Sunday, March 07, 2010

Kalø, East Jutland, Randers amt

Kalø, ab. 20 km northeast of Århus
Bregnet sogn, Øster Lisbjerg herred, Randers amt.

After the rebellion of the Jutland peasants and their refusal to pay taxes king Erik Menved let build three new castles to avoid any repetition, Bygholm at Horsens, Borgvold at Viborg and the castle at Kalø. This castle was built upon the highest point of the island and consisted, according to usual customs, of a square tower and a castle yard, surrounded by a ring-wall. Those forced castles were hated, and in the coronation charter, which Christoffer II had to sign in 1320 in Viborg it was decided that the forced castles had to be broken down, while the older castles like Riberhus, Koldinghus and Skanderborg were still allowed to exist. The National Museum made some examinations at Kalø in 1941-42, and they showed that Erik Menved's castle really had been broken down not long after it was built. From his time are only the cellar walls under the large tower and probably the rest of the eastern ring wall, which ends in a circular corner tower. King Christoffer hardly made the rebuild of the main tower, the rest of the castle plan must be ascribed to king Valdemar Atterdag.

According to the examinations it seems that castle nr. 2 was built not many decadees after the first, there is no document about the date, but after the treaty, which in 1340 was finished in Lybæk between king Valdemar and hertug Valdemar about the first mentioned's taking over the Danish Crown, king Valdemar had to take over at once Ålborghus with Vendsyssel and Himmerland as a dowry with the hertug's sister, Helvig; after this he could one by one redeem the four castles Kalø, Horsens, Kolding and Ribe, each with a fourth of the rest of Nørrejylland (Nørrejylland is not the same as North Jutland, it is the area around the Randers district). The castle at Kalø, which is mentioned as one of the main castles in Nørrejylland, was by grev Gert pawned to Claus Limbek, a son of a lord of the manor from Angel, whio was the greve's sub-chief of Nørrejylland.

In 1343 the king redeemed the Kalø-area, but hr. Claus Limbæk stayed as a pledgee at the castle for many years and was in 1344 by king Valdemar appointed drost, the highest office of the kingdom. He was the king's highly trusted advisor and assistant, but he was also one of the leaders of the Jutlanders' rebellion. He was nr. 1 among the lords at Kalø, where he still lived in 1348. Valdemar Atterdag had alternate chiefs (vasals ) at Kalø, after he had redeemed it, but in the end of his rule he had to give it as a pawn for a loan from the Århus-bishop Bo Mogensen. The income of the vasalry went for some years into the pockets of the bishop, until queen Margrethe in 1407 redeemed it. Bishop Bo and the Chapter had to ensure that "the island Kalføe and the walled castle and fortification, which stand upon this, belong to the Danish kingdom" and that the bishopric had no claims anymore.

Among the vasals were among others hr. Otte Nielsen (Rosenkrantz) of Bjørnholm (+ 1477), who was the mightiest man in the district; he was for many years rigens hofmester (kingdom's master at court). Erik Eriksen Banner (+ 1554) had in 1514 castle and vasalry given by Christiern II in person, while he around Easter stayed at Kalø. When the king deceitfully in 1518 had taken 6 Swedes hostage (who had been a security for his own person in a meeting with the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger) and brought them as a pawn to Denmark, he entrusted one of the hostages, the very young Gustav Eriksson Vasa to Erik Banner, who treated him well and allowed him in return for a promise and handshake to walk freely near Kalø, but his longing for Sweden made the young man forget his promise; he saw his chance to get away about one year after he came to Kalø; he put on peasant-clothes , joined some cattle-drovers and came in September 1519 to Lybæk, where several merchant-families took friendly care of him and fixed that the council denied to hand him over to Erik Banner, who a few weeks later caught up with him, but had to go back to Kalø empty-handed. Chr. II did not punish his vasal, but demanded him to pay a large sum of 1.600 gylden, which he had provided as security; a receipt has been kept of an instalment of 1.300 mark which the king received "for the Swedish prisoner, who got away."

Erik Banner became one of the leaders of the Lutheranian party in the rigsråd. He won together with Johan Rantzau a victory over skipper Clement in the Grevefejden and had an important place among Chr. III's councsiliors - and was from 1541 rigens marsk (military chief of the kingdom); but he did not seek for larger or more important vasalries and kept Kalø with the five sub-districts (herreder)Mols, Nørre and Sønder herred, Sønderhald and Øster Lisbjerg as tax-vasalries until his death in 1554. In the next generation a brilliant man Jørgen Rosenkrantz - who was the founder of Rosenholm - became regent while Chr. IV was underage. He was a vasal for a long time, from 1563 until his death in 1596. He kept Kalø, maybe because it lies close to Rosenholm and Skaføgård.

