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 society. 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.
Coachman 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 Nielsen. 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.