Three honorary societies in Kleinbasel

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Meeting place Café Spitz
Flags of the three honorary societies at Café Spitz

The three honorary societies of Kleinbasels (usually called the “3 E” for short) were set up in the Middle Ages to guard the Kleinbasel section of the Basel city wall . In addition, they were also entrusted with certain administrative and judicial tasks. Later the honorary societies played an outstanding role in the guardianship system.


The date and circumstances of the establishment of the three companies are unknown. What is certain is that it existed before the unification of Greater and Small Basel in 1392. They are documented for the first time:


Since the societies originally had primarily a military significance, membership was compulsory for all Kleinbasel men. Allocation to a certain society was based on occupation, but they were not guilds.

At the time of the unification of Greater and Little Basel (1392), the guild system in (Greater) Basel was already fully developed. After the unification, the Kleinbasler societies were not raised to guilds, but traders had to join a Grossbasler guild. Thus, double membership in the honor society and the guild was mandatory for Kleinbasel tradesmen. This is still possible today. Kleinbasers took the oath at the honor society and not at the guild.

Today, every honorary society includes around 150 male Basel citizens residing in Kleinbasel. They appear publicly in January with the implementation of Vogel Gryff .

Allocation according to occupation

Originally the assignment to a certain company was determined by the profession. Today there is no longer any connection.

  • Society for the vine house: vine people, gardeners, arable farmers
  • Society to Här: fishermen, hunters, landowners
  • Society within reach: saddlers, wagons, blacksmiths; later: trimmers


  • Franz Egger : Guilds and Societies in Basel , Basel Historical Museum, 2005.
  • Eugen A. Meier : Vogel Gryff: History and Customs of the Three Honorary Societies in Kleinbasels , Litera, Basel 1986.
  • Gustaf Adolf Wanner : Guild strength and pride in guilds , Birkhäuser, Basel 1976.

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