Knigge on the Illuminati (According to Knigge) and Other Reflections (According to the Historical Record)
Friday, July 6th, 2012 | Illuminati Members, Primary Documents | 13 Comments
by Terry Melanson, July 6th 2012
The exposure and persecution of the Illuminati had barely commenced. Adam Weishaupt fled from the Bavarian authorities in February of 1785.
Two weeks after his hasty escape, Elector Karl Theodor issued his second edict against secret societies (and the Illuminati specifically). More than a year would pass before he reached safety at the court of fellow-Illuminatus, Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha. Bobbing in alleyways, hiding in chimneys, and witnessing a friend drop dead from lightning, Weishaupt somehow managed to pen and publish five apologetic pamphlets concerning his activities as “General” of the Order.
After the writings and correspondences of the Illuminati were published in 1787 – reputations and livelihoods at stake – his cohorts penned their own accounts, most notably Christoph Friedrich Nicolai (1733-1811), Franz Xaver von Zwack (1755-1843) and Baron Thomas Franz Maria de Bassus (1742-1815). However it wasn’t until after these developments that Adolph Freiherr von Knigge (1752-1796) saw fit to issue his own account in 1788.
The latter work (Philos endliche Erklärung und Antwort …) has been translated by Jeva Singh-Anand: Philo’s Reply To Questions Concerning His Association With the Illuminati (lulu.com, April 5, 2012). It’s the first full English translation of a primary Illuminati source, and, for that reason alone, is highly recommended. You can read Jeva’s forward here and purchase it at Lulu or Amazon.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | Illuminati Members | 43 Comments
1. Charles-Pierre-Paul, Marquis de Savalette de Langes (1745-1797)
Savalette de Langes was the son of Charles Pierre Savalette de Magnanville (1713-1790) – intendant of the Generality of Tours (1745) and Keeper of the Royal Treasury from 1756 to 1788 – and Marie-Émilie Joly de Choin (1726-1776), the daughter of a fermier général. In 1773, like his father, Savalette de Langes became a Keeper of the Royal Treasury; 1790/91, Captain of the Paris National Guard in the battalion of Saint Roch and aide-de-campe to Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834).1
Gardes du Trésor royal (i.e. keeper of the royal treasury) was a heredity title. On the significance of the post, Roland Mousnier writes:
The highest-ranking receveur-payeurs were the two gardes du Trésor royal. According to the edict of June 1748 this office was worth 1,200,000 livres. They earned 5 percent of the official value of the office in salary plus 12,000 additional livres when they were actually on duty; they also received 1,500 livres in salary for their work on the council and 60,000 livres, increased by Necker to 85,000, to cover the wages and expenses of their commis. These offices were family property. In 1749 Charles-Pierre Savalette de Magnanville took the first of the two posts. In 1773 his son, Charles-Pierre-Paul Savalette de Langes became his assistant and designated heir. In November 1785 they switched positions, Langes becoming the titulary of the post and Magnanville his assistant and designated heir. Both men were maîtres des requêtes and conseillers d’Etat. The father was for a time intendant of Tours. The family could claim three degrees of nobility and thus came close, in principle, to the gentilhommerie.2
One of the most active and influential Masons of his time, Savalette de Langes was first initiated in 1766 at the Lodge “L’Union Indivisible” in Lille, he was the founder of the Paris Lodge “Les Amis Réunis” (1771), Regime of the Philalèthes (1773), and convoked the Philalèthes Convents of Paris in 1785 and 1787. From the beginning Savalette was on the side of the Duke de Chartres (future Duke d’Orléans) for the creation of the Grand Orient, and after this was accomplished (1773) Savalette subsequently became its Grand Officer and Archivist. He was also a member of the Paris Lodge “L’Olympique de la Parfaite Estime” from 1783-88, the founder of “La Société Olympique” in 1785, and a member of the Paris Lodge “Centre des Amis” in 1793.3
Permanent, official correspondence between the Illuminati and Savalette’s Amis Réunis was established in 1784. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig von Beulwitz (1755-1829), the head of the Rudolstadt Illuminati was initiated into the Amis Réunis in 1784, while visiting Paris, and received into the 11th class of the Philalèthes. Another Illuminatus, Sigismund Falgera (1752-1790) was already initiated into the Amis Réunis in 1784 (to 1789) and was appointed the official Illuminati correspondent/liaison to the Paris Lodge.4 Yet even before this, other Illuminati were simultaneously members of the Amis Réunis – Count Kolowrat, for one (see below) – and it would be hard to believe that they hadn’t at least tried to “Illuminize” this most important Lodge in Paris. In this regard, about all we can safely say is that there remains a lack of documentation about any successes the Illuminati may have had in France before 1787.
