Beginnings in the 18th century
Marksmen guilds were established in the Middle Ages in order to teach the townspeople how to use weapons to defend city walls in case of an attack. Polish guilds have an 800-year old tradition. In Poznań, the oldest guild was established in 1253. By the 18th century, there were 68 such organizations in the region of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska).
The name fowler brotherhood (Polish: ‘bractwo kurkowe’) was derived from the bowmen who trained by shooting the figure of a rooster [Polish: ‘kur’] placed on a wooden pole. The fowler brotherhood movement in Kórnik and Bnin was created on the initiative of Teofila Szołdrska Potulicka (nowadays known as the “White Lady”), the owner of the towns of Bnin and Kórnik.
The royal grant of the king Augustus III of 9 January 1745 permitted the formation of two marksmen’s guilds (the fowler brotherhoods) in Bnin (1745) and Kórnik (1749). The original statutes of association of the Fowler Brotherhood in Kórnik, written on parchment and signed by Teofila Szołdrska Potulicka in 1749, have been preserved to this day.
Original statutes of association and book of the Brotherhood in Kórnik, 1749
The partitions of Poland and independence
During the period of the partitions of Poland, Greater Poland [Polish: Wielkopolska] was a part of Prussia, where the activity of marksmen’s guilds was permitted by law, allowing for regular organization of shooting competitions. The Prussians, however, were trying to Germanize these activities. Many documents of the Kórnik brotherhood from this period have survived such as, for example, the accounting ledgers (1867-1928) and the minutes of the brotherhood (1887-1928), as well as the statutes of the Bnin Fowler Brotherhood of 4 June 1889.
During the inter-war period, the brotherhoods were engaged in patriotic activities. As one example, we have the receipt of 20 June 1939 confirming a contribution to the National Defense Fund in the form of 70 silver medals and tokens. Both brotherhoods in Kórnik and in Bnin functioned in their original form until September 1939.
After the end of World War II, the Communist government liquidated all shooting associations in Poland and took over their assets. All of the possessions belonging to the brotherhoods were transferred to museums. The fowler brotherhoods in Kórnik and in Bnin ceased to exist.
Brotherhood in Kórnik, 1926
Brotherhood in Bnin, 1938
Restoration of the brotherhood in 1987
The plans for the restoration of the Brotherhood in Kórnik were initiated by a social activist, dr Kazimierz Krawiarz in 1983. After many years of attempting to register the association in the City and Municipality Office in Kórnik, it was finally established on 17 December 1987. The first shooting competition was held on Pentecost Sunday in 1988 despite the lack of a firearms license.
The Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood was the first fowler brotherhood to have been registered after the Second World War in Poland, whose statutes of incorporation included the term “cultivating the tradition of the Fowler Brotherhood”. All of the newly formed brotherhoods used the resources which were originally developed in Kórnik. In 1990 the Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood took part in reactivating the Polish Association of Marksmen’s Brotherhoods.
The Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood was also a pioneer of the co-operation between the restored Polish fowler brotherhoods and similar organizations in Western Europe. In January 1989, together with brethren from Kraków, we established contact with a shooting association from Helden-Paningen in the Netherlands. The visit of the Dutch brethren in Poland in July 1989 led to our collaboration with the European Community of Historic Marksmen’s Guilds (EGS), and we were invited to the 7th EGS Convention in Valkenburg aan de Geul in the Netherlands. In March 1990, the Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood became a full EGS member.
Over the next three decades, the Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood continued its magnificent fowler brotherhood traditions. In 2005, the brotherhood completed the building of its current seat, which includes an own shooting range with all of the necessary safety licences and continues to attract admiration from the brethren in Poland and foreign partners.
In 2011 the brotherhood organized the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the restoration of the Polish Association of Marksmen’s Brotherhoods – around 400 brethren from 45 brotherhoods in Poland as well as delegations from Germany, Belgium and EGS visited Kórnik. In December 2017, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the restoration of our brotherhood and we are are looking forward to the future with optimism.
The first Royal tournament after restoration, Kórnik 1988
EGS President congratulates Kazimierz Krawiarz, 1989
Important dates from the history of the brotherhood
|1745||Bnin brotherhood established|
|1749||Kórnik brotherhood established|
|1939||Both brotherhoods are forced to cease activities|
|1949||All Polish fowler brotherhoods are dissolved|
|1987||Restoration of the brotherhood in Kórnik|
|1990||Restoration of the Polish Association of Shooting Brotherhoods
Brotherhood became a member of EGS
|2005||Construction of the current brotherhood seat in Skrzynki completed|
If you seek more information about the brotherhood, please read our publication Kórnik-Bnin Fowler Brotherhood (published in Polish, English and German)