Information on the European Community of Historic Marksmen’s guilds

  • Patron: Karl von Habsburg
  • President:Charles-Louis Prince van Merode
  • Vice presidents:
    • Horst Thoren, Hannenplatz 4, D - 41352 Korschenbroich
    • Jos Verbeeten, Pastoor Willemspad 3, NL – 5845 GA Sint Anthonis
    • Andrzej Wegner, Ul. Chojnnicka 62, PL – 89.500 Tuchola
  • General Secretary: Peter-Olaf Hoffmann, Jahnstrasse 6, D – 41541 Dormagen
  • Treasurer: Drs. Louis Litjens, van Hillenstraat 10, NL – 5988 BH Helden

General information

In 1955 a committee was formed by representatives of the federations of Guilds from The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. They wanted to establish an alliance of Historic Marksmen, which is currently known as the “European Society of Historic Marksmen’s’ Guilds” (EGS).
The first European Marksmen guilds’ Festival was held in 1975 in Aachen. Continuously more and more countries joined the EGS. Today almost a million marksmen and their families are united in the EGS in about 2.800 brotherhoods, guilds, marksmen’s unions and societies. Marksmen, guild-brothers and sisters from Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Croatia found their shared European home base.
This great European Marksmen guild Society strives for a united Christian Europe with the motto: “PRO DEO – PRO EUROPAE CHRISTIANAE UNITATE – PRO VITA” (for God – for an united Christian Europe – for life). With awareness of the history of the different participating groups, marksmen and guilds in Europe, the marksmen and guilds chose a collective road and a common goal: to strengthen the bond between all European citizens by understanding each others multicoloured traditions and respecting the mutual differences. Brotherhood strengthens European unity and stimulates the peaceful coexistence in Europe. 

History of the EGS

After the first European Marksmen guild Festival in 1975 in Aachen, it was subsequently held in Nijmegen (NL. 1977, in Peer (B. 1979), Koblenz (D. 1981), Eindhoven (NL. 1982), Eupen (B. 1985), Lippstadt (D. 1987), Valkenburg (NL. 1989), Genk (B. 1992), Medebach (D. 1994), Haaksbergen (NL. 1996), Krakow (PL. 1998), Garrel (D. 2000), Vöcklabruck (A. 2003), Bernheze (NL. 2006). The latest European Marksmen’s Festival was held in 2009 in Kinrooi (B.).
In 1994 the EGS was restructured. The Presidium of the EGS became the actual governing body, in which representatives of the 5 regions together formed the daily government of this great European organisation. The five regions are:
  • Region 1: Germany, north of the river Main.
  • Region 2: Germany, south of the river Main together with Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
  • Region 3: Scandinavia, Great Britain an the Netherlands.
  • Region 4: Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
  • Region 5: Eastern Europe, with the current headquarters in Poland, Croatia and the Czech republic.
The constant addition of the number of participating unions proves that the marksmen are pursuing a good course in the EGS.

Covenant with the church

Apart from the EGS, but still closely connected, is the KNIGHTHOOD OF THE HOLY SEBASTIAN IN EUROPE. This knighthood wants to strengthen and promote the ties between the marksmen and the Roman-Catholic church. This course is expressed in the knighthood’s motto, which is also the EGS motto: FOR GOD – FOR A UNITED, CHRISTIAN EUROPE – FOR LIFE. Members commit themselves, mainly by their exemplary attitude and personal commitment to church and society. The Presidium of the EGS also forms the Chapter of the order and thus leads the Order as well as the EGS.

The social engagement

Within the EGS, a social network exists which – linked to each European Festival – supports social projects. The first occasion was at the European Festival in Krakow (P), where a children’s village of the Polish Brother Albert Foundation was supported. Due to this support of the EGS, the foundation had the opportunity to build a new house including a protected workplace in the children’s village Radanovich. The foundation opened this house in 2000.
At the European Festival in Garrel (D) in 2000 the social work of the EGS supported a project of the municipality, the parish and the brotherhood in Garrel: “Help the children in Luck”. Luck is a town in the Ukraine, near Chernobyl. The aftermath of the nuclear catastrophe is obviously still tangible. The EGS supported a local orphanage which needed expansion of the dining quarters. Furthermore, the orphanage was in need of funding to save the local pharmacy (supplying the children with free medicines) from an imminent shutdown.
At the European Festival in Vöcklabruck (A) in 2003, the Polish Brother Albert Foundation was supported again by installing isolated windows in their buildings. After that, at the European Festival in Bernheze (NL) in 2006, an institution for handicapped people was supported.
In 2009 the Festival was held at Kinrooi (B). The social network of EGS supported a number of projects, among which an agricultural project in Kesteprado in El Carmen, Peru, a relief transport for the furnishing of a dispensary in Conan, Rumania and the Salvadorian relief action for a well in Kenia. The collections in both divine services were set apart for the support of the work of missionaries from Kinrooi.

The European Festival

Every three years a European Festival is organised for all unions. Apart from the contest for the title ‘European King’, this festival is meant for personal encounter of all European marksmen. Contests in shooting, on drums, waving of colours and so forth strengthen mutual European bonds and friendships. The gathering of youth members is also promoted within the EGS. The formation of new bonds of friendship, learning from one another and celebrating pleasure are main features in this great European Society.
By doing so, marksmen can learn the historical differences in development of the European marks-men’s essence and learn to comprehend the specific features of all the nations.

Annual events

Apart from the European Festival, the Presidium of the EGS meets twice every year and once a year there is a session of the Chapter of the order.
By doing so the European Society of Historic Marksmen’s’ Guilds delivers a contribution to a great bond of friendship in Europe that exceeds all boundaries and adds to a united Christian Europe.

Contact address

General secretary
Peter-Olaf Hoffman
Jahnstrasse 6, 41541 Dormagen (D)
Tel. +49 (0) 2133 – 72078
Fax +49 (0) 2133 – 257379
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