On 6 June 1936, Snr.Jose Maria Gil Robles, Leader of the Spanish Catholic
Party, the CEDA, rose to address the Spanish Cortez or parliament. He
laid bare the parlous state of Spain when he noted that during the four months
the left wing Popular Front government had been in power 160 churches had been
burned to the ground and there had been 269 mainly political murders and 1287
assaults. No less than 69 political
centres had been wrecked and 10 newspaper offices had been sacked.
There had been 113 general strikes and 228 partial strikes.
‘Let us not deceive ourselves!’ said Gil Robles, ‘A country can
live under a Monarchy or a Republic, with a parliamentary or a presidential
system, under Communism or Fascism! But
it cannot live in anarchy. Now,
alas, Spain is in anarchy. And we
are today present at the funeral service of democracy!’
This stinging criticism of the government was taken up by the Monarchist
leader, Snr.Jose Calvo Sotelo, who claimed that the disorder in Spain was due to
the flawed Constitution of 1931. ‘Against
this sterile State,’ he proclaimed, ‘I am proposing the integrated State,
which will bring economic justice, and which will say with due authority: “no
more strikes, no more lock-outs, no more usury, no more capitalist abuses, no
more starvation wages, no more political salaries gained by happy accident, no
more anarchic liberty, no more criminal conspiracies against full production,”
The national production will be for the benefit of all classes, all
parties, all interests. This State many may call Fascist; if this indeed be the
Fascist State, then I, who believe in it, proudly declare myself a Fascist!”
Reports of this debate reached every corner of Spain but Calvo Sotelo’s
words were widely misconstrued, as was his call to the Spanish armed forced to
be prepared to rise to the defense of Spain against anarchy.
On Monday, 13 July, Jose Calvo Sotelo was murdered by members of the
Assault Guard, Spain’s urban paramilitary police.
The assassins had links with the Young Socialists and the principal
assassin, Victoriano Cuenca, was known to be a bodyguard of the Socialist leader
Indelicio Prieto. The right wing
and its supporters, which had only narrowly lost the election and might have
formed a government had the centre parties lent their support, were outraged and
Spain held its breath.
The response was not long in coming.
On the very day of Calvo Sotelo’s assassination, General Emilio Mola
Vidal, the principal planner of the military rising that had been planned to
take place in the event of a breakdown of public order, sent a directive by
coded telegram to numerous members of the Spanish Army officer corps that the
rising was to commence in Morocco at 1700 hours on 17 July and on the Spanish
mainland the following day. But the
date and time was betrayed to the commander of the Spanish forces in Melilla in
Morocco and the leader of the rebel officers there, Colonel Jose Segui Almuzara,
was forced to move fast. Carrying a
loaded pistol, Colonel Segui strode into the office of his commanding officer,
General Romerales Quintana (Freemason), and with his pistol aimed at point blank
range at the general’s head, obtained his resignation.
Segui than ordered the troops out on the streets.
The Spanish Civil War had started.
It did not take long for Segui’s men to take control.
All public buildings and left-wing centres were occupied and all
republican and left-wing leaders were arrested and shot.
Lists were obtained of members of the left-wing parties, trade unions and
Masonic lodges and all persons on the lists were arrested and executed without
delay. This pattern was to be
repeated in every city, town and village seized by the rebel military throughout
the war. In the meantime Colonel
Segui had contacted Lt.Colonel Juan Yague Blanco and Colonel Eduardo Saenz de
Buruaga y Polanco, commanding officers at Ceuta and Tetuan respectively. Lt.Colonel Yague, who was also the commanding officer of the
elite Spanish Foreign Legion, dispatched telegrams to the mainland giving the
password Sin novedad., the sign for
the uprising. The
commander-in-chief in Africa, General Agustin Gomez Morato (Freemason), was
placed under arrest. Colonel Segui
also telegraphed General Francisco Franco, then commanding in the Canary
At 0610 hours on 18 July, General Franco sent his reply ‘Glory to the
heroic Army of Africa. Spain above
everything. Accept the enthusiastic
greetings of those garrisons which join you and all other comrades in the
Peninsular in these historic moments. Blind
faith in victory. Long live Spain
with honour’. This communiqué
was sent to every army and navy base. Throughout
mainland Spain army garrisons rose in rebellion but the element of surprise had
been lost and the uprising was only a partial success.
In the north of Spain, in General Mola’s sector of command, the rising
was successful but even there the Basque Country held out.
The only other immediate gains were pockets in Andalucia, in particular
Seville, where General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano (Freemason) took control by dint
of astonishing audacity, Cadiz, Toledo, Jerez and La Linia where Carlist troops
shot 200 Freemasons.
At 4 in the morning of 19 July the Prime Minister, Snr. Santiago Casares
Quiroga, a Freemason, resigned and President Manuel Azana, also a Freemason,
invited Snr.Diego Martinez Barrio, a former Grand Master of the Grand Orient of
Spain, to form a government. Martinez
Barrio urgently contacted Freemasons representing all parties but was unable to
come up with a solution. Politically
a Liberal, Martinez Barrio was inclined to moderation and sought ways to achieve
reconciliation with the political right. To
this end he telephoned General Mola, a former Freemason, with an overture of
peace. General Mola, in his usual
lofty manner, rejected Martinez Barrio’s peace initiative emphatically.
‘It is not possible, Senor Martinez Barrio,’ said Mola.
‘You have your people and I have mine. If
you and I should reach agreement, both of us will have betrayed our ideals and
our followers.’ Martinez
Barrio’s government collapsed within the day and President Azana then invited
Snr.Jose Giral y Periera, another Freemason, to form a government.
Giral immediately proceeded to distribute arms to the workers militias
and, with that, the effective control of the war effort passed from the hands of
On the 19 July also, General Franco arrived in Morocco to take command of
the Army of Africa. He was faced
with the immediate problem of how to transport his army to the mainland, for the
naval flotilla which been sent for that purpose had been taken over by its crews
and the officers killed. Indeed, in
one day, the Spanish navy lost 75% of its officers, killed by the crews who
remained loyal to the Republic. For
the moment, the Republic commanded the sea between Morocco and the mainland.
Nothing daunted, Franco requested and obtained nine Italian bombers.
He then embarked as many soldiers as possible in a motley fleet of tramp
ships and trawlers which, escorted by two decrepit old gun boats and under the
air cover of the Italian bombers and every airplane that could be found, headed
for the mainland. The German
battleships Deutschland and Scheer,
both on a courtesy visit to Morocco, screened the armada.
The Italian bombers flew straight for the battleship Jaime Primero and its escorts and forced them to turn tail.
Franco’s armada reached the mainland without the lost of a single man.
German bomber/transports arrived within days to transport the bulk of
Franco’s army in what was the first major airlift of troops in history.
Although the Army of Africa’s initial numerical strength on the
mainland was quite small, its ruthless efficiency and the superior quality of
its troops was to have immediate effect. Having
relieved General Queipo del Llano’s beleaguered forces at Seville, the Army of
Africa moved off in three columns, each comprising a bandera
of Legionaires and a tabor of Moroccan
Each column had its own artillery and air support and was fully
motorized, the troops riding in commandeered trucks.
The objective was to conquer western Spain and link up with the Army of
the North. Under the command of
Lt.Col. Yague, this crack force advanced with lightning speed through western
Spain and, having sealed off the border with Portugal and having linked up with
forces from the north, turned east and drove towards Madrid.
The Republican forces, though greatly superior in number, were repeatedly
outflanked and forced to retreat. But
General Franco ordered the Nationalist forces to divert to relieve the garrison
of Toledo and this gave the Republic some breathing space.
When the Nationalist forces reached Madrid, this time commanded by
General Jose Varela Iglesias, the Republicans had received reinforcements of
anarchist and communist militias, from international brigades comprising
communists and socialists from all over the world and from the Soviet Union,
which sent tanks, planes and military advisors.
Under the command of General Jose Miaja Menant (Freemason), the
Republican forces were able stalemate the Nationalist attack on Madrid and
General Franco shifted his offensive to northern Spain.
There were then two Spains. Northern
and western Spain was firmly held by the forces of General Franco who by then
had been proclaimed ‘Generalisimo’ or commander-in-chief of the Nationalist
forces and Head of the Spanish State. Central
and eastern Spain remained nominally in the hands of the Republican government
but in reality control was in the hands of fractious left-wing political groups
and the autonomous governments of Catalonia and the Basque Country.
A state of terror reigned in these sharply contrasting zones of control.
In the Republican zone, anarchist, communist, Marxist and socialist
militias were a law unto themselves and took revenge on those whom they saw to
be the enemy. The Catholic Church was a conspicuous target with the murder
of 13 bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 members of religious orders and 283 nuns,
some burned to death in their churches with reports of crucifixions, rapes,
castrations and disembowelment. Scores
of church buildings were burned to the ground or wrecked.
In addition, thousands of middle-class people and those suspected of
being supporters of the Nationalists were killed and in many cases their
property confiscated. Some 2000
prisoners were shot by the Republicans when General Franco’s forces were at
the gates of Madrid and in all some 38,000 people were killed by the Republicans
in their zone during the war.
In the Nationalist zone the army imposed strict martial law and carried
out a program of organized terror designed to cow the population into docility
and to eliminate all communists, anarchists, socialists and Freemasons.
In every village, town and city in the Nationalist zone lists were made
of all such persons and also of peasants who had illegally occupied land, of
those who stood accused of crimes and of people who were suspected of being
supporters of the Republic or who withheld support from the Nationalist cause.
Prime targets were government officials, union leaders, intellectuals,
teachers, doctors and office workers who had worked for them.
Forty members of the Spanish Cortez were captured and shot. No less than
2000 people in Grenada and another 2000 in Rioja were executed and in Teruel
over 1000 were shot and their bodies dumped in wells.
Eight thousand persons were killed in Seville, another 2000 in Huelva and
the horrendous total of 10,000 on Cordoba, a tenth of the population of that
city. In Badajoz 1200 people were
massacred in the bullring by the soldiers of General Yague and as many as 12000
were killed in the surrounding province. These
examples of atrocities occurred at the very start of the Civil War.
As General Mola said ‘You are either for us or against us’.
In most cases, those captured were shot, either by the roadside or
against the cemetery wall.
Many atrocities were committed against Freemasons in the Nationalist
zone. We have already mentioned the
execution of 200 Freemasons at La Linea on the first day of the Civil War.
In Huesca 100 people accused of being Freemasons were shot in spite of
the fact the local Lodge had less than a dozen members.
In Spanish Morocco all Freemasons who were found were shot, likewise in
Cordoba and in Cadiz Freemasons were tortured and killed.
In Granada all those whose names were on Masonic records were forced to
dig their own graves and then shot whilst standing in them.
In Malaga 80 Freemasons were garroted to death.
The same pattern was repeated throughout the Nationalist held areas,
imprisonment being the least a Freemason could expect if captured.
Franco’s troops destroyed Masonic lodge rooms and confiscated Masonic
property, even the private property of Freemasons.
Again, most of the excesses were committed early in the Civil War and
General Franco, once he was in full control did at least, in 1938, stop most of
the bloodshed by making imprisonment rather than death the punishment for
membership of the Craft in most cases.
The Spanish Civil War was fought with conspicuous, almost reckless
bravery on both sides but with a ferocity, a brutality and a ruthlessness which
shocked the world and we must ask ourselves how and why Spain came to such a
parlous state and why the Nationalist faction identified the Spanish Freemasons
as being every bit as much the enemy as the communists and anarchists and
therefore to be eliminated. Why,
indeed, the Nationalists believed in the existence of the contubernio, the Judeo-Masonic Communist conspiracy theory.
Contubernio is a Spanish word meaning secret alliance or liaison. A word used to describe the supposed Judeo-Masonic-Communist anti-clerical conspiracy or plot against the Catholic Church and the Spanish monarchy.
The Spanish Civil War is usually described as a struggle between
democracy and fascism and as a prelude to the Second World War but, whilst it
was certainly perceived as such at the time by the Republican faction and their
supporters, such an interpretation is not only misleading but also inaccurate.
The war was, as we have seen, provoked by officers of the Spanish
military and, led by General Franco, the military remained in control of what
became known as the ‘National Movement’ throughout the Civil War and indeed
until Franco’s death in 1975. General
Franco was a military dictator and the National Movement was, at least in
theory, the expression of the ideology he represented.
Indeed, the National Movement was the artificial creation of Franco
himself, a political movement created during the Civil War out of the broadly
right-wing factions that supported the military uprising.
These factions stemmed from different traditions and their ideologies
varied markedly, but Franco amalgamated them into one body by decree and placed
himself at the head of the Movement. The
factions within the National Movement were described as “families” and
Franco played one off against the others as he deemed from time to time
necessary. They were united by a
belief in ‘Hispanidad” or the “Spanish way” entailing strong,
centralized government, Catholicism and patriotic political and cultural
attitude and deemed communism, anarchism, socialism, liberalism and freemasonry
as foreign manifestations of anti-Spanish attitudes.
Out the outset of the Civil War the majority of right-wing minded
Spaniards were supporters of CEDA, the Spanish Catholic Party, or else
monarchists. The monarchists were
divided into two factions, either they were those who supported the return of
the exiled King Alphonso or else they were Carlists, those who supported an
alternative Borbon dynasty. Supporters
of the Catholic Party were not necessarily opposed to the idea of a republic.
