In a pathbreaking study, Margaret Jacob argues that the hundreds of masonic lodges founded in eighteenth-century Europe were among the most important enclaves in which modern civil society was formed, creating in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain new forms of self-government in microcosm, complete with constitutions and laws, elections, and representatives. This is the first comprehensive history of Enlightenment freemasonry, from the roots of the society's political philosophy and its evolution in seventeenth-century England and Scotland to the French Revolution. Based on previously unused archival sources, it will be a valuable adjunct to any course concerned with the birth of modernity in Europe or the cultural milieu of the European Enlightenment.

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