Frances Yates’ book on the importance of the Rosicrucians in the European Enlightenment became a critical part of my research for The Star Family. She helped deepen my conviction that several important Moravian church leaders were also part of the Western Mystery tradition. The book also traced important links between the Thirty Years’ War and this group of mystics.
Dame Frances Yates taught history at University College London in the Warburg Institute. Her work focused on esoteric history. Born in 1899 in Southsea, Yates was the eldest of four children.
She was educated at home, although an older sister attended Girton College at Cambridge, the women’s college Virginia Woolf made famous in her essay A Room of One’s Own. (It might have been famous already.) Yates got her degree in French through correspondence courses at University College, London, then in 1926, an MA in French Theatre.
I do not know where she received her esoteric training, but through reading her work, it is obvious she had an excellent grounding in the western metaphysical tradition. I’ll bet somebody out there knows. (Hint, hint.)
Many now claim that Yates founded a paradigm. She argued that Renaissance hermeticism, or Rosicrucian teachings, formed an important part of European culture. They led to the development of science, which Wouter Hanegraaff claims then dismissed its parent. (Yes, even theories have Oedipal complexes.) While scholars argue that there is no unified esoteric tradition (without really studying it, I might add), even the most mainstream historian will admit that Yates did bring the Rosicrucians into the scholarly discussion of the period, clearly showing how important their teachings were.
Her major works include Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964), The Art of Memory (1966), and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972).
In the next blog, I’ll explore some of the elements in this last book that relate to the Moravian church and The Star Family.