Adam Weishaupt

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Adam Weishaupt

Johann Adam Weishaupt (born February 6, 1748 in Ingolstadt ; † November 18, 1830 in Gotha ) was a German legal scholar . The Freemason , author , university professor and philosopher founded the Illuminati Order . As an opponent of the Jesuits , the Enlightenment became increasingly liberal in his religious and political views . He favored deism and thatRepublicanism .


Parkallee 13 in Gotha, Weishaupt's residence from 1786 until his death

Weishaupt grew up in Ingolstadt. His father Johann Georg Weishaupt was a professor of law. The young Weishaupt attended the Jesuit college in Ingolstadt . At the age of 15 he left this school to devote himself to the study of philosophy , history and political science . Early orphaned, he was of Christian Wolff's student Johann Adam von Ickstatt adopted and educated philosophy in the spirit of enlightened Wolff. He studied history, law , political science and philosophy at the University of Ingolstadt and received his doctorate in philosophy in 1768 . In 1772 he became an associate professor of law and in 1773 a full professor of canon law in Ingolstadt.

Weishaupt designed the program for a School of Humanity around 1775 , which, however, was not carried out. On May 1, 1776, he founded the Bund der Perfektibilisten ( order of bees ), which later became known as the Illuminati. Their mission was to develop morality and virtue and to found an association of good people to counter the advance of evil. The real character of society consisted of an elaborate system of education to promote virtue and morality and to subvert the absolutist state to make it superfluous. Weishaupt used the secret name Spartacus in the order . With the entry of Baron Adolph Knigge in 1780 (religious name: Philo ), the Illuminati Order soon spread across the empire , with Knigge recruiting new members, especially from the ranks of the Freemasons .

Weishaupt himself was not until 1777 Freemasonry in the Lodge "Zur caution" in Munich and carried here the religious name , Sanchoniaton '. However, after the discovery of the Illuminati Order in Bavaria , he changed this name to 'Cocyrus' and he also optionally used the name 'Scipio Aemilianus'. Together with Franz Xaver von Zwack , he began to work towards putting his system of the Illuminati Order on a Masonic foundation. Through the Marchese di Constantin Costanzo, they obtained a patent from the Berlin Grand Lodge Royal York for the Munich Lodge Theodor as a good advice , then declared it independent and transferred it to the Order of Illuminati.

After the society was banned by the Bavarian government in 1784, Weishaupt lost his job at the University of Ingolstadt: He was suspended from work in February 1785 after several times he requested that the university library should read the Dictionnaire historique et critique by Pierre Bayle and the Include works by Richard Simon in your inventory. He first fled to Regensburg , where the Masonic lodge to the three keys had existed since 1767 , which was only dissolved in 1795. At that time the Protestant free imperial city of Regensburg, which had taken in many Protestants who had fled from Bavaria and Austria in the course of the 18th century and in which Catholics had no citizenship, was considered a refuge of freedom of belief, tolerance and science.

Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (member of the Illuminati since 1783 under the religious name 'Quintus Severus' or 'Timoleon') granted him asylum in Gotha , where Weishaupt from 1786 (1787?) On with the title and the Lived pension of a councilor . Here he wrote a series of justifying works on the Order, including Full History of the Persecution of the Illuminati in Bavaria (1785), Description of the Illuminati (1786), Apology of the Illuminati (1786), and The Improved System of the Illuminati with all its institutions and degrees (1787).

In 1808 he was appointed a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . The initiative for his appointment came from Montgelas . Weishaupt was in regular correspondence with him. Weishaupt played an important role for the academy insofar as his radical, enlightening ideas were shared by many academy members.

From 1817, Weishaupt advocated a generous money and credit system based on the example of England , also to finance increased government spending.

