Sunday, December 10, 2006

1666 The Creation Of The World

The Great Fire of London occurred September 2, 1666, it was the 9/11 of its day. It's impact was not unlike that of 9/11.

Who had done the dastardly deed? Why had it occcured? Speculation and conspiracy theories abounded. Just as have followed in the wake of 9/11.

Great disasters change the social psyche forever. They are not only objective historic events but history impeding into the subjective life of a mass of people.

William Lilly's Prediction of The Fire of London

The Great Fire of London was the biggest single calamity in the history of the city. It had destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, 6 chapels, 44 Company Halls, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St Paul's Cathedral, the Guildhall, the Bridewell and other City prisons, the Session House, four bridges across the Thames and Fleet rivers, three city gates and made homeless 100,000 people, one sixth of the inhabitants.

Within days the angry citizens wanted someone to blame for the destruction - the Dutch, perhaps, with whom England was at war? Catholic agitators or someone else? Before the authorities settled for a scapegoat in the person of a 26 year old French silversmith, Robert Hubert, who was executed at Tyburn for setting London ablaze, numerous suspects were brought before a special Committee.

There had been a lot of prophecies of the destruction of London by fire. Samuel Pepys, in his diary, noted that Prince Rupert, when told of the fire, recalled Mother Shipton's prophecy of 1641. Nostradamus was also believed to have written about the event.

But some recalled the trial of Colonel John Rathone in April of the same year. Rathbone and a group of former Parliamentarian officers had been arrested and tried for conspiring to overthrow the King and Government and restore the Commonwealth. The London Gazette, reporting the trial, revealed that the plan involved setting fire to London on September 3. The date had been selected by the conspirators as auspicious when they consulted the almanac of William Lilly for that year. It was claimed that this was a horoscope which was interpreted to show the fall of the monarchy. It was also a date close to the hearts of the English republicans, being the anniversaries of two of Cromwell's victories at Dunbar and Worcester. Rathbone and eight fellow officers were found guilty and executed.

Now people recalled the plot, the date, and William Lilly's horoscope. Suspicion fell on him. Had he been involved in the fire simply in order to enhance his reputation as an astrologer? Lilly needed little enhancement to his reputation. This was an age when astrology was a respected science and Lilly was a man of substance and political influence. His portrait was the most widely circulated, through his almanacs, in England, after the picture of Charles himself.

England was in the transition from fuedalism to becoming a parliamentary state ruling over the advent of capitalism. The fire as an alchemical metaphor gave birth to capitalism, phoneix like out of the ashes of the Great City. It was a purification, as 1665 was the year of the Great Plague, the fire destroyed the disease that swept through the Great City.

It was also the years of the Anglo Dutch wars, the first genuine capitalist war all previous wars had been religious ones or those for national territory for Princes, this was a war of the marketplace. Holland had just given birth to the first bourse; the stock exchange, changing forever the economic base of Europe.

The Dutch started joint stock companies, which let shareholders invest in business ventures and get a share of their profits - or losses. In 1602,Dutch East India Company issued the first shares on the the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. It was the first company to issue stocks and bonds.

As sea based merchants with mercenary armies the Dutch and English were in competition for the same colonies.

While in previous ages it was Venice and the Italian mercantilist provinces that dominated trade, by the time of the end of the 80 years war, and the rise of protestantism Holland, Amsterdam in particular became the worlds sea power and the home of capital. It was the first capitalist state. Before the destruction of London which would replace it as the centre of capital and capitalism, within the reconstructed City of London, today known as the financial centre of English capitalism or simply as 'The City'.


Like Venice, the Netherlands was a maritime power. By the 1550s the Dutch merchant marine was the largest in Europe, operating from the Azores to the Baltic to the Levant. The Amsterdam carrying trade increased ten-fold
from 1537 to 1547. In 1550, on any given day, there were 2500 ships in the river Scheldt, off Antwerp, with 500 new ships arriving each day.
A major catalyst for the emergence of Amsterdam as the financial capital was the 1585 capture of Antwerp by the Duke of Parma's army. This engendered the "great exodus" from the southern provinces, where the Calvinists were most numerous. Over 150,000 fled, and both Antwerp and Ghent lost more than half of their populations.
More than 19,000 merchants, including many key bankers and Bourse speculators left Antwerp, with most settling in Amsterdam.
After 1588 Dutch financial and commercial expansion exploded:
1588 - 2,000 Dutch merchant vessels.
1588 - Anglo-Dutch defeat of Spanish Armada
1590-1600 - massive expansion of Dutch seaborne trade
1594 - founding of Dutch "Long Distance Company" (Company of the Far Countries). Beginning of serious trade
with east. First voyage of 4 ships to Asia sent out in 1595
1598 - first marine insurance; Dutch dominated insurance markets into the 18th century
1600 - first Dutch ship reaches Japan
1600-1620 - flourishing Dutch Levant trade.
1600-1635 - undeclared war with Portugal
1601 - chartering of the East India Company (the VOC - Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), dominated by
Amsterdam. Oldenbarneveldt said: "The great East India Company, with 4 years of hard work public and private, I
have helped establish, in order to inflict damage on the Spanish and Portuguese."
1605 - first Dutch colony in Indonesia, following defeat of Portugal at Molucca
1606 - first Dutch slave ships.
1606 - control over coinage & monetary affairs shifts from provinces to States General "Mint Chamber"
1607 - Dutch destroy a Spanish fleet off Gibraltar
1608 - Opening of the New Bourse building in Amsterdam
1609 - Bank of Amsterdam founded
1609 - Treaty of Antwerp. 12 year truce with Spain, negotiated by Oldenbarnevelt. Venice the first government
to recognize Dutch independence. Oldenbarnevelt's son Van der Myle becomes Ambassador to Venice, at the
request of the Venetian Ambassador in Paris, Antonio Foscarini.
1610-1612 - first Dutch colonies in Brazil
1618 - Venice signs defensive alliance with Netherlands against Hapsburgs
1619 - Founding of Batavia, capital of the Dutch East Indies
1621 - Extermination of the natives of the island of Band by the VOC. Gov-Gen. Jan Pieterszoon gave orders to
kill the entire native population because they refused to give the Dutch a nutmeg monopoly. Slaves brought in to
work Dutch plantations.
1621 - founding of Dutch West Indies Company
1621-1648 - Continual (primarily naval) war with Spain and Portugal
1624 - founding of New Amsterdam
1625 - Establishment of the Levantine Trading Company
1630 - almost all of the wealthier classes involved in the East India trade, or finance, or both.

