Marranos Everywhere! Christian Kabbalists and the Conquest of the New World


The Spanish Inquisition and the Expulsion from Spain in 1492, were some of the most pivotal events in modern times. Jewish converts penetrated to Christianity, where they could exact their revenge. Jewish Kabbalists became Christian Kabbalists. When they entered Italy, they fostered the Renaissance, and in Amsterdam, the Northern Renaissance. Luther established Protestantism, creating a schism that permanently removed large sections of Christian Europe from Catholic Control. Rosicrucians cultivated the career of the foremost false prophet and Jewish apostate: Sabbatai Zevi. Leaving from the Netherlands, these secret Rosicrucians, known to American history as the “Pilgrims”, set sail for the New World via England, where they hoped to found a nxew Masonic experiment, known as The New Atlantis.

In 1290, King Edward issued a decree to have all Jews expelled from England. All the crowned heads of Europe then followed his example. France expelled the Jews in 1306. In 1348 Saxony followed suit. In 1360 Hungary, in 1370 Belgium, in 1380 Slovakia, in 1420 Austria, in 1444 the Netherlands. As in other parts of Europe, violent persecution had been growing in Spain and Portugal, where in 1391, hundreds of thousands of Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism. Publicly, the Jewish converts known as Marranos, and also as Conversos, were Christians but secretly they continued to practice Judaism.

While secret conversion of Jews to another religion during the Spanish inquisition is the most known example, as Rabbi Joachim Prinz explained in The Secret Jews, “Jewish existence in disguise predates the Inquisition by more than a thousand years.”[1] There were also the examples of the first Gnostic sects, which comprised of Merkabah mystics who entered Christianity. Likewise, in the seventh century, the Quran advised the early Muslim community, “And a faction of the People of the Scripture say [to each other], "Believe in that which was revealed to the believers at the beginning of the day and reject it at its end that perhaps they will abandon their religion."[2]

As demonstrated by Louis I. Newman in Jewish Influences on Christian Reform Movements, a similar tendency can be attributed to the advent of Catharism and eventually to Protestantism and other Christian heresies. The Cathars, also known as the Albigensians, were a Gnostic sect of the thirteenth century who worshipped Lucifer. Their influence extended to the legends of the Holy Grail, by way of the Templars, and thereby to Rosicrucianism and Freemasonsy. In his denunciation the heresy, Adversus Albigenses, Lucas of Tuy, a Spanish monk, noted:

The secular heads and judges of the cities hear the doctrines of heresy from Jews whom they number among their familiars and friends… They teach other Jews to propose their blasphemies against Christians, in order that they can thus pervert the Catholic faith. All the synagogues of the malignant Jews have patrons, and they placate the leaders with innumerable gifts, and seduce by gold the judges to their own culture…”[3]

Marranos joined orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans and Discalced Carmelites, where their prophetic eschatology was often branded as heresy.[4] The Discalced Carmelites were established in 1593 by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. John of the Cross was born Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, into a Marrano family.[5] John’s mystical theology is influenced by the Neoplatonic tradition of pseudo-Dionysus, a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late fifth to early sixth century.[6] The author pseudonymously identifies himself as the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of the apostle Paul. The Dionysian mystical teachings were universally accepted throughout the East, amongst both Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and also had a strong impact in later medieval western mysticism, most notably Meister Eckhart.

Based upon preliminary reports made by members of the Discalced Carmelite mission in Basra during the sixteenth century, the Mandaeans of Iraq are called “Christians of Saint John.”[7] Often identified with the Sabians, the source of the occult teachings of the Ismailis, which were reportedly transmitted to the Templars. For this reason, the Mandeans were the “Eastern Mystics” of Rosicrucian legend, who later became the basis of the Sabbatean sect of the Asiatic Brethren.

Teresa of Avila’s paternal grandfather, Juan Sánchez de Toledo, was a Marrano.[8] During a bout of severe illness, Teresa experienced periods of religious ecstasy. Around 1556, when various friends suggested these were diabolical, her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of their divine inspiration. The House of Borgia, an Italo-Spanish noble family, which rose to prominence during the Italian Renaissance, was widely rumored to be of Marrano origin.[9] The Borgias became prominent in ecclesiastical and political affairs in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, producing two popes: Pope Callixtus III during 1455–1458, and Pope Alexander VI, during 1492–1503. Especially during the reign of Alexander VI, they were suspected of many crimes, including adultery, incest, simony, theft, bribery, and murder, especially by arsenic poisoning.[10]

Marranos were also involved in the creation of the order of the Jesuits. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1534, had been a member of a heretical sect known as the Alumbrados, meaning “Illuminated,” which was composed mainly of Conversos.[11] Although there is no direct evidence that Loyola himself was a Marrano, according to “Lo Judeo Conversos en Espna Y America” (Jewish Conversos in Spain and America), Loyola is a typical Converso name.[12] As revealed by Robert Maryks, in The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews, Loyola’s successor Diego Laynez was a Marrano, as were many Jesuit leaders who came after him.[13] In fact, Marranos increased in numbers within Christian orders to the point where the papacy imposed “purity of blood” laws, placing restrictions on the entrance of New Christians to institutions like the Jesuits.


Christopher Columbus

According to historian Cecil Roth’s History of the Marranos, “The connection between the Jews and the discovery of America was not, however, merely a question of fortuitous coincidence. The epoch-making expedition of 1492 was as a matter of fact very largely a Jewish, or rather a Marrano, enterprise.”[14] The Alhambra Decree, also known as the Edict of Expulsion, was an edict issued on 31 March 1492, by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by July 31. Four days later, on the evening of August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Spain with three ships: the Santa María, the Pinta and the Niña, an adventure that culminated in the European discovery of the New World. The coincidence of these dates has long suggested that Columbus may have headed a mission intended to find a new haven for the persecuted Jews.

Estelle Irizarry, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, argues that Columbus was a Catalan who tried to conceal a Jewish heritage. Irizarry notes that Columbus always wrote in Spanish, occasionally included Hebrew in his writing, and referenced the Jewish High Holidays in his journal during the first voyage. Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano.[15] Columbus didn’t speak Italian, signed his last will and testament on May 19, 1506, whose wishes conformed to Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived in the Lisbon Jewish Quarter. Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. According to British historian Cecil Roth’s The History of the Marranos, the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative.

Lastly, Columbus left money to support a crusade he hoped his successors would undertake up to liberate the Holy Land. Simon Wiesenthal in Sails of Hope argues that, in light of the Jews’ expulsion from Spain, Columbus’ voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven. Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist at Stanford University, concludes that Columbus was a deeply religious man whose purpose was to sail to Asia to obtain gold in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem.[16]

Columbus was the son-in-law of a Knight of Christ. After the Templars were abolished on in 1312 by the papal bull, issued by Pope Clement V, the former Knights Templar order as it was reconstituted in Portugal as the Military Order of Christ. The Order was founded in 1319, with the protection of the Portuguese king, Denis I, who refused to pursue and persecute the former knights as had occurred in all the other sovereign states under the political influence of the Catholic Church. The order was devoted specifically to sailing, and sponsored a number of history’s most well-known explorers. Vasco de Gama was a member of the order, and Prince Henry the Navigator, speculated as having been among the few to explore the New World prior to Christopher Columbus, was a Grand Master. Columbus may have used his relative’s maps to navigate his way to America, where his ships sailed under flags bearing the order’s insignia, the red cross of the Templars.

Contrary to common assumptions, Columbus’ voyage to the New World was not funded by Queen Isabella, but rather by two Jewish Conversos, Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez, and another prominent a Portuguese Jewish statesman and Kabbalist philosopher, Don Isaac Abrabanel.[17] Abarbanel’s philosophy dealt with the sciences and how the general field relates to the Jewish religion and traditions, and his apologetics defends the Jewish idea of the coming of the Messiah.  It is often implied that Abarbanel’s exegesis was written with the purpose of giving hope to the Jews of Spain that the arrival of the Messiah was imminent in their days.



Pere Bonnin, after studying a list of 3,500 names resulting from a census of Jewish communities of Spain by the Catholic Church and as found in Inquisition records, cited the Jewish origin of historically prominent figures Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and many others.[18] The two most famous conquistadors were Cortes who conquered the Aztec Empire, and Francisco Pizarro who led the conquest of the Incan Empire. They were second cousins born in Extremadura, where many of the Spanish conquerors were born. When Cortes first conquered Mexico for Spain in 1521, he did so with a number of secret Jews amongst his men. Catholic religious orders that participated and supported the exploration, evangelizing and pacifying, were mostly Dominicans, Carmelites, Franciscans and Jesuits.

