Illuminati Sightseeing: Masonic Congress of Wilhelmsbad

Saturday, November 8th, 2008 | Freemasonry, Illuminati Sightseeing

by Terry Melanson (08/11/2008)

Painted by Anton Wilhelm Tischbein (1730-1804)

Painted by Anton Wilhelm Tischbein (1730-1804)

The above was painted by Anton Wilhelm Tischbein (1730-1804) in 1783. The scene depicts the grounds of the spa - the ruined castle, the kitchen and the carousel in the background. In the foreground (right) is the hereditary prince William IX of Hesse-Kassel (1743-1821) with six year-old son William. William IX, at the time, was the ruler of the principality of Hanau, subsequently becoming William IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel - after his father Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel had died in 1785 - and then William I, Elector of Hesse.

The Hanau-Wilhelmsbad spa, fashionable from 1777 to 1785, was the location of the Masonic Congress in the summer of 1782 (16 July - 29 August).  William IX made it his summer retreat, and the ruined castle, prominent in the painting, was where high-degree Masons from the whole of Europe had deliberated the fate of the rite of Strict Observance.

The castle as it looks today

The castle as it looks today (from the German Wilhelmsbad entry at de.wikipedia)

Photographer “Big Mike” in Germany, has this to say about the castle:

The Ruined Castle built between 1779 and 1781 close to the spa baths, although separated on its artificial island behind gnarled oaks, is the earliest pseudo-medieval castle on the European continent to have been purpose-built for a landscaped park in the form of a ruin. In fact, it served Wilhelm, the invested heir to Hesse-Kassel, as a summer residence. Its apparently dilapidated tower has been deliberately designed to bewilder the visitor, for it accommodates an elegant apartment on its ground floor and a magnificent domed hall with portraits of ancestors by Anton Wilhelm Tischbein on its upper floor.

Wilhelmsbad Pyramid

There’s also a pyramid on the grounds, erected in 1784, in honor of William IX’s son Friedrich who died prematurely just shy of his twelfth birthday; designed by Franz Ludwig von Canerin.

William IX wasn’t a Freemason, but his brother Prince Karl, Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel (1744-1836), was. Karl was the chief organizer of the conference, and second in command to Grand Master (Magnus Superior Ordinis; ‘Eques a Victoria’) Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Wolfenbüttel (1721-92) - Illuminatus, February 1783.

The following is a list of the official deputies of the Strict Observance who attended the gathering:

  • Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel (Eques a Leone Resurgente) - Illuminatus, February 1783; Coadjutor for the Duke of Brunswick [Paintings of Karl von Hessen-Kassel: Pic 1; Pic 2; Pic 3; Pic 4; of the Duke of Brunswick: Pic 1; Pic 2; Pic 3; Pic 4]
  • Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (a Lilio Convallium) - Illuminatus, 1782 (insinuated at Wilhelmsbad); the representative of Ernst Johann von Fircks (ab Aquila Rubra) and Christian Friedrich Kessler von Sprengseysen (a Spina), and the towns of Bremen, and Meiningen
  • Ernst Traugott von Kortum (a Fonte Irriguo); the representative of Alois Friedrich von Brühl (a Gladio Ancipiti)
  • Johann Friedrich (von) Schwartz (ab Urna) - Illuminatus, March 1783; archivist for the Strict Observance and the conference secretary for the German language; treasurer for Konrad Franz von Rhetz (a Mergite); and representing Brunswick, Hanover, Königsberg, Batavia and the Brothers in Russia [Pic]
  • Imperial Count August Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen (a Thymalo) - Illuminatus; master of ceremonies at the conference
  • von Jahn (a Cancro Aureo)
  • Otto Friedrich Adolph von Köppern (a Tribus Uvis) - Illuminatus, April 1783; Copenhagen representative
  • Johan Christoph Dertinger (a Metallis); representative for Grand Dignitary of the 8th Province, Ernst Friedrich Hektor Falcke (a Rostro) - Illuminatus, December 1780
  • Franz Christian Eckbrech Baron von Dürckheim (ab Arcu) - Illuminatus, May 1784; representing the Prefecture of Schleswig
  • Franz Dietrich Baron von Ditfurth (ab Omo) - Illuminatus, April 1781
  • Georg Heinrich von Rosskampf (ab Equo Bellicoso); representing the Stuttgart chapter
  • Th. Bauer (a Vomere)
  • Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg (a Tumba Sancta) [Pic] [brother of Illuminatus Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg - Pic 1; Pic 2; Pic 3; Pic 4]; representing the Priory in Munich
  • Karl Friedrich Kasimir Wundt (a Laurea) - Illuminatus, 1782 [grandfather of experimental psychologist Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt]; representing Munich
  • H. von Heiden (a Cidonia); representing Frankfurt
  • Albert Baron von Seckendorff (a Capricornu); representing Ansbach
  • Count Franz Joseph von Kolowrat-Liebensteinsky (ab Aquila Fulgente) - Illuminatus, August 1782 (insinuated at Wilhelmsbad); representing Vienna and Sibiu [Hermannstadt] in Transylvania
  • Count [later Prince] Karl Josef zu Salm-Reifferscheidt (ab Intacto Fulmine Laureo); representing the National Lodge of Austria
  • Johann Eubert Bödecker (a Lapide Cubico); representing the National Lodge of Austria
  • Count Paul Szapary (a Gladio Hungarico); for Poznań and Budapest
  • Count François-Henri de Virieu (a Circulis); representing the Duke d’Havré-Croy (a Porto Optato)
  • Chevalier Gaspard de Savaron (a Solibus); Provincial Visitor General; repesenting the Prefectures of Lyons and Chambéry
  • Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (ab Eremo); Cancellarius Provinciae; representing the Auvergne Treasurer Lambert de Lisieux (ab Turri Alba) and the Grand Master of the Cermonies, Chevalier de Rachais (a Leone Strenuo)
  • François-Marie Marquis de Chefdebien d’Armissan (a Capite Galeato) - Illuminatus, 1787 [insinuated by Bode]; representing the Grand Priory of Montpellier
  • Friedrich Eilbert von Dürckheim (ab Ave)
  • Johann von Türckheim (a Flumine) - Illuminatus; conference general secretary for the French language; Provincial Visitor General; representing the Prefecture of Saarbrücken
  • Diethelm Lavater (ab Aesculapio); Helvetic Grand Prior
  • Christoph Kayser (ab Pelicano); for the Prefecture of Zurich
  • Friedrich Rudolf Salzmann (ab Hedera) - Illuminatus; Chancellor for the Grand Priory of Austrasie [northern France]
  • Bernhard Friedrich von Türckheim (a Navibus) [the brother of the previously-mentioned Türckheim]; negotiating for Strasbourg and for the Prefecture of Alsace
  • Hyacinthe Chappe de la Henrière (a Cruce Caerulea); for the Prefectures of Metz and Nancy
  • Chancellor Sébastien Giraud (a Serpente); representing the Grand Priory of Italy, with authority from Count Gabriele Asinari di Bernezzo (a Turre Aurea) and Baron J. Gamba della Perosa (a Cruce Argentea)
[The above was compiled from the following sources: René Le Forestier, Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-Maçonnerie Allemande [Paris: 1914], Archè reprint, 2001; Ludwig Hammermayer, Der Wilhelmsbader Freimaurer-Konvent von 1782 (Wolfenbütteler Studien zur Aufklärung. Geheime Gesellschaften 2) Heidelberg 1980; René Le Forestier, Antoine Faivre, La Franc-Maçonnerie Templière et Occultiste aux XVIIIe et XIXe Siècles, Aubier-Montaigne, 1970; Hermann Schüttler, Die Mitglieder des Illuminatenordens 1776-1787/93 (Munich: Ars Una 1991); Gérard van Rijnberk, Robert Amadou, Martines de Pasqually: Un Thaumaturge au XVIIIe Siècle. Sa Vie, son Œuvre, son Ordre (Georg Olms Verlag, 1982); Acta Latomorum, volume 2; “Stricte Observance Templière: Obituaire SOT“]

During the Wilhelmsbad Congress the self-styled Knights [Eques] of Templar Strict Observance were ostensibly abolished, and the “Unknown Superiors” (Superiores Incogniti) declared a fraud. Two systems emerged triumphant: Willermoz’s Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte [Order of Knights, Beneficent of the Holy City] (C.B.C.S.), and especially the Bavarian Illuminati. Both Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel and the Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, the two heads of the Strict Observance and indeed German Freemasonry as a whole, were recruited into the Illuminati soon after; and it was because of the contacts (and good impression) made at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad that the Illuminati truly became a formidabe power throughout Europe.

