Facts about Hammershus

Facts about hammershus
  1. Largest Nordic ruin: Hammershus is the largest castle ruin in Northern Europe and the most popular and visited attraction on Bornholm.
  2. Convenience: Hammershus is located on the northwest corner of Bornholm (close to Bornholm’s northernmost point) on a 74 meter high cliff.
  3. Behavior: Historians don’t know exactly when Hammershus was built, but most historians believe it was in the early 13th century. Hammershus was built as a single complex with the mighty Mantle Tower at its core, connected by an oval wall that encloses the buildings in the inner courtyard. The castle has a total area of 130,000 m2 and an outer wall of 860 meters. It also had several fortifications and water-filled moats, and was an almost impregnable castle in its day. The builders were most likely the archbishop Anders Sunesen and the king Valdemar Sejr.
  4. Purpose: The primary purpose of Hammershus was to consolidate the power of the church on Bornholm, but probably also to manifest the power of the crown in the Baltic Sea.
  5. Anders Sunesen: Anders Sunesen (c. 1167 – 1228) was Archbishop of Lund and had been granted power on Bornholm by Svend Grathe (one of three kings until 1157, when Valdemar Sejr became sole king). Anders Sunesen owned the land on which Hammershus was built.
  6. Valdemar Sejr: Valdemar 2. Sejr (1170 – 1241) was known for his many conquests and at the time Hammershus was built, he was leading crusades in the Baltics. It is therefore believed that Hammershus was wholly or partially funded by the income from the crusades. Therefore, Valdemar the Victorious most likely had his influence on Hammershus and laid the foundation for the crown’s future claim to the castle.
  7. Lilleborg: Hammershus shares some architectural similarities with Lilleborg in Almindingen (in the center of Bornholm) and it is known that the two castles functioned together for a few decades. It is believed that Lilleborg was the royal castle on the island. In 1259, the castle was stormed and destroyed by Archbishop Jakob Erlandsen and his ally Prince Jaromar of Rügen during the archbishop’s dispute with King Christopher 1.
  8. The crown and the church: Although Hammershus was actually the property of the archbishop, the crown claimed it several times after its construction. This happened during the archbishop’s dispute from the mid-13th century to the 1320s, but also later under Valdemar Atterdag in 1361 and Christian II in 1522. It should be mentioned that in the 13th and 14th centuries, there was a power struggle between the crown and the church and that the two powers were particularly interested in Hammershus because it gave them power on Bornholm and thus the right to collect taxes on the island.
  9. 1660: In 1660, Denmark lost the Skåneland (after the Swedish Wars), but as Bornholm resisted, the island remained under Danish rule. Hammershus then served as a political prison and was home to Christian IV’s daughter Leonora Christina and her husband Corfitz Uhlfeldt (they were imprisoned for treason at Hammershus from 1660 to 1661 and made a dramatic but unsuccessful attempt to escape).
  10. Political prison: Over time, the sheriffs stopped living at Hammershus and in 1743 it was decided to demolish the castle. The people of Bornholm were allowed to collect stones from the castle until it was protected in 1822.