After the expulsion, many Sephardic Jews migrated to the Netherlands, France and eventually Italy, from where they joined other expeditions to the Americas. By the late sixteenth century, organized Jewish communities were founded in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, the Dutch Suriname and Curaçao, Spanish Santo Domingo, and the English colonies of Jamaica and Barbados. In addition, there were unorganized communities of Jews in Spanish and Portuguese territories where the Inquisition was active, including Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Peru.

The Jews were far more significant in the earliest exploration, settlement and development of the Caribbean and South America than has previously been acknowledged. Several Jewish communities in the Caribbean, Central and South America flourished, particularly in those areas under Dutch and English control, which were more tolerant. Jewish ships plying the Atlantic carried such names as the Mazel Tov or Bekeerde Jood (converted Jew), according to Dr. Wim Klooster, a Dutch historian.[19] Ed Kritzler's best-seller Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, recounts the tales of Jewish pioneers like the pirate Moses Cohen Henriques, who was the scourge of the Spanish treasure fleet, and his brother Abraham.

By the mid-seventeenth century, the largest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere were located in Suriname and Brazil. By the early eighteenth century, half the European population of Suriname, then a territory of the Netherlands, was Jewish.[20] Dr. Anita Novinsky, a professor of history at the University of San Paulo, estimated that in the region around Rio de Janeiro and the state of Bahia, Marranos constituted 20 percent of the European population by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That number rose to 50 percent in the Paraiba region near Recife, the heart of the lucrative sugar trade.[21]

Archaeologist Hugo Ludeña raised the possibility that the conquistador Francisco Pizarro was actually of Marrano origin, from a peculiar Hebrew symbol found in the ossuary of Pizarro. For almost a century, the mummified remains of Pizarro were on display in a glass casket in the Cathedral of Lima, Peru. However, in the 1970s, an ossuary was found which the scientific community determined to contain the bones of Pizarro. Ludeña determined that the engraved on the lid of the ossuary, which featured three crossed ellipses locked in a circle, was a Jewish symbol, following the funeral rites of the family.[22]


Protestant Reformation

At first, Martin Luther’s challenge to Roman Catholicism was welcomed by Jews who had been victimized by the Inquisition, and who hoped that breaking the power of the Church would lead to greater tolerance of other forms of worship. There were even some, like Abraham Farissol, who regarded Luther as a Crypto-Jew, a reformer bent on upholding religious truth and justice, and whose iconoclastic reforms were directed toward a return to Judaism.[23] Some scholars, particularly of the Sephardi diaspora, such as Joseph ha-Kohen (1496-c. 1575), were strongly pro-Reformation.[24]

Luther himself, related Louis I. Newman, was interested for a time in the Kabbalah, perhaps under the influence of works of Johann Reuchlin, the great-uncle of Luther’s collaborator and primary founder of Lutheranism after Luther himself, Philipp Melanchthon. Melanchthon wrote in 1520, “I would rather die than be separated from Luther,” whom he afterward compared to Elijah, and called “the man full of the Holy Ghost.” Melanchthon exclaimed at Luther’s death, “Dead is the horseman and chariot of Israel who ruled the church in this last age of the world!”[25]

Melanchthon was like a son to Reuchlin until the Reformation estranged them. In 1490 he was again in Italy. During his second visit to Rome in 1490, Reuchlin became acquainted with Pico di Mirandola at Florence, and, learning from him about the Kabbalah, he became interested in Hebrew.[26] Following Pico, he believed to have found in the Kabbalah a theosophy which might be employed in the defense of Christianity and the reconciliation of science with the mysteries of faith. Reuchlin’s Kabbalistic ideas were expounded in the De Verbo Mirifico, and finally in the De Arte Cabbalistica, in which he shared with Pope Leo X, the Medici pope who had been tutored by Pico, how he had met with Pico and his circle of philosophers who were reviving the ancient wisdom.

Heinrich Graetz and Francis Yates contended that this affair helped spark the Protestant Reformation.[27] Luther himself supported Reuchlin in a controversy known as “The Battle of the Books,” which became a debate which involved the leading thinkers and rulers of Europe. Many of Reuchlin’s contemporaries thought that the first step to the conversion of the Jews was to take away their books. This view was advocated by Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Jewish convert to Catholicism and a follower of the Dominicans, who preached against the Jews and attempted to destroy copies of the Talmud, and engaged in a pamphleteering battle with Reuchlin.

The Pfefferkorn controversy caused a wide rift in the church and eventually the case came before the papal court in Rome. When, in 1517, Reuchlin received the theses propounded by Luther, he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God, at last they have found a man who will give them so much to do that they will be compelled to let my old age end in peace.”[28] “It was thus a Jewish issue,” explains Louis I. Newman, “which helped ignite the fires of the Reformation; a conflict over a Jewish question created the milieu in which Luther's movement emerged and developed, just as the Judaizing heresies of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were in part stimulated by the debate over the Talmud.”[29]

The several Jewish converts to Lutheranism whom Luther knew influenced him in many directions. These included Matthew Adrian, a Spanish Jew, the teacher of Conrad Pellican, the grammarian, of Fabritius Capito, a friend of Erasmus. Luther sought the advice of Jewish students and Rabbis on numerous occasions. Jews paid visits at his home to discuss with him difficult passages of the Bible, especially for the revision of his translation. On one occasion, three Jews, Shmaryah, Shlomoh and Leo visited him in Wittenberg, and expressed their joy that Christians were now busying themselves with Jewish literature and mentioned the hope among many Jews that the Christians would enter Judaism en masse as a result of the Reformation.

The role of Jewish converts in the spread of the doctrines behind the Reformation has been pointed out on several occasions. During the Middle Ages, Jewish converts who attacked their former faith included Nicholas Donin, Paul Christian, Abner-Alphonso of Burgos (c. 1270 – c. 1347), John of Valladolid (b. 1335), Paul of Burgos (c. 1351 – 1435) and Geronimo de Santa Fe (fl. 1400–1430). Impelled by his hatred of Talmudic Judaism, Paul of Burgos, an erudite scholar of Talmudic and rabbinical literature, composed the Dialogus Pauli et Sauli Contra Judæos, sive Scrutinium Scripturarum, which as a source for Luther’s On the Jews and their Lies. Victor von Carben, was involved in the Pfefferkorn controversy, Emmanuel Tremellius, who published a Latin version of the Hebrew Bible, Jochanan Isaac, the author of two Hebrew grammars, and his son Stephen, all became Protestants and wrote polemics against Catholicism.

About 1524, Jews coming from Europe described with joy to the Kabbalist Abraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi in Jerusalem the anti-clerical tendencies of the Protestant reformers. On the basis of this report, the Kabbalists regarded Luther as a kind of crypto-Jew who would educate Christians away from the bad elements of their faith.[30] Abraham ben Eliezer related that a great astrologer in Spain, named R. Joseph, wrote in a forecast on the significance of the sun's eclipse in the year 1478, as prophesying a man who would reform religion and rebuild Jerusalem. Abraham b. Eliezer adds that "at first glance we believed that the man foreshadowed by the stars was Messiah b. Joseph [Messiah]. But now it is evident that he is none other than the man mentioned [by all; i.e., Luther], who is exceedingly noble in all his undertakings and all these forecasts are realized in his person.”[31]


Occult Court of Elizabeth I

In England, the most significant consequence of the Protestant Reformation had been the establishment of the independent church by King Henry the VIII, followed in due course by the establishment of the Church of England under Queen Elizabeth I. There is little evidence for the existence of Marranos in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. However, as elsewhere, their surreptitious presence felt through the influence of the Christian Kabbalah.

Queen Elizabeth I’s court was steeped in esoteric thought. Edmund Spenser’s magical poem The Faerie Queene and his Neoplatonic hymns in Elizabeth’s honor, published in the 1590’s, were a direct challenge to the Counter-Reformation and their attitude to heretical nature of Renaissance philosophy. The poem, inspired by the Order of the Garter, follows several knights, like the Redcrosse Knight, the hero of Book One who bears the emblem of Saint George. Additionally, Christopher Marlowe wrote Doctor Faustus, a play developed from the Faust legend, in which a sorcerer sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge.