The Bank, the Bourse, and the Financial Markets

The New Bourse (exchange) building opened in Amsterdam in 1608, and the Bank of Amsterdam (Wisselbank) was founded the following year in 1609. The Wisselbank was a public bank, modeled on Venice's Banco della Piazza di Rialto. It had a monopoly on all exchange of species, and trade in precious metals. It was a clearinghouse for bills of exchange, but it was NOT a commercial lending bank, except for loans to the government and the VOC.
More advanced usage of bills of exchange than earlier in Venice and Antwerp. Even before independence, the Dutch provinces created a permanent debt market (world's first "consolidated public debt") to finance the war, and in Antwerp, bankers perfected a continuing market in negotiable international bills of exchange. The trading in financial securities, which took place at the Bourse, created the first modern stock exchange, and
by the mid-1600s, the Amsterdam Bourse was described as the "place where the whole world trades." During the 17th century there was a famous boast about the Amsterdam Bourse which was printed on plaques, posters, and medallions:
Ephesus fame was her temple
Tyre her market and port
Babylon her masonry walls
Memphis her pyramids
Rome her empire
All the world praises me
The new bank - the Wisselbank - was "public" in the sense that, like the Venetian creations of the Giovani, and the later Bank of England, it was entirely privately owned but completely merged with the oligarchical institutions of the state. As such, it assumed sovereign powers to the point that it dictated financial policies, and those policies became the Nation's policies. This paradigm was later to be greatly fine-tuned in England. The Bank's directors had ,offices in City hall, and its money was kept in the city vault. It was politically backed by the city's fathers. The security of its holdings established the new "bank money" as the center of the city's securities trading. This, combined with the international trade in hard currency (specie), in which the bank played a major role, made Amsterdam the world's largest international securities market (including VOC company paper and municipal bonds). The most popular of the securities investments was the national debt. If you look at the scope of what was created between 1594 and 1621, in terms of the institutions, the accumulation of capital, and the centralized way that capital could be deployed, this was all obviously Venetian;
but in some ways it went further, in the sheer size and power of the financial/political capabilities involved. One of the Bourse speculators of the time, a Sephardic Jew named Jossef de la Vega, authored a work describing in detail how the Dutch markets could be used to mobilize capital in ways not previously done. This book was translated into English by John Houghton and used by William III's English advisors in financing his wars against Louis XIV.

The advent of bourgoise power, culture and economics was to arise from the ashes as Ashmole and other Grand Architects, rebuilt the city and in the process created Freemasonry and the English Englightenment.

With the great fire of London, in 1666, there came a renewed interest in Masonry, many who had abandoned it flocking to the capital to rebuild the city and especially the Cathedral of St. Paul. Old Lodges were revived, new ones were formed, and an effort was made to renew the old annual, or quarterly, Assemblies, while at the same time Accepted Masons increased both in numbers and in zeal.

The History of Masonry in England from the Fire of London to the Accession of George I.

The year 1666 afforded a singular and awful occasion for the utmost exertion of masonic abilities. The city of London, which had been visited in the preceding year by the plague, to whole ravages, it is computed, above 100,000 of its inhabitants fell a sacrifice[28], had scarcely recovered from the alarm of that dreadful contagion, when a general conflagration reduced the greatest part of the city within the walls to ashes, This dreadful fire broke out on the 2d of September, at the house of a baker in Pudding-lane, a wooden building, pitched on the outside, as were also all the rest of the houses in that narrow lane. The house being filled with faggots and brush-wood, soon added to the rapidity of the flames, which raged with such fury, as to spread four ways at once.

Jonas Moore and Ralph Gatrix, who were appointed surveyors on this occasion to examine the ruins, reported, that the fire over-ran 373 acres within the walls, and burnt 13,000 houses, 89 parish churches, besides chapels, leaving only 11 parishes standing. The Royal Exchange, Custom-house, Guildhall, Blackwell-hall, St. Paul's cathedral, Bridewell, the two compters, fifty-two city companies halls, and three city gates, were all demolished. The damage was computed at 10,000,000 l. sterling[29].

