Britain’s the Earl of Shaftsbury argued in 1839-40 that physical return of the Jews to Palestine must occur before the Bible’s ‘Second Coming’ could happen and convinced Palmerston’s Foreign Office to open a Consulate in Jerusalem in 1840-41, the first European power to do so. The Consul was instructed to especially look out for the welfare of the 10,000 Jews then living in Palestine under Ottoman rule. In 1875, Prime Minister Disraeli approached ‘his close friend Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild to solicit his help in purchasing for Britain 44 per cent of the shares in the Suez Canal.’  In Sand’s words, ‘the region surrounding the maritime gateway – Egypt and Palestine – now emerged as strategic objects of utmost importance’. (Sand, p.159) Literary figures – George Eliot, Thackeray, Melville and others – joined influential community leaders – including Moses Montifiore – in mixing equal amounts of religious ideology and a fear of Jewish immigration into England. Geo-politics and a sense of mission justified a British invasion of Egypt and continually-strengthened anti-immigration legislation. Without this twisted logic, it is unlikely that Israel could have been established. The hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the area were not consulted and were not considered deserving of any attention until oil was discovered and changed the geo-political landscape.

Karl Marx’s father shared a hostility towards ‘loan-mongering Jews’ with anti-capitalist radicals in Germany despite many being Jewish themselves. The younger Marx wrote: ‘The great Freemason lodge of the Three Crowns in Berlin …has declared the Cologne Lodge Minerva inactive. The reason? Because it accepted Jews! A warning to the Jews!’ [i] He singled out a Rothschild family member as ‘a jewish usurer who was notoriously one of the accomplices of the Bonapartist coup d’etat [of 1848 in France]’. (Padover, p.215 – February 1853) but the young Marx’s rudimentary understanding of Freemasonry was on a level with his knowledge of Jewishness. Among his writings we find the F-word indiscriminately associated with Jewish financiers: ‘…Steiglitz, being one of the Freemasonry of Jews which has existed in all ages…’ (p.222, written January 1856), and ‘It is this business Freemasonry among Jewish bankers which has brought the barter trade in government securities to its present height.’ (p.220 – November 1855). The Rothschild brothers, in fact, were increasingly competing with one another and aligning themselves with the political strategies of the country in which they lived. Ferguson overstated the shift in focus:

By the middle of the 19th century, the Rothschilds had evolved from traders into fund managers, carefully tending to their own vast portfolio of government bonds… (Having) made their money [from war], they stood to lose more than they gained from conflict. The Rothschilds had decided the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars by putting their financial weight behind Britain. Now they would sit on the sidelines. (Wars) tended to hit the price of existing bonds by increasing the risk that a debtor state would fail to meet its interest payments in the event of defeat and losses of territory.[ii]

A new wave of persecutions resembling ethnic cleansing was soon to begin in Poland and Russia and to present the family with a difficult choice. Simultaneously, ‘London’s Freemasonry’, divided internally, was battling a major Masonic enemy, France, when its mythic history received a major blow. The ‘Introduction’ to German scholar, Findel’s ‘Universal History of the Freemason’s Fraternity’ of 1866, acknowledged previous attempts to ‘(elucidate) single sections of Masonic History’ but considered this the first ‘founded upon precise dates and precise facts’:

(The) literature of Freemasonry is so profuse, yet withal so defective in many respects, that for several divisions of the subject, reliable data are wanting altogether; the historical materials have been hitherto scattered about in so many different places, or mixed up with dubious and contradictory statements, and above all, the origin of the order has been…veiled in the darkness of mystery…  [iii]

Findel, he says: ‘ has brought (the materials) to the test of a sound and sober criticism, and has reduced them to order, so that the reader has for the first time a complete and reliable Universal History of Freemasonry.’ Nevertheless, the ‘Andersonian contradiction’ survived, but in yet another different form: ‘(Freemasonry) is everlasting and unchangeable…’ even though ‘the Fraternity’ is now to be seen to have had its origins in the Operative Stone Masons, an idea first argued by the Jesuit Abbe Grandidier, in 1778. Findel bluntly asserts that non-German scholars hold ‘the most confused, ridiculous, and discordant opinions’. Besides Anderson, his list includes ‘the learned brother’ the Reverend George Oliver, ‘many English brethren and one American brother (and)…a Scotchman Ramsay.’  All the ‘Higher Degrees’ have done is encourage these peoples’ fables:

Up to the commencement of the present century, scarcely any but Germans expressed any very clear ideas concerning the nature of this Society…(Seydel) has shown how the present nature, form, and efficiency of the Fraternity logically follows out of the essential idea of Freemasonry itself…Seydel says that Freemasonry is that disposition of the mind, in which the good or spiritual instinct prevails over its antagonistic principle ie over egotism, and this mastery…in however slight a degree, is the only qualification insisted on, in order to be received into the Masonic Fraternity. (Findel, 1866, p.5)

Where once it was ‘purposely distorted by misrepresentations’ ‘it’ has, ‘through the profound and conscientious research of some few solitary and unprejudiced brethren, acquired of late years, a sure foundation upon scientific principles’.

