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Ancient Free Moorish Rite Mason

(Mmadi Jariyyah No. 7)

Nicholas Levison 

Sayyied Dey

Mmadi “Angelo Soliman” Make, the "royal Moor", the "noble Moor", the "princely Moor" and / or the "court Moor". Angelo Soliman is historically recognized as the first Moorish Freemason. Mmadi was born 1721, in present-day northeastern Nigeria/northern Cameroon called the Congo; he died on November 21, 1796, in Vienna. He was a member of the Kanuri ethnic tribe, also called Berber (Kushitic people). Most Kanuri are Muslims (Islam spread among them in the 11th century). His original name, Mmadi Make, is linked to a princely class in the Sokoto State in modern Nigeria. Mmadi spoke often of the fact that his father was the Chief of his tribe. Nevertheless, Mmadi was taken captive as a child at the age of (7) seven and arrived in Marseilles as a servant. Soliman was sold to a Sicilian lady and family. He was eventually transferred to the household of a marchioness in Messina who oversaw his training. Out of affection for another servant in the household, Angelina, he adopted the name Angelo and chose to celebrate September 11, his baptismal day, as his birthday. He entered the service of Field Marshal Prince Lobkowitz, the General of the Austrian Army and the Governor of Sicily, as the personal attendant, soldier and confidant. There was a fashion for "House Moors" at this time and Soliman was apparently an exceptional man. From 1753 he lived in Vienna, where he played an important role in the household of Prince Liechtenstein: Soliman was chamberlain and tutor to the prince’s children. He chose his name out of love of another servant girl, Angelina. In 1734 he left with Prince Georg Christian, Furst von Lobkowitz, the imperial governor of Sicily to continue his education. He became the Prince's valet and travelling companion and once saved the Prince's life in the field of battle. After the death of the Prince he was transferred to the house of Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein where he rose to the rank of chief servant and tutor to the Prince's son, Aloys I. Consequently, Soliman became a member of the royal Hapsburg household. A cultured man, Soliman was highly respected in the intellectual circles of Vienna and counted as a valued friend by Austrian Emperor Joseph II and Count Franz Moritz von Lacy. During this time he was reported to have learned (7) seven different languages, Native tongue Kanuri (Hausa, Arabic, etc), Czech, French, Italian, English, German, Latin and could write three of them fluently as well. He was also a master swordsman, a war hero, a chess specialist, a navigation expert, and a tutor to royalty. He is considered one of the most learned people of his generation as well as one of the greatest Vienna citizens of all time. in Vienna. He was a Vienna celebrity, a dashing figure and personality who was widely admired for his handsomeness, fashionable Moorish attire and social grace; he was an excellent dancer and romancer at elite social affairs. 

Angelo Soliman was a Vienna celebrity, a dashing figure and personality who was widely admired for his handsomeness, fashionable Moorish attire and social grace; he was an excellent dancer and romancer at elite social affairs.

       Angelo Soliman was described as “a prominent, widely respected citizen of Vienna, a veteran with a shining record, a learned attendant of kings and princes, a royal pensioner, ... a devoted husband and father.” [Frank Peters “THE PRINCELY MOOR WHO CIRCULATED IN MOZART'S VIENNA”]

        He married Magdalena von Kellermann - Christiani, the widow of Harrach'schen, sister of the French general Francois Etienne de Kellerman (1770-1835), General of Napoleon Bonaparte, Duke of Valmy and Secretary of Anton Christiano in 1768, by Archbishop Migazzi, which angered Prince Liechtenstein, and led to Soliman's dismissal. The Prince, who required absolute obedience of his servants, even regarding their private life, did not forgive Soliman of his ‘unauthorized act’. Soliman purchased a small garden home and devoted most of his time studying history and science. His only child, Josefine (Jospepha, Josephine), was born in 1772. 

         In the same year, 1768, Soliman joined the Zur Wahren Eintracht Masonic Lodge (the True Concord Freemason Lodge or True Harmony Lodge), whose membership included many of Vienna's influential artists and scholars of the time, among them the musicians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn, as well as, the Hungarian poet Ferenc Kazinczy. Bro:. Soliman rose to the level of ‘Frater terribilis’ or  Vice-Grand Master of Ceremony (Grand Master), what we would call the Worshipful Master in our modern-day Lodges. It was at this time that Soliman chose 'Massinissa' as his Masonic name, which alluded to the Numidic king of the same name that lived from 240-148 B.C., and was the leader of the new Numidic state, one that was made up of a culture of Carthaginian-Minoan roots. He rewrote and refined its Masonic rituals and other literature. The Soliman Freemasonic literary style spread all over Europe and around the world, eventually even influencing modern Freemasonic literature and rituals. 

