Schutterij

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The Amsterdam archery militia whose patron saint was St. Sebastian, in 1653 by Bartholomeus van der Helst Bartholomeus van der Helst - De bestuursleden van de schutterscompagnie van St-Sebastiaan te Amsterdam.jpg
The Amsterdam archery militia whose patron saint was St. Sebastian, in 1653 by Bartholomeus van der Helst

Schutterij (Dutch pronunciation: [sxɵtəˈrɛi] ) refers to a voluntary city guard or citizen militia in the medieval and early modern Netherlands, intended to protect the town or city from attack and act in case of revolt or fire. Their training grounds were often on open spaces within the city, near the city walls, but, when the weather did not allow, inside a church. They are mostly grouped according to their district and to the weapon that they used: bow, crossbow or gun. Together, its members are called a Schuttersgilde, which could be roughly translated as a "shooter's guild". It is now a title applied to ceremonial shooting clubs and to the country's Olympic rifle team.

City guard

A city guard, city watch, town guard, or town watch was a law enforcement and security formation found in many countries and historical periods, usually subordinate to the local municipal government. Historically many cities had their own guard formations, which doubled as police and military forces in times of need.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Including three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

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Function

The schutterij, civic guard, or town watch, was a defensive military support system for the local civic authority. Its officers were wealthy citizens of the town, appointed by the city magistrates. In the Northern Netherlands, after the formal changeover in civic authority after Beeldenstorm, which depending on the town, was sometime between 1566 and 1580, the officers had to be a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. Its captain was usually a wealthy inhabitant of the district, and the group's ensign was a wealthy young bachelor (often recognizable in group portraits of Schutterijen by his particularly fine clothes and the flag he is carrying). Joining as an officer for a couple of years was often a stepping-stone to other important posts within the city council. The members were expected to buy their own equipment: this entailed the purchase of a weapon and uniform. Each night two men guarded their district in two shifts, from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., and from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m., closing and opening the gates of the city. At a set time each month, the schutters would parade under the command of an officer.

<i>Beeldenstorm</i> destruction of religious images in Europe in the 16th Century

Beeldenstorm in Dutch, roughly translatable to "statue storm", or Bildersturm in German, also the Great Iconoclasm or Iconoclastic Fury, is a term used for outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. During these spates of iconoclasm, Catholic art and many forms of church fittings and decoration were destroyed in unofficial or mob actions by Calvinist Protestant crowds as part of the Protestant Reformation. Most of the destruction was of art in churches and public places.

The Dutch Reformed Church was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two major Reformed denominations along with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. Ensigns were generally the lowest ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa', derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

The ideal was that, for every hundred inhabitants, three would belong to the schutterij. The Dutch Mennonites were excluded from a position in the schutterij in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and paid a double tax in lieu of service. Roman Catholics were permitted in the lower regions. Persons in the service of the city (such as the minister, the city-physician, the teacher, the sexton, the beer-bearers and peat bearers), and the city's Jews, did not need to serve. The beer and peat bearers had to serve as the town's firefighters instead.

Minister (Christianity) religious occupation in Christianity

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").

A sexton is an officer of a church, congregation, or synagogue charged with the maintenance of its buildings and/or the surrounding graveyard. In smaller places of worship, this office is often combined with that of verger. In larger buildings, such as cathedrals, a team of sextons may be employed.

De Magere Compagnie ("The Meagre Company"), a schutterstuk for one of the Amsterdam guilds by Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, painted in 1633-37. Frans Hals, De magere compagnie.jpg
De Magere Compagnie ("The Meagre Company"), a schutterstuk for one of the Amsterdam guilds by Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, painted in 1633-37.

Training grounds

The schutters (traditionally archers) or cloveniers (musket bearers) met at target practice grounds called Doelen (targets). These fields were generally adjoining a large building where they met indoors for gymnastic exercises and held their meetings. It was in these great halls where the large group portraits hung for centuries, and many paintings suffered dramatically from enthousiastic gymnasts over the years. These locations were not the only place the schutters met each other. These guilds also kept altars in local churches, where they met for religious reasons. Most schutterij guilds had as patron saints Saint Sebastian, Saint Anthony, Saint George (St. Joris in Dutch), or Adrian of Nicomedia (Dutch : St. Adriaen). These religious duties were a significant part of the guild membership since that is also where they paid their dues.

Saint Sebastian 3rd-century Christian saint and martyr

Saint Sebastian was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians. He is most commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, but this did not kill him. He was, according to his legend, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting. In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

The Order of Saint Anthony was a Bavarian military order founded in 1382 by Duke Albert of Bavaria.

Saint George Christian saint and martyr

Saint George was a soldier of Palestinian and Greek origins and a member of the Praetorian Guard for Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He became one of the most venerated saints and megalo-martyrs in Christianity, and was especially venerated by the Crusaders.

