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Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller passes away in 1805.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German playwright.

Schiller was born on November 10th, 1759 in Marbach, Württemberg, Germany. He was the son of a military doctor and the family would eventually travel with the father when Schiller got older. At the time of Schiller's birth, his father was soldier in the seven years war and was away when Schiller was born. The family was strongly religious, something that would be reflected in Schiller's later works. The family also wanted to Schiller to become a a pastor. Schiller would often dress up in black robes and pretend to be giving a sermon.

After the seven years war, Schiller's father became a recruiter and the family followed him to the town of Lorch. This is where Schiller received most of his primary education. The local lessons were not very good and young Schiller would cut classes with his older sister. To help him on his path to becoming a pastor, the family asked the local pastor to give him Latin and Greek lessons.

In 1766 the family moved to Ludwigsburg where Schiller's father took a new assignment. There young Schiller accompanied his father to work and young Schiller came to the attention of the Duke of Württemberg. In 1773, Schiller entered Karlsschule Stuttgart a military academy founded by the Duke. It was while he was in the academy that Schiller wrote his first play Die Räuber. The play was about two brothers, one who leads of group of students out into the local woods and became a Robin Hood like character. The other brother plots to seize their father's fortune. The play was a critique of social corruption and had elements of proto-republican ideals. The play astounded the audience of the time. It caused Schiller, who was only in his teens, to become an overnight sensation.

While in school Schiller studied medicine. In 1780 he was posted as a regimental doctor in Stuttgart. He did not like the job and at one point was arrested and sentenced to 14 days of imprisonment when he left his post to see the Mannheim opening of his play. In 1782, he fled his post and eventually made his way to Weimar.

Shortly after arriving in Weimar Schiller became friends with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The two would be friends for the rest of Schiller's life, although the relationship was often strained. In 1789, Schiller moved his family to Jena where he became a professor of History and Philosophy, von Goethe was a big influence on Schiller's move. Schiller and von Goethe would found the Weimar theatre.

Schiller passed away on May 9th, 1805 from tuberculosis.

There is a question as to whether Schiller was in fact a mason. In 1787 he wrote a letter stating "I am neither Illuminati nor Mason, but if the fraternization has a moral purpose in common with one another, and if this purpose for human society is the most important, ..." In 1829 a letter between two members of Lodge Günther zum stehenden Löwen lament the dissolving of their lodge since Schiller was initiated in the lodge. According to Schiller's great-grandson, Wilhelm Heinrich Karl von Gleichen-Rußwurm brought Schiller to the lodge. There is no documentation proving that Schiller was ever a mason, despite this fact it is commonly claimed that Schiller was a mason.