Weishaupt died after a long illness on November 18, 1830 at ½ 5 o'clock in the afternoon in Gotha, where he was buried three days later in Cemetery II, which was closed in 1883, next to his son Wilhelm, who died early. After him, his wife Anna Maria and their daughters Nanette and Charlotte also found their final resting place here. Weishaupt's tombstone, which disappeared when the cemetery was cleared in 1969, bore, as photos show, neither dates of birth nor death, only the inscription:


( This is where Weishaupt rests, a man of excellent spirit, courage and learning, ardent champion of civil liberty. He died in exile at the age of eighty. )

His former house still exists in Gotha, which is located directly opposite Friedenstein Castle in Parkallee 13 next to the Ducal Museum . In Ingolstadt today only a plaque on the building in which the assembly hall of the Illuminati was located reminds of the order. The building is located at Theresienstraße 23, in the middle of today's pedestrian zone in the city.


Weishaupt was married to Anna Maria Sausenhofer (d. 1846) from 1773. He had seven children with her:

  • Wilhelm Damianus (1784–1802)
  • Franz Eduard (1786–1864)
  • Carl Romanus (1787-1853)
  • Ernst Ferdinand Gottfried (born 1789)
  • Nanette (1790-1853)
  • Charlotte Mariane (1792-1867)
  • Alfred Joseph Heinrich (d. 1872)

Conspiracy myths

As the founder of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt became an integral part of speculative conspiracy theories that are particularly widespread in right-wing conservative groups in the United States . According to these, Weishaupt is said to have continued in secret after the Illuminati was banned and had contact with French Freemason circles. Today there are few known associations that were not accused of being infiltrated by Illuminati or of being the Illuminati successors themselves. The originator of these theories, which are similar to the hostile statements made by the Catholic Church towards the Illuminati, was the former Jesuit Abbé Barruel at the beginning of the 19th century . These theories contributed significantly to Adam Weishaupt's popularity. In right-wing extremist conspiracy theories since the late 19th century one can also find the statement that Adam Weishaupt was Jewish and wrote the "New Testament of Satan" (aka " Protocols of the Elders of Zion ").

In the Illuminatus trilogy! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea various theories in parodic set intention.


with the respective note of the original statement of responsibility:

