Thursday, February 25, 2010

Løvenholm, Djursland, East Jutland, Randers amt.

Løvenholm, ab. 20 km east of Randers.
Gjesing sogn, Sønderhald herred, Randers amt.

Løvenholm, which is traceable to the 15th century, was named Gjesingholm until 1674. The Knights Hospitaller in Viborg (Skt. Hans Kloster) owned the farm and five farm-houses until 1445, when they sold to the Benedictines in Essenbæk, who already had two farms in Gjesing village. After the reformation the kloster came to the Crown, and the small kloster-farm with estate was transferred to Erik Eriksen Banner of Kokkedal (1484-1554). Erik Banner was in the period 1518-19 vasal at Kalø Castle. He had Gustav Vasa as a prisoner , but let him get away. Later he became one of the most eager advocates of the reformation. During the Clementsfeud he was the leader of the Jutland nobility; he stopped skipper Clement's advance, and Johan Rantzau had to share the honour of the final victory with him. After 1536 he had a leading office as Christian III's most trusted man, and in 1541 he became rigens marsk.( rigens = kingdom, marsk = chief of army ). When his large estate after his death was exchanged, Gjesingholm went to his son Anders Banner.

Anders Banner built a house in the eastern side of the large bank. The east wing was built with corner towers and stair tower. the broad moats get fresh water from springs in the bottom and has an outlet to a brook (Ggjesing bæk) which comes from a lake (Langsøen) in Storskoven (forest) and later runs together with Hevringholm Å river. The house itself still stands but was changed in the 1760s. After Anders Banner's death in 1583 Gjesingholm belonged to his two sons, first Erik (+ 1597), then Otto, who in 1608 negotiated about sale with his neighbour Eske Brock of Estrup, who wrote in his diary:" On the 28.(December) Laurids Naulff Otte Banner and Grett Brysk were here by me about negotiation of Giessingholm, and it came to nothing."

In 1609 Otto Banner sold his ancestral farm to Frantz Rantzau, and in 1616 he sold to his brother Gert Rantzau of Breitenburg (1558-1627), Henrik Rantzau's son and successor as the king's governor in hertugdømmerne (the duchies). Gjesingholm belonged for over 100 years to Johan Rantzau's descendants, but it was however only a small part in the large estate of the Holstein family. Gert Rantzau's brother Breide married into the Danish nobility and lived in Denmark, while Gert Rantzau and his descendants kept feeling Holsteiners, although they bought much estate in Jutland. They never became Jutlanders.

Gert Rantzau was a learned and widely travelled man, who in 1584-90 was a vasal at Kronborg, where he improved the fortifications and the buildings. The rest of his life he was attached to hertugdømmerne. He was in high esteem by Christian IV and was used in important diplomatic offices. When the Kejserkrig (war) broke out, he led the defence-negotiations in hertugdømmerne and declared at the landdag (assembly) in Rendsborg in 1626 that he would be a good example for the knights and in spite of his high age meet the enemy in person, but before the attack came, he got critically ill on a travel to Kiel. He had in his long life showed that he was " getreuer wie ein Rantzau" and was followed to his grave by his king.

His son Christian Rantzau (1614-63) became statholder (governor) in hertugdømmerne for Frederik III, and in 1649 he bought Gottorp Barmstedt district for two barrels gold (200.000 rigsdaler). His new estate was elevated to a rigsgrevskab Rantzau = Reich county Rantzau. The title as rigsgreve made him independent of the landlords of Holstein, the king of Denmark and the herzog (duke) of Holstein-Gottorp. He got various rights, like to coin money and distribute nobility patents. Later he was, as the king's friend, the leader of the circle, which had to realize the absolute monarchy. In 1661 he became the king's Prime Minister. His health was by now weak and he died in 1663, the only Prime Minister ever in Denmark.

Christian Rantzau did not stay much at Gjesingholm, but he built the south wing in 1642-43 , which is narrower and shorter than the east wing. In 1637 he had established Gjesingholm birk (judicial rights), which existed until 1828. In 1641 he got in an exchange with the Crown kirke- og kongetiende (= taxes ) and jus patronatus of Gjesing kirke. Ditlev Rantzau (1644-97) did not take part in the government of the kingdom, but he was without doubt the richest landowner in the country. Besides the rigsgrevskabet Rantzau, Breitenburg and many other farms in Holstein and Schleswig he owned Gjesingholm, Demstrup, Sødringholm, Skovggård in Koldinghus district and Eskjær in Salling. After he in 1671 became a member of the Danish grevestand (the counts' society) he established in 1674 grevskabet (county) Løvenholm, which included the above mentioned farms with estate. The name of grevskabet comes from the animal in the Rantzau coat of arms: the lion. Although Løvenholm was the residence of grevskabet, it was probably not occupied, and according to a building inspection in 1680 it was badly maintained. Before his death greven made a testamentary decision that rigsgrevskabet had to be given to the king of Denmark, if his sons died childless.

