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Initial Statements[edit]

There are interesting tidbits, but this article could really use some work. In particular there are more than a few statements like "the evidence supports such-and-such conclusion". We would have a much, much stronger article if we could present summaries of whatever "evidence" is being referred to and allow the readers to reach their own conclusions. Unfortunately, I don't know where to get the evidence since it isn't discussed or cited. Are there interested parties out there who can help?

Also, Freemasonry is international, but this article seems focused on the U.K.?

The sorts of things we might want to include:

  • Origins (known/documented, "mythological" as presented in Masonic lore, "prehistoric" indications of the sort in the existing article, occultish, controversies thereabout)
  • Early organization in the U.K.
  • Initial spread and growth elsewhere in the world (e.g., via British colonization)
  • Development and evolution of rituals
  • Schisms and reconciliations
  • Involvement (alleged?) of Masons and Masonic Lodges in political and revolutionary movements (French and American Revolutions, civil rights movement in the U.S.)
  • I think Prince Hall Masonry and segregation in the U.S. deserves its own section or perhaps a reference to its own article
  • Anti-Masonry (worldwide and in the U.S., conspiracy theories, occult accusations, friction with Roman Catholic and Mormon churches and various Protestant theologies)
  • Government suppression of Masonry (Nazi claims/controversy, Soviet Union, China? others?)
  • Recent (severe) decline of Masonry in the U.S. (and other Western countries?)
  • Recent growth of Masonry in Central and South America

I'm also hoping categorizing this article under Freemasonry might get it some more attention.

I'll do what I can when I can, and see about recruiting some authors. Anyone else have suggestions or want to dig in? —Bsktcase 05:10, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hi there Bsktcase. It is well past time that someone took an interest in this article. I wrote it when I was very new to Wikipedia and apart from minor tidying up it has remained substantially unchanged ever since. I wrote it in this form largely because I wanted to avoid controversy but I felt that the paragraph on "History of Freemasonry" in the main article on Freemasonry was woefully inadequate.
Much of what I wrote might be considered original research but it has been published in a reputable journal (Transactions of the United Masters Lodge, Auckland, NZ. Sept 1992) and as such is, hopefully, acceptable to Wikipedia.
The difficulty is that prior to 1717 almost nothing is known about Freemasonry but an awful lot of rubbish is written based mainly on wishful thinking. The original paper and this article present the only concrete facts I could find. Beyond suggesting that FM was around in England and Scotland from about AD1400 they don't support any other conclusions.
Post 1717 it is a very different story and there is material for a whole series of articles. For instance in Mexico in the 1820 various masonic Lodges actually went to war with each other to decide who would run the country.
But I was leaving all that for someone else to tackle, my area of interest was pre-1717.
I hope this background helps you
ping 07:42, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hi Ping, thanks for your comments! Totally appropriate on wikipedia to give an article a good start and let others build upon it, and I'm very glad you did so. I think we agree on things. As you can see, I think there's a massive volume of material to be discussed here, more than deserving of its own page. The summary on Freemasonry is fine but that's all it is, a summary. Agree with you that there's a clear 1717 split: plenty of documentary evidence after, not much before. If we recruit a broader base of contributors, hopefully we can get coverage of both sides.

Agree with you about the "wishful thinking" versions of history. However, the point here shouldn't be to pick one "best" version of history and only present that one; what wikipedia is about is summarizing all the versions, with the strengths and weaknesses of each. Even though I think most Masons today agree that Freemasonry did not literally originate with the builders of Solomon's temple, we can't very well have a complete history if we don't discuss the legend... especially because the legend has been used by anti-Masons to condemn Freemasonry as arrogant and sacreligious, and those arguments don't make sense if we don't know what they're condemning. Likewise the Knights Templar theories which are used by pro-Masons to paint a romantic, chivalrous picture, but also by anti-Masons to support wild occultish conspiracy theories. And so on. We'll never be able to establish any one version of Masonic prehistory as "definitive", but we can definitely describe all the different versions and present evidence for or against, which would be a cool article all by itself.

We two definitely can't do it all by ourselves. Hoping Brethren and other interested parties will show up to bail us out! —Bsktcase 17:06, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm not up to the task of attempting a rewrite, but I added an External Link which may be of some use:

  • Craft, Trade or Mystery by Dr Bob James (Revised 2002). Provides extensive discussion on the Operative and Speculative origins of Freemasonry, including extensive citations.

Particularly of note is Chapter 2: Fraternalism before 1717: Or When is Freemasonry NOT Speculative?. Useful for its extensive sources and citations alone. --Takver 14:43, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

An excellent Article. You do well at conveying the fact that there is little documented history prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, and that much of the History of Freemasonry before then has to be speculation. However, given the current interest in the Craft and its beginnings (as evidenced by such books as "Born In Blood", "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and even "The DaVinci Code") I think we need to at least mention the idea that the Masons are descended from the Templars (and other such theories.) As long as these are presented AS unproven theories they should be included.
I would also agree that the Article needs to discuss the growth and exportation of the Craft after the formation of that first Grand Lodge. Also, Beefing up this article would help cut the length of the main Freemasonry Article. Blueboar 20:14, 7 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Hi, I'm new to the Wiki postings, but as a early modern European history student at the University of Chicago, I thought that I could post some thoughts that might help you in the attempt to revise the Freemasonry page, specifically the "History of" section. If you all know about the works that I mention below, my apologies for being redundant. :) Margaret C. Jacob (UCLA) has published a significant body of work about the history of freemasonry: "Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe.' Oxford University Press, 1991. "The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans." London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981. "The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions." Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. (This last one is a more popular work.) I would also recommend David Stevenson's "The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century, 1590-1710." Cambridge University Press, 1988. I hope this helps. Calliopelives 22:44, 18 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Frere Masoun[edit]

Could the above French phrase (meaning brother or fellow mason) be the origin of the term Freemason? Thoughts? Fergananim 24.8.05.

Interesting point that I had never considered. Any idea when Frere Masoun was first used? I have never been entirely happy with the 'Freestone Mason' explanation but have never seen a better one.ping 09:22, 24 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Merge Proposal[edit]

This article is puny. There are better structured history sections in Anti-Freemasonry and Freemasonry. Can discussion of the whole merger be conducted here? JASpencer 22:56, 6 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I have been planning a complete rewrite for a while now... But I keep getting sidetracked to other articles dealing with Freemasonry. I hope to upload a draft in a month or so (still doing research and finding proper citations). Topics I plan to expand: Origins: to include brief discussion of other origin possibilities. Sections to be added: Post 1717 England, America, France, and many other nations and parts of the world... IE most of the history of Freemasonry. If you merge this back to Freemasonry, I will simply have to recreate it when I have finished my draft. Blueboar 00:31, 7 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I think the history section from Anti-Freemasonry and Freemasonry should be mered into this article. Ardenn 00:53, 7 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I would disagree with merging a lot of the historical material from the Anti-masonry page here. I do agree that you can not discuss the history of Freemasonry properly without mentioning the negative side of things (for example, you can not discuss Freemasonry in 1700s France or 1800s Italy without mentioning anti-clericism), and some of the historical material at the Anti-Masonry page could be incorporated here. However, I would not support simply deleting the historical material from Anti-Masonry. That material is a large part of what makes Anti-Masonry a distict phenominon, a "movement" if you will. It is vital to that article and seperates it from the various "(Name of Group) and Freemasonry" sub-articles that various people have been starting recently. It is part of what links them all together and makes the Anti-Masonry Article interesting. In many ways the Anti-Masonry article should really be called "History of Anti-Masonry"Blueboar 02:50, 7 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Restructuring this article[edit]

