Christoffer Valkendorff was a Danish statesman and landowner. His early years in the service of Frederick II brought him both to Ösel and Livland, he served both as Treasurer and Stadtholder of Copenhagen and as Steward of the Realm from 1596 to 1601. He owned Glorup Manor on Funen from 1535 to 1601, whose current main building he constructed, although it has been adapted in the Neoclassical style, he constructed the local Svindinge Church, one of the best preserved Renaissance style churches in Denmark. He founded the dormitory Valkendorfs Kollegium in Copenhagen where the street Valkendorfsgade is named after him. Valkendorff was born into the wealthy Valkendorff family on 1 September 1525 at Glorup Manor, the son of privy councillor Henning Valkendorff by his second wife Sidsel Jørgens-datter Friis, his father died in 1535. He received a thorough education in his mother's house. Valkendorff is mentioned in 1553 as the king's secretary and was rewarded with the 1554 Fief of Bergen for life. In 1556 he was granted the fief of Vardøhus.
He warned the government of Copenhagen about the threat against Danish economic interests that resulted from the British opening of a trade route north of Norway to Russia, avoiding the payment of Sound Dues at Helsingør. He was successful in opposing the last remains of Hanseatic influence, which earned him the benevolence of King Frederick II, he worked as a squire and local official. He confiscated illegally collected taxes and made the German clergy respect the ordinance and Bergen's superintendent. Mogens Gyldenstierne supported his initiatives; the Hanseatic League complained to Frederick II, about Valkendorff. The need for support from Lübeck in an awakening conflict with Sweden made the king appoint a new fier of Bergen, called Valkendorff home to Copenhagen and open an investigation of his governance. Valkendorff was outraged and a further conflict with the king over land interests on Funen sent him off to Saxony in exile. Augustus, Elector of Saxony mediated between Valkendorff and the king and in 1561 he was entrusted with the important task of escorting Dake Magnus to Ösel.
On 1 October 1563, during the Seven Year War, Valkendorff was appointed to stadtholder of Livland alongside H. v. Lüdinghausen. Valkendorff was called home to Copenhagen in 1567, he lost the fief of Iceland in 1570 and was instead granted the fief of Gotland in August 1571. The situation on Gotland was chaotic but Valnendorf managed to restore piece on the island in just two years, he held the field of Roskildegaard in 1573-74 and was granted Salling with freedom from taxes until 1580. Valkendorff's years as a journeyman ended when he was appointed to treasurer in 1564, he managed to reduce national debts. He was appointed to stadtholder of Copenhagen; when Peder Oxe, the king failed to appoint a new Steward of the Realm but Valkendorff was put in charge of Bremerholm and the Nacy. In 1576, a reluctant Frederick II appointed him to Councillor of the Realm. After the death of Frederick II in 1588, Valkendorff assumed control of the guardianship of Christian IV but this position led to his downfall.
In 1590 he had to vacate all his offices after accusations of abuse of power and the judicial murder of Magnus Heinason. Though not quite unjustified these accusations were mostly politically motivated. For some years Valkendorff kept in the background but he regained his influence and at the accession to power of the young Christian IV in 1596 he was at last appointed Steward of the Realm, a post he kept until his death. During these last years of power he still showed himself energetic but somewhat more cautious. Valkendorf never left no children, he owned Glorup Manor from 1535, although he seem to have shared the ownership of some of the land with his siblings. He expanded the estate over the years through the acquisision of more land. I'm the 1570s, he constructed Svindinge Church, now considered to be one of the best preserved Renaissance style churches]] in Denmark. After completing the church, he constructed Glorup's current main building, he suppored the university in Copenhagen economically and founded the dormitory Valkendorfs Kollegium 26 February 1589.