After so sudden and extensive a calamity, it became necessary to adopt some regulations to guard against any such catastrophe in future. It was therefore determined, that in all the new buildings to be erected, stone and brick should be substituted in the room of timber. The King and the Grand Master immediately ordered deputy Wren to draw up the plan of a new city, with broad and regular streets. Dr. Christopher Wren was appointed surveyor general and principle architect for rebuilding the city, the cathedral of St. Paul, and all the parochial churches enacted by parliament, in lieu of those that were destroyed, with other public structures. This gentleman, conceiving the charge too important for a single person, selected Mr. Robert Hook, professor of geometry in Gresham college, to assist him; who was immediately employed in measuring, adjusting, and setting out the grounds of the private streets to the several proprietors. Dr. Wren's model and plan were laid before the king and the house of commons, and the practicability of the whole scheme, without the infringement of property, clearly demonstrated: it unfortunately happened, however, that the greater part of the citizens were absolutely averse to alter their old possessions, and to recede from building their houses again on the old foundations . Many were unwilling to give up their properties into the hands of public trustees, till they should receive an equivalent of more advantage; while others expressed distrust. Every means were tried to convince the citizens, that by removing all the church-yards, gardens &c. to the out-skirts of the city, sufficient room would be given to augment the streets, and properly to dispose of the churches, halls, and other public buildings, to the perfect satisfaction of every proprietor; but the representation of all these improvements had no weight. The citizens chose to have their old city again, under all its disadvantages, rather than a new one, the principles of which they were unwilling to understand, and considered as innovations. Thus an opportunity was lost, of making the new city the most magnificent, as well as the most commodious for health and trade, of any in Europe. The architect, cramped in the execution of his plan, was obliged to abridge his scheme, and exert his utmost labour, skill, and ingenuity, to model the city in the manner in which it has since appeared.

Freemasonry was unique amongst club culture of London, and it overlapped with the existing shift in the guilds from being producer cooperatives to becoming self sustaining corporations. Fremasonry was declasse, and was the source of the scientific revolution of the 17th Century.

Since the occult sciences held hold, astrology, alchemy, etc. ideologically the tapestry of the York Rite and its mystery's, became the central key to the mythology of Freemasonry. Its reality was that in rebuilding the Great City the Scottish artificers who held the York Charter (which is actually a banner) , and the rites of their guild, were raised to an exaulted level as a source for the rites and roots of Freemasonry. It was Ashmole and Company who refashioned London as the World, physically as well as culturally, scientifically and economically.

With the rise of non-operative Freemasonry, scientific discoveries were held in high esteem, as the Lodges functioned as the natural laboritories of discourse between literate tradesmen and aristocratic scientists, members of the Royal Society. Such interactions were frowned upon in proper society, and indeed made Freemasonry unique amongst the English clubs, which were more like gangs, identified with a particular area of the city, trade, or class.

The end of the Catholic power saw the Guilds under their charters move from being co-frateranl orders, to becoming the economic power of Europe and in particular England. The power of the Guilds was shown in the Great Easter Pagents, the York Mystery plays, which were self financed by the surplus profits earned by each guild.

By Ashmole's time the Guilds operative had become something else, they had become shared stock companies of mastercraftsmen. Journeymen and apprenctices were restricted to roles as servants of the master. The master held the tools and the rules and thus shared in the profits while his workers did not.

It is at this historic moment that non-operative freemasonry takes over from the operating guilds of old. The traditions of operative masonry and the guilds related to it now were transformed into either stock companies, or else the beginings of journeymens trades unions.

The Earliest Masonic Document

The language of this Act is sufficiently conclusive, but for accumulation of proofs, I shall proceed to establish the same position by giving a summary of the oldest, and only genuine document extant on the subject of Masonry. This document is a MS. Bib. Reg. 17. A. I. ff. 32, written in a hand that cannot be later than the close of the 13th century, and of which a copy has been published by J. O. Halliwell. It commences with a history of Architecture from the beginning, and of the introduction of the art into England, and then proceeds to give, in rhyme, the Rules of the Craft, conceived in precisely the same business-like spirit as those of a Trades-Union. The preamble is: "Hic incipiunt Constitutiones Artis Geometricae secundum Euclydem."
No Relation of Modern Masons to Mediæval Guilds

All this evidence goes to show that our Freemasons have no relationship, either actual or traditional, with the mediæval guilds bearing the same appellation, a pretence they so zealously maintain. The latter were corporations of real workmen, in which each person, after serving a regular apprenticeship, and, according to the custom still kept up in some counties, producing a trial-piece to prove his competency, was admitted "free" of the Guild, and "accepted" amongst the members of the same. The compotations accompanying the ceremony are in truth the sole point of resemblance between the ancient and the modern Freemasons.

