Tschoudy, Louis Theodore
Miehaud spells the name Tschudi, but Lenning, Thory, Ragon, Oliver, and all other Masonic writers, give the name as Tschoudy, which form, therefore, we adopt as the most usual, if not the most correct, spelling. Baron de Tschoudy was born at Metz, in 1720. He was descended from a family originally of the Swiss Canton of Glaris, but which had been established in France since the commencement of the sixteenth century. He was a Counselor of State and member of the Parliament of Metz; but the most important events of his life are those which connect him with the Masonic institution, of which he was a zealous and learned investigator. He was one of the most active apostles of the school of Ramsay, and adopted his theory of the Templar origin of Freemasonry.
Having obtained permission from the King to travel, he went to Italy, in 1752, under the assumed name of the Chevalier de Lussy. There he excited the anger of the Papal Court by the publication at the Hague, in the same year, of a book entitled Etrenne au Pape, ou les Francs-Maons Vengs, that is, A New Year's Gift for the Pope, or the Free Masons Avenged. This was a caustic commentary on the Bull of Benedict XIV excommunicating the Freemasons. It was followed, in the same year, by another work entitled, Le Vatican Veng that is, The Vatican Avenged; an ironical apology, intended as a Sequence to the former book. these two works subjected him to such persecution by the Church that he was soon compelled to Seek safety in flight.
Brother Tschoudy next repaired to Russia, where his means of living became so much impaired that, Michaud says, he was compelled to enter the company of comedians of the Empress Elizabeth. From this condition he was relieved by Count Ivan Schouwalon, who made him his Private Secretary. He was also appointed the Secretary of the Academy of Moscow, and Governor of the pages at the Court. But this advancement of his fortunes, and the fact of his being a Frenchman, created for him many enemies, and he was compelled at length to leave Russia, and return to France. There, however, the persecutions of his enemies pursued him, and on his arrival at Paris he was sent to the Bastile. But the intercession of his mother with the Empress Elizabeth and with the Grand Duke Peter was successful, and he was speedily restored to liberty. He then retired to Metz, and for the rest of his life devoted himself to the task of Masonic reform and the fabrication of new systems.
The Council of Knights of the East was established in 1762, at Paris. Ragon says (Orthodoxie Maonnique, page 137) that "its ritual was corrected by the Baron de Tschoudy, the author of the Blazing Star." But this is an error. Tschoudy was then at Metz, and his work and system of the Blazing Star did not appear until four years afterward. It is at a later date that Tschoudy became connected with the Council.
He published, in connection with Bardon-Duhamel, his most important work, in 1766, entitled L'Etoile Flamboyante, ou la Societ d es Francs-Maons considere sous tous les Aspects, that is, The Blazing Star, or the Society of Freemasons considered under Every Point of View.
The same year he repaired to Paris, with the declared object of extending his Masonic system. He then attached himself to the Council of Knights of the East, which, under the guidance of the tailor Pirlet, had seceded from the Council of Emperors of the East and West. Tschoudy availed himself of the ignorance and of the boldness of Pirlet to put his plan of reform into execution by the creation of new Degrees.
In Tschoudy's system, however, as developed in the L'Etoile Flamboyante, he does not show himself to be the advocate of the advanced Degrees, which, he says, are "an occasion of expense to their dupes, and an abundant and lucrative resource for those who make a profitable traffic of their pretended instructions." He recognizes the three Symbolic Degrees because their gradations are necessary in the Lodge, which he viewed as a school; and to these he adds a superior class, which may be called the architects, or by any other name, provided we attach to it the proper meaning.
All the advanced Degrees he calls "Masonic reveries," excepting two, which he regards as containing the secret, the object, and the essence of Freemasonry, namely, the Scottish Knight of Saint Andrew and the Knight of Palestine. The former of these Degrees was composer by Tschoudy, and its ritual, which he bequeathed, with other manuscripts, to the Council of Knights of the East and West, was published in 1780, under the title of Ecossais de Saint Andr, contenant le dveloppement total de l'art royal de la Franche-Maonnerie, or Scottish Knight of Saint Andrew, containing the entire development of the Royal Arch of Freemasonry Subsequently, on the organization of the Ancient and Accepted ,Scottish Rite, the Degree was adopted as the Twenty-ninth of its series, and is considered as one of the most important and Philosophic of the ,Scottish system. Its fabrication is, indeed, an evidence of the intellectual genius of its inventor.
Ragon, in his Orthodoxie Maonnique , attributes to Tschoudy the fabrication of the Rite of Adoniramite Freemasonry, and the authorship of the Recueil Precieux, meaning Choice Collection, which contains the description of the Rite. But the first edition of the Recueil, with the acknowledged authorship of Guillemain de Saint Victor, appeared in 1781. This is probably about the date of the introduction of the Rite, and is just twelve years after Tschoudy had gone to his eternal rest. Tschoudy also indulged in light literature, and several romances are attributed to him, the only one of whieh now known, entitled Threse Philosophe, does not add to his reputation.
Chemins Desponts (Encyclopdie Maonnique i, page 143) says: "The Baron Tschoudy, whose birth gave him a distinguished rank in society, left behind him the reputation of an excellent man, equally remarkable for his social virtues, his genius, and his military talents." Such appears to have been the general opinion of those who were his contemporaries or his immediate successors He died at Paris, May 28, 1769
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