After the Protestant Reformation, all the altars were disbanded in the Dutch Reformed churches in the Northern Netherlands, and membership dues were no longer paid in church, but at the city hall. In Amsterdam, the guilds were no longer allowed to make rules or spend money on their own, but in Haarlem, there were two guilds who kept their original rules (St. Adriaen and St. Joris), such as holding banquets and collecting for sick members or widows. Though they moved premises several times, some of the old Haarlem schutterij Doelen halls still stand where the schutters met and where their group paintings hung, though these paintings are now preserved carefully in the Frans Hals Museum.

Haarlem City and municipality in North Holland, Netherlands

Haarlem is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem had a population of 159,556 in 2017. It is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the country's capital for work.

Haarlem schutterij Dutch militia of Haarlem (disbanded in 1794)

The Haarlem schutterij refers to a collective name for the voluntary civic guard of Haarlem, from medieval times up to the Batavian Revolution in 1794, when the guilds of Haarlem were disbanded.

Frans Hals Museum Art museum in Haarlem, Netherlands

The Frans Hals Museum is a museum located in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

Stadsbibliotheek Haarlem Public library in the city center of Haarlem, The Netherlands

The Stadsbibliotheek Haarlem is a collective name for all public libraries in the Haarlem area of the Netherlands. The first public library of Haarlem opened in 1921 at the cloisters of the Haarlem City Hall where the academic library had been since 1821. The move to open its doors to the public with a public reading room was only possible after the previous occupant of the downstairs cloisters, the Frans Hals Museum, moved out in 1913 to its present location. As of 2009, there are 6 public libraries and 10 lending points, such as in hospitals.

Siege of Haarlem Siege in the Northern Netherlands in 1572

The siege of Haarlem was an episode of the Eighty Years' War. From 11 December 1572 to 13 July 1573 an army of Philip II of Spain laid bloody siege to the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, whose loyalties had begun wavering during the previous summer. After the naval battle of Haarlemmermeer and the defeat of a land relief force, the starving city surrendered and the garrison was massacred. The resistance nonetheless was taken as an heroic example by the Orangists at the sieges of Alkmaar and Leiden.

<i>The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1630</i> Schutterstuk by Hendrik Gerritsz Pot

The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1630 refers to the schutterstuk painted by Hendrik Gerritsz Pot for the Cluveniers, St. Adrian, or St. Hadrian civic guard of Haarlem, and today is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum there.

Above the door: "In 1572 the Spanish enemy came here to treat us the same way as Naarden. We withstood him, fighting bravely, but from hunger we had to give up." Leus boven de deur van de doelenzaal gasthuisstraat.JPG
Above the door: "In 1572 the Spanish enemy came here to treat us the same way as Naarden. We withstood him, fighting bravely, but from hunger we had to give up."

Group portraits

Rembrandt's The Night Watch shows a schutterij moving out. The Nightwatch by Rembrandt.jpg
Rembrandt's The Night Watch shows a schutterij moving out.

After 1581, the schutterij were officially prohibited from influencing city politics, but since the ruling regenten were all members of these guilds, that was quite hard to do. Once a year they held a banquet, with beer and a roasted ox. Whenever a changeover of the leading officers occurred, a local painter was invited to paint the members, and the scene most popularly chosen for these group portraits was the banquet scene. Though occasionally they were shown outside in active duty, the members were usually portrayed for posterity dressed in their Sunday best, rather than their guard dress. These militia group portraits include some of the grandest portraiture in Dutch Golden Age painting.

Group portraits, largely a Dutch invention, were popular among the large numbers of civic associations that were a notable part of Dutch life, such as the officers of a city's schutterij or militia guards, boards of trustees and regents of guilds and charitable foundations and the like. Especially in the first half of the century, portraits were very formal and stiff in composition. Early examples showed them dining, with each person looking at the viewer. Later groups showed most figures standing for a more dynamic composition. Much attention was paid to fine details in clothing, and where applicable, to furniture and other signs of a person's position in society. Later in the century groups became livelier and colours brighter. Rembrandt's Syndics of the Drapers' Guild is a subtle treatment of a group round a table.

