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Francis Bacon, the Master of the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons

The generally accepted beginning Rosicrucians is traced to Germany during the period of 1607–1616, when three Rosicrucian manifestos were published—the Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC), the Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC), and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459). These manifestos described “most laudable Order” the goal of which was a “Universal Reformation of Mankind,” provoked great interest throughout Europe. The similarities of the goals of the Rosicrucian Order as described in the manifestos and the goal of Francis Bacon’s “Great Instauration” are obvious. The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC and The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC presented an allegorical history of the foundation of the Rosicrucian Order. According to the legend presented in the manifestos the Rosicrucian Order was founded by a German doctor and mystic philosopher who was born in 1378 and referred to as “Frater C.R.C.” (later identified as Christian Rosenkreuz, or “Rose-cross”).


It has been widely theorized that Francis Bacon had created Rosicrucian and Freemason secret societies in England well before 1607.[1] W.F.C. Wigston, in Bacon, Shakespeare, and the Rosicrucians (1890) initially proposed the theory, followed by and Constance Mary Fearon Pott (1833–1915) in Francis Bacon and His Secret Society. Perhaps the most prolific writer on the theory was Alfred Dodd, who picked up the theory and wrote several books on the subject.[2] However, Alfred Dodd’s theories have not been generally accepted. Dodd’s work is seen as less creditable due, in part, to his belief in Spiritualism. In Shakespiritualism: Shakespeare and the Occult, 18501950 (2013), Jeffrey Kahan describes in detail some of Dodd’s unusual beliefs and experiences. Dodd came to believe, after becoming interested in the Shakespeare authorship question following a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, that Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s works. Subsequently, according to Kahan, Dodd had a dream or a “visit to ‘the astral plane’” in which he encountered the ghost of Shakespeare, which gave his an enigmatic message Dodd interpreted as referring to Francis Bacon. Dodd was soon convinced that Bacon had been a Master Mason and the author of Shakespeare.[3] However, Kahan correctly observes that just because someone has seemingly strange ideas does not mean that they are wrong about everything:


Of course, we recognize that crazy people have some crazy ideas….But we shouldn’t dismiss the value of an idea solely on the basis of an author or authors’ personal characteristics. Albert Einstein’s hair is ridiculous; his theory of relativity is not.[4]


Dodd recorded his ideas in Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story.[5] Despite Dodd’s odd beliefs in Spiritualism, his book seems to be well researched and the content is supported by citations to, and excerpts from, historical records. His belief in Spiritualism aside, Dodd’s ideas about Francis Bacon cannot be dismissed out of hand. In fact, my results, presented later in this book, provide evidence in support of some of Dodd’s “crazy” ideas. A brief summary of Dodd’s ideas is provided below. Let us take his ideas, as crazy as they may seem, as hypotheses to be tested. If they really are crazy ideas, they should be easily disproven.


In Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story, Dodd put forward his views that Francis Bacon was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Dodd’s ideas build on theories that originated with Orville Ward Owen and Elizabeth Wells Gallup.[6] As described previously, Owen published lengthy decipherments of messages hidden in Shakespeare by collating pieces of Shakespeare’s plays, using a device he invented called the “cipher wheel.” According to Owen, Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley were secretly married and their children were Francis Bacon and Robert Devereux. The messages Owen found indicated that Bacon was denied recognition by his parents was banished from the line of succession to the throne of England. Gallup claimed to have found a bilateral cipher, known to have been invented by Bacon, hidden in the works of Shakespeare.[7] Gallup’s results were eventually discredited by the cryptographers William Friedman and Elizabeth Friedman.[8]


According to Dodd, Sir Nicolas Bacon and Anne Bacon were, in reality, Francis Bacon’s foster parents. Immediately after his birth, Bacon was placed with Anne Bacon, the Queen’s Head Lady-in-Waiting, and Sir Nicolas Bacon, who lived in York House, next door to York Palace. The Queen remained close to her child and often visited the Bacons at Gorhambury House, after she ordered Sir Nicholas to build it, both secretly and on her official royal progresses.[9]


