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Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, "enlightened") is a name that refers to several groups, both historical and modern, and both real and fictitious. Historically, it refers specifically to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. In modern times it is also used to refer to a purported conspiratorial organization which acts as a shadowy "power behind the throne", allegedly controlling world affairs through present day governments and corporations, usually as a modern incarnation or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati. In this context, Illuminati is often used in reference to a New World Order (NWO). Many conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati are the masterminds behind events that will lead to the establishment of such a New World Order.
Adam Weishaupt, founder
The movement was founded on May 1, 1776, in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt (d. 1830), who was the first lay professor of canon law at the University of Ingolstadt. The movement was made up of freethinkers, as an offshoot of the Enlightenment. Writers at the time, such as Seth Payson, believed the movement represented a conspiracy to infiltrate and overthrow the governments of European states. Some writers, such as Augustin Barruel and John Robison, even claimed that the Illuminati were behind the French Revolution, a claim that Jean-Joseph Mounier dismissed in his 1801 book On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati on the Revolution of France. The group's adherents were given the name "Illuminati", although they called themselves "Perfectibilists". The group has also been called the Illuminati Order and the Bavarian Illuminati, and the movement itself has been referred to as Illuminism (after illuminism). In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria. He was a proponent of Enlightened Despotism and, in 1784, his government banned all secret societies, including the Illuminati. During the period when the Illuminati were legally allowed to operate, many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members, including Ferdinand of Brunswick and the diplomat Xavier von Zwack, who was number two in the operation and was found with much of the group's documentation when his home was searched. The Illuminati's members pledged obedience to their superiors, and were divided into three main classes, each with several degrees. The order had its branches in most countries of the European continent; it reportedly had around 2,000 members over the span of ten years. The organization had its attraction for literary men, such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder, and even for the reigning dukes of Gotha and Weimar. Weishaupt had modeled his group to some extent on Freemasonry, and many Illuminati chapters drew membership from existing Masonic lodges. Internal rupture and panic over succession preceded its downfall, which was effected by the Secular Edict made by the Bavarian government in 1785.
Writers such as Mark Dice, David Icke, Ryan Burke, Jüri Lina and Morgan Gricar have argued that the Bavarian Illuminati survived, possibly to this day. Many of these theories propose that world events are being controlled and manipulated by a secret society calling itself the Illuminati.  Conspiracy theorists have claimed that many notable people were or are members of the Illuminati, including Winston Churchill, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the Rothschild family, David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski. In addition to the shadowy and secret organization, several modern fraternal groups claim to be the "heirs" of the Bavarian Illuminati and have openly used the name "Illuminati" in founding their own rites. Some, such as the multiple groups that call themselves some variation on "The Illuminati Order"  use the name directly in the name of their organization, while others, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, use the name as a grade of initiation within their organization.
In popular culture
The Illuminati are a recurring theme in popular culture. References to such an organization appear in many fictional works across many genres, appearing in print, in film, on television, in video games, in comic book series, as well as in both trading card and roleplaying games.
• 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: "Illuminati" • Die Korrespondenz des Illuminatenordens. Bd. 1, 1776–81. Ed. by Reinhard Markner, Monika Neugebauer-Wölk and Hermann Schüttler. - Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, 2005. - ISBN 3-484-10881-9 • Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750. Israel, Jonathan I. (Oxford University Press, USA; New Ed edition, 2002).
• Complete text of 'Proofs of a Conspiracy...' by John Robison (1797) at sacred-texts.com  • Illuminati Conspiracy Part One: A Precise Exegesis on the Available Evidence by Terry Melanson  • 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Illuminati 
 The European Illuminati (http:/ / freemasonry. bcy. ca/ anti-masonry/ stauffer. html) by Vernon L. Stauffer, hosted on the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon website (hereafter BC&Y).  A Bavarian Illuminati Primer (http:/ / freemasonry. bcy. ca/ texts/ illuminati. html) Compiled by Trevor W. McKeown hosted BC&Y  Goeringer, Conrad. "The Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and The Illuminati" (http:/ / atheists. org/ The_Enlightenment,_Freemasonry,_and_The_Illuminati). American Atheists. . Retrieved 2008-12-31.  Payson, Seth; Proof of the Illuminati, The Invisible College Press, LLC, 2003 (first published in Charlestown: Etheridge, 1802) ISBN 1931468141  Jean-Joseph Mounier, On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati on the Revolution of France, Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, New York, 1974 (reprint of the first edition from 1801). ISBN 0-8201-1135-X.  Introvigne, Massimo. "The Illuminati and Angels & Demons FAQ – Do the Illuminati Really Exist?" (http:/ / www. cesnur. org/ 2005/ mi_illuminati_en. htm). Center for Studies on New Religions. . Retrieved 2008-12-30.  "Angels & Demons Causing Serious Controversy - 5/17/09 - Fresno News — abc30.com" (http:/ / abclocal. go. com/ kfsn/ story?section=news/ entertainment& id=6817493). Abclocal.go.com. 2009-05-17. . Retrieved 2009-07-08.  Barkun, Michael. A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, Comparative Studies in Religion and Society, University of California Press, 2003,
 Illuminati News (http:/ / www. illuminati-news. com/ moriah. htm) website: The Secret Order of the Illuminati (A Brief History of the Shadow Government)  The Bush Family and their Illuminati Rituals (http:/ / poweredbychrist. homestead. com/ files/ bush/ rituals. htm)  The Barack Obama Illuminati Connection (http:/ / www. rushlimbaughsites. com/ opinion/ the-barack-obama-illuminati-connection-754/ )  Makow Ph.D, H: Illuminati: The Cult that Hijacked the World, BookSurge Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1439211485  Springmeier, F: Blood Lines of the Illuminati, Ambassador House, 1998, ISBN 0966353323  The Illuminati Order Homepage (http:/ / illuminati-order. com)  Official website of The Illuminati Order (http:/ / www. illuminati-order. org/ index2. html)  Prominent examples include: The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, The Fallen Angels by Susannah Kells & Bernard Cornwell, and The Illuminati by Larry Burkett.  For example, they are central to the plot of the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider  For example, in the Disney animated television show Gargoyles  such as Deus Ex  CGD – New Avengers: Illuminati (http:/ / www. comics. org/ series. lasso?SeriesID=17392)  Bergquist, Theodore; Jacobsson, Anders; Nilsson Richard, Sub Rosa — Hemliga Ordnar och Sällskap, RiotMinds Stockholm 2008, ISBN 978-91-977263-0-6  http:/ / www. sacred-texts. com/ sro/ pc/ index. htm  http:/ / www. conspiracyarchive. com/ NWO/ Illuminati. htm  http:/ / www. newadvent. org/ cathen/ 07661b. htm
Article Sources and Contributors
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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
File:Adam Weishaupt01.jpg Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Adam_Weishaupt01.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: ABrocke, Kilom691, Manuelt15, White Cat, Дядя Сэм, 2 anonymous edits
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