The exhibition Manor Life

The exhibition Manor Life

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.

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