Dodd also asserted that after the death of the Earl of Leicester’s wife, Amy Robsart, the Queen had a second child with the Earl. That child, Robert Devereux, was Francis Bacon’s younger brother and would later become the 2nd Earl of Essex. Francis Bacon was, therefore, an adulterine bastard—a child born to an unmarried woman by a married man—a serious blemish on one’s character in the sixteenth century. However, if the Queen and Dudley were secretly married after the death of Amy Robsart, and assuming Robert Devereux was their child, Devereux would have been legitimate.


Dodd theorizes that shortly after Bacon entered Gray’s Inn to study law, Bacon learned that he was the son of Queen Elizabeth and began to press for clarification of what his role would be in the future. It was made clear to Bacon that he would not receive any official recognition and that his true identity would remain a state secret. As a result, Bacon decided to devote his full efforts to his “Great Instauration” project.


In 1579-1580, about 30 years before The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC and The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC were published in Germany, Bacon invented the first Rosicrucian and Freemason secret societies as the means to advance free thought, and ethical and spiritual ideas that were being suppressed, as part of his project for the “Great Instauration” of humankind.[10] Dodd also claims that Bacon also imbued his creations—Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry—with their Theosophical aspects of individual enlightenment, salvation, and universal love, and that Bacon was both writing openly, in a restrained manner, and also secretly writing and publishing material, concerning this project. [11]


Dodd also claims that Francis Bacon created “the secret literary society afterwards known as the Fra Rosi Cross.” The members of the Fra Rosi Cross were known the “Invisibles,” and included, according to Dodd, Gabriel Harvey, Bacon’s “old literary Professor,” and Fulke Greville. Dodd also claimed that Sir Philip Sidney and Sidney’s his sister, Lady Pembroke, Countess of Pembroke had at least some knowledge of the society, with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, providing “warm support,” and Lord Burghley possibly supporting the effort by providing funds for printing expenses.[12]


At Gray’s Inn, Bacon participated in the Masques, Revels, Plays and Musical Comedies or Entertainments produced by the students on holidays such as Christmas and the New Year. For example, he produced the Maske of Flowers (1614). He acted as the “Prince of Purpool” (Purple) at the Grey’s Inn Revels of 1594–95 when The Honorable Order of the Knights of the Helmet was performed. The helmet referred to in the title of the order was the helmet of Pallas Athena, the “Spear-Shaker.” According to myth, the helmet of Pallas Athena made the wearer invisible, thus, a member of the Order was known as “An Invisible.” In the play, with its Masonic overtones, the initiate to the Order swore “to defend God and the State, to attack Ignorance, to defend Truth and Virtue ceaselessly and secretly,” and to work to “dissipate the clouds of ignorance by the light of knowledge by blazing it openly before the eyes of men or flashing it secretly to illuminate the darkened places of the mind, to work for the all-round good of humanity without fee or reward,”[13]


Francis Bacon also maintained a corps of writers, or his “good pens,” as assistants working under him, including Fletcher, Ben Johnson, Beaumont, Chapman, Dekker, Massinger, Marston, Ford, Heywood, Nashe, Bright, Burton, Peacham, Betterton, Rawley, Hobbes, and Bushell.[14] Dodd claims that Bacon, using the Rosicrucian scrivenery he had assembled, was responsible for writing or publishing a large number of works of literature under the names of others, including Geoffrey Whitney’s Choice of Emblems (1586), Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene (1590), works published under Christopher Marlowe’s name, in addition to plays Shakespeare, and works attributed to Thomas Nashe, John Lyly, Robert Greene, and George Peele.[15]


William T. Smedley, observed that the period corresponding to Bacon’s activities saw an unprecedented flowering of the English language—


