View Full Version : A Bavarian Illuminati Primer

Thursday, January 26th, 2006, 05:03 PM
"As Weishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot and priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, and the principles of pure morality. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment.... If Weishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavors to render men wise and virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose."
- Thomas Jefferson

It is difficult, in the modern English-speaking world, to determine exactly what the Illuminati of Bavaria really was. Although both John Robison and the Abbé Barruel published their accusations and theories in English, the source documents have remained in their native German. Robison freely admitted that he had scanty knowledge of German and had derived all his information from other writers. Unfortunately neither he nor Barruel were concerned with providing references for their sources. When they do quote from the papers and correspondence of the Order as published by the Bavarian government or the published works of Adam Weishaupt and Adolph Knigge, they also fail to provide context or citations.

Adam Weishaupt was born February 6, 1748 at Ingolstadt and educated by the Jesuits. His appointment as Professor of Natural and Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt in 1775, a position previously held by one of the recently disbanded Jesuits, gave, it is said, great offence to the clergy. "Weishaupt, whose views were cosmopolitan, and who knew and condemned the bigotry and superstitions of the Priests, established an opposing party in the University...." Weishaupt was not then a freemason; he was initiated into a Lodge of Strict Observance, Lodge Theodore of Good Council (Theodor zum guten Rath), at Munich in 1777.

Most information regarding the rituals and objectives of the order is derived from papers and correspondence found in a search of Xavier Zwack's residence in Landshut on October 11, 1786, and a search of Baron Bassus's castle of Sondersdorf in Bavaria in 1787. These documents were published by the Bavarian government, under the title: Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, Munich, 1787. Perhaps the best English exposition on the Order is found in Chapter III of Vernon L. Stauffer's New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, pp. 142-228.

As an example of the mythology that surrounds the history of the Illuminati, note that Barruel claimed that Lanz, an Illuminati courier and apostate priest, was struck by lightning, thus revealing Weishaupt's papers to the authorities, but this does not appear to be substantiated. This error was widely reprinted and enlarged on by subsequent anti-masons whose lack of research and disdain for historical accuracy has lead them to confuse Johann Jakob Lanz (d.1785), a non-Illuminati secular priest in Erding, and friend of Weishaupt, with Franz Georg Lang, a court advisor in Eichstätt who was active in the Illuminati under the name Tamerlan.

Barruel mistakenly translated "weltpriester", or secular priest, as apostate priest and subsequent writers such as Webster and Miller have repeated this error. Eckert renamed Weishaupt's friend as Lanze and had him struck by lightning while carrying dispatches in Silesia. Miller cited Eckert but renamed Lanz as Jacob Lang and placed the lightning strike in Ratisbon. This is a minor detail in the history but it demonstrates the lack of accuracy often displayed by detractors of the Illuminati.

Neither Robison nor Barruel deny that the professed goal of the Order was to teach people to be happy by making them good — to do this by enlightening the mind and freeing it from the dominion of superstition and prejudice. But they refused to accept this at face value. Where Weishaupt and Knigge promoted a freedom from church domination over philosophy and science, Robison and Barruel saw a call for the destruction of the church. Where Weishaupt and Knigge wanted a release from the excesses of state oppression, Robison and Barruel saw the destruction of the state. Where Weishaupt and Knigge wanted to educate women and treat them as intellectual equals, Robison and Barruel saw the destruction of the natural and proper order of society.

The rituals were of a rationalistic and not occult nature. Status as a freemason was not required for initiation into the Order of Illuminati since the fourth, fifth and sixth degrees of Weishaupt and Baron Adolphe-François-Frederic Knigge's system practically duplicated the three degrees of symbolic Freemasonry. Although Knigge claimed to have a system of ten degrees, the last two appear never to have been fully worked up.

"The Order was at first very popular, and enrolled no less than two thousand names upon its registers.... Its Lodges were to be found in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Knigge, who was one of its most prominent working members, and the auther of several of its Degrees, was a religious man, and would never have united with it had its object been, as has been charged, to abolish Christianity. But it cannot be denied, that in the process of time abuses had crept into the Institution and that by the influence of unworthy men, the system became corrupted; yet the course accusations of Barruel and Robison are known to be exaggerated, and some of them altogether false.... The Edicts [on June 22, 1784, for its suppression] of the Elector of Bavaria [Duke Karl Theodor] were repeated in March and August, 1785 and the Order began to decline, so that by the end of the eighteenth century it had ceased to exist.... it exercised while in prosperity no favorable influence on the masonic institution, nor any unfavorable effect on it by its dissolution.