The mediæval guild of Masons, as we have seen, was no more a secret society than were the guilds of Carpenters, Cordwainers or Tailors. Every man indeed belonging to the first-named (and this is the only thing belonging to the Craft, that really carries with it an air of mysterious antiquity) had, upon admission, a mark (or cypher) assigned him, which he was bound to put upon every stone he dressed (a rule still observed) in order to distinguish his work from that of his fellows, against the time when the materials should be examined by the master-mason, who paid him for those approved, but stopped his wages for those spoiled through his fault. Similarly every "Merchant of the Staple" joined with his initials upon his seal, or trade mark, the mark of the staple-town to which he belonged. This latter, thoug much alike in outline, was variously modified so as to indicate each of the fifteen towns in England, Ireland, and Wales, appointed by Edward III. In all mediæval documents relating to building, the name "Freemason" signifies merely the worker in hewn stone, the inferior workman who ran up the body of the wall in rubble or ragstone being called the "Rough-waller." Lastly, a very puzzling question presents itself--if our Freemasons be the legitimate successors in an unbroken line of the ancient lodges and guilds, how came it that all the principles of Gothic architecture were utterly lost within less than a century?

When and where was speculative Masonry “born”? Someone must have been the first Freemason, who was it?

There was activity in English lodges as well. In 1600, the word “Freemason” was used in the
York Roll. In the early 1620’s the term ‘Accepted’ was used to describe some members in the
Account Book of the London Mason's Company. Accounts of another London guild, the Worshipful
Company of Freemasons differentiate between "accepted" and "operative" members.

In his copious diary, Sir Elias Ashmole notes:
1646 Oct. 4H.30pm I was made a Free-Mason at Warrington in Lancashire with Coll. Henry
Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire. The names of those that were of the Lodge, Mr Rich:
Penkett Warden. Mr James Collier, Mr Rich Sanchey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich: Ellam,
Hugh Brewer.

It has been determined by scholars that almost all present at this initiation were not operative
stonemasons, (the profession of Rich Ellam or Ellom is not known, however he described
himself a “Freemason” in his will) and thus of the new order of Freemasons. It is very
interesting to note that Colonel Mainwaring was a well known Parliamentarian or
“roundhead”, and that the 29 year old Ashmole was the Royalist Comptroller of Ordnance.

The Great Scientific Englightenment, the English Englightenment; to differentiate it from the humanistic englightenment of the Italian Rennisance two hundred years earlier, was the result of the reconstruction of the World after the Great Fire.

That world was London, and the birthing of British Capitalism. The scientific age began with the rebuilding of London. The impact of science cannot be underestimated as the shift in conciousness after the Great Fire, which had followed the Great Plague and the Cromwellian Revolt and the Great Revolution, led to a protestantism that was open to interpeting the world in a humanistic fashion. One that would give a moral logic for the establishment of capitalism.

The later Industrial Revolution that was so crucial for the creation of modern capitalism, was to be formed at this time as science moved from being simply an understanding of God in the world, to the understanding of Gods Laws. Nature now took the place of God and man the scientist replaced Gods priests, in interpetating the world.

It is within Freemasonry we find the modern Englightenment ideals of Liberty and utilitarianism, as well as the link between the right to private property and individualism.

In fact, to the masons of 18th century Britain, the word ‘liberty’ was understood not in this primitive sense, but precisely in the interpretation given it by the philosopher John Locke in his Two Treatises of Government of 1690.

Locke has been claimed as a Freemason on the basis of a letter of his dated 1696. This is now considered weak evidence, but the important point is that all pious masons of the time firmly believed Locke had been initiated into the Order. He had indeed been made a Fellow of the Royal Society, a hotbed of Freemasonry, in 1668, and his particular friends there were Robert Boyle, a known Freemason, and Isaac Newton, a member of a quasi-masonic society. Freemasonry in the 18th century has sometimes been described as Rousseauian, but first and foremost, it could also be, and was, right into the late 1760s Lockean, as well as essentially republican.

The Two Treatises of Government was the fruit of years of reflection upon the true principles in politics, a reflection resting on Locke’s own observations. Government, Locke held, is a trust; its purpose is the security of the citizen’s person and property; and the subject has the right to withdraw his confidence in the ruler when the latter fails in his task. Government and political power are necessary, but so is the liberty of the citizen; and in a democratic, constitutional monarchy, a type of government is possible in which the people are still free.

Locke wrote that we cannot be obliged to a government to which we have not given some sign of consent (Book II, §.119), and that ‘the end of Law is to preserve and enlarge freedom’ (II, 57). Governments are dissolved when the ‘Legislative, or the Prince, either of them act contrary to their trust’ (II, 221), and ‘Power reverts to the people’, who may then establish a new legislative and executive (II, 222). It is the people who decide when a breach of trust has occurred, for only the man who deputes power can tell when it is abused (II, 240). In the case of dispute ‘the final appeal is to God’, by which Locke specifically meant revolution.

Liberty is the antithesis of tyranny, for ‘As Usurpation is the exercise of Power, which another hath a Right to; so Tyranny is the exercise of Power beyond Right, which no Body can have a Right to. And this is making use of the Power any one has in his hands; not for the good of those, who are under it, but for his own private separate Advantage.’ (II, 199). ‘When any one, or more, shall take upon them to make Laws, whom the People have not appointed so to do, they make Laws without Authority, which the people are not therefore bound to obey; . . .’ (II, 212).

