This map plots the settings and references in Frankenstein

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Bavaria, Germany
What was once the university of Ingolstadt's Anatomy Building
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWhat was once the university of Ingolstadt's Anatomy Building - Credit: Brian Clontarf

Established in 1472, the University of Ingolstadt made the Bavarian city an important counter-Reformation presence during the Renaissance, but it underwent a systematic secularization throughout the Enlightenment.  By the late 18th century it had entirely shed its religious associations and, due to the extra-curricular activities of Professor Adam Weishaupt,  had become famous instead as the birthplace of a radical pro-Enlightenment offshoot of the freemasons, an ostensibly "secret" society known as the 'Illuminati'. 

Anticipating the modern multitude of hilarious conspiracy theories it has spawned, some contemporaries feared that this club of bored noblemen and self-professed 'free-thinkers' was in fact a sinister anti-theistic conspiracy, secretly advancing a worldwide revolutionary agenda.  Although the group had dispersed by the end of the 18th century, and financial difficulties had required the university to relocate to Munich in 1800, its history ensures that Frankenstein's education is as laden with sinister implications as the experiments which result.

Online edition of Volume III of Augustin Barruel's 'Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism', (1799), which generously credits a group of masonic societies, including the 'Illuminati', with engineering the French Revolutionread by Mary Shelley