The Clairefontaine dwelling in the Saint-Robert district of Baillif is the birthplace of Joseph of Bologna, St. George’s, on December 25, 1745, known as the Knight of St. George.
St. George was born a slave in Guadeloupe, his mother, Anne, called Nanon (born about 1723 in Lamentin, Guadeloupe) is herself a slave of African origin. His father, George of Bologna from St. George (1711-1774), a Protestant colonist of Dutch origin, gave him a careful education. He excelled very young in several disciplines: horse riding, fencing, dance and music.
In December 1747, two years after the birth of his son, George of Bologna St. George must leave Basse-Terre in a hurry. During a visit to his uncle Samuel of Bologna, Georges de Bologne and Pierre-Julien Le Vanier of Saint-Robert, who have consumed a lot of punch, come to fight in duels. The Vanier de Saint-Robert, who appeared to have been wounded without gravity, died three days later. The injury caused by a sword stroke probably resulted in tetanus. Georges of Bologna knows that he will be accused of homicide and that he risks the confiscation of his property. Fearing that his dear Nanon and his son would be sold with all the slaves on the plantation, Georges de Bologna decided to leave the island and take a ship bound for the port of Bordeaux.
He was well advised to leave Guadeloupe because he was condemned to death in absent of his presence along with the confiscation of all his property and then hanged in effigy on the place of Basse-Terre in May 1748.
In 1753, when his son was only eight, Georges de Bologna decided to give him an education as a young aristocrat and went with him to France. Two years later, Nanon joins her son and her husband. When Joseph was 13, before leaving for Guadeloupe, Georges placed his son in a boarding house at Nicolas Texier de Boëssière, a man of letters and excellent master of arms, who would coordinate the studies of young Joseph and become his spiritual father.
La Boëssière makes his pupil an exceptional foil-maker and at the age of fifteen, the young Joseph dominates the strongest shooters. It is unquestionably the finest blade of his time, perhaps “the most prodigious man we have seen in arms,” said of Antoine La Boëssière, the son of Texier, who will be the unwavering friend of Joseph. We must not forget that the aristocrats then form the social body called “the nobility of the sword”. Only the nobles are then worthy to wear the sword and learn to use it. To appear among this aristocracy, and in the first place still, is not nothing. In 1761, he was admitted to the prestigious body of the gendarmes of the King’s Guard
St. George quickly became famous for his remarkable artistic and athletic abilities. He became known as a violinist prodigy.
Candidate to head the Royal Academy of Music, the Chevalier Saint-Georges is ousted when two singers, Sophie Arnould and Rosalie Levasseur, as well as a dancer, Marie-Madeleine Guimard, address a petition to the queen to “represent to her Majesty that their honor and the delicacy of their conscience would never allow them to be subject to the orders of a mulatto “. However, one wondered whether the prejudices of these ladies were the major cause of the rejection of Saint-Georges to the direction of this institution. The divas would have acted in this way to safeguard their interests and their desire to control this prestigious house. St. George’s intended to reorganize the Opera, and the reforms he probably would not have brought would have caused these ladies to be supplanted by new recruits.
Since Saint-George was rejected, in his eyes the most valuable candidate, Louis XVI, made aware of this cabal, pays tribute to him by naming no one. Then, Madame de Montesson, the wife of the Duke of Orleans, confided to St. George the direction of his private theater and asked him to be the master of ceremonies of his salon. In addition, St. George becomes one of Marie Antoinette’s pets. St. George conducted the Amateurs Orchestra and composed numerous violin concertos, string quartets and concert symphonies.