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36 Comments to Illuminati Sightseeing: Masonic Congress of Wilhelmsbad

john
November 10, 2008

interesting to see that symbolic and famous pyramid of the illuminati is very prevelant.

Marco di Luchetti
December 24, 2008

good work

derrick
May 26, 2009

i think the it was not right to abolish the self styled knights eques because i dont see were they went wrong?

Terry Melanson
May 26, 2009

Were they went wrong was in telling a tale and not backing it up with proof. Where were these so called Unknown Superiors? Did they exist at all? Where was the documentation that Strict Observance were directly descended from the Knights Templar? Was there any validity at all to what Baron von Hund had claimed? A whole series of questions were put forth and answers were demanded. When no one could come up with a satisfactory response, the whole thing was deemed a fraud. They got tired of the games and being conned, and enough was enough. Most of the members were nobility and aristocrats, and they didn’t take lightly to being dupped.

It wasn’t that they were play acting at being knights and that everyone knew it was playtime. No. They were conned into believing that this thing they were involved with was of a true and unbroken lineage from the original Knights Templar.

Golf trolleys
June 1, 2009

There is more masonic architecture present at the Schloss in Bad Wilhelmshoehe in Kassel and much more!

phantom
January 26, 2010

“Were they went wrong was in telling a tale and not backing it up with proof. Where were these so called Unknown Superiors? Did they exist at all? Where was the documentation that Strict Observance were directly descended from the Knights Templar? Was there any validity at all to what Baron von Hund had claimed? A whole series of questions were put forth and answers were demanded. When no one could come up with a satisfactory response, the whole thing was deemed a fraud. They got tired of the games and being conned, and enough was enough. Most of the members were nobility and aristocrats, and they didn’t take lightly to being dupped.

It wasn’t that they were play acting at being knights and that everyone knew it was playtime. No. They were conned into believing that this thing they were involved with was of a true and unbroken lineage from the original Knights Templar.”

But here is a strange thing: the concept of unknown superiors. If Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick was the highest known leader in the Templar Strict Observance, and the Templar Strict Observance itselve proclaimed that above the highest figureheads where unknown superiors, than the Duke would have to have been in contact with these superiors. If he wasn’t, then he by himselve would immidiatly know it was an entire fraud to begin with. This means that he would come out in the public about it or kept it silent and use the TSO as a instrument for his own advancement. Then why would he eventually after years went by call for an conference and all of a sudden he didn’t know anything?

Also as you said they weren’t playing a game of being knights. On the coat of arms of Hesse-Cassel of around that time we can find the red double-cross on a white background, which was known in early times to be a sign of high dignitaries of the Templar Order. So to incorparate this in your coat of arms would to me show you are quit serious about everything. And since Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel was second to Ferdinand of Brunswick he would have to have informed (in the case he didn’t know who the unknown superior was) to the Duke about orders from this unknown superior. This means the duke must have lied and given his own orders cause if he didn’t Charles would have known it was a fraud and wouldn’t incorparate it one his coat of arms, unless of course he also used the Templar Strict Observance as a tool (which I don’t think he did cause he was quite passionate about masonry and wanted to protect it). If the Duke however fooled the Prince into believing their was an unknown superior that he was using the order for his own advancement and if that is so why calling a conference and then pretending not to know anything?

The more I come to think about it the more it seems it just doens’t add up. What do you think of all of this with your knowledge about the Templar Strict Observance?

