In the early years of the 17th century, strange manifestos caused excitement all over Europe. These manifestos declared the existence of a secret brotherhood of sages and alchemists who were preparing to transform science, the arts, religion and the intellectual and political landscape of Europe. Wars of religion as well as politics ravaged the Europe during those years. About 400 books and manuscripts were published between 1614 and 1620 about Rosicrucian concepts.
The peak of this "Rosicrucian mania" was felt in 1622 when two mysterious posters appeared on the walls of Paris within a few days of each other. The first said, "We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city," and the second stated, "The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us." The manifestos were not taken literally by all those that saw and read them but were regarded as allegorical statements or as hoaxes. The manifestos got to the point by stating, "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy, and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets."
The Paris manifestos were not the first ones to surface in Europe. Between 1607 and 1616 manifestos were first published in Germany, and then throughout Europe. The documents presented an order of mystic-philosopher-doctors that believed in the "Universal Reformation of Mankind." Historian Dame Frances Yates called the documents "Rosicrucian Enlightenment."
Rosicrucianism is defined as a philosophical secret society that was founded by Christian Rosenkreuz in late medieval Germany. The society teaches a theology built on ancient truths about ancient times, which the Society claims are hidden from the average man. The Society claims to provide insights into the physical universe, nature and the spiritual realm. Rosicrucianism was associated with a form of Protestantism, called Lutheranism, rather than Catholicism.
The Society also influenced Freemasonry as it began to unfold in Scotland. Through the centuries, several esoteric societies used Rosicrucian doctrines, in whole or in part, to develop their philosophy. The first Rosicrucian manifesto was influenced by Heinrich Khunrath, the respected hermetic philosopher, from Hamburg. Khunrath was the author of the 1609 work "Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae." Heinrich was influenced by John Dee, the author of the 1564 work "Monas Hieroglyphica."
Some historians say the first writers were moral and religious reformers. They used the techniques of alchemy and other sciences to publicize their beliefs and opinions. According to author Maurice Magre, Christian Rosenkreuz was the last descendant of the Germelshausen, a 13th century German family. The family castle was in the Thuringian Forest on the border of Hesse, and they held to Albigensian doctrines. The family was put to death by Landgrave Conrad of Thuringia, but the youngest son, who was five at the time, was secretly carried away by an Albigensian monk from Languedoc. The boy was placed in an Albigensian monastery and educated according to their doctrines of life. The boy met four brothers at the monastery who helped him develop the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.
During Rosenkreuz's lifetime, the Brotherhood only had eight members, all doctors and sworn bachelors. Each member took an oath to maintain a secret fellowship, heal the sick without payment and find someone to replace him before he died. Three generations of doctors continued to serve the Brotherhood throughout the 17th century. During those years religious, scientific and philosophical freedom was growing and the public wanted to feel the benefit they received from Rosicrucians' knowledge.