Secret Societies: a very short history

Ann: new website

The International Institute of Social History presents "A Very Short History of Secret Societies" ([url][/url]). It consists of a general introduction and brief notes on the Freemasons, Jesuits, Illuminati, Carbonari, Burschenschaften, the mysterious Great Firmament, societies in France, Germany, Russia, the USA and Asia, and older precursors.

The texts are enriched by twelve illustrations from the IISH collections:

  • Engraving of a procession of Freemasons, London, 1742
  • Frontispiece of a 19th century edition of the Secret Instructions of the Jesuits
  • Title page of Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens (1787)
  • Initiation of a Carbonaro (1821)
  • The execution of Carl Ludwig Sand in Mannheim, 1820
  • Gioacchino Prati, lieutenant of Buonarroti, 1819
  • Death mask of Auguste Blanqui, 1881
  • Jacob Venedey in the German Parliament, 1848
  • Portraits of Russian narodniki accused in the Trial of the Fifty,1877
  • A Ku Klux Klan march against the IWW, 1924
  • Certificate of a Triad member, 1883
  • Frontispiece of Sylvain Maréchal's Voyages de Pythagore, 1799

as well as by a dozen links to relevant literary works - from Goethe to Stendhal and from Shelley to Dostoievsky - and a bibliographical note mentioning twelve reliable studies.

In addition, the following texts are reproduced:

  • An anonymous early defense of Freemasonry in France: Lettre écrite par un Maçon à un de ses amis en province (1744, full text)
  • Mirabeau on the German secret societies and the Jesuits, from De la monarchie prussienne sous Frédéric le Grand (1788)
  • Application of Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism to the Secret Societies of Ireland and Great Britain, by the translator of that work (1798, full text)
  • The rules of the Italian Carbonari, from Saint-Edme, Constitution et organisation des Carbonari, ou Documens exacts sur tout ce qui concerne l'existence, l'origine et le but de cette société secrète (1822)
  • A German spy on the Carbonari, from Johannes Wit von Dörring, Fragmente aus meinem Leben und meiner Zeit (1827)
  • Inside Buonarroti's secret society, from Alexandre Andryane, Souvenirs de Genève (1839)
  • The indictment of Blanqui's Société des Saisons, from Procès des accusés des 12 et 13 mai devant la Cour des Pairs (1839)
  • The program of the League of Outlaws: Erklärung der Menschen- und Bürgerrechte; and: Glaubensbekenntniss eines Geächteten (1834, full text)
  • Pyotr Tkachov's defense of Russian secret societies: Offener Brief an Herrn Friedrich Engels (1874, full text)
  • Infiltrating the Molly Maguires, from Allan Pinkerton, The Molly Maguires and the Detectives (1881)
  • The Thugs in the European imagination, from Eugène Sue, Le Juif errant (1845)
  • Continuity in African secret societies, from Olfert Dapper, Naukeurige beschijvinge der Afrikaensche gewesten (1668)
  • Three examples of anti-revolutionary conspiracy theories: Les masques arrachés (1791), Le tombeau de Jacques Molai (1796, full text), and the conclusion of Barruel's Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire du jacobinisme (1797).