Also there seems to be more to the concept of a templar lineage then just a crazy thought. Now don’t ask me to further provide you information because my knowledge on this subject isn’t really spectacluar but this is writtin in a book by Alice Joly called: “A Lyonnais mystic and the secrets of freemasonry” in regard to a Meunier de Precourt (a contact of Willermoz):
“He cited the Teutonic Knights and the Germain Rose Croix to have been the Intermediaries between the Temple and Freemasonry” (most likely refering to the Strict Observance here).

Even if there wasn’t an unbroken lineage, a broken, or even if their wasn’t a lineage documents could have been forged if they wanted and Ferdinant Brunswick could have prepared a litle bit better then to open the conference with : “what is actually the aim of this order which I am grandmaster of?”.

Terry Melanson
January 26, 2010

Strict Observance (SO) is one of the most trickiest things to pin down precisely. The best info on the subject is in French: Le Forestier’s La Franc-Maçonnerie Templière et Occultiste aux XVIIIe et XIXe Siècles. More recently consult the studies by the Mason Alain Bernheim, in multiple languages.

The inventor of the rite was Baron von Hund. He and a con-artist named Johnson were the sole go-betweens for the so-called “Unknown Superiors.” Actually, the best article you can read in English on SO, is: ‘Reforming the Whole World’: Masonic Secrecy and Treason in Eighteenth-Century Germany. I’ve just uploaded it. Enjoy. It explains a lot.

Just to be clear, these were the questions that Wilhelmsbad was convoked to answer (written by Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick himself):

(1) Is the origin of the Order an ancient society?
(2) Are there really Unknown Superiors, and if so, who are they?
(3) What is the true aim of the Order?
(4) Is this aim the restoration of the Order of Templars?
(5) In what way should the ceremonial and rites be organized so as to be as perfect as possible?
(6) Should the Order occupy itself with secret sciences?

The above obviously says a lot about what he knew or didn’t know concerning the very Order he was appointed to head.

Matthew Cogliostro
January 20, 2011

Hmmmm…. Well let’s see, let’s go elementary with this for a second… We keep trying to tie orders together, secret master this and unknown that. Whether or not people were in trickery of true lineage to the Templar Knights or not, we know this.. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, many cathedrals(as well as other buildings of “stone”) were erected with the financing of Templar riches, these guilds in return were primarily Mason Guilds.. Some of the highest paid of any craft of there day.. So is it not hard to believe that even at the time of the demise of DeMolay and the Templar order, that Masons could have been Knights, and Knights masons(of course this is pre-dating the subsequent Masons that we have come to know as “accepted” practitioners as to be around the time of the 1717 merging into the G.L.O.E.). I think one fell into the other, just like a recurring theme, as in the instance of the 14th century beginnings of The Order of Christ. Like fleets vanishing from ports in France, and within decades one of the hosting kingdoms to this Order of Christ(Portugal), happens to have a great Naval advantage, to the point of starting an age of exploration(Prince Henry). If you want to charge the Templars with something, give them credit for bringing the enlightenment movement back to Europe, thus starting the Renaissance, which in itself came with such doctrines as The Hermetic, Humanism and Cabbala(Kabalah). No…?

Anait Brutian
April 22, 2011

Dear Terry Melanson,
My name is Anait Brutian (anaitbrutian@videotron.ca). I recently came across some of your articles and read then with great pleasure. Your research is impeccable, and the writing extremely good. Some of these papers were especially useful, since at the time I was working on a similar topic. I finished some of the papers and posted them on my Blog. The work is in 14 parts, to be read in sequence. I plan to include another set, for which the research is mostly finished. However, for the moment you can look at the parts that are already finished. These are the links:
The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 1* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-1/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 2* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-2/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 3* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-3/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 4* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-4/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 5* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-5/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 6* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-6/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 7* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/?p=107 The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 8* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-8/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 9* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/?p=113 The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 10* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-10/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 11* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-11/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 12* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-12/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 13* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-13/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 14 http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-14/

Anait Brutian (http://justproportion.wordpress.com)

P.S. Please contact me through my personal e-mail: anaitbrutian@videotron.ca

Terry Melanson
April 23, 2011

Thanks so much. I’ll have a look.