Like Spenser’s Faerie Queene, the British accepted the prophecy of Merlin, which proclaimed that the Saxons would rule over the Britons until King Arthur again restored them to their rightful place as rulers. The prophecy was related by Geoffrey of Monmouth (1100 – 1155), a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur. He is best known for his chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae, which relates the purported history of Britain from its first settlement by Brutus, a descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas. The prophecy was adopted by the British people and eventually used by the Tudors who claimed to be descendants of Arthur and rightful rulers of Britain.[32]

North America attracted particular attention in England, as the idea grew that a north-west passage to the East could be discovered. John Bale, writing in the 1540s, had identified the Protestant Church of England as an actor in the historical struggle with the “false church” of Catholicism, supported by his interpretations of the Book of Revelation. The views of John Foxe, author of what is popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, became widely accepted within the Church of England for a generation and more. According to Foxe, a war against the Antichrist was being waged by the English people, but led by the Christian Emperor (echoing Constantine I) who was identified with Elizabeth I. Foxe, referring to it as “this my-country church of England,” characterized England’s destiny as the elect nation” of God.[33]

The imperial ambitions of Elizabeth’s reign were also coupled with the esotericism represented by John Dee and others. John Dee (1527 – 1608 or 1609) was royal astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, who believed that he found the secret of conjuring angels by numerical configurations in the tradition of the Kabbalah. It is John Dee who has been credited with the coining of the term “British Empire.” Believing himself to be of ancient British royal descent as well, Dee identified completely with the British imperial myth around Elizabeth I.[34] According to Donald Tyson, “It was Dee’s plan to use the complex system of magic communicated by the angels to advance the expansionist policies of his sovereign, Elizabeth the First.”[35] In his 1576 General and rare memorials pertayning to the Perfect Arte of Navigation, Dee advocated a policy of political and economic strengthening of England and imperial expansion through colonization and maritime supremacy into the New World.

Dee laid the foundations for British imperialism by claiming that conquests by King Arthur had given Elizabeth I title to foreign lands such as Greenland, Iceland, Friesland, the northern islands towards Russia and the North Pole. Dee claimed that the New World was appointed by Providence for the British to influence and rule. He further asserted that Brutus of Britain and King Arthur as well as Madog had conquered lands in the Americas and therefore their heir Elizabeth I of England had a priority claim there.[36]

One of Dee’s staunchest supporters at court was Sir Christopher Hatton who was the main backer for Sir Francis Drake’s world voyage. Drake’s exploits were legendary, making him a hero to the English, but a pirate to the Spaniards to whom he was known as El Draco, “the Dragon.” Drake also carried out the second circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580. Drake was Vice-Admiral of the English fleet in 1588 against the Spanish Armada, whose defeat was supposedly caused through Dee’s sorcery. When Elizabeth had consulted Dee on how to best counter the advancing Spanish ships, he advised her and Drake to refrain from pursuit because the Spanish fleet would be broken up by storm. When a storm did destroy the Armada and aided the English victory many courtiers were convinced that Dee had conjured it.

Thus, Dee became the model for the character of the sorcerer Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. But it was also believed Drake was a wizard and sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for success over the Spanish. It is claimed that he also organized several covens of witches to work magically to raise the storm and prevent the invasion.[37]

Dee was a close friend of the spy and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618). Instrumental in the English colonization of North America, Raleigh was granted a royal patent to explore Virginia, which paved the way for future English settlements. Raleigh as well was interested in magic. In his History of the World, Raleigh explains that for the most part the reputation of magic was unfairly maligned, and that in former times magicians were known as wisemen: the Persians as Magi, the Babylonians as Chaldeans, Greeks as philosophers, and Jews as Kabbalists, “who better understood the power of nature, and how to apply things that work to things that suffer.”[38]

Raleigh’s half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert (c. 1539 – 1583) tried to establish a permanent colony in North America and Newfoundland, without much success. Gilbert then took a more southerly route across the Atlantic. In 1584, he sent out an exploratory expedition which located Roanoke Island, now in North Carolina, and returned to England that autumn. The following year he sent out a military expedition under Sir Richard Grenville, which built a fort there and remained until spring 1586.


The Rosicrucians

According to Frances Yates, the Rosicrucian movement was the result of the visit of John Dee to Prague in Bohemia, then part of the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the Catholic Habsburgs. Through conversations with angels, Dee believed himself to be invested with special responsibilities of communication he shared with the great biblical prophets Elijah, Enoch, and St. John, the author of the Book of Revelation.[39] The angels also promised that Dee would serve to restore religious unity through reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. According to Peter French, Dee believed in a “Hermetic religion of love” that would heal the divisions between Protestants and Catholics.[40]

But Dee also believed that the prophecies were “to be published ... all the World over.”[41] The angels told Dee that he would help lead the establishment of a new, angelically-revealed universal religion that would also include the Jews and Muslims.[42] The conversion of the Jews was crucial to the apocalyptic expectations of Dee’s time. According to Deborah Harkness, “Many of Dee’s remarks about conversion in the angel conversations concerned them and combined a paradoxical though fairly common early modern blend of anti-Semitism with an intense interest in secret, mystical Hebrew knowledge.”[43]

To gain support for his political ambitions, Dee continued to search for a sponsor though neither Elizabeth nor Philip II of Spain expressed any interest in his plans. In 1583, when Dee was in Prague he tried to interest the mystically-inclined Rudolph II, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, in his imperialist agenda and angelic communications. The angels commanded Dee to tell the emperor he was possessed by demons, and command him to heed the angelic message. “If you will hear me, and believe me, you shall Triumph,” Dee told Rudolf, but “If you will not hear me, The Lord, the God that made Heaven and Hell… will throw you headlong down from your seat.”[44] The objective of Dee’s mission was referred to by a contemporary observer:

A learned and renowned Englishman whose name was Doctor Dee came to Prague to see the Emperor Rudolf II and was at first well received by him; he predicted that a miraculous reformation would presently come about in the Christian world and would prove the ruin not only of the city of Constantinople but of Rome also. These predictions he did not cease to spread among the populace.[45]

However, Rudolf nevertheless rejected Dee’s invitation as well. Dee’s fortunes back in England were not much better. Elizabeth did not marry, and as she had no direct heir she was therefore succeeded by King James IV of Scotland, who became King James I of England. James did not share Elizabeth’s sympathies for Dee, and when he appealed to the king for help in clearing his reputation from charges of conjuring devils, the King ignored him. Dee finally died disgraced and in abject poverty in 1608. Nevertheless, Dee’s influence in Bohemia resulted in a subversive movement for universal religious reform which rallied the Protestant cause against the Habsburg rulers.

In 1618 the largely Protestant estates of Bohemia rebelled against their Catholic King Ferdinand, triggering the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Expecting that King James would come to their aid, in 1619, the Rosicrucians granted the throne of Bohemia to Frederick in direct opposition to the Catholic Habsburg rulers. The Rosicrucians had announced themselves to the world with the publication of the notorious Rosicrucian Manifestos. The first of these, purportedly written by Johann Valentin Andreae (1586 – 1654), was the Fama Frateritatis, an allegorical history of the Rosicrucians, which appeared in 1614, and followed by a second tract a year later. The Fama was part of a larger Protestant treatise titled, The Universal and General Reformation of the Whole Wide World; together with the Fama Fraternatis of the Laudable Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, Written to All the Learned and the Rulers of Europe.

The Manifestos appeared around the same time that the German prince Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate of the Rhine, began to be seen as the ideal incumbent to take the place of leader of the Protestant resistance against the Catholic Hapsburgs. While Frederick had powerful connections with French Protestants, most importantly, in 1613, he had married Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James of England. The marriage of Frederick and Elizabeth represented an important dynastic alliance, in order to bolster the Protestant movement. The perceived importance of their marriage was enshrined in occult and alchemical symbolism in a Rosicrucian tract called The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.

Frederick accepted the offer and was crowned on 4 November of that year. However, James opposed the takeover of Bohemia from the Habsburgs, and Frederick’s allies in the Protestant Union failed to support him militarily by signing the Treaty of Ulm in 1620. Frederick’s brief reign as King of Bohemia ended with his defeat at the Battle of White Mountain in the same year. Imperial forces invaded the Palatinate and Frederick had to flee to Holland in 1622, where he lived the rest of his life in exile with Elizabeth and their children, mostly at The Hague, and died in Mainz in 1632. For his short reign of a single winter, Frederick is often nicknamed the “Winter King.”


