Citizens' Campus: Secret Society(s). Freemasons, Illuminati and Mysteries of Egypt in Gotha, 1774 -1793
In the late 18th century, Gotha was not only a prominent place of Freemasonry, but from 1783 to 1787 also the actual center of power of the Illuminati Order, which initially operated mainly in Bavaria. A decisive role was played by Gotha's Duke Ernst II (1745-1804), who in 1774 was admitted to the Gotha Masonic Lodge, founded shortly before by traveling actors, and a year later was elected Provincial Grand Master of one of the German Grand Lodges. In 1782/83, Ernst II agreed to sponsor the founding of a new province of the Illuminati Order in Thuringia and even advanced to become its national superior after the order was banned in Bavaria in 1785. Thus, the center of gravity of the Illuminati Order finally shifted to Gotha, until it finally disbanded in the summer of 1787. A few years later, under the influence of the French Revolution, the duke also decreed the closure of the lodge.
The lecture traces the history of this "secret society(ies)" and its traces still existing today, also taking a look at the exhibition "Freemasons and Mysteries of Egypt in Gotha", which can be seen in the Ducal Museum in Gotha until October 20, 2023.
Dr. Markus Meumann
Scientific Director of the Gotha Research Center of the University of Erfurt