I'm going to try my hand at restructuring this article to be more cronological in nature and comprehensive, this way people can add more to each section and really expand on this poorly structured article. Chtirrell 20:34, 28 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Chtirrell, well done. Much of what you added was similar to edits I was planning to make but have not gotten around to doing. I would add few other sections... something like: Freemasonry in the former British Empire (covering the exportation of the craft to India, Africa and Australia) and Freemasonry in the Near East (covering Turkey, Israel, and the Arab World). Also, in discussing the spread of Freemasonry through Europe in the 1700s and 1800s, we need to discuss the fact that many of the Grand Orients (in France and Italy especially) became very political in nature (this is important as it lies at the roots of some of the Anti-Masonic claims... which will have to be addressed to keep the article NPOV). Blueboar 13:53, 29 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Blueboar, thanks for the kind words. I was going to add the extended (i.e. outside UK, Europe and US) sections today, just wanted to get the main parts down. It's good to see we're on the same page :) As for the political sections, I was going to add a section on Freemasonry and the French Revolution, a short summary of P2 and a link redirect. I also want to integrate some of the sections of the Anti-masonry article to flesh out the history of anti-masonry on Freemasonry. I just hope that in the end this article doesn't get too long. We may have to summerize somethings here and talk about curtain subjects more thoroughly in specific articles. Chtirrell 16:15, 29 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I think that volume is a big risk, since the topic is huge. I created a placeholder for Schisms on my user page so that I could work on that, for just that reason. as with the main FM page others can cascade out from this. But it is useful to have the framework to deal with.ALR 16:22, 29 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
In the origins section, we should probably have a bit more discussion about the theory that we derived directly from the knights templar. I know that this claim is currently the province of crackpot pseudo-historians and best selling fiction authors, and we do want to be careful not to endorse their nutty ideas... but the concept does date back all the way to the 1750s and Chevalier Ramsey. It does deserve a bit more discussion. Blueboar
I would like to participate in the restructing as well, especially since I've got some experience in separating fact from legend by editing the articles on the Knights Templar. For example, I would suggest making a clear separation in the article between facts about Freemasonry, and "Freemasonry legends". Under the "Knights Templar" section, instead of, "It has been theorized", I would move that to the "Legends" section, and change the wording to something like, "Some have suggested, without proof, that..." Also, did anyone catch the recent History Channel documentary on the Freemasons? There's a lot of good info there. I have it recorded and can provide some factoids from it if anyone is interested. --Elonka 17:29, 1 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Merged Material from the main Freemasonry Article[edit]

I have merged the material from the main Freemasonry Article in an attempt to more fully develop the History of Freemasonry article and to allow the Freemasonry editors to shorten the history section on the main page. Because of this, I believe the merge tag can be removed and will do this. If there are any problems bring them up and we can readd the merge tag. Chtirrell 04:24, 29 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I have continued to add and merge here. Imacomp 12:42, 31 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I have continued to add and merge here. Imacomp 21:23, 2 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Paris Commune section[edit]

I have no real problem with this new section, but it does need citations. Blueboar 12:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I believe it also lacks relivence for the general history of Freemasonry. Prehaps shortening it and adding a wikilink to a larger article about it. Chtirrell 18:05, 24 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

It was suggested that rather start a fresh page on Revolutionary Freemasonry it would be better to mention these interesting topics on this very History of Freemasonry page. If you regard this as long, what is going to happen when he touch on other such topics as the role of freemasonrys in the 1848, revolution in France, the Battle of Antrim, etc etc. etc. perhaps we should discuss the way forward on this.Harrypotter 17:11, 25 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
As the one who suggested that you post this material here... that was suggested as an alternative to posting it on the Freemasonry Article, where it really didn't fit. I actually think that it would work best as its own article, linked to in this one.

Better in Anti-Masonry?[edit]

Is this not better in Anti-Masonry? Imacomp 20:57, 2 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Foundation of Freemasonry on the European Continent

Original bans

The first official action against Freemasonry was in 1735 in Holland.

In 1736, the Roman Catholic Church began to investigate a Masonic Lodge in Florence, Italy which had been founded for (Protestant) English residents but had been admitting Italian members. The Lodge in question was condemned by the Chief Inquisitor in Rome on 25 June 1737, and on 9 May 1739, Tommaso Crudeli, a free-thinker and physician in Florence, was questioned under torture about his beliefs and Masonic affiliation. He was released in April 1741 and died in January 1745[1]

In 1738, partly due to the Florentine case, the Catholic church first denounced Freemasonry in the Papal Constitution In Eminenti. The Protestant states of Sweden and Geneva banned Freemasonry in 1738, followed by Zurich in 1740 and Berne in 1745.

Freemasonry and the Inquisition

Another early case involved John Coustos, a Swiss native living in England. Coustos travelled to Portugal on business where he founded a lodge. He was arrested by the Inquisition and was tortured and questioned before being sentenced to the galleys. Three of the members of his lodge were executed. He was released in 1744 as a result of the intercession of George II of England. After his release and return to England, John Coustos wrote a book detailing his experiences in the hands of the Inquisition[1].

In 1815, Francisco J. Mier y Campillo, one of the Inquisitors-General of Spain, launched a new purge on Freemasonry and denounced the lodges as "societies which lead to sedition, to independence, and to all errors and crimes." The subsequent purge involved many Spaniards being imprisoned on the charge of being "suspected of Freemasonry".

See also Catholicism and Freemasonry

I think this article should contain some mention of Anti-Masonry through history... for example, you can not really talk about the developement of Masonry in the US without mentioning the Morgan Affair and the Anti-Masonic backlash that followed it. But, to my way of thinking, the focus should be on how any particular Anti-Masonic movement or attack affected the fraternity. Thus, the question of whether to mention the Catholic bans, or Coustos's arrest, depends on how much they affected Freemasonry. Given that criteria, I would say they can go... neither really had an impact on the fraternity in the long run. Blueboar 02:50, 3 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The 20th century masonic history is woefully incomplete - the 1980's saw the Masons rocked by the publication of Stephen Knight's expose, The Brotherhood, which gave away many secrets of the society and exposed many leading masons, especially in the police force and the government in the UK. Many people were forced to resign, and masons started to open up and allow lodge tours - I arranged a meeting between Humanists (who are forbidden from being Masons for not being willing to swear an oath on a creator) and a leadiing Manchester Freemason - I even spoke with him on the radio and got a tour of his lodge HQ - such a meeting would not have been possible before the Knight book came out. It changed everything for the masons. Surely its impact needs to be covered here. (User:arthurchappell

Again, the problem is one stated much earlier, and that is that Masonry is international. I would have to look into it, but I'm not so sure knight's book had a huge impact in the US, and I do know that osme of his speculation was flat-out wrong. Also, please sign posts with four tildes as opposed to a userpage link. MSJapan 16:31, 4 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  1. ^ a b 'The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction', Alphonse Cerza, published by the Masonic Service Association, September 1967

Unity of Freemasonry?[edit]

As I did in the main Freemasonry article, I have deleted statements about the Unity of Freemasonry (in relation to the GOdF / UGLE schism) and citations to the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia used to back these statements. I have discussed these in more depth at the main article (see that talk page), but as far as this article goes: not only were the statements wrong, the citations didn't back them. First, one of the references was used to show how there was supposedly a unity in Masonry during World War One... The CE cited to an article in an American Masonic journal dated 1906... well before the war. The Schism was in full swing at the time, and thus the referenced journal could not be said to reflect the state of relations at the time. The other simply did not support the statement. Yes, there was a relaxation in the Schism during the war... but this was a unique situation. Prior to it, and again after it, the schism was in full force. Blueboar 19:40, 18 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Misleading title[edit]

If this is a history of Freemasonry, it should include only verifiable facts, not possiblities, vague theories and speculation. Otherwise perhaps Origins of Freemasonry would be a better title for a separate page on Freemasonry pre-1717. Either way, there is an awful lot of unsourced stuff and historically dodgy stuff here. For example, the formation Of the Masons' Livery Company in London in 1356 is mentioned. But there is no evidence given for any link between it and Freemasonry. So why is it here? There are many other examples...--Stonemad GB 23:40, 30 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The title is not misleading, the article is just incomplete. Several editors have expressed the desire to expand this beyond 1717 (tracing the developement of Freemasonry to other parts of the world for example)... but all of them are bogged down in other articles at the moment. You are correct in saying that there is a lot unsourced things... I can assure you that finding reliable sources is on the to do list. Feel free to help out. Blueboar 23:48, 30 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

With regard to the Masons' Livery Company and the link with freemasonry the Livery company accounts of the 1600s record that the sum of £1 was paid by a member of the Company for coming on acception. It seems that there was a masonic lodge that met separately from the Livery company itself. This may be a POV but if it is recorded in the accounts then it must mean something. I will see what I can find out about it. Any views? Aquizard 20:40, 21 Janaury 2007 (UTC)

Mention of other Grand Lodges[edit]

This is a very good site full of interesting information, well done to all of those that has contributed and are continuing the effort. In my copy of Lanes Masonic Records 1717- 1894 (the 2000 reprint) I note that there is reference made to The Grand Lodge of All England at York and The Grand Lodge of England South of the River Trent. There is also a list of all the lodges and dates of their consecrations. From a historical point of view I am of the view that there should be mention of these Grand Lodges as they are part of masonic history that we are trying to document. Any views? Aquizard 20:50, 21 Janaury 2007 (UTC)

