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The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century, 1590 to 1710 Paperback – September 28, 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
What emerges from this mass of information is a compelling story of the origin of Scottish Lodges as trade associations established by royal decree in the late 1590's and their development by 1710 into mutual benefit and social societies involving a broader range of members. Stevenson's most important finding, established early in the book, is that both before and after the establishment of the Lodges, masons were also members of municipally chartered, or incorporated, building trades guilds along with carpenters, wrights, and the detested cowans or unskilled laborers. The Lodges, in essence, were parallel and competing organizations with the municipal "Incorporations", of which the masons were also members. Stevenson illustrates the power struggles between the Lodges and the "Incorporations", as well as the search for influence on the part of various noble patrons. Along the way we get a good look at the frequently theorized, but never well documented transition from operative to speculative membership (it did not happen the way you might think!).Read more ›
His study is a welcome and refreshing antidote to all the junk that has been written about Freemasonry in the past three centuries. It explodes Masonic authors' extravagant claims for an origin in ancient civilizations and possession of powerful supernatural secrets. It also undermines anti-Masonic authors' equally bizarre accusations of pacts with supernatural forces of evil. It replaces these fanciful images with the story of a remarkable human institution whose recent, humble, workaday origins are far more interesting than its myths.
If you only read one book about Freemasonry in your lifetime, this is the book to read.
The first seventy pages or so are extremely dry, and after a while started to wear on my patience. My advice: bear with Stevenson as he lays out the facts here, grounding Freemasonry's murky prehistory firmly in the socioeconomic facts of Medieval Scotland. From this he can demonstrate convincingly how Renaissance elements of Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, the Art of Memory, and Vitruvian valorizations of architecture came to inform the self-characterizations and common practices of these prior craft guilds, gradually transforming the latter in the process. He sticks closely to previously unconsidered primary sources of the time in question rather than later reconstructions so as to uncover the unfolding of this complicated process, mining fragmentary manuscripts, local records, and other such often overlooked sources tucked away in the shadowy corners of old archives for what they have to tell us--cautiously and painstakingly distinguishing certain fact from plausible but ultimately unverified speculation based on those facts as he goes along.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think you have to be a scholar, or have a deep abiding interest in Freemasonry, in order to enjoy this book. If either is true, this is an excellent work. Read morePublished 3 months ago by James Kenney
Very informative. I read this on my kindle and I loved it.Published 11 months ago by Robert Gipson Jr.
Excellently researched and well written, but his strength is also his weakness. He claims to be more independent as he is not a Freemason. But this leads to confusion. Read morePublished 14 months ago by W. Benesch
Indispensable for initial studies, with other study materials. Later a great reference book for your personal library.Published 15 months ago by Martin Pastore
Stevenson does a good job of supporting his theory that Freemasonry originated in Scotland -- not in england as is the most commly accepted view. Definitely worth a reading.Published 21 months ago by J Craig Bell
Good reference book.
Answers a lot of questions one may have.
Well researched with lots of actual recorded information and not too much speculation.
Not a easy read. The next purchaser should be aware that the book reads like a textbook. Must be for the serious student of the subject.Published on January 27, 2013 by Michael Scott
Stevenson had gone beyond all of the myth and fiction about the origins of the world's oldest and largest fraterinty and given us a well-researched history backed by facts and not... Read morePublished on January 5, 2013 by Jay Cole Simser
Unlike so many of the recent speculative and imaginative and downright fictional attempts to create Masonic History, this book is a straightforward, fact-based description of a... Read morePublished on October 22, 2012 by D. Mosier