About origin of Freemasonry

Discussion in 'History and Research' started by Luigi Visentin, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    I'm sorry of not having participated much to the forum's life, but I have passed a lot of free time in these last months to work on my researches also because I have found many interesting information about ancient Masons. However as a sort of "Christmas Gift" I have decided to write a short paper about the origin of Freemasonry according to the Legend of the Craft. This paper does not includes all findings that I have reserved for the book I'm writing (in Italian), but I think that it has enough information to be of interests for you and to allow personal researches about.

    ****

    Who were ancient Mason? It can be seen as incredibly simple, but who were ancient Mason is told us by the Regius Manuscript:

    Pray we now to God almight, (almighty)
    And to his mother Mary bright,


    That we may keep these articles here,
    And these points well all y-fere, (together)
    As did these holy martyrs four,
    That in this craft were of great honour;
    They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
    Gravers and image-makers they were also.
    For they were workmen of the best,
    The emperor had to them great luste; (liking)
    He willed of them an image to make
    That might be worshipped for his sake;
    Such monuments he had in his dawe, (day)
    To turn the people from Christ’s law.


    But they were steadfast in Christ’s lay, (law)
    And to their craft without nay; (doubt)
    They loved well God and all his lore,
    And were in his service ever more.
    True men they were in that dawe, (day)
    And lived well in God’s law;
    They thought no monuments for to make,
    For no good that they might take,
    To believe on that monument for their God,
    They would not do so, though he were wod; (furious)
    For they would not forsake their true fay, (faith)


    And believe on his false lay, (law)
    The emperor let take them soon anon,
    And put them in a deep prison;
    The more sorely he punished them in that place,
    The more joy was to them of Christ’s grace,
    Then when he saw no other one,
    To death he let them then gon; (go)
    Whose will of their life yet more know
    By the book he might it show
    In the legend of scanctorum (holy ones)
    The names of the quatuor coronatorum.


    The text cited in the last two lines is a mispelling of "Legenda Sanctorum", better known as Golden Legend, of Jacobus de Voragine, an Italian bishop, which tells the "story" of the Four Crowned Martyrs. This is the translation of Caxton, dated 1483 (and adapted to modern language), of the Legenda Sanctorum:

    Here followeth of the Four Crowned Martyrs.

    The four crowned martyrs were Severus, Severianus, Carpoforus, and Victorinus, which by the commandment of Diocletian were beaten with plummets of lead unto the death. The names of whom could not be found, but after long time they were showed by divine revelation, and it was established that their memory should be worshipped under the names of five other martyrs, that is to wit Claudian, Castor, Symphorian, Nicostratus, and Simplician, which were martyred two years after the four crowned martyrs. And these martyrs knew all the craft of sculpture or of carving, and Diocletian would have constrained them to carve an idol, but they would not entail ne carve it, ne consent to do sacrifice to the idols. And then by the commandment of Dioc]etian they were put into tuns of lead all living, and cast into the sea about the year of our Lord two hundred four score and seven. And Melchiades, the pope, ordained these four saints to be honoured and to be called the four crowned martyrs before that their names were found. And though their names were afterward found and known, yet for the usage they be always called the four crowned martyrs.

    Please note that the "Four Crowned" are only the first four martyrs and their profession is not specified, but we know from other sources that they were roman soldier, that is milites. The Regius confuses however the reason why they have been martyrized as the reason cited is the one which caused the death of the other five. The reason of this confusion is in the Golden Legend itself as it tells, for the first four martyrs, that they "were beaten with plummets of lead" "by the commandment of Diocletian", but not why Diocletian ordered this.

    The confusion is also in the origins as there are two legends, one for the soldiers and one for the sculptors, however the Four Crowned have been called in this way as their names were unknown while the names of the sculptors were known already from the beginning. The mix of the stories of the first four soldier and of the five scultors was decided by the catholic church their relics were moved to the "Basilica dei Quattro Coronati" in Rome.

