It has been claimed, and with much just reason, as shown in his course of life, that Napoleon the Great was a member of the Brotherhood. Brother J. E. S. Tuckett, Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge (volume xxvii, pages 96 to 141, 1914), arrives at the following conclusions: The evidence in favor of a Masonic initiation previous to Napoleon's assumption of the imperial title is overwhelming:
The initiation took place in the body of an Army Philadelphe Lodge of the--Ecossais-- Primitive Rite of Narbonne, the third initiation of the " Note Communique" being an advancement in that Rite; These initiations took place between 1795 and 1798.
Brother David E. W. Williamson sends us a reference of value here: In his Notes pour servir a Histoire de la Franc-Maonnerie a Nancy jusqu'en 1805, M. Charles Bernardin, P. M. of the Lodge at Nancy, writing about 1910, says "3e Dcembre (1797) on place la visite du general Bonaparte a la loge de Nancy." If this visit by hirn as a Freemason is a fact we can limit to a narrow range the probable time when Bonaparte was initiated and thus support the claim of Brother Tuckett.
Brother Tuckett's evidence is summed up thus: In 1801, that is, fully two years before Napoleon became Emperor, a prominent Ecossais, Brother Abraham, writes of the Masonic order "as proud now to number the immemorial Brothers Bonaparte and Moreau among its members." The Official report of a Masonic Festival at Dijon in November of the same year described Masonic honors paid to Napoleon and refers to " Les DD.. et RR.. FF.. Buonaparte et Moreau." Another official report of a similar Festival at Montauban eleven days later describes Masonic honors paid to Napoleon and Moreau, and in the Toast List their names occur with essentially Masonic embellishments. Moreau became head of the Army Philadelphes in 1801. The Strassburg Lodge is said to have toasted Napoleon as a Freemason. The wording of the toast shows that this was before Napoleon became Emperor. At the same period a Philadelphe Lodge, probably of the Army Branch, did exist at Strassburg. In 1805, or early 1806, an eminent Brother Pyron, then, or a few months later, a Philadelphe, writing to another eminent Brother Eques, chief of the Philadelphes, claims Napoleon as brother of our Rite." Rite referred to possibly Philadelphe, certainly an Ecossais Rite.
In March, 1807, at Milan, in a Lodge named in honor of the Empress, the mother of the Viceroy, Grand Master at Milan, Napoleon is toasted as "Brother, Emperor and King, Protector." In 1816 appears a book of Confesses de Napoleon with an engraving representing the reception of Bonaparte by the llluminsti. In 1820, and again in 1827, an unknown writer says, "It is certain that Napoleon underwent three initiations." The first, 1795, the reception by the Francs- Juges-query, Illuminati ? The second, from description evidently an Ecossais initiation, is placed between March, 1796, and June, 1798. The third, a Philadelphe, more probably of the Army Branch initiation at Cairo. In the same volume Napoleon is made to say that he had been initiated into a "Secte des Egyptien.s." In 1829 the Abeille Masonnique, and in 1830 Clavel, state that Napoleon visited Lodges in Paris incognito, unknown. From 1829 onwards a number of writers repeat that Napoleon was initiated at Malta in 1798. In 1859 a correspondent of the Freemasons Magazine claims to have known a French Brother who professed to have met Napoleon as a Freemason in open Lodge.
Frost in his Secret Societies of the European Resolutions London, 1876 (volume i, page 146), quoted Nodier's authority for the statement that "the Emblem " of the Army Philadelphes was identical with that adopted for the Legion of Honor. The Insignia chosen for the Legion consisted of a white enameled five-rayed star bearing the portrait of Napoleon and a wreath of oak and laurel. Legend--Napoleon Empereur des Franais. On the reverse--The Frence Eagle grasping 3 thunderbolt. egend--Honneur et Patrie. The Ribbon was of scarlet watered silk. Presumably Frost and Nodier allude to the five-rayed star, derived from the Pentalpha an emblem found in all Masonic and related systems. The Emperor's brothers, the Imperial Princes Joseph, Lucian, Louis and Jerome, were all Freemasons as was also his step-son Eugene Beauharnais--at first regarded as the Imperia; Heir-Apparent, his brother-in-law Murat, and his nephew Jerome. Joseph, 1768-1844. King of Naples, 1806-8. King of Spain, 1808-13. Nominated by the Emperor himself as Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France, 1804. Louis, 1778 to 1846. King of Holland, 1806-10. Grand Master Adjoined of the Grand Orient of France, 1804. Jerome, 1784 to 1860. King of Westphalia, 1807-13. Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Westphalia. His son Jerome was also a Freemason. Lucien, 1775 to 1840.
A member of the Grand Orient of France. Eugene Beauharnais, 1781 to 1S24. Viceroy of Italy 1805-14. Grand Master of Italy and Grand Master of the Grand Orient of the Division Militaire at Milan, 1805. Joachim Murat,1771 to 1815. King of Naples,1808. Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Orient of France, 1803. Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Naples 1808. Grand Master of the Order of Saint Joachim 1806. The Empress Josephine is known to have been friendly to Freemasonry. She was initiated into the Maconnerie d'Adoption in the Lodge Les Francs Chevaliers in 1804 at Paris, together with several of the ladies of her court, and became an active member as well as patroness of that Rite. Those who were chosen by Napoleon for high honor and office in the State were nearly all of them members of the Craft and higher Degrees. Of the sis who, with the Emperor himself formed the Grand Council of the Empire, five were certainly Freemasons, at their head being the Arch-Chancellor, Prince Jean Jacques Regis Cambaceres, the Emperor's right-hand man, and in his time the most active, enthusiastic and indefatigable Freemason in France.
The sixth, the Arch-Treasurer Le Brun, formerly Third Consul, is also believed to have been of the Craft, but it is not certain. Of the nine lesser Imperial officers of State, six at least were active Masons. Of Marshals of France who served under Napoleon, at least twenty-two out of the first thirty were Freemasons, many of them Grand Officers of the Grand Orient. The union of all the separate and often mutually hostile Rites in one governing body was from the first the project of Napoleon. Mereadier relates that during the Consulate Napoleon threatened to abolish Freemasonry altogether unless this was accomplished. Late in 1804, at the request of Cambaceres he interested himself in the reorganization of the Grand Orient with the result that in 1805 the Grand Orient assumed control over the whole body of Freemasonry in the Empire, with the Emperor's brother, Joseph, as Grand Master, with Cambaceres and Murat as his Grand Master Adjoints. Through Cambaceres the Emperor assured the Brothers of his imperial protection, stating that he had instituted inquiry into the subject of Freemasonry, and that he perceived that their highly moral aim and purpose were worthy of his favor.
Louis Napoleon III was a member of the Supreme, of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of France.
Owned & Operated Exclusively by Members of the Masonic Family
Tradition, Integrity, Trust.
© 2018 The Ashlar Company
“Sirs received my beautiful ring order the other day and ever prettier than expected.
Brother Roger, Bee Branch, AR
You are currently visiting masonicencyclopedia.com