Category: Secret Societies

10 Notable Members of the Bavarian Illuminati


by Terry Melanson (22/2/2011) [also available in PDF]

1. Charles-Pierre-Paul, Marquis de Savalette de Langes (1745-1797)

Savalette de Langes was the son of Charles Pierre Savalette de Magnanville (1713-1790) – intendant of the Generality of Tours (1745) and Keeper of the Royal Treasury from 1756 to 1788 – and Marie-Émilie Joly de Choin (1726-1776), the daughter of a fermier général. In 1773, like his father, Savalette de Langes became a Keeper of the Royal Treasury; 1790/91, Captain of the Paris National Guard in the battalion of Saint Roch and aide-de-campe to Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834).1

Gardes du Trésor royal (i.e. keeper of the royal treasury) was a heredity title. On the significance of the post, Roland Mousnier writes:

The highest-ranking receveur-payeurs were the two gardes du Trésor royal. According to the edict of June 1748 this office was worth 1,200,000 livres. They earned 5 percent of the official value of the office in salary plus 12,000 additional livres when they were actually on duty; they also received 1,500 livres in salary for their work on the council and 60,000 livres, increased by Necker to 85,000, to cover the wages and expenses of their commis. These offices were family property. In 1749 Charles-Pierre Savalette de Magnanville took the first of the two posts. In 1773 his son, Charles-Pierre-Paul Savalette de Langes became his assistant and designated heir. In November 1785 they switched positions, Langes becoming the titulary of the post and Magnanville his assistant and designated heir. Both men were maîtres des requêtes and conseillers d’Etat. The father was for a time intendant of Tours. The family could claim three degrees of nobility and thus came close, in principle, to the gentilhommerie.2

One of the most active and influential Masons of his time, Savalette de Langes was first initiated in 1766 at the Lodge “L’Union Indivisible” in Lille, he was the founder of the Paris Lodge “Les Amis Réunis” (1771), Regime of the Philalèthes (1773), and convoked the Philalèthes Convents of Paris in 1785 and 1787. From the beginning Savalette was on the side of the Duke de Chartres (future Duke d’Orléans) for the creation of the Grand Orient, and after this was accomplished (1773) Savalette subsequently became its Grand Officer and Archivist. He was also a member of the Paris Lodge “L’Olympique de la Parfaite Estime” from 1783-88, the founder of “La Société Olympique” in 1785, and a member of the Paris Lodge “Centre des Amis” in 1793.3

Permanent, official correspondence between the Illuminati and Savalette’s Amis Réunis was established in 1784. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig von Beulwitz (1755-1829), the head of the Rudolstadt Illuminati was initiated into the Amis Réunis in 1784, while visiting Paris, and received into the 11th class of the Philalèthes. Another Illuminatus, Sigismund Falgera (1752-1790) was already initiated into the Amis Réunis in 1784 (to 1789) and was appointed the official Illuminati correspondent/liaison to the Paris Lodge.4 Yet even before this, other Illuminati were simultaneously members of the Amis Réunis – Count Kolowrat, for one (see below) – and it would be hard to believe that they hadn’t at least tried to “Illuminize” this most important Lodge in Paris. In this regard, about all we can safely say is that there remains a lack of documentation about any successes the Illuminati may have had in France before 1787.



The Influence of the Illuminati and Freemasonry on German Student Orders (and Vice Versa)


by Terry Melanson (7/1/2010)

Not widely known is the fact that some of the key ideas behind the creation of the Bavarian Illuminati came from a member of a German Studentenorden.

In 1776 Adam Weishaupt confided to one of his students, eighteen year-old Franz Anton von Massenhausen, that he was thinking of creating a secret society (at the University of Ingolstadt) to combat the influence of both the Jesuits and the Rosicrucians. Massenhausen had told Weishaupt that this was good idea, and that he already had some experience in this area. Before matriculating at Ingolstadt, Massenhausen informed his teacher, he had been a member of a student secret society in Göttingen; he went on to describe the manner in which they operated, its statutes, and the attire they wore. Taking this as a model, then, on May 1st 1776 Weishaupt, Massenhausen and three others, formed the Order of the Perfectibilists.1

It is ironic that such should be the case, for afterwards the Illuminati, in turn, had not only infiltrated various educational establishments but student societies as well. As Klaus Epstein explains it:

