Freemasonry and the French Revolution

From Fortean Times:

Dominating the Freemasons’ Hall’s new exhibition, Freemasonry and the French Revolution, a giant chair, all puffed up with majesty and pomp, looms over the display cases — an effect rather undermined by its resemblance to an oversized, over-pimped prop in a novelty Hip Hop video, and its having been designed to be disassembled and moved around like eighteenth-century flat pack.

Still, it’s clear what it’s trying to say: built for the Prince of Wales (later George IV), who was elected Grand Master in 1790, it reflects the extraordinary prestige and respectability accorded to English Freemasonry by the late eighteenth century. Meanwhile, over in France, Freemasonry was about to be plunged into a terrible whirl of suspicion, accusations and fear.

Many, both contemporaries and later historians, have suggested Freemasonry bears some responsibility for the French Revolution. Elements of French Freemasonry can be traced through to the Jacobin clubs — the language, the emphasis on fraternity, the constitutional and governmental organisation rare in France at that time – and there were Freemasons among the early revolutionaries, yet there is nothing to suggest that the lodges came up with any kind of coordinated plan to challenge the established order. In fact, membership of French Freemasonry was largely aristocratic and they were queuing up for the guillotine by the time of the Terrors; the Duc of Orleans, their Grand Master, supported the Revolution initially but his head was in a basket by 1793.

[Read more at Fortean Times]

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