Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, “enlightened”) is a name that refers to several groups, both historical and modern, and both real and fictitious. Historically, it refers specifically to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. In modern times it is also used to refer to a purported conspiratorial organization which acts as a shadowy “power behind the throne”, allegedly controlling world affairs through present day governments and corporations, usually as a modern incarnation or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati. In this context, Illuminati is often used in reference to a New World Order (NWO). Many conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati are the masterminds behind events that will lead to the establishment of such a New World Order.
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