The famous Karlsschule in Stuttgart (Schiller’s alma mater) had several Illuminati on its staff. The educational movement headed by Basedow taught Illuminati principles, though Basedow himself apparently never joined the order. The University of Göttingen had several Illuminati among its professors, which led Weishaupt to exclaim with surprise that Ingolstadt was giving the law to its far more distinguished North German rival. Tutorial positions offered excellent leverage for working for the future triumph of the Aufklärung: the prominent Illuminat Leuchsenring served, for example, as tutor to the Prussian crown prince who became Frederick William III (though the later conduct of his pupil must have disappointed him).2 The two leading student societies (Studentenorden), the Konstantisten and the Schwarze Brüder, were both infiltrated by Illuminati. The actual influence of the order upon the education of Germany’s youth obviously cannot be quantitatively defined, and statistical calculations of the infiltration of the professorate are equally impossible to make.3 These examples suffice to explain, however, the fact that Conservatives called for a drastic purge of educational institutions.4



Masonic Emblems on Coins and Medallions during the French Revolution


by Terry Melanson, April 24th, 2012 (Update/Introduction Aug 11, 2015)

The impetus for this compilation of numismatic Masonic symbolism during the French Revolution stems from a single paragraph (and accompanying end notes) in James H. Billington’s Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (pp. 93, 537-8):

In the early days of the revolution, Masonry provided much of the key symbolism and ritual—beginning with the Masonic welcome under a “vault of swords” of the king at the Hotel de Ville three days after the fall of the Bastille.[36] To be sure, most French Masons prior to the revolution had been “not revolutionaries, not even reformers, nor even discontent”;[37] and, even during the revolution, Masonry as such remained politically polymorphous: “Each social element and each political tendency could ‘go masonic’ as it wished.”[38] But Masonry provided a rich and relatively nontraditional foraging ground for new national symbols (coins, songs, banners, seals), new forms of address (tu, frère, vivat!), and new models for civic organizations, particularly outside Paris.[39]


36. On the use of the voûte d’acier on Jul 17, see J. Palou, La Franc-maçonnerie, 1972, 187.
37. D. Mornet, Les Origines intellectuelles de la révolution française (1715–1787), 1954, 375; discussion 357–87; bibliography, 523–5; and outside of France, Billington, Icon, 712–4. A. Mellor, Les Mythes maçonniques, (1974) also minimizes Masonic influence, though vaguely acknowledging the influence of the occultist revival on the revolutionary movement.
38. Ligou, “Source,” 46, also 49.
39. This subject has never been comprehensively studied. For the best discussions in general terms, see O. Karmin, “L’Influence du symbolisme maçonnique sur le symbolisme révolutionnaire,”Revue Historique de la Révolution Française, 1910, I, 183–8 (particularly on numismatics); J. Brengues, “La Franc-maçonnerie et la fête révolutionnaire,” Humanisme, 1974, Jul–Aug, 31– 7; Palou, 181–215; R. Cotte, “De la Musique des loges maçonniques à celles des fêtes révolutionnaires,” Les Fêtes de la révolution, 1977, 565–74; and the more qualified assessment of Ligou, “Structures et symbolisme maçonniques sous la révolution,” Annales Historiques, 1969, Jul Sep, 511–23. 
For the heavy reliance on Masonic structures in provincial civic rituals, see, for instance, F. Vermale, “La Franc maçonnerie savoisienne au début de la révolution et les dames de Bellegarde,” Annales Révolutionnaires, III, 1910, 375–94; and especially the monumental work for la Sarthe which lifts the level of research far above anything done for Paris: A. Bouton, Les Franc-maçons manceaux et la révolution française, 1741–1815, Le Mans, 1958. See also his successor volume Les Luttes ordentes des francs-maçons manceaux pour l’établissement de la république 1815–1914, Le Mans, 1966.

The Karmin article is the main source for what follows.

His methodology is simple: he mined a standard numismatic reference work and highlighted the examples of Masonic influence—minus illustrations, hence the need for my own treatment. The evidence is clear and seems deliberate, although one isn’t quite sure whether the artists involved were actually Masons themselves.



The So-Called Schwedenkiste (“Swedish Box”), the Most Significant Illuminati Archive


by Terry Melanson (17/6/2009)

After Adam Weishaupt had fled in 1785, the center of activity for the Illuminati shifted from Bavaria to the Duchies of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar. And while the founder of the Illuminati was content to safely settle down for the long haul at the court of Duke Ernst II of Saxe Gotha, Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1730-1793) took the reins and assumed the role previously held by Weishaupt.

