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:

(more…)

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