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The orgins of freemasonry

The text of this concise account of the "origins of freemasonry" has been prepared by bro. prof. dr. u.gauthamadas, referring to several books, and documents.


The craft of Stone Masonry originated in the ancient civilizations of Peru and Egypt. It proliferated from Egypt in 4000 BC to Minoan Crete and from there to Greece, whence it was imbibed by the Romans and dissipated throughout the Roman Empire.

The earliest recorded association of Stonemasons was the Greek Eranoi, and the Roman Collegia. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, all Collegia became extinct except for the Colegium of Stonemasons, whose members migrated to France where the Meringovians were building Basilicas. In France the Stonemasons were organized into the Corps de Metiers with their social associations the Confraire. With the banning of the Confraires by the French Parliament in the 15th century, their members joined the Compagnons de Tour de France, an organization of roving journeymen, who took refuge after the interdiction of assemblies in the 17th century.

Meanwhile, Christian religious fervor led to the building of Cathedrals throughout Western Europe with the stonemasons forming themselves into an official organization called Freemasons, who ranged freely from one nation to another, selling their skills wherever required. Benedict Biscop reintroduced the craft of stone buildings into England by employing these Freemasons in the 7th century AD, and it proliferated throughout Britain. From the 9th to the 12th century the Christians from Britain undertook missions into Germany where they built many churches and taught the craft to the Germans.

The stonemasons in Germany organized themselves into societies called the Steinmetzen, in order to safeguard their skills. Gilds were also formed in England along similar lines. The gilds were considered a threat to the economy and banned. The wars in France and England, the Plague, and the Great London Fire resulted in depopulation and decrease in building. In order to survive, the guilds began to admit members who were not stonemasons, and speculative freemasonry was born in England.

Grand Lodges were formed in York, Ireland, and Scotland which followed the Gothic Constitutions said to have been promulgated by Prince Edwin in 926. The Grand Lodge of London and Westminster was formed in 1717 and renamed the Grand Lodge of England in 1738. The Gothic Constitution was found defective by the Grand Lodge of London which commissioned the Book of Constitutions which forms the governing Code of modern speculative Freemasonry.In 1809, the Ancient Grand Lodges united with the modern Grand Lodge of England forming the United Grand Lodge of England, with the Emulation Ritual that reconciled the ancient rituals with the modern, and which forms the basis of the ritual adopted by the Grand Lodge of India. Freemasonry was introduced into the other European countries by Freemasons from Britain.


While the practices of the Roman Collegia, the French Compagnons, and the German Steinmetzen have a lot in common with the existing practices and rituals of the Free and Accepted Masons today, there is no recorded evidence to prove the link. However, it is possible that the practices of Freemasonry as we know of it today may have originated from practices of these associations. Operative Freemasonry appears to have originated with the resurgence of stone work in Europe in the 6th to 10th centuries and the formaSpeculative Freemasonry probably originated in England following the Great Wars in Europe, the Reformation in Britain, and the banning of gilds, when men other than masons began to be admitted into the Lodges. Modern Freemasonry originated with the formation of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster in 1717, renamed as the Grand Lodge of England in 1738, and was established by the union of the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland, and Ireland into the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. The combined Emulation Ritual has been adopted as a standard ritual by the United Grand Lodge of England and thence the Grand Lodge of India