Through the efforts of Bode and an expanding network of recruits – and under the protection of the Illuminati Dukes Karl August of Saxe-Weimar and Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha – new colonies were established in places like France, Russia and Italy. Bode kept the Weimar and Gotha Lodges Amalia and Ernst Zum Kompass informed of his activities, but the bulk of the evidence of continued Illuminati activity remained in his possession.

Ensuring that whatever they contained would remain secret, upon Bode’s death in December 1793 his literary executor, Illuminatus Christian Gottlieb von Voigt (1743–1819), transferred his deceased friend’s possessions to Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha who had already bought the voluminous papers before Bode died.



Roots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn


by Terry Melanson (26/4/2009)

[Author’s note: My initial speculation was warranted, it seems; additional corroboration in the following post (and comments): “Was Jacob Frank a Rosicrucian?“]

The Golden Dawn – of Mathers, Westcott, Crowley fame – has gone Web 2.0.

Some of the most revealing posts on their blogs, are: The Golden and Rosy Cross Worn by International Golden Dawn Imperator, David Griffin; The Red and Golden Cross; and significantly, The Sabbatian Qabalah and its relation to the Golden Dawn.

From Griffin:

I wear a cross of pure 24k gold, enameled red, that derives directly from the 18th Century German Rosicrucian Order known as the Gold und Rosenkreutz. […] The Gold und Rosenkreutz Order, the Rosicrucian predecessor of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is, in fact, the source of origin of entire grade system of the Golden Dawn, as well as the mystic numbers of the grades, mystic titles, symbols, etc.

From “Sincerus Renatus”:

[…][W]hat we see here is a direct Rosicrucian lineage in the Golden Dawn descending from the Gold und Rosenkreutz order through the Asiatic Brethren and the Frankfurt-am-Main lodge Zur Aufghene Morg[e]nroethe, aka L’Aurore Naissante, aka Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur in Germany.

In my book over the Bavarian Illuminati it was established that the Gold- und Rosenkreutz [Golden and Rosy Cross] were the enemies of the Illuminati and vice versa. Why? 1) They were competitors for initiates; 2) Illuminati were rationalists and outright worshipers of reason, while the Rosicrucians pursued mysticism and theosophy and indulged in all manner of practical occultism (séances, theurgy, thaumaturgy, astrology, sorcery, kabbalistic magic and alchemy), which the Illuminati frowned upon, to say the least; 3) and the fact that the Rosicrucians were also aligned with the obscurantists of religious orthodoxy, the Jesuits, and recruited members from among its ranks.



Was Carl Jung’s Ancestor an Illuminatus?


by Terry Melanson (17/2/2009)

There’s two Illuminati with the last name Jung identified in Hermann Schüttler’s Die Mitglieder des Illuminatenordens 1776-1787/93 (Munich: Ars Una 1991): Franz Wilhelm Jung (1757-1833) and Johann Sigmund Jung (1745-1824).

The latter, it turns out, was probably the uncle to the famed Swiss psychoanalyst’s grandfather, Carl Gustav Jung (1794-1864).



Temple of Man: Freemasonry, Civil Religion, and Education


by Terry Melanson, May 20, 2010

Freemasonry is…interested in and concerned for “the education of all the children of all the people.” The “Temple” which the Craft is building is nothing other than the human family living happily together.

– H. L. Haywood, Great Teachings of Masonry (Kessinger Publishing, 1942), p. 152

A fairly recent Lew Rockwell blog post by Christopher Manion highlights the efforts of the state and anti-Catholics to control the educational apparatus:

Few Americans today realize that the public school movement began 150 years ago as part of an attack on the Catholic Church.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Protestant “Know-Nothings” railed against the millions of newly-arrived Catholic immigrants — “criminals” who had a lot of kids and were starting their own schools, complete with armies of foreign nuns and papist priests. According to Rousas Rushdoony’s history, Horace Mann, the founder of the public school movement in Massachusetts, believed that “the [public] schools are the means, instruments, vehicles, and true church by which salvation is given to society.” Given that goal, Mann “changed the function of education from ‘mere learning’ or religiously-oriented education to ‘social efficiency, civic virtue, and character” (by the twentieth century, character “ceased to be a concern” in the public schools, Rushdoony notes). Mann also demanded that control of community schools be transferred into state hands.

A decade later and a continent away, another pioneer took up the cause. John Swett was responsible for “framing the basic legislation of the state system” as California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction during the 1860s. Swett made his goals perfectly clear: “Children arrived at the age of maturity belong not to the parents but to the State, to society, and to the country,” he insisted — so children should be educated not according to the beliefs of their parents, but those of the government. The “civil religion” taught in government schools was designed to neutralize the papist heresies taught in the parochial schools. For the Know-Nothings, Catholic families were not only the competition: they were the enemy. Catholics were inferiors that had to be raised to the level of civic virtue expected of everyone else.