He was buried in the graveyard of the Church of Our Lady. Glorup Manor was passed on to his younger brother, Erik Valkendorf, who died in 1605. Stadtholders
Joachim Gersdorff was a Danish politician, from 1650 to 1660 Steward of the Danish Realm. It was Gersdorff who negotiated the Treaty of Roskilde on Denmark's part during the Second Northern War, a war he had himself been in favour of entering; the treaty, concluded in Roskilde on 8 March 1658, ceded Scania, Halland and Bornholm to Sweden. Joachim Gersdorff was born at Søbygaard on the island of Funen to German-born Christoffer von Gersdorff, an immensely rich magnate who, over the course of his lifetime accumulated numerous other estates such as Palstrup, Isgård, Vosnæsgård and Udstrup. Not much is known about Joachim Gersdorffs's early life, only that he attended Herlufsholm Bording School from 1624 to 1629, his father died in 1635 and Joachim Gersdorff was accepted into the Danish nobility, choosing Søbygaard as his residence. In the late 1630s, he made a study trip to northern Germany, returning in 1640. In 1643, he married the young Øllegaard Henriksdatter Huitfeldt. In so doing, he added a number of estates in Skåneland to his holdings.
From 1646, he was promoted through the ranks at the Royal Court, culminating with his acceptance into the Danish Council of the Realm in late 1649. He was a popular and respected figure among the nobility and was held in high regard by the King, Frederick III, who had ascended the throne in 1648. In 1651 he was appointed Danish Steward of the Realm, at the same time receiving the island of Bornholm as a fief. Gersdorff's marriage to Øllegaard Huitfeld was an unhappy one, she fell in love with Kai Lykke, a young military officer and womanizer from Gisselfeldt, called for divorce in 1654. This was a hard blow to his esteem and several times he had to swallow the indignity of being refused lodging when calling on castles and manor houses around the country. In 1655, he led the process against Corfitz Ulfeldt, his predecessor as Steward of the Realm, charged with embezzlement and treason and Ulfeldt's conviction restored Gersdorff's reputation. From 1657 to 1660, Denmark was at war with Sweden and Gersdorff negotiated the peace on Denmark's behalf, leading to the Roskilde Treaty in 1658 which ceded Scania, Halland and Bornholm to Sweden.
At the signing of the treaty, Gersdorff is reported to have exclaimed: If only I were unable to write I could never be accused of abandon and manslaughter for the many thousands of souls who have now been left behind in the bloody hands of the Swede.. In 1661, Gersdorff became ill and died shortly after. Rumour had it. Øllegaard and Gersdorff's servant, were both indicted and convicted. She was beheaded and he was exiled. List of Danish Stewards of the Realm
Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania was the ruler of the Kalmar Union from 1396 until 1439, succeeding his grandaunt, Queen Margaret I. He is numbered Eric III as King of Norway, Eric VII as King of Denmark and Eric XIII as King of Sweden. Today, in all three countries he is more known as Erik av Pommern. Eric was deposed from all three kingdoms of the union, but in 1449 he inherited one of the partitions of the Duchy of Pomerania and ruled it as duke until his death. Eric was born in 1382 in Rügenwalde. Born Boguslaw, Eric was the son of Wartislaw VII, Duke of Pomerania, Maria of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Margaret I, who ruled the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden, wanted her realm to be unified and peaceful and made provisions in the event of her death, she chose as the grandson of her sister Ingeborg. In 1389 Boguslaw was brought to Denmark to be raised by Queen Margaret, his name was changed to the more Nordic-sounding Erik. On 8 September 1389, he was hailed as King of Norway at the Ting in Trondheim, he may have been crowned King of Norway in Oslo in 1392.
In 1396 he was proclaimed as king in Denmark and in Sweden. On 17 June 1397, he was crowned a king of the three Nordic countries in the cathedral of Kalmar. At the same time, a union treaty was drafted, declaring the establishment of what has become known as the Kalmar Union. Queen Margaret, remained the de facto ruler of the three kingdoms until her death in 1412. In 1402, Queen Margaret entered into negotiations with King Henry IV of England about the possibility of an alliance between the Kingdom of England and the Nordic union; the proposal was for a double wedding, King Eric would marry King Henry's daughter, Philippa of England, King Henry's son, the Prince of Wales and the future King Henry V, would marry King Eric's sister, Catherine of Pomerania. The double wedding did not come off, but King Eric's wedding to Philippa of England was negotiated. On 26 October 1406, he married the 12-year-old Philippa in Lund; the wedding was accompanied by a purely defensive alliance with England. After Philippa's death in 1430, King Eric replaced her with her former lady-in-waiting, who became his royal mistress and his morganatic spouse.
