My friend John writes about the story behind the York Rite College Degree. I knew that Althelstan did not have a son as our degree says but John tells the real story. Personally I think his story is more interesting than the degree. By the way I did not have permission to post this so if he asks I will take it down. In the meantime I use the old masonic philosophy that it is better to go ahead and do something and then ask for forgiveness. In the meantime here is what John has to say about the Knight of York Degree.
Pedant that I am, it bothers me that King Athelstan, who was in fact a great king and a worthy successor to his grandfather Alfred the Great, was never married, and had no children, legitimate or illegitimate (at least not any that anybody today knows about). He was succeeded by his two younger half-brothers, and they by Athelstan's nephew who was named Edwy--but he was a pretty shaky leader. Which makes Athelstan's son a complete fiction. And the real golden age of churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and so forth didn't come until after Athelstan either--though he probably saw the beginnings of these movements that culminated in the 12th century (when I'd like to begin the Renaissance anyway...). I think it would be every bit as good a story WITHOUT Edwin, because Athelstan apparently DID convene a big conference at York, and the Cooke Manuscript tells us that he DID organize some sort of builders' association at that time. We seem not to know whom he picked to head it up, but there's just no way it was a prince of the blood, since there weren't any except for Athelstan's half-brothers. Neither of them was a particularly stellar ruler either... And just who is this "Archbishop of England?" Even in those days, the Archbishop of Canterbury was the primate, although the Archbishop of York was otherwise his equal (as he is today). So did Canterbury travel all the way to York to meet with Athelstan? The two men would have known OF each other, since even the regional kings and chieftains in southern England had sworn fealty to the northerner Athelstan.
Addendum : John writes -
Heck, that's fine. It's unMasonic NOT to borrow ideas, isn't it? I just hope I got everything right--it was pretty much off the top of my head and as I remember it.
BTW, it's interesting to note that Alfred, Athelstan's grandpa, is the ONLY English monarch ever to be awarded the honorific "the Great," and it was not without reason. Alfred has been one of my heroes for years--long before I took the Scottish degrees.
In the days when most monarchs and even bishops could neither read nor write, Alfred was a true scholar, and thus became a fair and gifted law-giver. An amazing guy. I'm a little surprised that there aren't more Masonic references to HIM. Athelstan, who knew Alfred, followed in his footsteps, though.
So I am off the hook. Thanks Brother Klaus.
See much more interesting. There is more room here for study but this is a start. We needn't take every thing we read or see in ritual as truth. However we can learn the lessons they teach and grow. Thanks John for some interesting food for thought.
By the way when I was looking for an illustration for this blog I ran across something in England called The Masonic Order of Althestan.
"The aim of the Masonic Order of Athelstan is to encourage and prompt its members into actual further study and research. As such each candidate is carefully chosen due to their interest in Masonic history and is ‘Instructed’ into our Order."The Internets are a wonderful place to explore and learn. Hugs j