Secret Societies

In the 18th century, a number of secret societies spread throughout Europe and into the American colonies. They combined an either areligious or explicitly pagan origin and peculiar rites with an exclusive selection of members, a common devotion for progress, and the betterment of the living conditions of mankind. The selection of members was to ensure that only prominent, influential persons from various occupations joined.
The first and most prominent organization are the FREEMASONS. Claiming to trace their origins back to the pyramid builders of ancient Egypt, the first GRAND LODGE of the freemasons was founded in England in 1717. From there the movement spread. The first lodge of the Austrian Netherlands was founded in 1721 in Mons, in Spain in 1728, in Poland in 1730, in the Dutch Republic in 1734, in Switzerland in 1736 (Geneva), in 1737 in Hamburg, in France in 1738, in Saxony in 1738, in Prussia in 1740, in Frankfurt in 1741, in Austria in 1742, in Denmark in 1743, in Norway in 1749, in Sweden in 1752, in Hannover in 1755. In 1738, a papal bull banned freemasonry; in Austria, freemasonry was forbidden between 1764 and 1780, in Spain 1740-1780, in Switzerland canton governments banned their citizens becoming freemasons 1744-1798, without preventing the order to spread.

The freemasons were committed to charity and actively promoted social reform; freemasons wrote anonymous letters to newspapers in which they suggested reforms. Freemasonic lodges not only actively supported legislation to emancipate minorities hitherto discriminated against (religious minorities, christian and Jewish; ethnic minorities) and reached out, accepting men from such minorities as active members. A British lodge, in 1775, accepted 14 free black men as members. However, not all lodges were that progressive and tolerant. Freemasonic lodges did exclude women from membership.
In 1776 the Order of the Illuminates was founded in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, as a secret society with the aim to promote the Enlightenment; the founder believed the Freemasons would not do enough in that field. In 1785 they were banned by the Bavarian Government.
The secret order of the Rosenkreuzer, equally claiming to derive from ancient Egyptian sources and named after a ficticious person named Christian Rosenkreuz allocated to the early 15th century, stressed rites and alchemy.

Category : Secret Societies, from Wikipedia
Articles Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Illuminati, from Wikipedia
Den Danske Frimurerorden (The Danish Order of Freemasons),n in Danish
Den Norske Frimurerorden (The Norwegian Order of Freemasons), in Norwegian
Freimaurerei in Österreich (Freemasons in Austria), from aeiou, in German
Freimaurerei - Freimaurer (Freemasonry - Freemasons), from Bern Info, in German
Zur Geschichte der deutschen Grosslogen (On the History of the German Grand Lodges), from Freimaurerloge Trier, in German
History of the Swedish Order of Freemasons
A Brief History of Freemasonry on the Iberian Peninsula, from FM Europe
European Masonic Pages, from FM Europe
Freemasonry's History of Racism, from Freemason Watch
Geschichte der Illuminaten (History of the Illuminates), from Denkmal Nach in German; from java-farm, in German
Geschichte der Rosenkreuzer (History of the Rosenkreuzer), from AMORC
DOCUMENTS Fr. X. Zwack, Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens (1787), from Bibliothek Alexandrias, in German
The Berlinische Monatsschrift, 1783-1811, online edition, posted by Univ. Bielefeld, in German
REFERENCE Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry, (1895 or earlier) NY : Gramercy 1989; attached George Oliver, A Diictionary of Symbolical Masonry (1868 or earlier) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 25th 2003, last revised on October 9th 2008

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics