The exhibition Manor Life

The exhibition Manor Life

The exhibition

The exhibition

Manor Life

Texts in English

English teksts






The exhibition

Manor Life

At present only the

teksts in the rooms 1,2

and 6 have been

translated into english

Room 6:

•In noble hands

•Squires in the reign

of absolutism

•Two family mansions



TArkæologi Trappe til 1. sal












Arkæologiske fund

Room 1:


•Tenant Fæstegårde Dues og

•Social hovbønder Order

•Privileges Landgilde & virtues

•Sorcery Privilegier and procedures

•Tenant farms & tied

labour Hekseprocesser

Jagt og fiskeri




Maren Bullock sBølles






•Daries and fattening of

The purchases of Maren


The exhibition

Manor Life TArkæologi Trappe til 1. sal

Herregårdenes beboere

Adelsvældens tid

Enevældens herremænd

To slægtsgårde






ning Belysning




Room 1









Arkæologiske fund

Room 1:


•Tenant Fæstegårde Dues og

•Social hovbønder Order

•Privileges Landgilde & virtues

•Sorcery Privilegier and procedures

•Tenant farms & tied

labour Hekseprocesser

Jagt og fiskeri




Maren Bølles


The exhibition Manor Life

The exhibition of “Manor life”, in the process of being set up, presents a

number of selected subjects related to the life at the two local manors of

“Soenderskov” and “Estrup”. The exhibition covers the period from

approx. 1500 to approx. 1925.

The collection comprises objects, documents and pictures often gathered

by the descendants of the manor inhabitants. Also the exhibition

comprises archaeological items and building parts, most which were found

during the restoration of “Soenderskov” 1986-91. A large collection of

documents related to either manors are presented. They are either

gathered passively or as results of research.

Selected items exhibited are supplemented by reconstructed dresses and


The exhibition is being mounted in this room as well as in the five rooms

of this building facing south. The exhibits are not selected in accordance

with chronological criteria’s, and the rooms may by and large be viewed

independently. However, it is recommended that you begin in this room

and continue in the five rooms on this level facing south.

Each main subject is presented by a text panel headed by “the exhibition

logo” in the top left corner.

The logo is the photograph of the coach pulled by two horses and of the

coachman “Switzer”, who was employed at “Soenderskov” in the early

20 th century. Each main subject may have one or more supplementary text

panels, but these have smaller letters and are without “the exhibition


The geography of the manors

This map of Skads (yellow), Gjoerding (red) and Malt (blue) districts show the

locations of Soenderskov and Estrup Manors in the south west of Jutland.

Both Manors had most of their tenant farms located in the district of Malt,

but in the 17 th century Estrup had some tenant farms located as far away as

the Skads district.

The nearest market town was Ribe. South west of the Manors please note

“Foldingbro”, which was the locality where the import exports of bullocks

took place.

The map is drawn 1762-67 for the squire Thoeger R. Teilmann of the manor

“Endrupholm”. The map is reproduced from the original on loan from The

Royal Library.

The Danish Atlas

Estrup Manor did not compare to the larger jutlandish estates but nor did

it belong to the smallest of the 18 th century. According to “The Danish

Atlas” published 1760-65 and displayed here, the Manor’s demesne land

was valued at approx. “28 barrels of hard grain” and the tenants’ farms

were valued at “259 barrels of hard grain”. Further, the esquire of Estrup

would receive tithes of “166 barrels of hard grain”. “Hard grains” were

barley, rye, and peas.

A “barrel of hard grains” was equal to approx. 1383 acres, disregarding

varying land qualities.

The Danish Atlas was donated by Karen Stafford.

Mistress Dress

reproduced by Jutta Rattenborg in accordance with the fashion of the

early 16 th century.

Carving Knives

from Estrup Manor, with handle from deer antlers. Donated by Karsten

and Benedikte Hald, relatives of the Lautrup family, who owned the

Estrup Manor 1751-1925.

Peasant Dress

Reconstructed 17th century peasant dress reproduced by the volunteer

“Soenderskov Dress Group”.

Meat Axe

from Estrup Manor, with handle from deer antlers. Donated by Karsten

and Benedikte Hald, relatives of the Lautrup family, who owned the

Estrup Manor 1751-1925.

The Friends were the worst

The area suffered badly during The Swedish Wars of 1657-60. The squire of

Estrup wrote in a letter of complaint to the treasury: “The Pollarchs (Polish

auxiliary troops) have damaged my estate so badly, ... that it will never be

put right again”. The polish leader Stephan Czarniecki is pictured on the


On the left is shown a large silver treasure which was found under the barn

of one Estrup Manor’s tenant farms in Askov in 1852. The treasure is likely

plunder buried by a Polish - or Swedish - soldier, who never got the

opportunity to fetch the treasure.

Account book, Tenants’ dues

The squire of Estrup, Eggert Abildgaard, sent the Manor’s “Accounts book”

to the treasury after the unfortunate wars against Sweden 1657-60. Due to

the wars the estate was ravaged and many of the tenant farms were

deserted, but the “Accounts book” provides an insight of how much

produce the squire of Estrup might expect from his tenant farms in a normal

year at that time. As it becomes apparent from the “Accounts book” the

majority of the dues were paid in natural produce.

Social Order

The social order of the renaissance state was defended by maintaining

that it was instituted by a higher authority. The photograph above the

door shows a coloured drawing in the autograph album* of the Viborg

Bishop Frank Rosenbaum. Here God hands a sword to the noble squire

as a symbol of his role as a warrior, while the peasant receives a scythe

as a representative of the working classes. On the left of the peasant

the clergyman receives a book as he is in charge of the religious

upbringing. The king, the uppermost leader of society, is given a sceptre

and a crown.

Reproduced photo from the Royal Library.

* An album which the gentry and clergy brought with them on their

journeys of education. Friends and celebrities were invited to write and

draw in the album.

Privileges and Virtues

The noble squires of the renaissance possessed a number of

privileges, which kept them separate from the other social classes.

They paid neither tithe nor tax, and they had exclusive rights to

offices at court, as counts and as judges at the provincial courts.

Estates belonging to the nobility could not be acquired by other

social classes, and the nobility could only be judged by the royal

court in cases relating to killings and to honour.

In return they were only obliged to serve the society by providing a

number of armoured riders for the defence of the country, the

number of riders being in relation to the size of their estate. The

military importance of this service was progressively reduced as

firearms were developed and use of professional mercenaries

became common, but nevertheless the nobility upheld stubbornly

their privileges. They claimed that due to their noble descent and

breeding they were in possession of virtues, which made them

particularly suited to govern the country. From the philosophy of

the antiquity the Christian church adopted the concept of the four

cardinal virtues: Strength, Wisdom, Moderation, and Justice to

which it added Faith, Hope and Charity. These virtues were

accentuated in the publications of the nobility and used repetitively

in the arts, they financed.

During the absolute monarchy the old nobility were replaced by a

new kind of squires, but these adopted also the old traditions.

Figure of Virtue

The carving on the left is a so-called figure of virtue, and the lady in

the dress inspired by antiquity is no doubt a personification of the

seven cardinal virtues. Her attribute, whereby a figure of virtue is

usually identified, is unfortunetately broken off. It may have been a

cross in which case it was the virtue “Belief”, or it may have been the

handle of a weight, and in that case the virtue would have been


The figure was found in a stack of firewood at Soenderskov in the

nineteen sixties. Where the carving was placed originally is unknown,

but perhaps it was mounted on a cupboard front like the one in the

middle of the 17 th century painting below.


This carving, part of the gallery of Folding Church exhibited

on the 3 rd floor, represents “Temperance”, one of the seven

cardinal virtues. The carving is from around 1625, and

probably paid for by Thomas Juel, the squire of

Soenderskov at that time.

