Heinrich Bansi (1754-1835)
(1754 Camogask [Graubünden] –1835) Ref. – 1773 member of the Rhaetian Synod, 1776 pastor in Fläsch, 1786 pastor in Haldenstein (Graubünden), 1798 in French military service, living in Silvaplana since 1803; economic and regional history writer.
According to the Anna Barbara Bansi wiki page, Babette Bansi was the daughter of [Illuminatus] Heinrich Bansi. He had “little money, and at the age of six she was adopted by Zürich philanthropist [Illuminatus] Johann Caspar Schweizer.”
When I was doing research for my bio on Johann Caspar Schweizer, the name Bansi came up once in a while but I was more focused on fleshing out his Illuminati and Jacobin ties, and the fact that he was the only Illuminati member that has been documented as having gone to America. Turns out Schweizer and Bansi were close friends and collaborators.
Historian Jürg Simonett wrote about Bansi’s relationship with Johann Kaspar Lavater and Schweizer as well:
In the fall of 1786 he traveled to Paris and was entrusted with missions by the revolutionary salon of Johann Kaspar Schweizer (including 1787 to support the democratic movement in Geneva).
Frédéric Barbey, Suisses hors de Suisse. Au service des rois et de la Révolution d’après des documents inédits (Paris, Perrin: 1913) was Schweizer’s biographer. On the Bansi/Schweizer relationship he wrote:
In St. Moritz, Schweizer had made friends with the pastor Henri Bansi, from Flasch, in the Grisons, an imposing man with a black beard and an energetic face, a smooth talker, eloquent and well educated. Bansi’s speeches, his humanitarian maxims, his tirades against the tyranny of the rich and powerful, impressed Gaspard [Schweizer] and flattered his secret ambition. Bansi, finding a sympathetic listener and – more importantly – a wealthy one, did not let go of his prey. He was poor, hard-working and burdened with large family. As soon as he heard of the young couple’s regrets [without child], he offered to give up one of his children; he declared to give up his rights and to accept all of Schweizer’s conditions. In September 1783, the father brought to the Hirschgraben his eldest daughter, eight years old, a small person with a crumpled, freckled face, Babette Bansi. In spite of her ugliness, [she] was graceful and lively, but already as cunning as her father. She was delighted to exchange the poor Flasch dwelling for a comfortable and luxurious one, and was soon at ease among the Schweizers. (227-228; my emphasis)
Ottavio Clavuot, in “Entstehungsgeschichte der Freimaurerei in Graubünden,” provides some crucial details. A close friendship developed between them. Clavuot wrote that Bansi “was extremely sympathetic to the spirit of the Illuminati.” Johann Caspar Schweizer introduced him to the Illuminati-front organization, “Society for the Promotion of Domestic and Moral Happiness” [Gesellschaft zur Aufnahme des Guten]. Along with the Illuminati branch in Zurich, it was co-founded by famed pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) and Johann Heinrich Rahn (1749-1812). (See Perfectibilists, pp. 377, 395, 376-381)
In “1783 Bansi was admitted to the Masonic Lodge ‘Modestia cum Libertate,’ as Schweizer had been a year earlier,” wrote Clavuot.
Bansi accompanied the Schweizer’s on their trip to Paris before the French Revolution. In the lively Schweizer salon “Heinrich Bansi met famous scholars, artists, generals, and politicians such as Count Mirabeau, the spokesman for the Third Estate and president of the Jacobin Club in 1791.”
In 1790, Bansi was accused at the synod of Ardez of still being an Illuminatus, “because he always associates with those who are distinguished from the public as members of this sect.” (Not to mention the last ban against the Illuminati, by the Bavarian Elector, was in 1790.) A complaint was filed by priest Johannes Janett: “The danger of any secret society in a democratic state is obvious, but the introduction of the Illuminati into our country is highly dangerous…, because in this sect the inferiors (the ordinary members) blindly obey the superior (the chairman), whatever may be ordered.” (Clavuot 151)