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Secret societies is the new code word for organizations believed to be pulling the strings of the world. These groups have been attributed and blamed for many nefarious acts perpetrated against humanity. They are the subject of much conspiracy theorizing and speculation. Among the most infamous secret societies are undoubtedly the shadowy Illuminati. This secret sect has been mentioned in everything from music to books to movies to games, but despite everything we think we know about them, there is so much more we don't know. This documentary aims to put the spotlight on the supposed "guardians of the light," the Illuminati.

There are many secret societies rumoured to be out there

Organisations that are said to pull the strings of the world

These groups have been both credited and blamed for various things great and small

They're the subject of many conspiracy theories and speculations

You may have heard of the Illuminati

It's been referenced in everything from music to books to movies to games

Yet for all that we think we know about it, there's so much more that we don't

Sit back, take a breath and listen as we shed light on the Illuminati

In Latin, the term Illuminati is the plural of Illuminatus, meaning enlightened

Throughout history the name has been given to many real and fictitious groups

Traditionally the name commonly refers to the Bavarian Illuminati

They were an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1st, 1776

Today Bavaria is a part of Germany

What did this infamous group do and why have they become irrefutably influential? The Bavarian Illuminati goals were simple enough

The society was founded as a means to fight against superstition, religious influence over public life, the proliferation of knowledge and to safeguard us from abuses of state power

The order of the day, they wrote in their general statuses, is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them

Today the term Illuminati is used to reference many different organizations that have claimed to have some connection to the original Bavarian Illuminati or other secret societies

However, these claims have never been proven

Throughout the decades, many have claimed that secret societies conspire to control world affairs by planting agents in governments and corporations to gain political power and influence

They are also said to be masterminding events to establish a new world order

Let's go back to where it all began, or at least where they would like us to think it all began

Back in the year 1773, Adam Weishaupt became a professor of practical philosophy and canon law at the University of Ingolstadt

Weishaupt was the only non-clerical professor at an institution run by Jesuits

Later on that year, Pope Clement XIV dissolved the institution

However, the Jesuits of Ingolstadt wouldn't bend

They managed to hold onto some power at the university

The Jesuits made frequent attempts to discredit and frustrate non-clerical staff, mainly when the coarse material consisted of anything they regarded as Protestant or liberal

Weishaupt became extremely anti-clerical and decided to begin spreading the Enlightenment ideals through some sort of secret society composed of like-minded individuals

Weishaupt looked into Freemasonry but found it to be costly and not open to his ideas

With nowhere to turn, he founded his society

Weishaupt's group was to have a system of grades or ranks based on those in Freemasonry, however, with his plan

The original name for his new order was Bunda Perfectibilisten, which translates to the Covenant of Perfectibility, and the members of the group became known as Perfectibilists

On May 1, 1776, Weishaupt, along with four students, formed the Perfectibilists, who used the Owl of Minerva as their symbol

All members of the society had to use aliases within

Weishaupt adopted the pseudonym of Spartacus

Law students Massenhausen, Bauhoff, Mers, and Souter became respectively Ajax, Agathon, Tiberius, and Erasmus Rotorodamus

In April 1778, the order changed their name to the Illuminat an Orden, or Order of Illuminati

Massenhausen was initially the most active member in terms of society expansion

He recruited Xavier von Zweck, a former pupil of Weishaupt while studying in Munich

It wasn't long before Massenhausen's enthusiasm soon became a liability in Weishaupt's eyes, as later on he became erratic due to his love life

Weishaupt passed control of the Munich group to Zweck

In 1778, Massenhausen graduated and left Bavaria

At the time of his departure, the order had a nominal membership of 12

Zweck immediately applied himself to recruiting more talented and mature candidates

Most prized by Weishaupt was Hörtel, a childhood friend and a canon of the Munich Frauenkirche

By the end of summer 1778, the order had 27 members in five commands, Ingolstadt, Munich, Ravensburg, Freisinger, and Eichstadt

During this early period, the order had three grades of novice, minerval, and illuminated minerval

Only the minerval class involved a complicated ceremony

During induction, the candidate was given a password and a set of secret signs

Weishaupt used a mutual espionage system which kept him informed of all members' character and activities

His favourites went on to become members of the ruling council

Some of the novice members were allowed to recruit

Christians of good character were actively sought, with Jews and pagans expressly excluded, along with women, monks and other secret societies