Anait Brutian
May 5, 2011

Dear Terry Melanson,
After posting the links on April 22, 2011, I discovered that two of the papers were not posted. I took care of the problem last night, and now the set is complete. These are the links:
The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 1* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-1/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 2* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-2/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 3* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-3/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 4* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-4/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 5* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-5/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 6* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-6/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 7* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-part-7/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 8* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-8/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 9* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-part-9/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 10* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-10/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 11* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-11/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 12* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-12/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 13* http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-13/ The Ominous Vortex of Illuminism – Part 14 http://justproportion.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/the-ominous-vortex-of-illuminism-%e2%80%93-part-14/

Anait Brutian (http://justproportion.wordpress.com)

Jeva Singh-Anand
June 10, 2013

In the absence of any actual “unknown Superiors,” quite a few scam artists showed up, claiming they had a direct link to them, and bilking a lot of people out of large sums of money. Baron von Hund, who established the rite, tried put control this problem, but it is widely thought in the Masonic community, that he was duped, just like the rest of them.

In the midst of the chaos, Knigge attempted to establish in the Illuminati Rite as a valid Masonic Rite, but without success. Well, he actually tried to sneak it in. Leopold Engel has stated that they would have stood a good chance of succeeding in the aftermath of the Wilhelmsbad Congress, had it not been for the fact that things went sour for the Illuminati in Bavaria.

Despite his thoroughly researched “History of the Illuminati-Order,” Engel was not neutral in the matter by a long shot, as he collaborated with Reuss on the order’s reconstitution, leading the new Illuminati long after Reuss had turned his attention to founding another secret society.

Terry Melanson
June 11, 2013

From one hidden tyranny to another. The Illuminati’s “moral regime” you referenced on your site earlier can be likened to another version of Strict Observance’s “Unknown Superiors.” The sample sent by Joe refers to the hidden masters in the Illuminati as “Holy Legion of Nobler Souls.” Likewise, Monika Neugebauer-Wölk’s brilliantly written and researched article in Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism translated it as “legion of noble ones.” The defector Renner, according to Barruel’s translation, said the superiors were known as the “Invisibles.” And similarly, Bode himself wrote:

We had not among us, properly speaking, secret chiefs; but recourse was had to a plan by which all exhortations to duty and blame for misconduct were not conveyed immediately from a known superior, whom his subordinates knew to be a man of like passions and frailties with themselves, but as if from a higher and invisible hand (!!). This was the persona mystica, Basilius, with which name all the answers to the (Q.L.) quaestiones loci among us were subscribed.

Jeva Singh-Anand
June 11, 2013

The term used refer to the Illuminati chiefs throughout the ritual is “erlauchte Obere,” “erlaucht” meaning “noble” or “illustrious” and “Obere” meaning “Chiefs,” but literally: “Superiors” — never “Invisibles” (”Unsichtbare” or even “Unbekannte,” i.e. “unknown.”).

Likewise, the exact wording of the “holy legion’s” name and who this legion actually refers to is not consistent in the German original: sometimes it’s just a specific degree and sometimes its the whole order, sometimes it’s just the “heilige Legion,” sometimes the “heilige Legion der Edlen,” “… der bessern Menschen,” etc. The Illuminati were a work in progress, and before the arrival of Knigge, your parallels between the S.O. and the Illuminati make sense. The S.O.’s unknown Superiors were imaginary, and so was the Illuminati’s higher order, until Knigge put it together. But the S.O.’s unknown Superiors were always imaginary, while the Illuminati’s chiefs were really anonymous.

I think you and I have already established that we don’t see eye to eye on the whole tyranny issue and whether or not the Illuminati had any good ideas, at all.

Cheers :-)

Terry Melanson
June 11, 2013

Thanks.

I didn’t quite understand your second paragraph in the first comment. Can you clarify what Engel was talking about re Knigge and “sneaking it in” and “good chance of succeeding”?

Have you read the Monika Neugebauer-Wölk Illuminaten entry in the Dictionary of Gnosis? I can email you it if you like. She talks about nearly everything worthy of note, in a concise and clear manner and using the latest from her work with scholars such as Schuttler and Markner. There’s a good overview of Knigge’s role and how he tried to inject some core teachings of Strict Observance which caused a backlash from the Gottingen faction (Koppe, Feder and Meiners, etc.) Weishaupt, in appeasement, had to rewrite the Directing Illuminati ritual to excise the “religious play-acting.”

