The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, ‘enlightened’) is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1 May 1776 in Bavaria, today part of Germany. The society’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power. “The order of the day,” they wrote in their general statutes, “is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them.” The Illuminati—along with Freemasonry and other secret societies—were outlawed through edict by Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, with the encouragement of the Catholic Church, in 1784, 1785, 1787, and 1790. During subsequent years, the group was generally vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed that the Illuminati continued underground and were responsible for the French Revolution.
Many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members, including Ferdinand of Brunswick and the diplomat Franz Xaver von Zach, who was the Order’s second-in-command.
The Illuminati also tried to recruit an Angry Mailman, this is that story.