Favoured candidates were docile, wealthy, willing to learn and aged between 18 and 30

Weishaupt began finding it difficult to dissuade some of his members from joining the Freemasons, so he decided to join the older order as a means to acquire the material he needed to expand his ritual

In February 1777, he was admitted to lodge prudence of the right of strict observance

However, his progress through the three degrees of blue lodge masonry taught him nothing of the higher degrees he was looking to exploit

The following year, a priest named Abbe Marotti told Zwack that these inner secrets rested on knowledge of the primitive church and the older religion

Zwack convinced Weishaupt that their order should begin friendly relations with Freemasonry to get whatever they needed to set up their lodge

During December 1778, the addition of the first three degrees of Freemasonry was thought of as a secondary project

Without difficulty, a warrant was granted by the Grand Lodge of Prussia known as the Royal York for Friendship

The new lodge was designated as Theodore of the Good Council to flatter the Elector of Bavaria Charles Theodore

Theodore of the Good Council was founded on March 21, 1779 in Munich and was quickly packed with Illuminati

The first master was a man called Radel, who was eventually persuaded to go back to his home in Baden

By July of that year, Weishaupt's order ran the lodge

The Society's next step involved gaining its independence from their Grand Lodge

This was done so by establishing Masonic relations with the Union Lodge of Frankfurt, who was affiliated with the premier Grand Lodge of England

With the proper relations in place, Lodge Theodore became independently recognised and thus declared its independence

As a mother lodge, it could now create lodges of its own

During a recruiting drive of Frankfurt-based masons, Weishaupt's lodge gained the allegiance of one of its key members, Adolf Freiherr Konigge

Konigge was recruited late in 1780 at a convention of the right of strict observance by Costanzo Marchese di Costanzo, a fellow Freemason and infantry captain in the Bavarian army

Whilst in his twenties, Konigge had reached the highest grades of his order and had big plans for its reform

However, no one else in his lodge was interested in supporting his ideas

Konigge was intrigued when Costanzo told him that the order that he wanted to create already existed

Konigge and three of his friends immediately wanted to learn more about this order, so Costanzo showed them material regarding the Minerval grade

This grade had been banned in Bavaria, but it was common knowledge in the Protestant German states

Konigge's three companions became disillusioned and wanted nothing more to do with Costanzo, but Konigge persisted

He was rewarded for his persistence in November 1780 when he received a letter from Weishaupt

Konigge's connections in and out of Freemasonry made him an ideal recruit

Konigge was flattered by this attention

Weishaupt managed to acknowledge and pledge to support Konigge's interest in alchemy and the higher sciences

Konigge replied to Weishaupt, outlining his plans for the reform of Freemasonry as the strict observance began questioning its origins

Weishaupt gave Konigge the task of recruiting before taking part in the higher grades of the order

Konigge accepted the responsibility on the condition that he would be able to choose his own recruiting grounds

A lot of masons found Konigge's description of the new Masonic order appealing and quickly enrolled in the Illuminati's Minerva grade

At this time, Konigge appeared to believe in the most serene superiors which Weishaupt claimed to serve

However, his inability to talk about the higher degrees of the order became more and more embarrassing

That didn't stop Weishaupt from giving him another task

Weishaupt provided Konigge with material to produce pamphlets that outlined the activities of the outlawed Jesuits

Eventually, Konigge's inability to answer his recruits' questions regarding the higher grades made his position increasingly difficult

Konigge wrote to Weishaupt to inform him of his problems

In January 1781, Weishaupt finally confessed that his superiors and the supposed antiquity of the order were fictions and the higher degrees hadn't been written yet

Surprisingly, Konigge took this news in his stride

Weishaupt sent him all of the data that he had written thus far and promised Konigge a free hand in the creation of the higher degrees

He used this opportunity to make the order a vehicle for his ideas

His new approach would make the Illuminati more engaging to proposed members in the Protestant kingdoms of Germany

In November 1781, the Areopagus gave Konigge 50 florins to journey to Bavaria, which he did, meeting and savouring the generosity of other Illuminati along the way

The order had now extended profound internal departments

The Eichstädt administration had formed an independent province in July 1780 and a fracture was growing between Weishaupt and the Areopagus, who found him unreasonable, brutal and contradictory

Konigge fitted comfortably into the role of mediator

In negotiations with the Areopagus and Weishaupt, Konigge recognised two problematic ranges

