Much is said and speculated about the Illuminati. No other secret society except the Masons has generated so much misinformation, legends and hysteria. As mentioned in my previous blog that Illuminati is not an ancient society as mentioned in Angels and Demons, but founded in 1776. So let me present you the chronological overview about the secret society, which I have gathered from different sources. It’s going to be long and boring but hope that you find it informative.
1776 May 1.
In Bavaria, Dr. Adam Weishaupt founds the Order of the Illuminati with an original membership of five, within the existing masonic lodges of Germany. The Order is secret, hierarchical and modeled on the Jesuits. The original name for the Order was uncertain: Perfectibilists and Bees were both considered, but Weishaupt settled on Illuminati – chosen, perhaps, because of the “image of the sun radiating illumination to outer circles” .The Order was, therefore, always represented in communications between members as a circle with a dot in the center. Weishaupt eschewed the notion of seizing existing political structures, something truly exceptional for most revolutionists;
Like most secret societies the basic structure of the Order was divided into classes and degrees, in the following manner:
1. The Nursery
I. Preparatory Literary Essay
II. Novitiate (Novice)
III. Minerval (Brethren of Minerva, Academy of Illuminism)
IV. Illuminatus Minor
2. Symbolic Freemasonry
II. Fellow Craft
a. Scots Major Illuminatus
b. Scots Illuminatus Dirigens (Directory)
a. Presbyter, Priest, or Epopt
b. Prince or Regent
b. Rex or King
Weishaupt is initiated into Freemasonry, in Munich, at the Lodge Theodore of Good Counsel. By the middle of 1779, Weishaupt’s “Insinuators” had completely wrestled control of the Lodge and it was regarded as part of the Order of the Illuminati.
July. Baron von Knigge is initiated into the Order. Knigge was connected to the court of Hesse-Cassel and a prominent Strict Observance freemason. He subsequently restructured the Order and recruited many prominent members: “the notion of restricting the field of recruiting solely to the young was abandoned, and this phase of the propaganda was widened so as to include men of experience whose wisdom and influence might be counted upon to assist in attaining the objects of the order.” By 1784, largely due to Knigge’s circle of influence, the Illuminati had “between two and three thousand members.”
July 16. Congress of Wilhelmsbad convened. Probably the most significant event of the era as far as any official coalition between secret society factions:
It was not until the Congress de Wilhelmsbad that the alliance between Illuminism and Freemasonry was finally sealed.
April 20. Baron von Knigge resigns from the Illuminati. His quarrels with Weishaupt over the direction and management of the Order had reached a boiling point. A certain amount of jealousy was apparent from both parties – though Weishaupt certainly was a Machiavellian, by all accounts.
June 22. The Elector of Bavaria, Duke Carl Theodore, issues the first edict against secret societies not authorized by the law or the sovereign.
July 1. Knigge signs a formal agreement to return all property, rituals and initiations belonging to the Order, and to maintain silence about Illuminati secrets. Knigge was convinced of Weishaupt’s Jesuitism; he accused him of being “a Jesuit in disguise.”
This first edict seems to have been brought upon by ex-member, Professor Joseph Utzschneider, who had quit the Order in August 1783. Just a few months later, in October, Utzschneider along with Grünberger and Cosandey, fellow professors with him in the Marianen (Marienburg) Academy and members of the Order, presented the Duchess Maria Anna with an internal Illuminati document, and a membership list. The Duchess was thoroughly alarmed and passed it on to the Duke.
February. Some members of the Illuminati appeal to Carl Theodore for an appearance before him to prove their innocence. The offer is rejected.
March 2. The Bavarian Monarch issues the second edict against secret societies, specifically naming the Illuminati and Freemasonry; shortly after a considerable amount of important documents were concealed or put to the flames. This second ban was more forceful, it “left no room for evasion.” The government enforcers were giving weapons to “wage an effective command.”
Weishaupt had already left his post at the University two weeks earlier, obviously knowing about the approaching storm. “He fled across the border to Regensburg, and finally settled at Gotha” under the protection of Illuminati member Duke of Saxe-Gotha.
Judicial inquiries were held at Ingolstadt. Subsequent government measures were taken and some members made formal confessions. A considerable membership was found to be held within the military; officers and soldiers were ordered to come forward and confess any involvement. State officials, professors, teachers, and students who were found out to be members were summarily dismissed. Some were even banished from the country.
September 9. Utzschneider, Grünberger, and Cosandey make a joint Juridical Deposition before the Elector.
October 11. Police search Xavier Zwack’s residence in Landshut. A number of books and over two hundred letters, between Weishaupt and the Areopagites, were confiscated. The documents were published by the Bavarian government under the title Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens.
The evidence discovered at Zwack’s residence was considerable: besides the secret communications between the Illuminati Adepts, the authorities found tables containing the Order’s symbols and the Persian calendar; membership rosters, statutes, instructions for recruiters, ceremonies of initiation and imprints of the Order’s insignia; a eulogy of atheism and a copy of a manuscript entitled Better Than Horus; a proposal for a branch of Illuminism for woman; several hundred impressions of Government seals (with a list of their owners, princes, nobles, clergymen, merchants, etc.), for the purposes of counterfeiting; instructions for the making of the poison Aqua Toffana, poisonous gas and secret ink; “an infernal machine” for the safeguarding of secret papers – apparently a strong box that would blow up, destroying its contents; and receipts for procuring abortion and a formula for making a tea to induce the procedure.
In the space of a few months, in 1786 – in order to save face – Weishaupt pens 9 different apologetic pamphlets, most notably: Apologie der Illuminaten, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786, and Vollständige Geschichte der Verfolgung der Illuminaten in Bayern, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786. [VS]
As a result of further police searches of Baron Bassus’ castle at Sandersdorf, the Bavarian government published more secret documents of the Order: Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften …
August 16. The third and final edict against the Order is put into effect by the Duke of Bavaria.
There have been numerous theories since then that the Illuminati had survived within the Masons and represented an ongoing international conspiracy, including the claim that it was behind the French revolution. But we can never be sure.
The first cipher used by the Illuminati novice
The Hieroglyphic cipher used by the Illuminati.