The history of Freemasonry
Freemasonry is the oldest Brotherhood in the world, it's hierarchical structure dates from the beginning of times. The origins of the Freemasonry il lost in the mists of history. The only fact is that no one knows exactly when it all started. There are many theories on the beginnings of Freemasonry, but they are not fact based, the exclusion of fact however doesen't exclude any of them for being plausible. Saying that any theory is wrong is bad because it exclude the possibility of personal growth and research for knowledge and truth.
Many historians tend to trace the beginnings in the ancient Greece and Rome or from the religions of the builders of the great piramides. Others state that the beginnings are in the evolution of the Templar Order they flew to Scotland after the persecution in Europe where they were assimilated in the Free mason guilds. A third party of historians think that the first Massonic meetings took place in the shadows of the Temple of King Solomon.
The first tangible proofs are found in the written records of the medieval Massonic guilds. Those guild were funtioning in shacks in the building places of the medieval cathedrals. In those places they organized the schedule and tasks. Gradually Apprentices were introduced in the circle to learn the trade. With time these initiations took a ritual aspect that is still present in the Massonic organisations.
The oldest Massonic document is the Regius poem dating 1390, this document is the compilation of older texts unified in one document.
From the early 1600 in the orders started to appear Apprentices that were not in the «building trade», they were mostly merciants. From this change the Operative Masonry became Speculative Masonry, and from there the name Free and Accepted or Speculative Masons.
From the medieval times there were associations of Freemasons in England and Scotland. In the late 1500's there were at least 13 Lodges in Scotland, from Edimbrough to Perth. In the 16. Century these assotiations evolved into institutions that were the foundation of the modern Lodges.
The official start of the modern Freemasonry is dated 1717. When 4 Lodges founded the Grand National Lodge of England.
After that the word of the Freemasonry spreaded across Europe and across the ocean to the American colonies where it flourished
During the 1800's and the early 1900's Freemasony grew in a social context where the state was not providing support for their citisens and the endangered categories. The Massonic interest in the support for the less fortunate showed into creations of homes for widows orphans and old people, adding more and more people to their ranks. That was a tumultuous period with political and social changes and lack of tolerance, a period far away of the Massonic credo of tolerance, acceptance of different points of views, and constant work for the improvement of human kind , work done tru simbols and allegories.
The Grand National Lodge of England evolved in the biggest Massonic organisation with branches all around the world.
The vast majority of European countries have a Grand Lodge.