This may not be the place to do that yet . check Category:WikiProject Freemasonry for possibly more apt & needy article, which we can tie into this one? Or not...21:51, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Actually, I think you're right, but I think it'll become an absolute nightmare of RV's & non-cited edits etc. If we keep references to every single Regular Masonic, "other" Masonic, straight up non-Masonic, etc spur to a minimum, w/ links & "See main Article" headers, I think yeah. Grye 22:40, 21 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

In consideration of what I had commented in this section I have also located another historic Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of Wigan, that should be mentioned. Now I suggest that articles on these start off as stubs and can be referenced into the main article at a suitable point. Aquizard 10:10, 8 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Many of the tiny Grand Lodges that you talk about did not long survive or were eventually merged into either the Ancient or Modern Grand Lodges. I don't think we need to mention every tiny Grand Lodge that was ever formed. It is important to discuss the Ancients/Moderns split because it had an impact on Freemasonry in general... affecting the growth of Freemasonry in America, and eventually resulting in the formation of UGLE. Blueboar 15:14, 8 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Manuscripts and (stone)masons[edit]

Regarding the date of the Regius manuscript Andrew Prescott of Sheffield University Masonic research Centre dates it to the early to middle 15th century (roughly 40-50 years after 1390), see the Transactions of the Canonbury conference 3. Also the word 'freemason' was used to refer to the trade of an individual for many years after the formation of the grand lodge in 1717, try the national Archives website and you will soon find references to people who were quite clearly stonemasons not speculative craft freemasons from as late as the 1750s - the operative side of freemasonry tends to be utilised to provide foundation myths for freemasonry and the so-called 'old charges' are scoured for evidence of ritual and esoteric content, however what they really represent is evidence in the history of labour relations and it is perhaps time for the reappearance of the 18th century stonemason within the pages of wiki. There does appear to be a gradual movement towards a new wave of transition theories regarding freemasonry, see Mathew Scanlan's article in Freemasonry Today on 'fatal flaws' in scholarship over the Christopher Wren/masonic connections, and the writings of Andy Durr, Andrew Prescott and Bob James all of whom have, in different ways, placed stonemasonry firmly back into the story of Freemasonry bamboodragon 01:12 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Again here, what are you getting at? 40-50 years off on something that's over 600 years old isn't that bad, and I have no idea what point you are trying to make with your quoting of sources. I'm sure there's a Stonemasonry article, and if there isn't, go ahead and make one, I guess. MSJapan 01:45, 19 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The point of mentioning stonemasons is that in histories of freemasonry they are the elephants in the room, in the article you created on masonic manuscripts you utilise these sources as part of the general narrative of speculative craft freemasonry when they are quite clearly of equal if not greater relevance to the history of stonemasonry, how about a link to that article on stonemasonry (or don't you think that the old charges of stonemasons are in any way relevant to err.. stonemasonry) ? And as for the assertition that inaccuracy regarding dates doesn't matter.... well what do you want me to say, no it doesn't matter that the dating of this manuscript is probably wrong, I was trying to contribute useful information via the talk pages so that it could be discussed rather than ruthlessly editing what appears to be slightly inaccurate information. Bamboodragon 02:39, 19 March 2007 (UTC) 2:35 19/3/2007[reply]

Discuss links here[edit]

Editors regularly clean out undiscussed links from this article. Please discuss here if you want a link not to be cleaned out regularly. (You can help!) --VS talk 04:38, 27 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I don't think you should cut something just because it was not discussed first. If you have a problem with an external link you should explain what that problem is. The link you cut was:
  • Craft, Trade or Mystery by Dr Bob James (Revised 2002). Provides extensive discussion on the operative and speculative origins of Freemasonry, including extensive citations.
This hardly counts as a spam link... it seems to be directly tied to the topic of where Freemasonry developed. If you disagree with this assessment or have some other reason to delete it, please let us know. Blueboar 15:51, 27 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I appreciate your views Blueboar however if your follow the link of my first message above you will see why the link was cut. Because the link is owned by an editor (ie: he runs the website and controls the content of the link) the link requires discussion under the Wikipedia:Conflict of interest guideline. By placing the discussion point here you and other editors can make the comments regarding the quality of the link. If you think the link is fine then it is in fact up to you to indicate why that is so (which you appear to be doing above) but not up to me as I carry out wiki function tasks to check upon. Cheers--VS talk 09:09, 29 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Well, I can see why you cut it.... however, I have no conflict of interest, so I have returned it... The COI issue should not be a problem any longer... It's no different than if I had found it by surfing. The article being linked to is directly relevant to the article (it discusses the connection between operative guilds and early Freemasonry). I think it is a good link for this article. Blueboar 14:30, 29 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Benjamin Franklin[edit]

The reference to Benjamin Franklin has been removed because he was de-recognised in France andrefused his honours because his Lodge in Philadelphia was, in fact, an unwarranted Lodge. The reference to it being a Moderns/Antients matter is untrue.

Well, that's news to me. Do you have a source for this? MSJapan 15:45, 26 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Ancient vs. Antient... again[edit]

My Brothers, rather than get into an edit war... can we discuss the pros and cons of both spelling varients, determine what the current consensus is, and agree to go with that consensus? Blueboar 13:29, 20 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]

We seem to be having a project wide revert war over whether to use "Ancient" (with a "c") or "Antient" (with a "t"). We need to hammer this out and reach a consensus, and we should do so in one central location. Since this impacts several articles, I have started a thread at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Freemasonry#Ancients vs. Antients... consensus? to be that central location. Please discuss at that thread.

Thank you, Blueboar 13:39, 21 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Creation of the Third Degree[edit]

Great section, although it obviously could use some work in beefing it up, but there sees to be one glaring omission: discussion of the Two Degree system, and how/why those Degrees morphed into the Three Degree system. I believe Andersen in 1723 is the first mention of the third degree, but I'm not sure.--Vidkun 16:32, 22 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Additional information on the origin of our ritual, and with a look at the Ancients/Moderns issues: Our Ritual: A Study In Its Development by Brother J. Mason Allan, I.S.O. Past Grand Bard, Extracted from The Year Book, Grand Lodge of Scotland 1960. --Vidkun 17:05, 22 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Moving this article forward[edit]

The time has come for us to focus on this article again. As I see it, there are several areas that could use work:

  1. Expand and improve on the Origins section - this is a "hot" topic in popular culture, and I think it needs more discussion. I would suggest splitting it off into it's own "Origins of Freemasonry" article, where we can more fully discuss the various origin theories and properly evaluate them.
  2. Improve the discription of the growning differences between "Anglo" style and "Continental" style Freemasonry during the 1800 (prior to the Schism) - Continental Freemasonry was much more involved in European politics and Anti-clericism than Anglo Freemasonry. While the split did not officially occur until the 1870s, the two were growing in very different directions. It explains (for example) quite a lot about the historical antagonism between the Catholic Church and the fraternity.
  3. Start adding material about the growth of the fraternity outside England, the US and France. - in the Intro we mention that Freemasonry is world wide, but we don't mention anything beyond these three countries. What about Freemasonry in the British Empire or South America, etc.?

I could probably go on, but I think these three items will be enough for now (each is quite a task). Any thoughts before we begin? Blueboar 13:15, 10 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Egyptian origins and Thomas Paine[edit]

We seem to be in a minor edit war over sourcing the Egyptian origins theory... I have had to remove a citation to an essay by Thomas Paine several times. Paine does not say that Freemasonry originated in Egypt and the building of the pyramids... in fact he specifically says that he does not agree with that idea. Paine states that Freemasonry stems from the Druids.

