Definitions for cagliostro, count alessandro di

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  1. Cagliostro, Count Alessandro di

    assumed name of an arch-impostor, his real name being Giuseppe Balsamo, born in Palermo, of poor parents; early acquired a smattering of chemistry and medicine, by means of which he perpetrated the most audacious frauds, which, when detected in one place were repeated with even more brazen effrontery in another; married a pretty woman named Lorenza Feliciani, who became an accomplice; professed supernatural powers, and wrung large sums from his dupes wherever they went, after which they absconded to Paris and lived in extravagance; here he was thrown into the Bastille for complicity in the Diamond Necklace affair (q. v.); on his wife turning informer, he was consigned to the tender mercies of the Inquisition, and committed to the fortress of San Leone, where he died at 52, his wife having retired into a convent (1743-1795). See Carlyle's "Miscellanies" for an account of his character and career.

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