Terry Melanson
June 11, 2013

Here’s a good excerpt from her, and the context of how she mentions the “legion of noble ones” and the “moral regime”:

The grand conception of this educational system of surveillance and direction within the Order aimed at creating a “legion of noble ones”, whose moral qualification would be fundamentally higher than the condition of contemporary bourgeois society.

The education of the “new man” was not an end in itself, but was supposed to train staff for a “moral regime”, which was to be secretly introduced within existing states. The political goal of the Illuminaten was thus not open revolution, but rather the hidden infiltration of the various forms of authority and institutions of the Ancien Régime in the age of the late Enlightenment. With a philosophy of history of human perfectibility taken from Rousseau’s triadic model, it was believed that over generations, indeed centuries, the Order could generate a process of political and social transformation leading to a society of rational citizens, still patriarchal in structure, but free from all other external authority. Any social structure exceeding the authority of the head of the family was regarded as dispensable in the future society of free and enlightened men. The social ideal of the leadership of the Illuminaten Order thus matched concepts of the anarchical utopia of the 18th century.

Terry Melanson
June 11, 2013

It’s always been this “hidden infiltration” by the Order that I’ve been the most opposed to; and the more I study this aspect, it is amply confirmed by the original writings themselves and primary source interpretors. It can’t be explained away if you’re honest about their real history. It’s also the their main modus operandi toward society at large and the reason why it is apt to call them conspiratorial in every sense of the word. In my view, this self-serving subversion renders moot any good ideas they may have stumbled on, or preached.

Jeva Singh-Anand
June 11, 2013

Terry, I’d like respond to your last comment first; I’ll need a little more (but not a whole lot) time to give you a decent answer to the other two.

I think we discussed via email that I had reservations about the Illuminati’s ethics when it came to implementing their ideas. Neugebauer-Wölk’s phrase “hidden infiltration” shows a remarkable degree of self-restraint. “Hostile takeover policy,” especially where German Freemasonry and the ex-Jesuits at Ingolstadt University were concerned, is a much more accurate description. Now, here’s where a trained historian, rather than a language-monkey like me, needs to step in and see if that was simply the way things got done in 18th Century Bavaria, if that’s how politics worked, i.e. the Illuminati didn’t misbehave any more than everyone else who was grabbing for power.

Still, it boils down to the old ethical dilemma whether the end always justifies the means or the way must always be the goal. It’s a dilemma they didn’t resolve very well, in my opinion.

Terry Melanson
June 11, 2013

I am quite intolerant of cronyism as well - even a hint of it - so it might play into how I look at it. It’s true though that others were attempting to use the same methods - their rival the Rosicrucians for one. They had managed to gain the upper hand and succeeded in controlling Prussia, as you may well be aware.

Jeva Singh-Anand
June 12, 2013

As far as Knigge sneaking in the Illuminati Rite, Engel cites an undated letter from Knigge to Zwack, where he suggests that during the then existing crisis (of the SO’s final days), when no one knew who was right or wrong anyway, it would be easy to constitute separate “Masonic” lodges without running into any real resistance. He pointed out that the Grand Lodge in London didn’t recognize the York Rite, for example, but no one was about to abolish it.

Knigge also recommended contacting the French Grand Lodge for authorization, as getting approval from the London GL would be more costly and involve more red tape.

A properly accepted rite is a big deal in Freemasonry, and there is a process that must be followed, which can be both, lengthy and costly. And messing with the three symbolic degrees is quite risky, because that can potentially mean that you won’t be admitted to other Lodges, say, when you’re traveling or visiting friends — not a big deal to an outsider, but to a Freemason very much so.

I’m not sure what the exact process is, though.

As far as the Illuminati having had a good chance at succeeding, Engel didn’t go into much detail, and this could merely be his own conclusion.

The Wilhelmsbad Congress was intended to resolve a major identity crisis in German Freemasonry, but other than declaring the SO Rite invalid because the “unknown Superiors” didn’t show themselves and no one could prove a clear link to the Knights Templar, it didn’t really resolve much.