I am sure that we can cite the Egyptian origin theory to someone (which is why I have left the statement in the article and only removed the citation) ... but it is incorrect to cite the theory to Thomas Paine. Blueboar (talk) 18:12, 21 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Paris Commune[edit]

I do think we need to mention the involvement of Freemasonry in the Paris Commune... but I am not sure that this is a topic that is worth as much article space as we give it. I think the Paris Commune is a good example of a far more important sub-topic that should be focussed on... the growing involvement of Continental Freemasonry in political affairs during the 19th Century. This is another factor in the schism between the Continental Branch of Freemasonry and the Anglo-US branch Freemasonry (with the Anglo-US branch adhearing to a strick "no politics" rule). This politicalization of the fraternity in Europe (and by extension in other parts of the world) also factors into the growing antagonism of the Roman Catholic Church during this era. Blueboar (talk) 14:36, 1 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]

No info from the 1890s until the present?[edit]

It seems kind of strange that there is absolutely no information about this huge organization in the article from around 1890 up until the present day. Doesn't anyone else think so? I've heard that Freemasonry is almost everywhere in the USA, and that in some (many) cities, you cannot even open a shop until you have befriended a Mason. Just things like that are of value to report, since that is all the info we will ever have to go on when it comes to secret societies. I mean, even the Skull & Bones article has more information about 20th century activity, and they are only what? seven new members a year(!) just thought I should mention it. for posterity if nothing else. Nunamiut (talk) 08:03, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

You raise a good point... the article probably should discuss the history of the fraternity in the 20th century... however, the fraternity has not really changed significantly since 1900, so in some ways the main Freemasonry article already coveres that time period.
As for your specific issues... I would agre that Freemasonry is "almost everywere" in the USA (there are local lodges in just about every small city... and many medium size towns). However, it is quite inaccurate to say they have kind of the influence in the community that you ascribe to them. Blueboar (talk) 13:55, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
The other interesting thing was that most of the usual writers that do Masonic history were early 20th century, so that tended to be where they stopped. I think to go past 2890, we're going to need more specific books, like Roberts, who only deals with America, and Cooper for England, etc. MSJapan (talk) 04:38, 14 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
MSJ, I asume you mean 1890? Yeah... reliable sources for the 20th (and first decade of the 21st) century are few and far between. Still... I think we should at least try to say something about the modern age. Blueboar (talk) 14:51, 14 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Scholarly studies by historians[edit]

In recent years historians have published numerous scholarly studies of Freemasonry esp in the 18th century, with sepecial emphasis on the importance of the movement in European and American history. I added a summary of the work and a bibliography. I included a full range of differing viewpoints.Rjensen (talk) 23:32, 29 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]

That's not the purpose of the article, as it is not a bibliography. The purpose is to talk about the history of Freemasonry, and something on the Enlightenment does not belong in Prince Hall, which started in the US. MSJapan (talk) 02:30, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Better read Steven C. Bullock, "Initiating the enlightenment?: recent scholarship on European freemasonry," Eighteenth-Century Life, Volume 20, Number 1, February 1996, pp. 80-92, which shows that there has been a new burst of interest by scholars in history. He says that until about 1980, "the study of Masonry remained a backwater." So Wikipedia needs to get in touch with the last 30 years of scholarship--often by famous professors at leading universities, such as UCLA. Agree that Prince Hall Freemasonry is a different issue for the section on the Enlightenment is now distinct from it. Wiki rules say that major articles should have a guide to further reading. The list includes independent scholarship (eg Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire) as well as books produced by the Freemasons themselves (eg Daniel, James W. Masonic Networks and Connections)( . Rjensen (talk) 03:16, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]
However, they should not have unqualified bibliographies in languages other than the source language. If a source is so important, it can very well be used as a source to improve the article. Also, I would imagine that Bullock's statement is qualified somewhat (as "European" Freemasonry is far more fragmented and difficult to maneuver around as a topic than the "Anglo-American" type). Bullock himself wrote a book on Freemasonry and the Civil War, and I wouldn't discount Allen Roberts, Brent Morris, Arturo de Hoyos, and others who have written material before and after 1980. Newer books can still be poorly researched hypotheses, such as the works by Knight and Lomas, and while many things are published on websites as well these days, that should not gain them acceptability, especially when the material is not peer-reviewed. My point here is that the terrain is not as simple as it may at first appear. MSJapan (talk) 06:04, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]
the problem is that this article is based on old-fashioned antiquarianism and official statements approved by Freemason officials. The article makes Freemasonry appear simplistic and ignores its importance as scholars have been showing. Perhaps the English Historical Review (vol 110 p 487) the leading scholarly journal in Britain said it best: "In the last twenty years, scholarship has broken free of the antiquarianism which was the inadequate but best side of traditional writing about masonry, and there has been a true advance in the positive history of the craft, notably in France and the Netherlands. Margaret C. Jacob has now carried forward the frontiers again." Rjensen (talk) 06:26, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]
(ec)There's also clearly another problem here, because while you claim you want to add a lot of information, you're only interested in pushing Margaret Jacob, as you have done in both the articles to which you have added material. She is "pushing boundaries in history" because her new directions and conclusions are based on making erroneous assumptions in the first place; of course she's going to get a different conclusion! This is not to say others have never made erroneous assumptions within Masonic research (I can think of a few examples over the last 100+ years), but for that reason, we do not add their material into articles.
On another note, may I ask, as you seem to be qualified in history yourself, where you have the background to claim with certainty that "all Masonic history is "official statements approved by Freemason officials"? If that's the case, could you perhaps tell me who they are so I can let them know that a) they need to remove certain books from circulation due to basic factual inaccuracies in said books, and b) they should give me a contract for the next "official contracted history of Freemasonry"? It would really shortcut things for me, because all the other Masonic scholars I know had to publish things for years and contract with fairly large publishers to get their work published. If you could help me avoid all that need for peer review and hard work, that would be fantastic. Thanks!
In case the joke above eludes you, you are making some erroneous assumptions as well when it comes to the state of Masonic research in the interest of pushing a particular viewpoint. Now, if you want, I can pretty much shred Jacob's corpus of work based solely on her own bibliographical work and research methodology, but I don't really want to have to do that unless it becomes necessary. However, I don't think it is an accident that the proponents of Jacob within the Craft are not other Masonic scholars, but rather the non-mainstream groups in Europe and America, who use her work to prove a certain type of legitimacy that they feel they cannot exist without having acknowledged, but that they cannot otherwise show they have. So are we adding information here, or trying to prove a point, do you think? MSJapan (talk) 15:17, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Given that this is an overview... the amount of detail in this section is inappropriate. I have summarized. Blueboar (talk) 15:06, 30 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I've met Steve Bullock. And while he may have said that "until the 1980's the study of Freemasonry remained a backwater" (or words to that effect) he would not appreciate being taken out of context. The history of Freemasonry has had a LOT of attention since early on, some research being quite good, some, er, not so good. But study of Masonry isn't a new thing and Dr. Bullock would be open-mouthed to hear someone say that he'd said that is is. For her part, Margaret Jacobs also deserves a place in the pantheon and will, I have no doubt, speak at QCCC if she hasn't already. It's not for Wikipedia to eether support or discredit her work. We should give it the respect and mention it deserves, placing it in its appropriate context within the legitimate controversial construct of the history of Masonry. In others words, she's not a wacko. She may be right or she may be wrong but IMO she does deserve a place in the discussion. "Of course this is just my opinion. I could be wrong." kcylsnavS{screechharrass} 01:53, 2 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Margaret Jacobs[edit]

I see no problem with the text on the left-hand side of this diff. kcylsnavS{screechharrass} 01:54, 2 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I just think that it is too long and overly detailed for this article, which is supposed to be a broad sweep summary of all of Masonic history. The material would be a really good start to a more focused article... on, for example, Freemasonry in the Age of Enlightenment. Blueboar (talk) 02:16, 2 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

finding a.box[edit]

I discovered a box with the FreeMasons emblem on the top. Handcarved. I'ts old. I would like to know were to take it. I don't know if it was crafted or bt who. It appears to be made of wood and it is old.Maybe I am just taking up your time. Sorry if I am. But if you can help me I would be forever grateful. Thankyou. e.mail willowlaniac@aol.com (talk) 02:42, 6 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This talk page is only for discussing improvements to the History of Freemasonry article. That being said, I suggest you contact a Masonic Research Lodge. --Loremaster (talk) 21:22, 6 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Creation of Upper Degrees[edit]

Mackey's Freemason Dictionary states in several entries that the upper degrees were created at the Jesuit's College in Paris. (Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Masonic History Company, 1917, four entries: 1)CLERMONT, COLLEGE, 2) Jesuits, 3)PERFECTION, RITE, 4) SCOTTISH RITE).

