Freemasonry was introduced into Austria in 1742 by the establishment at Vienna of the Lodge of the Three Cannons. But it was broken up by the government in the following year, and thirty of its members were imprisoned for having met in contempt of the authorities. Maria Theresa was an enemy of the Institution, and prohibited it in 1764. Lodges, however, continued to meet secretly in Vienna and Prague. In 1780, Joseph II ascended the throne, and under his liberal administration Freemasonry, if not actually encouraged, was at least tolerated, and many new Lodges were established in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Transylvania, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Germany, in Berlin. Delegates from these Lodges met at Vienna in 1784, and organized the Grand Lodge of Austria, electing the Count of Dietrichstein, Grand Master. The attempt of the Grand Lodge at Berlin to make this a Provincial Grand Lodge was successful for only a short time, and in 1785 the Grand Lodge of Austria again proclaimed its independence.
During the reign of Joseph II, Austrian Freemasonry was prosperous. Notwithstanding the efforts of its enemies, the monarch could never be persuaded to prohibit it. But in 1785 he was induced to issue instructions by which the number of the Lodges was reduced, so that not more than three were permitted to exist in each city ; and he ordered that a list of the members and a note of the times of meeting of each Lodge should be annually delivered to the magistrates.
Joseph died in 1790, and Leopold II expressed himself as not unfriendly to the Fraternity, but his successor in 1792, Francis II, yielded to the machinations of the anti-Freemasons, and dissolved the Lodges. In 1801 he issued a decree which forbade the employment of anyone in the public service who was attached to any secret society. Freemasonry has continued in operation in Austria, as it is in most non-Masonic countries. The World War developed the activities of the Grand Lodge of Vienna which received recognition abroad, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky so voting on October 20, 1926.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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