    The Regius however indicates that the ability of carving was an extra capability of masons:

    They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
    Gravers and image-makers they were also.


    and specifies also that the martyrs were four and not nine, practically ignoring the five carvers. The Golden Legend has been written taking the information about the Quatuor Coronati from the Passio of Saint Sebastian, first wrongly attributed to S. Ambrosius of Milan and dated in the V century. In this work, which is however mostly a novel, the Four Crowned are specified to be soldiers of the guard of Diocletian. As told above, as their names were initially unknown the pope gave them the name of "Four Crowned".

    The most important point however is this: they were soldiers and exactly "milites" (or "miles" at singular). This is the exact profession of the ancient Operative Masons. It can seem very strange but it is necessary to consider that the Roman Army was the biggest building enterprise of the antiquity. Most of the roman streets, fortress and public buildings have been built by roman soldiers, not by civil workers. Many of them are still existing and some are still in use in Italy and also abroad. The main tool of the legionar was the "dolabra" a sort of pickaxe that can be used to cut trees, work stone (and also to crash helmets if necessary as they were, in any case, soldiers). It is the same tool used by middle ages masons to cut and work stones, only with a longer grip. A Roman general Gneo Domizio Corbulone, once said that the "victory had to be gained using the dolabra". And for the Romans this tool was common as the glaudio or the pilum. The use of this instrument and the ability in the work of erecting buildings is clearly shown on the Trajan's Column that is a must-see monument in Rome and is cited in the Inigo Jones Manuscript too (not by chanche).

    A confirmation of this origin comes from the Inigo Jones Manuscript, which dating is pretty difficult but it is likely one the richest information source about ancient Freemasonry. This manuscript is very precise and says that:

    IN the Year XLIII, after the birth of CHRIST, MASONS came into England,

    In 43 a.C. Romans invaded Britannia (Britain) and many masonic authors have giustified this information saying that the Collegia followed the army, but this is totally wrong. Roman army did not use civilian workers and the conquest of Britannia was long and difficult. They took four years to estabilish a firm base and another four to consolidate it. In that period only the army was operating in Britannia and this went on for about twenty years after the landing of the troops. The same manuscript give other indications, specifying:

    and built a Anno Christi XLIII goodly Monastry Near unto Glassenbury, with many CASTLE S and TOWERS.

    This part is referred to a legend on the foundation of the Glastonbury Abbey (Glassenbury in French) made Joseph of Arimathea (that according to another legend died in Britain). According to the christian iconography of Middle Age, Joseph was a knight who, together with other five milites was at the service of Pilatus. Basically Joseph was the legendary founder of the christian chivalry and during the Middle Age the word most used to indicate a knight was miles (sometime was used also equites, while "knight" and the other versions like "Ritter" (german) or "Cavaliere" (Italian) becomes common around the twelfth century).
    Also S.Alban that it is cited in almost all versions of the Legend of the Craft, is declared as Mason and king's Steward, was a roman soldier, that is a miles, according to christian's agiography.

    Therefore the ancient question has a simple answer: ancient Operative Mason were Roman soldiers, that is milites. The Legend simply tells shortly what happened to operative Masons from the last period of the West Roman Empire till the tenth century. Clearly the story is in a coded form but it is pretty easy to show that every biblical reference has some errors that are repeated in the various versions of the Legend itself and analyzing these errors is possible to understand something of what is hidden in the text.

    The Legend tells much more than this, but now you have a good hint to find out who were masonic "David" and "Solomon" who lived much later the fall of the West Roman Empire.
    An important precisation: I can not say with certainty if the story told by the Legend of the Craft is true or invented. However this is simply what the Legend tells.

    Many season's greetings!
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  2. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Interesting info.
     
  3. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >The four crowned martyrs were Severus, Severianus, Carpoforus, and Victorinus

    The church tended to invent martyrs to populate its early history.

    >ancient question has a simple answer: ancient Operative Mason were Roman soldiers

    It is likely that such were members of Mithraic lodges - that being common in the Roman Army.

