This study focuses on one of the most curious episodes in the long and glorious history of the Order of St John. It is basically also the story how two men, the Abbe (later bishop and cardinal) Haeffelin and the Bali Flachslanden, ‘masters if diplomacy, knowledge if human nature, and shrewdness’, managed to create an institution from which they stood to benefit most. The events unfold in the last years of the Ancient Regime when new thoughts, new political systems and secularism were bringing the upheaval of many European societies. The short but eventful history of the Anglo-Bavarian langue of the Order was marked by enlightened absolutism, Freemasonry, and secularization. Although it was the outcome of a centennial institution, rooted in a medieval Christian past and the rather materialistic aspirations of enlightened princes, the Anglo-Bavarian langue came to symbolize a whole new dimension and dispels some of the wrong interpretations that have crept in historical accounts.
Thomas Freller is the author of several books.