Johann Adam Weishaupt was born on 6 February 1748 in Ingolstadt in the Electorate of Bavaria. He was a German philosopher and founder of the Order of the Illuminati, a secret society. The name derives from the Latin illuminatur, which means “enlightened.”
On 1 May 1776 Johann Adam Weishaupt founded the “Illuminati” in the Electorate of Bavaria. He adopted the name of “Brother Spartacus” within the order. Even Encyclopedia references vary on the goal of the order, such as New Advent saying the Order was not egalitarian or democratic internally, but sought to promote the doctrines of equality and freedom throughout societ while others like Collier’s have said the aim was to combat religion and foster rationalism in its place.
The actual character of the society was an elaborate network of spies and counter-spies. Each isolated cell of initiates reported to a superior, whom they did not know: a party structure that was effectively adopted by some later groups.
Weishaupt was initiated into the Masonic Lodge “Theodor zum guten Rath”, at Munich in 1777. His project of “illumination, enlightening the understanding by the sun of reason, which will dispel the clouds of superstition and of prejudice” was an unwelcome reform. He used Freemasonry to recruit for his own quasi-masonic society, with the goal of “perfecting human nature” through re-education to achieve a communal state with nature, freed of government and organized religion. Presenting their own system as pure masonry, Weishaupt and Adolph Freiherr Knigge, who organised his ritual structure, greatly expanded the secret organisation.