The Operative Period of Freemasonry was brought to a close and gave place to the Transition Period by a series of historical events which, by one of the most extraordinary coincidences known in history, occurred within a few years of each other. Henry VIII broke Great Britain's tie with the Pope and prepared the way for the Reformation. The same King also abolished the gild system - which was followed by the Mercantile System, a period in business and finance which present - day theorists in economics find it convenient to forget! The Renaissance broke into final flower, in the form of the printing press, printed books, and changed the mental climate in Britain as much as in Europe generally. The discovery of America by Columbus opened the sluice-gates to the Age of Exploration, a wild and adventurous time in which Europe exploded itself over all the world. Gothic architecture gave way with an almost abrupt suddenness to a new style in architecture which originated in Italy and has since passed under many names, such as Classical, Neo Classical, Italian, Palladian and Wren. The old trade secrets of the Operative Freemasons could be kept secret no longer after Euclid's Geometry was published in print, along with many other lesser, old secrets in the arts and sciences. The center of control in Freemasonry passed from the individual Freemason going here and there in his work, and from his temporary Lodges, into the permanent Lodges which were constituted under authority of manuscript copies of the Old Charges, and from them passed into the new Grand Lodge System after 1717 A.D.

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