the Inquisition.

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