History of the guild of Saint Michael
The Antwerpian branch of the guild is the historical heir to the original guild of fencers. The guild was officially founded on 19 September 1488 as the third armed guild after the crossbow- and bowmen’s guild. The guild was officially tasked with the protection and security of the then Holy Roman Emperor, Frederik and his son, the Emperor Maximillian. In those times, the guild was known as ‘haertsiers van de croone’, the protectors of the crown. Not until much did the guild become known as the fencers of St. Michael.
Up until the end of the 18th century, the guilds were among the most powerful and influential organisations in Antwerp. Right up until the French revolutionaries disbanded all the guilds in 1791. Members of the guilds went underground and the guilds’ wealth was publicly sold to the highest bidder. Of course, the priceless pieces of art were shipped to France. After more than 220 years, the guild of St. Michael awoke from its slumber.
At the time of the official reopening of the St. Michael’s guild in 2015, it was decided that the reborn guild wouldn’t just be a sports club teaching the old master’s art of the sword, rapier, halberd, etc. The guild would be a bring forth a revival of the guild lifestyle of yore. An organisation where the fine points of martial arts would be taught in accordance with traditional manuscripts.
Through this exercise, we are continuously minding our cultural heritage, our guild and the historical European martial arts.
Fencing schools with the name of St. Michael are a typical phenomenon in the Lowlands. Throughout history, we can find several such schools in Utrecht, Hertogenbosch, Brussels and Mechelen. Of these schools, the guild in Bruges, Antwerp and Gouda are still active to this day.