Carvings of Virtues, around 1632

These carvings in Vejen Church, 10 kilometers from here,

was donated by Manderup Abildgaard, the squire of


From the left: ”Wisdom”, “Justice (broken weight)” and

“Faith (2 x)”.

Portrait of Christian IV and Queen Anna Cathrine

Christian IV gave cause to a considerable rise in the number of trials on charges of

sorcery, when he issued an “Order for Sorcerers and those contributing” in 1617. In

the following years the number of cases of sorcery and procedures culminated in

Jutland. The above portrait of Christian IV and his queen is from 1611. Reproduced

from a painting at Rosenborg Castle.

Sorcery and procedures

Tradition commanded that the squire stood up for his subjects and defended them.

Concurrently the squire was responsible for law and order on his estate. The diverse

expectations might prove to become a severe test of his loyalties.

In the year of 1617 Christian IV issued an “Order for Sorcerers and those

contributing”. All persons in authority including the nobility were hereby ordered to

pursue sorcerers, if they themselves wanted to avoid punishment as contributors.

Three years later two subjects to the squire of Soenderskov and Estrup were

denounced for sorcery.

The squire, Thomas Juel, chose to arrest and charge the denounced persons, Karen

Anderskone of Vittrup and the cook Kirsten Joergens of Estrup Village.

Jutlandish Law ordered that someone charged with sorcery should defend him or

herself by tribunal. That meant that the accused should find 12 or better 24 men of

unblemished reputation, who would swear the person concerned free of sorcery.

The two women did not achieve that. Then Thomas Juel the asked Karen, if she

would “spit at the evil spirit” in the presense of good people, but that she declined.

Probably she considered her cause to be lost in advance. Or did she feared the dark

powers so much, that she did not dare? Malt District Court as well as the noble

judges in Viborg sentenced the women to death on the stake.

”De Jutische Lowboog”

In 1416 a section concerning sorcery was added to

the Jutlandish Law. The paragraph ordered that a

person charged with sorcery should defend him or

herself by tribunal. The Jutlandish Law applied to

Jutland and Funen till it was replaced by the Danish

Law in 1683. The Jutlandish Law remained valid in

the Duchy of Slesvig till the year of 1900. That is

why the specimen displayed, bound in

parchment, ”Das Jütische Lowbuch” from 1717 is in

the German language. On the cover the title is by

hand spelled ”De Jutische Lowboog”, however.

The book originates from the Estrup Manor.

Prayer for sorcery

In Denmark the last execution for sorcery took

place in 1693, but the fear of sorcerers and

sorceresses and the smear campaigns against

them did not cease then. The prayer book from

about 1725 displayed published by the vicar

Hans Jacob Hvalsoe thus includes a “prayer for

sorcery”. The book comes from the farm

Mosegaard (which means “Bog Farm”) south of

Estrup. The farm was built in the late 17 th

century by Eskild Hansen on a plot of land

parcelled out from Estrup. Eskild Hansen was

son of a Soenderskov tenant farmer.

Procedings at the appeal court in Viborg

Karen Anderskone of Vittrup and the cook Kirsten Joergens of Estrup village

were sentenced for witchcraft at Malt District Court.

But the law ordered that no one sentenced for witchcraft could be executed if

the sentence was not confirmed by the noble judges at the appeal court in


This picture of an appeal court is from the book Glossarium Juridico-Danicum

from 1641. The Danish Royal Library.

Tenant farms and tied labour

The soil was economic basis for the manor farms. Prior to the

agricultural reforms at the late 18 th century the arable land was

divided between the manor farm and the peasants. The land of the

squire was sited adjacent to the manor, while that of the tenants

was located adjacent to their villages. Tenant farmers were

copyholders and paid rent in various ways for instance by villainage.

Initially the tenant paid a sum for the tenancy and subsequently a

yearly rent either in cash or in kind. Tenant farms located near the

manor were to provide labours services, so-called villainage.

