The Illuminati was founded May 1, 1776. Weishaupt wrote: "The great strength of our Order lies in its concealment, let it never appear, in any place in its own name, but always covered by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Freemasonry; the public is accustomed to it, expects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it."
An understanding was reached with the Masons at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad on December 20, 1781 to add the Illuminati hierarchy to the first three degrees of Masonry. On returning home, Comte de Virieu, a Mason from the Martiniste lodge at Lyons, reported: "I can only tell you that all this is very much more serious than you think. The conspiracy which is being woven is so well thought out that it will be impossible for the Monarchy and the Church to escape it."