Birth of the Bavarian Illuminati

On May 1, 1776, Jewish-born Adam Weishaupt, who later converted to Catholicism and was taught by the Jesuits, established the Bavarian Order of Illuminati in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. After Pope Clement XIV had suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773, Weishaupt became a professor of canon law. The Illuminati's goals were seemingly similar to the attitudes of the Enlightenent era which was sweeping across Europe at the time. For instance, Weishaupt's Illuminati sought to oppose superstition, abuse by governments, and it also promoted the separation of church and state. Weishaupt wanted to keep his new order hidden from the Rosicrucians, because Weishaupt believed the initiates of the Rosy Cross, many of whom were pro-monarchic and sympathetic to clericism, would stand in the way of Weishaupt's vision of a state ruled by rational philosophers and scientists.

The plans of the Illuminati were eventually exposed, and the order was subsequently banned in Bavaria. It remains unclear whether or not the principles and tenets of the Bavarian Illuminati have completely disappeared or that it simply went underground. Several mystery traditions include "Illuminati-grade" degrees, but Iilluminati, meaning "enlightened," might not necessarily link the Bavarian Illuminati, which was a specific sect, to other enlightenment-era groups and orders. Throughout the centuries, the Illuminati has given rise to countless conspiracy theories.