Ernst II. Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1745-1804)
* 30 January 1745 Gotha, + 20 April 1804 Gotha, member of the Illuminati under the code name Quintus Severus / Timoleon
Ernst II Ludwig, Duke von Saxe- Gotha-Altenburg (1745 Gotha, Germany – 1804 Gotha)
Order Name: Quintus Severus/ Timoleon
Upon the death of his father, Duke Frederick III von Saxe-Gotha (1699-1772), Ernst II became the ruler of the duchy of Saxe-Gotha- Altenburg. The Dukes of Saxe-Gotha are “descended from one of the oldest lines of German aristocracy, the House of Wettin. The ancestry of the House of Wettin can be traced back to the 10th Century.”18
Ernst II was the first cousin of King George III of England, whose mother, Augusta von Saxe-Gotha (1719-1772), the sister of Duke Frederick III, became the Princess of Wales in 1736. Frederick III was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Garter—the most coveted, and illustrious of all aristocratic honors—in 1750, while his son Ernst II received the same distinction in 1801.19
During Ernst II’s rule Saxe-Gotha was “larger, wealthier, better administered, and to an extent, more cultivated than Saxe-Weimar.”20 After 1825, however, the Saxon principalities were broken up, Altenburg became independent, and Gotha was combined with the duchies of the south to form Saxe-Coburg.
The Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Royal Family gained prominence in the 19th century through financial links with the House of Rothschild.21 Furthermore, Prince Albert, the Duke’s great-grandson, became the consort to the Queen of England in 1840. Thus, Queen Victoria’s progeny—the British royal family—are direct descendants of Ernst II. (See chart, page 294.)
Prince Albert had a major impact, admired for “his irreproachable character, his devotion to the queen and their children, and his deep concern with public affairs. His influence was particularly strong in diplomacy; his insistence on moderation in the Trent Affair (1861) [wherein Confederate commissioners to Great Britain were forcibly taken from a British vessel, in absolute violation of maritime law] may have averted war with the United States. As chancellor of Cambridge Univ., he transformed it into a modern institution.”22
Both Ernst II and his younger brother August, were provided with an intense education. Frederick III made sure that his sons had the best tutors in literature, science and the arts. In 1768-69 they were sent on an educational journey to the Netherlands, England and France, giving Ernst II the chance as future ruler to make acquaintances with potential political allies.23
Ernst II was an artistic, liberal and enlightened ruler with an academic mind. He constructed new schools,24 strengthened the economy, patronized the arts, natural sciences and the theatre. He was especially interested in astronomy and physics and employed experts in these fields of study. Ernst II erected a private observatory in Seeberg on the outskirts of Gotha, which eventually grew into an international center for astronomy; he appointed Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (1754-1832) as court astronomer in 1786.
In 1774 Ernst II joined Freemasonry in the Zinnendorf system and became a member of the Gotha Lodge Zum Rautenkranz. He was made Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Germany in 1775,25 which at that time had been practicing the rites of Zinnendorf. All his life Ernst II remained an active and zealous Mason, and he protected and patronized the Gotha Lodges Zum Rautenkranz and Zum Kompass. The latter lodge had passed from the (Swedish Rite) Zinnendorf system to that of the (Templar-obedient) Strict Observance. Thus on February 25, 1777, Ernst II was “solemnly received [initiated: alias, a Falcone Alba], in the castle of Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick. A banquet table, brought in by the Duchesse and seven ladies of the court, had the shape of a T—‘a symbol noticeable on monuments of the old Knights Templar’”26
More excerpts, regarding Duke Ernst II, from my book Perfectibilists:
Surely the most unlikely of the journals was H.A.O. Reichard’s Revolutions- Almanach (Göttingen: 1793-1801). Reichard was the librarian of none other than Ernst II Duke of Saxe-Gotha, “the ‘enlightened’ protector of Adam Weishaupt and himself an ardent admirer of the French Revolution.”89 Not only did Ernst approve of what was going on in France, but so did his brother August, and particularly his wife, the Duchess Maria Charlotte-Amelia Ernestine von Saxe-Meiningen. During the French Revolution Charlotte-Amelia openly declared her support for the young republic, so much so that she completely stopped accompanying her husband to church on Sundays and ceased celebrating traditional holidays (in solidarity with the Jacobins), even decorating the castle with the busts of revolutionaries such as the Marquis de Lafayette and Jean Sylvain de Bailly.90
90. Le Forestier, op. cit., pp. 551-2. Apparently, for Ernst II, this level of devotion to the radical Enlightenment was commonplace, for his mother had carried on a great correspondence with philosophes such as Diderot, Helvétius, Rousseau and Voltaire (ibid., p. 551).
pp.120, 129 n.9 [emphasize added]
Article on this site which discusses Duke Ernst II: The So-Called Schwedenkiste (“Swedish Box”), the Most Significant Illuminati Archive
Scholar W. Daniel Wilson, in “Weimar Politics in the Age of the French Revolution: Goethe and the Spectre of Illuminati Conspiracy,” elaborates on the Bode/Ernst/Gotha secret illuminati papers as well:
[J. J. C.] Bode died at the end of 1793. In his possession were all the Illuminati papers for Weimar and the neighboring Duchy of Saxe-Gotha, at least two chests full.40
Bode died at the end of 1793. In his possession were all the Illuminati papers for Weimar and the neighboring Duchy of Saxe-Gotha, at least two chests full.40
The duke of Gotha, Ernst II, bought all of these papers from Bode’s widow, and Ernst’s librarian H.A.O. Reichard speculated that the Duke did so in order to keep his own papers from getting into “Fremde Hände” and perhaps even being published. For Duke Ernst was a celebrated Illuminatus, the one mentioned above who had given Weishaupt sanctuary. The intriguing part is the librarian Reichard’s description of the passing of these documents into his hands, in Weimar. Three men besides Reichard were present, one of whom was the Weimar minister of state Christian Gottlob Voigt,41 who sealed the papers.42 Perhaps Voigt was present because these papers were being passed to another regent, and the occasion was therefore seen as an affair of state. I think there is more to it than this, however, especially since these documents were not government property. Voigt, as we have seen, was one of the Weimar Illuminati.43 There would have been no reason for the Weimar authorities to seal the papers if only Duke Ernst were concerned about his reputation, since Reichard also put his seal on them (169); the Weimar men were also concerned. The papers contained the membership documents of Carl August, Goethe, Voigt, Herder, and the others, as we now know from the scholars who examined them. They contained all sorts of other material that was innocent enough, but which could easily be turned against the former Illuminati — for example, the letter from Goethe to Bode mentioned earlier. This letter is dated 14 February 1784, just as the repression of the Illuminati in Bavaria was getting under way. It also revealed that Goethe was a “Regent. “44 Furthermore, at one meeting Carl August, Herder, Bode and others had discussed ways of helping Weishaupt, who was being victimized by the Bavarian government.45 How would it look if documents like these were to become public, at a time when the Revolution itself was in its most radical and violent phase, the conspiracy theory (and especially the idea that Bode’s trip to Paris had set the Revolution in motion) was dominating conservative discourse, and Knigge and Weishaupt were being hounded by the reaction? The whole government at Weimar would have been compromised, as would have Carl August’s, Goethe’s, and Herder’s standing in public opinion; the University of Jena might have been boycotted (as was later threatened by Saxony and actually carried out by Russia during the Fichte affair46). There was good reason, from the point of view of the Weimar government, to make sure that Bode’s papers remained under seal — and it is therefore not suprising [sic] that for years to come great care was taken to keep the documents secret.47— Goethe Yearbook, Volume 5, 1990, 170-71