Freemasonry in these countries began when Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine, husband of the Empress Maria Theresia was made Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft in 1731 in a Lodge of which Doctor Desaguliers was Worshipful Master. On September 17, 1742, a Lodge was instituted at Vienna but it was closed during the following year by order of the Empires. Various Lodges were established by German authority but in 1764 a Royal Decree was issued against Freemasonry, although the Emperor Francis was at the time Worshipful Master of the first Lodge at Vienna.
By 1784, 45 Lodges under six Provincial Grand Lodges had been instituted in Austria. The Provincial Grand Lodges of Vienna, Bohemia, Hungary and Sieberburgen formed a National Grand Lodge of the Austrian States. Count Dietrichstein was elected Grand Master but when the new body was opposed by the National Grand Lodge at Berlin he accepted the rank of Provincial Grand Master. In 1785 the Emperor ordered the new Grand Lodge to be independent and he was obeyed. During the next few years edicts directed against secret societies were issued by the Emperor and all activity of the Craft ceased. Some Lodges were formed or revived but they soon disappeared again.
In 1867 Austria and Hungary were separated into two Kingdoms and the Brethren took advantage of there being no law in Hungary against Freemasonry to open several Lodges. A Convention of Unity Lodge and others at Temesvar, Oedenburg, Baja, Pressburg, Budapst and Arad met on January 30, 1870 and established the National Grand Lodge of Hungary. For the Austrian Freemasons the only thing left to do was to form social clubs which, when they met as Lodges, were convened in the neighboring country of Hungary. The great World War changed these conditions. A Grand Lodge of Vienna was formed on December 8, 1918. The formation in 1919 of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia resulted in the establishment of the National Grand Lodge of Jugoslavia for the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
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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