The reason for this collusion between the Jesuits and Freemasons according to some is the Jesuits, Freemasons and Rosicrucians, were all founded by the Templars after their suppression. It's known the Templars continued in Portugal as the Knights of Christ. Thus, it is summized the Templars have been ruling the Vatican since the French Revolution of 1798, via the Jesuits. The degrees drafted originally for the Grand Emperors of the East and West were later renamed Freemasonry. "East and West" as Freemasonry rules kingdoms (countries) of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. Amish 12:22, 14 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

While Mackey is respected, he is considered very outdated... The first volume of his encyclopedia was published in 1873 (the second volume was published in 1878), and since then there has been a lot of scholarship on the origins of Freemasonry and the various rites. To put it bluntly, we now know that Mackey got a lot of things wrong.
You may be interested in reading this page on the history of the Scottish Rite... it points out that many people confuse the Jesuit College of Clermont, with the short-lived Masonic body known as the Chapter of Clermont. It notes that the College and the Chapter had nothing to do with each other.... The Chapter was named "Clermont" in honor of the French Grand Master, the Duc de Clermont, and not because of any connection with the Jesuit College of Clermont. Blueboar (talk) 13:52, 14 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That's great. Your link:

"Early writers long believed that a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret," and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself "The Council of Emperors of the East and West." The title "Rite of Perfection" first appeared in the Preface to the "Grand Constitutions of 1786," the authority for which is now known to be faulty. It is now generally accepted that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is therefore more properly titled "The Rite of the Royal Secret," or "Morin's Rite."

Your link is a reprint of a wikipedia written article not a sourced scholar, and certainly not a scholar (FM Grand Master holder of degrees on par with Mackey) who can discard all the historians mentioned (at least four different masonic encyclopedias) claiming they were all wrong without good reason for doing so.
It appears the wikipedia is only apologising for the FM association with the Jesuits. But that's neither here-nor-there, we just need an accurate online version of encyclopedia.
The Jesuits and FM cooperation begin at least with Weishaupt's Illuminati. At that time it is known Napoleon was a Freemason who was educated and raised by Jesuits on the Isle where he grew up, (the Jesuits were suppressed). The Jesuit and FM association has been a long time relationship, both founded by Military orders (crusading knights), and continues to this day. In Washington DC (very masonic city where the Supreme Council Grand Lodge is located) there is the Freemason college George Washington U and the Jesuit's Georgetown U.
Mackey (citing earlier works and high officials within FM, which is how FM history and degrees are passed down) points out in one entry they believe the Illuminati drafted the upper eight degree, which makes sense since the Illuminati are on record having infiltrated the lodges in those years. And one bit of history the wikipedia was unable to overcome was that it was Mackey himself who gave Albert Pike charge of the degrees. Mackey was in a position to know the history of the degrees and is not wrong. Neither were all the historians before him. Your link:

"Albert Pike is asserted within the Southern Jurisdiction as the man most responsible for the growth and success of the Scottish Rite from an obscure Masonic Rite in the mid-1800's, to the international fraternity that it became. Pike received the 4th through the 32nd Degrees from the American Masonic historian, Dr. Albert G. Mackey, in Charleston, S.C., in March 1853, and, in that same year, Pike was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas."

Continue to lie to yourself, i'm not buying it and neither will any serious researcher whether FM, Catholic or other. Amish 16:11, 14 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
One more thing on this topic, other FM writers at the highest levels, in charge of directing new movements through their FM sanctioned writings, support Mackey's work.

"It is curious to note too that most of the bodies which work these, such as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Rite of Avignon, the Order of the Temple, Fessler's Rite, the "Grand Council of the Emperors of the East and West -- Sovereign Prince Masons," etc., etc., are nearly all the offspring of the sons of Ignatius Loyola. The Baron Hundt, Chevalier Ramsay, Tschoudy, Zinnendorf, and numerous others who founded the grades in these rites, worked under instructions from the General of the Jesuits. The nest where these high degrees were hatched, and no Masonic rite is free from their baalful influence more or less, was the Jesuit College of Clermont at Paris." (Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky, p.390, 1877)

Amish 16:26, 14 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Ah... Mackey is just outdated, but NO respected Masonic historian would consider Blavatsky even remotely reliable. You are well into fringe territory here. we're done. Blueboar (talk) 23:34, 14 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]


I have largely rewritten the introduction because the main point it seemed to be making was that Masonic history gets easy after 1717 because of the wealth of material, and we all know this is not the case. Since a lot of work needs done on the rest of the article, I wouldn't mind reworking the older sections with better references over a couple of months. I hope what I've changed so for reads better and gives a more realistic overview.Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:38, 5 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Origins to Grand Lodge[edit]

So far, I hope I've established a timeline, and included all the topics that need to be included. To do:- Mainly tidying and expanding the references. If anybody can see any glaring omissions, please feel free... Fiddlersmouth (talk) 16:18, 18 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Good Job... my only quibble is that we now give a lot of weight (too much weight?) to what was going on in Scotland during this period. I realize that one reason for this is simply that more Scottish primary source records exist for this period - and, thus, there is more academic scholarship on what was going on in Scotland than there is on what was going on in England (or Ireland)... but it does skew the article somewhat. Blueboar (talk) 13:11, 18 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Logged and registered. As you say, there is more primary material. There is also a distinct absence of Templars, and the Sinclair section was, I felt, useful in clarifying some of the published mythology. It also seems to be the case that the probable origin of entered apprentice, cowan, brother, the "masons word", and the "signs and tokens " is Scottish. Ireland becomes much more important in the second and third quarters of the eighteenth century, and I intend to redress the balance on English masonry in the next section.Fiddlersmouth (talk) 16:18, 18 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Role of Freemasonry in the Enlightenment[edit]

I have just removed this section, since it hardly said anything, and as such (I thought) detracted from the article. Having said that, the article would probably benefit from having the subject properly dealt with. If anybody feels brave, I've saved the references on the talk page of my sandbox. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 19:38, 13 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

To Do list[edit]

So far, I've hived off the mythology into a separate section, tried to establish a timeline from the Middle ages to UGLE, filled out the stub subsections, and referenced everything I didn't want to rewrite. My next task will be to slowly pick through the references, try to ensure that all the links have a piece of hard copy to back them up, and paginate the books. I've probably overused Knoop, but he is the only decent source on operative masonry I've found so far the didn't seem to be running his own agenda. The article could probably do with some material on on -

  • The French revolution, and the lodges that stopped meeting because the Masters head was on a stick downtown.
  • The American revolution
  • The Templar origin myth could stand expanding.
  • Likewise the union of 1813.
  • The Compagnonnage probably needs a stronger mention
  • The confusing world of early German Freemasonry
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, possibly expanded to cover conspiracy theories in general
  • The emergence of the Royal Arch, and its position in 1811-13  Done

Any opinions? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:10, 17 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

  • I Recommend using Jasper Ridley's "The Freemasons" as a source... he does a good job of covering the history of Freemasonry beyond England and the US.
  • We should probably also add something about the spread of Freemasonry around the World during the later colonial era (1800s and early 1900s). Both the British and the French exported the Craft throughout their colonial possessions... Australia, India, various African nations, etc. Blueboar (talk) 12:05, 26 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps two or three paragraphs under "Colonial Freemasonry" or similar heading. It is a huge and under-represented subject, and probably deserves its own article at some stage. Since there isn't one, as you say, it could do with a mention. Likewise, there is nothing in Wikipedia on German freemasonry before the 20th century (and it probably needs the attention of somebody that speaks German). Fiddlersmouth (talk) 10:06, 27 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, I have been thinking that we should break this topic area up into a series of articles. This article would remain the "Main article"... an overview of the entire topic... but some of the more detailed stuff could be summarized here and discussed in more detail in sub-articles. For example, I think there is enough info to support a separate sub-article on "Origins of Freemasonry" ... and perhaps another on the spread of Freemasonry around the world (which I would divide into three phases... 1700-1800 and then 1800-1940 (World War II).. and then Post WWII to the present)... or something like that. Blueboar (talk) 11:19, 27 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
That sounds like a plan. The current article is already becoming a bit unwieldy. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 12:03, 27 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

pushing for liberal political ideas?[edit]