Although I’m not comfortable with Manion utilizing Rushdoony as his main source, the facts are essentially sound. Not mentioned though, was that Masonic affiliation was probably a factor. According to 10,000 Famous Freemasons, John Swett was a Mason; while Horace Mann is claimed as such—perhaps by his wife—in Paul Fisher’s Behind the Lodge Door.

In Europe and North America, “culture war” was the socio-political preoccupation of the mid- to late-19th Century. However, the struggle for control of the educational establishment actually began a hundred years earlier during the Enlightenment.



“Lang” or “Lanz”: Myths about the “Myths”

by Terry Melanson (15/11/2008)


So, I’m browsing through the results of a keyword-search (targeting blogs) that I had previously saved as an RSS feed in Google Reader – “Illuminati.” Usually the results point to sites that abuse the term as a mere descriptor for an overarching, all-powerful monolithic conspiracy. However, once in a while, I occasionally come across at least an attempt not to knowingly butcher the historical record.

The November 12th post at the English section of is one such example. But as I started reading “The Bavarian Illuminati: several myths revealed,” it became quite clear that the post is, in fact – word for word – an abridged re-posting of “A Bavarian Illuminati Primer.”

Once I got to the part about Lanz and Lang, I knew for sure.

Here’s what Mason Trevor W. McKeown thinks is the myth/truth:

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.

As nobody has challenged him on these assertions – not even a German site who should know better – I’ll reiterate and add additional information to what I had written back in August 2005. Mr. McKeown is guilty of the same thing he accuses others of: “lack of research and disdain for historical accuracy.”



Masonic Congress of Wilhelmsbad

Wilhelmsbad in 1783
Wilhelmsbad in 1783

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:



A Brief Encounter with Adam Weishaupt in 1804

Johann Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830); founder of the Order of the Illuminati

Johann Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830); founder of the Order of the Illuminati

by Terry Melanson (20/09/2008)

Relatively late in the research for the book Perfectibilists, I became aware of an short account from Henry Crabb Robinson, in his Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence, where he had gone to Gotha in 1804 and met with Adam Weishaupt. I hadn’t included this exchange in my own book (as it wasn’t readily accessible to me at the time). However, recently, Google books has scanned in a full-view copy of the diary. Here, then, is Henry Crabb Robinson’s encounter with Adam Weishaupt (in Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence, Vol. I, Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co. 1869, pp. 124-6):

[…] my object in referring to this visit to Gotha is to say something of a man whose name belongs to the history of the last century, though it was raised to undue importance by the malignant exaggerations of party spirit.
During the heat of the first Revolution in France, two works appeared, one in England, by Professor Robison of Edinburgh, and the other, the more voluminous, in France, by the Abbe Barruel, with the common object of showing that the Revolution and all the horrors consequent on it were the effect of a conspiracy deliberately planned and carried out on the Continent of Europe by an Order of Infidels, who, by means of secret societies, planned to destroy all thrones, overturn all altars, and completely upset the established order of things. The society to which this scheme was ascribed had the name of The Illuminati. They were supposed to have ramifications everywhere. The Kantian philosophy was one of the instruments. Indeed, more or less, every union of men, and every variety of thought, opposed to monarchy and popery had about it the suspicion of “Illumination.” And of this tremendous evil the founder and archdeacon was Adam Weishaupt. When I found that this notorious man was leading a secluded life in Gotha, I determined to call on him. On entering his room, I remarked that he was both embarrassed and reserved, and it was not till I had introduced myself as one anxious to see him, though I knew of him only from his enemies, that he seemed willing to enter into conversation with me. On my taking leave, he even invited me to repeat my visit, and I went to him three times. He frankly told me that I was let into his house through the stupidity of a servant-girl, whom he was on the point of turning away for it; but he had forgiven her on account of the pleasure he had derived from our interviews. He said he held in abhorrence all travellers who made impertinent calls, and especially Englishmen. He would not gratify the curiosity of such men. But my candor and openness had rendered him willing to make an exception in my case. In saying this he was, perhaps, not departing from that character which his enemies ascribed to him. Indeed, as is usual in such instances, the statements made concerning him are founded in truth. The falsehood lies in the exaggeration of some parts of his history, and in the omission of others.