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HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY
Though its heritage in antiquity is unmistakable, no one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed.
A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that modern speculative Freemasonry arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. It was founded upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodges of operative or working freemen stonemasons, who built the magnificent Medieval Gothic structures throughout much of Europe and England.
Dated in 1390 AD, the Regius Poem, which was a copy of an earlier work, details the charter of a lodge operating in the 900s AD "Masonry" then meant architecture and encompassed most of the arts and sciences. Because lodges held knowledge as competitive secrets, only trusted, capable companions were instructed in the craft - and then only by degrees, orally and through symbols, because of widespread illiteracy.
What is known is that in 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that point on are more complete.This is a very fascinating subject for most masons. Many articles have been written. Below are two for example so you may have an idea on how complex it is the "Origins of Freemasonry"
How Freemasonry Started - Many articles put together to give a general brief explanation
The Origin of Freemasonry - speech given Robert Longfield, Q.C. to the Brethren of The Victoria Lodge, No. IV., Dublin on 2nd February 1857
and finally the beginning of Freemasonry in the United States
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Last modified: March 22, 2014