The French Craft since 1761

In the 1760’s, the Grand Lodge of France was re-organized. In 1773, an assembly ot the Parisian and Provincial lodge deputies founded the Grand Orient de France, and voted a decision whereby the office of Worshipful Master was henceforward to be removable. This brought about the opposition of numerous Parisian Lodge Masters deeply adhering to the unremovable character of their office. These opponents decided to carry on the existence of the Grand Lodge of France. Both institutions – which differed neither by their rituals nor by the degrees which they conferred – will have no difficulty to re-unite in 1799.

As previously mentioned, the Craft in France used the ritual inherited from the first Grand Lodge of London, which – since 1751 - was denominated as ‘modern’.

In 1782, the Grand Orient de France created a Chamber of Degrees so as to build up a Grand Orient rite which, later on, was - unfortunately - to be named the French Rite. It will nevertheless be adopted in 1786. In this new Rite, the first three ‘blue’ degrees ware codified, they will however only be published in 1801, under the title of Régulateur du Maçon (Regulator of the Craft). With this new rite, the Grand Orient acknowledged five higher degrees administered by a Grand General Chapter of France. These five degrees gathered the whole of the degrees that had appeared in France between 1740 and 1760.

Later on, the Grand Orient had to live through eventful and difficult yearss, among which the revolutionary ones, and could resume its activity only in 1791. Yet the French Revolution had deeply altered its distribution, the number of its lodges and the quality of its members : noblement and clerics who were numerous in lodges will rarely attend them afterwards.

In 1804, de Grasse-Tilly created a Supreme Council of France and a Grand General Scots Lodge. On Bonaparte’s request, on december 4th 1804, the Grand General Scots Lodge was compelled to pass and sign an agreement with the Grand Orient de France, a document in which the phrase Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite appeared for the first time.