Invisible College

After fleeing to England, the Rosicrucians were responsible for fanning the Kabbalistic millenarian expectations among the English Puritans about the approach of the Messianic time that became popular in the seventeenth century. A close friend of Oliver Cromwell, Dury was among a number of Puritans who held millenarians expectations, framed by a belief in the imminent conversion of the Jews. As noted by Richard Popkin, the leading scholar of millenarianism, “Since the 1640s in various Jewish and Christian circles, a deep hope had sprung up that great events would occur in the near future. It was believed that the final redemption was at hand. The hope for tikkun, restoration, was widespread.”[46] Ultimately, explains Popkin:

[The millenarians] took seriously the injunction in Daniel that, as the end approaches, knowledge and understanding will increase, the wise will understand, while the wicked will not. They also took seriously the need to prepare, through reform, for the glorious days ahead. Their efforts to gain and encourage scientific knowledge, to build a new educational system, to transform political society, were all part of their Millenarian reason of events. They needed to understand, to construct a new theory of knowledge, a new metaphysics, for the new situation, the Thousand Year reign of Christ on earth, which was to be followed by a new heaven and a new earth. Efforts to accomplish this great end are part of the making of the modern world and of the making of the modern mind.[47]

As Christopher Hill has indicated, in Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800, calculations of the precise date of the end of the world based on the Book of Daniel and Revelation occupied some of the best mathematicians, from Napier in the late sixteenth century, to Sir Isaac Newton at the end of the seventeenth. Consensus agreed that 1260 years should be added to the date the Antichrist established his power, which Protestants took to be the Pope. Various calculations therefore settled on the years 1650-1656 for his destruction, the gathering of the Gentiles, the conversion of the Jews and their return to Palestine. Other estimates offered the year 1666.[48]

Paul Nagel, the close friend of Jacob Boehme’s mentor Baltazar Walther, had been making similar predictions. According to Nagel, “for [the book of] Revelation is our true astronomy, and our astronomy is the true Revelation.”[49] After a brilliant comet had burned in the night skies above Europe in November and December of 1618, Nagel issued the Stellae Prodigiosae, in which he outlined a complex astrological-prophetic system. Based on biblical astronomical evidence, Nagel argued that this confluence of ideas demonstrated that the millennium, a time of future felicity for the church, led in spirit by Christ himself, would dawn in 1624. Following would be the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the trigon of Leo, Aries and Sagittarius in 1623. This “millennium” would endure just 42 years, until the Last Judgment in 1666.[50]

This belief was so prevalent that Manasseh ben Israel, in his letter to Oliver Cromwell and the Rump Parliament, appealed to it as a reason to readmit Jews into England, saying, “[T]he opinions of many Christians and mine do concur herein, that we both believe that the restoring time of our Nation into their native country is very near at hand.”[51]

A desire to better comprehend prophesies of the end times resulted in widespread interest in Jewish ideas on the subject. Most sought after was the knowledge of Menasseh Ben Israel, the son of a Marrano of Lisbon, who had suffered at the hands of the Inquisition, and had taken refuge in Amsterdam. Menasseh’s alliance with a scion of the Abarbanel family, in whose tradition of Davidic descent he was a firm believer, inspired him with the idea that he was destined to promote the coming of the  Messiah. Menasseh’s marriage to his wife Rachel, a granddaughter of the Abarbanel, inspired him with the idea that he was destined to promote the coming of the Messiah. According to family legend, Menasseh's wife was a descendant of King David, and he was proud of his children's Davidic ancestry.[52]

Manasseh entered into correspondence with several of the more mystically-minded of the Puritans in England who had become interested in the question of Jewish immigration. Together with millenarians John Dury, Comenius and Samuel Hartlib, they formed the nucleus of a network called the Hartlib Circle, which was modeled on the lines of the “Invisible College” advocated in Rosicrucian writings, the precursor of the Royal Society. Hartlib had come to England in 1628, after the Catholic conquest of Elbing in Polish Prussia, as part of the disruptions of the Thirty Years War. When he arrived in England, he collected around him refugees from Poland, Bohemia and the Palatinate. Elizabeth Stuart, widow of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was the chief patron of Hartlib, John Dury and John Comenius. Hartlib reported that Descartes, who has long been suspected of Rosicrucian sympathies, spent some time during the winter of 1634/35 at the house of Elizabeth Stuart. Descartes would develop a close relationship with her daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia.[53]

Comenius was a Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren, heirs of the Hussite movement, a pre-Protestant movement that followed the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus, who became the best known representative of the Bohemian Reformation of the early fifteenth century. Not only was Huss stigmatized as a “Judaizer,” but when he was about to be burned at the stake for heresy in 1415, he was denounced with the words: “Oh thou accursed Judas, who breaking away from the counsels of peace, hast consulted with the Jews.”[54] Within fifty years of Huss’ death, a contingent of his followers, who had become independently organised as the “Bohemian Brethren,” received episcopal ordination through the Waldensians in 1467.[55] A note in the Book of Acts of the Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna, January 10, 1419, mentions a conspiracy between the Hussites, Waldensians and Jews.[56]

The plan for Andreae’s Societas Christiana was already set forth in two works that were believed to have been lost until they were discovered recently among the Hartlib papers. Comenius named Andreae as one of those who inspired him towards the reform of education. Considered the father of modern education, Comenius was one of the earliest champions of universal education, a concept eventually set forth in his book Didactica Magna.[57] Andreae recognized Comenius as his heir and encouraged him to carry on his reforming Rosicrucian ideas.

Among the extensive network of the Hartlib Circle was John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. Lucifer’s statement in Milton’s Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav’n,” became an inspiration for those who embraced the rebellion against God. According to Matthew in Modern Satanism, “Shorn of all theistic implications, modern Satanism’s use of Satan is firmly in the tradition that John Milton inadvertently engendered—a representation of the noble rebel, the principled challenger of illegitimate power.”[58]


Resettlement of the Jews in England

In 1954, Menasseh Ben Israel met in Belgium with millenarian Isaac La Peyrère and Queen Christina of Sweden, an avid student of the occult. La Peyrère (1596–1676) was a Kabbalistic messianist born into a Huguenot family in Bordeaux, and possibly of Marrano Jewish descent. After reading La Peyrère’s Du Rappel des Juifs (1643), Menasseh rushed back to Amsterdam where he excitedly told a gathering of millenarians at the home of John Dury’s schoolmate and friend, Peter Serrarius, that the coming of the Jewish Messiah was imminent. La Peyrère, who is sometimes regarded as the father of Zionism, argued that the Jews were about to be recalled, that the Messiah was coming for them, that they should join the Christians, and with the king of France rebuild Zion.[59]

La Peyrère also served as secretary to the Prince of Condé. It has since emerged that, in fact: “Condé, Cromwell and Christina were negotiating to create a theological-political world state, involving overthrowing the Catholic king of France, among other things.”[60] La Peyrère also argued that the Messiah would join with the king of France, meaning the Prince of Condé, not Louis XIV, to liberate the Holy Land, rebuild the Temple and set up a world government of the Messiah with the king of France acting as regent. Then the Jews will rule the world from Jerusalem.

John Dury introduced Manasseh to the views of Antonio de Montesinos, who came to Amsterdam to inform the Jews, testifying under oath before Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel of his discovery of a remnant of the Lost Ten Tribes in South America.[61] Simultaneously other reports about the appearance of the Ten Tribes reached Jews and Christians, all this creating an atmosphere of excitement. According to Daniel 12:7, claimed Menasseh, this general dispersion was a necessary precondition for the final deliverance of the Jews. Manasseh therefore wrote a treatise on the Lost Tribes, Esperança de Israel (“Hope of Israel”), in support of the readmission of the Jews into England, and which proved, in his own words, “that the day of the promised Messiah unto us doth draw near.”[62] The tract was immediately successful, being very influential not only during the readmission campaign, but also a decade later when rumors circulated about the return of the Ten Tribes.[63]

Menasseh believed that the Messianic age needed as its precondition the settlement of Jews in all parts of the known world. Fired by this idea, he turned his attention to England where the Jews had been expelled since 1290. Lord Alfred Douglas, who edited Plain English, in an article of September 3, 1921, explained how records of the Synagogue of Muljeim revealed a plot between Menasseh and Oliver Cromwell which culminated in the execution of King Charles—the brother of Elizabeth Stuart—in 1649.[64] Parliament established an interim period of Commonwealth. In 1653, Cromwell terminated both his Parliament and the Commonwealth and, appointed himself Lord Protector.

The Cromwellian government was commonly regarded as a Rosicrucian circle. Samuel Butler (1612 – 1680), in his satire of the Restoration, Characters, tells of “the Brethren of the Rosy-Cross” as having attempted a misguided reformation of “their government.” A character in Butler’s other work Hudibras explains: “The Fraternity of the Rosy-Crucians is very like the Sect of the antient Gnostici who called themselves so, from the excellent Learning they pretend to, although they were really the most ridiculous Sots of all Mankind.”[65] According to Paul Benbridge, Cromwellians also referred to themselves as Rosicrucians, such as Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678), a metaphysical poet and friend of Milton who sat in the House of Commons.[66]

Menasseh came to England in September 1655 with three other local rabbis, where they were lodged as guests of Cromwell. Cromwell summoned the most notable statesmen, lawyers, and theologians of the day to the Whitehall Conference in December. The chief result was the declaration that "there was no law which forbade the Jews' return to England." Though nothing was done to regularize the position of the Jews, the door was opened to their gradual return.

