Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aunsbjerg, Mid Jutland, Viborg amt.

Aunsbjerg, entrance with gate-building.

Aunsbjerg, ab.12 km south of Viborg
Sjørslev sogn, Lysgård herred, Viborg amt.

Steen Steensen Blicher wrote "Skytten på Aunsbjerg", about the French nobleman, who died alone and abandoned out in the heath. In his childhood Blicher often stayed at Aunsbjerg by his great-uncle etatsråd de Steensen and wife, a sour old great-aunt, who told little Steen that his will was in her pockets.

Aunsbjerg is an old farm, mentioned for the first time in king Oluf's rule, when it belonged to Niels Eriksen of the family, who in the first half of the 16th century - when it was dying out - took the name Løvenbalk after its coat of arms. The family Løvenbalk, who for more than 150 år owned Aunsbjerg, was said to have royal blood in their veins and to descend from Christoffer II and a lady of the family Lunge, and the blue lion in the family's coat of arms indicates that it is a probability. It fits in with that Niels Eriksen's father 's name was Erik Christoffersen and that he owned Aunsbjerg in 1340.

Niels Eriksen was married to a daughter of the knight Johan Rantzau, Sophie Johansdatter Rantzau. They only had one child, the son Jens Nielsen (Løvenbalk), who was the next owner of Aunsbjerg. He became landsdommer in Nørrejylland and rigsråd and was known for his killing Jens Jensen (Brock) of Clausholm. He died very old ab. 1438 and left a large family , of whom a son became the ancestor of the Løvenbalks at Tjele, another, Erik Jensen, became the owner of Aunsbjerg, which then for a long time belonged to his sons, Peter, who died early and hr. Erik Eriksen (Løvenbalk), who later became the sole owner of Aunsbjerg and still lived at the end of the century, but must have died soon after. The economic deroute of the family begun with him. He had pawned a part of his estate to Niels Clementsen, and after his death his son Gert Eriksen (Løvenbalk) and four daughters continued these pawnings, which became deeds of conveyance. During the years 1509-12 Niels Clementsen was handed over two thirds of Aunsbjerg as his property and much adjoining estate; the last third went to hr. Predbjørn Podebusk of Vosborg. There were troubled times at Aunsbjerg.

Aunsbjerg, en skam at en smuk gammel bygning gemmer sig så godt!

Niels Clementsen is one of the most enigmatic personalities of that time. He was sometimes described as a noble man, and sometimes as a not free man: king Hans entrusted him with important vasalries, made him landsdommer in Nørrejylland and rigsråd, and Christian II gave him the important Aalborghus vasalry; but soon after his death in 1518 his considerable estate was impounded by the Crown; a large part was shortly after given back to his heirs, but his part of Aunsbjerg became a royal vasalry. One of Niels Clementsen's sons was Rasmus Clementsen, a raw and brutal man. He was married to a daughter of Mogens Kaas of Damsgaard, who achieved fame when Christian II after his death had his body digged up and hung in a gallow. He died in 1529 and his widow survived him for some years. After this Aunsbjerg again experienced some troubled conditions.

Rigshofmester Mogens Gjøe bought some parts of the farm, and after his death in 1544 his heirs became the owners of farm and estate, which was taken over by the son Christoffer Gjøe, who became unpopular, when he tried to invalidate the foundation Herlufsholm, which his sister Birgitte Gjøe and her husband Herluf Trolle had founded. There was a dairy at Aunsbjerg while he was the owner, where cheese of all kinds were produced. It seems that the sheep were taken good care of. Both Danish and English wool is mentioned. Furthermore were turkeys at the farm, which was a rarity at that time. There are detailled informations about all this and much more in Christoffer Gjøe's and his wife Birgitte Bølle's correspondence. When Mogens Gjøe was the owner, Aunsbjerg was an important farm. Two water mills and several houses and 53 peasant-farms belonged to the estate. Christoffer Gjøe increased the estate, partly with property far away. After his death in 1584 his widow kept the farm, where she died in 1595. They left no children.

The next wellknown owner was Peder Marsvin. He was a son of Jørgen Marsvin of Hollufgård and Karen Ottesdatter Gyldenstierne, and a sister-daughter's son of Christoffer Gjøe. Peder Marsvin was very young, when he inherited Aunsbjerg (born 1578) and an orphant. He had inherited the newly built, magnificent Hollufgård at Odense after his parents. He was married to Mette Axelsdatter Brahe; he participated in the Kalmarkrigen and died already in 1614, a half year after his last child was born at Aunsbjerg. When his widow followed him to the grave eight years later, her only surviving son Jørgen Marsvin inherited the farm; he was still a child (born in 1609). He established in 1654 a small main farm Marsvinslund on the other side of the forest, and in Sjørslev and Vium churches are memories about him and his wife Anne Helvig Gyldenstierne. Jørgen Marsvin died 1671 and his wife about 20 years later in Øster Han herred at Ålegård, which she had bought after her husband's death, but before this they had lost all their manors.

In 1655 was Aunsbjerg and Marsvinslund sold to rigsmarsk hr. Anders Bille of Damsbo, who handed them over to his son Erik Bille, who died the next year. His widow Mette Rosenkrantz, who after this was married to hr. Niels Krabbe of Skellinge for some years, sold in 1669 both farms to Christoffer Ulfeldt of Alslevgård, but when he died in 1670, his widow Sophie Amalie Ottesdatter Krag (+ 1710) brought it in her second marriage to grev Otto Rantzau of Rosenvold. In his time the estate was well collected; to Aunsbjerg belonged in 1688 28 farms and 14 houses in Sjørslev and Vium parish and farms in Hørup. He died a very rich man in 1719, whereafter the two farms went to his son baron Otto Rantzau, who in 1732 sold them to Steen Jørgensen; and with this they disappeared from the hands of the old nobility.

