The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, "enlightened") is a name given to several groups, both historical and modern, and both real and fictitious. Historically, the name 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, the Illuminati are believed to be the masterminds behind events that will lead to the establishment of a New World Order.
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