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The historical Illuminati and the one associated with numerous conspiracy theories are separate, and there’s no compelling evidence they have anything to do with each other.The historical Illuminati movement was founded by Adam Weishaupt on May 1, 1776 in Ingolstadt, Upper Bavaria, as the Order of the Illuminati.
- Photo: Metaweb / CC-BYThe Illuminati group initially came together to espouse Enlightenment ideals and fight superstition. Facets of this included opposition to both the Bavarian monarchy and what they saw as the undue influence of the Catholic Church on philosophy and the sciences.
FreemasonryPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
The Illuminati modeled its rituals and vows of secrecy after those practiced in Freemasonry, as many of its members were also high-level Masons. At its height, the Illuminati had about 2,000 members in the various kingdoms that would one day comprise Germany.The movement’s professed goal was “to attain the highest possible degree of morality and virtue, and to lay the foundation for the reformation of the world by the association of good men to oppose the progress of moral evil.” Weishaupt and his comrades also advocated for the abolition of prejudice and the education of women, who they believed should be treated as intellectual equals.
- Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domainIn 1777, the new ruler of Bavaria, Karl Theodore, banned all secret societies, including the Illuminati. The group lasted another eight years skirting the law, until finally collapsing under the pressure of multiple government edicts. Weishaupt was banished from Bavaria, and the group members went their separate ways.