A similar commemorative group painting tradition, the Regents group portrait, was true for other Dutch guilds and institutions as well, such as orphanages, hospitals, and hofjes. In the case of the schutterijen, such a painting was known in Dutch as a schuttersstuk (pl. schuttersstukken). After the schutters agreed how they wanted to be depicted together in paint, for such paintings each member usually paid and posed separately so that each individual portrait within the group was as accurate as possible, and the artist's fee could be paid. Most group portraits of militia guards were commissioned in Haarlem and Amsterdam, and were much more flamboyant and relaxed or even boisterous than other types of portraits, as well as much larger. Rembrandt's famous The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, better known as The Night Watch (1642), was an ambitious and not entirely successful attempt to show a group in action, setting out for a patrol or parade and also innovative in avoiding the typical very wide format of such works. The reason for this was probably that banquets for guilds had been banned in Amsterdam since 1522. [1]

A very early example; the 1533 Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard by Cornelis Anthonisz., with a stiff and unsubtle depiction Anthonisz, Cornelis - Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard - 1533.jpg
A very early example; the 1533 Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard by Cornelis Anthonisz., with a stiff and unsubtle depiction

Every member of the schutterij who wanted to be in the group portrait, paid the painter, depending on his position in the painting. The cost of group portraits was usually shared by the subjects, often not equally. The amount paid might determine each person's place in the picture, either head to toe in full regalia in the foreground or face only in the back of the group. Sometimes all group members paid an equal sum, which was likely to lead to quarrels when some members gained a more prominent place in the picture than others. According to local legend, the schutterij was unhappy with the result in The Night Watch: instead of a group of proud and orderly men, they alleged Rembrandt had not painted what he saw. Ernst van de Wetering declared in 2006 that The Night Watch "... in a certain sense fails ... Rembrandt wanted to paint the chaos of figures walking through each other, yet also aim for an organised composition." [2]

Winning a commission for a schutterstuk was a highly competitive task, with young portrait painters competing with each other to impress members of the schutterij. Often it helped if the painter became a member of the schuttersgilde, and Frans Hals, Hendrik Gerritsz Pot, and Caesar van Everdingen were all members of schuttersgildes who won such commissions. The commission itself was a guaranteed income for a year, but often the painter would win additional commissions to do the rest of the sitter's family, or make a separate copy of the sitter's portrait for private use. The tricky part of fishing for a schutterstuk commission, was that it was never known when a schuttersstuk would be commissioned, since this only happened when one of the leading officers died, retired, or moved away.

An example of a young painter who successfully launched his career in this way is Bartholomeus van der Helst. His selfportrait is in the very painting that was his first schutterstuk commission in 1639 and resulted in a lucrative contract with the Amsterdam Bicker family. In Amsterdam most of these paintings would ultimately end up in the possession of the city council, and many are now on display in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum; there are no significant examples outside the Netherlands.

The company of Roelof Bicker and Luitenant Jan Michaelsz Blauw, painted by Van der Helst in 1639. Bartholomeus van der Helst - Het Compagnie van kapitein Roelof Bicker en luitenant Jan Michielsz Blaeuw 1639.jpg
The company of Roelof Bicker and Luitenant Jan Michaelsz Blauw, painted by Van der Helst in 1639.

Decline

In 1748 the Doelisten demanded that stadtholder William IV, Prince of Orange allow the middle class to appoint the militia's officers, but William refused, since in some towns the bourgeois could not even be considered as candidates for these offices. By the second half of the 18th century the schutterij were inactive (sometimes only exercising once a year and with the ill or rich buying their way out of service) and only of importance to Orangists. This brought them much criticism. Translations of the books by Andrew Fletcher and Richard Price became very popular. The Patriots faction tried to breathe new life into the schutterij in 1783 or to create an alternative - in many cities, exercitiegenootschappen (military-exercise societies), vrijcorpsen (free corps) or voluntary schutterijen arose which anybody could join and with officers chosen democratically. The Orangists poked fun at the ministers, like François Adriaan van der Kemp propagating the system from the pulpit and shopkeepers joining the new militia.

Reenactor at Bakel, Noord Brabant, Netherlands Schuttersgilde Bakel.jpg
Reenactor at Bakel, Noord Brabant, Netherlands

The system of schutterijen no longer worked after five hundred years, but survived the French occupation of the Kingdom of Holland until finally William I of the Netherlands set up professional police forces. In 1901, the schutterijen were abolished.

Reenactment

There are many historical reenactment schutterijen in the Netherlands who honour the old traditions; in the Catholic regions many municipalities have several of them. For instance the schutterij of Geertruidenberg, made up of people who meet regularly to dress in traditional costume and demonstrate how cannons were used in strongholds. Most of these schutterijen were founded during the first half of the 20th century and many of them are the same kind of associations as a German Schützenbruderschaft. Likewise, the Oud Limburgs Schuttersfeest, or the "Old Limburg's Schutter Festival" (OLS) is an annual event in which more than 160 schutterijen (Limburgish : sjötterie) from Belgian and Dutch Limburg compete against each other. The winner organizes the event the following year and takes home "De Um", the highest prize for a schutter.