Weishaupt's emphasis on the recruitment of university students indicated that senior posts in the order frequently had to be appointed by young men with little practical knowledge

Secondly, the anti-Jesuit ethos of the order at its origin had become a general anti-religious sentiment, which Konigge knew would be a dilemma in recruiting the senior Freemasons that the order now attempted to attract

Konigge keenly felt the stifling grip of traditional Catholicism in Bavaria and understood the anti-religious sentiments produced in the liberal Illuminati

He also saw the adverse reaction these same feelings would cause in Protestant states, hindering the spread of the order in Greater Germany

Both the Areopagus and Weishaupt felt powerless to do anything less than give Konigge a free hand

He had the connections within and outside of Freemasonry that they needed

He had the experience as a ritualist to build their proposed gradual structure, where they had ground to a halt at Illuminatus Minor, with only the Minerva grade below and the most insignificant sketches of higher grades

The only limitations required were the need to consider the highest grades inner secrets and the obligation of submitting his new grades for approval

Meanwhile, the scheme to develop Illuminatism as a recognized branch of Freemasonry had stalled

Even though Lodge Theodore was in their control, a chapter of elect masters assigned to it only had one member from the order and still had a lawful advantage to the craft lodge controlled by the Illuminati

The chapter would be challenging to influence

Areopagus formed a natural barrier to Lodge Theodore, becoming the first mother lodge of a new Illuminated Freemasonry

A treaty of cooperation was signed between the order and the chapter and by the end of January 1781, four daughter lodges had been created

Still, independence was not in the chapter's agenda

Costanza wrote to the Royal York, identifying the discrepancy between the fees sent to their new ground lodge and the service they had experienced in return

Reluctant to lose the revenue, the Royal York offered to bestow the higher secrets of Freemasonry on a delegate that their Munich brethren would dispatch to Berlin

Costanza duly set off for Prussia on April 4th 1780, with directions to negotiate a reduction in Theodore's fees whilst he was there

On the way, he managed to debate with a Frenchman on the subject of a lady with whom they were sharing a carriage

Before they reached Berlin, the Frenchman sent a message ahead to the King accusing Costanza of being a spy

He was only released from prison with the aid of the Grand Master of Royal York and was ousted from Prussia having achieved nothing

Carnegie's original plan to get a constitution from London would, they realised, have been seen through by the chapter

Until they could take over other Masonic lodges that their branch couldn't control, they were happy to rewrite the three degrees for the lodges they managed

On January 20th 1782, Carnegie formulated his new system of grades for the order

These were arranged in three classes

Class 1, the nursery, consisting of the novitiate, the minerval and illuminatus minor

Class 2, the Masonic grades

The three blue lodge grades of apprentice, companion and master were separated from the higher Scottish grades of Scottish novice and Scottish knight

Class 3, the mysteries

The lesser mysteries were priest and prince's grades, followed by the greater mysteries in the grades of mage and king

It is unlikely that the rituals for the greater mysteries were ever written

His recruitment from German Freemasonry was far from accidental

He targeted the masters and wardens, the men who ran the lodges and were usually able to place the entire lodge at the illuminati authority

In Aachen, Baron de Witt, master of constancy lodge, prompted every member to join the order

In this way, the order increased quickly in central and southern Germany and gained a foothold in Austria

Moving into the spring of 1782, the handful of students that had started the order had grown to about 300 members, only 20 of the recruits being students

In Munich, the first half of 1782 saw considerable changes in the government of Lodge Theodor

Weischaupt had offered to split the lodge, with the illuminati going their way and the chapter taking any outstanding traditionalists into their line of Theodor

At this point, the section unexpectedly surrendered, and the illuminati had complete command of Lodge and Chapter

In June, both Lodge and Chapter sent letters cutting connections with Royal York, citing their faithfulness in paying for their admission and Royal York's negligence to give any guidance into the higher grades

Their disregard of Costanza, failure to defend him from spiteful charges or stop his removal from Prussia, were also cited

They had made no effort to present Costanza with the promised secrets

The Munich masons now speculated that their colleagues in Berlin relied on the mythical French higher grades that they endeavoured to avoid

Lodge Theodor was now truly independent

The right of strict observance was now in a dangerous state

Its former leader was Prince Karl of Sudermannland, who later became Charles XIII of Sweden, openly spoke of trying to absorb the right into the Swedish right, which he already commanded