Jørgen Skeel, ancestor of the Skeels at Gammel Estrup, was the owner of Sostrup and Ulstrup and rigsmarsk by Chr. IV from 1627. He had Kalø vasalry from 1607-27. During his time at Kalø a judicial murder took place. The priest in Vejlby, Søren Quist, was sentenced and executed for a murder he had not committed. A conspiracy of his enemies, whose main instigator was a sub-bailiff at at Kalø, succeeded in forcing some Vejlby-peasants to give witness and take an oath on fabricated stories. The court of justice assumed that the sworn testimonies were true and sentenced the priest to death. During the period of the next vasal kansler Christen Thomesen (Sehested)(1629-40) , the learned Holger Rosenkrantz' son-in-law, the truth came out and the case was taken up again. The priest's innocence was established and the main instigators of the conspiracy were punished. The two last vasals at Kalø were Christen Thomesens brother's in-law, first Gunde Rosenkrantz 1648-60, then Erik Rosenkrantz of Rosenholm, who had to give up the vasalry caused by the change of the Danish government in 1660.

For more than three hundred years the royal castle at Kalø was domicile for vasals, and during that period history tells nothing about any war-events. The castle and its crew were means of power in the vasal's hands in order to fight troublemakers and criminals and to protect the inhabitants in the five districts( herreder). The castle was a place from where peace went out. The money for its maintenance and the support for its residents went to the Crown from farm and estate. Upon the island was a farm-building and another up behind the eastern forest - and gradually many peasants in Bregnet and the neighbouring parishes became copyholders for the castle.

The straight paved road out to the castle, named Vasen, was probably laid out in the 14th century. There is a document with information that it was repaired by Jørgen Rosenkrantz, so it is earlier than his period as a vasal (1563-96). In the middle of Vasen was a bridge which could be broken off. There were several road blocks on the way out to the castle; at the third break the drawbridge led across the dry moat to the castle-gate, which was built just on the other side of the moat ( a large piece of wall work have been found from a gate tower). The fourth break was the main gate, and behind it was the castle yard where a potential attacker was facing a difficult tastk, conquering the tower, where the defenders behind thick walls could defend themselves from narrow arrow slits.

In 1660 the castle was much dilapidated. It was also outdated as a fortification, and since it after 1660 was not a vasalry anymore its days were numbered. In 1661 Frederik III gav his son Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve Kalø castle with farm-buildings and estate, which meant most farms and houses in Bregnet and Thorsager parish and several in Egens, Agri, Dråby and Vistoft and the two churches in Bregnet and Thorsager with their taxes. This large estate was transferred to Thorsager birk (judicial). Ulrik Frederik had just got married to Marie Grubbe. In 1670 he handed over farm and estate to the Crown after having achieved his main work as a viceregent in Norway. In 1672 he was one of Chr. V's leading ministers and had begun building his palace in Copenhagen (the present Charlottenborg) The king gave him Kalø's buildings and material "which was very ruined and disrepaired." Everything usable was now sailed to Copenhagen. What was left were only rests of tower walls and small remains of ringwalls and fruerstuen. (the ladie's room). The castle became an overgrown and mouldering ruin.

The Crown kept Kalø ladegård and the large estate for twenty years. In 1690 grev Conrad Reventlow of Clausholm bought in an exchange the farm-buildings and the part of the estate in Bregnet and Thorsager parish. He had judicial rights and a right to buy back the churches in Thorsager and Bregnet. Conrad Reventlow, who became storkansler under Frederik IV and was the father of queen Anna Sophie, had in 1684 bought Løjstrup in Laurbjerg parish and Frisenvold in Ørum parish and in 1686 bought Clausholm in Voldum parish, which became the main residence in the large estate.

In 1703 he handed over Frisenvold, Løjstrup and Kalø to his daughter-in-law Benedicte Margrethe (née Brockdorff)(+ 1739), who very young was a widow after Jørgen Skeel of Gammel Estrup and in 1700 was married to grev Christian Ditlev Reventlow (1671-1738). He was an officer, diplomat and official; he became a general in Austrian service, in 1709 he was as a Danish general leader of the failed attempt to win back Skåne; later he became overpresident in Altona and overjægermester( title at court). While he used his power in the State service his wife ruled despotical, but with great skill, the many and large estates the married couple owned: grevskaberne Christianssæde and Reventlow (Sandbjerg), baroniet Brahetrolleborg, the entailed estate Krenkerup, Tølløse and Sehested ( in Sønderjylland) besides three Jutland manors, of which they in 1731 founded the entailed estate Frisenvold . This couple did not need a classy residence at Kalø, but it is probable, that the energetic lady planned the building of the up-to-date halftimbered farm buildings. The large old barn north of the present country road has kept the mark from the 18th century and reminds about the now burnt barn at Møllerup.

