FRANÇAIS

 

The Fraternity or Guild of St. George of Noordwijk, the Netherlands, at a glance.

 

The Fraternity or Guild of St. George is one of the oldest corporations of the Netherlands. It exists uninterrupted ever since the 14th century. It is a crossbow guild and organised as a civic municipal guard.

The very beginning is to be found in the second half of the 14th century. The oldest reference to the guild so far has been discovered in the archives of the Leeuwenhorst Abbey (1200-1571) and dates from 1424.

After a long period of a somewhat unregulated existence, the Authorities of the Fraternity decided to register the existence of the guild in a Memorandum of Foundation, called the Act of 1477. On June 24 of that particular year the Authorities and Citizen soldiers met each other in front of the Public Notary Willem Jacobsz. van Noortich and his three public witnesses to proclaim the Act. The Act explicitly mentions in the prologue: ‘Scuttariam ac confrateriam et gildam pro futuris temporibus in bono et honore firmiter fundare'. This means that the Faternity was now finally founded strictly and firmly as from the day this Act was signed.

 

The Fraternity or Guild of St. George is the only crossbow guild in the Netherlands with its own shooting range, hall, annex bowling alley and residence. The range and the hall have been designated a national monument.

 

In the period from the 1st of May until the 31st of August the archers practise their abilities in handling the crossbow by shooting on the popinjay. During this period there is a competition system that results in the determination of the best archer of the year. Every year a special one-day contest is held to gain the silver effigies. It is held on the Saturday closest to the start of the summer. Once in a seven-years term the champion-shot is held. The winner will be the King of the guild for the coming seven years. This particular event is called: ‘Koningschieten'.

 

The guard is lead by the King ( Champion-shot) and his four Finders. Other authorities are the Dean, the Bailiff and the Ensignbearers. The protection of the Guild is in the hand of four Halbardiers during the yearly pageant of the Guild around the shootingmast. The pageant is led by the Drummer. As guardian of the traditions and as adviser to the members of the Guild the Dean occupies the most honourable and respectable position in the organisation of the Fraternity.

 

Since 1867 the Fraternity acts as a club as well. Nowadays the club is open for its members only on Friday, so T.G.I.F. is a well known acronym amongst the civic soldiers.

The Fraternity possesses a collection of Emblems of the former local Rethoric Chamber, called 'Lilium inter spinas' (1535 – ca. 1735). The oldest emblem of the Netherlands, dated 1550, is part of this collection. Moreover collections of Banners and medieval arms (including a crossbow from 1515) are among the Fraternity's possessions. We hope that this leaflet gives you an impression of the old Fraternity or Guild of St. George of Noordwijk and its location.