‘The end of Government is the good of Mankind, and which is best for Mankind, that the People should be always expos’d to the boundless will of Tyranny, or that the Rulers should be sometimes liable to be oppos’d, when they grow exorbitant in the use of their Power, and imploy it for the destruction, and not the preservation of the Properties of their People?’ (II, 229). In such a situation, revolution is justified, for ‘When a King has Dethron’d himself, and put himself in a state of War with his People, what shall hinder them from prosecuting him who is no King, as they would any other Man, who has put himself into a state of War with them; . . .’ (II, 239).

Freemasonry allowed not only for social and intellectual interaction but allowed for a scientific understanding of the world clothed in rites, rituals and antiquarian trappings of Qabbala, architecture, lost knowledge, all the mystical ideas so common in this era of Magick, Alchemy and Astrology. The rituals of Freemasonry replaced the religious rites of the Catholic Church which were anathema to the new Puritan England.

And while Formal Freemasonry did not begin until 1717, its existence in England is well documented for at least one hundred years prior. The formalization of it came with the rebuilding of the City of London.

Francis Bacon was among the first to argue that human ingenuity can discover the hidden laws of nature, under the metaphor of solving the encrypted Book of Nature. He was familiar with diplomatic uses of ciphers and presented a novel scheme for encryption; he also read ancient myths as coded messages. Despite the skepticism of his contemporaries, Bacon pointed to new possibilities of decryption both for human texts and the "alphabet of nature." His concept that nature requires interpretation and his inductive use of tables also parallel emergent cryptanalytic methods. The Clue to the Labyrinth: Francis Bacon and the Decryption of Nature by Peter Pesic

Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution.

Lisa Jardine. xx + 444 pp. Doubleday, 1999.

The birth of modern science in the 17th century has often been presented as a lonely affair. The image of Isaac Newton alone in his alchemical laboratory at Cambridge comes to mind, as do the strange dreams of Descartes's early Olympica, which resulted from his forced meditations in an overheated room in the midst of a military campaign. Ingenious Pursuits attempts to present the other side of the coin. By focusing on areas of cooperative enterprise, such as natural history, cartography and astronomy, Lisa Jardine presents a picture of 17th-century science that stresses the interactions between and joint activities of individuals and groups of researchers in national and international settings. Her goal is to show that such cooperation extends beyond the obvious fact that those in the same field often work together. Indeed, her major points are that the seemingly disparate realms of science and the fine arts are in reality interdependent and that today, as in the 17th century, the boundaries that we draw around these endeavors are in large measure illusory.

Jardine introduces her argument by juxtaposing Dolly, the sheep cloned in 1997 by Ian Wilmot for cystic fibrosis research, and Away from the Flock, Damian Hirst's exhibit of a whole sheep preserved in embalming fluid. Her purpose is to show that our modern stereotype of the humanist as preserver of cultural values in the face of an ever more technological world dehumanized by the sciences is flawed. If anything, it is Hirst rather than Wilmot who calls the traditional humanistic values of Western civilization into question. Having debunked the image of science as a destructive golem that can only be deactivated by the virtuous artist, Jardine then jumps to the heart of her argument—that science and art advance by similar means ("ingenuity, quick-wittedness, lateral thinking and inspired guesswork")—and provides a number of case studies to prove her point.

In the first three chapters, Jardine focuses on a selection of British scientists, illustrators and instrument makers to show the interaction of art and science during the Scientific Revolution. For example, Robert Hooke, the famous experimenter of the early Royal Society, whose many pursuits included being a part-time surveyor and who had wanted as a boy to become a painter, contributed to the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666. His collaborator in this was, of course, Christopher Wren, the famous mathematician-turned-architect who actually designed and oversaw the construction of the new cathedral. Jardine links Hooke's mathematical interest in the catenary, a curve produced by a hanging chain, to his attempt to determine the forces that would act on the dome of St. Paul's. Jardine is able to unearth a number of interesting facts about these well-known figures that have not made their way into most studies of 17th-century science—showing, for example, that Hooke used old St. Paul's as a site for experiments with barometric pressure at different heights and that Wren hoped to build an innovative telescope into the renovated building. The two men worked together on the London Monument to the Great Fire, a hollow pillar more than 200 feet high in which they planned to mount a telescope for observing stellar parallax.

The Life and Work of Isaac Newton at a Glance

1665-7 Graduates BA.
Returns to Woolsthorpe for the summer of 1665. Is detained there by the outbreak of plague in Cambridge and remains in Woolsthorpe until March 1667, apart from a short stay in Cambridge in spring 1666 which is cut short by a recurrence of the plague. During this period, despite being almost entirely self-taught in mathematics and optics, he establishes the fundamentals of what is now called the calculus (Newton calls it 'the method of series and fluxions'), setting down the basic rules of differentiation and integration in a paper of October 1666, and demonstrates the heterogeneity of white light through its separation by refraction. Nearly blinds himself by conducting optical experiments on his own eyes.
The sight of a falling apple in a Woolsthorpe orchard - or so Newton himself is said to have claimed decades later - focuses his attention on the subject of gravity. Realises that the force required to keep the moon in orbit round the earth (as stated by Kepler in his Third Law) is of the same kind as that operating in terrestrial gravity. However, Newton's theory of universal gravitation is not fully worked out for another twenty years.
1665 Great Plague. Publication of Robert Hooke's Micrographia and of the (posthumous) complete works of Joseph Mede (dated 1664, i.e. early 1665), whom Newton later acknowledges as the greatest influence on his interpretation of Biblical prophecy.
1666 Great Fire of London. Publication of Boyle's Origin of Formes and Qualities.
1665-7 Second Anglo-Dutch W