In 1785 Weishaupt was deprived of his chair and banished with pension from the country. He refused the pension and moved to Regenburg, subsequently finding asylum with the Count of Saxe-Gotha, Ernst. Weishaupt was later appointed a professor at the University of Gottingen, remaining there until his death in 1830 (Albert Mackey says 1811).

Coil describes the order as a "short lived, meteoric and controversial society" while Kenning refers to it as a "mischievous association". In his own defence, Weishaupt wrote:

"Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship; whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overcoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing itself by deeds of benevolence; whoever shuns idleness; whoever considers no knowledge as unessential which he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart, - such a one is a proper candidate."
"The tenor of my life has been the opposite of everything that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge."

As regards any information derived from the celebrated anti-mason, John Robison: "In the (London) Monthly Magazine for January 1798 there appeared a letter from Böttiger, Provost of the College of Weimar, in reply to Robison's work, charging that writer with making false statements, and declaring that since 1790 'every concern [sic] of the Illuminati has ceased.' Böttiger also offered to supply any person in Great Britain, alarmed at the erroneous statements contained in the book above mentioned, with correct information."

Following is a short list of the more notable members:
Adam Weishaupt Professor
Adolph Von Knigge Baron
Xavier von Zwack Lawyer, judge and electoral councillor
Christoph Friedrich Nicolai [Nicholai] Bookseller
Westenrieder Professor
Hertel Canon
Thomas Maria De Bassus Baron
Johann Simon Mayr Composer
Dietrich Mayor of Strasbourg
Johann J. C. Bode Privy councillor
William von Busche Baron
Saint Germain compte de
de Constanzo Marquis
Ferdinand of Brunswick Duke
Ernst of Gotha Duke
Johann W. Goethe author

Of the 67 names published by the Abbé Barruel, 10 were professors, 13 were nobles, 7 were in the church, 3 were lawyers and the balance were drawn from the growing middle class: mostly government officials and merchants and a few military officers.

John M. Roberts claims that "[Weishaupt] rapidly rationalized difficulties growing out of his own rashness and taste for intrigue as the product of obscurantism and soon envisaged wider purposes for his society" while Robert Gilbert feels that Christopher McIntosh "overestimates the strength and significance of the Illuminati.

Researchers are directed to a list of books and pamphlets written by Weishaupt found at the end of this paper. A further bibliography can be found in Vernon L. Stauffer's New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, pp. 185-86. The United Grand Lodge of England Library catalogue includes: P.4. Adam Weishaupt, Uber den allgorischen Geist des Alterthums. Regensburg, 1794. 8vo.

Evidence would suggest that the Bavarian Illuminati was nothing more than a curious historical footnote. Certainly, this is the opinion of masonic writers. Conspiracy theorists though, are not noted for applying Occam's razer and have decided that there are connections between the Illuminati, Freemasonry, the Trilateral Commission, British Emperialism, International Zionism and (if you read the writings of Alberto Rivera and Jack T. Chick of Chino California) communism, that all lead back to the Vatican (or if David Icke is to be believed, the British house of Windsor and extra-terrestrial lizard people) in a bid for world domination. Believe what you will but there is no evidence that any Illuminati survived its founders.
It should be noted that the compiler of these notes, and of the Anti-masonry FAQ, is neither the founder nor the moderator of the newsgroup alt.illuminati. This unmoderated newsgroup was created by Gregg Bloom, a software programmer and systems manager, on April 16, 1993. He has never posted to the newsgroup. Peter Trei posted the Bavarian Illuminati FAQ in November 1992 and Trevor W. McKeown first posted the Bavarian Illuminati Primer on February 18, 1996. Neither participated in the creation of the newsgroup nor are active in maintaining any archive. While a number of online cataloguers of FAQs have automatically credited Trevor W. McKeown as the newsgroup moderator, this is an error.

Source (http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/illuminati.html)