Wormwood on the stony beach behind Kalø.

In 1798 Kalø and estate was by fyrst (German prince) Christian Heinrich August Hardenberg Reventlow (son of the Preussian statskansler and German prince Carl August Hardenberg and Juliane Frederikke Christiane Reventlow) handed over to birkedommer (judicial rights), kammerråd Morten Friederich Leemeyer at Kalø and Erik Christian Müller at Møllerup. The purchase price was 217.000 rigsdaler. The deed was in 1803 issued to Leemeyer only. After his death his widow Mette Leemeyer, née Brendstrup, had difficult times at Kalø and in 1823 she sold farm and estate to the German senator Martin Johan Jenisch (1760-1827) from Hamborg, who bought it for 80.000 rigsbankdaler silver. Kalø did not become his or his family's home, but a part of a widespread concern. Kalø hovedgård and estate was driven by Danish employees, but the family from Germany often visited their Jutland manor and showed much interest in the great enterprise and the many people connected to it.

It was a great advantage for Kalø that the new owner was a rich man, who could improve the buildings and equip the peasants with livestock and tools. In 1848 the villeinage was abolished and the main farm was from this year driven with the assistance of paid people. In the 1870s both churches of the estate ( Bregnet og Thorsager) were restored. Bregnet church was in danger of being broken down, but was saved and secured. In 1881 was Kalø taken over via inheritance by Martin Johan Rücker, who took the name Jenisch. He became baron and ekscellence in 1906 , he was a diplomat and was appointed ambassedeur in Rome.

In 1883 was established a modern diary at Kalø hovedgård, and in 1890 was built a large stable for the large stock of Angler-cattle. In 1898 the baron built Kalø Jagthus (Hunting lodge) south of the garden, from where is a beautiful view across the fields, framed by the forests, Kaløvig (the bay) and the castle island with the ruin. During the difficult years after WWI the baron thought about selling Kalø, but instead he decided to rebuild and modernize the large agrigulture- and forest enterprise. As an inspector of the estate he chose in 1924 the young landowner, later hofjægermester Folmer Lüttichau of Rohden, who had been a lesee at Kalø 1918-20. When the baron died a half year after the new inspector's beginning in September 1924, the executors of the estate took the lead and kept it until September 1933, when it was transferred to the son Wilhelm Rücker von Jenisch.

Like his parents he protected the beautiful and historic values he was responsible of. He supported in many ways the National Museum's work at the castle island and gave the public access to both the ruin and the forests. In the end of the 1930s he proposed a grandiose offer about Nature preservation of the beautiful landscapes from Kaløvig up to Rønde and Kalø hovedgård and to the castle island, 300 tdr. land ( 1 tdr = 1.363 acres). The condition of the proposal was that a road project, which had been confirmed by Randers amt, where a road should lead from Følle through Hestehaven and down to the Ebeltoft-road at the beach, must not be carried through. When the Nature Conservancy Board in an instalment of 3. January 1939 had decided that this road project must not be carried through, the baron's offer was brought to life according to the Nature Conservancy Law of 1937. By protecting this magnificent East Jutland landscape baron Jenisch has got an unusually beautiful memory. He also expressed his interest in hiking by giving land to a youth hostel, which is placed east of Rønde with a view across the listed terrain.

In WWII Jenisch, being a German officer, had to go to war and died in Greece 13. July 1941. Shortly after his death his workers and employees raised a memorial stone as an expression of their gratitude. According to his will his youngest brother Johan Christan von Jenisch became the owner of Kalø, but after the end of the war Kalø was confiscated as German property by the Danish State. After this 440 tdr. land of the estate was being outparcelled and sold, partly for establishing Kalø agricultural school, partly for establishing State-smallholdings and additional land. In 1948 Kalø estate was rented to Jagtfonden, the idea was to use the estate for 1) vildtbiologiske forsøg (biological research with game) 2) breeding game 3) hunting school and at the same time continue the farming and foresting.

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

photo Kalø 2003/2006/2007/2008/2009: grethe bachmann

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