The German lodges looked for leadership to Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel

Suspicion turned to open ridicule when it occurred that Karl regarded the Stuart heir to the British throne as the true Grandmaster, and the lodges of the strict observance all but disregarded their Grandmaster

This deadlock led to the Convent of Wilhelmsbad

Disponed from October 15, 1781, the last convention of the strict observance finally opened on July 16, 1782, in the spa town of Wilhelmsbad on the outskirts of Hanau

Apparently, during a discussion regarding the order's future, 35 delegates knew that the strict observance in its present form was doomed to fail

The Convent of Wilhelmsbad would struggle over the arrangements between the German mystics under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and their host Prince Charles of Hesse Castle, and the Martinists under Jean-Baptiste Villemos

The only dissenting opinions to mystical higher grades were Johann Joachim Christoph Bode, who was appalled by Martinism, but whose suggested choices were as yet unfinished, and Franz Dietrich von Dittwerth, a judge from Wetzlar and master of the Joseph of the Three Helmets Lodge, who was already a member of the Illuminati

Dittwerth openly campaigned to revert to the quintessential three degrees of Freemasonry, which was the least expected outcome of the convention

The mystics already had identified plans to substitute the higher degrees

The lack of a logical alternative to the two strains of mysticism allowed the Illuminati to present themselves as dependable options

Dittwerth, aided and assisted by Carnegie, who now had full authority to act for the order, became their spokesman

Carnegie's initial plan to suggest an alliance between the two orders was declined by Weishaupt, who saw no point in connection with a dying order

His new idea was to enlist the Masons instead of the Templar higher degree of the strict observance

At the convent, Dittwerth obstructed Villemos and Hesse's efforts to advance their own higher grades by requiring that full details of such degrees be revealed to the members

The German mystics' frustration led to their enrolling Count Colerat into the Illuminati with a view to later association

Dittwerth's plan was to return all of the higher degrees with a separate fourth degree with no demands to advance Masonic prophecies

Sending no support for his project, he left the convent early, writing to the Areopagus that he anticipated nothing good of the association

In an attempt to please everybody, the convent of Wilhelmsbad accomplished little

They abandoned the Templar origins of their ritual whilst maintaining the Templar titles, trappings and governing structures

Charles of Hesse and Ferdinand of Brunswick endured at the head of the order, but in practice the lodges were almost independent

The Germans also adopted the name of the French Order of the Good Nights of the Holy City and some Martinists' mysticism was imported into the first three degrees, which were now the only required degrees of Freemasonry

Crucially, individual lodges of the order were now permitted to associate with lodges of other orders

The new Scottish grade added with the Leon ritual of Villamoz was not mandatory

Each province and administration was free to decide what, if anything, occurred after the three craft degrees

Finally, to show that something had been accomplished, the convent governed at length on etiquette, titles and a new numbering for the provinces

What the convent of Wilhelmsbad produced was the death of the strict observance

It relinquished its original myth and the higher degrees that bound its most senior and most prominent members

It eliminated the strict control, which had kept the order assembled and divided many Germans who doubted Martinism

Bode who was repelled by Martinism directly entered negotiations with Carnegie and finally joined the Illuminati in January 1783

Charles of Hesse joined the following month

Carnegie's first attempts at an alliance with the intact German Grand Lodges failed, but Weishaupt endured

He suggested a new federation where all of the German lodges would follow an agreed combined system, in the essence three degrees of Freemasonry, and be left to their own designs, as to which, if any, system of higher degrees they wanted to track

This would be a federation of Grand Lodges, and affiliates would be free to visit any of the blue lodges in any jurisdiction

All Lodgemasters would be chosen, and no charges would be paid to any principal authority whatsoever

Groups of lodges would be subordinate to a Scottish Directorate, formed of members appointed by lodges to review economics, settle arguments, and approve new lodges

In turn, these would choose provincial Directorates, who would elect inspectors who would name the National Director

This system would fix the current imbalance in German Freemasonry, where Masonic ideals of balance were protected only in the lower three symbolic degrees

The different methods of higher degrees were controlled by the elite, who could research alchemy and mysticism

To Weishaupt and Carnegie, the proposed organization was also a means to generate Illuminism throughout German Freemasonry

They planned to use their new partnership, highlighting the first degrees, to remove all loyalty to strict observance, leaving the eclectic system of the Illuminati to take its place

