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Title: The Jesuits driven out of Bonneville masonry
Creation date : 1788
Technique and other indications: engraving from Nicolas de Bonneville, The Jesuits driven out of masonry and their dagger broken by the masons, London, 1788.
Storage place: Archives, Library and Museum of the Grand Orient de France website
Contact copyright: © Museum-Archives-Library- Grande Loge de France
The Jesuits driven out of Bonneville masonry
© Museum-Archives-Library- Grande Loge de France
Publication date: September 2016
Professor of modern history at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.
Masonic lodges, instruments of the Jesuit plot
In the mid-1760s, the Society of Jesus was deemed incompatible with the fundamental laws of the kingdom of France, and its members had to leave the colleges where they formed a significant part of the elite. Accused of arming the regicides, from the assassination of Henry IV (1610) to the attempt against Joseph Ier of Portugal (1758), the Company was accused of all evils. In 1773, Pope Clement XIV ended up suppressing it.
However, his opponents, many among the men of the Enlightenment, do not disarm. Man of the theater, journalist and polygraph, Nicolas de Bonneville takes up this thesis in The Jesuits driven out of masonry, and their dagger broken by the masons, published in French in London in 1788. Bonneville inserts, at the opening of her book, an engraving from an official act of a new Masonic order, Heredom of Kilwinning, dated 1783.
The plotters betrayed by an allegorical engraving
For him, this authentic piece of evidence betrays the Jesuit origins of the order and its dark design. This Masonic order clearly claims its Templar heritage because, persecuted by the King of France and the Pope in the 14the century, the Templars would have remained free in Scotland and would have taken refuge in Kilwinning, on the (supposed) mount of Heredom. The choice of the name "college" rather than the usual one of "Grande Loge" refers according to Bonneville to the desire of the Jesuits to recreate the college of Clermont, the famous Jesuit college in Paris.
We first note the presence of a crowned sun; however, for Bonneville, the sun is the emblem of the Jesuit order. The seven points of the crown of the sun form a G. But behind the classic appearance of the Masonic G - for "geometry" -, the letter in fact designates the general of the order: the old Jesuits were organized according to a military principle, with, at their head, a general. The eagle of Jupiter "which throws thunder" looks towards the side of the G, as if to take its orders, because "the goal of the order is to establish a universal monarchy which must be ruled by the hidden sun: it is to declare this goal of order that we put to the right of the sun a scepter at the end of which the globe of the world is as if attached. The whole world will soon be a game in the hands of the God-Jesuit! "
Behind the scepter is represented a crenellated tower, with a spear point resting on it. Hidden in the solar sphere, the section reminds us that the sun has the power to set in motion everything that is locked in the tower. The inscription on the broken column, "SRI", is crystal clear: Royal Jesuit Society - the I and J being the same in Latin. The letters B and I denote, Beatus Ignatius, in reference to the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola.
At the center of the engraving is the "Lodge carpet" with its symbols, around which Freemasons traditionally congregate. But the traditional five-pointed flaming star has given way to a seven-pointed star that forms a Templar cross. Behind rise two eagles. As Emperor Joseph II is very hostile to the Jesuits, they can only send back to Russia, where Empress Catherine II welcomed the ex-Jesuits precisely for their qualities as educators. In Mohilev - in present-day Belarus - they established an educational institution. This eagle is therefore Mohilev's eagle, symbol of the Jesuit rebirth, from which they will set out again to reconquer Europe.
Illuminati against Jesuits
The war of images continues between supporters of the radical Enlightenment and the Jesuits well beyond the publication of Bonneville. Indeed, the latter acted as a relay in France for the anti-Jesuit theses developed in German-speaking Europe, in particular by the Illuminaten, those members of a secret society who recruit from Masonic lodges and draw inspiration from the organization of the Society of Jesus - they are often former students of the fathers - the better to counter it.
In the mid-1780s, this radical Enlightenment-friendly society was brutally banned and persecuted in Catholic Bavaria, when authorities became aware of its expansion. With the French Revolution and the European earthquake it caused, the ex-Jesuits believe they have their revenge. They accuse the Illuminaten, better known in the English form ofIlluminati, or the Illuminati of Bavaria, for having fomented the Revolution from the back lodges by abusing the naivety of the Freemasons. Abbé Barruel, a former Jesuit, thus published in Hamburg the five volumes of Memoirs to serve the history of Jacobinism (1798-1799). They echo the Evidence of conspiracies against all religions and governments of Europe, hatched in the secret assemblies of the Illuminati, Freemasons and reading societies, collected from good authors, a work by Scottish scholar John Robison, whose publication shook the British political establishment.
In turn, their readers will look for signs that betray the Illuminati and their Masonic coverage in revolutionary and then republican emblems and symbols, both in France and in the United States until the XXe century.
BEAUREPAIRE Pierre-Yves, The other and the brother: the foreigner and freemasonry in France in the 18th century, Paris, Honoré Champion, coll. “The eighteenth centuries” (no 23), 1998.
CUBITT Geoffrey, The jesuit myth: conspiracy theory and politics in nineteenth-century France, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1993.
FABRE Pierre-Antoine, MAYOR Catherine (dir.), The anti-Jesuits: discourses, figures and places of anti-Jesuitism in modern times, meeting reports (Paris, Rome, 2003), Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, coll. “History”, 2010.
To cite this article
Pierre-Yves BEAUREPAIRE, "The Jesuits among the Freemasons"