Peasants located further away and with a long walking distance paid

instead of villainage a further sum of money.

Peasants were expected to provide their own horses to draw the

heavy wheeled ploughs. Reaping was carried out using scythes or

sometimes sickles, which caused less wastage.

The numbers of tenant farms which belonged to the two manors of

Estrup and Soenderskov varied according to the period in question.

In 1785, when both manors still were in possession of their tenant

farms, Estrup had 100 tenant farms and 35 smallholders while

Soenderskov had 103 tenant farms, 14 smallholders, and 3 settlers.

As a consequence of the agricultural reforms at the late 18 th century

the tenant farms of both manors were sold, at Estrup during the

years 1795-1805 and at Soenderskov during the years 1786-97.

The wheel plough (exhibited)

is from the Danish Agricultural Museum and originates

from the birthplace of the famous sculptor and farmer’s

son Niels Hansen Jacobsen in Vejen. The farmhand behind

the plough wears a reconstructed peasant dress from the

late 16 th century.

Reaping during the reign of Chr. IV (1588-48)

Part of painting in Christian IV’ audience chamber at

Rosenborg Castle.

In the top left corner a farmhand with a scythe on his

shoulder, while another farmhand on the right is reaping

by the use of a sickle. Note the characteristic high-backed

fields caused by repetitive ploughing towards the middle of

the field using a wheel plough.

The exhibition

Manor Life TArkæologi Trappe til 1. sal

Herregårdenes beboere

Adelsvældens tid

Enevældens herremænd

To slægtsgårde



Indretning Prydhaver




Havekunst 2Arkitektur


Vægudsmyk- Havehistorie Bygningshistorie

ning Belysning Arkæologiske Arkæologiske fund








Fæstegårde og





Jagt og fiskeri




Maren Bølles


•Daries and fattening of

Bullock s

The purchases of Maren



Fishing in the streams and lakes on the tenant farmers land was one

of the squires many so-called rights of splendour. The squire

possessed this right to the fishing unless he voluntarily chose to

relinquish it.

One of the places of fishing was the King’s River, in which both

Estrup and Soenderskov had eel traps. At the time several streams

and ponds suitable for fishing existed on the lands of the two

manors. At Estrup, for instance, there was a lake (now dried up) and

at Soenderskov there was likewise the Millpond.

When Joergen Skeel Due was the squire of Soenderskov in 1678, it is

recounted in a document 1678, how a number of carps were

released into the moat the year before. Also how the fields had a

number of ponds with perches and pikes.

At that point of time Soenderskov had three eel traps, two of which

were empty. The third was placed in the King’s River, and the tenant

farmers on the southern side of the river received the catch every

second day and also had the midstream fishing rights.

Carp Ponds

At the end of the 18th

century a few carp ponds

were established in

conjunction with a natural

lake at the western wood of


The ponds disappeared a

long time ago, but the lake

exists and it had a

population of carps still in

the nineteen seventies. To

the left you see Kurt Jensen

with a carp found dead on

the lakeside after a

severe winter. The lake was

frozen over, and the carps

were suffocated by a

protracted winter.

Pike Spear

Tool for catching pikes. From

Soenderskov Mill.


Spearing of fish using flares, as on the right of the picture,

or without flares. Reproduction of woodcut in the large

publication of the Nordic peoples from 1955 by Olaus


Landing Net

A man is drawing fish using a landing net. Reproduction of

woodcut in the large publication of the Nordic peoples

from 1955 by Olaus Magnus.


Taking of pike. Reproduction of woodcut in Olaus Magnus’



Estrup as well as Soenderskov are surrounded by rich hunting opportunities. Through

the ages both manors employed gamekeeper, who provided the kitchen with game,

and several of the squires were themselves eager hunters. In the middle Ages and

the Renaissance, when the squires were a class of regular warriors, they engaged in

hunting to keep in good form and maintain their weapon and riding skills. Hunting

was also a popular sport, however, after the squires did not any longer have any

personal military obligations.