Freemasonry in England Around 1717

Let us make an imaginary journey back in time to the London of 1717. That was a city without sewers, the streets filled with dung from the thousands of horses and wet with sewage thrown out of the window. The houses were black with the soot blowing out of numberless chimneys. Some children died asphyxiated while being used as live chimney brushes. It was dangerous to walk about in the streets after dark (some street lamps were installed beginning in 1677, but public lighting with gas, started only in 1786). Criminality was rampant, punishment brutal, prison for debts was common.

Witchcraft was still believed. The Scottish teenager Patrick Morton was allegedly bewitched in 1704.1 The last execution for witchcraft in England took place in 1712.

The industrial revolution had not started yet – that would come in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries – but a class of have-nots already existed, homeless, beggars, criminals of every kind.

This brings us to the marked class differences. The aristocracy and the land owners, generally the same, whose wealth was based on the land, were on top. Below them came the bourgeoisie, merchants, lawyers, doctors, educators, shippers, men of arms. All these constituted a small minority. And then the vast mass, those who would eventually be called the proletariat. There were no factories as yet, but numerous workshops, craftsmen of many trades, and many, many servants, butlers, footmen, cooks, housemaids, porters, gardeners, and farm workers, shepherds, fishermen, all of them completely separated form the upper classes by their lack of education, the language, the customs, with no possibility to move up the social scale.

This was also the time when the increase of wealth in the upper classes led to the beginnings of what would later be called the "consumer society."2 There was a parliament, and there were elections, but the vast majority of Englishmen had no right to vote, that would take another hundred years to become true for the men, and two centuries for the women (only in 1918). Common law allowed marriage at fourteen for boys and at twelve for girls. Only in 1929 legislation was introduced for the first time, prohibiting marriages under the age of sixteen.3

The Christian religion, which had dominated the life of the people during the Middle Ages, codifying to the least detail the way of life, the practice of trades, the separation of classes, was only now recovering from the sanguinary wars caused by its internal divisions. The various reformers, though rejecting the dominion of Rome, were different, but no more liberal.

Inside this stratified society, voices began to be heard proposing changes, making appeal to reason instead of subservience to dogma; these thinkers regarded society as a living organism, they were aware of its defects and wanted to find solutions to improve it.

Science and philosophy, which were then almost indistinguishable, were the tools in the hands of the intellectuals to implement their aspirations. The Rosicrucian manifests, published a century earlier (1613-1615) had made a strong impact on European intelligentsia, announcing the political and social revolution to come. In 1690 John Locke published his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, maintaining that all our knowledge is derived from what we receive through the senses, that our will is determined by our mind, guided by the desire for happiness, and defending the possibility to study the world rationally, without being shackled by dogmas or preconceived ideas.

This was the "Age of Reason." Rationalism and science would open the way to make a perfect society. The 17th century had marked a turning point in the interests of scholars, who now began to focus their attention on the natural sciences and started researching nature, making experiments in all its areas. Astrology gradually gave way to astronomy, alchemy to chemistry; the study of anatomy and physiology revolutionized medicine, for long the province of barbers and quack doctors. New fields of study opened every day.

This is reflected in the creation of numerous scientific academies which joined the literary and philosophical ones, such as the French Academy, founded in 1635.

Already in 1621, Cósimo de Médici established in Florence the Platonic Academy, while in Rome the Academia dei Lincei, dedicated to scientific research, especially astronomy, was founded in 1603; one of its members was Galileo Galilei. And in 1607 Florence saw the creation of the Academia del Cimento, likewise destined to serve as forum for experimenters. Later, in 1666, the Royal Academy of Sciences was created in Paris, and four years before that, in 1662, the Royal Society had started operating in London, providing a platform for researchers and scholars. Some of the most prominent founders of the premier Grand Lodge were active in it.

The Society of Antiquaries, which had been organized originally in 1572 by Archbishop Parker, and had been disbanded in the reign of James I, was revived in 1717 owing to the efforts of William Stukeley, a prominent Mason. The Society received a charter in 1751.4

We must remember, however, that sciences were in their early stages of development. Robert Boyle died in 1691, Leibnitz in 1716 and Newton in 1727, but Priestly was born only in 1733, Cavendish in 1731 and Faraday seventy years later. Lavoisier was born in 1743 and Alexander Humboldt even later, in 1769.

England still used the Julian calendar dating from the time of Julius Caesar. The Gregorian calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII was adopted only in 1752, almost 200 years after being established by Pope Gregory XIII.

European thought was strongly influenced by esoteric thinking, the Rosicrucians, the Cabbala, alchemy and tarot. Hebrew was highly regarded, as the sacred language of the Bible, and also as the language spoken by G-d when addressing man. Some scholars believed that all other languages were derived from Hebrew.

