MASONRY PRIOR TO THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGES
1. When and where did Masonry originate?

It was not the work of any single man or group of men. Its beginning is not recorded, although there were certain organizations from which Masonry has borrowed extensively through the centuries in its evolutionary process.

2. What are the Old Charges or Old Constitutions?

Medieval manuscripts that outline the legendary history of Freemasonry and present the rules and laws governing the conduct of early operative masons.

3. What is the Regius Poem?

The oldest of the so-called Old Constitutions dating from approximately 1390, its Masonic character being revealed years later. It was named the Regius Poem (Latin: rex, regis, king) because it was part of the Royal Library of England and later presented to The British Museum by King George II. It is written in verse, whereas all other copies of the Old Charges are in prose.

4. What other Old Charges are there?

More than 100 of these old documents have been discovered. Almost all of them are in Great Britain, but three have been brought to this country. Two are in the possession of The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston. Another, "The Carmick Manuscript of 1727" is in the Library of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

5. What were the Guilds?

Organizations composed of workers such as tailors, dyers, builders, potters.

6. Of What interest are Guilds to Masons?

The prevalent theory of the origin of Freemasonry suggests that eventually Guilds of the building trade developed into lodges of operative masons from which, it is supposed, present-day Freemasonry evolved.

7. Who were Masons prior to 1600?

Operative masons who made their living by working at one of the building trades.

8. How did Operative Masonry develop into Speculative Masonry?

Beginning about 1600, men of prominence who were interested in learning about all types of sciences, particularly architecture and building, became members of some of the lodges of operative masons and finally assumed leadership therein. They used the tools, language and principles of operative masonry to teach the rules of life.
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