The squire possessed the rights of hunting on his own land, of course, but in addition

he also claimed the exclusive right of hunting on the land of tenant farms. That was

one of the squire’s so-called rights of splendours, which they were reluctant to part

with. When the proprietor of Estrup, Henrik Lautrup, began the sale of tenant farms

in the seventeen nineties, he insisted on retailing his rights of hunting. Not until he

was informed by the authorities, that the sale of the farms applied to everything, if

he wished to uphold his tax exemption rights, did he feel obliged to part with this


Henrik Lautrup

Squire of Estrup 1771-1802; he did not wish to part with the hunting rights, when

he sold the tenant farms to freeholders.

Henrik Lautrup’s dress is a reconstruction of the dress in the original portrait, which

is exhibited in the “Red Lounge”. The dress is sown by Hanne Dyhr.


For centuries the squires of the manors Soenderskov and Estrup had their

grain milled at their own mills. According to first Danish land register of 1662,

Hulkjaer Mill belonged to Estrup Manor. Likewise Holsted Mill, which Thomas

Juel bought from Joergen Krag of Endrupholm Manor in 1611.

At the same time Soenderskov Manor used Frisbaek Mill, which later had its

name changed to Soenderskov Mill. The copyhold of the mill was given to a

man by the name of Hans Nielsen, who was also a blacksmith and who lived

south of the mill at a place called the Sheephouse.

The squire had the right to decide the mill his tenant farmers had to use for

milling their grains. In 1700 the squire af Soenderskov Manor, Joergen Skeel

Due, proclaimed “that none of his tenant farmers were allowed to use any

other mill than Soenderskov Mill, otherwise they might be punished according

to the law”.

The earliest written record of Frisbaek Mill is from 1662, but presumably its

history goes back much further. During the restoration 1986-91 the displayed

fragment of a millstone was found in the basement of the centre building. The

millstone was reused as a step in a staircase and may well originate from the

very first mill.

The baking oven of the old Soenderskov, where the flour from the manor’s mill

was baked into bread, was found and made accessible during the restoration.

The Mill as an independent


Soenderskov Mill belonged to the

manor Soenderskov until 1804,

when Christian Saxesen sold the

mill to Peder Kaargaard

Jørgensen. His family owned the

mill for seven generations until


In miller Ebbe Ebbesens days

(1880-1910) the milling was

supplemented by dairying in the

farmhouse basement.

The photograph shows the staff

of the mill around 1892.

Soenderskov Mill,

photography from 2005.

Baking Oven

The old baking ovenfrom

Thomas Juel’s time may

be seen in Sonderskov’s


What is “hardcorn”?

“Hardcorn” means corn

for bread grain, i.e. rye

and barley (contrary to

oats). Formerly a “barrel

of hardcorn” was a unit

for the value of farming

land (a combination of

the land area and


During the long period

when barter was

common a shared

monetary standard was

also required.

It was decided to

compare all goods to the

value of so-called

“hardcorn”. That was

measured in barrels not

to be mistaken with

“barrels of hardcorn”.

1 barrel of hardcorn = 8

imperial bushels = (32

fjerdingkar) = 96 albums.

Joergen Krag

Portrait of the squire of Endrupholm, Joergen Krag. He sold the

Holsted Mill to Thomas Juel, the building owner of Soenderskov in

1611. During the renaissance, the ruffs were so wide, that they

jokingly were named “millstones”.

Fragment of millstone

Found in the basement of

Soenderskov during the

restoration 1986-91.

Oven tool

Lumps of dough were

placed on the plate at the

end of the handle and

then placed in the

preheated, deep bread

oven. There the bread

was baken by rays of heat

from brick built walls and


Maren Boelle’s purchases

The Manors were self-sufficient with most foodstuffs, but they bought

a few articles to the house-hold in the nearest market towns. Maren

Boelle, lady of both Estrup and Soenderskov, had her own account

with the grocer Hans Friis’ shop in Ribe. His account book is

preserved, and that provide us with an insight into the purchases of a

noblewoman in the first half of the 17 th century.