Jeva Singh-Anand
June 12, 2013

Oh, and I’d very much like a copy of that dictionary entry. Thank you very much.

Terry Melanson
June 12, 2013

Engel write much about the Zinnendorf rite? Wasn’t that one of the flavours of masonry that the Illuminati deemed authentic?

Made some overtures to the Polish Grand Lodge as well, no?

Ed
February 18, 2014

I was able to confirm ferdinand of burnsiwk was member of the illuminati, but where is an official admission karl of hessen was?

Terry Melanson
February 18, 2014

There’s a whole sub-specialization on just Bavarian Illuminati membership. The latest to take into account all that came before is Hermann Schuettler. See this excerpt from another article on my site:

“One of the first researchers to make full use of the material was Hermann Schüttler. While utilizing his Die Mitglieder des Illuminatenordens 1776-1787/93 [The Members of the Order of the Illuminati 1776-1787/93] (Munich: Ars Una 1991) as a source for my own book, for instance, I was struck by how many times references to the Schwedenkiste were cited as proof of membership for a number of initiates. That was in 1991, however, when Volume X of the Swedish Box was still missing in Moscow. In 1997 he subsequently published “Zwei freimaurerische Geheimgesellschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts im Vergleich: Strikte Observanz und Illuminatenorden” [A Comparison of Two 18th-Century Masonic Secret Societies: Strict Observance and Illuminatenorden]. Whereas in 1991 the number of confirmed Illuminati members was 1255, Schüttler, largely by utilizing Volume X, managed to increase the number to 1394.”

It’s more involved than you may realize. Last I heard it was around 1,700 confirmed. “Confirmed” means either on a legitimate list found over the years (and many have been) or a self admission in some form; some may even be admissions from other members that were corroborated through other means. Mostly archival work. Get Shuttler’s book to see his methodology.

All the members above are confirmed - Ferdinand and Karle of Hessen-Kassel most definitely. I wouldn’t have claimed it if they were not. Alternatively from Schuttler - as it is hard to find, expensive and entirely in German anyway - see my own book Perfectibilists. I have bios on 448 members that spans a couple of hundred pages, utilizing Schuttler as a base for confirmed or not confirmed.

Terry Melanson
February 18, 2014

Karl of Hessen Kassel, just so you know, wrote about his initiation into the Illuminati, and why, in his autobiography in French. Not that it mattered anyway. The Original Writings, in 1787, already had his name in it as an initiate for all to see (and is confirmed many times over through subsequent archives and other lists, etc). He was initiated by J. J. C. Bode and joined on the condition that he be shown the highest mysteries of Order immediately and have a say over who could join in his district. It seems it was calculated so that he could keep an eye on them. In his autobio, he admits as much. He knew that they were radicals (while he was a conservative mystic). He also makes an implicit suggestion that revolutionary plans were hatched at Wilhelmsbad, though he wasn’t sure what exactly.

Ed
February 24, 2014

Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I am very interested in the Asiatic Brethren that he and ferdinand opened in their district, I read all about it in Jacob Kat’z “freemasonry and the jews”, it actually details fully (when understanding the two were illuminatus, that they opened up a frankist lodge for the illuminati. the frankist had alot in common with the bavarians, their leader constantly spoke against the state and religion and its abolition, the freedom of mankind, and they two had two factions, one very rational, the other very mystical. moses doubruska one of the leaders of the siatics, went on to help tha jacobins in the french revolution, he was then the leader of the entire frankists, who now found in the french revolution their whole doctrines and aspirations set in motion.

I know like hessen, ferdinand as well saw radicalism in the bavarians, and even witnessed against them.

MithrandirOlorin
June 6, 2014

The popular conspiratorial claim that Weishaupt was reunited by Meyer Rothschild to found the Illuminati, and presented to a meeting of 12 Business partners of Rothschild in either 1770 or 1773 is a claim I’ve fond no documentation for and so I deem it a myth.

But it’s interesting upon reading this article today that the leading Mason of this conference, and the number 2 man in all all German Masonry at this time was Prince Karl, Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel I find interesting. because his Brother who’s also named in this article was the man who both sold Hessian mercenaries to British during the Revolutionary War, and had strong ties to Meyer Rothschild.