I for one arrived at this page after reading countless late 19th/ early 20th-century histories around Europe where Freemasonry is cited as a central force pushing or liberalization -- "under totalitarian regimes"/"suppression" page covers what happened when their enemies gained power, but not what the Masons were actually doing in the lead-up to the suppression...In brief, it would be useful to have a timeline/narrative of major points for te 20th century, rahter than just a link to the suppression page. (talk) 15:27, 20 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
One thing a lot of historians don't understand is that Freemasonry is divided into two factions... there is the smaller "Continental style" of Freemasonry and there is the larger "Anglo-American style" of Freemasonry. Continental Freemasonry did (and does) take political stands (usually supporting liberal causes). The larger Anglo-American tradition, on the other hand, has always had a strict ban on the discussion of both Religion and Politics (as these are both topics which divide men, and Freemasonry is all about bringing men together in harmony). It does not take political stands. Unfortunately, historians see the political activity of Continental Freemasonry and assume that all of Freemasonry is like that. This means that the amount of "pushing for liberalization" done by Freemasonry is greatly over-stated.
So... what were the the Masons doing in the lead-up to the suppression? Well, the majority of them were quietly attending lodge meetings, enjoying the bonds of fellowship with their lodge brothers, supporting the lodge's charity works, and trying to live as good men in society. While some may have held liberal views, others did not... and in the interest of lodge harmony, they kept whatever political views they held to themselves. Blueboar (talk) 00:21, 21 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
The larger Anglo-American tradition, on the other hand, has always had a strict ban on the discussion of both Religion and Politics (as these are both topics which divide men, and Freemasonry is all about bringing men together in harmony). It does not take political stands. Have you read the wording of the applications for the AASR in the Southern Jurisdiction, recently? Many of them flat out require the applicant to swear to language that has a political tone, tone regarding the use of government money for sectarian purposes.--Vidkun (talk) 14:23, 21 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Could you point us to an example of what you are talking about?... I just looked at a random sample (from various SJ valleys that allow you to download the application online)... and I did not find anything with a political tone, and nothing even close to discussing using government money for sectarian purposes (either overtly or in tone). Blueboar (talk) 14:58, 21 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Sure, first of all, the google words you'd need are "for the support of sectarian or private institutions scottish rite", and it did take me a while to figure it out from various other googling. However, here are examples:
That's a small sampling, but I hope it help to illustrate it's not an isolated thing, but widespread on the SJ - heck, it's been lised as part of the SC's implementation plan on a number of Valley and Orient webpages.--Vidkun (talk) 15:38, 22 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Interesting... Looking at more petitions from around the Southern Jurisdiction, you seem to be correct... inclusion of the statement runs about half and half. I think the statement in question is a relatively new addition (and the valley websites that don't have it are probably just using the old petition)...
Now for what I think is the background: I strongly suspect that the new language was added as a reaction to a situation in California a few years ago...
The US government was issuing funds to support various "faith based initiatives", and a local SR valley thought they could get in on the action to support community programs at their Scottish Rite Temple. Someone took the Scottish Rite to court in order to stop it, noting that Masonry defines itself as a private non-religious/non-sectarian organization (ie it did not qualify as a public "faith based" organization). The local Scottish Rite (still eager to get the money) tried to make the argument that since a lot of people considered Masonry to be a religion - perhaps the court should consider it one as well... which would mean Freemasnry qualified as a public "faith based" organization. The religious Anti-Masons were delighted with this argument... after all those years of denying it... finally, here was a Masonic body admitting that Freemasonry should be defined a religious organization (ie a religion)... in court no less! MAJOR EMBARRASSMENT for the Supreme Council and other valleys.
With this in mind... take look at the statement again. Note the specific language... it calls for opposition to any attempt to appropriate public monies for the support of sectarian or private institutions... at a time when the court was about to rule on the issue of whether Freemasonry was a public sectarian or private non-sectarian organization.
Perhaps this puts a slightly different tone on things. I don't think it was originally intended to be a political statement... I think it was intended to be a repremand and internal clarification... to say that: we oppose Masonic bodies attempting to appropriate public monies. Blueboar (talk) 18:53, 22 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I wish I could agree, however, that same wording was on my application in 1996 - it's derived, essentially, from/as a result of the Blaine Amendments, and is originally likely an attempt to prevent public monies from funding Catholic schools. What you seem to be recalling is this http://www.metnews.com/articles/2008/conf010708.htm Additionally, googling sectarian or private institutions application scottish rite parochial schools got me the following from 1967, written by SGIG of California (later SGC) Henry C. Clausen http://contentdm.baylor.edu/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/04wood&CISOPTR=5341&CISOMODE=print --Vidkun (talk) 16:47, 23 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
See also William A. Mitchell's "Religion and Federal Aid to Education" a copy of which can be found here: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2396&context=lcp look on page 27 out of 31 of the pdf, or original page number 139. It seems quite clear to me that for a very long time, the SC of the AASR SJ has been actively opposed to the use of public fund for sectarian schools, which in many quarters has been directed against Catholic schools, specifically. I do not think that this can be thought of as anything but a political statement, one which was originally a conservative and Protestant ideal, but now is considered by many on the right as being an affront against religion.--Vidkun (talk) 17:18, 23 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Hmmm... I am not a Scottish Rite Mason (and if I were, I would belong to the Northern Jurisdiction), so I am working on what I have been told second or third hand (ie I was told that was a new addition ... but it is quite possible that I was misinformed). Of course, now I am wondering about all the applications that don't have the language. ... do we know the background of why about half of the SJ valleys don't include it?... is there a disagreement over this sentence in SJ? If it is intended to be political, I find that very unmasonic... and could see some valleys objecting on that grounds. Blueboar (talk) 20:03, 23 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I do NOT know why about half do not have it, but I have always wondered at public figures who were also SJ AASR members, and 33rds, at that, who supported vouchers ... but, Like the Church and Kennedy, the AASR should not dictate how a politician leans, but his constituency should. It does seem to be both politically and religiously motivated, and part of why, degree rituals from the Cerneau bodies aside, the AASR is perceived as anti-Catholic.--Vidkun (talk) 15:09, 24 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
this has been very enlightening. I'd not heard of the split (which came about because the "regular" masons wanted to allow segregation and exclude atheists?), but that would seem to explain a lot. Having grown up in the plains of the US, I'd come to see Freemasonry as a fundamentally conservative force; so this clears things up immensely. I think the article would be greatly improved if this was worked in...especially since, as mentioned, many historians don't even acknowledge this split, let alone explain it. (talk) 17:53, 25 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
The schism between Anglo-American Freemasonry and Continental Freemasonry came about primarily because "Continental" Freemasons wanted to change masonic practice and allow atheists. Since then other issues have widened the gap. As for segregation ... if you are referring to racial segregation... that is a different schism that only affected Masonry in the US (and one that is now almost completely resolved. see Prince Hall Freemasonry for more on this). It was never an issue in the rest of the world. Blueboar (talk) 03:56, 26 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I cannot completely agree with this, Blueboar; I do not believe characterizing the schism as you have is neutral, although this is a talk page only. Regarding the split, the French GLs which changed their requirements state that they were returning to the exact wording of the original constitutions which Dr. Anderson used. The other GLs claimed the French were removing God from the usages of the Craft, the French said they were getting rid of an innovation. Additionally, the schism over racial segregation =was not limited to the US, in fact, it was the source of the original derecognition of French GLs by American GLs, do to issues in Lousiana.--Vidkun (talk) 13:11, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
It wasn't just about the interpretation of "a stupid atheist". The current book of constitutions makes it quite clear that the GOdF's policy of encouraging members to engage in politics for masonic ends is anathema to UGLE. Did masonry ever change government policy anywhere (to revert to the original question)? If it did that instance deserves to be included.
I think that this article ought to be about the people and events that created modern Freemasonry. If we throw in every interesting event in every corner of Freemasonry, this will turn into the article that thinks it's an encyclopaedia. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:34, 5 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Freemasonry, as an institution, has never changed government policy... anywhere. In some continental jurisdictions it has openly supported and advocated for certain polices. Blueboar (talk) 16:40, 6 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
As it has in some American jurisdictions, as shown by the citations I provided above.--Vidkun (talk) 16:46, 6 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
So, we can say that religion/politics is OUT in Grand Lodge, IN in Grand Orient, and unenforceable outside of blue lodge? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 00:36, 8 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]

"antient" vs. " ancient"[edit]

These comments are all based upon the currently newest version of the article, : https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_Freemasonry&oldid=602485839 .

The last sentence of History_of_Freemasonry#Anderson.27s_Constitutions begins, "The "Antient Charges" published in the current Book of Constitutions [...]". The word "Antient" there, seems suspicious to me. It is only one letter away from the word "Ancient" -- which is a currently used English word (still used, today).