Maren Boelle made 240 purchases during the 20 years she had an

account with Friis. 83% of these were related to clothing: Fabrics,

hooks, buttons, ribbons, strings, etc. Of the remaining purchases were

7% paper articles and 3% were assorted items (scions, roof tiles,

knives, iron bars, etc.)

7 % only were related to purchases of food items. Salt was most

important and indispensible for the household at the time, as salting

was one of the few methods to preserve meat and fish. Maren Boelle

bought mostly north Frisian beach salt, but she bought also a couple

of barrels of fine salt from Lüneburg in Germany. In addition Maren

Boelle bought hops for brewing of beer and also fish from Norway.

More luxuriously she bought wines from grocer Friis, both red and

white vines.

Maren Boelle paid partly by cash and partly by provisions as grain,

bullocks or sheep.

Maren Boelle (1575-1648)

was married with Thomas Juel, the building owner of the

present Soenderskov main building.

She was buried in Noerre Galten Church, south of

Randers, where her epitafium is still to be seen above the













7 7

Tekstiles Foodstuffs Paper articles Assorted items

Product categories in %


Maren Boelle’s purchases in %

Grocer Hans Friis

was one of Ribe’s most prosperous and influential

merchants during the first half of the 17 th century.

He was alderman and mayor of the city of Ribe for

a number of years. Photo of his portrait on the

epitafium in Ribe Cathedral.

The Grocer Shop

Hans Friis’ shop was sited in the Long Street, now

“Overdammen” in Ribe. On this reconstruction

drawing the shop is the fourth house on the right.

Drawing by architect H.H. Engkvist.

Dairies and fattening of Bullocks

In older days the quantity of cattle breeding separated the manor

farms from the surrounding tenant farms. As a rule the manor farm

bred several times over the quantity of the tenant farms. One of the

causes for the limited herds of cattle on the tenant farms was their

lack of fodder during the winter.

As a rule the animals were fed with hay only, no other fodder was

available. The manor farms owned large meadows and could store

sufficient fodder for their animals during the winters, but the tenant

farms did not have the same opportunity.

The cattle population at the manor farm comprised partly dairy cattle

and partly bullocks. The dairy cattle provided milk for butter and

cheese production, so Estrup as well as Soenderskov had dairies.

Both manor farms had stables for the fattening of bullocks, which

accounted for the prosperity of the manor farms. The feeding of

bullocks in stables during the winters for export to German and Dutch

cities was one of the privileges of Danish squires. Bullocks were one

of Denmark’s most profitable exports, and the squires skimmed the

cream of the milk by controlling the last link of the production.

Estrup’s and Soenderskov’s bullocks were driven via Foldingbro to the

town Ribe, where export duty was paid prior to further transport.

The bullocs were driven via

Foldingbro to the town Ribe (Ripen),

where export duty was paid.

Milkmaid at the time of Maren Boelle

Maren Boelle, the lady of Soenderskov 1620-48,

paid for many of her purchases at the grocer

by provisions, for instance butter. The Dutchman

Govert Camphuysen painted this picture of a

Danish milkmaid in Scandia at the time of Maren

Boelle. Painting from the middle of the 17th

century, private ownership.

Milkmaids from Estrup

Milkmaids from Estrup Manor, around the year


The exhibition

Manor Life TArkæologi Trappe til 1. sal

Room 6:

•In noble hands

•Squires in the reign

Herregårdenes beboere

Adelsvældens tid


of absolutism

Enevældens herremænd

•Two family mansions

To •Servants slægtsgårde




Indretning Prydhaver

Møblement Havekunst


Vægudsmyk- Havehistorie

ning Belysning Arkæologiske




Fæstegårde og





Jagt og fiskeri




Maren Bølles


In noble hands

The reformation in 1536 caused a shift between the powers in


The church lost most of its property and did not play an

independent political role any longer. Now the time of the

nobility began. From the reformation and till the introduction

of the absolute monarchy in 1661 it was prohibited to transfer

land owned by the nobility to any other social class.