Related Research Articles

<i>The Night Watch</i> painting by Rembrandt

Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, also known as The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, but commonly referred to as The Night Watch, is a 1642 painting by Rembrandt van Rijn. It is in the collection of the Amsterdam Museum but is prominently displayed in the Rijksmuseum as the best known painting in its collection. The Night Watch is one of the most famous Dutch Golden Age paintings.

Bartholomeus van der Helst painter from the Northern Netherlands

Bartholomeus van der Helst was a Dutch painter. Considered to be one of the leading portrait painters of the Dutch Golden Age, his elegant portraits gained him the patronage of Amsterdam's elite as well as the Stadtholder's circle. Besides portraits, van der Helst painted a few genre pictures as well as some biblical scenes and mythological subjects.

Dutch art

Dutch art describes the history of visual arts in the Netherlands, after the United Provinces separated from Flanders. Earlier painting in the area is covered in Early Netherlandish painting and Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting.

Cornelis van Haarlem painter from the Northern Netherlands

Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman, was one of the leading Northern Mannerist artists in the Netherlands, and an important forerunner of Frans Hals as a portraitist.

Hendrik Gerritsz Pot painter from the Northern Netherlands

Hendrik Gerritsz Pot was a Dutch Golden Age painter, who lived and painted in Haarlem, where he was an officer of the militia, or schutterij. Dutch artist Frans Hals painted Pot in militia sash in Hals' The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1633. Pot is the man reading a book on the far right.

Salomon de Bray painter from the Northern Netherlands

Salomon de Bray was a Dutch Golden Age architect and painter.

<i>The Banquet of the Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1627</i> Group militia painting (schutterstuk) by Frans Hals

The Banquet of the Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1627 refers to a schutterstuk painted by Frans Hals for the St. Adrian civic guard of Haarlem. Today it is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum.

<i>The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1633</i> Group militia painting (schutterstuk) by Frans Hals

The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1633 refers to the second schutterstuk painted by Frans Hals for the Cluveniers, St. Adrian, or St. Hadrian civic guard of Haarlem, and today is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum there.

<i>The Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1627</i> Group militia painting (schutterstuk) by Frans Hals

The Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1627 refers to a schutterstuk painted by Frans Hals for the St. George civic guard of Haarlem, and today is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum there.

<i>The Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1639</i> Group militia painting (schutterstuk) by Frans Hals

The Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1639 refers to the last and largest schutterstuk painted by Frans Hals for the St. George civic guard of Haarlem, and today is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum there.

<i>Meagre Company</i> Painting of Amsterdam schutterij under command of Reinier Reael and Cornelis Blaeuw, aka ‘Meagre Company’, by Frans Hals

The Meagre Company, or The company of Captain Reinier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz Blaeuw, refers to the only militia group portrait, or schutterstuk, painted by Frans Hals outside of Haarlem, and today is in the collection of the Amsterdam Museum, on loan to the Rijksmuseum, where it is considered one of its main attractions of the Honor Gallery. Hals was unhappy about commuting to Amsterdam to work on the painting and, unlike his previous group portraits, was unable to deliver it on time. The sitters contracted Pieter Codde to finish the work.

Regents group portrait group portrait of regents of an organisation (usually a Dutch charity)

A regents group portrait, regentenstuk or regentessenstuk in Dutch, literally "regents' piece", is a group portrait of the board of trustees, called regents or regentesses, of a charitable organization or guild. This type of group portrait was popular in Dutch Golden Age painting during the 17th century, and in the 18th century. They were intended to be hung in the regentenkamer, the regents' meeting room, or another prominent location in the institution.

Jacob Druyvesteyn Dutch lawyer and mayor of Haarlem

Jacob Druyvesteyn was a Dutch lawyer and mayor of Haarlem.

Johan Damius Dutch Golden Age member of the schutterij in Haarlem

Johan Damius, was a Dutch Golden Age member of the Haarlem schutterij.

Pieter Ramp Dutch Golden Age member of the Haarlem schutterij

Pieter Ramp, was a Dutch Golden Age member of the Haarlem schutterij.

Kloveniersdoelen, Amsterdam

The Kloveniersdoelen was a complex of buildings in Amsterdam which served as headquarters and shooting range for the local schutterij. The companies of kloveniers were armed with an early type of musket known as an arquebus, known in Dutch as a bus, haakbus or klover, hence the name kloveniers.

Voetboogdoelen, Amsterdam

The Voetboogdoelen was a 16th-century building on the Singel canal in Amsterdam, at the corner of Heiligeweg near Koningsplein square, which served as headquarters and shooting range of the local schutterij. Frans Hals painted a group portrait for the Voetboogdoelen, known as the Meagre Company.

References

Further reading

[1]

  1. Crombie, Laura. Archery and Crossbow Guilds in Medieval Flanders, 1300-1500. Boydell and Brewer.