From monarchs to scientists, the list of famous European Freemasons is impressive. From Jules Grévy to Steve Wozniak, these individuals have made a lasting impact on the world. This article will explore the history of Freemasonry in Europe, as well as the famous members who have been part of it. Freemasonry is an ancient fraternal organization that has been around for centuries.
It is believed to have originated in England in the early 1700s and spread to other parts of Europe soon after. The organization has been associated with many influential figures throughout history, including monarchs, scientists, and artists. The list of monarchs who were Masons includes Jules Grévy, Alexandre Millerand, Gaston Doumergue, Friedrich-Ferdinand, Habibullah Khan, and Karl Friedrich. These individuals governed countries such as France, Germany, and Andorra.
Before lodges existed in Germany, Germans were becoming Masons in English lodges. One of the first was Albert Wolfgang, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe. In 1729, Count Thuanus was appointed Extraordinary Envoy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Provincial Grand Master of Lower Saxony by the First Grand Lodge of England with the aim of establishing lodges in Germany. Almost all of Australia's Conservative Prime Ministers until the early 1970s are said to have been Masons, including Sir Edmund Barton, Robert Menzies, and John Gorton.
Australian Masons still alive today include Olympian and businessman Sir James Hardy (of Hardys Wines) and former cricket captains Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry. One of the most famous Masons is Benjamin Franklin, the founding father of the United States. He was also Grand Master of Pennsylvania and formulated theories about positive and negative electrical charges. He also printed the first Masonic publication in the colonies called The Constitutions of Free Masons.
The famous explorer and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks was the first Mason to set foot in Australia during his expedition on the Endeavor with Captain James Cook. The former governor of New York and 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt became Honorary Grand Master of the Order of DeMolay in a ceremony that took place at the White House. The founder of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover was a Master Mason at 25 and was appointed Honorary Inspector General in the 33rd degree in 1955, the highest level of Freemasonry.
The famous Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a Mason as well as Johann Christian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn. Other notable literary Masons include Robert Burns, John Steinbeck, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and Rudyard Kipling. Reverend Jesse Jackson is a civil rights activist and Masonic master of Prince Hall Masonry. In Italy some famous historical figures were Masons such as Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Cavour, Giosue Carducci, Ernesto Nathan and King Victor Emmanuel II. One of the most dedicated members of Freemasonry was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who became a Mason in 1980 in California. European Freemasonry spread from Europe to its colonies in Africa, Caribbean and Americas. It created a social and cultural elite and sought to assimilate “native” Masons to Francophone and European values and culture. The list of famous European Masons is impressive with men originating from fields as varied as sports, politics, science and arts.