Friday, November 5th, 2010 | Primary Documents | 24 Comments
You have a singular obsession with finding and collecting rare primary sources, with a major focus on Bavarian Illuminati material. What started you on this journey? It is somewhat reminiscent of a first-edition bibliophile, I suppose, but in a “web 2.0” setting.
My preoccupation with all things Illuminati goes back many years when I heard an interview on a radio program (the particular show escapes me) with some conspiracy researcher giving the standard the Illuminati runs the world speech. I found some of his claims to be quite fantastic, but on the whole captivating and curious. Being an avid book reader, collector and amateur historian, I had to learn as much as I could to see if there was any truth to his claims. When I sat down and started searching for primary source materials, I was amazed at how little material was publically available, and that it seemed that no one else had attempted to make public all of the primary literature. In my quest for knowledge I dedicated myself to liberating as much information as could be found. My first major contribution was a full color version of EOS. It was the logical choice as it was the first piece published, and because all of the books reference it, and had never been public until now. With its acquisition the trinity of Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens, Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften, and Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo in dem Illuminaten-Orden was complete. This is what drove me to acquire every single piece of literature that I could. After a few years I have almost all of them now, free for all to read. This is what will lead to true understanding, about the group’s significance, role in history and effects upon philosophy and indeed society. It seems the misunderstanding derives from a language barrier, but more importantly an accessibility barrier, the later now mitigated. This has led to all sorts of ridiculous claims and speculations. My goal is to let the public decide for themselves. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ya, you actually scooped the multi-million dollar scanning projects of Google et al. What University did you contact about Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens, and how did the whole thing come about? The stuff you are doing is not for free, so you certainly are determined.
I did a worldcat search for the book and found all of the American universities that held the work, the closest one being Duke University, in the Jantz rare book collection. I had originally planned to travel there myself and photograph the book along with 4 other primary source books, but after talking with a friend I decided that it would be much more effective in terms of time and expense to hire a graduate student researcher. The university provided a list of candidates; I selected one and had him take photos of the entire book, tables and all. It definitely was not cheap, but was necessary as no one would be able to do any research based on primary source material without this book in the public domain, as nearly all of the source books reference this book.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010 | Original Writings, Primary Documents | 7 Comments
NB: Superscripted endnotes are my own, while parenthesized footnotes (when encountered) are from the original editors of the collection, c. 1786/87. – Terry Melanson
Instruction for Cato, Marius and Scipio
Therefore, properly speaking, they are not recruiters; rather they are in charge of instructing capable men, and rekindling the zeal of new candidates.
Lately they have focused their attention on Coriolanus, so that he acts according to his received instructions, and in this area, they do not let pass the smallest thing.
In particular, they have to generally govern in a uniform manner.
Their first concern is Athens itself. It has a system that reports only to Spartacus or those close to him. As for the other Coscios,1 they send and receive each month a sort of journal or gazette. – N.B. This journal has since become a daily affair.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 | Contemporary sources | No Comments
(Thanks to Joe Wäges for translating some of the biographical material on Wolf.)
Translated from German to English and printed in the short-lived periodical German museum (v.1: London, 1800, pp. 207-218, 296-305, 390-396), the following essay on the Bavarian Illuminati is a contemporary, apologetic account. It was written by Peter Philipp Wolf (1761-1808) and included in volume four of his history of the Jesuits: Allgemeine Geschichte der Jesuiten (1789-92).
Born in Pfaffenhofen, Bavaria, Wolf received his primary education in the Jesuit schools of Munich. His free spirit couldn’t endure theocentric pedantry for long, however, and he soon ran away. Penniless, after a brief stay in Strasbourg he had no choice but to return home. His parents wanted him to become a priest so they sent him to a boarding school in Weihenstephan; but after a short while, Wolf again escaped the clutches of the ecclesiastics. Later, in letter to his friend Lorenz von Westenrieder (1748-1829) (who was briefly a member of the Illuminati in 1779), he wrote: “I can confirm it by my own example how little education is good in the seminaries….rude manners, ascetic pride, monkish hypocrisy, [and] youthful conceit are the rocks on which can fail even the most promising young men.”
Wolf then apprenticed with the Munich bookseller and printer Johann Baptist Strobl [or Strobel] (1748-1805), but they didn’t get along. (Strobl was also briefly an Illuminatus prospectus; afterwards an opponent of the Order, and the government-sanctioned publisher of the famous Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens.) The relationship deteriorated to the point that Strobl accused Wolf of printing a libellous pamphlet against him. He pled his case before the authorities, and Wolf had to spend a year in jail.
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 | Primary Documents | 5 Comments
Joe Wäges has put a scan of the Original Writings of the Illuminati, published by order the Elector of Bavaria Karl Theodor in March 1787, online for the first time. With this he has outdone the multi-million-dollar scanning projects of both Google and Microsoft. Google had, years ago, scanned Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften, welche die Illuminatensekte (1787) and Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo in dem Illuminaten-Orden (1793), but had unfortunately neglected Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens. Joe Wäges is fluent in German, and we’ve already begun collaborating. Translation is very time consuming and, in order to get it right and as perfect as humanly possible, an inordinate amount of dedication and perseverance are required. Hopefully, at least for Einige and Nachtrag, updates will be more frequent.
