The Chevalier de Saint-George was born on Christmas day, 1739, on the island of Guadeloupe as Joseph Boulogne, son of French Aristocrat Guillaume-Pierre Tavernier de Boullongne and a Senegalese slave known as Nanon. Nanon was reputed to be the most beautiful woman on the entire island and Guillaume-Pierre was from one of the oldest families of French Flanders. Joseph was forbidden by law, being son of a slave, to assume his father’s name so he adopted the name of his birthplace, Saint-Georges.
Saint-George is held as one of the great spirits of the Enlightenment because of his numerous accomplishments in many arts, Fencing being but one. Through his life, Saint-George was held to be the most accomplished fencer in all of France, an exceptional violinist, talented composer, skilled equestrian and soldier. In his life time he was well know throughout Europe and America and lauded as being “the black Mozart”, “French Hercules”, or even “rival of Apollo”.
An account of Saint-George was given to U.S. President John Adams, “He is the most accomplished man in Europe, in riding, running, shooting, fencing, dancing, and music. He will hit the button – any button on the coat or waistcoat of the greatest (fencing) masters. He will hit a crown-piece in the air with a pistol-ball.”
We have chosen to name the salle after the Chevalier de Saint-George in honor of his contributions to fencing and music. May he serve as an inspiration and reminder to us of the limitless potential we all possess.