  • Oratio panegirica in Laudem Egolphi a Knoeringen Episcopi quondam Augustani (1768).
  • De Lapsu Academiarum Commentatio Politica (1775).
  • [Anonymous,] Complete history of the persecution of the Illuminati in Bavaria. First volume along with additional documents and materials for the following volume (Frankfurt / Leipzig: Grattenauer, 1786). Google Books
  • [Anonymous,] Apology of the Illuminati (Frankfurt / Leipzig: Grattenauer, 1786). Digitalisat Göttingen , Google Books The book is published anonymously, but Weishaupt writes in the first part against Utzschneider with knowledge that only he can bring and in Beylage A against Cosandey as "I" signed with Gothaer title, and localization Regensburg July 19 1786.
  • [Anonymous,] Description of the Illuminati. Counterpart of no.15 of the Gray Monster (1786). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, On materialism and idealism (Nuremberg: Grattenauer, 1786).
  • Adam Weishaupt, ducal Sachsengothaischer Hofrat, on materialism and idealism second completely revised edition (Nuremberg: Grattenauer, 1787). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, ducal. Sachsen Gothaischer Hofrath, On the horror of death (Nuremberg: Grattenauer, 1786). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Sachs. Goth. Councilor, introduction to my apology (Frankfurt / Leipzig Grattenauer, 1787). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Ducal Sachs. Goth. Councilor, Brief Justification of My Intentions (Frankfurt / Leipzig, 1787). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Sachs. Goth. Councilor, addendum to justify my intentions (Frankfurt / Leipzig, 1787). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Sachs. Goth. Hofrath (ed.), The improved system of the Illuminati with all its facilities and degrees (Frankfurt / Leipzig: Grattenauer, 1787). Digitalisat , Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Saxon Gothaischer Hofrath, apology for mispleasure and evil (Frankfurt / Leipzig, 1787). Google Books - BSB
  • Apologie des Misvergnügen and Evil, 2nd enlarged, completely revised edition, 2nd part (Frankfurt / Leipzig, 1790). Google Books
  • Reviewed in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1790). UrMEL
  • Supplements to other original writings, which concern the Illuminati sect in general, but strangely its founder Adam Weishaupt, and discovered the visit made to the Baron Bassusischen Schloss in Sandersdorf , a well-known Illuminati nest, immediately printed on the highest order of the Elector and kept secret Archives have been taken ... (1787).
  • Adam Weishaupt, Duke. Sachs. Goth. Hofrath, history of the perfecting of the human race , 1st part (Frankfurt / Leipzig: Grattenauer, 1788). Google Books
  • On the grounds and certainty of human knowledge (1788). fragmentary Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Herzoglich Sachsen-Gothaischer Hofrath, On the Kantian views and appearances (Nuremberg: Grattenauer, 1788). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, Duke. Sachs. Goth. Hofrath, Doubt about the Kantian concepts of time and space (Nuremberg: Grattenauer, 1788). Digitized by Hathi Trust , Google Books
  • Court de Gebelin, Saturn, Mercury and Hercules, three oriental allegories , translated and introduced by Adam Weishaupt, ducal Saxon Gothaischer Hofrath (Regensburg: Monday, 1789). Google Books
  • The life of Adam together with a poem by Hofrath Weishaupt. The dying Adam (1790). Google Books . Weishaupt is only the presumed author of the poem. The authentic edition was published under the authorship of Gorg Franz Xaver Sutors, who edited a prose text - the translation of the Italian model by Giovanni Francesco Loredano and assigned the poem with Weishaupt's initials to it: Google Books .
  • Adam Weishaupt, Pythagoras, or reflections on the secret art of the world and government . First volume, sections 1 and 2 (Frankfurt / Leipzig, 1790). Google Books , BSB
  • On Truth and Moral Perfection (1793).
  • About the allegorical spirit of antiquity. Based on the French by Adam Weishaupt, Herzoglich Sachsen Gothaischem Hofrathe, 2nd edition (Regensburg: Montag / Weiß, 1794) Google Books .
  • Adam Weishaupt, On the doctrine of the reasons and causes of all things (Regensburg: Montag / Weiß, 1794). Google Books
  • A. Weishaupt, On self-knowledge, its obstacles and advantages (Regensburg: Montag / Weiß, 1794). Google Books
  • The latest work of Spartacus (the first Adam Weishaupt) and Philo (the first Adolph Freiherr von Knigge) in the Illuminati Order […] published [by Ludwig Adolf Christian Grolmann] (1793). Google Books [degree system]
  • The latest works of Spartacus (the first Adam Weishaupt) and Philo (the first Adolph Freiherr von Knigge) in the Illuminati Order […] published [by Ludwig Adolf Christian Grolmann] (1794), 90 pages Google Books
  • The latest works of Spartacus (the first Adam Weishaupt) and Philo (the first Adolph Freiherr von Knigge) in the Illuminati Order […] published [by Ludwig Adolf Christian Grolmann] (1794), 84 pages Google Books
  • [Anonymous,] Illuminatus dirigens, or Scottish knight. A counterpart to the not unimportant text The newest works of Spartacus and Philo in the Illuminati Order (1794). Google Books
  • Philo to the assembled representatives of the Wirtemberg people. In addition to a consolation speech to the martyrs of their Spartagus principles (Wirtemberg, 1797). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, On Truth and Perfection
  • Part 3: About the purposes or final causes (Regensburg: Montag / Weiß, 1797). Google Books
  • AW in G., About the obstacles of the Bavarian industry and population From the Baron von Zach's monthly correspondence for the promotion of geography and celestial science, January piece printed in 1802 (1802). Google Books
  • A. Weishaupt, The lamp of Diogenes (Regensburg: Montag / Weiß, 1804). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt, On State Issues and Editions. A philosophical-statistical experiment (1817). Google Books
  • Adam Weishaupt / Konrad Frohn, On the state issues and editions. A philosophical-statistical attempt. With remarks from Dr. Konrad Frohn (Landshut: Storno, 1819). Google Books
  • About the taxation system (1818).