The period from 1576 to 1623—only forty-seven years—sees the English language developed from a state of almost barbaric crudeness to the highest pitch which any language, classical or modern, has reached. There was but one workman living at that period who could have constructed that wonderful instrument and used it to produce such magnificent examples of its possibilities. It is as reasonable to take up a watch keeping perfect time and aver that the parts came together by accident, as to contend that the English language of the Authorised Version of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare were the result of a general up-springing of literary taste which was diffused amongst a few writers of very mediocre ability.[16]


After Francis Bacon’s death, Ben Jonson in On Lord Francis Bacon described the period of Francis Bacon’s activity and the period after his death in these words:


[H]e who hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born that could honor a language or help study. Now things daily fall, wits grow downward, and eloquence grows backward; so that he may be named and stand as the mark and [acme] of our language.[17]


Dodd also points to page 53 of Geffrey Whitney’s Choice of Emblems[18] as evidence of Bacon’s Masonic connections. This page has an image that Dodd asserted contains Masonic symbols: Arches, symbolizing the Holy Royal Arch Degree of Freemasonry; the twin Pillars of Masonry, with one of Francis Bacon’s mottos—“Plus Ultra” (there is “more beyond’)—arrayed across the pillars; a sow, referring to a S.O.W (“Son of Wisdom”); the gavel of a mason; and light and dark capital A letters, the same light and dark letters that appear so often appear as part of the ornamental headpiece of certain pages of published works of the period, including Shakespeare.[19]


Later chapters will discuss the hidden messages I have discovered touching on Francis Bacon’s Rosicrucian activities.


[1] Bryan Bevan, The Real Francis Bacon, England: Centaur Press, 1960. [2] See Dodd, Albert. Shakespeare, Creator of Freemasonry. London, Rider & co, 1937; Dodd, Albert. The Secret Shake-speare. London, Rider & co., 1941; Dodd, Albert. The Martyrdom of Francis Bacon. London, New York [etc.] Rider & co. [1945?]; Dodd, Albert. Who Was Shake-speare?: Was He Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, or William Shakespeare? London : G. Lapworth & Co, ; [1947?]; Dodd, Albert. Francis Bacon’s Personal Life-Story. London, New York, Rider, [1949]-. [3] Kahan, Jeffrey. Shakespiritualism : Shakespeare and the Occult, 1850-1950. 2013. New York : Palgrave Macmillan. 54. Print. [4] Id. 56. [5] Dodd, Alfred. Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story. Vol. 1, The Age of Elizabeth, 1949. Vol. 2, The Age of James, 1986. London: Rider and Company, 1986. Print. [6] See Owen, Orville Ward. Sir Francis Bacon’s Cipher Story. Detroit, Mich., Wolverine publishing company [1893]-. [7] See Elizabeth Gallup, Concerning the Bi-Literal Cypher of Francis Bacon Discovered in His Works. Howard Publishing Co., 1910. [8] See William and Elizebeth Friedman, The Shakespearian Ciphers Examined. Cambridge University Press, 1957. [9] Dodd, Alfred. Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story. 61. (citing Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. London, Printed by and for J. Nichols and son, 1823.) [10] Id. Vol. 1, 130. [11] Id. 128. [12] Id. 130-131. [13] Id. 131, 156. [14] Id. 132. [15] Id. 137-138, 179-180. [16] Smedley, William T. The Mystery of Francis Bacon [EBook #36650]. Project Gutenberg. July 7, 2011. 92. [17] Ben Jonson. On Lord Francis Bacon. 1625. [18] Whitney, Geffrey. A choice of emblemes and other devises : for the moste parte gathered out of sundrie writers, Englished and moralized, and divers newly devised. 1586. Imprinted at Leyden : In the house of Christopher Plantyn by Francis Raphelengius. Print. [19] Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story. Vol. 1, The Age of Elizabeth, 1949. Vol. 2, The Age of James, 1986. London: Rider and Company, 1986. Vol. 1, 140.

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