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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. History: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 was 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. Modern Illuminati:Main article: New World Order (conspiracy theory) 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. *John Robison (1739-1805) was a Scottish scientist, who late in life wrote the one of the definitive studies of the Bavarian Illuminati. He was a contemporary and collaborator with James Watt, with whom he worked on an early steam car, contributor to the 1797 Encylopedia Britannica, professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, and inventor of the siren. Although Robison was very much an advocate of science and rationalism, in later life, disillusioned by the French Revolution, he became an ardent monarchist. In this work, Proofs of a Conspiracy, Robison laid the groundwork for modern conspiracy theorists by implicating the Bavarian Illuminati as responsible for the excesses of the French Revolution. The Bavarian Illuminati, a rationalist secret society, was founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776 in what is today Germany. They had an inner core of true believers, who secretly held radical atheist, anti-monarchist and possibly proto-feminist views, at that time considered beyond the pale. They recruited by infiltrating the numerous (and otherwise benign) Freemasonic groups which were active at the time on the continent. Necessarily they had a clandestine, compartmentalized, hierarchical organizational form, which has led some modern conspiracy theorists to identify them as the original Marxist-Leninist group. However, this is most likely simply a case of parallel evolution. Since we don't have convenient access to the source documents of the Bavarian Illuminati we have to rely on Robison and the Abbé Barruel's Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, both in the 'opposing views' category, for information on this
and in conjunction with other historical accounts of the French Revolution.group. except on the dedication page (particularly. they were only expressing views widespread in intellectual circles of the day. as Robison claims.' barely able to organize a picnic. Production Notes: This text was scanned from the retypeset 1967 Americanist Classics reprint. They were not. Note that the 1967 edition makes no additional copyright claim on Robison's text (only on their modern introduction. but all of the non-conforming spelling has been tacitly preserved. it becomes obvious that the Bavarian Illuminati were what the American Old Left called a 'talk shop. substituting 's' for ) but left the original spelling intact. reading between the lines. I have also added a (public domain) translation of the Latin epigram on the dedication page * . this book make fascinating reading. and the page numbering is from that edition. I have corrected in the usual way a few obvious typos (which may have been introduced in the 1967 edition). the fuse that lit the downfall of the French Monarchy. US copyright law requires extensive creative changes to a public domain text to allow a new claim of copyright. The 1967 edition modernized the typography systematically. it seems. Instead. This reputation is in no little part due to Robison's book. However. helps dimensionalize the period for students of history. let alone the Terror. which I have omitted). Nonetheless. The Illuminati have today become a byword for a secret society which hoodwinks its junior members and puppet-masters society at large.