Name assumed by the members of a secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) of Bavaria.
Lay professor of canon law at the University of Ingolstadt (1773), he soon became influenced by rationalism and felt the need of a society to support his principles.
Modelling the degrees and ceremonials of his order on Freemasonry and basing its organization on the Society of Jesus, he was joined in 1780 by the Mason, Von Knigge, and together they endeavored to convert the whole Masonic body to the "Illuminated Freemasonry."
Its doctrines coincided with the teachings of the "enlightenment" in France and as such exerted an important influence on the intellectual and social development of the 19th century.
On account of its anarchistic tendencies the society was suppressed by the Bavarian government in 1787.
New Catholic Dictionary