Freemasonry is the oldest and largest, and most widely known fraternity in the world. But throughout history, its structure and teachings have remained a mystery to many, and myths and misconceptions about the fraternity have arisen.
Exactly when Freemasonry began is not known for certain, but many historians trace the beginnings of Masonry to the middle ages, when stonemasons and other craftsman traveled throughout Europe. These men were known as free mason, because, unlike bondsman, these free masons would gather in shelter houses, or lodges, and eventually organized themselves into Masonic guilds, using the secrets of their craft to identify themselves as masons. The square and compass - the tools of the mason's trade became the symbol of their brotherhood, and of moral truths which they convey.