Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

Secret society
(953 words)

Unlike the Freemasons (Freemasonry), early modern secret societies kept their activities, aims, and even their very existence secret. These Enlightenment societies were established in the masonic orbit, and organized on the masonic model, across Europe from the 1760s on. Their aim was to attain direct political influence through education, leading to self-perfection and an ensuing “march through the institutions.” They thus posed a threat to the absolutist state and its monopoly on political power (Absolutism).

The “right” wing of this spectrum of para-masonic or …

Cite this page
Agethen, Manfred, “Secret society”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 02 April 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_019698>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210601

▲   Back to top   ▲