The new federation outlined the faults of German Freemasonry, which included improper men with money that were frequently accepted based on their assets

The degradation of civil society had infected the lodges

Having promoted the deregulation of the German lodges' higher grades, the Illuminati now declared their own from their unknown superiors

Lodge Theodor, newly free from Royal York, set themselves up as a provincial grand lodge

In a letter to all the Royal York lodges, Carnegie now cited that grand lodge of indulgence

The Jesuits had supposedly hurt their Freemasonry

Strict observance was now attacked as a production of the Stuarts empty of all moral virtue

The Zinnendorf ceremony of the Grand Land Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany was suspicious because its writer was in alliance with the Swedes

This direct assault had the opposite effect that Weishaupt intended

It angered many of its readers

The Grand Lodge of the Grand Orient of Warsaw, which commanded Freemasonry in Poland and Lithuania, was pleased to cooperate in the federation only as far as the first three degrees

Their insistence on independence had kept them from the strict observance, and would now keep them from the Illuminati, whose plan to join Freemasonry rested on their own higher degrees

By the end of January 1783, the Illuminati's Masonic contingent had seven lodges

It wasn't only the awkward appeal of the Illuminati that left the federation short of members

Lodge Theodore was newly formed and didn't demand respect like the older lodges

Most of all, the Freemasons most likely to be attracted to the federation saw the Illuminati as an ally against the mystics and Martinists

They appreciated their freedom too profoundly to be caught in another prohibitive organization

Even Dietfurth, the assumed representative of the Illuminati at Wilhelmsbad, had attempted his own plan at the convent

The non-mystical Frankfurt lodges formed an eclectic alliance, which was almost indistinguishable in the organization and aimed at the Illuminati's organization

Far from seeing this as a threat, after some debate, the Illuminati lodges entered the new organization

Three Illuminati now sat on the panel charged with drafting the new Masonic ordinances

Aside from establishing relationships between the three lodges, the Illuminati seemed to have gained no benefit from this movement

Dietfurth, having discovered a Masonic organization that worked towards Freemasonry's goals, took little interest in the Illuminati after he adhered to the eclectic alliance

In reality, the eclectic alliance's creation had undermined all of the subtle plans of the Illuminati to spread their endoctrine through Freemasonry

Although their goals of mass recruitment through Freemasonry had been disappointing, the Illuminati continued to recruit well at an individualized level

In Bavaria, the succession of Charles Theodore originally led to a liberalization of beliefs and laws

Still, the clergy and subjects, securing their power and privilege, convinced the weak-willed monarch to change his reforms, and Bavaria's oppression of liberal thought returned

This reversal led to a general irritation of the ruler and the church amongst the cultured classes, which offered a perfect recruiting ground for the Illuminati

Many Freemasons from Prudence Lodge, indifferent to the Martinist rites of the Chevalier bienfaisant, joined the Lodge Theodore

He set themselves up in a gardened mansion which included their library of liberal literature

Illuminati circles in the rest of Germany increased

Whilst some had only moderate gains, the ring of mains almost doubled from 31 to 61 members

Reaction to state Catholicism led to increases in Austria, and footholds were obtained in Warsaw, Pressburg, Bratislava, Tyrol, Milan, and Switzerland

The total number of valid members at the end of 1784 is around 650

Weishaupt and Hertel later claimed a figure of 2,500

The higher value is mainly explained by the incorporation of members of Masonic lodges that the Illuminati professed to command

But likely, the names of all the Illuminati aren't known, and the actual number lies somewhere between 650 and 2,500

The order's significance lay in its successful recruitment of professional classes, churchmen, academics, doctors, and lawyers, and its more recent acquisition of powerful benefactors

Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe Weimar Eisenach, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe Gotha Altenberg with his brother and later successor August, Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dahlberg, governor of Erfurt, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, his chief assistant in Masonic matters, Johann Friedrich von Schwarz, and Count Metternich of Koblenz were all enrolled

In Vienna, Count Brigo, governor of Galicia, Count Leopold Collorat, chancellor of Bohemia, with his vice-chancellor Baron Kressel, Count Palfi von Erdod, chancellor of Hungary, Count Banffy, governor and provincial Grandmaster of Transylvania, Count Stadion, ambassador to London, and Baron von Sweden, minister of public education, also joined