Both bothers where also first Cousins of the then King of England. The Hannover dynasty was German in origin, and intermarried back into various of the same German noble families who were their Cousins. So I also find his status as a very hihg ranking Mason supportive of the popular theory that Masonic and Rosicrucian societies were key vehicles of British Intelligence following the Elizabethan era.

Terry Melanson
June 7, 2014

During this period Rothschild was a nobody as far as Hesse-Kassel was concerned. He tried to gain a foothold in 1780s with little success. In 1783, for instance, he still had to get a special pass to even leave the Jewish ghetto. It wasn’t until 1789 that he managed an economical relationship with William, and only became important financially to the court in the early 1800s.

No Jews allowed in the Illuminati (certainly in Freemasonry as well) let alone an illiterate Jew from the ghetto. The Illuminati were comprised of the educated class at the court and in universities. Rothschild wouldn’t have been in this circle at this time - and wasn’t.

MithrandirOlorin
June 7, 2014

Indeed. I haven’t even verified the claim that the Rothschilds ever became Freemasons at any point.

Annother unverified myth about the Rothschilds is the one about Nathan taking taking over the British Stock market by creating a false rumor about the outcome of Waterloo.

MithrandirOlorin
June 8, 2014

I find it funny when people say it’s absurd to use Illuminati as synonymous with the Elite/Ruling class of the world today by simply pointing out that it was in fact founded with a very anti-Status quo agenda. But as a result of this conference many members of elite German noble families, with direct ties to the Hannover dynasty, became Illuminati. And you’ve documented that Ernest II of Gotha who harbored Spartacus was an inducted member. His Family soon became the Royal Family of England. It is exactly these families that were the least scathed by the Revolutions of the 19th Century, and their heirs and close friends are the entirety of the ruling class, in the Western World, today.

I think it’s reasonable to speculate, that among those people who became member but that we have no documentation for are other members of those same families, and that membership became a family tradition. And the Hesse-Kessel family in the early 1800s may have brought Rothschild in when they saw how talented he was. But making Rothschild the originator of the conspiracy is absurd.

Two individuals who I’m very curious about if they could have become Illuminati, are the then reigning William of orange, another Grandson of King George II. And Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours?

Terry Melanson
June 8, 2014

What’s wrong with the Elite or the Ruling Class or the Oligarchy or the Cryptocracy? All have more concrete meanings than to bandy about “Illuminati” just because it sounds sinister or that some of their ancestors may have been a part of it. If it is conspiracy that they aspire to, I certainly don’t think that they need any particular name for it to be attached to. They can manage it quit efficiently without one.

MithrandirOlorin
June 8, 2014

That is correct, which is why I view the Illuminati as ultimately just one vehicle they used.

MithrandirOlorin
June 13, 2014

One of Wesbter’s claims I have not been able to back up is that there were factions during the French Revolution that considered making the Duke of Brunswick King. That along with the parallel claim about York. That the Duke of Orleans was being funded by the British, and that the Siege of the Bastile and similar Uprising really used hired mercenaries are all things I want to learn more about if their true or not.

For some reason I can’t view this site on Firefox now, a weird Plugin keeps taking over the site. I’m on Chrome now.

Terry Melanson
June 13, 2014

Webster got the Dukes of Brunswick mixed up on numerous occasions throughout her works. The Ferdinand of Brunswick who fought against the revolutionaries, and was famous for the Brunswick Manifesto, was Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1735-1806). Not Illuminati. The member of the Illuminati was Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg -Wolfenbüttel (1721-1792). He retired from the military in 1766 and devoted the remainder of his life to leisurely pursuits, chief among them Freemasonry. The former was the nephew of the latter. She got them mixed up all over the place in her works.

As far as her many claims about Duke d’Orleans, follow her sources and check if those she cited are still cited as authorities now. And if not, why?

MithrandirOlorin
June 13, 2014

I don’t even actually have her book yet, right now I’m going off just the overview of it in Secrecy or Freedom.

to
July 4, 2014

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