landscape with cattle at Løvenholm

His eldest son Christian Ditlev Rantzau (1670-1721) took up both grevskaber and all the estate. He became vice-regent, land-councellor and knight; his future looked bright, but he spoiled it by a strange behaviour; he annulled his betrothal to a daughter of Ulrik Gyldenløve, and when he would not pay the agreed indemnity of 30.000 species, the king abandoned grevskabet, until he had paid - and ousted him as vice-regent. He was also in a feud with the Preussian king and was imprisoned in Spandau for a period. He would not give his brother Wilhelm Adolph ( 1684-1734) his rightful inheritance, and an implacable enmity arose between the two brothers. While the elder brother was in prison in Spandau, the younger had taken possession of the rigsgrevskab, but had to withdraw when Chr. Ditlev in 1719 got out of prison and in the lead of a group of mercenaries conquered it. Shortly after was Chr. Ditlev shot during a snipe shooting on 10. November 1721 near Elmshorn, and five years later the younger brother was convicted of the murder. He insisted that he was innocent but was sentenced to life in prison, when the murderer claimed to have done it on grev Wilhelm's order. With these two brothers the Rantzau-line, which during five generations had a dominating place in the hertugdømmernes adel (duchy-nobility) , died out.

After these events grevskabet Løvenholm came to the Crown, which in 1732 transferred it to grev Frederik Christian Danneskiold-Samsøe, greve of Samsøe, friherre of Lindenborg and first director of Gisselfeld kloster (1722-78). He was then only 10 years old and had as a guardian his paternal uncle grev Frederik Danneskiold-Samsøe. In 1739 he was allowed to sell Skovgård and in 1742 to abolish grevskabet and to sell the other farms. Løvenholm was bought by his brother grev Ulrik Adolph Danneskiold-Samsøe, who 30. April 1751 obtained royal koncession, which meant that Løvenholm was still called grevskab, until it in 1828 was taken over by the state for unpaid taxes.

Løvenholm , Lindeallé

Løvenholm was in 1751 bought by Søren Seidelin, who two years later sold it to Niels Basse of Hindsgavl. In 1756 he transferred the farm to his son-in-law, kancelliråd Hans Fønss (1721-91), who in 1783 sold it to his son Peter Severin Fønns (1764-1824), who owned the farm until 1811. While Løvenholm most of the time had been uninhabited in Rantzau's and Danneskiold-Samsøe's days, it now became a home for the family Fønss. The farm was very dilapidated, but it is today still marked by what father and son had achieved. In 1785 Løvenholm was re-valued since the buildings were much improved. Around the renovated farm were made large plantings. To the north was a lime avenue from the farm-buildings to the bridge across the moat. In the forest on the other side of the meadow, which was once a lake, was built an elegant little tea-pavillon with a pyramid-roof.

When an old man Hans Fønss sold Løvenholm to his son Peter Severin Fønss for 74.000 rigsdaler. Peter Fønss was an enterprising man, he was a jurist and had several important offices, also at the military. He was enobled in 1801 and in 1804 appointed kammerherre (chamberlain). In 1804 he sold the farm-addition Sorvad and during the following years he sold a great part of the peasant-estate, the main farm was divided into parcels, however he was not able to sell many. In 1811 he conveyed what was left to an interessentskab (partnership),which in 1817 sold it to etatsråd H.J.Hansen of Bramstrup for 180.000 rigsbankdaler, but after ten years he had to hand it over to Statskassen (Exchequer) for unpaid taxes.

In 1831 the privileges as greve and birkeretten (judicial rights) had disappeared and the estate was much smaller than in the 18th century. Statskassen sold farm and estate to etatsråd H.R. Såbye's heirs and captain Krøyer for 16.465 rigsbankdaler silver. In 1833 sold to H. Frellsen from Flensborg. In 1836 sold to lessee Christen Pind (+1855) of Gammel Estrup for 40.000 rigsbankdaler. In his time the farm-buildings burnt down and the - until a few years ago still preserved - beautiful bricked buildings were built. After him his widow Laura Faith, until it in 1874 was sold to konsul Lauritz Ulrik la Cour, who in 1887 sold to hofjægermester Carl August Johan Neergaard. He died in 1901, and the estate was in a compulsory sale sold to etatsråd N.P Bornholdt from Riga for 370.000 kroner. Bornholdt saw to have the main building repaired, and there were great advances in the farm-management. In 1918 it was sold to hofjægermester Ove Holger Christian Vind of Bækkeskov and Sanderumgaard for 2.250.000 kroner. He increased the forest-areas and sold in 1919 the estate for 1.950.000 kr. to hofjægermester, greve Werner Ernst Carl Schimmelmann (+1941) of Lindenborg and Dronninglund.

In 1929 Løvenholm was put on a compulsory sale and sold for 773.000 kr. to godsejer Valdemar Uttental, owner of Gammel Estrup skovgods. The old farm was now the center in a very large estate. In the widespread estate were since 1939 carried out large improvements and reforms, also the churches in Gjesing and Nørager were renovated. The garden was re-arranged and the long lime avenue was extended with a chestnut avenue, which leads across the meadow to the pavillon. Hofjægermester Uttental, who was married to a daughter of the last lensgreve Scheel at Gammel Estrup, was childless and established in 1947 the Løvenholm-fund, which after his death in 1951 became the owner of Løvenholm.

Source: Danske slotte og herregårde, bd,. 14, Djursland, af bibliotekar ca.mag.Ejler Haugsted, 1967.

Today: Løvenholm is now used for education and research inside farming and foresting.

foto Løvenholm 2003/2006: grethe bachmann

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