Steen Jørgensen had been a lessee at various Funen manors and was 55 years old, when he moved to Aunsbjerg with his family. He was a widower since 1722, but the year after he had married Marie Katrine Balslev, who died in 1744 after having born 5 sons and 5 daughters. One son inherited Aunsbjerg, another became landsdommer in Nørrejylland and the most wellknown became a general in Russian service. 4 daughters were married to priests. Steen Jørgensen sold Marsvinslund to a former lessee of Aunsbjerg. He died in 1754, but two years before he had handed over Aunsbjerg with all estate for 30.000 rigsdaler to his eldest son Steen Steensen. He was according to Blicher a friendly man, but not a simple man like his father. He was appointed kancelliråd already before his father's death; in 1760 he was enobled and got the name de Steensen; in 1774 he became etatsråd. After a marriage to jomfru Moldrup (not from the noble family) in which they had a child who died, he married in 1759 frøken Mette Elisabeth Schinkel, an old maid of about 50 years and a sister of the mad kammerherre at Hald. She was this great-aunt of St.St. Blicher, who taught him to say that his will was in her pocket, while the boy in return teased her dog Manille.

Steensen introduced several necessary improvements. He improved the meadows, he laid out roads through the fields, partly with avenue-trees, at the farm he planted hop and in the forest he planted young trees. And he continued the started plan of a beautiful garden in French style, which Blicher later complained was declining. In his old age he several times put in vain the large estate for auction. In 1793 he succeeded in selling it and moved with his wife to a parcel-farm Liselund, he had established in the western outskirts of the forest, where he lived his last days in quiet and sometimes had visits from the poet, who was named after him. He died in 1800, she died the year after. They are buried in a hill at Sjørslev church yard together with his father and other family members.

See Sjørslev kirke

Aunsbjerg in summer!

Aunsbjerg went in 1793 to Hans Amnitzbøll, who earlier had owned Holbækgård. He was the last, who owned the whole estate. After 5 years he and birkedommer Erik Christian Müller of Møllerup, who owned a part of the farm, sold Aunsbjerg and all estate for 106.000 rigsdaler to a consortium, which began dividing the property, and in 1802 its fate was totally sealed, when it was sold to generalauditør Hans Jacob Lindahl, who was one of that period's most eager manor-slaughters. During about 20 years he mutilated a manor almost each year. In 1805 he had come so far that he could sell the remaining main parcel, but this business and several later were broken off. Still at the time of his death he was the real owner of the farm. Not until several years after Lindahl's death his widow Maren Svinth (who owned Vestervig kloster) succeeded in selling Aunsbjerg's main parcel and Sjørslev church to Laurids Christian Djørup, who was a skilled farmer.

Djørup sold Aunsbjerg in 1832. After this it came to various owners, until Peter Christopher de Neergaard bought it in 1853 for 116.500 rigsbankdaler. He was a son of Peter Johansen de Neergaard of Gunderslevholm and several other manors; he was a skilled farmer and built a part of the farm buildings. He was in 1842 married to Ida de Neergaard, née Laussen, who took over the farm when she was widowed in 1870. She also made some improvements, and the agriculture of Aunsbjerg was up-to-date, when her two youngest sons Harald and Peter Johansen de Neergaard at her death in 1907 took over. The last mentioned was later the sole owner.


Aunsbjerg was in its first beginning built close to the moor, which is not visible today. The pretty gate building is the remains of the farm buildings, which burnt down in 1911, and a fine old lime avenue leads up to the castle yard, which is shielded by forest to the east and west. The farm has existed here on the same place from time immemorial upon a castle bank, which bears witness about the Middle Ages; it consists of two islets, surrounded by moats, partly water-filled. The northernest of the islets was the place of the castle in the Løvenbalk-family's time, and still earlier it might have been placed a few hundred meters to the west where is an overgrown earth-plan, which looks like a castle bank. It seems already from the early Middle Ages that it was only the southern islet, which was used for building, here was for a long time a castle- and farm-building.

Nothing is known for sure about Aunsbjergs older main building. During a thorough restoration of the building in 1897 a new pediment was put up. When de Neergard took it over in 1853 he wanted an addition, a guest-wing. The new house was built in the years 1917-18 in red monk bricks partly upon old foundations. The dining hall in the old building was decorated with among other things the coat of arms and names of the owners of Aunsbjerg upon the dark oak-beams; there are a couple of pretty iron-oven from Steensen's time with the years 1758 and 1776. In the dining hall is a fire place, where was used some relief-carved sandstones, where a piece with the names and coats of arms of Peder Marsvin and Mette Brahe from the beginning of the 17th century earlier had been placed above the entrance-door.

In 1921 a tramp put the farm building on fire, and in 1925 the inspector-building burnt down, but both the buildings were re-built, and Peter Johansen de Neergaard owned Aunsbjerg till his death in 1940; it was taken over by his daughter fru Bodil Vibeke Preetzmann and her husband, J. Preetzmann. Owner today: the grandson Holger Preetzmann.

photo Aunsbjerg 2005/2006: grethe bachmann

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