The Order of Pug

A secret society whose members wore dog collars

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

It was the 17th century when Freemason appeared in England and welcomed people of all religions into their ranks.

As an organization that aimed to help people regardless of religion and to better society without the church`s support, it was seen highly dangerous. All of that and the fact that many Freemasons opposed monarchies, from which the Catholic church highly benefitted, was why the papacy saw Freemasonry as a denier of the Church.

In 1738 the Catholic Church banned its members from partaking in freemasonry. The punishment for breaking this new rule was excommunication from the Catholic community.

Establishing the Order of the Pug

The order was established in 1738 in Germany by Clemens August of Bavaria. Unlike Freemasons, the Order of the Pug allowed women and men to become members on the condition that they were Catholic. Even the leadership of the order was divided between men and women.

But why the pug?

Called the “Mops-rden” (or Order of the Pugs in German). It is thought that the image of the pug was chosen as a symbol for its qualities of loyalty, trust, and steadfast character. But it is also found that the use of a pug demonstrated an affinity for England, which was then a pillar of enlightened thinking. Pugs were a popular animal in England, and to many, the pug manifested the English government's virtues.

Pugs came to England with King William III when he was brought from the Netherlands by Parliament to replace his uncle and a way-too-Catholic father-in-law, James II.

European enlightened minds travelled to admire this new style of English government and free-thinking. Owning a pug was a subtle way of showing solidarity with England’s revolution without getting arrested, or worse, thrown into a dungeon. In Paris, pugs were associated with Voltaire and Diderot.

Order of the Pugs meeting, source: Wikipedia

Initiation of the order

New members of the order had to wear dog collars and scratch at the door to enter. After this, they were blindfolded and led nine times around a carpet with symbols on it. While barking simultaneously like the pug, members would bark back at them to test their steadfastness.

Lastly, they had to kiss the butt of the porcelain pug, which expressed their devotion to society. Members of the order carried a pug medallion made of silver to show their affiliation.

The end of the order

In 1745 a book published in Amsterdam with the title L’ordre des Franc-Maçons trahi et le Secret des Mopses révélé exposed the order`s ritual. It contained two engravings illustrating their rite, therefore exposing the society.

A couple of years later, in Göttingen University, a student society of the order was established, mainly including members from the Hanoverian nobility. Suspicious circumstances surrounding the lodge fees and their control over their members formed the excuse to ban the society.

The order of the pugs slowly died out as attitudes toward Freemasonry changed. But some German sources state that the order was reportedly active in France as late as 1902.

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