There were well-known frustrations

Johann Caspar Lavater, the Swiss poet and theologian, rebuffed Carnegie

He didn't believe the order's philanthropic and rationalist plans were feasible by secret means

He further concluded that a society's drive for members would eventually sink its founding ideals

Christoph Friedrich Nicolai, the Berlin writer and bookseller, became disenchanted after joining

He found its aims chimeric and thought that the use of Jesuit systems to accomplish their goals was dangerous

He remained in the order but didn't take part in any duties of recruitment

At all costs, Weishaupt wanted to keep the existence of the order secret from the Rosicrucians, who already had a significant foothold in German Freemasonry

Whilst Protestant, the Rosicrucians were anything but anti-clerical or pro-monarchic and held views that clashed with the Illuminati vision of a rationalist state run by scholars and specialists

The Rosicrucians weren't above promoting their brand of mysticism with deceitful seances

A conflict became necessary as the Illuminati's existence became more prominent and as Carnegie and other over-enthusiastic helpers actively recruited notable Rosicrucians and mystics with Rosicrucian alliances

Colorado was already a high-ranking Rosicrucian and the mystic Prince Charles of Hesse Castle had a meager opinion of the rationalist higher grades of the Illuminati

The Prussian Rosicrucians, under Johann Christoph von Walner, launched a continued attack on the Illuminati

Walner had a specially engineered room in which he convinced potential patrons of the effectiveness of Rosicrucian magic and his order had obtained sufficient control of the three globes and its associated lodges

Through this advisor, the Illuminati were accused of atheism and revolutionary aims

In April 1783, Frederick the Great told Charles of Hesse that the Berlin lodges had documents concerning the Minervals or Illuminati which included offensive material and asked if he had heard of them

All Berlin masons were now warned against the order, which was now accused of Socinianism and of using the liberal writings of Voltaire and others, alongside the toleration of Freemasonry which undermined all religion

In November 1783, the three globes portrayed the Illuminati as a Masonic sect seeking to undermine Christianity and turn Freemasonry into a political operation

Their final anathema in November 1784 refused to accept any Illuminati as Freemasons

In Austria, the Illuminati were blamed for anti-religious brochures that had recently emerged

The Rosicrucians spied on Joseph von Sonnenfels and other presumed Illuminati and their campaign of condemnation within Freemasonry ultimately shut down Illuminati recruitment in Tyrol

The Bavarian Illuminati, whose presence was already known to the Rosicrucians from a source, were further deceived by the reckless actions of Ferdinand Maria Barda, an Areopagite who now accompanied the Rosicrucians

Shortly after his testimony, it was known to his superiors that he was one of the Illuminati and was told that he couldn't be a member of both groups

His resignation letter said that the Rosicrucians didn't possess secret knowledge and disregarded the genuinely illuminated, accurately recognising Lodge Theodore as an Illuminati Lodge

As the Illuminati adopted Freemasonry and extended outside Bavaria, the Council of the Areopagites was replaced by an incompetent Council of Provincials

The Areopagites continued as powerful voices within the order and began again to argue with Weischaupt as soon as Carnegie left Munich

Weischaupt answered by privately attacking his recognised enemies in letters to his perceived friends

More seriously, Weischaupt succeeded in alienating Carnegie

Weischaupt had given significant power to Carnegie, deputising him to write the ritual, power he now endeavoured to recapture

Carnegie had advanced the order from a tiny anti-clerical club to a large group and felt that his work was under-acknowledged

Weischaupt's continuing anti-clericalism collided with Carnegie's mysticism and recruitment of mystically inclined Freemasons was a cause of conflict with Weischaupt and other senior Illuminati such as Ditverth

Matters came to a head over the grade of priest

The consensus among many of the Illuminati was that the ritual was florid and ill-conceived and the regalia puerile and costly

Some declined to use it, others edited it

Weischaupt commanded that Carnegie rewrite the ceremony

Carnegie pointed out that it was already distributed with Weischaupt's blessing as ancient

These interests fell on deaf ears

Weischaupt now declared to other Illuminati that the priest ritual was flawed because Carnegie had created it

Angry, Carnegie now threatened to tell the world how much of the Illuminati ritual he had made up

Carnegie's effort to develop a convention of the Areopagites proved futile as most of them trusted him even less than they believed Weischaupt

In July 1784, Carnegie left the order by arrangement under which he returned all critical papers and Weischaupt published a withdrawal of all defamations against him

