Fisheries Brotherhood to Bergheim an der Sieg

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Aalschokker Maria Theresia , belonging to the Museum of the Brotherhood (2014)

The fishing brotherhood to Bergheim an der Sieg from Troisdorf-Bergheim is a guild-like association that has fishing rights at the mouth of the Sieg and in the Rhine. The community of professional fishermen that was formed in 987 took on the organization of a guild over the course of time, making it the oldest structure of its kind in Germany. The fishing rights are passed on from the father to the legitimate sons. Twice a year, on the first Saturday after Epiphany and on the Saturday after Johannes Baptist , the fishermen's meetings called Gedinge take place. Today the Fisheries Brotherhood operates the Bergheim Fisheries Museum, which was rebuilt and expanded in November 2010, together with the Association for the Promotion of the Fisheries Museum of the Fisheries Brotherhood in Bergheim an der Sieg.


Around 500 AD the conquering Franks founded a small settlement on the high bank of the Sieg, which - according to its location - was named "Bergheim auf der Sieg". It is documented by archaeological finds from 1925. The old town center was in Witschgasse. In the period that followed, five large mansions were built on the "Rupp", that is, over the steep slope that adjoined Witschgasse, as well as on today's Siegstrasse, which belonged to the Vilich manor. The Bergheim neighbors settled around these. They were farmers and fishermen.

Around 980, the Vilich landlord Megingoz and his wife Gerbirga founded a women's monastery from the inheritance of their son who had fallen in battle. It was endowed with the manorial estates of the lower Sieg and placed under the direction of the daughter of the donor couple Adelheid, who was the first abbess.

middle Ages

In 987, the young King Otto III. the pen under his protection. By means of a royal diploma dated January 18 of the same year, he granted him the legal status of an imperial monastery, endowed it with the usual privileges and confirmed his unspecified customary rights, as they were then exercised and therefore known to all. In those pleasantly unbureaucratic times it was considered superfluous to record known legal interests. We must therefore assume that the legal position of the fishery at the lower Sieg was also established with this document.

In 1144 King Conrad III guaranteed on December 25th the monastery its freedoms, possessions and justice. This important document states, among other things:

“... in the village of Bergheim five non-leaning goods; the fisheries of the same monastery range from Asenweiden to Mondorfer Heide and the Sieg high on both banks; of everything that is caught there, one third belongs to the monastery ... "

Fishing is associated with the village of Bergheim here. A comparison with the local rights in the neighboring villages on the Rhine teaches us about the custom here that the landlords shared fishing rights with the villagers. We conclude from this that the fishing justice in the estuary delta of the Sieg and in the corresponding part of the Rhine was distributed among the Vilich manor and the neighbors of the Bergheim parish. If the aforementioned document awards one third to the monastery, the Bergheim fishermen hold two thirds of the shares. This is also evidenced by the later documentary mentions.

The Bergheim fishery was first mentioned directly in 1484. At that time the "Fischer vann Berchem" took part in the Vilicher Kammergeding. Presumably the Bergheimers belonged to the permanent tribe of memorial participants like the feudal men von Rott and the four Vilich forest servants. It also seems that the Bergheim fishermen already formed a closed professional group, about whose organization we are not informed in detail. For the first time in this document, the boundary points of hunting and fishing justice are specified. There it says (in translation):

“Furthermore, my wives' glory (domain) is to be listed, about which the aforementioned jury should give information and customers, if and in what way my wife needs it; The following border points are to be mentioned by name: At Asenweiden in the Rhine, as far as a ham net may extend, down the Rhine in the same way to Mondorf in the Etter (village fence), from the Etter the Sieg on both banks up to below the hanging mill below Sieglar, from the hanging mill across to the Schüngelsberg, from the mountain to the Weidleck to the stone, from the stone to the long grave stone in the Mendener Feld, from the long grave stone to the Ödelsmaar, from the maar to the top to the Diagberg in der Heiden, from the stone to the Herrenbusch, along the Herrenbusch to the old wood to the high road to the Stein, from the stone to the dry aspen, from the dry aspen to the crooked cart to to the holy Born, from the holy Born to the Heisterborn, from the Heisterborn to the "Kutenpohl", from there straight on to the "Koffergasse" (Kupfergasse) of Asenweiden there in the Rhine, within these limits nobody should hunt or hunt fish than only by the grace of my mistress. Should it happen that it would be violated, my mistress should rightly have the perpetrator compensate her for the damage. "

In 1530 the fishermen's court protocol already lists the Bergheim fishermen by name. However, the list of names is difficult to read. Obviously the family names had not yet emerged clearly at that time. Most fishermen are therefore called by their first names, which one tried to identify more closely by means of paraphrases.

