Masonic legacy

Masonic legacy spans several centuries, primarily in European and American history. Freemasonry is one of the oldest social and charitable organizations in the world.

Medieval Masons’ Heritage Its roots can be traced back to the tradition of medieval masons, who were builders of churches and castles. Masons used Words and Signs acquired through the secrets of the Craft to prove their qualifications as builders or masons. They used Gloves and Aprons to protect themselves from the rough pieces of stone they worked with.

300 Years since the First Constitution

The official year of the birth of modern Freemasonry is considered to be 1717 in London. In 1723, Presbyterian minister James Anderson published the Constitutions of the Free Masons. However, the first lodges began to develop in Scotland over 100 years before these events.

Global Expansion and Influence

Freemasonry began to spread from the United Kingdom to North America, throughout Europe, and to the British and other colonies.

The 18th century witnessed the emergence and expansion of Freemasonry alongside the Enlightenment movement, originating from Scotland, England, and other countries. In the 18th century, Freemasons played a vital role as the Founding Fathers of the United States, including the establishment of the capital city of Washington, D.C., the Capitol, and the Declaration of Independence. In the 19th century, Freemasons played a significant role in the unification of Italy and civil revolutions throughout Europe, while in the 20th century, they contributed to the creation of European integration.

The development and acceptance of Freemasonry depend significantly on the level of respect for human liberties in individual societies. Both totalitarian ideologies suppressed Masonic freedoms, banning their continuity of operation.

Freemasonry in Croatia has been present in Croatia since the 18th century, within the framework of the Habsburg Monarchy. The first lodge was established in Glina, which was part of the Austrian Military Frontier. Under the influence of Austria, Freemasonry began to be revived in the 1990s after decades of totalitarian bans on activities from 1940 to 1990 in Yugoslavia.

Later, the Grand National Lodge of Croatia Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was established on February 14, 2014, following its independence from the Grand Lodge of Italy.

Here are examples of well-known books about the Masonic legacy:

The Genesis of Freemasonry

British historian David Harrison in his book The Genesis of Freemasonry describes the context of its development during the 18th century.

In 1723, Protestant ministers Rev. James Anderson and Rev. John Theophilus Desaguliers published the first edition of the Constitutions of the Free-masons. Their in-depth knowledge of the Bible assisted them in rewriting the Masonic ritual.

Symbols, connections and values

Modern Freemasonry has roots in operative masonic guilds. Medieval Gothic churches and cathedrals were built by operative Masons who used a Christianized form of sacred geometry, where the cross symbolizes the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The triangle was used as a geometrical symbol representing the Trinity, which is incidentally connected with the number Three in the Masonic ritual.

Masons used many symbols, such as the All-Seeing Eye, the Square and the Compass, skulls and bones, pyramids, pentagram, acacia wood, etc. The Compass symbolizes the cycle of life, having a central point, while the capital letter G represents God.

Both Freemasons and Rosicrucians were focused on a Holy building, the House of the Holy Spirit. Rosy Cross or Red Cross was an English symbol, and it was also used by Martin Luther. The Rose symbolizes the secret of immortality, which became a ritual in Rosicrucian societies.

Besides Rosicrucianism (Rose Croix), Freemasonry had connections with Knights Templars, Kabbalism, Hermeticism, alchemy, numerology, and esoteric search for ancient hidden knowledge and deeper meaning behind symbols. Freemasons were also expressing a strong interest in the Classical architecture and antiquity. Also, Freemasons promoted the New Science represented by Newtonian natural philosophy.

The biblical Old Testament reveals many Masonic rituals and symbols, details behind Solomon’s Temple as the ultimate divine building embodying God and wisdom, and the basis for Masonic degrees such as the Royal Ark Mariner. Also, Christ’s resurrection is represented in the Knights Templar ritual.

The Craft adopted values of natural philosophy, charity, educational and moralistic attitudes, and religious tolerance. Freemasons were God’s Masons building a better world, in line with God’s divine geometry and morality. Therefore, Freemasonry was a tool for understanding the works of God, also known as the Grand Architect of the Universe.

Freemasonry developed into a society vital for networking opportunities, education, and business. The Spread of Masonic lodges contributed to the Enlightenment in Europe.

Bridging the divide

Many Freemasons supported Whig’s government and the Hanoverian dynasty, which had an important role after the Glorious Revolution in 1688 when religious toleration was encouraged. Lodges brought together both Parliamentarians and Royalists and bridged the political and religious divide of the Civil War. In fact, both Whigs and Tories could socialize and coexist within the same society. For that reason, discussions about politics and religion were forbidden in the lodges. That way, Freemasonry provided opportunities for many gentlemen, members of the elites and government.

Newton and Bacon

Influenced by Rosicrucian tradition, Sir Isaac Newton was deeply interested in the relations between religion and science and researched God’s messages in the Old and the New Testaments. In the Bible, Newton was seeking to find order, design, and hidden wisdom of God, revealed through mathematical learning. Newtonian mechanics were applied during the Industrial Revolution.