Soenderskov Manor, which belonged to the Chapter of Ribe

during the second half of the 15 th century, came into

ownership of a number of noble families till 1720, when the

first civil squire took over.

In the middle of the 16 th century the locality Estrup (between

Vejen and Broerup) is mentioned in the earliest historical

sources as Estrup Manor. At that time Estrup was dower house

for the noble widow Lene Rosenkrantz.

At Estrup the period with exclusively noble owners came to the

end in 1695, when the first civil squire appeared on the


During the period 1614-1647 Estrup and Soenderskov

belonged to the same squire, as both manors were in the

ownership of Thomas Juel.

The timetable presents a general view of the noble owners

from the reformation and forward.

Soenderskov Estrup

1532: Thomas Galskyt |




1548: Peder Galskyt |


1554: Otte Galskyt | 1553: Lene Rosenkrantz

| 1558: Christoffer Juel

1572: Albret Galskyt |


| 1588: Thomas Juel

1593: Bege Clausdatter Emmiksen |


1600: Boerge Rosenkrantz |

1614: Thomas Juel |


1648: Manderup Due | 1648: Manderup Abildgaard


| 1656: Eggert Abildgaard

1662: Joergen Skeel Due | 1662: Margrethe Reetz

| 1668: Claus Sehested


| 1695: Christian Claudi becomes the

| first civil squire of Estrup


1701: Manderup Due & |

Joergen Christoffer Due |


1720: Hans Bachmann becomes |

first civil squire of |

Soenderskov |



The timetable provides an overview of the

noble squires at the Manors of Soenderskov

and Estrup. Next to the name of each noble

squire is shown his coat of arms according to

the yearbook of the Danish nobility. As the

principal rule the year marks the documented

or assumed time for taking over the Manor. For

some of the owners, especially the early ones,

the written sources are so insufficient, that an

attempt to decide the time of the takeover will

be without meaning. In these cases the year

refers to the first year the owner or part owner

is mentioned as squire of the Manor in


Margrethe Reetz (year of birth

unknown, died 1697)

Margrethe Reetz was recently widowed by the

death of Malte Sehested, squire of Rydhave

Manor, when she acquired Estrup Manor in

1662. The former owner, Eggert Abildgaard,

was ruined during the previous war with

Sweden. Most of the inhabitants died by the

plague and the estate was looted.

In her return to the treasury Margrethe wrote:

The servants, tenant farmers and their

children, who used to live here, are all dead

during the war with the Swedes.”

In the course of time the tenant farms were

reoccupied, however. Margrethe Reetz owned

Estrup jointly with her two sons Claus and

Frederik Sehested, later the former became

sole owner. In 1695 he sold Estrup Manor to

Christian Claudi, who became the first civil



The Epitaph of Margrethe Reetz

and Malte Sehested in Viborg


Margrethe Reetz.

Painted Portrait of

Epitaph in Viborg


Thomas Juel (1562-1647)

Thomas took over Estrup Manor after his father,

Christoffer Juel, who died in 1588. Thomas Juel

married Maren Boelle, daughter of Morten

Orning, the vassal of the Koldinghus Castle.

During his life Thomas Juel became one of the

richest squires of this area. He inherited the

Manor Kollerup near Hadsten (north of Aarhus),

and about 1614 he acquired Soenderskov. Here

he built the present main building, which was

completed in 1620.

Thomas Juel died at Soenderskov in 1647,

according to the tradition he fell down a staircase.

Maren Boelle died the following year. Both were

buried in Galten Church near Kollerup, in which

their magnificent epitaph of baroque style may

still be seen above the portal to the chancel.


The Epitaph of

Thomas Juel and

Maren Boelle in North

Galten Church.

Thomas Juel.