Hammershus has an interesting history


Timeline for Hammershus

  • The beginning of the 13th century: Hammershus is built – probably by the archbishop Anders Sunesen and the king Valdemar Sejr.
  • 1265: The Danish king Erik Klipping conquers Hammershus.
  • 1276: Erik Klipping gives Hammershus back to Archbishop Thrugot Thorstensen in a settlement.
  • 1297 – 1302: During this period, Hammershus served as a refuge for outlaws under the anti-royal Archbishop Jens Grand, who himself had fled from Søborg Castle to Hammershus.
  • 1310 – 1319: The archbishop Esger Juul – who was anti-royal like Jens Grand – continues to harbor outlaws and ends up barricading himself with mercenaries in Hammershus in 1317 when he banishes King Erik Menved.
  • 1319: King Erik Menved’s marshal Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein takes Hammershus. The marshal Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein gathers the inhabitants of Bornholm in a common assembly, where they complain in a letter to the king about Esger Juul’s robberies, plundering, torment, mutilation, murder, etc. The king, Erik Menved, dies later that year, after which Christopher II is crowned King of Denmark.
  • 1320: Esger Juul travels to the Pope in Avignon and gets Marshal Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein banned from Hammershus.
  • 1321: King Christopher II gives Hammershus back to Esger Juul in response to the Pope’s decision.
  • 1324 – 1325: The Margrave Peder Vendelbo lays siege to Hammershus for 16 months. Only when Hammershus’ connection to Scania is cut off can the besieging army take the castle and when Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein surrenders, he is promised a large sum of money and his confiscated estates back by the king. Esger Juul dies on January 17, 1325.
  • 1326: Christopher II is expelled from Denmark and the young Valdemar Eriksen of Southern Jutland (Valdemar III) is forced to return Bornholm and Hammershus to the Archbishop, who at the time is Karl Eriksen. From then on, Hammershus remains in the hands of the archbishop for around 200 years – only briefly interrupted by Valdemar Atterdag in 1361.
Fact: Hammershus was once a nearly impregnable castle
Attribution: Lilly M + Armdury + Darkone – Wikipedia.org
  • 1361 – 1362: Valdemar Atterdag takes Hammershus and Bornholm by right of the crown, but shortly afterwards gives them back to the archbishopric in return for a promise that the bishop will return the island and castle to the king when demanded – a promise that the bishop ends up keeping in 1522.
  • 1522: King Christian II claims Hammershus, but he takes it on a bad year as it is sacked three times: the first time by a Swedish fleet, the second time by the same Swedish fleet reinforced by Germans and the third time by a fleet from Danzig (a Polish/German sanctuary at the time).
  • 1523: Christian 2 is expelled as early as 1523 by the Lübeckers on behalf of Frederik 1. At this point, Hammershus is no longer as impregnable as before – this is mainly due to the use of cannons and other firearms. Therefore, it only takes the Lübeckers a day and a half to take the castle. The Archbishop is given Bornholm again by Frederik I and holds the island for two years. After this, the archbishop has to give up the island, as Frederik I gives Bornholm as a fief to the Lübeckers for 50 years as payment for their expulsion of Christian II (he owes them 158,000 Lübeck marks).
  • 1525: The cavalry officer Berent Knop takes over as the Lübeck courtier on Bornholm and Hammershus. He collects more taxes than is legal and imposes much more work on the peasants than he is allowed to (by agreement with the king). Knop begins to expand Hammershus so that it becomes a usable fortress again.
  • 1533: Frederik I dies and the Lübeckers try to help Christian II to the throne, but it ends up being Christian III who becomes King of Denmark in 1535. The king encourages the peasants of Bornholm to revolt and expel the Lübeckers, but the war-weary Lübeckers crack down hard. They then begin to expand Hammershus so that it can withstand firearms. They also raised the Mantle Tower and built five semi-circular towers on the fortress wall and three on the castle core. Christian III then sends soldiers and ships towards Bornholm, but they never arrive in one piece due to storms.
  • 1536: In Hamburg, Christian III makes peace with the Lübeckers and has to leave Bornholm to them for another 50 years (i.e. until 1626)!
  • 1543: The king has over time received numerous complaints from Bornholm’s peasants about Knop’s exploitation of the peasants and their resources. Therefore, the Council of Lübeck decides to let Knop resign and replace him with Junker Blasius von Wickeden, who is a much fairer man. However, he only stays in his post for 4 years.
  • 1547 – 1556: Herman Boitin takes office as the third courtier from Lübeck. He restores the chapel at Hammershus (St. Margrethe’s Chapel) and the church tower adjacent to the Mantel Tower.
  • 1556 – 1573: Schweder Kettingk is the fourth courtier from Lübeck at Hammershus.
  • 1573 – 1575: Matteus Tideman, a Lübeck native, was appointed courtier at Hammershus for an eight-year period, but only stayed for two years because the Danish King Frederik II claimed Bornholm in 1976.