Also, Sir Francis Bacon in his book The New Atlantis combined biblical beliefs and classical idealism and mentioned that Solomon’s House was a place of healing and knowledge.

Wren and St. Paul’s Cathedral

Freemasons influenced the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Society, and many other societies and clubs, that established social networks in London’s coffee houses and taverns, discussing the philosophy of Isaac Newton, John Locke, etc.

Under the supervision of a notable Freemason Sir Christopher Wren, the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral was seen as the new Temple of Solomon and the centerpiece of New London, which would be transformed into a New Jerusalem, and the Protestant rival to Catholic Rome, compared with St. Peter’s church. Moreover, St. Paul’s cathedral became a symbol of God’s architectural excellence. Therefore, in the 1769 edition of Anderson’s Constitutions, Wren was presented as a modern Hiram and St. Paul’s Cathedral as a modern Solomon’s Temple.

Influence Many influential people who belonged to the Craft, such as Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, John Webb, Erasmus King, John Senex, William Cowper, Edward Jenner, Brook Taylor, Martin Folkes, Richard Rawlinson, Elias Ashmole, Alexander Pope, John Parker, Edward Wolley, John Arbuthnot, William Boyd, Thomas Watts, Martin Clare, George Drummond, James Radcliffe, and Benjamin Franklin. Many people were linked with Freemasonry, including Puritans Oliver Cromwell and John Locke. In 1753, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, English philosopher John Locke expressed his interest in the Brotherhood. Also, many people expressed interest in Freemasonry, such as the Methodist founder John Wesley. In addition, a number of French Protestants, i.e., Huguenot refugees, including John Theophilus Desaguliers, Michael de La Roche, David Papillon, and Charles Labelye, were involved in English Freemasonry and became supporters of the Whig government and the Hanoverian dynasty.

The Square and the Tower

In his book “The Square and the Tower“, British historian Niall Ferguson presents essential facts regarding the significant influence of Freemasons on the development of social networks within the Enlightenment. In Chapter 19, “Networks of Enlightenment,” Ferguson describes the development of networks among freethinking individuals and intellectuals, as well as various societies and clubs for the exchange of ideas. He cites Benjamin Franklin as a prime example of great influence. In Chapter 20, “Network of Revolution,” Ferguson highlights Freemasonry as a crucial network in the American Revolution, starting with many Founding Fathers and signatories of the Declaration of Independence. He also describes how Scottish Presbyterian minister James Anderson became the author of the Constitution of Freemasonry, the Constitutions of the Free Masons.

The Craft

British historian John Dickey wrote in the book “The Craft” that Freemasons, in public life, spread Enlightenment ideas of freedom of conscience and religious tolerance, Brotherly love, rationality, democracy, and equality before the law. Masonic lodges were part of the growing intellectual arena of many societies and clubs. Additionally, Freemasonry provided people of different backgrounds and faiths with the opportunity to develop skills for work in modern institutions; they learned how to be discreet, write speeches, interpret constitutional rules, advise, and judge character. Dickey, for example, mentions how John Theophilus Desaguliers, from a family of French Huguenots, introduced educational lectures to the lodge and helped establish charitable assistance. Other important figures mentioned include publisher Benjamin Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette, the author of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and a hero of the French and American revolutions. Dickey describes the legacy of Washington and the Capitol Building. The author also mentions the All-Seeing Eye as one of the Masonic symbols, which is found at the top of the pyramid and imprinted on the US dollar, along with the Latin phrase “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (New Order of the Ages). The Founding Fathers saw the All-Seeing Eye as the Eye of Providence. Dickey states that the key to the success of Freemasonry was respectable and ambitious middle-class individuals who adhered to the universal principles of self-improvement. Instead of focusing on birth or status, virtues were important. Freemasonry presented itself to the world as the architecture of individuals with virtues, where candidates were asked if they were pure, leading a righteous life, serious, temperate, and industrious; if they had habits that would degrade morality, and if they cared for their families. Being a Mason was a credibility card for American businessmen, representing honest relationships and civic identity. Masonic fraternities provided a sense of stability and well-being and engaged in philanthropy and charitable assistance. Dickey also mentions the strong Masonic influence on the French Revolution and the unification of Italy, as well as the suppression of the Papal States. On the other hand, the author mentions systems that brutally repressed Freemasonry while spreading conspiracy theories.

The Freemasons in America

In the book The Freemasons in America by Paul Jeffers, an overview of examples of Masons who influenced the creation of institutions in the American nation is given, including several federal states, especially Texas. It is mentioned how George Washington emphasized the importance of Masonic Brotherhood in promoting personal virtues and public prosperity, and how Benjamin Franklin saw Freemasonry as a testament of character and qualifications through a universal language as a passport.