Founder of Epitaph in

North Galten Church.

Maren Boelle.

Founder of Epitaph in

North Galten Church.


The employees of a Manor Farm, who remained in the employ

of their master for a longer period of time, were described as

servants (day-labourers were not described as servants).

The rights of the servants were extremely limited. In principle

they could be asked to take on any odd job, and they were

completely subordinated to their master.

The Danish Law made it clear that their master possessed the

same right to inflict corporal punishment as for his children.

By statuary order of Parliament in 1832 it was decided, that all

servants should have a conduct book. That was a something

between a grade book and a passport.

Without a conduct book a servant could not move away from

his or hers parish of birth. Loss of a conduct book could cause

punishment. During employment as servant the conduct book

was in the possession of the master. Thus it was impossible to

leave at the wrong time.

In 1854 the Parliament passed the Servants Law in order that

they should have some protection from the master. To a wide

extent this law upheld the miserable legal position for the

servants, however.

The table below provides a summary of important events from

the history of servants in Denmark.

Table of events

1683 - Danish Law: ”The master may punish his children and servants with stick or

cane but not with weapons; if he hurts them with by a sword’s point or edge, or he

beats and damage their limbs, or thereby harm their health, then he is to be

punished as if a stranger had caused the damage”.

1832 - By the statutory order servant’s conduct books were introduced.

1849 - The Constitution of 5th June introduced universal franchise for men but not

for servants nor for individuals receiving poor relief.

1854 - Parliament pass the servants law of 10 th May in which the rights of servants

in relation to the master are somewhat improved. For instance is the masters right

to punish servants limited to female servants under 16 years of age and to male

servants under 18 years of age.

1867 - The master is forbidden to write anything but the duration of the time served

in the conduct book.

1905 - The Government set up a committee to consider the terms of farm workers

and servants. The same year Carl Westergaard, son of a smallholder, participate in

the debate about the conditions of farm workers and servants.

1907 - The union of ”Farm Workers and Servants” is established in Odense with Carl

Westergaard as chairman. First number of ”The Servants’ Journal” is issued.

1908 - Servants gain the right to vote in parish elections.

1915 - Servants gain universal franchise in parliamentary elections.

1921 - The law for servants is replaced by the law for assistants. Conduct books and

the master’s right to punish employees are abolished. Servants gain the right of 6

days of holiday per year.

From servant to assistant

The servants subordinate relations to the master and lacking

political rights placed them at the absolute bottom of


Not till the beginning of the 20 th Century did anything

happen to change their situation. The servants began to be

unionized and gradually did they gain political rights.

Finally, in 1921 the law for servants was replaced by the law

for assistants. That abolished the servants’ personal

relationship of being subordinate to the master and was the

first attempt to place domestic assistants on the same level

as other workers. However, it did take a long time to change

centuries of practise.

On the table of events you can follow the development till

the introduction of the law for assistants.


The coachman Anton William Christensen

belonged to the servants of the Soenderskov

Manor about 1920.

Servant girls

Two servant girls with white aprons serve at a

party at Soenderskov about year 1900.

The Lady with large light collar, sitting on the right

of the stairs, is the Danish Sculptress Anne Marie

Nielsen, married to the Danish composer Carl


Social climbing

The servants of a Manor Farm were graded in a

strict hierarchy of subordinates and superiors

with the master and the mistress at the top.

During the 19 th Century the hierarchy was no

more rigid, however, that servants by marriage

could make the move quite to the top.

In 1862 the dairymaid Johanne Mueller married

the squire Jens Momsen. In one move she

thereby changed her position from servant to

mistress and housewife of Soenderskov.

Christine Elise Schmidt worked as housekeeper at

Estrup , which meant that she was the head of the

household but subject to the guidance of the

mistress. In spite of her superior position she was

subject to the Servants Law. When Christine

married the squire Otto Lautrup in 1902 she

moved upwards in the order of things.

Servants at Soenderskov 1919

Servants at Estrup 1908

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