Operative masonry

14th century
Appearance of the first masonic customs within corporations and trade guilds. These were compiled into various different manuscripts including:

  • the “Regius Poem” in 1390 (the oldest);
  • the “Cooke Manuscript” circa 1420.

Speculative masonry

The birth of modern Freemasonry. Four London lodges met in order to join forces and formed a Federation, the Grand Lodge of London.

A Scottish minister called James Anderson wrote a coordinated text setting out the basic rules or “Old Charges”.This was the first version of the “Constitutions” and he introduced a new element -religious tolerance. Freemasonry spread throughout Great Britain, to the British colonies, to Europe and to the various territories under European influence.

The “In eminenti Apostoli Specula” papal bull was issued by Pope Clement XII :this was a condemnation of Freemasonry wherever papal influence extended.

In our land

Between 1740 and 1770
Numerous lodges (Mons, Antwerp, Liège, Brussels) were created, but there was no centralisation or formal organisational structure.

At the request of the Marquis de Gages, the Grand Lodge of England, the so-called “Moderns” set up a Provincial Grand Lodge.The Marquis became the “Provincial Grand Master” in charge of the organisation of Freemasonry within the masonic province of the Austrian Netherlands. Even so, many lodges which were not looking to obtain recognition continued their activities without adhering to this Grand Lodge.

Emperor Joseph II dissued an edict aiming to bring about a better organisation of Freemasonry andreduced the number of lodges in the Austrian Netherlands to the three lodges in Brussels that were officially recognized. The French period: The annexation of our land by France led to the rebirth of Freemasonry.The army was one of the factors which favoured this rebirth.The “Belgian” lodges came under the authority of the Grand Orient of France for almost twenty years.

After the French Empire crumbled, the Treaties of Paris (1814 and 1815) and the Congress of Vienna saw Belgium unified with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.The “Belgian” lodges came under the authority of the Netherlands, and King William I made sure of their loyalty by turning them into a Grand Orient of the Netherlands, presided over by Prince Frederick, his second son. Seen as a hero because he had fought against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, he was nevertheless the man in command of the Dutch army that descended upon Brussels to put down the Belgian revolution.

The present day, the main Grand Lodges in Belgium

16th January, foundation of the Grand Orient of Belgium

4th April, foundation in France of the male and female Order,Le Droit Humain.The first lodge in Belgium,“45 Égalité”, Orient of Brussels, was founded in 1912.

A number of lodges left the Grand Orient of Belgium and founded the Grand Lodge of Belgium.

20th April, creation of the first women’s lodge in Belgium by the Women’s Grand Lodge of France. The Women’s Grand Lodge of Belgium gained its independence on 17th October 1981. Unlike these four adogmatic Grand Lodges, the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium (founded in 1979) asserts a belief in the Supreme Being.This requirement is “absolute and is not subject to any compromise or restriction”.