Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love: Freemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France

Kenneth Loiselle
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt1287f4t
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  • Book Info
    Brotherly Love
    Book Description:

    Friendship, an acquired relationship primarily based on choice rather than birth, lay at the heart of Enlightenment preoccupations with sociability and the formation of the private sphere. InBrotherly Love, Kenneth Loiselle argues that Freemasonry is an ideal arena in which to explore the changing nature of male friendship in Enlightenment France. Freemasonry was the largest and most diverse voluntary organization in the decades before the French Revolution. At least fifty thousand Frenchmen joined lodges, the memberships of which ranged across the social spectrum from skilled artisans to the highest ranks of the nobility. Loiselle argues that men were attracted to Freemasonry because it enabled them to cultivate enduring friendships that were egalitarian and grounded in emotion.

    Drawing on scores of archives, including private letters, rituals, the minutes of lodge meetings, and the speeches of many Freemasons, Loiselle reveals the thought processes of the visionaries who founded this movement, the ways in which its members maintained friendships both within and beyond the lodge, and the seemingly paradoxical place women occupied within this friendship community. Masonic friendship endured into the tumultuous revolutionary era, although the revolutionary leadership suppressed most of the lodges by 1794. Loiselle not only examines the place of friendship in eighteenth-century society and culture but also contributes to the history of emotions and masculinity, and the essential debate over the relationship between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5487-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Late in the evening on 12 July 1786, silk merchant Jean-Baptiste Willermoz made his way through the winding streets of Lyon to visit a dying friend. For nearly a year, retired military officer Gaspard de Savaron had complained about an unspecified illness and, likely sensing that his days were numbered, urged Willermoz to visit often. For months, Savaron’s worsening condition had prevented him from attending their masonic lodge, to which they had devoted considerable energies for decades. When word went out that Savaron was on his deathbed, Willermoz hurried to be at his side. Remaining with his companion until the...

  6. Chapter 1 The Masonic Utopia of Friendship
    (pp. 18-46)

    In France, Freemasonry first attracted widespread attention in the mid-1730s, a little over a decade after its appearance in Paris and elsewhere. Reactions to the brotherhood varied from mild curiosity to outright hostility, and despite the fact that Ludovician France already had its share of academies and intellectual coteries, most observers identified the brotherhood as something different in the French associational landscape. In early 1737, a gazetteer announced to his readers that a new import from across the Channel recently had established itself in Paris: “A new order has been recently established in Paris that one callsFritzmassons, [sic] which...

  7. Chapter 2 Friendship in Ritual
    (pp. 47-80)

    In this chapter I reconstruct in detail Enlightenment Freemasonry’s initiation, known as the “apprentice ritual” (rite d’apprenti). As we saw in chapter 1, Freemasonry’s anxiety overamour-propreand the passions frustrated the organization’s optimistic praise of male friendship as a collective bond of solidarity. In the following pages we examine how brethren overcame these psychological defects they saw in human nature and answered a question an orator asked his lodge in the late 1780s: “By what mysterious charms,” he wondered, were Masons “able to draw close together, to renounce amongst them all those pretentious and mundane frivolities, and all those...

  8. Chapter 3 Confronting the Specter of Sodomy
    (pp. 81-109)

    At some point in the late 1730s or early 1740s, men in French lodges began organizing what were known as lodges of adoption.¹ Unlike all-male meetings, these assemblies included both men and women. These mixed-gender assemblies typically met less frequently than regular Freemasonry and were often held in spaces distinct from all-male lodges. In addition, the Grand Orient not only required adoption meetings to be attached to a male lodge but also stipulated that men must be in attendance during adoption in order to supervise rituals. These restrictions aside, adoption Masonry afforded women the opportunity to participate fully in the...

  9. Chapter 4 “New but True Friends”: The Friendship Network of Philippe-Valentin Bertin du Rocheret
    (pp. 110-155)

    In September 1737, Freemasonry suffered a major setback when police authorities in Paris raided a banquet on the rue de la Rapée in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Reinforcing the Old Regime ban on private assemblies held without the specific authorization of the monarchy, thelieutenant-général de policeimposed a hefty one thousandlivrefine on a wine merchant who had rented space to the Masons, and closed down his shop for six months. The brotherhood had experienced similar incidents before, but this time chief minister cardinal de Fleury issued a formal judgment against them, which forbade “any person, regardless of their...

  10. Chapter 5 Friendship in the Age of Sensibility
    (pp. 156-200)

    By the time Philippe-Valentin Bertin du Rocheret passed away in 1762, Freemasonry had entered into a new phase of its history. From midcentury until the Revolution, the movement steadily proliferated, attracting an ever-widening swath of French society into its ranks. Whereas participation in masonic life during the time of Andrew-Michael Ramsay and Bertin du Rocheret had been largely, though not exclusively, an experience restricted to large cities and the upper echelons of society, the second half of the century saw a much more geo graphically and socioeconomically diversecorps maçonnique: low-level functionaries, local priests, merchants, and master artisans of all...

  11. Chapter 6 Friendship under Fire: Freemasonry in the French Revolution
    (pp. 201-243)

    From its earliest history in France it was said there was something insidious about Freemasonry. In masonic lodges, it was believed, anglophile freethinkers of a deist or even atheist spirit clandestinely gathered and, in spite of tight police surveillance, hatched their dark plot against church and throne. The order’s triumph lay in its deceptiveness. To the king and public at large, it portrayed itself as a benign organization of sociability with a penchant toward the occult. Within the walls of the lodge, however, brethren hammered away mercilessly against the French monarchy and openly preached and practiced democratic republicanism: laws were...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 244-256)

    By focusing on the institution of Freemasonry, we have sought to contribute to the social history of male friendship in Enlightenment France. Scholars have long recognized the prominence friendship held in the social and moral thought of the period, but rarely have they considered how men who were not writers thought about and experienced this relationship. I have argued here that two forms of friendship converged within masonic sociability. The first was what anthropologists have called “ritualized friendship.” Contracted through the initiation ritual, this sworn bond of solidarity resonated with more formal forms of friendship that historians have found in...

  13. Index
    (pp. 257-262)