It appears that the word "Antient" is -- according to wikt:antient -- an "Obsolete spelling of ancient." (But I, for one, surely did not know that -- without looking it up!) Note: The two-word phrase "ancient charges", does occur somewhere in this article -- (in the second sentence of the second paragraph of History_of_Freemasonry#The_Establishment_of_Freemasonry_in_North_America).

I suggest that it would be helpful (to some readers) to either [1] replace the unfamiliar word "antient" by the more modern "ancient", or else to at least [2] insert an "explanatory" note -- or footnote -- saying something like "(an obsolete spelling of ancient)" -- after the unfamiliar word "antient".

Would that be OK? Is [2] better than [1]? Any advice, or comments? Thanks, --Mike Schwartz (talk) 05:17, 19 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I remember that we discussed this several years ago (you will have to look through the archives to find it)... The problem we identified was that the archaic spelling is part of the formal name of that entity (its the "Antient Grand Lodge of England"). So we agreed to use the more archaic spelling when referring to that specific entity, but the more modern spelling (ancient) in every other context. Thus, we would write:
  • Historians refer to the original Grand Lodge of England as "the Moderns", and the Antient Grand Lodge of England as "the Antients" ... even though "the Moderns" are actually more ancient than "the Antients"
I think this matches what many (the majority?) of masonic historians do. That said, as best as I can remember, no one felt strongly one way or the other about it, and consensus can always change... so, we can certainly discuss the issue again if you want to. Blueboar (talk) 17:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Antient was an affectation of the Moderns Grand Lodge, used to describe Freemasonry in general, and still used by UGLE. The 1751 Grand Lodge (according to the old institutions/constitutions depending on where it's from) never used that spelling. However, as Blueboar says, modern historians favour the usage The Grand Lodge of the Antients or just the Antients, and its pretty unanimous among the contemporary stuff from UGLE commentators. There is a brief explanation in the Rival Grand Lodges section. Do we need another? The Ancient Charges are not connected, I've linked them to the relevant article.Fiddlersmouth (talk) 18:42, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Political role[edit]

Scholars are agreed that F. played a political role in numerous countries as demonstrated by citations to Richard Weisberger W McLeod, & SB Morris eds., Freemasonry on both sides of the Atlantic: essays concerning the craft in the British Isles, Europe, the United States, and Mexico (East European Monographs, 2002); Margaret C. Jacob, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and politics in eighteenth-century Europe (Oxford University Press, 1991); and Norman Davies, Europe: A History (1996) pp 634–635. If someone thinks otherwise perhaps they can cite their sources. Rjensen (talk) 00:25, 26 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Take a look at Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs. Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 (2013) It is not true that while the continental Freemasons were politicized, the British ones were not. Historians have demonstrated otherwise. The central documents of the Freemasons officially opposed using the lodges for political activities. Indeed, but the British membership did so anyway. Page 104 states "Freemasonry's identification with the Whig ruling regime is also evident in the basic ideas and practices of the brotherhood. It is official publications championed strong constitutional monarchy and loyalty to the Royal ministry." p 104-5: There was a furious battle for control of the Freemason movement around the year 1720 in Britain. It had been closely linked to the Jacobite movement, which sought to overthrow Hanoverian monarchs (Kings George I and II) and put the Stuart Pretender on the throne. However, Loyalists Whigs took over the Grand Lodge in 1723 and realigned the movement in accord with the ruling establishment in London, so that it would no longer be associated with Jacobitism. p 107 states that in the 1730s in Scotland Freemasons used their lodges for political support of the Jacobites. Rjensen (talk) 00:53, 26 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I presume we are talking about the Jacobite Wharton's little tiff with Desaguliers? The rumblings were more likely to be about atheism. Wharton's atheism had just had his Hell-fire club shut down, Desaguliers was a vicar. The 1720s Grand lodge became a hotbed of atheism, Martin Folkes, London's arch-atheist ran the show as Deputy Grand Master in the middle of this period, and at least two Grand Master's were in his Infidel's club. Wharton was an alcoholic lecher who was probably deeply unpleasant to know, but was nonetheless greeted again as a brother as he tried to set up a subsidiary Grand Lodge in Spain. I used to believe your thesis, but it doesn't bear close examination. Desaguliers re-invented the masonic lodge as a fashionable place to be seen. The Horn lodge, where he held court, attracted the rich and famous of the day, and known Jacobites such as Ramsay were welcomed. As for Grand Lodge, apart from Wharton storming out in a huff, the minutes are curiously devoid of "furious battles". Dermott caricatured the moderns Grand Lodge as a pretentious dining club - and he wasn't far wrong.
Generalisations about Grand Lodges in this period are also misleading. The Premier Grand lodge, in the near-century it existed, failed even to impose a uniform ritual on its lodges. Numbers and functions of officers, and the very form of the lodge, had at least three different manifestations - probably many more. Political affiliations and membership profiles likewise differed from lodge to lodge, and within lodges from decade to decade. It took until the twentieth century for all the Scottish lodges to join the Grand Lodge, and implying that they were all Jacobite would be as great a mistake as implying they were all speaking to each other. Don't forget that the army that crushed the Jacobite cause at Culloden was mainly made up of Scotsmen from the Lowlands and the East Coast, the heartlands of Scottish Freemasonry. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:58, 26 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I recently read an essay written in the 1800s by a patriotic American Freemason, noting how many "heroes" of the American Revolution were Freemasons. The essay concluded by asking why this was so, and what it was in Freemasonry that caused men to "strive for liberty against the oppressions of a tyrannical monarch". Of course, what the essay completely ignored was how many Freemasons fought on the British side of that conflict. If you are going to mention Washington and Lafayette, an honest historian also needs to mention Gage, the Howe Brothers and Cornwallis.
The lesson I took away from this ... don't confuse and conflate Freemasons with Freemasonry. Freemasons get involved in politics all the time. Freemasonry on the other hand does not (at least not in the modern Anglo/American tradition). This is why you will find Freemasons on both sides in just about any political debate. Blueboar (talk) 00:40, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Bad things to put in lead paragraph[edit]

Reverting this edit (again), there are three separate points made.

Freemasonry was a powerful force on behalf of Liberalism in Europe. This sounds like Grand Orient de France propaganda. Jacob is quoted as a reference (the whole book?) and the discussion is somewhere in the archives. To summarise, the overlap between liberalism/enlightenment thinking and Freemasonry doesn't constitute a logical link, any more than golf clubs and political conservatism today. While many liberals and enlightenment thinkers were masons, many were not. Many English lodges were upper class drinking clubs, while in Germany the only sane lodge for some time was the Three Globes, under the thumb of the royal family. The rest became the abode of neo-templars, mystics, alchemists, and con-men. The myth that the French masons masterminded the revolution started with an anti-masonic cleric, and doesn't explain how the Grand Master ended with his head on a stick. Argument and counter-argument need presented.

Its great enemy was the Roman Catholic Church. Another gross over-simplification. Probably true from about the 1820s, by which time the power of the church was greatly diminished. Fleury doubtless persecuted French masons, but after his death nobody seems to have bothered. In this period the Jacobites actively used continental masonry to advance the cause of a Catholic restoration in Britain. During the second half of the 18th century, many catholics became masons, including Mozart, who wrote an opera about it. When Voltaire became a mason, he was presented by a priest. 12 other priests were in attendance. When the French Grand Master recovered from a serious illness, there was a mass and Te Deum of thanksgiving, and males attending had to know the grip and password.

Twentieth century totalitarian movements, especially the Fascists and Communists, successfully crushed the Freemasons. Crushed? An emotive word, considering the rapidity of the re-establishment of Freemasonry in Germany and Eastern Europe. Were there other totalitarian movements that crushed Freemasonry? And where do we put Cuba, where Freemasonry wasn't suppressed?