In 1555 the Bergisch rule had the duchy "explored". In the "Inquiry Report" it says:

"Item die fischerey in the Siegen, dar the fresher von Laer turn, according to außweißung leeg and peelen the fishermen from Berchem had from old times and fished as their own property up to Mondorff against the Kirchgass, keeping the frawen to Vylich their justice, namely the III. fish or how the fishermen became with her; From then on they fish up the Rhine and slowly up the two towns of Vylich and Rheindorf to the Kuffersgeß, which is part of the early fishing for victories. "

With this document, the Bergheim fishermen are clearly guaranteed two thirds of their fishing rights in the Sieg from the mouth to the Sieglar border and in the Rhine from Beuel to Mondorf, while the Vilicher Stift is granted a third for the same area. The fishing brothers had to deliver this “third fish” to the monastery. That was the old wisdom. This obligation was even secured by an oath.

In 1593, a notarial deed dated January 12th laid out the Vilich law and described, among other things, the fisheries law:

“... the justice of the fisheries and hunt catches ahn ahn the Koffersgassen, and go as far as you can ride a horse and you can shoot with a landed shoot with a hammer, the Rhine from Nundorf in because Eddere ends against the Kirchgan , from Kirchgass up the Sieg to beyden to below Sieglar ahn the hanging mill, as if your reverend hunted there ... "

In the following annually recurring things, this fishery was justified and its limits brought forward again and again. It was similar with the fishermen's court.

In 1647, on March 24th, the Sunday after the feast of St. Gertrude, such a fisherman's meal took place as usual. In the minutes it says:

"... that the fisherman's court gradually burst on a common place, namely on a meadow or exercise garden between the Sieghen and the village of Berchem, held ..."

The fisherman's court took place on the so-called Bruderstück in the Siegniederung near Bergheim. At such court meetings not only the border points of the righteous were enumerated, but also the rules of the fishing trade were discussed and decided and violations of the same were reported and punished.

1666 the fishermen appeared in Vilich on June 28th for the Johannisgeding. The following fishing tribes are listed in the relevant protocol: Boß, Brungs, Engels, Grommes, Heintzen, Hennes, Ludwig, Mertens, Orths, Pohl, Schell, all "Vereydte fishermen in Bercheim in the principality of Bergambt Lülsdorf". Then there was the Schumacher tribe, who lived in Schwarzrheindorf at the time. Two tribes were missing from the mentioned Geding, namely Klein and Chnen, but they appeared regularly on the following Geding. 14 fishing tribes have been identified by name since the 17th century.

Around 1700, the Abbess von Boucholtz established the formula of the fishery according to a Vilicher protocol: "The Frawen Abbot from Vylich ordinary fischeraydt" was performed on the Gospel of John. The fishermen had to undertake to always observe the fishing regulations.

The traditional oath has the following wording:

"We hereby swear to our Most Revered, gracious Frawen abbotesses of the freyadical secular steplady Vylich Freyinnen from and to Boucholtz, to be obedient and loyal in everything, to refrain from doing anything against their fishing order, and to state what kind of goodness to most of the fishermen, gracious Fraw almost to hold on to change, otherwise with all diligence at all times to ensure that deeds committed against the fishing regulations do not happen without proper protest, and that immediately to announce at the above mentioned orth, and that the due kitchen commission is to be paid the annual lease after due malice to be obedient, and to be cautious at all times to the ordinary Cammergeding, if possible to do at any time. To this we promised to come close so that God helps us and his holy Gospel in the beginning was that worth and that worth etc ... "

In 1742 the brother piece was measured by the "ambts felt knife Matthias Ehmans" from Rheidt. The accompanying text speaks of the "Praiseworthy Guild of Bergheim" and their "brother masters". From this it follows that the Bergheim fishermen were united in an organized association, which as a guild mostly called itself a brotherhood and functioned according to guild-like rules. The old statutes have unfortunately been lost. However, we know that the guild law was recorded in writing and was kept with other documents in a chest, the guild drawer.

In 1804, the Vilicher Damenstift was dissolved in the course of secularization. The third fish fell to the legal successor, first to the Principality of Nassau-Usingen, in 1806 to Berg and in 1815 to Prussia.

In 1814, a fire disaster destroyed half of Bergheim. The house of the Bergheim sexton, teacher and fishing brother Peter Josef Engels at the end of Bergstrasse, which at the time was a school, inn, customs station, bar for raftsmen and boatmen, the “Schieperschaft”, and guild house for fishermen, was also destroyed by flames. At that time most of the Brotherhood Archives burned down.