Then there was the small quasi-fascist party, the Falange Espanol,
founded in 1934 by Jose Maria Primo de Rivera which modeled itself on the
Italian fascists but with a Spanish flavour.
Even within the Falange there were left and right wing factions.
At the time of the outbreak of the Civil War, the Falange had no deputies
in the Cortez and their leader, Primo de Rivera, was in prison, later to be
executed by the Republicans. Franco,
however, saw to it that the Falangists gained prominence so long as he needed
the help of the Germans and Italians but, as soon as he saw that Germany and
Italy were going to lose the war, he reconstituted the Cortez and progressively
reduced Falangist influence and power.
The rebel military officers were representative of the right wing
factions. Of the senior officers,
only Lt.Col.Yague and Col.Augustin Munoz Grandez were supporters of the Falange.
Colonel Varela and Col.Jose Solchaga Zala were Carlists, General Queipo
de Llano and General Miguel Cabanellas Ferrer (Freemason) were republicans, most
of the rest were either Alphonsine monarchists or simply conservative Catholics.
All felt that the Popular Front government could not maintain peace and
good order. As for General Franco,
it is true that he adopted the external trappings of fascism so long as he
needed German and Italian assistance, but he kept Spain out of the Second World
War and clearly changed tack as soon as he could see that Germany and Italy were
going to lose the war. It was said
of Franco that “not even his collar knows what he it thinking”.
Apart from the radical leftist wing of the Falange and the Carlists who
drew much of their support from the small freehold peasantry, the Nationalist
leadership and their supporters were from the small but influential Spanish
middle-class and the cement which bound them together was their adherence to the
Catholic Church. These were people who had greeted with fear and trepidation
the words of the firebrand socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero when he
pronounced – “When the Popular Front breaks up, as break up it will, the
triumph of the proletariat will be certain.
We shall implant the dictatorship of the proletariat.
That does not mean the repression of the workers, but of the capitalist
and bourgeois classes!” These
were people who feared the growth of the anarchist movement and who could not
see what possible benefit anarchist ideology could be to Spain.
These were people who feared the growth of the communist and Marxist
movements would mean a class war against the Spanish middle-class and the
destruction of a whole way of life and good Catholic values.
These were people who were alarmed and frustrated by the incessant
strikes, political murders and violent clashes between political factions and
the general breakdown of law and order which the Liberal led government seemed
powerless to prevent. These were
people who were angry and disgusted by the burning of churches and intimidation
of clergy by leftist thugs and the systematic undermining of the power and
influence of the Church by the government, indeed, the Catholic Church was the
very embodiment of the attitudes of the Nationalist faction.
It is with some justification that it has been often stated that the
Nationalists fought for traditional Catholic Spain. These were people, moreover, who believed that by virtue of
better education they had a superior sense of the history, culture and destiny
of Spain and that all these political movements they feared and despised were
imported, foreign ideologies and essentially anti-Spanish, bent on tearing the
country apart. These were people
who had no difficulty in believing that the communists took their orders from
Moscow or that the Freemasons took their orders from Paris or Geneva, or that
the whole leftist movement was part of a Judeo-Masonic plot.
What’s more, they were people who were frustrated by the inertia of the
democratic system and had seen how Italy under Mussolini had survived the great
economic depression in its stride and how the Italian fascists had taken a weak
and chaotic country and turned it into an efficient, modern, stable and law
abiding state which was growing in prosperity and had a strong voice in world
affairs. There was a strong feeling
that what Italy could do, Spain could do better.
But the broad range of left-wing political movements which made up the
Popular Front were also largely led by middle-class people.
These were people who harboured a strong passion for social justice and
change and who, for the most part, desired a complete break from the past and
especially from the haphazard, fruitless and enervating cycle of revolution and
repression which had marked Spanish politics for nearly two centuries. They believed in a wide range of ideologies, from left
leaning Liberalism, democratic socialism, radical socialism, communism,
anarchism, syndicalism and regional autonomy and all of these ideologies claimed
to have to policies to solve to the huge socio-economic gap which existed
between the rich and the poor in Spain. Moreover,
these people regarded the Church as being the church of the rich, the opiate of
the poor and a major obstacle to social change. These people believed in a brave new world in which the
workers and peasants would rule and in which capitalist greed and bourgeois
selfishness would be abolished to make way for a Utopia for the proletariat.
For these middle-class intellectuals, the Nationalist General Millan
Astray invented the slogan “Death to intelligence”.
The Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote ‘Little Spaniard who is coming
into this world, may God protect you. One
of the two Spains will freeze your heart.”
Two Spains, the Spain of the rich and the Spain of the poor, the Spain of
the owners of property and the Spain of those who own little or nothing.
As Machado also said, ‘There is the Spain that dies and the Spain that
yawns”. In 1936, these two Spains
came head to head, the moderates were brushed aside and the country was given
over to that extremism which has often been cited as a feature of the Spanish
character. But, in truth, the
concept of the two Spains is in itself an oversimplification.
The very geography of Spain has had a divisive effect on the development
of Spanish society. Separated from
the rest of Europe by the massive mountain barrier of the Pyrenees, Spain itself
is dominated by a vast, arid central plateau and is intersected by rugged,
inhospitable mountain ranges which form formidable barriers between widely
separated terrain suitable for productive human habitation.
Consequently, although Spain is the third largest country in Europe in
geographical area, its population density is comparatively low.
It is therefore a country of widely separated communities and it is a
feature of Spanish society that Spaniards tend to identify themselves, their
loyalties and interests with village or town first, district or province second
and then perhaps with Spain.
The first known inhabitants of Spain were the Basques, a race which spoke
a non-Indo-European language, but who otherwise appear to be of prehistoric
European stock and who still inhabit extensive districts of northern Spain and
south-western France. The Basques
were joined in prehistoric times by the major migration of a race described as
the Iberians who appear to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean and may
be related to some of the peoples of North Africa.
During the first millennium BC the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks
developed trading settlements on the coast of Spain and established zones of
influence but the next major migration into Spain was that of the Celts from
central Europe arriving in two great waves in the 9th and 7th
centuries BC. In central Spain the
Celts and Iberians mixed freely to form a new race, the Celtiberians.
Inevitably the Romans cast eyes on Spain and, starting in 218BC, fought a
series of hard and bitter campaigns which eventually brought the whole of Spain
under Roman control.
The breakdown of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD saw
the arrival in Spain of migratory Germanic peoples, notably the Vandals and
Suebi , the latter of which had no sooner taken control of most of Spain when
the Visigoths arrived in great strength and it was Visigothic Spain which was
overwhelmed by the Muslim hordes. Starting
in 711AD, like a tidal wave the Muslim armies took only eight years to overrun
Spain and advance into France but almost as soon as the great defeat of the
Muslims at Poitiers in AD732, the small Christian Visigothic and Basque enclaves
in northern Spain began to force the Muslims back.
This process was known as the Reconquista,
the Christian re-conquest of Spain. From
small beginnings the Christians gradually but inexorably regained more and more
territory from the Muslims. At
every stage of the conquest, new counties were created and in time these
counties coalesced into a number of small kingdoms. These kingdoms in turn
coalesced until eventually, under the monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella
of Castille, the last Muslim bastion of Grenada fell and Spain was unified under
a single monarchy.
Apart from the political unification and Christianizing of Spain
resulting from the Reconquista, another lasting effect of this protracted process was
the forging of a very close community of interest between the monarchy, the
nobility and the Church. As each
province or district was prized away from the Muslim rulers, so the Spanish
monarchs, nobles and clergy divided up the spoils, all in accordance with the
feudal system of governance. This
alliance of interest, amounting in the course of time to a power bloc of
conservative reaction against the development of liberal ideology, was to last
into the modern era and found its ultimate expression in the authoritarian
Franco regime. That is why an
understanding of the implications of triumphant feudalism in Spain is so
important to an understanding of the social polarities which developed over a
long period of gestation into the Spanish Civil War in which Freemasonry found
itself lumped with one side and not the other.
Feudalism is in essence a system of governance of a territory and its
resources by a hierarchical warrior class or nobility, whereby lords and vassals
are bound to each other by mutual and formal obligations based on revenue
producing land ownerships known as fiefs. This
warrior class assumed the right to impose this system by virtue of their own
armed might as a reward, as it were, for their protection of a territory and its
people, which we may call a commonwealth, against external and internal threats
to its peace and security and for their services in providing the force of law
and order. The system is therefore
essentially autocratic, a system which is imposed by persons possessing armed
might upon those who do not possess such power.
In classic feudalism the ultimate ownership of and right to rule all
territory and its resources was vested in a prince, this right deriving from
inheritance or conquest. The prince
in turn would grant fiefs of revenue producing land estates to his closest
supporters in return for their allegiance comprising military support when
called upon. Beneath these barons
or tenants-in-chief of the prince were the knights who received fiefs on a
smaller scale, either direct from the prince or from a baron.
At the bottom of the feudal pyramid were the small free farmers and the
villagers or villains, both of which were secured in rights of occupation by
providing payment or services or kind to their feudal superior or lord.
At the very rock bottom of the pile were those who had no rights at all
in landed property, the labourers or serfs who worked for subsistence only.
Feudalism was successful enough when applied to rural land but not to the
larger towns and the cities. There
is a German phrase to the effect that town air makes for freedom, freedom from
the bonds of feudalism, and it alludes to the marked degree of self-government
most towns and cities were able to achieve.
The wealth of the nobility was derived from the agricultural production,
forestry, quarrying and mining associated with land but the towns and cities
contributed nothing significant to that source of wealth.
The population of towns consisted principally of merchants, small traders
and master craftsmen and their employees and families, in fact of a multitude of
trades and what we call today service industries. Many towns contained sizeable populations of Jews and others
who had a tendency to have contacts outside Spain, notably in Europe and Africa.
Such persons were not only involved in the exchange of trade but also in
the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Towns
also tended to be a haven for any class of person, such as gypsies, beggars and
vagrants who had managed to escape from feudal bondage or who did not easily fit
into the feudal system or who were useless to it.
In theory these people had no rights to their own destiny and could be
sent back to their native village or deported entirely but they seldom were.
The government of towns and cities was invariably in the hands of rich
merchants and wealthy master craftsmen, legal professionals and the like,
usually in some sort of conjunction with a noble family of the district and/or
the local bishop in a power sharing arrangement which was peculiar to that town
and which was frequently confirmed by a fuero
or chartered constitution granted by a prince.
These fueros were fiercely
protected and adhered to by the recipient communities, the more so because fueros
usually confirmed the rights embodied in their ancient laws and the right to
make new laws pertaining to their own interests.
Thus the governing class in the towns and cities of Spain, as elsewhere
in Europe, were increasingly the emergent middle-class or bourgeoisie,
people who were successful in life due to their education, skills, business
acumen and management ability and it was this class that increasingly sought for
themselves more control over the affairs of city, province and nation. Moreover, it was the middle class that participated more than
any other social group in the advances in science, culture and mercantilism
permeating from the Renaissance. It
was from the Spanish middle class that Freemasonry in Spain emerged.
The third great beneficiary of the Reconquista
was the Church. The Reconquista was,
after all, a crusade or Holy War fought against the infidel. Knights from all
countries joined in it and many of the knights formed themselves into military
religious orders, such as the Order of Calatrava.
The Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitallers, international crusading
orders, were also to feature in the Reconquista.
And, as the Reconquista progressed, the Church moved in to the conquered lands
to reap the harvest of souls, just as the lords and peasants moved in to reap
the harvests from the soil. The
Church, however, was rewarded with conquered property as well as with spiritual
gains so that it became one of the greatest landowners in Spain and a fully
fledged component of the feudal system. Thus,
like the knights and nobles, the Church had a close community of interest with
the monarchy and became the second vital component in the centralized Church and
State concept of Hispanidad.
That, in 1936, the Nationalists under Franco fought, in their
minds, a ‘Holy War’ to restore traditional Catholic Spain and Hispanidad,
is testimony to the enduring quality of the concept.
The reign of the joint monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of
Castille, which lasted from Isabella’s accession in 1474 until Ferdinand’s
death in 1516, not only saw the completion of the Reconquista with the conquest
of Granada in 1492, but also the consolidation of a politically united Spanish
state. However, the two monarchs were not so unwise as to image that
their inheritance was anything more than a group of culturally dissimilar
regions fiercely protective of their own interests, customs and languages and
which, in the case of Catalonia in particular, were markedly reluctant
components in a Spain dominated by Castille.
In a process known as The Pacification of Castile a Holy Brotherhood was
set up men used as a judicial police force and to replace the courts, the
monarchs created a Royal Council and appointed chief magistrates to govern the
towns and cities. As the loyalty of
these newly created officials to the monarchy was crucial, only those who could
show ‘purity of blood’ were appointed.
Jews and Muslims were barred from holding public office.
Not content with political unity alone, the so-called ‘Catholic
Monarchs’ instituted the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 in an attempt to flush
out ‘crypto-Judaism’ amongst the conversos
or Jews who had supposedly adopted Christianity in order to avoid persecution. The Spanish Inquisition was a tribunal under direct control
of the monarchy. Again, not
satisfied with having ordered the segregation of religious communities the
monarchs, by the Alhambra Decree of 1492, gave the Jews in Spain four months to
convert completely to Christianity or leave the country. The same policy was later adopted towards the Muslims and
Gypsies, but the Gypsies simply refused to go!
The year 1492 also saw the expedition of Christopher Columbus to the
Americas and the start of a great empire for Spain.
Under Ferdinand’s successor Charles, a Habsburg prince, Spain was to
conquer huge territories in the New World and under Charles also, Spain entered
the mainstream of European politics. The
gold and silver from the Americas and the Spanish fighting men were to be the
lynchpins of Habsburg dynastic ambitions in Europe, both under Charles and his
successor Phillip II. Moreover,
with the onset of the religious reformation, Spain bolted the door shut to
Protestantism at the Pyrenees and its armies became a bulwark
of defense of the Catholic Church. But,
such was the drain on wealth and manpower caused by its foreign entanglements
that by the end of the reign of Phillip II, Spain was all but bankrupt and went
into a long and painful period of decline, increasingly insular and out of touch
with developments in the rest of Europe.
One cannot leave the subject of this great period of, from the mid 15th.century
to the first two decades of the 17th.century, without mentioning the
decline in chivalry, that being the code conduct befitting and indeed expected
of a person of knightly or noble rank. Chivalry, with its emphasis on the duty
of a knight to his superior lord and to his lady and his companions, was part
and parcel of the feudal system but it must be stressed that chivalry was only
expected of knights and nobles, in whom it was inculcated, not of other classes.
In a sense, chivalry embodied a code of behavior, acceptable the Christian
principles of the Church, applied to a class of person involved by virtue of
their vocation and duty in violent activities and other activities the Church
might deem sinful. But,
increasingly, by the end of the Middle Ages and with the rise of the powerful
monarchical nation states of Spain, Portugal, France and England, knighthood and
other titles were increasingly bestowed as a reward for service or achievement,
rather than as a status which entailed a bonded military duty in exchange for
privileges such as fiefs of land. The
recipients of knighthood were increasingly from the bourgeoisie, people who did
not have fighting in their blood and were not inculcated with the chivalric
code, neither was it expected of them. As
a consequence, warfare became more total and ruthless, with economic warfare and
unbridled terror tactics bringing misery and death to untold thousands of
innocent civilians. With the
considerable success of the Protestant reformation in western Europe, with its
emphasis on salvation by faith alone rather than by good works, the moral
monopoly of the Church of Rome was broken and with it the code of chivalry which
it had helped to nurture. Although,
by virtue of their isolation and resistance to the Reformation, Spain and
Portugal managed to preserve the chivalric code to a greater extent than the
rest of Europe, their rough handling at the hands of such unscrupulous and
unchivalrous Englishmen as Sir Francis Drake caused the much grief.
By the turn of the 18th.Century, the dust of ages had gathered
on the tapestry of eternal, changeless Spain, still languishing in its long
sunset of decline, still governed by its remote, absolutist monarchy through its
army of bureaucrats, still answering to the toll of the fundamentalist tone of
the Catholic church bell and to the chant of the Mass. Then came something new, but like most things new to Spain it
was taken up with fervour by some but stamped on like some intrusive cockroach
by others. That something new, was
On 15 February 1728, a Lodge named ‘The Lodge of the Lilies’ was
formed in the apartments of the Duke of Wharton in the French Hotel on the Via
San Bernardo in Madrid with Charles de Labelye as Master.
The Grand Lodge of England was petitioned for a Warrant on 17 April 1728
and this was granted on 29 March 1729, the Lodge being placed on the Roll as
No.50. Phillip, Duke of Wharton, is
one whom Freemasonry looks back to with some embarrassment for his personality
was the least Masonic imaginable. Wild,
tactless, extravagant, and a habitual attention seeker, the Duke of Wharton was
nevertheless a powerful orator and a formidable political opponent of the
government of Horace Walpole. At a
highly irregular and chaotic meeting in 1722, he manipulated several London
Freemasons into declaring him Grand Master.
Thanks to the kindness of the then regular Grand Master, the Duke of
Montagu, Wharton’s election was made regular and he held office until 1723.
Soon after becoming bankrupt and to escape an indictment for treason,
Wharton escaped to the Continent and was appointed Jacobite ambassador to
Austria by the Old Pretender. Having incurred the almost immediate dislike of the
Austrians, Wharton arrived in Spain in 1727 and in 1728 became a Roman Catholic.
He died in a monastery, penniless in 1731, aged only 33.
In the same year, 1728, the Lodge of St.John of Jerusalem was constituted
at Gibraltar and placed on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of England as No.51 and
in 1731, Captain James Cummerford, then serving with the British Army in
Gibraltar, was appointed Provincial Grand Master for Andalusia, by which was
meant Gibraltar and adjacent places. Gibraltar
had been, since 1713, under British control and although this Provincial Grand
Lodge of Andalusia went on to form lodges in southern Spain against great
opposition from the local clergy, this jurisdiction is not within the scope of
Freemasonry in Spain first attracted ex-patriots from Britain and France
but Spaniards soon joined and, as elsewhere in Europe, the knowledge of the
formation of Lodges began to arouse the suspicions and hostility of the Church
and the secular authorities especially, but not exclusively, in the Catholic
countries. The first to prohibit Freemasonry was Grand-duke Gian Gastone
of Tuscany just before his sudden death in 1737.
An inquisitor sent by Pope Clement XII made several arrests but the
parties were set at liberty by the new Grand-duke, Francis of Lorraine, who
declared himself patron of the Order. On
28 April 1738, Pope Clement issued his Bull entitled In
eminenti condemning Freemasonry and forbidding Catholics to join or aid
Freemasonry under pain of excommunication.
This was followed by an edict from the Cardinal Secretary of State dated
14 January 1739 pronouncing the death penalty on Catholics who were members of
the Order. In Spain the Bull
received the royal exequatur and the Inquisitor-general Orbe y Larreategui
published an edict dated 11 October 1738, claiming exclusive jurisdiction on the
matter and called for denunciations within six days under pain of
excommunication and a fine of 200 ducats. The
edict was read in churches and affixed to their portals.
This was followed by an edict in 1740 from the Spanish Monarch, Philip V,
under which a number of Masons were sent to the galleys.
In 1744 the Madrid tribunal sentenced Don Francisco Aurion de Roscobel to
abjuration and banishment for Freemasonry and in 1756 the same tribunal
prescribed reconciliation for Domingo de Otas and, in 1757, a Frenchman named
Tournon was sentenced to a year’s detention and deportation.
Further, in 1751, Pope Benedict XIV, published the Bull entitled Providas
which sought to justify to a greater extent the Church’s opposition to
Freemasonry and which prohibited Catholics from joining any Masonic group.
This new denunciation sparked a new round of persecutions and this period
is famous for the actions of Father Torrubia, a censor and revisor of the
Inquisition, in allegedly attempting to carry out a plan to exterminate all
Freemasons in Spain. In order the
achieve this he made use of the vast network of spies available to the
Inquisition and, using a false name, joined the Order himself and was thus
enabled to draw up a list of 97 lodges then in existence.
It is alleged that he obtained from the Papal Grand Penitentiary a
dispensation to join the Order under a false name and to break his Masonic oath
taken on the Bible. Fr.Torrubia handed over his list to the Inquisition in Madrid
and this led to the arrest of thousands of Freemasons. The King, Ferdinand VI, decreed the prohibition of
Freemasonry throughout the kingdom. Finally,
the Cardinal Vicar decreed the death sentence for all Freemasons.
In spite of virtually continuous persecution, Freemasonry in Spain
survived. In 1767, the Gran Logia
Espanola was formed and Spanish Freemasonry declared itself independent from
England. The first Grand Master was
the Count d’Aranda, Prime Minister of Charles III.
In 1780, the name of this body was changed to the Grande
Oriente Espanola and adopted the French system. It
is known that many of the ministers of Charles III were Freemasons along with an
impressive list of prominent Spanish nobles and high officials. That Spanish
Freemasonry was able to survive this sustained period of persecution is
testimony not only to the courage and determination of the brethren but also to
the fact that, try as they might, the Spanish Church and civil authorities could
not isolate Spain from the growing momentum of the ‘Age of Enlightenment’
and its socio-political articulation in the form of liberalism, of which
Freemasonry was an integral part. Indeed,
in no small measure due to the character of the monarch, the reign of Charles
III was notable for its taking on the spirit of the Enlightenment although
little was done to carry out the necessary land reforms other than the
confiscation of some Church property. It is the anti-clericalism of the reign of
Charles III, which included the expulsion of the Jesuits, and which was put into
effect by a government that included several Freemasons in key positions, that
helped cause the permanent mindset that Freemasonry as an institution was
involved in plotting against the Church. However,
it must be stressed that, although the Spanish governments under Charles III
(1759-88) and Charles IV (1788-1808) contained many Masons in prominent roles,
the laws against Freemasonry remained in force although evidently somewhat
abated whilst the influence of the Count of Aranda remained in the ascendency.
The ‘Age of Enlightenment’ can be seen as a continuation or ‘second
wind’ of the Renaissance, which had been slowed down by the onset of the
religious wars in the second decade of the 17th.century.
German scholarship made little contribution to the fund of human
knowledge in the thirty years the war raged over German territory but in
England, France, Italy and Spain the development of new ideas in the liberal
arts and sciences continued but at a slower pace until the more politically
stable era of the late 17th.century opened up the whole of Europe
once more for the exchange of ideas. This
extraordinarily vital period, spanning from the mid-17th.C to the
dawn of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th.Century, saw
discoveries and improvements in
virtually every field of human endeavor, including astronomy, mathematics,
chemistry, physics, biology, mechanics, engineering, navigation, metallurgy,
medicine, anatomy, agriculture, horticulture, linguistics, antiquities, history,
geography, exploration, architecture, marine design, manufacturing, music, the
fine arts and philosophy and this whole dynamic process was undertaken and
driven mainly by members of the bourgeoisie or middle-class although not without
the enthusiastic patronage of many of the nobility.
The Church, however, was often hostile towards scientific or
philosophical propositions which it deemed contrary to Christian dogma or
Developing in parallel with the Age of Enlightenment was the rise of
Liberalism as a socio-political movement. Liberal
thinking was concerned with the rights of individuals and the concept that the
state should exist to protect the rights of and lawful interests of individual
citizens with especial emphasis on equality of opportunity and equal justice.
The principal pillars of Liberalism were freedom of conscience, freedom
of thought and speech, the rule of law and equal treatment of all citizens by
the justice system, equal rights, limitations on the powers of government,
transparent government, and individual right to private property. The concept
that individuals are the basis of law and society and that society exists to
further the ends of individuals without favour to any particular class or rank
was, of course, close to being the opposite to the state of affairs that existed
in most European states during the 18th.century, being that of the
absolutist monarchical system where the individual citizens served and supported
a paramount prince and his elite coterie of nobles and grand bourgeoisie. It is
therefore not surprising that Liberal thought attracted the hostility of the
established authorities including the Roman Catholic Church, itself a landowning
power of some importance and an institution which had a hand in glove
relationship with the nobility. Not
only that, but the Church feared that Liberalism would deprive the Church of its
monopoly on education, its self-assumed right to impose its moral mores on the
private lives of individuals and its claim to ultimate and unchallengeable
authority on all matters of conscience and religious belief -God forbid, indeed,
that citizens should make their own laws or even think freely!
Not only that, but many a Liberal thinker had begun to question the
established system especially the cost of maintaining extravagant monarchies and
supporting pointless wars through taxes. Neither
did the Church escape the cold eye of reason when Liberals began to question the
cost of maintaining a top heavy and non-productive religious institution.
Clearly, Liberalism was on a collision course with the old order.
As with the scientific and cultural enlightenment, Liberalism was born
along on its course in the hearts and minds of the middle-class, with some
support from the more enlightened members of the nobility, and it was a
middle-class which, in every country, was increasingly in the executive control
of commerce, trade, manufacturing, law, the military, the civil service and
indeed the day to day management of society as a whole. But,
with Britain being a notable exception, Liberalism was not spread and organized
through political parties during the 18th.century simply because few
countries had a parliament or popular forum in which political parties could
flourish without fear of persecution. Instead,
Liberal ideas were communicated by way of the customary means of communication
used by the middle-class, namely through personal contacts or, in modern
parlance, through ‘networking.’ Apart
from personal introductions, middle-class people increased their circle of
friends and useful acquaintances in a number of ways and, during the 17th
and 18th centuries, it became the vogue to meet in taverns, coffee
houses and tea houses and all manner of clubs and societies sprang up in
addition to the social salons of the nobility and gentry where presentable,
mannerly and talented middle-class gentlemen were made welcome.
One such society was the Freemasons and from a study of the times in
which Freemasonry initially grew and flourished it is clear that it represented
a society of, in the main, middle-class men thoroughly imbued with the spirit
and philosophy of Liberalism. Not
only that, but Freemasonry was the very embodiment of the Liberal spirit and in
its organization a model of the Liberal ideal of government.
Freemasonry was, and is, in effect a parallel society to that of everyday
society. In everyday society a
man’s standing and his social acceptance, his prospects, his circle of friends
and, more particularly, his treatment by society were conditional on his station
in life, his religion, his politics, his nationality or race, his material
worth, his social skills, his occupation, his achievements or lack of them, even
his family but within Freemasonry he was treated unconditionally as an equal and
his acceptance as a brother depended only on his adherence to the code of moral
and ethical conduct befitting a Freemason.
Moreover, Freemasonry was an autonomous, self-constituted society which
neither sought nor obtained permission for its existence from either prince or
priest. It made its own laws and
enshrined its code of conduct and rights of members in a constitution and its
system of self-government was democratic, based on equal rights and obligations
for all members and a spirit of harmonious decision-making, free from
confrontational factionalism which might be caused by differences in the
personal beliefs of members. No
member was judged or discounted or held to account for his personal beliefs only
in so far as he might transgress the code of conduct befitting a Freemason.
What is more, Freemasons applied these principles, being no less than the
fair and just way to treat a friend and neighbour, to society as a whole not
merely to their brethren in Freemasonry. Clearly,
Freemasonry was the antithesis of the autocratic and unjust form of government
by a select few over the lives of the vast majority of mankind represented by
the monarchical/ecclesiastical alliance prevalent in most of Europe in the 18th.century.
The last quarter of the 18th.Century was to see two
revolutions which were to herald sweeping changes to the political life of
Europe, the American Revolution of 1775 and the French Revolution of 1789.
Both revolutions were dominated by Liberal thinking, produced liberal
constitutions and both revolutions produced republics although this was not the
original intention in either case. Significantly,
individual Freemasons featured prominently in both revolutions, once more
fuelling the mindset that Freemasonry was bent on the destruction of the
traditional order of society founded on the alliance of Church and monarchy. This mindset, however, fails to recognize that Freemasons
were also prominent in the forces opposing revolution and that all French lodges
were forced to close until 1792.
In Spain the reign of Charles IV saw the rise of the opportunist minister
and court favourite Manuel de Godoy and the eclipse and eventual banishment of
the Count of Aranda. Aranda was
replaced as head of the Grande Oriente
by the Count of Montijo. Once
again, the laws against Freemasonry remained in force but, as in the previous
reign, there was little in the way of forceful persecution of Freemasonry. Nevertheless there is some indication that Freemasons were
active in political opposition to the government as evidenced by the republican
conspiracy of 3 February 1795 on the Hill of San Blas where the Freemason
Snr.Juan Mariano Picornell y Gomila was a prominent leader.
It is known that arms were collected in the Respectable Lodge of Spain
before the demonstration which included at least 6 members of that Lodge in
addition to Snr.Picornell. All of them were arrested and sentenced to death but the
sentence was later reduced to one of life imprisonment at Laguayra in Panama
from whence they managed to escape. In
1797 these republicans organized another conspiracy in Caracas in Venezuela. This conspiracy, attributed by Venzuelan historians to the
Freemasons, failed and most of the leaders were executed but Snr.Picornell and
another of the original San Blas conspirators, Snr.Manuel Cortes, survived to
link up with fellow Freemason, Francisco de Miranda, to raise the flag of
rebellion in South America. Both
Picornell and Cortes were prolific writers of revolutionary material and were
clearly influenced by the Jacobinism of the French Revolution.
Picornell was especially noted for his translation of the Declaration
of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
The year 1808 was a pivotal one for Spanish Freemasonry, starting with
the Mutiny of Aranjuez resulting in the capture of the unpopular Prime Minister,
Manuel De Godoy and, following Godoy’s formal dismissal, the abdication of the
King. This extraordinary court
mutiny was organized by none other than the Grand Master of the Grande
Oriente, the Count of Montijo, and further resulted in the accession of
Fernando VII but after little over a month in power the new king was forced to
abdicate in favour of Napoleon Bonaparte who in turn appointed his own brother
Joseph as King of Spain. The French
Army was able to initially invade Spain with little difficulty as a considerable
number of Spain’s best troops were actually on loan to France and stationed in
Denmark! The French, however, were
unable to take Cadiz and it is there that the Spaniards formed a parliament or
Cortes to organize resistance against the occupation. Other cities and regions also organized resistance and
gradually the remnants of the Spanish army were joined by local militias in a
guerilla war which tied down a French army of 250,000 and which inflicted
enormous casualties upon them.
The reign of Joseph Bonaparte was, however, very beneficial for Spanish
Freemasonry. Joseph himself had been Grand Master of the French Grand
Orient since 1806 having been made a Freemason at the Tuilleries in 1805.
It is alleged that Napoleon Bonaparte himself was made a Mason in the Army
Philadelphe Lodge sometime between 1795 and 1798. Be that as it may, Joseph Bonaparte was an avid Freemason and
quickly set about supporting the craft in Spain starting with the disbanding of
the Inquisition and the annulment of all laws prohibiting Freemasonry.
Under his auspices a Grand Orient subordinate to the French Grand Orient
was set up in the very building once occupied by the Inquisition. Snr.Jose de
Azanza was installed as Grand Master of this Grand Orient.
Lodges were chartered in Madrid (7), San Sebastian, Vitoria, Santander,
Zaragoza, Salamanca, Santona, Talavere de la Reina, Almagro, Figueres, Gerona,
Manzanares, Barcelona and Sevilla. This
was followed by a Supreme Council for the Scottish Rite.
In 1810 a Grand Consistory of the 32nd Degree was constituted
at Madrid subordinate to the Supreme Council for France.
In 1811, de Grasse-Tilly organized a Supreme Council of the 33rd
Degree and this body then constituted a Grand Orient of Spain and the Indies
consisting as its nucleus of the Respectable Lodge of the Star, and the Lodge of
Charity and Santa Julia. Several
Freemasons held important posts in Joseph’s government, including Snr.Jose de
Azanza as Chairman of the National Government and there can be little doubt that
the brethren of the Lodges constituted under the Napoleonic regime in the French
controlled areas can be counted among the afrancesados, those who favoured the re-constructuring of Spain on
the liberal, French model. To other
Spaniards, however, the afrancesados
were regarded as collaborators and traitors and we can readily perceive another
module in the anti-masonic argument, that Spanish Freemasonry was anti-Spanish
and controlled by foreign interests. This
was one of General Franco’s favourite accusations against Freemasonry.
On the other side of the coin Freemasons were active in support of the
Assembly or Cortes of Cadiz and were especially active in the formulation of the
celebrated liberal and democratic Constitution of 1812 which was to be landmark
document in the future constitutional history of Spain and of the emerging
Hispanic republics of Central and South America.
This constitution is widely regarded as having been largely inspired by
the Masonic deputies to the Cortez, including Snr.Diego Munoz Torrero,
Snr.Augustin Arguelles, Snr.Jose Maria Calatrava and several others.
The presence of several Masonic deputies and the predominance of liberal
deputies did not, however, prevent the Cortes from confirming on 19 January
1812, the old order of 1751 forbidding Freemasonry in Spain.
The overthrow of French domination in Spain in 1813 saw the restoration
of Fernando VII to the throne. Despite
the fact that the Cortes of Cadiz was ostensibly a government of regency in his
name, he was determined to reign as an absolute ruler and duly dissolved the
Cortes and refused to accept the Constitution of 1812.
In 1814 he reinstituted the Inquisition and permitted the return of the
Jesuits. On 4 May 1814 he declared
the Freemasons guilty of treason and, on 15 August 1814, Pope Pius VII issued a
decree against Freemasonry prescribing both spiritual and corporal punishments
for involvement in Freemasonry. This
decree was approved by Fernando VII and was embodied in an edict of the Spanish
Inquisition of 2 January 1815 which offered a Term of Grace of fifteen days
during which penitents would be received pending which the full force of the
canonical and secular laws would be enforced.
The response was inconsiderable and the term was subsequently extended
until 14 May 1815. King Fernando in
the meantime had ordered the secular laws enforced and on 14 September 1814 some
25 arrests were made for suspicion of Masonic membership.
Amongst those arrested, tortured and imprisoned were the General Alava,
who had been aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington, the Marquis de Tolosa,
Dr.Luque, physician to the king, and the prominent scholar Mariana.
Strangely, the parish priest of San Jorje in Coruna, was prosecuted by
the Inquisition in 1815 for having reported the existence of a Masonic Lodge to
the civil authorities but not to the Church and in several cases in 1817 the
Inquisition super-added a prosecution and punishment of its own on top of the
sentence handed down by the royal courts. One
of the most unusual cases was that of the priest, Vicente Perdiguera, who was
actually commissioner of the Toledo tribunal of the Inquisition who, when tried
by the Madrid tribunal, was found guilty of involvement in Freemasonry of which
he made no secret and escaped with the mild penalty of being deprived of his
office and insignia of the Inquisition. But,
in spite of the alleged strength of Freemasonry in Spain in those days and the
vigour of the Inquisition the number of cases that came before the Inquisition
can be regarded as surprisingly small. Between 1780 and 1815 there were only 19 cases, then a sudden
increase to 25 in 1816 reducing to 14 in 1817, 9 in 1818 and 7 in 1819.
To this may be added cases in the civil and military courts which did not
reach the attention of the Inquisition but overall the Masonic purge of Fernando
VII was far from achieving its objective even though the Grand Master, the Count
of Montijo, was held in the secret prison of the Inquisition.
In 1818 the Spanish Freemasons took some steps to rationalize the
somewhat confusing state of the craft in that country when Col.Rafael de Riego
and Snr.Augustin Arguelles amongst others organized the merging of the two
supreme councils of the Scottish Rite with de Riego as Grand Master and it was
Riego who led the rebellion of troops awaiting departure to fight in America
which in turn led to the popular uprising which forced Fernando VII to accept
the Constitution of 1812, abolish the Inquisition and expel the Jesuits by which
all imprisoned Freemasons were set at liberty.
Amongst those released was the Count of Montijo, Grand Master of the
Spanish Gran Oriente. The Count of
la Bisbal, who had been sent to crush the rebellion was himself a Freemason and
declared for the Constitution and the Freemason, General Ballestaros, was
responsible for releasing prisoners held by the Inquisition.
The short-lived freedom of the Spanish Freemasons came to an end in 1823
when Fernando VII solicited the military aid of France to overthrow the liberal
government and restore his absolute powers.
Riego was shot and on 1 August 1824 the king issued a new edict by which
all Freemasons who failed to renounce the society within thirty days were on
discovery to be hanged within 24 hours without trial.
The King alleged that Freemasons had taken part in the revolution of 1820
and he was no doubt mindful of the leading role played by Freemasons such as
Francisco de Miranda and Simon Bolivar in the liberation of the Spanish colonies
in the Americas, a bitter blow for Spain. To
the allegations of anticlericalism, revolutionary republicanism and foreign
dominance the Spanish Freemasons were to be accused of complicity in the loss of
the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Indeed,
there is some evidence that Freemasons were proactive in this regard, Francisco
de Miranda having formed a lodge in Cadiz at the time of the Cadiz government
called the Lodge of Rational Knights of Lautoro for the specific purpose of
promoting the independence of the American colonies.
Since 1821, the newly independent state of Mexico had been ruled by
Masonic political parties representing the York Rite and Scottish Rite
On 9 September 1825 the new edict was put into effect when a lodge at
Grenada was surprised and seven of its members were executed without delay whist
a candidate was sentenced to eight years hard labour.
In the years following several others were victims of this harsh law.
In the Antilles the Marquis de Cavrilano and Ferdinand Alvarez de Soto
Mayer were sentenced to death, likewise in Spain one Antonio Caro was hanged and
in Barcelona the Master of a Lodge, Lieutenant Colonel Galvez was hanged and two
members of his lodge condemned to the galleys for life.
This period of savage repression of Freemasonry occurred in spite of the
fact that the King Fernando’s own brother the Infante Francisco de Paula de
Bourbon had, since 1823, been Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Spain.
The death of King Fernando in 1833 ushered in the regencies of Maria
Cristina (1833-1840) and Baldomero Espartero (1840-1842) and the reign of
Isabella II (1843-1868) and a complicated period in Spanish politics beset by
civil wars initiated by the Carlist faction and a series of military political
interventions know as pronunciamentos. The
Carlist factor was caused by Fernando himself when, shortly before his death, he
issued an edict whereby his daughter Isabella would succeed him in contravention
to Spanish custom whereby the eldest male heir such succeed, in this case his
younger brother Carlos. The edict
was an immediate cause for civil war upon the King’s death and the declaration
of the regency of Queen Maria Cristina in favour of the infant Isabella, Prince
Carlos gaining powerful support from the ultra-Catholic faction with a strong
power base amongst the peasant smallholders of Navarra.
Throughout the era of the regencies and of the reign of Isabella II Spain
there was a constitutional monarchy which saw the government of Spain in the
hands of Liberals comprised of three main factions, the Moderates, Progressives
and Radicals which corresponded respectively to Right, Centre and Left political
alignments within the broad Liberal philosophy.
The differences between them were more to do with constitutional theory
rather than socio-economic ideology for all of the Liberal factions agreed on
the need for laissez-faire economics, that private business should be as free as
possible from government controls and interference.
This touches upon what might be called a crisis of identity for
Liberalism brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the rise of
Capitalism. The Industrial
Revolution can be truly said to have commenced in late 18th.Century
Britain with the introduction of steam engine powered machines which brought
mass production techniques to the manufacturing and textile industries
The, scientific mind turned to invention, the business mind turned to how
to make money from the inventions through manufacturing and marketing and the
commercial mind turned to how to make more money from the money invested in
Capitalism is, quite simply, the private control of industry and commerce
for a profit and obviously no Liberal worth his salt could be any other than a
supporter of Capitalism but the effect of the capitalist driven Industrial
Revolution made a hugely detrimental socio-economic impact on the working class
of Britain and Europe and not only the workers but the peasants
also as the steam engine was put to work in the fields and as more and more
arable land was converted to sheep and cattle pasture. In Britain there was a massive demographic shift in
population from the countryside to the cities and towns and the same but
somewhat lesser process was to be felt in most of Western Europe, Spain
included. Social and workplace
conditions for workers was often dire. Slum
areas sprang up everywhere, with the workers forced to pay capitalist landlords
high rents for substandard living quarters.
The 19th Century was a century of misery for the working
classes of Europe and with the Liberal and Conservative politicians offering few
beneficial solutions to the workers because of their reluctance to interfere
with private industry, the workers turned increasingly to socialism in its
various forms. It was no different
in Spain, middle-class Liberal society, to which most Spanish Freemasons
belonged, lost touch with the working class.
This was to have dire consequences in the lead up to the Spanish Civil
War. Even so, due to limitations on franchise and factional
disorganization on the part of the socialist parties, the progressive wing of
the Liberals received the support of the majority of the urban masses until well
into the 20th.Century.
A peculiarity of Spanish politics of the 19th.Century was the
role of the army. Each political faction had a following in the army, in
particular amongst the senior officers who were referred to as “swords” and
it became a feature of Spanish politics for a senior officer to lead his men on
to the streets with the aim of toppling the government of the day.
A pronuciamento or declaration
of principles would be made, the government would hopefully peacefully bow out
and a new government installed, following which the army would dutifully return
to barracks. From time to time the
officers themselves would place themselves at the head of government.
This almost ritualistic process was unique to Spain.
In spite of Liberal dominance in government, the laws against Freemasonry
remained in place and the Craft was forced to conduct its affairs in the
strictest secrecy. Even so, the
Craft went from strength to strength but with increasing complexity as a number
of new jurisdictions were formed. The
Grand Master of the Gran Oriente, Don Francisco de Bourbon, managed to
amalgamate the Ancient and Accepted Rite 1829 so that for awhile there was a
single jurisdiction but an anonymous Grand
Orient announced itself in 1843 and renamed itself the Grand
Orient of Hesperique in 1848. The
Grand Lodge of Ireland formed a lodge at Algeciras in 1843 but the lodge was
closed in 1858. The original Grande
Oriente established Orients at Madrid, Burgos, Badajoz, Barcelona,
Saragossa, Valencia, Corunna, Santander, Bilbao, Seville, Granada and Malaga.
Security was tight with only those personally known to the Grand Master
admitted as visitors. No lodge was
permitted to keep written documents and a new password was issued to all lodges
In 1848 fresh persecutions broke out under the administration of Marshall
Narvaez. Don Francisco de Bourbon
was excommunicated by the Pope and fled the country, delegating authority to
Charles Magnan. In 1853 the Lodge of St.John of Spain, chartered under the
jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of France, was betrayed by its treasurer and
closed by the Minister of Police. All
members were arrested and Master, Aurel Eybert, was sentenced to seven years
imprisonment, twelve others to four years.
All were subsequently pardoned by Queen Isabella. Queen
Isabella herself seems to have turned a blind eye towards Freemasonry for her
consort, Don Francisco d’Assissi, was allegedly the Master of lodge in the
palace itself. Several members of the royal household were Freemasons,
including the queen’s preceptors, Snr.Quintana and Snr.Ventura de la Vega, her
tutor Arguelles and the palace manager Snr.Martin de los Heros. Certainly, there were many Freemasons in the government and
the army during her reign. During
this reign the Lodge of Morality and Philanthropy No.1024 was formed at Cadiz
under the United Grand Lodge of England and there was also a lodge for English
speaking Masons in Madrid. The
Grand Orient of France warranted a lodge at Minorca in 1860.
The reign of Queen Isabella came to an end with the Revolution of 1868
the prelude to which was the uprising in Cadiz carried out by Generals Pierrad,
Moriones and Contreras and supported by the political leaders Malcampo, Sagasta,
Dulce, Prim, Ruiz Zorilla and Mendez Nunez, all of whom were prominent
Freemasons. Isabella was replaced
as monarch by Amadeus of Savoy, himself a Freemason but he abdicated after a
reign of only three years and a republic was proclaimed.
An immediate result of these political developments was the removal of
laws and restrictions on Freemasonry but this led to even more confusion in the
Spanish Masonic jurisdictions. Calatrava’s
Grand Orient Hisperique was revived as the National Grand Orient of Spain in
1869. The Grande
Oriente Espanol under Magnan was also given new life.
In 1870 however, Magnan left for Santander and his office was transferred
to Manuel Ruiz Zorilla. The Grand
Orient Lusitania (Portugal) also started warranting lodges in Spain, more or
less on the excuse that it could not fathom out which of the Spanish Grand
Orients was the legitimate one. It
is claimed that the Grand Orient Lusitania warranted as many as 83 lodges in
Spain compared to the 496 lodges of the Grande
Oriente Espanol. This seems to
be extraordinarily large number of lodges and the figure possibly includes
‘side order’ chapters. Also,
the membership of lodges seems to have been quite small, often no more than 30
members, which would have made it far easier to hold meetings undetected by the
authorities. Grand Master Zorilla
was prime minister during the reign of Amadeus and during that time he managed
to conclude a Masonic treaty with the Grand Lodge of Lusitania granting
reciprocity of jurisdictions. On
the abdication of Amadues, Zorilla resigned as prime minister and as Grand
Master and Magnan resumed command, immediately to resign in favour of
Snr.Carvajal. This caused a schism
when several Brethren seceded and elected General La Somera as Sovereign Grand
Commander who resigned after twelve months in favour of Praxades Sagasta. This body became known as the Grand Lodge of Spain and
absorbed the Iberian Grand Orient with 39 lodges, constituted by the Grand
Orient of Portugal, rival to the Grand Orient Lusitania.
Add to that the National Grand Orient of Spain under the Marquis de Seone
and there were four grand jurisdictions in Spain at that time.
There was another schism yet to come when, in 1875, one Juan Antonio
Perez created a further body known as the Regular Grand Orient.
Also, in 1879, two lodges withdrew from the Grand Orient Lusitania and
formed a Grand Central Masonic Consistory 32deg at Malaga.
A further 13 lodges withdrew from the Grand Orient Lustania and formed
themselves into the Masonic Confederation of the Congress of Seville. The Seville Freemasons then, in 1881, divested themselves of
all control over Freemasonry and essentially became an allied order and on the
same date members of the Craft erected the Grand Spanish Independent Symbolic
Lodge with jurisdiction over the three Craft degrees only. In 1874 the Iberian Grand Orient was revived and in 1876 it
reduced the 33 degrees to seven, thus forming the Spanish Reformed Rite.
By 1888 the Spanish Masonic jurisdictions had resolved into the following
National Orient of Spain (Grande Oriente
National de Espana) under Grand Master Jose Maria Pantoja.
Grand Orient (Grande Oriente Espanol)
under Sovereign Grand Commander Pio Vinader.
Regular Grand Orient (Grande Oriente
Espanol Regulare) under Sovereign Grand Commander Juan Antonio Perez.
Grand Lodge of Spain (Gran Logia Simbolica
Espanola) under Grand Master Jose Lopez Padilla.
Iberian-American Confederation under Grand Master Jaime Marti.
Grand Council of the Rite of Memphis and Misraim under Grand Master Ricardo
A Catalan-Balearic Symbolic Grand Lodge had also been established in
Barcelona in 1886 on strongly Catalan political lines but this Lodge adopted a
national structure in 1921 and was renamed the Spanish Grand Lodge (Gran Logia Espanol).
In the following year, 1889, the Grand National Orient of Spain merged
with the Spanish Grand Orient (Grande Oriente
Espanol) under Sovereign Grand Commander Professor Miguel Moyrayta and
within a few years had gained widespread international recognition from other
jurisdictions, notably the Grand Lodge of Scotland but not the United Grand
Lodge of England which applied the same criteria for regularity as it did for
the Grand Orient of France, that it did not approve of a Masonic jurisdiction
governed by the Antient and Accepted Rite.
The first amendments of the Constitution of the Grande
Oriente Espanol was enacted in 1902 to mark the legalization of Freemasonry
in Spain and the amendments restructured the obedience on a federal basis
according to the traditional kingdoms of Spain in order to achieve a spread of
regional Masonic organizations. The
federal structure, equivalent to state, provincial or district Grand Lodge
structures in some other countries was slow to get off the ground in Spain but
in a Grand National Assembly on October 1923 a reorganization was agreed to
which created a Grand Lodge in Central Spain based on Madrid, one in the
Northwest based on Gijon, Northeast based on Barcelona, East or Levante in
Alicante, South in Seville, Southeast in Cartagena and of Morocco in Tangier.
In the same year Snr.Miguel Primo de Rivera y Oraneja seized power in a
military coup and the persecution of the Spanish Freemasons began anew.
Over the period following the abdication of King Amadeus in February 1873
and the short-lived First Republic which lasted only until December 1874 and the
period of the restoration of the monarchy up until the advent of the Primo di
Rivera dictatorship the government of Spain remained dominated by the Liberals,
power alternating on an almost yearly basis between the Moderate and Progressive
factions, each of them consisting of an representing the interests of the
middle-class elite. Although, as
Liberals, these politicians were not insensible to the need for social justice
and reform, their desire to maintain the status quo and their reluctance to
interfere and to apply government control of private interests rendered them
inadequate to redress the increasing socio-economic injustices present in
Spanish society which affected the working class and peasants in particular and
to combat the powerful new political ideologies which claimed to have the
answers. Perhaps the black American
activist Stokely Carmichael summed up Liberalism best when he said “What the
Liberal really wants is to bring about change which will not in any way endanger
The political movements that in the later quarter of the 19th.Century
sought to galvanize the Spanish workers and peasants to revolutionary action can
all be broadly defined as socialist. The
social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE
– Partido Socialists Obrero Espanol) was formed in 1879 and in 1888 came
along the General Union of Workers (UGT
– Union General de Trabajadores) which tended to work in close cooperation
with the PSOE as the industrial arm of the social-democratic political movement.
And, in Spain, the anarchist movement attracted a strong following,
resolving itself in 1910 into the National Confederation of Workers (CNT
– Confederation National del Trabajo) and the International Association of
Workers (AIT – Association International
de los Trabajadores), with the eventual formation in 1927 of the Iberian
Anarchist Federation (FAI – Federation
Anarquista Iberica) Following
the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Spanish Communist Party was formed in 1920 (PCE
– Partido Comunista de Espanol) and in 1935 the anti-Stalinist Workers
Party of Marxist Unification (POUM –
Partido Obrero de Unification Marxiste).
Common to all socialist movements was the aim of state control of
industry, power to the workers and a more equitable distribution of wealth.
The anarchists had no time for central government and envisaged all
aspects of Spanish society run by local committees.
Indeed, the local committee concept in all socialist movements was
popular with the workers who felt they could be involved directly in a truly
democratic process, but in reality it was not difficult for party bosses to
control committees through their hard core party members.
It was such men who increasingly organized the workers to militant
action, not only by strikes in the workplace, but also in acts of street
demonstrations and violence. The
Church, long thought of by the workers as the “Church of the Rich” was a
particular target, with church burnings not uncommon.
Likewise, it was not difficult for the socialist party leaders to drum up
a portrayal of the middle-class as a whole as the oppressors of the working
classes. The notion of “class warfare” in which the workers would
triumph and establish the “dictatorship of the proletariat” became and
increasing ideological platform for the socialists.
For the Spanish Freemasons the period was one of mixed fortunes.
On the one hand numerous individual Freemasons achieved notability and
were active in positions of power and influence in central government and
throughout Spain and their reputations reflected lustre upon the institution of
Freemasonry at a time when they were no longer inclined to be secretive about
their membership. Such men as
Professor Miguel de Morayta, Snr.Bernardo Orcasitas, Mayor of Madrid; and
Snr.Praxedes Mateo Sagasta, 7 times Prime Minister of Spain were amongst the
many who attracted admiration both of themselves and Freemasonry.
Spanish Freemasonry went from strength to strength and was successful in
attracting numerous members from the ranks of the armed forces, the civil
service, politics and academia.
On the other side of the coin was the continued opposition to Freemasonry
from the Catholic Church and its supporters.
Catholic opposition was fueled by the dismissal of Isabella II and the
disastrous outcome of the First Republic in which numerous Freemasons were
deeply involved. Later, in 1898,
the Freemasons, especially Premier Sagasta, were blamed for the loss of
Spain’s remaining colonies, the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam as a
result of the war against the United States of America.
The Unification of Italy, completed in 1861 and spearheaded by the
Freemasons Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, which saw the loss to the
Vatican of the Papal States incurred the particular animosity of the Catholic
Church towards all Freemasons, not just the Italians.
In 1865, Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Multiplices Inter accused Freemasonry of conspiracy against the
Church and with fomenting revolutions and uprisings and, in 1884, Pope Leo XIII
released his famous encyclical Humanus
Genus which remains the strongest condemnation of Freemasonry to date and
which was the first of several vociferous condemnations from that Pope.
It was also Leo XIII who, in his encyclical Rerum
Novarum of 1891, called for political Catholicism to counter what he
considered to be the anti-clericalism of the Liberal and socialist movements.
Of particular concern to the Church was the increasing secularization in
Western Europe of government, of education and the care of the sick and poor,
the beginnings of the welfare state. The
Church accused Freemasonry of trying to take over the minds of the young and of
imposing its values on society. In
Spain the Carlist movement rallied to the Catholic cause and the new parties
Popular Action and Catholic Action were eventually united in 1933 under the
banner of the right wing Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (CEDA
– Confederacion Espanola de Derechas Autonomas).
A feature of Catholic thinking came to be a belief in the existence of
the Contubernio, the supposed Judeo-Masonic-Communist-Liberal plot
against the Church in order to achieve world domination.
This myth was fuelled by two notorious hoaxes, the Leo Taxil hoax
breaking in the 1890’s and the publication of the ‘Protocols of the Elders
of Zion’ in 1903. Both hoaxes
were exposed but gained traction nevertheless and are to this day widely
believed amongst anti-Masonry groups. Thus
the Spanish Freemasons, as always predominantly Liberal and middle-class in
outlook, found themselves in the last quarter of the 19th.Century and
the first quarter of the 20th.century, wedged between the burgeoning
socialism of the working classes which ultimately was unlikely to show any
tolerance of bourgeoisie institutions such as Freemasonry and the Catholic
traditionalists who had been opposed to Freemasonry from the outset.
The dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera from 1923 to 1930 held the
increasing polarization of Spanish political trends in a state of suspension.
He tried to solve Spain’s problems with his own brand on non-partizan
common sense and he achieved much progress but the effects of the Great
Depression of 1929 and popular dissatisfaction with the Rif War in Morocco which
went on until 1926 resulted in a dive in his popularity and military plots
against him and he resigned in disillusionment.
Spanish Freemasonry suffered because it became clear to the dictator that
the Craft in Spain had become politicized and was opposed to his dictatorship.
Consequently, Masonic meetings were repeatedly banned and, in 1928, some
200 Freemasons were arrested for plotting against the State, including the Grand
Master of the Grand Orient, Snr.Demofilo de Buen Lozano.
In 1927, General Primo de Rivera spoke of “Freemasons, Communists and
professional politicians who are capable of wavering in their love of
Spain”.But there was confusion in the legal rules and inconsistency of
application so that whilst, for instance, a Masonic assembly forbidden in Madrid
was allowed to proceed in Barcelona by the military governor of the city.
Freemasonry continued to grow with Grand Orient register showing 85
lodges for 1927 up to 105 and a membership of 5000 for 1931 and the Spanish
Grand Lodge up from 10 in 1922 to 52 and a membership of 1800 in 1931.
The fall of the dictatorship which led to the stepping down and
self-imposed exile of Alfonso XIII in 1931 was followed by the declaration of
the Second Republic and the election of a Liberal republican led government
under Snr.Manuel Azana Diaz. Azana
was made a Freemason in 1932. Not
only that but the Freemasonry accounted for 17 Ministers, 5 Deputy Secretaries,
15 Directors General, 183 out of 470 Deputies to Parliament, 5 Ambassadors, 9
Generals of Division and 12 generals of Brigade.
Amongst those who were to play leading roles in the future of Spain were
Snr.Alejandro Lerroux y Gracia, Minister of State; Snr.Diego Martinez Barrio,
Minister of War and Snr.Jose Giral, Minister of the Navy.
Not to mention Snr.Jose Salmeron, Director General of Public Works and
Mountains. The Mayor of Madrid,
Snr.Pedro Rico Lopez was a Freemason, as was Snr.Jaime Ayguade, Mayor of
Barcelona. The former Grand Master,
Snr.Demofilo de Buen was Counselor of State.
Indeed, a sizeable proportion of the membership of Spanish Freemasonry
were in a position of power and influence during the Second Republic.
The Azana government embarked on a program of reforms which was
remarkably like the declaration of principles recommended for the new republican
Constitution by the Grand Lodge of Spain which included freedom of thought and
conscience, separation of Church and State,, universal suffrage, free and
compulsory education, free justice and trial by jury, civil marriage and divorce
laws, abolition of the death penalty. The
Grand Lodge called on those who favour “the Progress of Humanity” to ‘form
Masonic nuclei in their respective places of residence’.
The government accordingly granted the vote to women, disestablished the
Church and appropriated property belonging to religious orders amongst other
reforms. These measures offended
large sections of the public tending to Catholic traditionalism whilst at the
same time the government dealt severely with socialist attempts to disrupt the
state. Rightists accused the
government of being party to a supposed Judeo-Masonic Communist conspiracy,
socialists became ever more restive. Catalan
and Basque separatists kept up unrelenting pressure for the granting of regional
autonomies. The army, smarting from
expenditure cuts and forced retirements, began a long process of planning a
possible coup should the state descend into chaos.
The 1933 election saw a big swing to the right and it was Freemason
Alejandro Lerroux, leader of the Radical Republican Party of the Liberal
centrist bloc who was asked to form a government, rather than Snr.Gil Robles and
CEDA. Gil Robles nevertheless
pledged the support of the rightist bloc. But
the socialist/anarchist left wing bloc was in outrage, clearly unable to accept
democratic outcomes which did not suit them.
The involvement of Snr.Diego Martinez Barrio, former Grand Master of the
Spanish Grand Orient, and huge numbers of other Freemasons in government brought
fresh accusations that Freemasonry had become politicized.
In 1934 Mauricio Karl published a book entitled ‘The Enemy: Marxism,
Anarchism, Freemasonry’, and in the following year a sequel entitled
‘Assassins of Spain: Marxism, Anarchism, Masonry’.
Francisco Luis published ‘Masonry against Spain’.
In December 1933 a new dynamic was added to Spanish politics with the
foundation of the Falange by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of the former
dictator. Based on the Italian fascism of Benito Mussolini, the Falange
advocated a centralized state headed by an autocratic but reformist government,
a corporate state run on military lines in the interests of efficiency and
modernization. The grievances of
all classes would be addressed but the interests of the individual would be
subjected to the interests of the state, behind which all citizens were expected
to unite. Fascism was
anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist at the same time, a right wing authoritarian
movement but with a marked socialist slant to its ideology, it has been
described as ‘middle-class socialism’.
Spanish and Italian fascism was strong on nationalism but without the
race hatred of Nazism and the totalitarian intrusion of both Nazism and
Stalinist communism into the religious life of the people.
The Falange attracted support from affluent middle-class youth who were
urged by their leaders to take violent measures against the socialist factions.
For them, it was fun to be fascist as they toured the streets gunning
down ‘Chicago style’ the workers leaders.
During the Civil War the Falange formed the eyes and ears and the
internal police of the Nationalist cause, building dossiers of thousands of
names of socialists, communists, Freemasons and anarchists, in effect a ‘death
list’ of those doomed for extinction or punishment in Nationalist Spain.
This is what General Mola meant when he said he had a ‘Fifth Column’
working inside Republican held Madrid.
The Larroux government soon found itself the target of a revolution from
the Marxist left, especially from the armed and dangerous miners of Asturias and
Generals Goded, Lopez Ochoa and Franco were called in to put down the
insurrection, which they did in an efficient and ruthless manner.
General Batet put paid to Catalunya’s bid for autonomy for the
meantime. Franco was made Chief of
Staff of the Army which he hoped to modernize but it was not long before the
Larroux government was caught in a gambling and corruption scandal in which
Larroux, Gil Robles and other party leaders as well as several Freemasons in
government were implicated. New
elections in 1936 saw a narrow victory for the leftist Popular Front over the
rightist National Front with the Liberal centrist parties holding the balance.
The centrists decided to support the Popular Front and another government
under Manuel Azana was formed, but this time Azana could make no headway against
the socialists who clamoured for an all out social revolution.
Foremost in the drive to radicalize Spanish socialism was Snr.Francisco
Largo Caballero, the so-called ‘Spanish Lenin’ who claimed to have planted
‘communist cells’ everywhere and who thundered about creating the
‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ Largo
in effect declared class warfare and, in the shape of an army led rightist
rebellion, he got it.
The rightist rebellion, which became known under General Franco’s
leadership as the ‘National Movement’, consisted of monarchists, Carlists,
Falangists and Catholic conservatives, led by roughly half of the Army of Spain
which had risen in rebellion. The
Catholic Church was quick to proclaim its support for the Nationalists and the
rebellion took on the guise of a ‘Crusade’ to liberate Spain from the
Marxist, Anarchist, Masonic Contubernio, the
anti-Spanish atheist conspiracy. Members
of these groups were hunted down and summarily executed in the early stages of
the war, their persecution continuing under a system of ‘kangaroo courts’
once Franco decided he needed to show the world the ‘legality’ of
Nationalist justice. A magazine
based in Seville was typical of many Nationalist propaganda organs in publishing
lists of Masons, whilst the newspaper El
Defensor de Cordoba ranted “Let us fight to form a single national front
against Jews and the Masonic Lodges. A
Falangist newspaper called for a ‘crusade’ against Freemasonry and another
wrote of ‘the damage that this pernicious society has caused Spain’.
The Catholic Church was vociferous in its condemnation of Freemasonry.
Cardinal Isidro Goma y Tomas, Primate of Spain, proclaimed that the
nationalists were fighting against the ‘bastard soul of the sons of Moscow’
– the ‘Jews and the Masons’ and ‘Jews and masons poisoned the national
soul with absurd notions’. The
Bishop of Salamanca Enrique Pla y Deniel issued his pastoral letter entitled
‘The Two Cities’ demanded the reversal of all anti-clerical laws brought in
by the republic and condemned Freemasonry and called for a crusade against it.
‘Let their seed be stamped out!’ cried a priest in Burgos.
During 1937, one Father Jean Tusquets started work in the National Press
Service and together with Franco’s personal chaplain, Father Jose Maria
Bulart, in their capacity of members of the Delegation of Special Services
compiled and index of 80,000 suspected Spanish Masons, even though there were no
more than 5000 spread across all jurisdictions, many of them by that time dead,
imprisoned or exiled. The mere
suspicion of Masonic affiliation was enough to incur the firing squad or worse.
In one case, it was reported that Masons were hurled into the working
engines of steam trains. Lodge
buildings were torched or destroyed by artillery fire, more and more lists of
members were obtained and the executions went on.
By December 1937, all Masons who had not escaped zones under Nationalist
control were deemed to be dead. The
oppression was so ruthless that senior German and Italian officers fighting on
the side of the Nationalists were shocked into voicing their concerns to the
Nationalist High Command. Their
pleas were blandly ignored. It is
reputed that over 10,000 Spaniards were arrested for alleged Masonic membership
during the Franco regime.
From the outset the Nationalist army was led by officers who were, or had
been, Freemasons. Such men were
General Jose Sanjurjo Sacanell, nominal head of the Nationalist Spanish State
who was killed in a plane crash at the very beginning of the war.
Another was General Miguel Cabanellas Ferrer, the Chairman of the
Committee of National Defense, who handed over to General Franco.
These men, along with Generals Mola, Goded, Ochoa and Queipo del Llano
had been members of the Military Brotherly Union formed in 1925, in all 21 out of 23
divisional generals on the active list. Most
of these divisional generals had subsequently resigned from the Craft, but some
remained but were powerless to prevent the persecution of their Brothers.
Of the two generals who had refused to join the Military
Brotherly Union, one Francisco Franco Bahamonde had formed an obsessive
aversion to Freemasonry and single-handedly prevented to re-establishment of
Freemasonry in Spain until his death in 1975.
Francisco Franco Bahamonde was born on 4 December 1892 in the coastal
town of El Ferrol in the north-western province of Galicia.
The son of a naval officer, he was originally destined for a naval career
but cuts to the intake of officer cadets to the Naval Academy denied him that
opportunity and he entered instead, at the age of 14, the Infantry Academy at
Toledo, graduating after three years as a 2nd.Lieutenant. He was transferred to active service in Morocco in 1912 at
the age of 19 and in 1913 was promoted to 1st.Lieutenant in an elite
regiment of native cavalry. In 1915
he became the youngest captain in the Spanish army but was wounded in the
abdomen the following year and was transferred to Spain to recover.
In 1920 he was chosen as second in command of the newly formed Spanish
Foreign Legion under command of the legendary Lt.Col. Millan Astray, he who
coined the phrase ‘Death to Intelligence, Long Live Death’.
Franco succeeded to full command of the Legion in 1923 and in the same
year he married the beautiful young aristocrat Carmen Polo y Martinez Valdez
whom he had courted for ten years. The
couple were well suited and during a happy marriage only broken by Franco’s
death in 1975 there was not a breath of scandal attached to either of them.
With Franco in command, the Legion played a crucial part in the war
against the Moroccan rebels and Franco became a national hero when he led his
troops in the final victorious campaign. In
1926, at the age of 33, he was promoted to Brigadier-General and in 1928 was
made director of the new General Military Academy in Saragossa.
In 1931 the Academy was dissolved and Franco was demoted but with the
change of government in 1933 he was recalled and promoted to Major-general and
in this capacity put down the Asturian miner’s strike of 1934.
In 1935 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Spanish Army but with
another change of government in 1936, he was appointed military governor of the
Canary Islands from whence he joined the Nationalist rebellion of 18 July,
initially as commander of the Army of Africa.