In forcing Carnegie out, Weischaupt stripped the order of its best theoretician, recruiter and apologist

The Illuminati's final deterioration was brought about by the indiscretions of their own Minervals in Bavaria, especially in Munich

Despite their superior's efforts to control loose talk, politically dangerous brags of power and criticism of monarchy caused the secret order's presence to become common knowledge along with the names of many notable members

The presence of Illuminati in seats of power now led to some public anxiety

There were Illuminati in many civic and state governing bodies

Despite their small number, there were many claims that resolution in a legal dispute depended on the litigants' status with the order

The Illuminati were blamed for several anti-religious writings then appearing in Bavaria

Much of this criticism sprang from vindictiveness and resentment, but it is clear that many Illuminati court officials gave special treatment to their colleagues

In Bavaria, their two members of the ecclesiastical council had one of them named treasurer

Their resistance to Jesuits resulted in the banned order of losing critical academic and church positions

In Ingolstadt, the Jesuit heads of department were replaced by Illuminati

Frightened, Charles Theodore and his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati

A government order dated March 2, 1785 seems to have been the death blow to the Illuminati in Bavaria

Weishaupt had fled and records and internal communications seized in 1786 and 1787 were finally published by the government in 1787

Von Zwerg's home was searched and much of the group's literature was disclosed

Between 1797 and 1798, Augustin Barrowel's memoirs illustrating the history of Jacobinism and John Robeson's proofs of a conspiracy, broadcasted the theory that the Illuminati had survived and represented an ongoing international conspiracy

This included the claim that it was behind the French Revolution

Both books proved to be very successful, driving reprints and interpretations by others

A prime example of this is Proofs of the Real Existence and Dangerous Tendency of Illuminism by Reverend Seth Payson published in 1802

Some of the replies to this were important

For example, John Joseph Meunier's On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Freemasons and the Illuminati on the Revolution of France

The works of Robeson and Barrowel made their way to the United States and across New England

The Reverend Jedidiah Morse, an orthodox congregational minister and geographer, was amongst those who gave sermons against the Illuminati

One of the first records of the Illuminati to be printed in the United States was Jedidiah Morse's Fast Day Sermon on May 9, 1798

Morse had been warned to the publication in Europe of Robeson's Proofs of a Conspiracy by a letter from the Reverend John Erskine of Edinburgh

He read proofs soon after copies published in Europe arrived by ship in March of that year

Other anti-Illuminati writers, such as Timothy Dwight, soon followed their condemnation of the imaginary groups of conspirators

Newspaper reports followed printed speeches, and these figured in the partisan political discussion leading up to the 1800 United States presidential election

The succeeding panic also added to the development of Gothic literature in the United States

At least two novels from the time refer to this crisis, Ormond or the Secret Witness and Julia and the Illuminated Baron

Moreover, some scholars have linked the alarm over the alleged Illuminati conspiracy to fears about immigration from the Caribbean and about potential slave resistance

Concern died down in the first decade of the 1800s, although it revived from time to time in the anti-Masonic movement of the 1820s and 30s

More recent and present-day brotherly parties claim to be descended from the original Bavarian Illuminati and openly use the name Illuminati

Some of these groups use a modification on the title the Illuminati Order in their companies

In contradiction, others, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, have Illuminati as a level within their organization's hierarchy

However, there is no indication that these present-day groups have any real association with the historical order

They haven't amassed extraordinary political power or sway, and most, rather than trying to remain unknown, promote unconfirmed links to the Bavarian Illuminati as a means of drawing membership

The Illuminati didn't survive their suppression in Bavaria

Their further mischief and plottings in Barrowell and Robison's work must be considered the invention of the writers

Conspiracy theorists and writers such as Mark Dice have disputed that the Illuminati have survived to this day

Many conspiracy theories suggest that world events are regulated and managed by a secret society calling itself the Illuminati

Conspiracy theorists have alleged that many notable people were or are members of the Illuminati

Presidents of the United States are a frequent target for such claims

Other theorists maintain that the Illuminati orchestrated a variety of historical events

The happenings include the French Revolution, the Battle of Waterloo, and the killing of United States President John F


There was also an alleged communist plot to advance the New World Order by infiltrating the Hollywood film industry

It remains difficult to pinpoint who the Illuminati is, what they do, and what their goals are

In the end, maybe that's the point

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