Taken together, these three works are known as the Original Writings of the Illuminati: Einige Originalschriften and Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften were confiscated in police raids on the domiciles of Illuminati Franz Xaver Carl Wolfgang Zwack zu Holzhausen (1756-1843) [Danaus/Philipp Strozzi/Cato] in Landshut (11-12 October, 1786), and Thomas Maria Baron de Bassus (1742-1815) [Hannibal/Minos] at his castle in Sandersdorf (May 1787), while the contents of Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo in dem Illuminaten-Orden were stolen - from Baron von Knigge - by Illuminatus-defector Ludwig Adolph Christian von Grolmann (1741-1809) [Gratian].
Monday, February 15th, 2010 | Original Writings, Primary Documents | 7 Comments
NB: Superscripted endnotes are my own, while parenthesized footnotes (when encountered) are from the original editors of the collection, c. 1786/87. – Terry Melanson
Reform of the Statutes of the 1st class
All statutes, constitutions and previous privileges, whatever name they have received, are subject to change as circumstances warrant and, in so much as [p. 27] they fundamentally oppose these present ordinances, are hereby overruled.
Notwithstanding, as in the past, the goal that the Order proposes for the future remains the same: to render unto man the importance of the perfection of reason and his moral character; to develop social and humane sentiments, to oppose the wicked designs in the world, to assist against the injustice suffered by the unfortunate and the oppressed, to encourage men of merit, and in general to facilitate the means of knowing and science. Assurance is here given, in a sacred and faithful manner that this is the sole goal — not just supposed — of the Order (1).
On the contrary, the Order offers nothing more, therefore candidates will increase in due time; this will prove to be more beneficial, as they realize that, in opposition to the practice of other societies, we possess more than what we had promised.
A member who is thrust upon entering the Order with the hope of gaining greater power and wealth would not be welcomed.(1) Fistula dulce canit volucrem dum decipit Auceps [“The shepherd's pipe sings sweetly to the bird, while the fowler ensnares it”; or “The bird-catcher plays sweetly on the pipe when he beguiles the winged creature”]
[p. 28] To achieve such a goal of understanding and confidence between all members, and in accordance with these views, only accepting those external conditions for the betterment of the Order, all members must:
Thursday, January 7th, 2010 | Subversive Movements | 25 Comments
by Terry Melanson (7/1/2010)
Not widely known is the fact that some of the key ideas behind the creation of the Bavarian Illuminati came from a member of a German Studentenorden.
In 1776 Adam Weishaupt confided to one of his students, eighteen year-old Franz Anton von Massenhausen, that he was thinking of creating a secret society (at the University of Ingolstadt) to combat the influence of both the Jesuits and the Rosicrucians. Massenhausen had told Weishaupt that this was good idea, and that he already had some experience in this area. Before matriculating at Ingolstadt, Massenhausen informed his teacher, he had been a member of a student secret society in Göttingen; he went on to describe the manner in which they operated, its statutes, and the attire they wore. Taking this as a model, then, on May 1st 1776 Weishaupt, Massenhausen and three others, formed the Order of the Perfectibilists.1
It is ironic that such should be the case, for afterwards the Illuminati, in turn, had not only infiltrated various educational establishments but student societies as well. As Klaus Epstein explains it:
The famous Karlsschule in Stuttgart (Schiller’s alma mater) had several Illuminati on its staff. The educational movement headed by Basedow taught Illuminati principles, though Basedow himself apparently never joined the order. The University of Göttingen had several Illuminati among its professors, which led Weishaupt to exclaim with surprise that Ingolstadt was giving the law to its far more distinguished North German rival. Tutorial positions offered excellent leverage for working for the future triumph of the Aufklärung: the prominent Illuminat Leuchsenring served, for example, as tutor to the Prussian crown prince who became Frederick William III (though the later conduct of his pupil must have disappointed him).2 The two leading student societies (Studentenorden), the Konstantisten and the Schwarze Brüder, were both infiltrated by Illuminati. The actual influence of the order upon the education of Germany’s youth obviously cannot be quantitatively defined, and statistical calculations of the infiltration of the professorate are equally impossible to make.3 These examples suffice to explain, however, the fact that Conservatives called for a drastic purge of educational institutions.4
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 | Freemasonry, Philalèthes | 1 Comment
The following sketch is translated from Karl R. H. Frick’s Die Erleuchteten: Gnostisch-theosophische und alchemistisch-rosenkreuzerische Geheimgesellschaften bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte der Neuzeit (1973), p. 574 ff., originally included as an appendix at the end of McBean and Gabirro, A Complete History Of The Ancient And Primitive Rite (2002). There were a few mistakes with spelling and grammar, etc., so I’ve cleaned it up, while providing annotations, links and illustrations.
