- proposed as member to the Order of the Illuminati
- signed a Revers for the Order of the Illuminati / timeline
Erste Klasse Minervalen | Minerval Class
Zweyte Klasse Freymaurer | Masonic Class
A. Symbolic Freemasonry
- These are the regular Masonic grades, they demanded membership in a local Lodge which was on this personal level infiltrated by Illuminati members - often, however, up to the point that the respective "Meister vom Stuhl" was already also the "Superior" of the local Illuminati "Minerval Church" which sent this member into the lodge. Some Illuminati received fast Masonic promotions so that they could quickly gain the higher Illuminati degrees which they needed in top level positions.
- 4) Lehrling | Apprentice
- 5) Gesell | Fellow
- 6) Meister | Master
B. Scottish Freemasonry
Dritte Klasse: Mysterienklasse | Mysteries Class
A. Lesser Mysteries
B. Greater Mysteries
All the code names "Ordensnamen"
Some notes on the numerous registers of members that can be compiled
Several lists of Illuminati members began to circulate right after their discovery in 1786. All of them were considerably shorter than the list the basic search in this database will yield with the advantage of being able to pull together all the sources we can name today. One reason for the lower number compiled by the Bavarian authorities is that the organisation had by 1786 developed several centres whose documents of the entire organisation would have yielded quite different but yet again not necessarily conclusive picture of the entire organisation.
The most conclusive compound of membership lists that survived lies today in volume 10 of the so called "Swedish Box", the collective archive of Johann Joachim Christoph Bode in Weimar and Ernest II. in Gotha. Instead of offering one unified list the volume incorporates hundreds of lists and single membership documents from provinces, local minerval churches and individuals. The leaders of the provinces were apparently ready to share information about the congregations under their monitoring nut none of these lists bears a date, several of them give pictures of the same place at different stages, snapshots taken between 1782 and 1786; and all of them offer only minimal information: code names, real names, and just enough background information to allow the identification among insiders. Some of these lists just give the code names. All we have here is a collection of local snap-shots taken at different moments without any interest in a final picture.
Lists are one thing — actual membership had quite its own logic. New members had to be proposed by accepted members. Illuminati were usually keen to make their first proposals of friends they would wish into the order within less than a year. Those proposed would be honoured as friends who deserved this trust, and they then could work as a base within the growing organisation. Knigge claimed he alone had added some 500 members to the organisation and he demanded independence on that account. To be proposed was at the same moment not an automatic ticket into the Order. The superiors and provincials tried to obtain background information before they processed new proposals. They would then ask for a trial essay and in the next step for character information which the "Insinuant" had to provide in a table under the given headings — so the gradual approach towards membership.
Johann Joachim Christoph Bode took the signature on the "Revers" as the definitive entry point. The Revers was an oath of loyalty signed with either their real name or, in other cases, already with the Illuminati Order name.
- REVERSE [OBLIGATION. LETTER OF A CANDIDATE.]
- I, the undersigned, obligate myself by my honour and my good name, without any secret reservation, never to reveal to anyone, not even to my most intimate friends and relatives, neither by word nor gestures, glances, nor in any other conceivable way, anything of the matters entrusted to me by Herr … concerning my acceptance into a certain secret society, whether I am accepted or not. This even more so as I have been assured prior to my acceptance that in this society nothing is done that is against the state, religion, or good morals. I also promise to immediately return the documents which will be communicated to me for this purpose or any letters I may receive after having made the necessary excerpts in a manner unintelligible to others. All this, as I am an honest man, and intend to remain one.
- Signed in … on the … day of … in the year … (L. S.)
But those who signed the statement would not necessarily feel as members that very moment. The Illuminati Friedrich Christian Rudorf recruited in Buttstädt, the last local group we know of, signed their Reverse letters in the summer of 1785 and began sending in their monthly Quibus Licet without hearing anything from the Order until July/August 1786. They felt lost and confused: Were they actually members? They were waiting for an initiation, a ceremony to be performed in a Minerval Church; Buttstädt never received one. Rudorf's members remained corresponding members for the remaining two years of the Order.
Fully functional Minerval Churches had monthly meetings — in Gotha's prominent case right into the summer of 1787. To be invited to the meetings was a clear signal that one was "in" the Order. The initiation came, however, only with the next level: the step into the Minerva degree.
The local reports of the congregations list members both present and absent on ladders from Novice to Regent. Membership was organised within the degree system which embraced the degrees of Freemasonry in the Order that was on its way to build a Freemasonic superstructure. Members like Ernest II and Bode had, however, never been Novices. They had been given the chance to read all the degree texts available to be then promoted to the top level positions they were supposed to fill. Even the career as a Freemason was not mandatory: High ranking Illuminati had connections into lodged that would promote a desired candidate to any rank needed in the Order just to fulfill the formal demands.
The FactGrid database under these premises, is the ideal tool to provide the nuanced picture. You can filter: Who was proposed? Who was actually invited to sign a Revers? Who was listed as holding a particular degree, and at what particular moment in the brief history of the Order? Who held positions?
Any of these questions will paint an interesting picture; here, however, the database is work in progress (and will remain work in progress for years to come). The two questions that can be asked with relatively conclusive data are at the moment the questions of Proposals and of signed Reverse letters. The lists which the simple SPARQL queries will compile are not yet satisfying: One would love to have them with the respective date and place information and with short biographical details. Some of the more detailed information is already given in the respective data sets and only waiting for SPARQL-experts who can write the scripts for the more interesting tables. SPARQL-experts could certainly also give first visualisations of the networks and of the Orders gradual geographical expansion. We will need data visualisers to exploit the information with technical insight and we need people who will eventually reassess all the documents with a fresh look at the membership information which they yield in all the nuances which we are now able to translate into database statements — only with the data we will we be able to give the more complex picture on the more complex searches which are now becoming possible.