Cromwell was also closely acquainted with the Marrano merchants settled in London, who formed there a secret congregation, at the head of which was Antonio Fernandez Carvajal. When their group at Rouen had been denounced to the authorities as secret Jews many of them eventually fled to London. All were living nominally as Catholics, attending mass regularly in the Chapel of the French or Savoy Ambassador. They conducted extensive business with the Levant, East and West Indies, Canary Islands, and Brazil, but particularly with the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal. By forming an important link in the network of trade spread throughout the Spanish and Portuguese territories by the Marranos, their position enabled them to provide Cromwell important information as to the plans both of Charles Stuart in Holland and of the Spanish in the New World.

Cromwell had been moved to sympathy with the Jewish cause chiefly because he foresaw the importance for English commerce of the presence of the Jewish merchant princes, some of whom had already found their way to London. As Richard Christopher Hill explained:

The Jews’ potential usefulness to the development of a forward colonial and commercial foreign policy was an additional reason for English interest in them. As early as 1643 Jews in the Netherlands were said to be financing Parliament. Their command of bullion was enormous; they controlled the Spanish and Portuguese trades; the Levant trade was largely in their hands; they were interested in developing commerce with the East and West Indies. To governments they were useful as contractors and as spies. If the ambitious scheme for Anglo-Dutch union put forward by the Commonwealth in 1661 had come off, then the Jews in the Netherlands would have been taken together with the Dutch colonial empire and its trade. When the Dutch refused to be incorporated into the British Empire, Dutch merchants were to totally excluded from all British possessions by the Navigation Act of 1651. This development made many Jews in the Netherlands—especially those trading with the West Indies—anxious to transfer to London: and it redoubled the interest of the English government in attracting them there. The policy paid off: Jewish intelligence helped the preparations for Cromwell's Western Design of 1655.[67]

The Western Design was a part of the Anglo-Spanish War, a conflict between the English Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and Spain, between 1654 and 1660. It involved an attack on the Spanish West Indies that was intended to secure a base of operations in the Caribbean from which to threaten trade and treasure routes in the Spanish Main, thus weakening Catholic influence in the New World. In 1655, Cromwell sent an expedition led by Sir William Penn, and General Robert Venables, who invaded Spanish territory in the West Indies with the objective of capturing Hispaniola. However, the assault failed because the Spanish had improved their defenses in the face of Dutch attacks earlier in the century. Despite various subsequent successes, such as an established presence in Jamaica, Cromwell saw the operation as a general failure, and Venables and Penn were imprisoned therefore in the Tower of London on their arrival on England.


Sabbatai Zevi

When Cromwell died in 1658, his despotic legacy fell to his son Richard who did not possess his father’s ruthlessness, with the result that it was not long before Charles II the late king’s son was invited back to rule as King of England in 1660. In that same year, the Royal Society was established and Charles II became its patron. It consisted of a number of natural philosophers around Robert Boyle and the Hartlib Circle. Theodore Haak, who was Comenius’ agent in England and also a refugee of the Palatinate,[68] is credited with having started the meetings which led to its foundation. Another founding member was John Dury’s son-in-law Henry Oldenburg, who met with Menasseh on his visit to London.

As Christopher Hill has indicated, in Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800, calculations of the precise date of the end of the world based on the Book of Daniel and Revelation occupied some of the best mathematicians, from Napier in the late sixteenth century, to Sir Isaac Newton, a member of the Royal Society, at the end of the seventeenth. Newton was committed to interpretations of the “Restoration” of the Jews to their own land of Palestine and spent the remaining years of his intellectual life exploring the Book of Daniel. Consensus agreed that 1260 years should be added to the date the Antichrist established his power, which Protestants took to be the Pope. Various calculations therefore settled on the years 1650-1656 for his destruction, the gathering of the Gentiles, the conversion of the Jews and their return to Palestine. Other estimates offered the year 1666, the same year that Sabbatai Zevi announced himself as the Jewish messiah, duping an estimate half of the world’s Jewish population.[69]

As Jacob Barnai has shown, among the more avid readers of Menasseh ben Israel’s Hope of Israel were none other than Sabbatai Zevi and his followers.[70] The Jewish community of Amsterdam had been kept informed of the progress of Sabbatai’s mission through Peter Serrarius, at whose home Menasseh ben Israel first shared his conviction in the immanent advent of the messiah. As soon as news reached Amsterdam about Sabbatai Zevi, Serrarius was publishing pamphlets in English and Dutch telling everyone about the signs of the messianic era and that the King of the Jews had arrived.[71]

Almost the entire Jewish community of Amsterdam had become followers of Sabbatai Zevi, having been kept informed of the progress of Sabbatai’s mission through a friend of John Dury, Peter Serrarius, at whose home Menasseh ben Israel first shared his conviction in the imminent advent of the messiah. In 1664, Serrarius rushed into a synagogue after the appearance of a comet and he birth of a two-headed cow, and he and the rabbis performed gematria and concluded that the Messiah would arrive in 1666.[72] As soon as news reached Amsterdam about Zevi, Serrarius was publishing pamphlets in English and Dutch telling everyone about the signs of the messianic era and that the King of the Jews had arrived.[73] Menasseh and La Peyrère’s co-conspirator, Queen Christina, became so fascinated with the claims of Sabbatai Zevi that she nearly became a disciple. She reportedly danced in the streets of Hamburg with Jewish friends in anticipation of the apocalyptic event.[74]

Among Serrarius’ intimate friends were John Dury and Comenius, both of whom he was able to convince of Zevi’s messiahship.[75] Dury, who had been working for twenty-five years for the conversion of the Jews as a precondition for the Second Coming, spent much time trying to figure out where Zevi fit in the expected Christian scenario about the “end of days.” He offered the interpretation that God was rewarding the Jews by having their messianic moment occur, and punishing Christians because they were not “pure” enough.[76]

Serrarius was also in contact with the alchemist Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont, author of the Alphabetum Naturale Hebraicum (1667), and the Christian Kabbalist Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, famous for his Kabbala Denudata. Van Helmont had served on a diplomatic mission on behalf of Elisabeth of Bohemia, the daughter of Elizabeth Stuart and Frederich V of the Palatinate who was living in Herford, Germany, when he met with Henry More and Robert Boyle. Serrarius died in 1669 on his way to Turkey to meet with Zevi.


New Atlantis

According to Rosicrucian legend, the founding of America was based on Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, that tells the story of a country ruled by philosopher-scientists in their great college called Solomon’s House, which had provided inspiration for the Invisible College, and the Hartlib Circle, which became the Royal Society.[77] Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was chancellor of England in the reign of King James, and supervised the translation of the King James Bible. Bacon was also suspected of being the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. Likewise, explains Dame Frances Yates, in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, “Shakespeare’s preoccupation with the occult, with ghosts, witches, fairies, is understood as deriving less from popular tradition than from deep-rooted affinity with the learned occult philosophy and its religious implications.”[78] fHe is considered the father of modern science, having emphasized the importance of experimentation in his landmark work, The Advancement of Learning.

However, recent scholarship has shown that he was committed to the Renaissance occult tradition, and his survey of science included a review of magic, astrology, and a reformed version of alchemy.[79] On 22 January 1621, in honor of his sixtieth birthday, a select group of men assembled in the large banquet hall at Bacon’s York House for what has been described as a Masonic banquet.[80] Only those of the Rosicrosse (Rosicrucians) and the Masons who were already aware of Bacon’s leadership role were invited.[81] On that day, a long-time friend of Bacon, the poet Ben Jonson, best known for his satirical plays, Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, gave a Masonic ode to Bacon.

Long popular in occult circles, the Atlantis myth was first mentioned by Plato, referring to a lost continent that had existed in the Atlantic Ocean. Mediaeval European writers, who received the tale from Arab geographers, believed the mythical island to have actually existed, and later writers tried to identify it with an actual country. When America was discovered, the Spanish historian Francesco Lopez de Gomara, in his General History of the Indes, suggested that Plato’s Atlantis and the new continents were the same, a theory repeated by Bacon. To understand the Masonic perspective of this history, Manly P. Hall in The Secret Destiny of America explained:

Bacon quickly realized that here in the new world was the proper environment for the accomplishment of his great dream, the establishment of the philosophic empire. It must be remembered that Bacon did not play a lone hand; he was the head of a secret society including in its membership the most brilliant intellectuals of his day. All these men were bound together by a common oath to labor in the cause of a world democracy. Bacon’s society of the unknown philosophers included men of high rank and broad influence. Together with Bacon, they devised the colonization scheme.[82]

Bacon played a leading role in creating the British colonies, especially in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Newfoundland in northeastern Canada. In New Atlantis, Bacon suggests that the continent of America was the former Atlantis where there existed an advanced race during the Golden Age of civilization. Bacon tells the story of a country ruled by philosopher-scientists in their great college called Solomon’s House. They described the purpose of their brotherhood: “The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” Having gained superior knowledge imparted to them by heavenly beings, they possessed flying machines and ships with which they travel under the sea.

