The Illuminists are a modern day secret society, often referred to as an “order”. Historically, the name often times refer to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded by an ambitious knight. The Bavarian Order was created as an offshoot of the Masonic Lodges founded in Lodz, Poland in 1740. Although similar in purpose to the Lodges, it had three primary differences; it was not recognized by the Grand Lodge, it had no standing military order, and it did not have any standard dress code.
Today, the term “illuminist” is used to describe anyone who is involved with the Freemasons, or at least, knows of anyone who is. The Illuminists believe in the importance of education, and many of them studied in the universities of Europe. The Illuminists also believed that true enlightenment comes through intellectual pursuit, and that Freemasonry is the practical application of this belief. The Illuminists were a secret society throughout most of the middle ages, although they did not remain secret after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door. They resurfaced in the revolutionary years of the French and American Revolutions.
Some conspiracy theorists believe that the Bavarian illuminists were behind the revolutions as well as the French Revolution. The Bavarian government and the Grand Master were completely aware of the existence of the Illuminists, and the fact that they had their castle in France while the government was banning the Masonic lodge. Many modern day conspiracy theorists believe that the Bavarian government was protecting its secret society from the French Revolution and other revolutionary forces.