One of the most revealing connections Yates makes in her book is the Rosicrucians were deeply involved with the attempt to overthrow Catholic and Hapsburg control over Europe. So were the Moravians, the group featured in The Star Family.
But rather than define the Rosicrucians by what they opposed, perhaps it would be better to state what they wanted to create. They were attempting to create an ideal state to preserve science, philosophy, Hermeticism, and other knowledge threatened by the Catholics. The hope? “A world order reflecting harmonious cosmic laws in which the spirit of man would be freed to pursue its God-given destiny.” (Johann Valentin Andrea and the Rosicrucians)
John Hus of Prague (1369-1415) tried to reform the Catholic Church and his efforts were rewarded with his martyrdom in 1415. Hus, a professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague, gave rousing sermons at The Bethlehem Chapel, where the Czech reformation centered its activities.
After Hus was burnt at the stake for heresy, the Hussite rebellion followed, which led to the founding of the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren, known in the U.S. as the Moravian Church) in 1457. But the new movement met persecution in the 1500’s, and many fled to exile in Poland. “By 1557 there were three provinces of the church: Bohemia, Moravia and Poland. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) brought further persecution to the Brethren’s Church, and the Protestants of Bohemia were severely defeated at the battle of White Mountain in 1620.” (A Brief History of the Moravian Church)
As it turns out, the Thirty Years War was also connected to the Rosicrucians. Here’s how.
Queen Elizabeth had allied herself with the Netherlands and with German and French Protestants in opposition to Hapsburg aggression in Europe, backed by the Catholic Church. After Elizabeth’s death, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth, married Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine.
This union was supposed to unite Protestant England with Protestant Germany in anticipation of the end of the truce in 1621 between Spain and the Netherlands. The Catholics were preparing for a new assault against what they termed heresy, and they supported the Hapsburgs with this new war in mind. The new couple progressed from London through the Netherlands to Heidelberg, where they established their court.
During this same time, the Rosicrucian manifestos were published in Germany by Johann Valentin Andrea. The first public document was the Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, which appeared in 1614, followed in 1615 by the Confessio Fraternitatis. In 1616 the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz was published. These documents brought the Rosicrucian teachings to the public. These teachings were designed to awaken and expand human consciousness, to connect the individual mind with the universal, and reconcile human awareness with the basic principles of the laws of nature. Yes, I named Valentin Knight after Andrea and a modern mystic.
Frederick and Elizabeth wanted to create “a culture, a ‘Rosicrucian’ state with its court centered on Heidelberg” (Yates). So how did they get to Prague and how did the Thirty Years War start? Check out next week’s blog for more.