Throughout history, groups of men have gathered to steer larger political, economic, and social events in their favor, be it emperors, kings, queens, their advisers and councils, and so on. But, there have been other rather unknown groups that may have exerted considerable influence without being in the worldly spotlight.
The Knights Templar was a medieval secret society of Christian Knights founded approximately around 1118 to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land during and after the crusades. They received official endorsement from the Catholic Church in 1129. Within a few short decades they would become one of the most powerful orders in Europe, with a reliable and sophisticated banking system, strong military presence, leagues of followers, and ever-growing territory.
The Templars were more than just Crusade knights with money; they had a strict code of conduct, including not retreating in battle unless vastly outnumbered and they pledged to protect pilgrims on their travels.
The knights would also become intertwined with many Christian legends, including that of the treasure of King Solomon found buried beneath the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, according to National Geographic. It is also speculated that they might have acquired the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, and/or Jesus Christ’s blood.
No evidence remains as to whether they succeeded in acquiring the treasure, but the Knights Templar did amass a great deal of wealth during their existence—enough to put them at odds with the King of France King Philip in the early 1300s. The king, who owed the order a great deal of money, arrested and tortured hundreds from the order under charges of idolatry, heresy, and devil-worship. Many in the order were executed. The order was disbanded by the Pope a few years later, leaving only shattered dreams and legends in its wake.
The Illuminati are labeled by many modern day conspiracy theorists as the secret society that covertly dominates the world governments, the economy, and other many powerful organizations.
The organization was founded in 1776 by a man named Adam Weishaupt, a Bavarian law professor, according to Discovery News. Weishaupt claimed to have hidden, arcane knowledge, but it is unclear where he gained this information. Furthermore, the society believed that man was not evil in his natural state, but was corrupted through religion, government, and other forces in contemporary society.
Weishaupt supposedly had a detailed and organized plan to change the world and he held that all in the future would accept his beliefs, according to Discovery.
The Illuminati was eventually outlawed in Bavaria in 1783, leading to its dissolution throughout the rest of Germany by 1800. However, its ideas had already spread to America and throughout Europe, leading many to speculate that the order remains to this day, in ultra-secrecy.
As the world economy grows, and since the inception of the United Nations, conspiracy theorists continue to cite increasing examples of the group’s existence and influence, as world unity in government, economy, and thought seems to have been the Illuminati’s ultimate goal.
The Freemasons are a secret society that is rather well known today, their existence is not so much secret, though their practices behind closed doors remain a mystery. Many of the founding fathers of America were Freemasons, such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and many others, according to the Masonic Service Association (MSANA).
The first Grand Lodge of England was established in 1717, but the origin of the masons themselves is unclear. A poem referencing the masons, the “Regius Poem,” is dated to 1390, but the origin of the society might go back further still.
The Masons identify themselves as a worldwide fraternity with an emphasis on personal study, self-improvement, enlightenment, dignity of man, individual liberty, freedom of worship, democracy, and social betterment. The society is usually involved in the local communities where its chapters have been established, and the society practices philanthropy regularly. The Masons additionally helped establish the first public schools in Europe and America, according to the MSANA.
Another well-known secret society is the Skull and Bones Society of Yale University. Like the Freemasons, the existence of the Skull and Bones is fully recognized, however the practices and activities are a mystery.
Furthermore, there are only 15 members a year, which means that there are only about 800 members living at any given time, according to CBS News. Although the order is small, by comparison, it has counted among its members U.S. presidents (including both Presidents George Bush Sr. and Jr.), senators (including Sen. John Kerry), and a host of cabinet officials and other high-ranking officials.
The society was originally founded in 1832 and was called the Eulogian Club, which still meets twice a week. Not much is known to the public, which leads to many rumors and much speculation. Others view this organization as simply an elite college fraternity reserved for the sons of the most powerful.
Another secret society less well-known than the others mentioned here, but which certainly exists, definitely has considerable influence in the world. It is known as the Bilderberg Society and it meets every year for a three-day conference. Its members first met in 1954 at the Hotel De Bilderberg, Oosterbeek, according to the group’s official website.
The group’s attendees change every year, and the meeting is strictly by invite only. The sites of the annual conference changes regularly, and journalists are not allowed to attend. The agenda of the meetings is to foster dialogue between Europe and America. This was especially important during its establishment during WWII.
According to the organization’s website, the members are free to discuss the society, but they are not allowed to quote any particular member. This is to ensure that each member can be free to discuss in open dialogue and debate.