The hyphen has disappeared but ‘the order’ remains a ‘Fraternity’ as well as ‘an idea’: ‘(the) purest and most perfect exemplification of religious impulse, of goodness, of piety, of holiness…’. (Findel, 1866 p.5) Its ‘History’ only began in 1717, but ‘it’ has somehow already become ‘the most important and powerful instrument of civilisation, which has materially improved social life and contributed to raise the moral tone and culture of the people’. (Preface,, and ‘Contents’ p.ix.) Opponents of the new theory are ‘(blinded) by absurd self-conceit, and an eccentric desire to prove the extreme antiquity of the Institution.’ The mediaeval stone-masons idea allows the ancient wisdoms to be re-introduced since the Roman building colleges provided the model for the guild: ‘These Roman Corporations were, at any rate, a medium, necessary for connecting the Lodges of the Middle ages with the mysteries of the Ancients…’ (Findel, 1866, p.21) It also allows the operatives to be recruited in the on-going fight against Papal tyranny:

Mankind were anticipating in advance the silent efforts of the Stone-Masons. The liberal religious opinions held by them concerning the dogmas and discipline of the church, the tyranny of the Papal See, and the immoral lives of the priests, which they had before only ventured to express in those biting caricatures, the so-called marks, introduced into their buildings, they could now openly and publicly avow… (Findel, 1866, p.119; see also pp.214, 356.)

The entry of ‘gentlemen’ into an otherwise artisanal society ‘explained’ how the 1717-21 ‘Society of Free-Masonry’ came to be composed as it was.  (Findel, 1866, p.119) So much for religious tolerance, and the sober examination of facts. This is propaganda, for one Society, for one culture, and for one religion, while seeming to keep a hand of friendship stretched out for English scholars to get on board the German vessel of ‘Masonic authenticity.’ Self-appointed custodians of the English mythology were stung into action. In the next two decades, UGL sponsored a new periodical, declared the Grand Orient of France ‘irregular’, organised an administrative take-over of many of the Higher Degrees and ‘allowed’ the lodge of Research, Quatuor Coronati to be established. It immediately declared itself pre-eminent and denied German assertions that ‘Freemasonry’ had originated in that country.[iv]

No scholar, partisan or ostensibly neutral has yet studied the connections between these adjustments, events in Paris and the heightened attacks by the Roman Catholic Church on secret societies and the master manipulators, ‘the Jews’. Mass circulation prints had already markedly increased the pace and intensity of the religious struggle. Billington has noted the enthusiasm of papers like The Times, Le Figaro and their Russian and German counterparts for a passionate, chauvinist nationalism, whereby socialist reforms could be stridently opposed and governments chastised for not doing enough to stem the threats perceived to be abroad. An 1864 encyclical by Pope Pius IX, last of the Pope-Kings, set the Catholic rhetorical tone. The Vatican’s authority was being materially weakened by Italy’s passage to unification and its rule was being whittled down to, at best, a few square miles of Rome. In 1849, Pope Pius IX had reneged on a loan deal with the Rothschilds and declined to abolish ghetto legislation on Jews after getting the money.  Suddenly, in Kertzer’s words, ‘the popes were no longer in a position to keep the Jews in the place that they believed was divinely ordained for them.’ But papal attitudes hardened not softened: ‘Along with rejecting modern ideas, the Pope embraced a conspiratorial view of the world. In an outlook that would shape Catholic attitudes for decades to come, he portrayed an embattled Church besieged by the forces of evil.’ [v] The Church’s ‘present misfortunes’ lay squarely with a conspiracy of secret sects: ‘It is from them that the synagogue of Satan…takes its strength.’  (Kertzer, 2001, p.13, p.127; Billington. pp.335-7)

[i] S Padover, Ed, Karl Marx On Religion, McGraw Hill, 1974, p.ix, p.214 – Nov, 1848.

[ii] N Ferguson, The Ascent of Money, Penguin, 2008, slightly re-arranged.

[iii] From the ‘Preface’ by C van Dalen, to J Findel, History of Freemasonry from its Rise down to the Present Day’, 2nd edn, London, 1866.

[iv] See my Rise and Fall of English Freemasonry, at <>.

[v] D Kertzer, The Pope Against the Jews, Knopf, 2001, p.126.