The relationship was a public scandal and is mentioned in the royal council's official complaints about the King. During the early period of his reign, King Eric made Copenhagen a royal possession in 1417, thereby assuring its status as the capital of Denmark, he usurped the rights of Copenhagen Castle from the Bishop of Roskilde, from on, the castle was occupied by him. From contemporary sources, King Eric appears as intelligent, energetic, a firm character; that he was a charming and well-spoken man of the world was shown by his great European tour of the 1420s. Negatively, he seems to have had a hot temper, a lack of diplomatic sense, an obstinacy that bordered on mulishness. King Eric was described by the future Pope Pius II as having "a beautiful body, reddish yellow hair, a ruddy face, a long narrow neck … alone, without assistance, without touching the stirrups, he jumped upon a horse, all women were drawn to him the Empress, in a feeling of longing for love". From 1423 until May 1425, King Eric went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
After arriving there, he was dubbed Knight of the Holy Sepulchre by the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, subsequently himself dubbed his pilgrim fellows, among them, Ivan Anz Frankopian. During his absence, Queen Philippa served as regent of the three kingdoms from Copenhagen; the whole of King Eric's sole rule was affected by his long-standing conflict with the Counts of Schauenburg and Holstein. He tried to regain South Jutland which Queen Margaret had been winning, but he chose a policy of warfare instead of negotiations; the result was a devastating war that not only ended without conquests, but led to the loss of the South Jutlandic areas that he had obtained. During this war, he showed much energy and steadiness, but a remarkable lack of adroitness. In 1424, a verdict of the Holy Roman Empire by Sigismund, King of Germany, recognising Eric as the legal ruler of South Jutland, was ignored by the Holsteiners; the long war was a strain on the Danish economy as well as on the unity of the north.
King Eric's most far-ranging act was the introduction of the Sound Dues in 1429, to last until 1857. It consisted of the payment of sound dues by all ships wishing to enter or leave the Baltic Sea passing through the Sound; this resulted in the control of all navigation through the Sound, thus secured a large stable income for his kingdom that made it rich, which made the town of Elsinore flower. It showed his interest in Danish trade and naval power, but permanently challenged the other Baltic powers the Hanseatic cities against which he fought. From 1426 to 1435, he was at war with the German Hanseatic Holstein; the Hanseats and Holsteiners attacked Copenhagen in 1428, King Eric left the city while his wife Queen Philippa managed the defence of the capital. During the 1430s, the policy of the King fell apart. In 1434, the farmers and mine workers of Sweden began a national and social rebellion, soon used by the Swedish nobility in order to weaken the power of the King; the Engelbrekt rebellion was led by Swedish nobleman Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson.
Count Corfits Ulfeldt, Danish statesman, was the son of the chancellor Jacob Ulfeldt. After a careful education abroad, concluding with one year under Cesare Cremonini at Padua, he returned to Denmark in 1629 and won the favor of King Christian IV. In 1634 he was made a Knight of the Order of the Elephant, in 1636 became Councillor of State, in 1637 Governor of Copenhagen, in 1643 Steward of the Realm, he is known and recognized as the most notorious traitor in Danish history. In 1637 Ulfeldt married Leonora Christina, the daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark, she had been betrothed to him from her ninth year. Ulfeldt was the most striking personality at the Danish court in all superficial accomplishments, but his character was marked by ambition and absolute lack of honor or conscience, he was responsible for the disasters of the Swedish war of 1643-45, when the Treaty of Brömsebro was signed there was a violent scene between him and the King, though Ulfeldt's resignation was not accepted.
In December 1646 he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to the Hague, but the results of his embassy by no means corresponded to its costliness, when he returned to Denmark in July 1647 he found the king profoundly irritated. Ulfeldt, supported by the Rigsråd and the nobility, who objected to Christian's fiscal policy, resisted his father-in-law, triumphed completely; as Steward of the Realm he was the virtual ruler of Denmark during the two months which elapsed between the death of Christian IV and the election of Frederick III. Dina was convicted of perjury and executed, but Ulfeldt no longer felt secure at Copenhagen, on the day after the execution he secretly left Denmark with his family. After living for a time in concealment at Amsterdam, Ulfeldt moved to Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania. In 1657, King Charles X of Sweden invaded Denmark. In July 1657 Ulfeldt responded to the King's invitation to enter his service. Sweden was Denmark's deadliest foe. Ulfeldt's purpose was twofold: humiliate his monarch and secure a personal fortune.
