Malta Minerval Editons

A Short Biography of 

Adam Weishaupt 


Josef Wäges 

Adam Weishaupt Framed
Johann Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830)

Birth and Education

Johann Adam Weishaupt was born in 1748 in Ingolstadt[^born], and died in 1830 in Gotha. He studied History, Law, Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Ingolstadt, received his doctorate of Philosophy in 1768, became an associate professor of Law in 1772, and became a full professor of Canon Law in 1773.

Founder of the Illuminati

Weishaupt founded the Order of the Illuminati on May 1st, 1776 and was the general of the Order until mid-1784, using the Ordername of Spartacus. He later adopted the Ordername of Scipio Aemilianus at the beginning of the Order’s persecution in 1784.

Freemasonic Affiliation

Weishaupt joined the Munich Lodge Zur Behutsamkeit on February 2nd, 1777 and became a Fellow Craft on February 15th, 1777, but failed to become a Master Mason. This Lodge was a part of the Order of Strict Observance system and he adopted the Ordername of Sanchuniation.

Downfall of the Order

The Illuminati began to unravel in 1784 after the resignation of Adolph Freiherr von Knigge, and was dealt a death blow after a series of withering edicts from the Bavarian Elector Karl Theodore, barring all Secret Societies.

Later Life

Weishaupt was dismissed from the University in 1785, and fled to Nuremberg and thence to Regensburg after the loss of his pension, and finally to Gotha in 1787. He obtained a pension from Duke Ernst II which supported him until his death. In exile he endeavored to reform the degrees and reorganize the Order until 1787, and was in competition with J.J.C. Bode for supremacy. Ultimately he was excluded from his own Order due to the stigma surrounding him.


He failed to obtain a professorship at Mainz, Vienna, and Jena, and became a freelance writer authoring twenty four books and is remembered as a critic of Kant. He joined the council of Saxony-Gotha in 1785, and later became a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1808. Though a critic of revealed religions in his youth, he reconciled with the Catholic Church in his later years.