The term sounds familiar, even if you’ve never been concerned with conspiracies. Many have heard about this secret brotherhood, whose reputation has reached the ends of the world. Most suspicious minds believe that the Illuminati control almost everything today: the secret services, banks, and governments of every country. However, what lies beneath? What is the truth? Although secret societies with the Illuminati name have appeared mainly in the last three centuries, there are reports of “Illuminati” groups well before this period. In the fifteenth century, a group appeared in Spain, a mystical Christian sect called the Alumbrados (i.e., Illuminati).
The beliefs of this sect are interesting and worth mentioning: the Alumbrados believed that through mysticism one could reach perfection and communicate with God; they rejected as unnecessary any ecclesiastical worship, and there were a few members who claimed to have visions. Of course, these claims attracted the interest of the Spanish Inquisition and from 1529 onward the sect was persecuted mercilessly. In 1623 members of the Alumbrados arrived in France from Seville and tried to convert new followers. Curiously they succeeded when the vicar of the church of St. George in Roye, in northern France, Pierre Guerin, penetrated their ranks. The French Illuminati were originally known as Illumines or Guerinets, named after their new leader. The Guerinets found fertile ground in the provinces of Picardy and Flanders, and proselytized new members. However, everything ended abruptly around 1635, after a series of persecutions against them.
In the sixteenth century another “Illuminati” organization appeared in the mountains of Afghanistan by the name of Roshaniya, established by the Indian Bayazid Ansari around 1560. The sect originally had a religious character, with Ansari’s fans adoring the “Supreme Being,” which could bring them enlightenment. The ideology of the sect gradually transformed from purely religious to military-political. All members were trained to use weapons and the arts of war and began to hunt with hate those who did not belong to the order. Feeling confident in their strength, the Roshaniya turned against the Mongols who had settled in the area.
Although few in number and missing equipment, they managed to defeat the Mongolian army in Chora, where the Oruzgan province is found today. This victory gave Bayazid Ansari the reputation of a hero and his followers began to call him Pir-i-Roshan, “Apostle of Light.” Naturally, the accomplishments did not go unnoticed by the Mongols, who wanted to stop him at all costs. Eventually, when the Roshaniya tried to conquer the current province of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan, the Mongols crushed the attempt. Those not killed in battle were captured, while Ansari, although he managed to escape wounded, died shortly afterward.
So, it would be safe to say that the list of “Illuminati” groups that existed before the historical Illuminati may be much larger than we tend to think today. It’s important to also mention the Enlightened Theosophists of Britain (1767) and the Illuminati of Avignon, founded around 1770 in the eponymous town in France that eventually disappeared during the revolution.