Yes, this stuff needs mentioned, but not as crashing, inaccurate generalisations, and PLEASE in the body of the article first, avoiding references in the lead section. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 01:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Fiddlersmouth wants to a) argue with the scholars and b) defend Freeemasonry to the death. But he has no scholarly sources. The Catholic Church/Pope for example repeatedly condemned F starting in 1720s (not the 1820s). Catholics were excommunicated from joining except in Austria (Mozart in Vienna) because the Emperor fought the Pope and ordered the bishops not to read the pope's condemnation. I'll put the material in the text and he can add his refuctations per Wiki NPOV rules tghat REQUIRE major positions to be included. Rjensen (talk) 01:32, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
The problem I have with the "great enemy" line is that it is inaccurate from the Masonic viewpoint... from the Masonic viewpoint there is no conflict with the Church, and never has been. To the extent that there was a conflict, it was a one way conflict. So... it is perhaps at least somewhat accurate to say that the Church viewed Freemasonry as an enemy... but it is inaccurate to say the reverse (that Freemasonry viewed the Church as an enemy). I know that Jasper Ridley's The Freemasons has a good description of this one way conflict and how it developed... that might be a source we can use. Blueboar (talk) 12:05, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
When "scholarship" contradicts the facts, it must be challenged. Freemasonry in general is delighted to accept responsibility for the enlightenment. This is a myth, bought into by Jacobs, and challenged by several academics. The first Bull against Freemasonry was in 1738, yet in the same period eminent Catholics were hand-knitting their own brand of Freemasonry to propagate Jacobitism. The papal bulls were simply NOT enforced in most of Europe. The nineteen priests in Neuf Soeurs ought to speak volumes, as should the repeated bans - which would not have been necessary if the earlier ones had worked. I cite the 1820s as the date Leo XII finally got the message across to the church in Ireland, where the ban was least observed, forcing O'Connell to choose between Catholicism and Freemasonry.
Alleging that I will "defend Freeemasonry to the death" is a badly spelled personal attack, and unjustified after I have characterised the first Grand Lodge as a boozy lunch club, and questioned the actions of my own Grand Lodge in this and other articles. Neither will I uphold the official Church line, or any other "expert" source who obviously hasn't bothered to do the research and believes the Catholic Encyclopedia as Gospel. I will, however, speak up for the Catholic who sponsored my initiation, the Catholic I raised to the third degree in my first ceremony as master, and my Catholic father-in-law, also a Freemason. It's not simple, and was particularly complicated in the 18th century. "Scholars" are not infallible, and contradict each other. I am simply arguing for balance. I should add that I have no issue with recent additions re the 19th century. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:44, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Further to the above, the discussion on Jacobs occurred here in September 2010, the result of the reversion of an edit by Rjensen. This editor seems to have waited 3.5 years until the original discussion was forgotten, then attempted to re-insert similar material into the article. This looks a bit like an edit war, and slightly creepy. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:13, 28 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

When "scholarship" contradicts the facts, it must be challenged. well no, that contradicts the basic wikipedia rules about wp:RS. Fiddlersmouth claims a personal sense of "facts" about events 75 or 100 or even 300 years ago. Perhaps he depends on stories that he heard in secret lodge meetings (depending on personal knowledge violates the WP:OR rules.) Rjensen (talk) 22:47, 28 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Oh dear, AGAIN with the personal attacks. Actually, I don't have a problem with the current additions. They are entirely appropriate for the current state of this article, and I'm more than happy to add an appropriately referenced opposing view in due course. With the stuff about Freemasonry in c19 France, that's two things off my to-do list. Thanks. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:38, 29 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

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Secret word[edit]

There was a secret word, used perhaps only in Scotland, and the word was (drum roll)... "Mohabyn" (likely) meaning "comrade". Source: http://www.worldcat.org/wcpa/servlet/org.oclc.lac.ui.DialABookServlet?oclcnum=47805094 or Jasper Ridley's authoratative book on the Freemasons. (talk) 16:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Nothing new... this particular secret word was "revealed" several centuries ago (in the 1750s if I remember correctly). Blueboar (talk) 17:27, 21 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Ridley seems to have been the only researcher to come up with Mohabyn. There are several versions of the word, starting with Matchpin (Trinity College, Dublin MS, 1712). For several reasons, getting "comrade" from "marrow" is simply arcane, and Ridley is missing the point. The Graham MS (1725) gives there is marrow in it (after pulling a finger from a rotting Noah). There is a more credible Hebrew translation, but lack of usable text, and the differences between lodges, would make any discussion in the article inadmissible original research. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 00:08, 25 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Actually... this whole thread misses an important point. The purpose of this article isn't to discuss (or expose) the rituals (as fun as that might be)... the purpose is to give a broad overview of the fraternity's history. So we would not discuss a "secret word" in the article even if we had a solid source for it... it's not really within the scope of the article. Blueboar (talk) 16:32, 25 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The Mason Word was an important badge of identity for early Freemasons in Scotland, and is mentioned in 17/18th century Scottish poetry and literature. Stevenson defines it as the whole secret recognition procedure, so it rates a mention. Nailing it down is next to impossible, and Ridley is WAY off the mark. One for the to do list. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 21:57, 25 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Agreed - conceptually it is important, but there are no definite details. On the subject of exposures, though, I've just come across another one which I was unaware of (courtesy of Arturo de Hoyos), so I could see there being enough content and historical significance to talk about such elsewhere. MSJapan (talk) 23:21, 25 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
So, potentially a review here, maybe under 17th Century Scottish history. I note the Marquis de Gages ritual from 1763 has Mac Benac - "The flesh leaves the bone" or "The flesh is rotten". Nobody else has noticed in English papers, and the French seem much more obsessed with the philosophy and inner meaning of the craft. A separate article would probably have to rely too much on primary sources. I'm happy to be proved wrong. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 01:08, 26 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Removal of "Historical political impact"[edit]

Section opened with "In long-term historical perspective, Norman Davies has argued that Freemasonry was a powerful force on behalf of Liberalism in Europe, from about 1700 to the twentieth century." Norman Davies said no such thing - even the pagination in the reference is wrong, so I suspect the perpetrator took it from another source without reading it. Removing material already included in the article left next to nothing. Still needs addressed, particularly the Margaret Jacobs material. Maybe in "Politics and Freemasonry?". Fiddlersmouth (talk) 00:15, 18 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Wrong. Anyone can read Davies' full treatment at Norman Davies (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford UP. pp. 633–34. Rjensen (talk) 16:44, 31 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Just read it (again), and it still does not properly support what the paragraph says. If you want to include Davies’ opinion, I suggest you simply quote his words directly. Blueboar (talk) 17:50, 31 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, sounds like it needs better sourcing and specifics, as well as clarification. My general sense is that much of the "politics" was the result of the suborning of Lodges in France prior to the French Revolution, and the reaction of the Pope. In the case of the overt Masonic connection with the Boston Tea Party, I've only found it anecdotally - it wasn't stated in the minutes (which have been referred to in other sources) that the meeting was adjourned to go down to the harbor, but the impression of such had some impact much later. So some thought in that contextual direction is important as well, as I'm sure there are other examples; those are just the ones that come to mind. MSJapan (talk) 05:23, 18 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I agree. One of the things we need to remember when writing about the influence of Freemasonry on politics is that there is a lot of misinformation and poor scholarship out there... and not just by the conspiracy theorists. A lot of misinformation comes from patriotic Freemasons, who perpetuate myths in an attempt to demonstrate how wonderful the Craft is, and how important it was in the formation of their country (whatever that country might be). The Craft's supporters can be just as guilty of overstating Freemasonry's influence as the Craft's detractors. Blueboar (talk) 13:04, 18 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
My own research agrees with both of your assessments. Much is made of the Duc D'Orleans instructing the GOdF to support the French revolution by authors who neglect to mention the same revolution putting his head on a stick. Freemasons fantasise about their past influence, but it is largely chimeric. Non-events are notoriously hard to reference. On the other hand (for example) Frederick the Great (as Crown Prince) attended about three meetings of the Three Globes. That got him Grand Master and the Three Globes became Grand National Motherlodge. He never went to lodge again, but remained Grand Master - sounds more like "I own your ass" than masonic influence the other way. Similarly, the Unlawful Societies Act did a lot to combine the Ancients and Moderns into UGLE. In the absence of as detailed analysis of Freemasonry's almost total failure to influence politics, a paragraph on the impact of politics on Freemasonry would redress the balance, and would be relatively easy to reference. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:59, 18 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Derick Jacobi's The Freemasons has a lot of good material on this. Blueboar (talk) 13:11, 19 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Unable to find The Freemasons by Derick Jacobi on Amazon or Google. Do you have an ISBN? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:17, 19 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
reviewing this almost two years later... I got the author wrong.... for the record, the author of "The Freemasons" is Jasper Ridley. A good read. Blueboar (talk) 11:33, 30 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Strange, doing same thing. Ploughing through Jacobs' book. It's like a kid showing you a maths or computer problem, and the answer is pretty much right, but the working-out is so bizarre and wrong-headed you don't know how they got there. Good material for a history of Dutch Freemasonry. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:23, 10 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

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