Hammershus monument

  • 1576: Bornholm and Hammershus returned to Danish hands under Frederik II, maintaining that the 50-year agreement made in 1526 was original and that the renewed agreement of 1536 made by Christian III was not valid, as Christian III had not yet been crowned King of Denmark at the time of the agreement, but also because the Danish Council of State had never approved the agreement.
  • 1576 – 1645: Bornholm now becomes a Danish fiefdom, and successive lords live partly at Hammershus and partly on nearby farms, as Hammershus is in a state of disrepair. The king decides that Hammershus should be maintained without excessive costs. In 1613, Christian IV visits Hammershus, where he establishes the Bornholm militia, a peasant militia in which all able-bodied men must participate.
  • 1645: The Swedes attack Hammershus, which is manned by only 61 men; 58 soldiers, 1 caretaker, 1 archelimester and the lord of the manor, Holger Rosenkrantz. The arkelimester is the only one who knows how to handle cannons – and he is killed during the initial Swedish shelling. Holger Rosenkrantz had sent for reinforcements from the island’s two landscape captains, but only one of them shows up. He has 30 soldiers with him, but Rosenkrantz doesn’t dare bring them to Hammershus as he doesn’t trust them! The next day, Swedish General Carl Gustaf Wrangell sends a drummer to the gates of Hammershus with a message that he will storm the castle. Rosenkrantz decides to surrender. Later that year, however, Bornholm returned to Danish hands when peace was signed at Brømsebro on August 13.
  • 1645 – 1651: The new Danish sheriff is Ebbe Ulfeld, who is married to the king’s daughter Hedevig. Ulfeld has a military background and tries to impose military discipline and governance on the local population – which naturally makes him quite unpopular. He was deposed on May 1, 1651 by Frederik 3.
  • 1651 – 1658: Joakim Gersdorff, the sovereign and master of the realm, takes over as the new sheriff of Hammershus, but he physically lives in Copenhagen and governs the island with the help of sheriffs.
  • 1658: At the Peace of Roskilde on February 26, Frederik 3 cedes Bornholm to the victorious Swedish King Carl Gustaf. Bornholm to the victorious Swedish King Carl Gustaf. Swedish Colonel Johan Printzensköld takes up the position of Lord and Governor of Hammershus. However, he finds only two chambers in the entire castle suitable for habitation. In a letter to the Swedish king, he describes the castle’s deplorable condition; it is almost completely roofless and the brick walls are falling down day by day. During the first 2 months at Hammershus, 5 out of 100 soldiers die of illness (due to humidity and cold). On December 8th, the Bornholmers capture Printzensköld and later he is shot by Villum Kelou. The Bornholmers then start an uprising led by Jens Kofoed and Gumløes, among others. They kill several Swedish soldiers and cut off all traffic to and from Hammershus. The following morning, the uprising gathers in front of Hammershus, where they send a written threat to Lieutenant Pehr Lagman and Printzensköld’s widow Anna Hård that they will send Printzensköld’s severed head into the castle if they do not surrender. The cunning plan succeeds and the lieutenant surrenders with his 60 soldiers. Danish Captain Claus Kames – who had participated in the uprising – is now elected as the island’s new leader. Jens Kofoed takes his seat at Hammershus as the new military leader. Later that year, Bornholm is handed over to King Frederik III and a memorial is erected to Jens Kofoed.
  • 1659 – 1662: Governor Adolph Fuchs is deployed on Bornholm. Corfits Ulfeld and the king’s daughter Leonora Christina are imprisoned at Hammershus from 1660 and attempt to escape due to Fuchs’ harsh words and harassment. However, they are apprehended in Sandvig and taken back to Hammershus, where they are further harassed. In December 1661, they are released by Frederik 3. Adolph Fuchs was deposed in February 1662 and was killed in November of the same year by Christian Ulfeld, who was taking revenge on his parents’ tormentor.
  • 1662 – present day: With the introduction of absolute monarchy in 1660 – 1661, Denmark was divided into counties, including Bornholm. Between 1662 and 1740, the island was governed by governors, and it was not until 1740 that a county governor was appointed. Since then, the island has been ruled primarily by county governors, with a few intermittent periods of military governor rule. At the end of the 17th century, stone from Hammershus began to be used for buildings on Christiansø and the Citadel in Copenhagen. In 1743 – 1747, stone from Hammershus was also used for a fortress in Rønne, which was never completed. After this, Hammershus was used as a quarry for the construction of farms around the island. In 1822, Hammershus became a protected site.
Fact: Hammershus was built in the early 13th century and is the largest ruined castle in Northern Europe
Attribution: Lilly M + Armdury + Darkone – Wikipedia.org

Fakta: Hammershus blev opført i starten af 1200-tallet og er i dag den største borgruin i Nordeuropa