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Cathedral Builders

Some Masonic students have thought, although the opposition holds that there does not seem to be any specific documentary evidence to warrant such belief, that in the Middle Ages there was a separate class of Freemasons known as Cathedral, or Church, Builders who worked on ecclesiastical structures only and were distinct from the town guilds or companies.

These students are of the opinion that the so-called Old Charges were originally intended as rules for use among this church building class of Freemasons.

Leader Scott (the pen name of the author, Mrs. Baxter of Florence, Italy) has in her book, Cathedral Builders, unearthed from Muratori's collection of ancient manuscripts an edict signed by King Rotharis of November 22, 643, containing the following clauses:

If the Comacine Master with his colleagues shall have contracted to restore or build the house of any person whatsoever, the contact far payment being made, and it chances that some one shall die by the fall of the said house, or any material or stones from it, the owner of the said house shall not be cited by the Magister Comacinus or his brethren to compensate them for homicide or injury ; because having for their own gain contracted for the payment of the building, they must sustain the risks and injuries thereof. If any person has engaged or hired one or more of the Comacine Masters to design a work (conduxerit ad operam dictandam), or to daily assist his workmen in building a palace or a house, and it should happen that by reason of the house some Comacine should be killed, the owner of the house is not considered responsible; but if a pole or a stone shall kill or injure any extraneous person, the Master builder shall not bear the blame, but the person who hired him shall make compensation.

Mrs. Baxter says: "These laws prove that in the seventh century the Magistri Comacini were a compact and powerful guild, capable of asserting their rights, and that the guild was properly organized, having degrees of different ranks; that the higher orders were entitled Magistri, and could 'design' or 'undertake' a work; i.e., act as architects; and that the colleagues worked under, or with them.

In fact, a powerful organization altogether; so powerful and so solid, that it speaks of a very ancient foundation" (see Cathedral Builders, the Story of a Great Masonic Guild, 1899, London, pages 5-7, 423-6; also the Comacines, their Predecessors and their Successors, Brother W. Ravenscroft, 1910, London, pages 54-64, and the astride on Comacine Masters in this work).

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