In 1819 a new "swearing-in book" was therefore created. It contains the names of the recorded or sworn fishing brothers and testifies to the marital descent from one of the aforementioned fishing tribes.

In 1843 the orally handed down "Inheritance Fishing Regulations" were recorded again and recognized as correct by the Johannisgeding and decided in the form presented.

In 1850 the brotherhood was able to purchase the “Vilicher Third” from the Prussian tax authorities for 600 thalers. Since then, the fishing fraternity has been the sole owner of the fishing rights on the lower Sieg and in the associated section of the Rhine from Beuel to Mondorf.

In 1860, as a token of their full sovereignty, the fishermen's brothers moved the Dreikönigsginging to the feast day of their patron saint, St. Catherine (25 November). This day was celebrated as a "necessary holiday" by the fishing families. The Katharinengeding has since held a special position among the fishermen's days.

Modern times

Bergheim an der Sieg Fisheries Museum (2018)

In 1907 the brotherhood obtained state recognition of "legal capacity". To do this, however, she had to draw up new statutes: "The statutes of the Bergheimer Fisheries Brotherhood Association".

In 1912 the brotherhood received a new flag. On the one hand it shows the patroness of Bergheim fishermen, St. Catherine, on the other hand the fishermen's apostles fishing.

In 1964 the brotherhood adopted a new coat of arms, which in the same year was recognized by the Herald's Office of the German coat of arms in Berlin and registered under No. 1 of the corporate coat of arms. The following description is given:

“Split inside a golden shield border covered with 14 red balls and divided at the back; in front in blue three silver fish turned to the left in bars, behind in the upper red field standing on a lowered golden corrugated rafter, a crowned virgin with abbess's staff, accompanied on each side by an upright golden loaf; in the lower silver field three (2: 1) blue shells. Heraldic slogan: Fearless and free! "

At the same time a seal of the same kind was designed, which reflects the blazon of the coat of arms through its heraldic hatching. And finally a chain of office was procured for the “First Brother Master”. The silver-gold-plated chain, a remarkable piece of solid goldsmithing, consists of fourteen gold shields of fine filigree work, which symbolize the fourteen fishing tribes. The enameled coat of arms hangs on it as a breast shield, with a silver salmon attached as a pendant.

In 1965, a new banner made of blue cloth with a coat of arms embroidered on both sides was inaugurated at the Johannesgeding. In the same year the brotherhood undertook another border inspection after a long break. On this occasion, new boundary stones, basalt blocks with an embedded bronze coat of arms, were set at six boundary points: on the Rhine at Beuel at river kilometer 654.84, at the Holy Fountain in Pützchen, on the right and left the victory near Meindorf, on the Bruderstück near Bergheim and on the Rheidter Bann.

In 1968 the border marking came to an end with the erection of a man-high sandstone cube on the Friedrich-Ebert-Brücke, which according to old wisdom is supposed to document Bergheim's fishing rights on the right bank of the Rhine.

In 1985, all boundary signs (with the exception of the last mentioned time) were renewed.

In 1986 the construction of the guild house began.

In 1987 the Bergheim fishermen celebrated their 1000th anniversary. Of the fourteen former fishing tribes, nine have survived. In the anniversary year, the brotherhood was headed by the First Brother Master Willi Engels, the Second Brother Master Josef Boss and another seven-member board and had a total of around 500 members.

In 2002, the Fisheries Brotherhood decided to change and expand the existing Fisheries Museum into a professionally run institution. The renovation and new building was financed by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as part of the Regional 2010 structural program. The costs for the exhibition and interior furnishings were borne by the North Rhine-Westphalia Foundation.

In 2009, on September 4, 2009, the foundation stone was laid for the new fishing museum.

In 2010 the Fisheries Brotherhood celebrated the opening of the new museum on November 6th after six months of construction. The museum is run on a voluntary basis by the Friends of the Fisheries Museum and financially supported by the Fisheries Brotherhood and the Siegmünd Foundation.

Of the fourteen former fishing tribes, nine have survived. These are the tribes Boss, Brungs, Engels, Grommes, Heinzen, Hennes, Klein, Mertens and Schell. In total, the Fisheries Brotherhood still has around 400 members and celebrated its 1025th anniversary in 2012.

In 2016, traditional river fishing at the confluence of the Sieg in the Rhine was included as cultural heritage in a nationwide register of intangible cultural heritage .

Individual evidence

  1. [1]

Web links

Commons : Fisheries Brotherhood to Bergheim an der Sieg  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files