Jean-Hyacinthe Astier and the Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse
March 05, 2013
As I was cataloging 18th and 19th century French Masonic rituals the other day, I found an interesting collection of documents from the Souverain Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse of Paris (Sovereign Chapter of the Friends of Wisdom of the Orient of Paris) that are not ritual. The collection of records includes minutes of the chapter, rules and regulations, several lists of members. These records date from 1822-1830. This chapter was overseen by the Grand Orient of France.
Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse was a Rose Croix chapter. Although the Grand Orient of France and the Grand Lodge of France confined themselves mostly to Craft degrees, in 1826-1827 the Grand Orient of France (which had merged with Grand Lodge of France in 1799) had 450 lodges, chapters, and councils. These chapters conferred higher degrees such as the Rose Croix degrees at Les Amis de la Sagesse.
According to the chapter minutes, Jean-Hyacinthe Astier (1784-1852) presided over the Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse from 1826 through 1828, succeeding Melchior Kubly. The list of members in this collection includes Astier's name and his signature appears throughout the collection. The membership lists Astier's occupation as a book seller in 1826.
By the 1830s, Astier had become disenchanted by the Grand Orient of France and took a demit from this chapter. He decided to put his energies and service toward the Supreme Conseil de France, which had been established in 1804. Astier beleived that Freemasonry was essentially a Christian endeavor and France's Supreme Council, at this time, enforced this belief.
Astier owned a very remarkable collection of books on Freemasonry and a catalogue of his works was published postumously in 1856, entitled, Notice des Livres Manuscrits et Imprimés sur Franc-Maçonnerie. Interestingly, catalogue no. 274 indicates that Astier's library included the archives of the Souverain Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse. The description includes the records we now hold at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, including Séances du Comité, Status et Reglément, Registre des Délibérations, and Registre de présence des Amis de la Sagesse. This is evidence of the original provenance for these records!
Collection of Records from Souverain Chapitre des Amis de la Sagesse, 1822-1830. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A2013/5/1a-h.
Bernheim, Alan. "The History of the Present Grand Lodge of France Revisited," Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry, http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/bernheim10.html, accessed 2/16/2013.
Coil, Henry Wilson. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1995, p. 263-265.
Hocart, M. J. Notice des Livres Manuscrits et Imprimés sur Franc-Maçonnerie, les Templiers et Sociétés qui en dépendent, provenant du Cabinet de Feu M. Astier. Paris: Chez D. Guillemot, 1856.