Following in the steps of John Dee, Bacon lent his group’s support behind the English plan to colonize America. An attempt to colonize the New World was made under the initial leadership in 1602 of Bartholomew Gosnold (1571 –1607), a cousin twice over of Francis Bacon and four times over of the 17th Earl of Oxford, whom Oxfordians believe was Shakespeare. Gosnold was an English lawyer, explorer, and privateer and a friend of Richard Hakluyt and sailed with Walter Raleigh. Gosnold was instrumental in founding the Virginia Company of London, and Jamestown in colonial America. Gosnold’s voyage was funded by the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s patron. He led the first recorded European expedition to Cape Cod. He is considered by Preservation Virginia to be the “prime mover of the colonization of Virginia.” Following the coastline for several days, he discovered Martha’s Vineyard and named it after his daughter, Martha, and established a small post on Cuttyhunk Island, one of the Elizabeth Islands, near Gosnold, now in Massachusetts.

Bacon claimed that the New Kingdom on Earth which was Virginia exemplified the Kingdom of Heaven. Bacon’s involvement in American colonization is demonstrated by William Strachey, who in 1618 dedicated a manuscript copy of his Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britania to Bacon:

Your Lordship ever approving yourself a most noble fautor [favourer] of the Virginia plantation, being from the beginning (with other lords and earls) of the principal counsell applied to propagate and guide it.[83]

Bacon is listed in the 1609 charter as a shareholder of the Virginia Company of London and one of the 52 members of the Virginia Council. The Virginia Company refers collectively to a joint stock company chartered by James I in 1606, with the purposes of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. The two companies, called the “Virginia Company of London” (or the London Company) and the “Virginia Company of Plymouth” (or Plymouth Company) operated with identical charters but with differing territories. An area of overlapping territory was created within which the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other. The Plymouth Company never fulfilled its charter, and its territory that later became New England was at that time also claimed by England.


The Mayflower

The Plymouth Company was permitted to establish settlements roughly between the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay and the current US-Canada border. In 1607, the Plymouth Company established the Popham Colony along the Kennebec River in present day Maine. However, it was abandoned after about a year, and the Plymouth Company became inactive. With the religious Pilgrims who arrived aboard the iconic Mayflower, whose leaders were Rosicrucians, a successor company to the Plymouth Company eventually established a permanent settlement in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 in what is now New England.

According to Nicholas Hagger in The Secret Founding of America: The Real Story of Freemasons, Puritans, & the Battle for The New World, “Indeed, so close were Puritanism and Rosicrucianism in essence that it can be said that the Puritan philosophy was actually Rosicrucian.”[84]

The Puritans were a group of English Reformed Protestants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who sought to “purify” the Church of England from all Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had only been partially reformed. However, when James I took the throne in 1603, he declared he would put an end to church reform movements, and deal harshly with radical critics of the Church of England. A group dissatisfied with the efforts of the Puritans, decided they would sever all ties, and became known as Separatists led by John Robinson and William Brewster. However, in 1608, shortly after James I declared the Separatist Church illegal, the congregation emigrated Leiden where they were joined by Rosicrucian circles. It was here that Brewster set up a new printing company in order to publish leaflets promoting the Separatist aims and pamphlets supporting the Rosicrucian cause.[85]

Puritanism, especially Dutch Puritanism, was strongly linked to Rosicrucianism. For example, John Wilkins, Frederick V’s chaplain, was closely linked to Rosicrucianism in the Palatinate and tutored Frederick and Elizabeth’s son when he was sent to England. Wilkins co-founded the Royal Society when the Invisible College met in his rooms at Wadham College, Oxford, from 1648 to 1659, and he had a deep connection with Puritanism.[86]

In November 1620, following the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, which erupted after the Habsburgs set out to crush the Rosicrucian movement, Frederick V and Elizabeth Stuart fled into exile in The Hague in the Netherlands, and numerous Rosicrucianism migrated with them. The reason Frederick and Elizabeth sought refuge in the Netherlands was not only because of the liberal principles adopted by the republic, but also because of the hospitality offered by Maurice, the prince of Orange. Maurice had been educated at Heidelberg University in the Palatinate, where he had met Simon Studion and other founding members of the Rosicrucian movement. It was Maurice, in fact, who had offered the English Separatists a safe haven in Leiden in 1608. After their flight from Bohemia in 1619, Maurice granted Elizabeth and Frederick asylum in Holland. He let them use his home in The Hague and gave them another residence in Leiden.[87]

It was to Brewster’s home in Leiden in 1615 that fled Pierre Du Gua de Monts (c. 1558 – 1628), a French merchant, explorer and colonizer with Rosicrucian connections.[88] Du Gua, a Calvinist founded the first permanent French settlement in Canada. He travelled to northeastern North America for the first time in 1599 with Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit. He sent Samuel de Champlain to open a colony at Quebec in 1608, thus playing a major role in the foundation of the first permanent French colony in North America.

Du Gua was also a member of the School of Night, a modern name for a group of men centered on Sir Walter Raleigh that was once referred to in 1592 as the “School of Atheism.” The group supposedly included poets and scientists Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman and Thomas Harriot. Marlowe was the author of Doctor Faustus, which is the most controversial Elizabethan play outside of Shakespeare. It is based on the German story of Faust, a highly successful scholar who is dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil, and exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. There is no firm evidence that all of these men were known to each other, but speculation about their connections features prominently in some writing about the Elizabethan era.

When the Fama Fraternitatis publicly announced the existence of the Rosicrucian fraternity in 1610, the document was circulated in Paris, and one of the first to publicly respond to it was Du Gua.[89] In 1615 the Queen Mother discovered Du Gua’s authorship of anti-government pamphlets and ordered his arrest. With a price on his head, Du Gua fled to the Netherlands where he stayed with Brewster. Brewster had been a student of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University in the mid-1580s, at the same time as William Shakespeare’s colleague Christopher Marlowe, through whom he had met Walter Raleigh and began to attend the meetings of the School of Night, and subsequently struck up a close friendship with Du Gua. The last known Rosicrucian document, published in Latin by Brewster in Leiden in 1615, was called the Confessio Fraternitatis, or “Confession of the Fraternity,” and was written under a pseudonym, Philip A Gabella (Philip the Cabalist), while some scholars have proposed that its true author was Pierre Du Gua.[90]

Other Rosicrucians also congregated in Leiden at precisely the same time, in February 1620, just prior to the Mayflower’s voyage, suggesting that they beyond England, they were also looking for refuge in the New World following their escape from the Palatinate. Johann Valentin Andreae, the author of the Fama Fraternitatis, was already there, having left Germany when war broke out. Fulke Greville, whose London house was used for the early meetings of the School of Night and who had been present at Elizabeth’s “Alchemical Wedding,” was there. Francis Bacon was visiting Maurice of Orange in his official position as English lord chancellor to discuss the legality of a trade treaty with the Netherlands. The playwright Ben Jonson was present in Leiden, performing a play at a new theater. And the architect Inigo Jones, although not staying in Leiden itself, was in nearby Amsterdam working on plans for a church he had been commissioned to build in the city.

At the very time, the English Separatists in the city decided the only hope for religious freedom lay in North America. In 1620, a large part of the Separatist congregation sailed for the New World aboard a ship named the Mayflower, with 102 passengers, Brewster, and all the Pilgrim Fathers, the name later given to the original nine elders of the church. On November 9, 1620, they sighted land, which was present-day Cape Cod.


New England

According to American Rosicrucian legend, the order was brought to America in 1694 under the leadership of Grand Master Johannes Kelpius. Born in Transylvania, Kelpius was a follower of Johann Jacob Zimmerman, an avid disciple of Jacob Böhme, who was also “intimately acquainted” with Rotterdam merchant Benjamin Furly.[91] Furly was the leader of the Lantern, a circle around Benjamin Furly, which included alchemists van Helmont, Lady Conway, Henry More and John Locke. Furly and van Helmont were also connected with a group of students of Jacob Boehme which included Serrarius and who also knew and associated with Baruch Spinoza.

