Illuminati

alumbrados. Members of a Spanish group of mystical tendencies. At the dawn of the sixteenth century Spain was touched by a religious movement which brought about renewal. The common folk, thirsty for a personal understanding of the Gospel, met in small groups to study the Bible. Bataillon contrasts this simplistic search for freedom with the intellectual aspirations of Cardinal Jiménes,* whose movement at Alcala had limited appeal. The Alumbrados, or “enlightened ones,” were mystical in nature, drawing from Neoplatonism certain concepts also used by the Sadilies or Islamic mystics. A Franciscan first used the word “Illuminati” in 1494 in a letter to Cardinal Jiménes. Its doctrines seem to be known from the Inquisition,* which in 1623 condemned a wide range of Illuminist opinions. More recent scholars point to the positive leadership of Pedro Ruiz de Alcarez rather than repeat the general condemnation of an amorphous Spanish religious phenomenon of 129 years. Alcarez in his letter of 22 June 1524, written to the Inquisitors after four months' imprisonment, identifies the movement with the Franciscan Order. The key term was “love of God.”

Alcarez may be called a member of the dexados movement, since Isabel de la Cruz initiated him into it about 1510. When Alcarez took Isabel's views on the freedom in God's love, thereby opposing merits by grace, a definite doctrinal content was added to the amorphous Franciscan illuminative way. The propositions condemned from his writings were made public on 25 September 1525. The perfection which Alcarez taught is the submission to God's will rather than an eradication of evil from the soul. Alcarez fought against the recogidos movement of Francisco De Osuna. This form of Spanish mysticism in the Franciscan movement sought by a method of prayer (recogimento) to recollect sufficient data through the senses to achieve illumination and union with God. The allegorical use of Scripture here in contrast to Alcarez assumes a natural divine light in which grace builds upon nature. This form of Illuminati thought influenced Loyola and St. Teresa. In Juan de Valdés* and Peter Martyr* such views were conveyed to Little Gidding and New England.

A. Sánchez Barbudo, “Algunos aspectos de la vida religiosa en la Espana del siglo XVI: Los Alumbrados de Toledo” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1953); J.E. Longhurst, “The Alumbrados of Toledo,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, XLV (1954), pp. 233-52; idem, Luther's Ghost in Spain (1969).