Secret Societies and the Revolutionary Movement in Europe, 1776-1871

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 23074

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 20

Semester 1&2

Module description

The module begins with a consideration of the role of `conspiracy’ as both myth and reality in history. It proceeds next to examine organizational models for conspiracy in the early modern period (Society of Jesus; English and Scottish freemasonry, etc). Chronological and thematic analysis of secret societies begins with the case of the Bavarian Illuminati, 1776. Case-study analysis of secret societies continues to 1871. Issues considered: the emergence of role models consequent upon the French Revolution; the theory of revolt; the sociology of mythmaking about secret societies; the secret society as a template for the emergence of opposition political parties; the relevance of `conspiracy’ in liberal democracies; the significance of the role of the army in secret societies