THE ILLUMINATI
(1776 - 1784)
A Concise Account

      To be brief, one Adam Weishaupt - at a time when national revolution was popular (1776) - failed to create a new and powerful society.

      He did, however, manage to leave a dark and inspirational legacy. If there is any form of continuum of the infamous “Illuminati,” it is to be found in the inspiration of the modern composite of integrated power networks, operating as the “New World Order,” announced by George Bush Senior, in the shadow of the 1991 “Gulf War.” There should be no doubt that such is operating in high gear. Inspiration aside, there is no viable evidence of the survival of the Illuminati, per se.

The order began as the “Order of Perfectibilists.” It survived approximately eighteen years, essentially ending in 1784 – by Bavarian royal decree; also forbidding Freemasonry, or any other similar society. Beyond wild fantasies, passionate claims, leaping logic and paranoia; there only remains a computer game, of the same title.

It is not illogical to fear any powerful society, not tempered by charity. Lord Acton left a permanent legacy in his statement, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts – absolutely.” In evidence, today (2009) we are seeing the appropriate re-examination of the Bush Jr. Administration, in the light of American War Crimes.

In the history of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, with the aid of Baron von Knigge and others, assembled the controversial society; reportedly on May 1, 1776, in Bavaria. It was ordered to be disbanded in 1784; disappearing completely by the end of the century. There is no reliable evidence that it “…went underground,” to arise at a more opportune time.

          The Illuminati was formed independently of any Masonic connection, save the coincidence of membership in the Illuminati, by some of its founders. There was the firm goal to somehow ‘absorb’ the Freemasons; and their Lodges. The Illuminati emulated many of the traits and rituals of Freemasonry, aided by a number of prominent Freemasons within the association.

          Unfortunately for the institution, Freemasonry has received the brunt of no small number of accusations, attempting to inject a false association between Freemasonry and the (long dead) Illuminati. The wide range of enemies of Freemasonry encourage the premise that “Illuminism” (Illuminati) and Freemasonry are essentially identical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, Americans, in particular, are typically ignorant of the fact that the Masons are responsible for the American Revolution and the American Constitution, with the dynamic assistance of many others, outside the Craft.

Any knowledgeable Mason will advise that the entirety of the “Craft” can be found in a large number of ‘exposures,’ dating from the mid eighteenth century. Certainly, the signs in front of the Lodges & the personal Masonic symbols, from rings to bumper-stickers, attest to the falsehood of the Craft being any form of ‘secret society.’

Returning to the origins of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt was a Professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt. In that tenure, he conceived his notion of founding a moral order – essentially a ‘network’ – employing mutual aide and benefit, through superior counsel and philosophic evolution. His plan did contain the Masonic traits of morality and virtue, for which no explanation or apology is necessary.

Weishaupt was intent upon creating a foundation, attempting the reformation of the world, while opposing the apparent progress of the ‘evil,’ of the time. Obviously, Weishaupt developed a contempt for the Catholic Church, in particular.

His original objectives were developed under the name, "Order of Perfectibilists" or "Perfectionists;" which soon became the infamous “Illuminati.” The term "Illuminati" was apparently intended to mean "intellectually inspired," at a minimum; while seeming to attempt the development of a system of superior and powerful knowledge – an attempt common to most cultures, during the course of all recorded history.

Although his original goals were probably admirable, they were naïve bait for those already in power. His greatest mistake was to underestimate the intense survival commitment of the Church and Crown.

History strongly suggests that Weishaupt’s judgment was badly outweighed by his dreams. He lived in a very crude – nigh unto barbaric – time. Whatever the stated ideals of the time, the Church could be as brutal as any peasant rebellion.

The trustworthy accounts of the Illuminati indicate that Weishaupt, and his aids, looked to Freemasonry as a springboard, via ‘slight’ modification of the entrenched society. Instead, the association – however slight – only served to degrade Freemasonry. The attempt to prostitute Freemasonry was a total failure, but not without a very negative effect on the Craft – to the present time!  

Weishaupt’s attempts at being shrewd were counter-productive. He had a certain magnitude of success, but only briefly. It should be illustrated that Weishaupt formerly belonged to the Jesuits. It may be assumed that he discovered something disturbing about the society, given his later efforts.

Weishaupt joined Freemasonry, ironically, in a Lodge in Bavaria, in 1777; named the "Lodge of Caution." Weishaupt eventually became associated with Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwid Baron Von Knigge. The history of that association is vague, given that Von Knigge resided in Northern Germany; far from Weishaupt’s normal travels. Von Knigge was a valuable asset to Weishaupt, as Von Knigge was of nobility.

However, after Von Knigge was initiated into Freemasonry, in 1773, he reportedly showed little further interest in the organization. His involvement in the Illuminati is not too surprising, as during that period it was common for noblemen to become members of any order in Germany which claimed any connection to Freemasonry.

      In 1780, Weishaupt is reported to have sent the Marquis de Costanzo to the north, to propagate his Illuminism; where it is probable that the Order was brought to the attention of Von Knigge.

By all accounts, Von Knigge showed immediate interest in the society; becoming more enthusiastic as the plan was revealed to him. In 1781, Von Knigge accepted an invitation to visit Bavaria, to be given full access to Weishaupt's materials. Von Knigge completed the degrees of the Illuminati, becoming a zealous proponent of Illuminism; combining his efforts with the further assistance of Johann J. C. Bode, a prominent German Freemason.

In its beginning, the order quickly became very popular, attracting a wide range of German characters, from nobility to scoundrels.  At its peak, the order is claimed to have a roll of 2000 names. The Illuminism quickly spread all over Europe, into France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, and Italy.

          It is worth observing that Von Knigge, was known to be a highly religious and intellectual man; and would, in all likelihood, have had no association with any order which was remotely anti-Christian.

          In time, Weishaupt & the Illuminati were subject to a variety of nefarious attacks and accusations. Chief among the opponents were a French priest Abbé Barruel and John Robison, author of “Proofs of a Conspiracy,” in 1797. That work alleged that there was a major social threat by both the Illumaniti and the Freemasons.  

Independently Barruel and Robison came to the same opinion that the Illuminati had infiltrated Continental Freemasonry, resulting in the violent excesses of the French Revolution.

In 1798, a copy of Robison's book was shipped to George Washington for his review. Washington admitted his concerns that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism (return of Catholic influence over England) had reached American shores. However, there is no viable suggestion that the Illuminati became much more than a notion, in the previous English colonies.

The Illuminati was quickly beset by internal extremes of conflict. Von Knigge became disgusted and resigned in 1784.

The Jesuits fought the Illuminati from its first days. In time all Catholic priests were actively opposing the Order. The Bavarian government suppressed the Order; as well as Freemasonry, by edict, in 1784. Sufficient charges were made, that many of the members of the Illuminati were thrown into prison, with others, including Weishaupt, forced to leave Bavaria, removing to Gotha, Germany – a town of no small historical significance.

          In Gotha, Weishaupt passionately defended his ideas in a list of works on Illuminism, including "A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria" (1785), "A Picture of Illuminism" (1786), "An Apology for the Illuminati" (1786) and "An Improved System of Illuminism" (1787). Weishaupt died in 1811.

      By the end of the 18th century, the Illuminati left no more history, as anything more than the continuing paranoid mythology.

          To be fair, it should be noted that history records Weishaupt as being a person of commendable moral character, as well as an intelligent and a profound thinker. Despite the internal conflicts of the Illuminati, Von Knigge, spoke highly of Weishaupt’s intellectual powers.

History suggests that Weishaupt became a victim of his own human failings. While he apparently felt that he had justifiable hatred the Church of Rome and the Bavarian government, his judgment failed him, as to a dynamic means to create a secret movement such as his Illuminism.  

By all appearances, Weishaupt attempted to employ the methodology of the Jesuits, whom he apparently hated, using a system of secrecy and spies.  It is unfortunate for the Masonic fraternity that Weishaupt attempted to employ Freemasonry as a vehicle to advance his purposes. In consequence, Freemasonry is unjustly associated with the Illuminati, in modern times.  

      Unless one is given to such high levels of accountability, as to hold the Christian religion responsible for the Crusades and the infamous "Inquisition," in the current time frame, then it is only appropriate to regard the Illuminati in terms of:

 

The Illuminati

BORN 1776

DIED 1784

Rest in Silence

 

 

         

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