4. History of the Grande Loge of France
1728: Philip Wharton became Grand Master of the Grande Loge of Paris (or Grande Loge of France).
The historical birth of French Freemasonry. It was in 1732 that the first French Lodge founded in Paris received patent from the Grande Loge of London. Very quickly, other French Lodges were created in the provinces. In 1738 all these Lodges made up the Grande Loge of France.
On the eve of the Revolution, the French Masonic Order had secured a considerable place in the country: several tens of thousands of Freemasons belonged to one of two principal obediences: the Grande Loge de France and the Grand Orient of France (created in 1773). Noblemen and bourgeoisie rubbed shoulders from the very beginning.
The two obediences fused together temporarily in 1799.
1801: In South Carolina, the Count of Grasse-Tilly created the first Supreme Council of the Southern jurisdiction if the USA and became the first Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of America.
In 1804 the Supreme Council if France of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was created, provoking the meeting of a Scottish General Grande Loge. This Supreme Council still exists today, in rue Puteaux in Paris, and has jurisdiction over the High Degrees.
At the end of the same year, Napoleon I obliged the Freemasons now to have only a single Obedience, the Grand Orient, for the first three degrees (Apprentice (or Entered Apprentice), Fellow Craft and Master Masons), the Supreme Council keeping its authority over the other grades of French Freemasonry. In the years that followed the fall of Napoleon, this obligation was no longer respected and the Masonic situation evolved with the creation of numerous Lodges that did not depend on the Grand Orient. Little by little, these Lodges gathered under the authority of the Supreme Council of France.
1875: The Convent of Lausanne. The adoption of the symbol of the Great Architect of the Universe as the Creator Principle. The year 1877 marked an important turning point in the history of Freemasonry in France, for it was in that year that the Grand Orient authorised its Lodges to abandon the invocation of the Great Architect of the Universe, and the Bible, fundamental elements of Freemasonry, thus stirring up considerable feeling in the Masonic world.
1894: Creation of the Scottish Grand Symbolic Lodge which subsequently took the name Grande Loge de France (Grand Symbolic Lodge of France).
1904: The Grande Loge de France was constituted according to the act of 1901.
Prohibited in 1940, like the other French obediences, the Grande Loge de France was reconstituted in 1945. The Second World War was undoubtedly the worst period that Freemasonry in France had ever known, for the only time in its history it was prohibited and persecuted by the French government and by the German occupying forces.
Today, the membership of the Grande Loge de France is over 30 000.