     The Zur Wahren Eintracht Masonic Lodge (the True Concord Freemason Lodge or True Harmony Lodge) pushed members to produce academic works, music or poetry for special, semi-public lodge meetings whose purpose was to spread specialized knowledge and foster debate. The lodge did not stop at producing lectures; it also issued several successful periodical publications. Vienna thus quickly became a center of the Republic of Letters generating a remarkable amount of Enlightenment activity in a few short years. The ideas and methods of the Viennese Enlightenment were a product of and a response to the reforms of Joseph II. It would also be the king’s wariness and lack of support that would cause the Enlightenment movement to recede; by the end of the decade Freemasonry came under state regulation, secret police dampened public debate, and the press became less free.This was a very risky thing at the time, as the Church could very easily label someone a heretic, or even worse. By implementing this change Bro:.Soliman opened the door for many famous Masons to be able to speak and present ideas and theories without the fear of the Church finding out.. Therefore, Soliman is called the Father of "Pure Masonic Thought". This new Masonic direction rapidly influenced Freemasonic practice throughout Europe and all around the world. The Moorish Rite hails Angelo Soliman as its patriarchal figure; he is a profound model of early Moorish achievement. Soliman is the writer of The Barbary Treaties of 1786 until his death and The Treaty with Morocco June 28 and July 15, 1786 for King Mohammed III. 

    On November 21, 1796, Soliman suffered a stroke and died of apoplexy near St. Stephen's cathedral. After his death his body was acquired by Emperor Franz II (I) for the Imperial-Royal Court Cabinet of Natural History. This is the same family that Soliman had served for years. Franz had reversed a lot of the policies of Joseph II, abolishing many of his enlightenment ideas. Also, as tradition hands down through the ages, Franz II had a perverse addiction to human flesh, not unlike the Nazi's who would later make book bindings, lampshades, etc., out of human skin. Nevertheless, his body was taken to the Faculty of Medicine at Vienna's old University. Here, in the facility's anatomical theater, his intestines were removed, his skin and skeleton saved, and stuffed; the rest of his remains were buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Vienna two days later. A famed sculptor by the name of Franz Thaller stretched Soliman's skin over a padded wooden model and made into an exhibit within this cabinet of curiosities. The model was kept in a wooden chest that was displayed in the Imperial Library as part of it's natural history display. Here his remains resided for ten years until 1806. Despite protests and petitions from Soliman’s daughter, Josefine, who sought to have his remains returned to the family were in vain. Soliman’s mortal remains were exhibited to the public, shows clearly how the person of Soliman, valued during his life as an intellectual, was stripped of the insignia of his lifetime achievements, ethnologists instrumentalized him and posthumously degraded as a "African savage": dressed in a loincloth, feathered ostrich crown and necklaces of shells and glass beads, he stood together with three other stuffed said black-skinned humans against a screen painted with a tropical landscape, surrounded by exotic stuffed animals. In 1848 the mortal remains of Angelo Soliman, which had been so ignominiously abused in this way, were destroyed by a fire ensuing from the hostilities during the October revolution of 1848. A plaster cast of Soliman's head made shortly after his death of a stroke in 1796 is still on display in the Rollett Museum in Baden. His grandson is Ernst, Baron von Feuchtersleben (


Soliman was the inspiration for Mozart’s character of the "MOORISH MONOSTATOS" in "THE MAGIC FLUTE", also called the "GOLDEN FLUTE". It is likely that the character Bassa Selim in Mozart's opera “THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO” was based on Soliman also. He is also the inspiration for the character of disgraced servant boy in Robert Musil's novel, "THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES", written about the end of the Austrian monarchy. The Wien Museum featured an exhibit in 2011, entitled "SOLIMAN: AN AFRICAN IN VENICE" and it was very well received. Soliman's life is the best-documented of any non-European in Vienna, yet his biography remains sketchy. This exhibition provides few details of his daily life. I hope that even more is discovered about Soliman in the years to com; as he has been "recognized historically as the First Moorish Freemason in the Occident, Grand Master Angelo Soliman stands as the Historic Patriarchal Figure of Moorish Rite Freemasonry!" 

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