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The First Lodge of Freemasons and the Power of Leaderless Organizations *

Mary's Chapel in Edinburgh is listed as the first Freemason lodge or at least it is listed as number one. No doubt lodges had existed prior to this time but Mary's Chapel is the first lodge that can be reasonably documented through its own minutes and accepted by the Freemasons themselves. This is also the time of the first recorded initiate being welcomed into the Freemasons but currently the Freemasons are a loose association. One cannot call it a multinational organization yet. Nothing approaching modern Freemasonry will come together until the early 1700s. Mary's Chapel exists today but the original building was demolished in the 1800s to make room for the South Edinburgh Bridge. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... let's pull out our dog-eared copies of "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown. These are NOT history books. (However, James Rollins novels are TOTALLY REAL!) All kidding aside, people get suspicious of private groups that want to remain private. Christianity began as a secret organization. I am Jewish so I asked my mother-in-law if there is some secret Jewish handshake or trap door that she is going to tell me about before she dies. Apparently not. The Church of Latter-day Saints, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the Vatican have elements that they keep private. As long as they are not burning people at the stake, I'm going to mind my own business. Large, multinational organizations need not be driven by a fiendish plan. In Austin, Texas there are over 425 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every single week. The central office sells books, answers the phone and prints a schedule of meetings. If a complaint comes in about a meeting, the meeting is dropped from the schedule. That's all the central control they exercise and it is a world-wide organization. They see the work that needs doing and they do it... mostly out of gratitude for a life saved or improved. No conspiracy required. [7] [8]

The King of Sweden is Outta Here!

A critical turn in the history of Sweden occurs this year even though the long-term consequences will not be felt for years. King Sigismund the 3rd Vasa is pro-Catholic and he is given the boot by his pro-Protestant uncle Duke Charles. It is difficult to pin down exactly what the former King did wrong other than to upset his subjects who didn't share his pro-Catholic sentiments and assume that his Swedish subjects would just roll over. The King agrees to honor contracts with the Mennonites but he objects to the Mennonites exercising all sorts of wild freedoms like marrying without prior notification to the state, buying and selling their land almost as if they owned it and otherwise acting like they could rule themselves without a king. (In the modern day we would call this... living a normal life.) The deposed king continues to agitate for a return to power, but Uncle Charles will not let up. In the long run this will be a good thing for Sweden. [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is this sort of religious agitation that will lead to the Thirty Years' War. What will help Sweden is for Duke Charles to become King Charles the 9th of Sweden. It's not that King Charles will turn into a super-king or anything like that. He will be rather belligerent, but the modern Swedes cut him a lot of slack because he is the father of Sweden's greatest king: Gustavus Adolphus. When his father took the regency of Sweden, that boy was all of 5 years old, but after Gustavus becomes the King of Sweden he will also become one of the greatest generals of all time. Had he lived longer Gustavus would have changed the face of Europe well into the modern day. [10]

