by Terry Melanson (08/11/2008)

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

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

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.

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

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
  • 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
  • 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) [brother of Illuminatus Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg]; 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.