Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Vol 1, No 1 (2010)

Monarchy and Aristrocracy as International Factors in Freemasonry: The Case of Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, 1816-1881

Anton van de Sande
Issued Date: 22 Jan 2010


This article treats the role of monarchy in nineteenth century freemasonry in Europe with a focus on Prince Frederick as Grand Master of the Dutch Grand Orient and his far less successful endeavours to add a masonic-monarchical glue to the fusion of the Northern and the Southern Netherlands into a new national configuration. The phenomenon of nineteenth century monarchy is treated initially, elaborating upon the inherent tension between liberal politics and restoration in the aftermath of the Vienna Congress. Some European monarchies chose to identify themselves with the ‘people’ rather than with privileges given by divine authority. Also freemasonry of the nineteenth century was trapped in the same bipolarity between cosmopolitan openness and national delimitation. The biography of Prince Frederick, raised at the Prussian court in Berlin and linked through intermarriage to its throne, illustrates the dilemma of nineteenth century monarchy, faced by the dynamic change of European political culture. His position of Grand Master of the Dutch Grand Orient placed him in the middle of controversies between fraternal and national aspirations. And even if monarchy intended to represent an international factor in freemasonry, the case of Prince Frederick illuminates the entire spectrum of difficulties.

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DOI: 10.1558/jrff.v1i1.23


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