John Alden is Born: One Third of a Love Triangle

You can't have a love triangle without one of the lovers. John Alden is born this year. Not much is known of his early life but he will become a cooper (a barrel maker). He will take passage with the Mayflower for the New World and sign the Mayflower Compact. He will marry Priscilla Mullens, the second side of this triangle. The third side is Miles Standish. The famous poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish," is claimed to be true. It describes the competition between Alden and Standish for the hand of the fair Miss Mullens. This poem is written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1858... long after everyone in question is long dead and unable to object. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Even though I remember John Alden as the man from the Longfellow poem, most people will remember his son of the same name. Captain John Alden was one of the survivors of the Salem Witch Trials. He was accused by two young girls of witchcraft and for keeping a secret Indian wife. He was supposed to defend his integrity before the court but his friends convinced him that the better course of action was to break out of jail and wait for sanity to return to Salem. Good decision. He was cleared of the charges later. John Alden lived a long life. His gravestone is preserved today at the Old South Church in Boston. [14]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1599, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. The Lost Symbol - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 24 February 2015. “It is a thriller set in Washington, D.C., after the events of The Da Vinci Code, and relies on Freemasonry for both its recurring theme and its major characters.”
  2. About Masonry. The Grand Lodge of Scotland (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas. These remain substantially the same form used in Scottish stonemasons lodges, and use Scottish stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides.”
  3. Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “It is number 1 on the Roll, and as it possesses the oldest minute of any masonic lodge in existence (July 1599) and the first historical reference of a non-operative or speculative freemason being initiated as a member (1634), it is reputed to be the oldest Masonic Lodge not only in Scotland, but the world.”
  4. Stonemason to Freemason. Freemason Hall (July 2, 2011). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “The earliest known record of a lodge accepting a member who was not a stonemason has been found in the records for the lodge of Edinburgh dated 1600. The same lodge details the first known initiation of a non working stonemason, The Right Honorable Lord Alexander, in 1634.”
  5. Cracking the Freemason’s Code. A Scottish perspective. freemasons-freemasonry.com (2008). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “This rather haphazard collection of Scottish lodges formed a kind of national federation (and I use that term very loosely) but was later brought together by one man, William Schaw (c.1550 – 1602) of whom more later. These lodges remained exclusively for stonemasons until 1634 when the first non-stonemasons were admitted to a stonemasons’ lodge.”
  6. Cracking the Freemason’s Code. A Scottish perspective. freemasons-freemasonry.com (2008). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “This rather haphazard collection of Scottish lodges formed a kind of national federation (and I use that term very loosely) but was later brought together by one man, William Schaw (c.1550 – 1602) of whom more later. These lodges remained exclusively for stonemasons until 1634 when the first non-stonemasons were admitted to a stonemasons’ lodge.”
  7. The Starfish and the Spider. Portfolio Trade. ISBN 978-1591841838. 
  8. Hill Country Intergroup. austinaa.org (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “This website is neither endorsed or approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.”
  9. Charles IX of Sweden - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “He came into the throne by championing the Protestant cause during the increasingly tense times of religious strife between competing sects of Christianity. In just over a decade, these would break out as the Thirty Years' War. These conflicts had already caused the dynastic squabble rooted in religious freedom that deposed his nephew and brought him to rule as king of Sweden.”
  10. Charles IX of Sweden - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “Swedish historians have been excusably indulgent to the father of their greatest ruler. Indisputably Charles was cruel, ungenerous and vindictive; yet he seems, at all hazards, strenuously to have endeavoured to do his duty during a period of political and religious transition, and, despite his violence and brutality, possessed many of the qualities of a wise and courageous statesman.”
  11. John Alden - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 June 2015. “John Alden was among the original settlers of the Plymouth Colony. Although not himself a Separatist he had been hired to repair Mayflower while she lay off Southampton, England, and decided to journey when she set sail, perhaps with the hope of becoming prosperous in the New World. Alden's engagement with rivaling Indians who plotted to kill newcomers is told elaborately in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem 'The Courtship of Miles Standish' (1858).”
  12. The Courtship of Miles Standish - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 June 2015. “Two bumbling, feuding roommates, Miles Standish and John Alden, vie for the affections of the beautiful Priscilla Mullins, who slyly tweaks the noses of her undiplomatic suitors.”
  13. The courtship of Miles Standish, and other poems. Google Books (1858). Retrieved on 26 June 2015.
  14. John Alden (sailor) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 June 2015. “Alden, Jr. died on March 25, 1702 [O.S. March 14, 1701] in what was then the Province of Massachusetts Bay. His gravestone reads 'Here lyeth ye body of John Alden Senior aged 75 years deceased March ye 14 1701∕2' ('Senior' in this context indicates that he was himself father of a third John Alden). The stone is preserved at the portico of the present Old South Church in Boston after having been discovered during excavations where it had been dumped after the removal of the graves.”

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