In regard to the entire milieu of high-grade Freemasonry during the Enlightenment, the Philalèthes are as noteworthy as they come. The Rite itself - more of a regime - and the Lodge ‘Amis Réunis’ from which it was founded, constituted a clearing house for all things occult or esoteric on the continent and beyond; Savalette de Langes and the Marquis de Chefdebien may even be described as engaging in Masonic espionage. There isn’t a single volume on 18th Century Freemasonry that doesn’t give the major details of the Amis Réunis and the Philalèthes. Members of the rite came not only from France, but from Germany, England, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Russia (and as was shown with the publishing of J. J. C. Bode’s diary in 1994, the Bavarian Illuminati had managed to officially join forces with it just two years before the revolution).
I’ve read more than a few accounts of the Philalèthes over the years, but this report by Frick - about as complete an introduction as as you’ll find - is by far the best.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 | Freemasonry, Philalèthes | 6 Comments
We’ll be mentioning this famous Lodge in Paris in forthcoming posts. What follows is a concise explanation of its operation and makeup (translated from a French Masonic Encyclopedia entry by Pierre François Pinaud).
From 1771 to 1791, this lodge was one of the most prestigious in Paris and was consecrated by the Keeper of the Royal Treasury Savalette de Langes. Initially formed abroad in Rumigny, a small town of Thiérache, by a magistrate of the Parliament of Paris (banished by Chancellor Maupeou), in 1773 the lodge settled permanently in Paris. Savalette de Langes had made the inner circle of the Amis Réunis the social center of modern Freemasonry and cosmopolitanism of the late Enlightenment. Here the elite and and the talented joined together. The orchestra of the Amis Réunis was composed of six musicians of renown, like the composer [Isidore] Bertheaume, the brothers Blasius, the King’s violinists, Boutray of the l’Académie [Royale] de Musique, and either the brothers Breval or Louis Francoeur, the King’s Superintendent of Music.
The Lodge utilized a large space in a house in the Rue Popincourt, built in 1708 by the architect Dulin for the supplier of arms [Nicholas?] Dunoyer. By the time of its dissolution in 1791, Les Amis Réunis counted some 300 members with a further 37 casual brothers and brother servants. It comprised about 12% foreigners, such as the Baron de Beutz, chancellor of Saxony; the Baron de Gleichen, Minister of Denmark in Madrid, Naples and Paris; and Count Stroganoff, a Russian subject. A hundred senior officers or generals decorate the pillars, and about fifteen of their regiment. Painters and sculptors are well represented with a dozen doctors, all members of the Academy of Medicine or professors at the University of Paris - Monge was an assiduous member of the lodge for some years. But the Amis Réunis’ uniqueness is the significant number of its members who belonged to the world of finance: 37% of the Lodge in total, 84 people, were indeed financiers. We count no fewer than 15 bankers or speculators, 13 receiver generals, 7 tax collectors [fermiers généraux], 7 general treasurers including those of the Navy and War, 4 general paymasters, 19 members of the Courts of Finances of Paris, 7 senior officials of the Royal treasury and finally, 11 brothers who were occupied with public finance. On the eve of the Revolution, the lodge of the Amis Réunis had the highest concentration of financiers; a number of them met in groups, or independently, to engage in speculative ventures. We also find Lodge members as shareholders of the arms factory in Charleville, the Water Company in Paris, and the mines at Baïgorry, Decize or Rueil. Another group actively participated in speculation about the dollars held by the bank St. Charles de Madrid. Others are shareholders of the Hudson Bay Company that traded with Canada. Many specialize in international commerce, and others with India or the islands trading sugar and rum, but also the slave trade. At the famous East India Company, one finds Lodge members as shareholders or as administrators. A last group is actively involved in real estate speculation in Paris.
The success of the Amis Réunis in the financial world may be explained by the fact that, in the latter third of the 18th-century, in the absence of public credit, only powerful financiers could undertake large scale financial transactions. Everything is then prefaced upon trust. This leads to the membership of professional lobbyists, and familial networks which are found in the Lodge. The trustworthiness of Masonic affiliation may result in more business, which enables both administrators and profiteers. The Lodge therefore offered a discreet setting for financial conversations and the development of protective relationships; philosophical bonds are then the natural extension in the world of finance.
- Illuminati Conspiracy Archive
- Illuminati Conspiracy Part One: A Precise Exegesis on the Available Evidence
- Illuminati Conspiracy Part Two: Sniffing out Jesuits
- Jeva Singh-Anand’s Illuminati Blog
- Marco Di Luchetti’s “Illuminati of Bavaria”
- Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati