Augustin Barruel

Augustin Barruel

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Abbé Augustin Barruel was a French Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

. He is now mostly known for setting forth the conspiracy theory
Conspiracy theory
A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

 involving the Bavarian Illuminati
Illuminati
The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically the name refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776...

 and the Jacobins
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

 in his book Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism is a book by the French Jesuit, the Abbé Augustin Barruel....

(original title Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Jacobinisme) published in 1797. In short, Barruel wrote that the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 was planned and executed by the secret societies.

Biography


Augustin Barruel was born at Villeneuve de Berg (Ardèche
Ardèche
Ardèche is a department in south-central France named after the Ardèche River.- History :The area has been inhabited by humans at least since the Upper Paleolithic, as attested by the famous cave paintings at Chauvet Pont d'Arc. The plateau of the Ardeche River has extensive standing stones ,...

). He entered the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

, commonly known as the Jesuits in 1756 and taught grammar at Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 1762. The storm against the Jesuits in France drove him from his country and he was occupied in college work in Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 and Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 until the suppression of the order in 1773. He then returned to France and his first literary work appeared in 1774: Ode sur le glorieux avenement de Louis Auguste au trone. That same year he became a collaborator of the Année littéraire, edited by Fréron
Élie Catherine Fréron
Élie Catherine Fréron was a French critic and controversialist whose career focused on countering the influence of the philosophes of the French Enlightenment, partly thorough his vehicle, the Année littéraire...

. His first important work was Les Helveiennes, ou Lettres Provinciales philosophiques, published in 1781.

In the meantime, national affairs in France were growing more and more turbulent, but Barruel continued his literary activity, which from now on occupied itself specially with public questions. In 1789 appeared Lettres sur le Divorce, a refutation of a book by Hennet. From 1788 to 1792 he edited the famous Journal Ecclesiastique founded by Joseph Dinouart
Joseph Dinouart
Joseph Antoine Toussaint Dinouart was a preacher, polemicist, compiler of sacred learning, and apologist for French feminism.-Biography:...

 in 1760. In this periodical was published Barruel's La Conduite du. S. Siège envers la France, a vigorous defense of Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

. He likewise wrote a number of pamphlets against the civil oath demanded from ecclesiastics and against the new civil constitution during 1790 and 1791. He afterward gathered into one Collection Ecclésiastique all of the works relative to the clergy and civil constitution.

The French revolution and the conspiracy theory


The storm of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 had in the meantime forced Barruel to seek refuge in England, where he became almoner
Almoner
An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing cash to the deserving poor.Historically, almoners were Christian religious functionaries whose duty was to distribute alms to the poor. Monasteries were required to spend one tenth of their income in charity to...

 to the refugee Prince of Conti
Prince of Conti
The title of Prince of Conti was a French noble title, assumed by a cadet branch of the house of Bourbon-Condé. It was taken from Conty, a small town of northern France, c. 35 km southwest of Amiens, which came into the Condé family by the marriage of Louis of Bourbon, first prince of Condé,...

. Here he wrote in 1793 the Histoire du Clergé pendant la Revolution Française. He dedicated the work to the English nation in recognition of the hospitality that it had showed toward the unfortunate French ecclesiastics. It has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, and English. The English version went through several editions and did much to strengthen the British nation in its opposition to French revolutionary principles. While in London, Barruel published an English work, A Dissertation on Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the Catholic Church. But none of his works attracted so much attention as his Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism is a book by the French Jesuit, the Abbé Augustin Barruel....

.


His basic idea was that of a conspiracy with the aim of overthrowing Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

--or more to the point, any and all forms of political and social organization based on conformity to the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

.

It inspired John Robison
John Robison (physicist)
John Robison FRSE was a Scottish physicist and mathematician. He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh....

, who had been working independently on his own conspiracy theory to extend his book Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe and include several quotations from Barruel.

Late years


On the fall of the Directory
French Directory
The Directory was a body of five Directors that held executive power in France following the Convention and preceding the Consulate...

 in 1802, Barruel was enabled to return to France. He fully accepted and persuaded many other clergymen to accept the new political order of things in his native country and he wrote several books to defend his opinions. When the Concordat was made in 1801 between Pius VII and Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, Barruel wrote: Du Pape et de ses Droits Religieux. His last important controversy was his defense of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 in its deposition of the French bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s, which he said had been necessitated by the new order of things in France established by the Concordat of 1801
Concordat of 1801
The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801. It solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and brought back most of its civil status....

. His book appeared also in English: The Papal Power, or an historical essay on the temporal power of the Pope. Many attacked the work, but as usual, the author did not suffer an antagonist to go unanswered. His new work involved him in a very extended controversy, for his work was translated into all the principal European languages. His friends and foes alike became involved in a wordy war. Blanchard published in London no fewer than three refutations. He had promised to compose two works that never appeared: Historie des Sociétés Secrètes au Moyen-Age and Dissertation sur la Croisade contre les Albigeois. In regard to the latter work, Barruel stated his object would be to defend the Church against the reproach of having deposed kings and having freed their subjects from the oath of allegiance. He contended that objections on this score arose only from an ignorance of history. At the time of his death, Barruel was engaged on a refutation of the philosophical system of Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, but never completed his work. He died in Paris in 1820.

Trivia


Young Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron...

 read Barruel's book with excitement between 1811 and 1814. When he eloped with William Godwin
William Godwin
William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism...

's daughter in 1814, she read it with him. The vision of secret societies working for the revolution must have appealed to Shelley.

See also

  • Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
    Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism
    Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism is a book by the French Jesuit, the Abbé Augustin Barruel....

  • Conspiracy theory
    Conspiracy theory
    A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

  • Freemasonry
    Freemasonry
    Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...


External links