Zimmerman was referred to by German authorities as “most learned astrologer, magician and cabbalist.”[92] With his followers in the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness, Kelpius came to believe that the end of the world would occur in 1694. This belief, based on an elaborate interpretation of a passage from the Book of Revelation, anticipated the advent of a heavenly kingdom somewhere in the wilderness during that year. Answering Sir William Penn’s call to establish a godly country in his newly acquired American lands, Kelpius felt that Pennsylvania, given its reputation for religious toleration at the edge of a barely settled wilderness, was the best place to be.

Pennsylvania was founded by the son of Sir William Penn, William Penn. Penn became close friends with Elisabeth Stuart, celebrating her in the second edition of his book No Cross, No Crown. Penn, a friend of John Dury, was also a member of the Lantern, a circle around Rotterdam merchant Benjamin Furly, which included alchemists van Helmont, Lady Conway, Henry More and John Locke. Furly and van Helmont were also connected with a group of students of Jacob Boehme which included Serrarius and who also knew and associated with Baruch Spinoza. Furly, like Penn, was a Quaker and a close supporter of George Fox, the founder of the movement, which provided the guiding principles of the new state of Pennsylvania.

At some time, Penn came into contact with German Rosicrucian Jacob Boehme’s teachings and the Rosicrucians who introduced him into the deeper mystical and metaphysical studies.  In New World Mystics, Dr. Palo writes:

Penn had a more than passing interest in mysticism and the Rosae Crucis.  He referred to Jacob Boehme as his master in the art and law of divine wisdom.[93]

Palo includes a footnote indicating that William Penn visited Pietist conventicles in Europe.  They were initiatic collegiums for Rosicrucians:

…he visited Pietist conventicles which were held in an air of great secrecy and danger of exposure.  He invited the Rosae Crucis to settle on his land [in America]…  These Pietists or Rosicrucians were thought unorthodox and hence undesirable in the eye of the politico-religious powers of Europe.  They were accused of mixing Christian tenets with the practices of Ancient Egypt and some of the doctrines of Zoroaster.”

As further explained by Palo, after Penn’s first trip to America in 1681, on several trips he made back to Europe, he had come into contact with individuals in England, Holland and Germany, who were playing an important role in executing a plan to establish a Rosicrucian colony in America by 1694. Notable among them were William Markham of The Philadelphic Society in London, who would serve later as Penn’s Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania, and Jacob Isaac Van Bebber, a German Rosicrucian, who later purchased a thousand acres of land from Penn for the purpose of establishing a colony in America. [94]

In 1682, William Penn founded the city of Philadelphia, named after one of the “Seven Churches of Asia” mentioned in the Book of Revelation 3:10, as “the church steadfast in faith, that had kept God’s word and endured patiently.” Philadelphia played an instrumental role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787. Philadelphia was one of the nation’s capitals during the Revolutionary War, and served as temporary US capital while Washington DC was under construction.

John Winthrop (1587 –1649) a wealthy English Puritan lawyer, also a member of the Hartlib Circle, as well as an alchemist and follower of John Dee, sailed across the Atlantic on the Arbella, leading to the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[95] On 12 June 1630, the Arbella led the small fleet bearing the next 700 settlers into Salem harbor. Salem may have inspired the city of Bensalem in Bacon’s New Atlantis, which was published in 1627. The settlement of Salem by Rosicrucians would explain the existence of witchcraft in the city, which would have given cause to the famous witch trails of 1692. Frances Yates notes that Dee’s influence later spread to Puritanism in the New World through John Winthrop’s son, John Winthrop, Jr., an alchemist and a follower of Dee. Winthrop used Dee’s esoteric symbol, the Monas Hieroglyphica, as his personal mark.[96]

Winthrop’s arrival signaled the beginning of the Great Migration. The term Great Migration usually refers to the migration in this period of English settlers, primarily Puritans to Massachusetts and the warm islands of the West Indies, especially the sugar rich island of Barbados, 1630–40. From 1630 through 1640 approximately 20,000 colonists came to New England. They came in family groups (rather than as isolated individuals) and were motivated chiefly by a quest for freedom to practice their Puritan religion. Winthrop’s noted words, a “City upon a Hill,” refer to a vision of a new society, not just economic opportunity.

Rev. George Phillips, the founder of the Congregational Church in America, arrived on the Arbella in 1630 with Governor Winthrop. In 1781, Phillips’s great-grandson, banker Dr. John Phillips, established Exeter Academy, a prestigious American private prep school in New Hampshire, and is one of the oldest secondary schools in the US. The Economist described the school as belonging to “an elite tier of private schools” in Britain and America that counts Eton and Harrow in its ranks. Exeter has a long list of famous former students, including Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Gore Vidal, Stewart Brand, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, novelist John Irving, and Dan Brown the author of The Da Vinci Code and the Masonic-inspired The Lost Symbol.


Full list of Marranos Christians archived here.

[1] Joachin Prinz, The Secret Jews (New York: Random House, 1973) p. 5.

[2] Al Imran 3: 72.

[3] Lucas Tudensis: De Altera vita jideigue controversiis adversus Albigensium errores; ed. Mariana, Ingolstadt, 1612, pp. 189-190; cited in Louis I. Newman. Jewish Influences on Christian Reform Movements, p. 140

[4] Ezer Kahanoff, “On Marranos and Sabbateans: A Reexamination of Charismatic Religiosity – Its Roots, Its Place and Its Significance in the Life of the Western Sephardi Diaspora.”

[5] C.P. Thompson. St. John of the Cross: Songs in the Night (London: SPCK, 2002), p. 27.

[6] John mentions Dionysius explicitly four times—S2.8.6; N2.5.3; CB14-15.16; Ll3-3.49. Luis Girón-Negrón, “Dionysian thought in sixteenth-century Spanish mystical theology,” Modern Theology, 24(4), (2008), p. 699.

[7] Lupieri Edmondo. “Friar of Ignatius of Jesus (Carlo Leonelli) and the First ‘Scholarly’ Book on Mandaeaism (1652).” ARAM Periodical, 2004, 16 (Mandaeans and Manichaeans): pp. 25–46.

[8] Anna Foa. “Teresa’s ‘marrano’ grandfather.” Osservatore Romano (March 2, 2015).

[9] The Menorah, Volumes 20-23, (Intercollegiate Menorah Association, 1932), p. 163; Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. The Borgias: or, At the feet of Venus. (P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1930), p. 242, 313; Sarah Bradford. Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy.

[10] Arsenic: A Murderous History. (Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Program, 2009).

[11] Ezer Kahanoff, “On Marranos and Sabbateans: A Reexamination of Charismatic Religiosity – Its Roots, Its Place and Its Significance in the Life of the Western Sephardi Diaspora”

[12] Antonio Domingues Ortiz (Ediciones ISTMOS: Madrid) []

[13] The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews, (Leiden: Brill, 2009)

[14] Cecil Roth. History of the Marranos (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1932), p. 271.

[15] Charles Garcia. “Was Columbus secretly a Jew?” CNN (May 24, 2012).

[16] Charles Garcia. “Was Columbus secretly a Jew?” CNN (May 24, 2012).

[17] Charles Garcia. “Was Columbus secretly a Jew?” CNN (May 24, 2012).

[18] Pere Bonnin. Sangre Judia. (Flor de Viento, Barcelona, 2006).

[19] Andrew Brooks. “Jewish Voyagers to the New World Emerging From History's Mists.” New York Times (July 29, 1997).

[20] Andrew Brooks. “Jewish Voyagers to the New World Emerging From History's Mists.” New York Times (July 29, 1997).

[21] Andrew Brooks. “Jewish Voyagers to the New World Emerging From History's Mists.” New York Times (July 29, 1997).

[22] “Arqueólogo sugiere que conquistador Francisco Pizarro fue de origen judío.” Historia De Lima Virreinal (January 21, 2008).

[23] “Luther, Martin.” In: Encyclopaedia Judaica , 2nd Edition, Volume 13, (Detroit, New York and others, 2007).

[24] "Martin Luther (1483-1546).” Jewish Response to Anti-Semitism []

[25] Otto Kirn. “Melanchthon, Philipp.” Jackson, Samuel Macauley. New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. 7 (3rd ed.). (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1910). pp. 282.

[26] Gotthard Deutsch & Frederick T. Haneman. “Reuchlin, Johann von.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906).

[27] Franes Yates. The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), p. 32; Erika Rummel. The case against Johann Reuchlin. (University of Toronto Press, 2002), pp. iv–xv.

[28] George Edwin Rines, ed.. "Reuchlin, Johann." Encyclopedia Americana (1920).

[29] Louis I. Newman. Jewish Influences on Christian Reform Movements (Columbia University Press, 1925) p. 626.