He persuaded the commandant of Nakskov to surrender to Charles X, did his best to convince his countrymen that resistance was useless. He loaned the Swedish king a fortune to finance the war with money that, it is believed, was embezzled from the Danish state; as one of the Swedish negotiators at the Treaty of Taastrup, he was instrumental in assuring the humiliation of his native land. Ulfeldt's treason was rewarded by Charles X of Sweden with ennoblement as the Count of Sölvesborg in Blekinge, he was soon discovered, in May 1659 was sentenced to death. On 7 July the Swedish regents amnestied him, he returned to Copenhagen to try to make his peace with his lawful sovereign, who promptly imprisoned him and his wife. In the summer of 1660 they were conveyed to Hammershus as prisoners of state, their captivity was severe to brutal and they were released in September 1661 in the most degrading conditions. The fallen magnate henceforth dreamed of nothing but revenge, in the course of 1662, during his residence at Bruges, he offered the Danish crown to the Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg, proposing to raise a rebellion in Denmark for that purpose.
Frederick William betrayed Ulfeldt's treason to Frederick III, the Danish government at once impeached the traitor. He escaped from the country, but the sentence was carried out on his effigy. During a new flight he died February 1664 in a boat on the Rhine not far from Basel; the circumstances of his death or his final resting place are not known. To posterity Corfits Ulfeldt has stood as the prototype of a traitor in Danish history. In addition, modern historians have been liable to view him as a mentally unstable man whose lust for power ended in megalomania and insanity. In contrast his wife Leonora Christina has been admired because of her long time as a prisoner after his death, she spent twenty-one years in confinement in the royal dungeon, Blåtårn, prior to her release during 1685. Jammers Minde is an autobiography completed in 1674 by Leonora Christina, it was first translated into English as Memoirs of Leonora Christina. Steffen Heiberg Enhjørningen Corfitz Ulfeldt ISBN 87-00-54936-3 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed..
"Ulfeldt, Korfits". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27. Cambridge University Press. Leonora Christina Ulfeldt. Memoirs of Leonora Christina: Daughter of Christian IV. of Denmark. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-4655-1373-1. Leonora Christina. Jammers Minde. Gyldendal A/S. ISBN 978-87-02-07970-8
Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature; some monarchies have a weak or symbolic legislature and other governmental bodies the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are: Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy. In Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh wielded absolute power over the country and was considered a living god by his people. In ancient Mesopotamia, many rulers of Assyria and Sumer were absolute monarchs as well. In ancient and medieval India, rulers of the Maurya, Gupta and Chalukya Empires, as well as other major and minor empires, were considered absolute monarchs.
In the Khmer Empire, the kings were called "Devaraja" and "Chakravartin", exercised absolute power over the empire and people. Throughout Imperial China, many emperors and one empress wielded absolute power through the Mandate of Heaven. In pre-Columbian America, the Inca Empire was ruled by a Sapa Inca, considered the son of Inti, the sun god and absolute ruler over the people and nation. Korea under the Joseon dynasty and short-lived empire was an absolute monarchy. In the Ottoman Empire, many sultans wielded absolute power through heavenly mandates reflected in their title, the "Shadow of God on Earth". Throughout much of European history, the divine right of kings was the theological justification for absolute monarchy. Many European monarchs, such as those of Russia, claimed supreme autocratic power by divine right, that their subjects had no rights to limit their power. James VI of Scotland and his son Charles I of Scotland and England tried to import this principle. Charles I's attempt to enforce episcopal polity on the Church of Scotland led to rebellion by the Covenanters and the Bishops' Wars fears that Charles I was attempting to establish absolutist government along European lines was a major cause of the English Civil War, despite the fact that he did rule this way for 11 years starting in 1629, after dissolving the Parliament of England for a time.