See also


  • Daniel Jacoby:  Weishaupt, Adam . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 41, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1896, pp. 539-550.
  • Wolfgang Rother : Adam Weishaupt . In: Helmut Holzhey, Vilem Mudroch (Ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century , Vol. 5: Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Switzerland, Northern and Eastern Europe . Schwabe, Basel 2014, pp. 661–667 (literature: pp. 708–709), ISBN 978-3-7965-2631-2 .
  • Peggy Stubley: Johann Adam Joseph Weishaupt (1748-1830) . In: Helmut Reinalter : (Ed.): Handbook of conspiracy theories. Salier Verlag, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-96285-004-3 , pp. 327–333

Web links

Wikisource: Adam Weishaupt  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Adam Weishaupt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See Reinhard Markner: Weishaupt's early draft of a "school of humanity". In: Collective sheet of the Historisches Verein Ingolstadt 120 (2011), pp. 640–653 ( online )
  2. ^ FA Brockhaus: General German real encyclopedia for the educated classes. Fifth volume. IL. (6th edition) Leipzig 1824. ( online ) p. 18.
  3. ^ Fritz Mauthner: Atheism and its history in the west. Volume 3. Heppenheim 2010. ( online ) p. 356.
  4. ^ Wolfgang Menzel: History of the Germans. (2nd edition) Stuttgart and Tübingen 1834. ( online ) p. 640.
  5. Ernst Hagmann, Adam Weishaupt was a Freemason . In: Quatuor-Coronati-Jahrbuch 18 (1981), pp. 93-97
  6. Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurer Lexikon . 5th edition 2006, Herbig Verlag, ISBN 978-3-7766-2478-6 , Lemma Weishaupt, Adam, p. 891; or edition from 1932 ( online ( Memento from May 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive )).
  7. See orders to the University of Ingolstadt for the preservation of the pure Catholic faith. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift from April 1785, pp. 392-396 ( online ).
  8. Werner Chrobak: The Thon Dittmer-Palais . In: City of Regensburg, Kulturreferat (Hrsg.): Kulturführer . tape 25 . City of Regensburg, Regensburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-943222-55-5 , p. 52 .
  9. Doris Becher-Hedenus: "Humboldt, Sternberg and the modern natural sciences" , City of Regensburg (2014), ISBN 978-3-943222-16-6 ; Pp. 25-79ff
  10. ^ Karl Bauer: Regensburg Art, Culture and Everyday History . 6th edition. MZ-Buchverlag in H. Gietl Verlag & Publication Service GmbH, Regenstauf 2014, ISBN 978-3-86646-300-4 , p. 248, 341, 439 .
  11. ^ Hermann Schüttler (ed.), Johann Joachim Christoph Bode: Journal of a trip from Weimar to France. Ars Una, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-89391-351-3
  12. Alexander Ecker: Law and legal history in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences from 1759 to 1827. University of Regensburg, Regensburg 2004 (dissertation), p. 154
  13. Konrad Frohn, Adam Weishaupt: The new financial system. Nuremberg 1820. ( online  ( page no longer available , search in web archives )) p. 156: “[…] probably also know how to raise income; must acquire a brilliant credit system [...] if the system is properly understood and used with caution [...]. England is the first because she understands getting into debt better than anyone else; its best resource is the national debt […] its gold mine. With your approval, it should also become ours. "@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  14. Adam Weishaupt: On the state expenditure and requirements. 1817. pp. 53–54:
    “The reason for the standstill and decline of the states does not lie in the amount of expenditure, but rather in the fact that too little or too unreasonably is spent; that there are people who earn more than they spend, who abuse the liberality of others to the same disadvantage, and who lie in wait for the money they have put into circulation in order to withdraw it from circulation. A state can counteract this greatest of all evils most effectively by not doing the same. So let us admit what is fact. A state that wants to become bigger and more powerful than it is - and which state does not want this? - cannot reduce the number of its consumers without working against itself. Rather, everything is important to him that this should constantly increase. This increase in consumers cannot possibly be brought about by means of restriction. "
  15. ^ Leopold Engel: History of the Illuminati Order , Berlin 1906, p. 396
  16. ^ Matthias Wenzel : Documentation on the history of the cemetery II, Gotha 2014, p. 72
  17. Louis Schmidt: A corridor through our oldest cemetery , Gotha no year, page 21