Freemasonry In History
Freemasonry in History
This site does not intend to compete, repeat, or argue with existing sources on masonic history. Ignoring a host of mythology and misinformation, the only thing indisputable about our history is that “craft” masonry, whatever its relationship with operative lodges, became visible in England in the seventeenth century.
During this period, men of “quality” ceased to despise mathematics as the tool of an artisan. The “liberal arts” of science and mathematics, had gained such respectability that our Universities deigned to teach them alongside classical languages, and theology. The more liberal climate in the British isles allowed the unthinkable to be put in print for the first time. Hobbes dared to suggest that the pentateuch may not have been written by Moses. Spinoza said the same thing in Italy, and spent the rest of his life in hiding.
The new spirit of enquiry usually extended to a certain degree of mysticism. Astronomers were frequently astrologers, and the modern division between science and magic was blurred. Kepler, Copernicus, and Newton formed a view of the sun as the centre of our system initially from a deeply held hermeticism. Their mathematical proofs of the same phenomenon simply confirmed what their own faith made obvious.
These new ideas needed a forum. Those not invited to have daggers stuck in their backs at the Royal Society met in private at venues of their own choosing. Masonry’s blend of free discussion and ritual fitted perfectly with the spirit of the time, and gave rise to the free dissemination of many new, and occasionally dangerous ideas. Our earliest minutes are full of such lectures and discussions.
Our ritual we keep to ourselves, our place in the history of science is a better kept secret, which ought to be better known.