By the 19th century, the Divine Right was regarded as an obsolete theory in most countries in the Western world, except in Russia where it was still given credence as the official justification for the Tsar's power until February Revolution in 1917. There is a considerable variety of opinion by historians on the extent of absolutism among European monarchs. Some, such as Perry Anderson, argue that quite a few monarchs achieved levels of absolutist control over their states, while historians such as Roger Mettam dispute the concept of absolutism. In general, historians who disagree with the appellation of absolutism argue that most monarchs labeled as absolutist exerted no greater power over their subjects than any other non-absolutist rulers, these historians tend to emphasize the differences between the absolutist rhetoric of monarchs and the realities of the effective use of power by these absolute monarchs. Renaissance historian William Bouwsma summed up this contradiction: Nothing so indicates the limits of royal power as the fact that governments were perennially in financial trouble, unable to tap the wealth of those ablest to pay, to stir up a costly revolt whenever they attempted to develop an adequate income.
Though some historians doubt if he had, Louis XIV of France is said to have proclaimed "L'état, c'est moi". Although criticized for his extravagances, such as the Palace of Versailles, he reigned over France for a long period, some historians consider him a successful absolute monarch. More revisionist historians have questioned whether Louis' reign should be considered'absolute', given the reality of the balance of power between the monarch and the nobility; the King of France concentrated in his person legislative and judicial powers. He was the supreme judicial authority, he could condemn people to death without the right of appeal. It was both his duty to stop them from being committed. From his judicial authority followed his power both to annul them. One of his steps in creating an absolute monarchy in France was to build the Palace of Versailles, where he lived with many of his nobles and other important people, in order to control and watch over them. Absolutism was underpinned by a written constitution for the first time in Europe in 1665 Kongeloven of Denmark-Norway, which ordered that the Monarch "shall from this day forth be revered and considered the most perfect and supreme person on the Earth by all his subjects, standing above all human laws and having no judge above his person, neither in spiritual nor temporal matters, except God alone".
This law authorized the king to abolish all other centers of power. Most important was the abolition of the Council of the Realm. In Brandenburg-Prussia, the concept of absolute monarch took a notable turn from the above with its emphasis on the monarch as the "first servant of the state", but it echoed many of the important characteristics of Absolutism. Frederick William, known as the Great Elector, used the uncertainties of the final stages of the Thirty Years' War to consolidate his territories into the dominant kingdom in northern Germany, whilst increasing his power over his subjects
Peder Oxe was a Danish finance minister and Steward of the Realm. At the age of twelve he was sent abroad to complete his education, resided at the principal universities of Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland for seventeen years. On his return he found both his parents dead, was appointed the guardian of his eleven young brothers and sisters, in which capacity, profiting by the spoliation of the church, he accumulated immense riches, his extraordinary financial abilities and pronounced political capacity soon found ample scope in public life. In 1552 he was raised to the dignity of Rigsraad; the same year he held the post of governor of Copenhagen and shared with Byrge Trolle the control of the treasury. A few years he incurred the royal disfavour in the administration of public property. In the spring of 1557, Oxe and the king quarrelled over a mutual property exchange. Failing to compromise matters with the king, Oxe fled to Germany in 1558 and engaged in political intrigues with the adventurer Wilhelm von Grumbach for the purpose of dethroning Frederick II in favor of Christina of Lorraine, the daughter of Christian II.
But the financial difficulties of Frederick II during the stress of the Northern Seven Years' War compelled him, in 1566, to recall the great financier, when his confiscated estates were restored to him and he was reinstated in all his offices and dignities. A change for the better ensued; the finances were speedily put on an excellent footing, means were provided for carrying on the war to a successful issue and on the conclusion of peace, Oxe, as lord treasurer, not only reduced the national debt but redeemed a large portion of the alienated crown-lands. He reformed the coinage, developed trade and commerce and introduced numerous agricultural reforms on his own estates, which he was never weary of enlarging, so that on his death he was the wealthiest landowner in Denmark. Oxe died on 24 October 1575, after contributing more than any other statesman of his day to raise Denmark, for a brief period, to the rank of a great power; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed..
"Oxe, Peder". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press; this work in turn cites: P. Oxe's live og levuet Danmarks riges historie, vol. 3 Peder Oxe et historisk billed Troels Lund Troels-Lund