Lord of the manor and of the village

Theme

The manor as the seat of power

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Danish landlords have held considerable power throughout history. Those loyal to the Crown helped to set up an army of knights, were exempted from paying taxes and given dominion over the population of entire villages. During the 16th century, lords came to be known as nobles, and by the 17th century they came to hold half of the country’s farms and fields. The king owned the other half. Times were tough for peasants.

Around the year 1200, the king was looking to set up a mounted army, an army of knights, modelled on other Western European armies. But a war horse, weapons and armour were expensive investments, so in order to pay for the new army, the king offered tax exemption as a form of pay to the men, lords, who were willing to arm themselves at their own cost and fight for the Crown. The more land one held, the greater the value of the tax exemption, so it comes as no surprise that property and service as a knight went hand in hand. Many lords emphasised their new martial role by fortifying their farms or manors, as they came to be known. The traces of many of these fortifications can be found throughout the country. Most of them date from the 13th and 14th centuries, a period of civil war and power struggles between competing lords.

Fortified farms were still being built in the first half of the 16th century, many of which remain standing to this day. But, by 1560, the age of the …

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