    The Mithraic brethren were known as the Brotherhood of the Grip

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    First of all, Happy New Year!
    Likely the Mithraism can have influenced Masonry but, according to the Legend of the Craft, Masons were basically Christians, at least from Diocletian onwards. The problem is that what we know about Mithraism comes mainly from later Christians writers in a period were all what was not Christian was an enemy and, likely, misunderstood and what has been "rebuild" my authors like Franz Cumont, who, however have included a lot of personal interpretations in his researches. As far as I have understood Mithraism was not exactly a real religion but better a sort of sacralisation of the army and of military life and this has allowed a sort of cohabitation till when the Christianity definitely took the power.

    The "basically" above means that if mainly they were Christians they considered "brothers" also non Christians who made the same job.
     
  5. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    This would have been important if wanting avoid the Holy Inquisition.


    It may be of use to examine the Mithraic temples and Mithraic statues. From those we can learn that the Master had 2 Wardens, one with column up and the other with column down. We also see their mosaic ladders showing 3 working tools per degree. Etc.
     
  6. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    It is also relevant to note that starting with Isaac Newton there has been a series of significant figures disputing the historical chronology used by Europeans.

    One of the more interesting is a Russian mathematician called Fomenko who as written 7 volumes entitled History: Fiction or Science? giving detailed evidence that most of our history was written by monks in the Middle Ages. He uses statistics to demonstrate that most of our history prior to the year 1000 is plagiarized from Middle Ages events with slight changes of names.

    https://www.amazon.com/History-Fiction-Science-Chronology-No/dp/2913621058

    Certainly when I was in Rome long ago I noticed that there were buildings reputed to be 2000 years old that seemed to show very little erosion from the freezing winters.
     
  7. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    I'm sorry but I do not agree: "unfortunately" I live in Italy and we have buildings that are much more than 2000 years old. We have also many buildings that have been continuously modified adding or repairing parts with news stiles so you can see their evolution like an history film. Archeologists and historians use a lot of way to check the sources and to date buildings, monuments and paintings and the materials used can be dated according to the most recent scientific techniques and they use statistics too. There are also many books and chronicles unknown to the big public but that survived in many different copies and their origin can be traced and some of them have not yet been digitalized and can be accessed only to scholars because of their high rarity and value. There are still surely some parts of the history that are dubious and need to be verified but it is also true that statistics can be highly misleading (we have a joke about "statistic of chicken"). Believe me but we have a pretty good knowlegde of last 2500 years history of Mediterranean and West Europe. Obviously some parts are still little known or should be corrected or unknown but this depends from some local accident and some "common sense" misleading indications (particularly about the time necessary to do something).

    PS 1: I think that some mithraic uses are in our rites. I have underlined a couple of them in my research. However it is not the most relevant "roman" tradition that we have. I have another, documented, source for the origin of the "wardens" that likely is mixed with mithraic, but it was in the Roman Army.

    PS 2: Holy Inquisition was not a problem till the papal ban
     
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  8. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    Proof indeed.


    Any dark ages - periods with no evidence?
     
  9. SimonM

    SimonM Registered User

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    In this case it you who have to provide evidence since you are challengeing the accepted model. A book about history written by a mathematician is not enough. Give us a few sources written by proper historians and we have somewhere to start :)
     
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  10. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >a few sources written by proper historians

    If you want truth you will need to find it for yourself.

    You could start with Henry Ford when he said History is bunk as reported in the NYT of Oct 28 1921.

    Or you could consider that history is written by the victors. Consider that WW2 was started by a false flag event and the Korean War was started by an incident that did not happen.

    Fake history is not a new human habit.

    Most historians use Scaliger's chronology but he had his own agendas and prejudices.

    If you seek truth you could do worse than start with Lloyd Pye's lecture: Everything you know is Wrong.