In 1684, Knorr von Rosenroth published Kabbalah Denudata (Kabbalah Unveiled), a translation of passages from the Zohar and essays on the meaning of Kabbalah (including portions of Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim) examined from a Christian point of view. Rosenroth's work was the most important non-Hebrew reference book on the Kabbalah until the end of the 19th century and it became the major source of this subject for non-Jewish scholars.

The study of nature was still based on the treatises of the Greek philosophers, which began to be translated. The evolution to more scientific studies was driven by the development of technology and the changes in the economic structure of the country. The beginnings of the industrial revolution are linked with the mechanization of the textile industry. For centuries, spinners and weavers worked together at home. Four spinners were required to keep a weaver supplied with cotton yarn, and ten spinners were required to keep a wool weaver busy. In 1733 John Kay patented his "flying shuttle" and suddenly the productivity of each weaver was multiplied several-fold, creating unprecedented demand for more yarn. The first spinning machine was invented as early as in 1738, but it was unsuccessful. In 1764 Hargreaves patented his "spinning jenny" (named, according to legend, for his daughter), a machine based on the spinning wheel but with several spindles working in unison; the machine, however, was slow and inefficient. Only in 1769 Arkwright built his roller-spinning machine (the "water frame") and the first industrial spinning mill was established, using horses for power, and in 1779 Samuel Crompton patented his "spinning mule," combining the principles of the water frame and the spinning jenny, a ten-yard long machine with hundreds of spindles working simultaneously. These machines, with some improvements, were in use until the middle of the 20th century.

In 1712 Thomas Newcomen patented the atmospheric steam engine, designed to pump water from the mines. James Watt, the inventor of the double-action steam engine, was born in 1736, when the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster (its original name) was less than 20 years old.

As we an see, the principal discoveries and inventions of science and technology were unknown in 1717, and only in the course of that century and the next were the developments made which set the foundation for modern science. Explorers, too, were still operating in full force. Easter Island was discovered only in 1722, by Dutch seamen. Africa was largely unexplored.

The very act of reconstruction of the city meant that funding was required, and thus the interests of Amsterdam investors were piqued. Not only did England lose its war with the Dutch, it lost political as well as economic power to them. The result was the invasion of England as the last bricks wer put in place in the remade City of London, by William of Orange, a protestant and sympathetic to Freemasonry which flourished under him in England and Holland.

As the Dutch merchants sat fat on the wealth of Europe and their colonial trade, the English with renewed endeavour, a new city and a new fleet, under the direction of William of Orange replaced Holland as the new Atlantic power.

Ironically it was the House of Orange that led to Englands rise as capitalist sea power, while their power at home declined.

The Duke of York was next in line to be the King of England. In 1677, Prince William of Orange married princess Mary of York. When the Duke of York suddenly died, Prince William of Orange and Mary became the next King and Queen of England in 1689.

Then, King William persuaded the British Treasury to borrow one and a quarter million british pounds from the Dutch bankers who had placed him in power. The terms of the loan were as follows:

1. The names of the lenders be kept secret and that they be granted a charter to establish a bank of England.

2. The directors of said bank be granted the legal right to establish the gold standard for paper currency.

3. That they be allowed to lend out 10 pounds of paper currency for every 1 pound of gold held on deposit.

4. That they be allowed to consolidate the national debt and secure amounts due as principal and interest by a direct taxation of the people.

This form of "fractional banking" would allow 50% yearly return on actual bank assets at an interest rate of 5% per year. And the people of England would pay the bill!

These lenders never intended that the loans be repaid for they profited mainly from the interest and the indebtedness gave them political leverage. England's national debt went from 1,250,000 Pounds in 1694 to 16,000,000 Pounds in 1698.

All of which went primarily to rebuilding the City of London. In fact the city became the hub of its own stock exchange, the Bank of England and of course smack in the centre of this was the Freemasons Hall, the Temple.

If the power of mercantile capital, mecenaries and the new stock exchanges financed England and the Great City's rebirth it was thanks to the age old tradition of primitive accumulation of capital. Piracy. The Venetians had practiced it successfully as had the Dutch. And now the English. In fact it is this primitive accumulation of capital through merchants, their banks and their financing of piracy, plunder and colonialism, that reveals the historical birthpangs of capitalism.

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1655 William Patterson (born c. 1655 in Scotland) was behind the establishment of the Bank of England. It is strongly believed that he was a trader in New York in 1668-69 and that prior to this he had worked with the pirate Morgan, who operated in the New Netherlands area.
After founding the Bank of England Patterson went on to form the first company to try and build the Panama canel, resulting in the bankruptcy of its wealthy Scots investors and the collapse of nascent capitalism in Scotland.

Scotland was bankrupt. And boy, did England know it.

Westminster seized the opportunity to bail out the destitute Scots and by 1707 the grateful Scottish Parliament had been sold, and the Scottish people sold out in the thinnest disguised merger of "equals" in the history of takeovers, otherwise known as the Union of the Parliaments.

This failure was nothing compared to what came next
. The case of the South Sea Company in 1720 and its collapse, the first actual capitalist crisis in history.

"I can calculate the movement of the stars, but NOT the madness of men."
— Sir
Isaac Newton, after losing a fortune (£20,000) in the bubble.