He was proclaimed ‘Generalisimo’ or commander in chief of the
Nationalist forces on 1 October 1936, at the same time proclaimed Head of State.
From that point on, Franco never allowed opposition to his rule to
From the outset of his military career he gained a reputation for being a
thoroughly professional, hard-working, brave and meticulous officer, a strict
disciplinarian with, however, a genuine concern for the welfare of his men.
He was a shrewd and careful tactical planner who instilled in his
officers and men the need to know and understand the terrain so as never to be
taken by surprise. Although polite
and cordial he was introverted by nature, somewhat prim, and took little part in
the social life of the army, making few close friends but, at the same time, no
enemies. He had no time for
sycophants and flatters, neither was he one himself.
Above all, he was possessed of an unflappable, calm self-confident
personality which inspired confidence in him from others.
Although frequently photographed with a spontaneous beaming smile, he was
essentially unemotional, detached, analytical, seemingly dispassionate and
possessed of great patience. It was
said of him that not even his collar knew what he was thinking.
Franco is usually described as a fascist dictator, but this is altogether
a too simplistic and misleading description.
Franco certainly adopted the visual trappings of fascism at a time when
he needed German and Italian support and the cooperation of Spain’s homespun
quasi-fascist Falangists but during World War 2 he gradually disowned the
Germans and Italians and emphasized his anti-communist stance.
At home he merged the Falangists with the other right-wing parties to
form one big political party known as the National Movement with himself at its
head. The only Falangist policy he
adopted was the syndicalist system of trade union organization known as the
‘vertical trade union’. Effectively,
Franco absorbed the Falangists into the Spanish oligarchy and systematically
reduced their power. He did the
same to the Carlists, thus eliminating the extreme elements within the National
Movement. It is true that he
authorized the Falangists to form a division to fight alongside the Germans on
the Eastern Front but he forbade them to fight against the western democracies
and it was a very good way of getting rid of several thousands of avid and
restless young fascists from Spanish soil.
Franco was at heart a monarchist with a belief that Spain had been a
great country under strong monarchs but weak under Liberal parliamentary rule.
He believed that the monarchy and the Catholic Church together were the
cement which bound traditional Spain together.
On the other hand, when the Second Republic was proclaimed he exhorted
his cadets to remain loyal to the government and he personally cooperated fully
with the republican ministers in spite of misgivings about the ability of the
Republic to maintain law and order without the help of the army.
His military colleagues were unsure until the last moment of Franco’s
willingness to join a military rebellion. Above
all, he was intensely patriotic and regarded communism, anarchism, federalism
and Freemasonry as foreign ideologies which were bent of the destruction of
traditional Catholic Spain. He
believed in the Contubernio, the
existence of a Judeo-Masonic-Communist plot for world domination using Spain as
a crucible for revolution.
Franco appears to have had a obsessive hatred of Freemasonry judging by
what amounted to a personal campaign against it.
On 18 July 1937 he made a radio broadcast from Salamanca in which he
referred to the interference of ‘foreign powers and lodges’ and he
criticized the military Masons within the Nationalist ranks of ‘vacillation’
at the same time referring to Diego Martinez Barrio’s peace overtures of 1936
as ‘the treason of the lodges’. In
a press interview later that year he stated that the leaders of the republic
were for the most part Freemasons and that ‘before their duty to their country
came their obligations to the Grand Orient’.
He accused Freemasonry as being ‘the organization principally
responsible for the political ruin of Spain’ and responsible for the murder of
Calvo Sotelo on the orders of the Grand Secretary of Freemasonry in Geneva’.
In 1938, Franco decreed that all symbols associated with Freemasonry be
erased from the gravestones of Masons buried in Spain and in 1939 he banned
Freemasonry completely and made it a criminal offence for any man to have ever
been a member of the Craft. This
did not, however, apply to his fellow army officers, such and General Cabanellas
and General Queipo de Llano, neither of whom suffered the slightest disadvantage
to their careers even though they were both of republican sympathies as well as
In March 1940 Franco issued a decree banning communism and Freemasonry on
the grounds that these movements had been responsible for the loss of the
Spanish Empire in the 19th.Century and had been the cause of the
Civil War. Article 1 decreed that
it was to be a felony to be a communist or belong to a Masonic Lodge.
Article 2 decreed that all monies and properties belonging to those
organizations was to be confiscated. Article
4 defined those considered to be a Mason as those who had been initiated into
the Order and not expelled but excluding those expelled to protect them from the
law. Article 5 decreed that Masons
and communists will be liable to be imprisoned for a minimum of 12 years and one
day but the penalty could be aggravated by circumstances described in Article 6
which specifies Masons who had obtained degrees from the 18th to 33rd,
had taken part in Annual Communications or had been part of a committee or board
of the Grand Orient of Spain. Article
7 requires all Masons and communists to declare their affiliation within 2
months of the date of the decree and Article 8 decrees that Masons shall be
removed immediately and indefinitely from Government jobs, Public or Official
Corporations, managerial and advisory positions with private companies and any
other job of a confidential nature. In the same year a special military court was created to
suppress Freemasonry and it is estimated that about 2000 men were imprisoned for
up to 30 years. A more detailed
summary derived from Grand Lodge of Spain records lists 1608 Brethren sentenced
to 12 years and one day imprisonment, 285 to 16 years and one day, 133 to 20
years and one day and 159 to 30 years, all with loss of civil rights. On the other hand, Franco’s Minister of Justice claimed
that 950 Freemasons had been imprisoned, of which 500 had been released by 1945.
Franco even went so far as to have a Masonic Lodge constructed in
Salamanca in order to demonstrate the supposed evils of Freemasonry and it was
originally intended to be part of a museum of Freemasonry.
In the event this lodge room was never opened to the public and is today
part of the Spanish national archives. Also,
according to authors Xavi Casinos and Josep Brunet in their book Franco
Contra Los Masones Franco had a female spy known as “Anita de S” feeding
him covert information about the identity and intentions of Spanish Freemasons
exiled in Portugal. She was
apparently married to a leading Mason. In
July 1943, Franco announced to three of his senior military chiefs that a
Masonic plot to restore the monarchy had been uncovered and this probably
reflected his awareness of a monarchist lobby group within Nationalist High
Command, possibly headed by General Andres Saliquet Zumeta.
Even after World War 2 ended, by which time it must have been abundantly
obvious that he faced no internal threat from Freemasonry, Franco continued wage
war against the imagined Masonic enemy. In
an address to the Women’s Section of the Falange he punned to have
‘disorientated Freemasonry’ and have thwarted the ‘Masonic super-state’,
claiming that hostility to his regime from the foreign press were due to the
“devilish machinations of Freemasons hostile to God.
He said it was necessary to eradicate Freemasonry in order to restore
Spain. In that year 11 men were sentenced to between 12 to 16 years
for having written a pamphlet favourable to Freemasonry and in 1946 one Mario
Blasco Ibanez was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for having once belonged to
a Masonic lodge, in spite of the fact he was blind, deaf and paralyzed.
Franco blamed Spain’s exclusion from the United Nations was due to the
fact that Secretary-general, Mr.Trygve Lee and other prominent international
diplomats were high ranking Freemasons. These
and other allegations against Freemasonry he expounded in a series of 49
articles for the Falangist publication Arriba.under
the alias Jakin Boor. Franco
convinced himself that the alias concealed the true identity of the author but
it was fairly obvious to both Spaniards and foreigners.
The articles were published in book form in 1952.
Franco was assisted in his attacks on Freemasonry by his close friend
Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco and when, on 20 December 1973, Carrero Blanco was
assassinated by Basque separatists, Franco claimed privately that it had been a
Masonic revenge killing, a claim later made in 1986 in a book by Leo Ferraro
entitled El Ultimo Protocolo – Las Secretas
de Sionismo Mundial (The Last Protocol – The Secret Keys of World
Zionism). Even in his farewell
address to the Spanish nation on 1 October 1975, Franco made claim that
Communism and Freemasonry were enemies of Spain and that the European Economic
Community was a left-wing Masonic conspiracy.
It has been claimed that Franco’s antipathy towards Freemasonry was due
to his having been refused initiation into a Masonic lodge in Morocco, one to
which his brother, Ramon Franco, belonged.
On the other hand, General Mola, in his book ‘Tempestad
Calma Intriga Y Crisis’ stated that Franco had been one of two generals
who had refused to join the Military
Brotherly Union sometime after 1925. It
is possible that both accounts might be correct.
The initial refusal might well have offended Franco enough to explain his
refusal to join Freemasonry at a later stage in his career but it is also
possible that he was anxious for the sake of his career ambitions to avoid being
associated with a politicized group of any kind.
Franco was an ambitious officer who worked hard to gain promotion as
recognition of ability and achievement rather than by use of contacts.
Moreover, he did not seem to have extended his aversion to Freemasonry to
a personal level. His brother Ramon
was a Freemason, his father was allegedly favourable to Freemasonry and Franco
was on good terms with fellow officers and politicians who were either
Freemasons or former Masons although no doubt wary of them.
A more likely explanation of Franco’s obsessive aversion is simply,
that he believed in the existence of the Contubernio,
the Judeo-Masonic-Communist conspiracy. Franco
was an avowed Roman Catholic and belief in the Contubernio
was well established in Catholic circles by the time Franco had finished his
education. Like most conspiracy
theories, the Judeo-Masonic-Communist theory provided an explanation as to why
worrying developments were happening in the world, especially to a Catholic
world retreating before the advance of secularism, anti-clericalism, science and
critical examination of dogma. Also,
like most conspiracy theories, the credence of the Contubernio was embellished with so-called evidence.
A new disaster only had to involve a Jew, a Mason or a Communist for one
more proof to be added to the conspiracy theory.
Jew, Mason and Communist were inextricably linked together in a trinity
of scapegoats designed by the Catholic mindset.
And not only Catholics, the Contubernio
was widely believed by people representative of a wide range of political and
religious affiliations throughout the world.
Hitler was a believer.
From the outbreak of the Civil War, if not before, Franco was
increasingly surrounded by clergy who promoted the idea of the military led,
right wing rebellion as a ’crusade’ against the Godless Freemasons and
Communists and Franco undoubtedly espoused that concept.
After all, on the face of it the rebellion was nothing less than an act
of treason against a democratically elected government but the notion of a
‘crusade’ to liberate the Spanish people from the wicked Communists and
Masons lent justification and noble purpose to the rebellion and provided the
Church with justification for supporting it.
It was powerful magic which served a double purpose for it was powerful
enough magic to convince the USA, Britain and France (under pressure from
Britain) of the need to stay out of Spanish affairs and powerful enough to
attract military aid from Germany and Italy.
Franco could not have hit upon a more effective magic potion.
The anti-communist stress was the key to it.
It is likely that Franco never truly believed in the Jewish element in
During World War 2 he allowed Spain to be used as an escape route and
safe haven for Shepardic Jews escaping from Nazi occupied Europe and he is
generally considered to have been free of anti-Semitic sentiment.
It has also been pointed out that both his paternal and maternal surnames
– Franco and Bahamonde – were popular surnames amongst the conversos, or Christianized Jews of Spain.
Be that as it may, Franco gradually dropped the inclusion of the Jews in
his conspiracy allegations but for the rest of his life linked the Freemasons
and the Communists together in a conspiracy against Spain, consistently using
them as convenient scapegoats to explain any crises and setbacks to Spain’s
fortunes. For consumption by the
western democracies during the Cold War, Franco portrayed himself as a champion
in the fight against Communism and this policy eventually paid off.
From the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War a few hundred Spanish
Freemasons made their escape into exile and made their way to Mexico where they
founded the Grande Oriente Espanol in
exile under the auspices and hospitality of the Grand Lodge of the Valley of
Mexico. Some lodges in North Africa
under the jurisdiction of the Grande
Oriente Espanol continued to meet.
The Spanish Grand Lodge did not survive.
Following the death of General Franco in 1975, the King of Spain, Juan
Carlos I, in conjunction with senior Francoist politicians put in motion a
return to democracy and this presented the opportunity for the Gran
Oriente Espanol to re-establish itself on Spanish soil and negotiations were
commenced with most of the European grand jurisdictions with a view making
representations to the Spanish government to confirm the legality of Freemasonry
in Spain. The position of the King
with regard to Freemasonry was not clear at that time.
The first positive step, resulting from the 27th.Convention of
the Supreme Councils of the 33rd.degree of the Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite which met in Paris in May 1977, was a declaration of intent by the
Grand Master of the Gran Oriente Espanol, Jaime Fernandez Gil de Terradillos, to return
the jurisdiction to Spanish soil. The
declaration was made with the prior authorization of the surviving members of
the Grand Federal Symbolic Council in
Mexico. Subsequently, a Grand
National Assembly of the Grande Oriente
Espanol was held in Madrid on 2 November 1977 which set up a Permanent
Committee of the Grand Federal Symbolic Council and on 4 November 1977 the exile
of the Gran Oriente was declared over.
The Grande Oriente Espanol was
unilaterally declared as having full sovereignty as a the Regular Masonic Power
of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. On 2 November 1977, the Grande
Oriente Espanol set up a Board of
Administration chaired by the Grand Master and consisting of 6 other most senior
officers of the Order. This Board
commenced negotiations with various ministers of the Spanish government ending
with a meeting with the Minister of the Interior, Snr.Rodolfo Martin Villa,
concerning the formal legalization of Freemasonry in Spain. On 14 November 1977 a memorial was issued expressing the wish
to keep “fraternal relationships” with the Church.
On 29 November 1977, the Grand Master accompanied by several members of
the Board of Administration held a press conference at which they released a
communiqué setting out the principles, aims and organization of the Grande
Oriente Espanol in which was made special reference to desire to maintain
contacts of mutual respect with the Catholic Church, claiming that Canon 2335 of
the Code of Ecclesiastical Law did not apply to the Grande Oriente since it
did not “plot against the Church”. There
have been significant developments in Canon Law detrimental to the Catholic
Church’s position as to Freemasonry since that time.
The tenor of the above communiqué in seeking respectful relations with
the Catholic Church and in pledging loyalty to the Spanish Monarchy offended
some staunch republican members of the Grande
Oriente enough for them to form the Grand United Spanish Orient and, in
1979, the Grand Symbolic Spanish Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand
Orient of France was formed. The
Grand National French Lodge also commenced chartering Lodges in Spain resulting
with the constituting of the Grand Lodge of Spain on 6 November 1982.
Once again Spanish Freemasonry had become fragmented and this weakness
and confusion had a detrimental effect on the progress of government procedures
towards legalizing the Craft. As a
result the Grande Oriente commenced litigation against the State in order to
resolve the legal deadlock. This
resulted in victory in the first instance before the National Audience and,
after an appeal by the State Solicitor, were successful against before the
Fourth Court of the High Court (La Sala de
lo Contencioso-Administravo de la Audiencia National) on 10 May 1979, the
sentence being ratified by the Supreme Tribunal (No. 47.103) on 3 July 1979.
The Director General of the department of the Interior was instructed to
register the Grande Oriente Espanol on the National register of Associations
(No.32,886). By resolution of the
Supreme Tribunal of the Spanish Supreme Court (La Sala de lo Contensio-Administravo
de la Audiencia National) dated 21 October 1991 (No.1141/1989) the law
against communism and Freemasonry of 1 March 1940 was revoked, thus removing all
vestiges of Francoist law against Freemasonry.
Although the Grande Oriente Espanol received wide international recognition, the
United Grand Lodge of England with held recognition due to its longstanding
objection to Masonic jurisdictions organized under a Grand Orient structure
governed by a Supreme Council of the 33rd. Degree.
Other Grand Lodges in the British Commonwealth followed suit.
The United Grand Lodge of England instead kept a watchful eye on the
progress of what it had reason to believe was ‘regular’ Freemasonry in
Spain, the Lodges formed under the jurisdiction of the Grand National French
Lodge (Grande Loge National Francais ) which started with four Lodges
meeting in Catalonia as part of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Occitania. In
December 1980, these Lodges were formed into the District Grand Lodge of Spain
and by 1982 a further 6 Lodges had been chartered enabling the constitution of
the Grand Lodge of Spain (Gran Logia
Espanola) on 2 July 1982. The
Grand Lodge of Spain was recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England and
other mainstream European jurisdictions in 1987.
This recognition of the Gran Logia
Espanol as the recognized ‘regular’ obedience in Spain was a severe blow
to the Grande Oriente, resulting, as
it did, with a steady stream of its members transferring to the Gran
Logia. As a consequence, at a Grand General Extraordinary Assembly
held in Madrid on 31 March 2001, the Gran
Logia Espanol and the Grande Oriente
Espanol merged into a single obedience under the name of the former, with
Tomas Sarobe as Grand Master. The
jurisdiction is divided into 6 Provincial Grand Lodges under their own
Provincial Grand Masters.
In spite of this happy union of jurisdictions and Masonic traditions,
Spanish Freemasonry still features a number of irregular Grand Lodges and
Lodges. The irregular Grand Lodge
of France still has three chartered Lodges in Spain.
There exists a Symbolic Grand Lodge of Spain (Gran
Logia Simbolica Espanola) with about 27 lodges and a small Federal Grand
Lodge of Spain (Gran Logia Federal Espanola) based in the Canary Islands.
Of mixed or adoptive Masonry there exists a Spanish District of the
International Order of Co-Freemasonry – Le Droit Humain and there are lodges
in Spain chartered by La Grande Loge Feminine de France.
Ironically, General Franco was party to allowing quite large numbers of
foreign Freemasons into Spain during from the 1950’s onwards.
In 1953, Franco concluded negotiations which allowed the USA to establish
military bases in Spain and by 1969 there were 5 Military Lodges meeting in
these bases in spite of the fact that the bases were at least nominally
commanded by Spanish officers under the Spanish flag.
All of these Lodges were chartered by the French National Grand Lodge and
in 1969 were constituted into the GLNF Continental District Grand Lodge together
with other GLNF military lodges in the Netherlands, France and Belgium.
All of these military lodges have now merged into the John J.Kestly Lodge
No.60 meeting at the Rota naval base. The
Saints John Lodge No.35 of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts meets in
the same premises. Another Franco
initiative was the tourist drive of the 1950’s which kicked off when Franco
and his wife provided their support to the Major of Benidorm, Snr.Pedro
Zaragaza’s tourism plans which included permitting the wearing of bikinis on
the beaches. The Benidorm
experiment rapidly spread to the whole of the Spanish Riviera and attracted many
thousands of tourists, mainly British and German, many of whom have bought
properties in recent years and become permanent or semi-permanent residents. As a consequence there are now as many as 26 lodges
working the Emulation Ritual in the English language and others working the
Schroeder (German), Swedish and Dutch Rites.
Masonic research in Spain is conducted by the Logia Duque de Wharton
No.18 at Barcelona and Logia Athenor No.47 in Madrid.
There is a Centre for Historical Research into Spanish Freemasonry (Centro Estudios Historicos de
la Masoneria Espanola) in Zaragoza and the Iberian centre for Masonic
Studies (Centro Iberico de Estudios
Masonicos) in Madrid. The
Centre for Historical Research into Spanish Freemasonry was founded by Professor
Jose Ferrer Benimeli of the University of Zaragoza. In 1983, the Centre began
hosting international academic conferences which have featured scholastic papers
on Masonic subjects from historians worldwide.
Spanish Freemasonry has not been entirely free from attacks from
anti-Masonry sources since its re-establishment.
Apart from Leo Ferraro’s book mentioned above, in 1979 Cesar Casanova
in his book entitled ‘Urgent Manual on Zionism in Spain’ (Manuel
de urgencia sobre el sionismo en Espana) claimed that global events were
unfurling as predicted in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In 1881, Franco’s book entitled ‘Masoneria’ was republished under
his own name. In recent years
supporters of the Catholic Church have linked Spanish Freemasonry with policies
of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE), such as abortion and same-sex
marriages which are contrary to the Church’s moral position.
Cesar Vidal claimed in his publication entitled ‘The Freemasons:
History of the Most Powerful Secret Society (Los
masons: la historia de la sosiedad secreta mas ponderosa)
that “Freemasonry is responsible for the spread of laicism.”
Indeed, the communications revolution created by the Internet (World Wide
Web) has enabled some Catholics to revisit and promote their anti-masonic
theories in the public arena. Typical
of such material is the interview of Monsignor Vincente Corcel Orti by
Wlodzimierz Redzouich entitled ‘The Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War’ in
which, harking back to the Civil War era, Corcel Orti claims that Freemasons
“played a major role in the making of anti-Catholic laws and in defamations
against the Church.” Of course,
one only has to do or say something the Church does not like to be plotting
against it or defaming it in the Church’s eyes.
Echoes of the Contubernio have arisen.
We must never forget that all Freemasons share the same tenets of
Freemasonry as their Spanish brothers, the same standards for human justice and
behavior, the same hope for humanity. But
we who have lived our lives under the protection of liberal democracies have not
experienced the same internal suppression of personal freedoms, especially
freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom to voice opinion and the
right to equal justice but, again, we must never forget that Freemasonry was
amongst the foremost of those enlightened movements which won the freedoms we
now enjoy from the culture of autocracy. It
has been a so much harder struggle for the Freemasons of Spain and one cannot
but admire and wonder at their courage and fortitude. It would have been much easier to have walked away, but they
But we are not so cosseted by our democratic utopia here in New Zealand
as to be insensible to numerous attempts over the years to undermine our
democratic freedoms, amongst the most recent of these being the politically
inspired culture of ‘political correctness’ whereby politicians and public
servants attempt to control, divert or suppress debate or opinions by means of a
system not unlike traffic control, figuratively using directional arrows and
road blocks. Political correctness
is nothing short of a system which aims at specifying the confines within which
an individual is permitted to voice his or her opinion and is therefore
undemocratic and severely hinders the scope of investigation and debate to the
detriment of truth.
Likewise, Freemasonry is not insensible to the strident and slanderous
attacks upon it emanating from obscurantist and homophobic religious extremists,
those who have closed their minds to any further or alternative theological or
philosophical opinion or debate, to any further scientific knowledge and to any
further revelation. Those who say
they have seen the light and know the truth.
The problem with these people is not the beliefs that they have chosen
for themselves but that they are so intolerant towards the beliefs of others,
that they demand blind faith and obedience from others and work for the
destruction of those who will not concur and obey.
In this, they are in breach of the fundamental law of humankind, that
every man should treat others as he expects to be treated himself.
That is the fundamental law of humanity upon which all true and equal
justice is based, upon which all human cooperative effort is dependant, the
basis is human understanding, the fount of human compassion and benevolence and
without which human society cannot ultimately exist. It is only by adhering to this fundamental law that mankind
can not only survive but live in peace and build a better world.
This fundamental law is the bedrock of Freemasonry which was founded to
uphold that law and which exists to uphold it.
At the Festival of the Spanish race, held under the auspices of the
University of Salamanca on 12 October 1936, the rector of the University,
Professor Miguel de Unamuno, distressed that the proceedings had been blighted
by raucous outburst of Falangist fanaticism and in contemptuous response to the
cry of “Death to intellectuals” (Mueran
los intellectuales), concluded his address by telling the Nationalist
audience “You will win, because you have more than enough brute force.
But you will not convince. For
to persuade you will need what you lack: reason and right in your struggle.”
Who can say that the struggle between the voice of reason. tolerance and
human cooperation, on the one hand, and the forces obscurantist, dictatorial
blind faith on the other, is yet over?
I.McGregor. 19 July 2009. Invercargill, New Zealand.
Selected Reference Sources:
Gould's History of Freemasonry. Caxton.
The Freemasons. Eugen Lennhof. A.Lewis Ltd. 1978ed.
The Battle for Spain. Antony Beevor. Phoenix. 2006
The Spanish Civil War. Hugh Thomas. Readers Union, Ayre and Spottiswoode. 1962
Freemasonry Universal Vol.2. Kent Henderson & Tony Pope. Global Masonic Publications. 2000
Masonic World Guide. K.W.Henderson. Lewis Masonic. 1984
Coils Masonic Encyclopedia. Henry Wilson Coil. Macoy. 1961
Franco. Alan Lloyd. Longman. 1969.
Freemasonry and the Spanish Civil War. Matthew Scanlan. Freemasonry Today. 2004
Brief History of Spanish Masonry. Miguel Angel de Foruria y Franco. http://www.gle.org/ingles/i_historia.php
The Spanish Mediterranean Freemasonry. Anon. www.jason-22.eu/espagna.html
Judaeo-Masonic conspiracy theory. Anon. Wikipedia
Spain: The Enlightenment/The Liberal ascendancy/Rule by Pronunciamento/Liberal Rule. Anon. http://countrystudies.us/spain.16.htm
Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry. Paul M.Bessel. 1994. http://www.risingstar.co.za/persecution.html
Liberalism. Anon. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism
The Lodge of St.John snf the Liberal uprising of Torrijos in Spain. Anon. http://www.inhabitantslodge.com/torrillosuprising.htm
Persecution of Masonry. Paul M.Bessel. http://risingstar.co.za/persecution.html
The Civil War in Spain. Frank Jellinek. Vicotr Gollancz. 1938
History of the Inquisition of Spain. Vol 4. Book 8. Chapter 12 Free-masonry. Henry Charles Lea. Library of Iberian Resources Online. http:///libro.eca.edu/lea4/8lea12.htm
A History of Spain and Portugal. Vol 2. Chap 24. Climax and Collapse of Spanish Liberalism, 1899-1931. Stanley G Payne. The Library of Iberian Resources Online. http://libro.uca.edu/payne2/payne24.htm
Spanish Inquisition. Anon. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition
Carlism's Defense of the Church in Spain, 1833-1936. Alexandra Wilhelmsen. http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/FR90403.TXT
History of Spain. Anon. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Spain
Spanish Constitution of 1812. Anon. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Constitution_of_1812
Spain. Anon. Library of Congress Country Studies. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+e...
Francisco Franco Bahamonde. Anon. http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/franco.html
Suppression of Freemasonry. Anon. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppression_of_Freemasonry
After Fifty Years:The Spanish Civil War. Murray Bookchin. Spunk Library. http://www.spunk.org/library/writers/bookchin/sp001642/fifty.html
The Spanish Revolution, Cahpter 12 'Pawns in the Game'. William C.Carr. http:///www.biblebelievers.org.au/pawns1.htm#The%20Civil%20...
Freemasonry Banned in Spain by General Franco. Juan Carloz Alvarez. http://www.freemasonry-freemasonry.com/franco.html