Friday, January 08, 2010

Reformation and Renaissance

Christianity and Church in the early Middle Ages VII

Rosenholm Slot, Østjylland

During a very short period the Danish church was reconverted into a new Protestantic reality. An important result of the reformation was the
transfer of the church estate to the Crown. It showed quickly however that the allied of the royal power, the higher aristocracy were getting much benefit from the new conditions. The king collected his estates, exchanged estate with the aristocray and generously shared out offices, which soon brought an up to now unknown wealth to a small upper-class.

The closters disappeared in large numbers and with them magnificent buildings in a land poor of stones. The empty closters meant millions of bricks to castle- and manor-building, which was flowering like never before in the late 1500s. The Renaissance replaced the Middle Ages. Fortunately most of the Danish churches were kept, they were perfect Protestantic preaching places. Some inventory from the Middle Ages probably disappeared in the 1500s and 1600s, but the pulpits and the new altar pieces brought witness of the continuing tradition of good Danish carving in the Renaissance, which was inspired by the German and Dutch masters who came to work in the country.

The Renaissance was a great period for the Danish nobility. The desire to build was not limited to the manors - also the churches were extended and furnished into mausoleums for the richest part of society. They built to remember themselves and the family, and in death they furnished their churches as stony evidences of their estate and deeds.

Roskilde domkirke
Christian IV would not be second to none, and it was in his rule that the spires on Roskilde domkirke were raised. Many nobility churches, both at the manors and in the villages, were furnished with spires. But the wealth did not last. Recession, war and destruction followed and the leading noblemen's selfishness and treachery brought Denmark close to its end in the Swedish wars. The churches were ravaged and broken down in several places by the Swedish occupation troups in the 1650s.

Source: Niels Peter Stilling, Danmarks Kirker, 2000.

Later some overviews of the Romanesque and Gothic churches in Denmark.
(materials-art-inventory-frescoes etc.)

photo: grethe bachmann

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