The capitalism of the City of London was based on the Dutch model, not only the creation of a national bank, a stock exhcange and joint stock companies but the exploitation of the New World and the economics of slavery.

The South Sea Company - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The company, formed in 1711 by Robert Harley, was granted exclusive trading rights in Spanish South America. The trading rights were pre-supposed on the successful conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, which did not end until 1713, and the actual granted treaty rights were not as comprehensive as Harley had originally hoped.

In return for these exclusive trading rights the government saw an opportunity for a profitable tradeoff. The government and the company convinced the holders of around £10 million of short-term government debt to exchange it with a new issue of stock in the company. To further spice up the transaction, the savvy dealers underwriting this transaction placed a perpetual annuity from the government paying 576,534 pounds annually on the company's books, or if you will, a perpetual loan of £10 million paying 6% to the company from the government. This guaranteed the new equity owners a steady stream of earnings to this new venture.

The company did not undertake a trading voyage to South America until 1717 and made little actual profit. Furthermore, when ties between Spain and Britainpublic debt. deteriorated in 1718 the short-term prospects of the company were very poor. Nonetheless, the company continued to argue that its longer-term future would be extremely profitable. In 1717 the company took on a further £2 million of

The New World was being populated by the displaced farmers and artisans who had been forced into London due to the expropriation of their common lands by landlords under the encroachment acts. It is this agrarian revolution that is the basis of later capitalist development that is unique to England.

This displaced class became the first wave of the modern proletariat so essential for creation of capitalism out of the industrial revolution. Along with seeding the New World colonies with this proletarian horde the capitalist merchants traded in slaves returning with goods.

While most commentary on the South Sea Company focuses on the money lost by wealthy English investors, it is often forgotten that the primary trading business of the company was abducting people from West Africa to the Americas and then selling them into slavery. In fact, the most important aspect of the company's monopoly trading rights to the Spanish empire was the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht's slave trading 'Asiento' which granted the exclusive right to sell abducted African people into slavery in all of Spain's American colonies.

The Asiento set a quota of abducting 4800 people a year into slavery. Despite its problems with speculation, the South Sea Company was relatively successful in this task (it was unusual for other, similarly chartered companies to fulfill their quotas). According to records compiled by David Eltis et al, during the course of 96 voyages in twenty-five years, 34,000 people were abducted of whom 30,000 survived the voyages across the Atlantic. Therefore, 4,000 people died during their abduction by the South Sea Company.

The mortality rate of about 15 percent was not unusual and indicates that the organization was not only strongly interested, but also relatively competent as a slave trader. Employees, directors and investors overcame major obstacles in order to pursue the slave trade, including two wars with Spain and the 1720 bubble. Indeed, the company's most successful slave trading year was in 1725, five years after the bubble burst.

The creation of the City of London, the birth of Freemasonry, Englands rise as the dominant sea power and banking power in Europe, the birth of modern capitalism and the proletariat, all begin with the rebuilding of City after the Great Fire. It was a disaster that cleansed the city of the plague and gave birth to the New World that Sir Francis Bacon had predicted a century earlier.

Within a short span, fifty years, London had gone from a burnt out shell to the veritable City of Capitalism. England was the first modern capitalist political economy.

The Phoenix of alchemy is not only a historically apt metaphor for the rebirth of the City of London but for the creative destructive logic of capitalism that the City gave birth to.

The Phoenix completes this process of soul development. The Phoenix bird builds its nest which at the same time is its funeral pyre, and then setting it alight cremates itself. But it arises anew from the ashes transformed. Here we have captured the alchemists experience of spiritualisation, He has integrated his being so much, that he is no longer dependent upon his physical body as a foundation for his being. He now stands upon the sureness of the spiritual - he has in this sense attained the Philosopher's Stone, the Spiritual core of his being.
Thus we can sketch shortly the process of Soul alchemy, the integration, purification and transmutation of the soul, as pictured in this series of bird symbols.


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American Fairy Tale


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Prmitive Accumulation


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Anonymous said...

Yikes. While I can understand the thrust of your post, the mixing of scholarly and seemingly barely-reputable interpretations of 17th and 18th England/Britain undermines your account I think. I would have thought citation of a more standard Marxist historian like Christopher Hill or CB MacPherson would be appropriate.

One thing to pick out: the Locke material you've presented here is on a contextualist reading overly simplistic and determined. You might wish to visit some notable scholarship of the last 30 years for your interpretation (and it's just that, an interpretation): Johh Dunn, Richard Aschraft, James Tully are three good places to start if you intend this material to be taken seriously from anything but a Marxist point of view.


Actually I beleive when doing cultural history, or social history if you like, the fact is that mixing of academic with none academic sources is crucial. Where they are reputible is not the point, it is the particular item that caught my attention. Academic scholarship is no less contested nor controversial than some of the 'barely reputable' works you make reference to. Which by the way were they?

And I am not writing solely from a Marxist perspective, the foundation of historical materialsm is the basis of my cultural historical approach, but it is also broad enough to bring in the importance of ideology, in particular religious and occult ideologies.

Though I admit I have a reason for that which is not particularly a defense of those ideologies.


For a marxist take on Locke, see New Left Review 37 Jan-Feb 2006

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