The French Revolution 1789
The French Revolution, and the regicide and terror which followed in its wake, were to contemporaries around Europe, the most shocking events of all history.
After the French Revolution a lot of head-scratching went into explaining what had happened. The scale of the events and the change to French society suggested that there was a higher explanation than those living throught he events could discern.
Augustin Barruel, a former French Jesuit who sought refuge England from 1792, wrote an influential account which identified an elite group of members of secret societies as the masterminds of the French Revolution. He focussed in particular on Adam Weishaupt, who founded the Bavarian order of the Illuminati. Many of the features of Barruel’s account can be found in subsequent conspiracy theories, including those who invert his theory and make the Jesuits that elite group of masterminds.
This is despite the fact that the Jesuit order had been supressed well before the Revolution in 1773, and was not restored until 1814, when Europe, devastated by over 20 years of war, needed the Jesuits’ skills in rebuilding institutions.