[30] H. H. Ben-Sasson, "The Reformation in Contemporary Jewish Eyes," in: PIASH, 4 (1970); S.W. Baron, in: Diogenes, 16, no. 61 (1968), 32–51; “Reformation,” Jewish Virtual Library.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Charles Bowie Millican, Spenser and the Table Round, (New York: Octagon, 1932).

[33] Patrick Collinson, “Truth, lies and fiction in sixteenth-century Protestant historiography.” The Historical Imagination in Early Modern Britain: History, Rhetoric, and Fiction, 1500-1800. ed. Donald R. Kelley, David Harris Sacks. (Cambridge University Press, 1991).

[34] Frances Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, (London: Routledge, 1979) p. 90.

[35] “The Enochian Apocalypse,” in Richard Metzger. Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult (second ed.). (Newburyport, Massachusetts: Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari, 2008),

[36] Ken MacMillan. "Discourse on history, geography, and law: John Dee and the limits of the British empire, 1576–80.” Canadian Journal of History (April 2001).

[37] Michael Howard. “The British Occult Secret Service.” New Dawn, (May 10, 2008).

[38] The History of the World. (New YorK: B. Franklin, 1829) Chap. XI, p. 385.

[39] Deboarah E. Harkness. John Dee’s Conversations with Angels Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature. (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 136.

[40] Peter French, John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 123-125.

[41] John Dee, John Dee’s Actions with Spirits, edited with an introduction by Christopher Whitby. 2 vols. Vol. II: 376-377.

[42] Deboarah E. Harkness. John Dee’s Conversations with Angels Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature. (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 149.

[43] Deboarah E. Harkness. John Dee’s Conversations with Angels Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature. (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 150.

[44] John Dee and Edward Kelly, A True and Faithful Relation of what happened for many years…, edited by Meric Casaubon, pp. 230-231; cited in Deborah E. Harkness. John Dee’s Conversations with Angels (Cambridge University Press, 1999) p. 55.

[45] quoted by R. J. W. Evans, Rudolf II and his World, (Oxford, 1973), p. 224.

[46] Richard H. Popkin, “Introduction” in Yosef Kaplan, Henry Mechoulan and Richard H. Popkin, Menasseh ben Israel and His World. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989) p. 173.

[47] Richard H. Popkin (ed.) Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988) p 6.

[48] Christopher Hill, “Till the Conversion of the Jews.” Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800, Clark Library Lectures 1981-1982. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988) p. 13.

[49] Paul Nagel. Tabula Aurea M. Pauli Nagelii Lips. Mathematici, Darinnen Er den Andern Theil seiner Philosophiae Novae proponiren vnd fürstellenthut (n.p., 1624)., sig. D1v.

[50] Leigh T. I. Penman. “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: Crisis, Chiliasm, and Transcendence in the Thought of Paul Nagel (†1624), a Lutheran Dissident during the Time of the Thirty Years’ War,” Intellectual History Review, 20: 2 (2010), pp. 201-226.

[51] Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter. “Shabbethai Zebi B. Mordecai,” Jewish Encyclopedia (refers to Grätz, “Gesch.” x., note 3, pp. xxix. et seq.

[52] Albert Montefiore Hyamson, A History of the Jews in England (1908), p. 182.

[53] Stephen Gaukroger. Descartes: An Intellectual Biography. (Clarendon Press, 1995) p. 294.

[54] E. H.,Gillett. The Life and Times of John Huss, or the Bohemian Reformation of the Fifteenth Century. (Boston, 1864), ii, 64; cited in Louis I. Newman. Jewish Influences on Christian Reform Movements (Columbia University Press, 1925), p. 437.


[55] Rudolf Rican. The History of the Unity of Brethren (Interprovincial Board of Communication, 1992).

[56] Louis I. Newman. Jewish Influences on Christian Reform Movements (Columbia University Press, 1925), p. 437.

[57] Clare Goodrick-Clarke, "The Rosicrucian Afterglow.” The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited, (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1999) p. 209.

[58] Chris Mathews. Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture. (Wesport: Praeger, 2009) p. 54.

[59] “La Peyrère, Issac,” Jewish Virtual Library. [

[60] Garber & Ayers, Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, p. 407.

[61] Moses Rosen, “The Recipe” (published as epilogue to The Face of Survival, 1987); Nathan Ausubel, Pictorial History of the Jewish People, (Crown, 1953).

[62] Menasseh to Dury, 23 December 1649, in Wolf, Menasseh ben Israel’s Mission, p. Ixxviii.

[63] Richard H. Popkin, “Introduction” in Yosef Kaplan, Henry Mechoulan and Richard H. Popkin, Menasseh ben Israel and His World. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989), p. 174.

[64] Lord Alfred Douglas, Plain English, North British Publishing Co. (Sept. 3rd 1921).

[65] Samuel Butler, Hudibras, op. cit., Butler's note to pt. 1, canto I, 527-544.

[66] Paul Benbridge, "The Rosicrucian Resurgence at the Court of Cromwell.” The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited, (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1999) p. 225.

[67] Popkin, Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800, p. 29.

[68] Yates. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, pp. 175-6.

[69] Christopher Hill, “Till the Conversion of the Jews.” Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800, Clark Library Lectures 1981-1982. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988) p. 13.

[70] Cengiz Sisman. The Burden of Silence: Sabbatai Sevi and the Evolution of the Ottoman-Turkish Dönmes (Oxford University Press, 2015) p. 74.

[71] Daniel Frank. History of Jewish Philosophy. (London: Routledge, 1997) p. 607.

[72] Richard H. Popkin, Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought 1650-1800: Clark Library Lectures 1981-1982 (Brill Academic Publishers, 1997) p. 92.

[73] Daniel Frank. History of Jewish Philosophy. (London: Routledge, 1997) p. 607.

[74] Marsha Keith Schuchard, Restoring the Temple of Vision, p. 674.

[75] Mark Greengrass, Michael Leslie, Timothy Raylor, editors. Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation: Studies in Intellectual Communication. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) p. 134.

[76] Richard H. Popkin, Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought 1650-1800: Clark Library Lectures 1981-1982 (Brill Academic Publishers, 1997) p. 92.

[77] Nicholas Hagger, The Secret Founding of America: The Real Story of Freemasons, Puritans, & the Battle for The New World (Watkins, 2009).

[78] Frances Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age.(London: Routledge, 1979) p. 90.

[79] Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, p. 119. See also Henry. The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science.

[80] Helene H. Armstrong, Francis Bacon - The Spear Shaker, (San Francisco, California: Golden Gate Press, 1985).

[81] Alfred Dodd, Francis Bacon’s Personal Life Story, Volume 2 - The Age of James, (England: Rider & Co., 1949, 1986). Pp. 157 - 158, 425, 502 - 503, 518 – 532.

[82] Manly P. Hall, The Secret Destiny of America (Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1944).

[83] Quoted in Manly P. Hall, America’s Assignment with Destiny, (The Philosophical Research Society, 1951), p. 69– 70.

[84] Nicholas Hagger, The Secret Founding of America: The Real Story of Freemasons, Puritans, & the Battle for The New World (Watkins, 2009).

[85] La vie d’un exploer (Paris: Laperouse, 1625) cited in Graham Philips, Merlin and the Discovery of Avalon in the New World. (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2011).

[86] Hagger, op. cit., p. 122– 4

[87] C. Oman, The Winter Queen (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938), ch. 50.

[88] Dagua’s autobiography survives in two volumes in La vie d’un explorer (Paris: Lapérouse, 1626).

[89] D. Simmons, Henri of Naverre (London: Blakewell, 1941), p. 67–78.

[90] D. Simmons, Henri of Naverre (London: Blakewell, 1941) p. 103.

[91] Julius Friedrich Sachse, The German Pietists of Provincial Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1895; New York, 1970 [reprint]), p. 258.

[92]doctissimus Astrologus, Magus et Cabbalista’, cited in Levente Juhász, “Johannes Kelpius (1673–1708): Mystic on the Wissahickon,” in M. Caricchio, G. Tarantino, eds., Cromohs Virtual Seminars. Recent historiographical trends of the British Studies (17th-18th Centuries), 2006-2007: 1-9.

[93]What Roles did Francis Bacon and Other Notable Rosicrucians Play in American Colonial Activity and the Establishment of a Democratic Republic?” Group Pictorial Presentation at The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA, 1984).

[94] Linda S. Schrigner, et al. Bacon’s “Secret Society” – The Ephrata Connection: Rosicrucianism in Early America. (1983)

[95] Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, 1972), p. 226.

[96] Frances Yates. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, 1972). p. 226.


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