The Fowler Brotherhood

The Fowler Brotherhood is one of the oldest fellowships in the world, it was founded more than 700 years ago. Long ago guilds were responsible for protecting the city, so citizens of Krakow had to know how to fight. The Fowler brotherhood was training cracovians, preparing them to protect the city walls. The most important skill those days was considered to be archery, men were practising trying to aim a fowl. The brotherhood consisted of Krakow craftsmen. Jan Długosz was writing in his chronicles about the Fowler brotherhood describing the reasons why there was nobody in the city to stop the spread of the fire in 1455 which managed to destroy more than 100 houses. He wrote: “Most of the craftsmen went to shoot the fowler, those who were not practising also left the city to watch them shooting”.

Except the regular practices there was an annual shooting competition, the winner was called the Fowler King. The last king before the Austrian occupation was chosen in 1793, his name was Stanislaw Piątkowski. When Austrians took the city they forbade the brotherhood, and it didn’t exist till 1833 when it was reactivated as Shooting society. This name is used till now.

In the second half of the XIX century the brotherhood became quite popular and had big influence. Even professors from Jagiellonian University wanted to become its members. It was visited by the emperor Franz Joseph I when he was staying in Krakow in 1880.

On the 1st of September 1939 the brotherhood was closed, the most valuable belongings were hidden. In December 1939 the last Fowler king, dr Rudolf Żak, was killed by German soldiers. The society was reactivated after Krakow was liberated in 1945.

The Shooting society exists till now, among its members you will find very influential and respected cracovians. They take part in many city events and parades.

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