     
  11. SimonM

    SimonM Registered User

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    Should I find the truth for myself or should I listen to authorities? If you want me to do it for my self you cant go on and give me a reference some text. You cant have it both ways.
    What I will do is trust people who study history since I don't have the time or inclination to learn several dead languages and read the primary sources. The persons I trust are the ones who's work have been thoroughly examined and found acceptable. That method have worked fine for a few centuries when it come to subjects like history, physics and medicine. It gives accurate enough answers.

    So, with that said I'd like to go back to the Mithraic cults :)
    From what I read the Mithras cult _was_ a religion (I have a hard time imagine a cult without a religion, there would be no point of doing the rituals of the cult then). However, since polytheism and syncretism was much more accepted at that time and both Christianity and Mithraic cult had strong Solar focus it was easy to merge the two.
    @Luigi Visentin , If you can share your notes about the similarities between the cult officers and the wardens I would really appreciate it!
     
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  12. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >Should I find the truth for myself or should I listen to authorities?

    The age-old question!
     
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  13. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    Sorry I answer late but I'm very busy in this date. The definition of "religion" and "cult" are extremely wide so it is difficult to explain how they connect or not. I can make simple humorous example: in Italy food and soccer are both cults, but soccer is also a religion, while food not :D.

    I think that mithraism worked in a way similar to ancient tribal rites, based on simbolic reply of the activities that they intended to celebrate or to ask the help for. Honestly I have not collected my researches about as my focus was and is Masonry, however I can try to put togheter something in some days.

    It is depending from the place: in the territories of ancient Roman empire there are a lot of information. In other places, as Germany, for example, much less, as most part was under german tribes which have not a system to record facts and dates. In Italy, even under the invasion of barbarians, the chronicles are enough detailled. Obviously do not look for an exact and detailled report: writing tools and other recording system were very poor and easily subject to be destroyed, however we have much more information that what we usually learn in the school.
     
  14. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    You may find it useful to google Cautes and Cautopates. Notice the torches up and down. Notice also their frequent crossing of legs. This appears in the Emblems of Mortality.

    To whom does the crossing of legs refer? Hint: examine a hires version of Leonardo's Bacchus.

    At the pedestal of Cautes I was taught to be cautious. I remain so.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  15. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    Thanks for the hints, but Mithraism does not give much information about what I search. Other sources are much more interesting because I have found important information in other sources and this has allowed me to make an hypothesis about ancient Masons that allowed me to identify them more exactly as Masons were milites indeed but, obvioulsy, not all milites were Masons.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  16. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    In my view modern Masonic ritual contains elements from at least 3 ancient origins (possibly all from one original external source) with evidence of later groups concealing themselves and their teachings within mainstream Masonry.

    This allows for a great variety of theories.

    Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods is a useful entry. http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1921__ward___freemasonry_and_the_ancient_gods.pdf
     
  17. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    I have only one theory :)
     
  18. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    I find that having several theories allows me to recognize more evidence - and even see that one piece of evidence can support contradictory theories at the same time.

    “Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.'

    I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast
    " Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
     
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  19. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Wow! Deep Stuff! Lots to chew on.
     
  20. Luigi Visentin

    Luigi Visentin Registered User

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    I do not think that is a good method. For example if you pick up one fruit from an apple tree, another from a pear tree, another from a cherry tree, another one from an orange tree and so on and you put all together, at the end, you will be convinced that it exist the tree of the "fruit salad". Or at least Alice would think so.

    It is true that you can find many traditions in current Freemasonry, but they have been included during eighteen century, modifying what was Freemasonry before. Before of this period Freemasonry was following a sole tradition and to completeness of the research I have looked for an explanation of this and found that some of this roots are still existing. However as SimonM said:
    and even if it does not exists a real "accepted model" as the one of the middleage guilds is not demonstrated, my worry had been to find "evidences" to my findings. Clearly it can not be found for everything but, for example if we talk about the "curious Mason named Naymus Grecus" I can tell you who is, why is "Grecus" and why he is "curious" and I can show you evidences about all the three information. And I can tell you that these evidences are not hidden elsewhere but you need simply use what a learned person in middleage knew.
     

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