• The period of masonic internationalism in the last third of the 19th and first third of the 20th centuries saw the most visible – and controversial – attempts to organisationally model the “cosmopolitan imperative” of freemasonry. The various freemasonries in Europe saw themselves as links in a world-spanning “chain of brothers” forged by the initiatory method, the experience of ritual. This essay explores the discrepancy between this relatively homogeneous self-image and the organisational diversity of Freemasonry. It examines the extent to which the idea of a worldwide brotherhood was elaborated as a guiding principle for action in masonic ritual texts. The normative instructions for ritual practice are then related to the development of international masonic relations as well as the transnational movements and organisations of freemasons around 1900: At the beginning of the formative phase of internationalism, masonic bodies could not refer to their most important texts to establish or reject more intensive transnational relations. Rather, they adapted these texts in line with their proximity to or distance from transnational aspirations.