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The Building


After the Reformation in 1536 the royal power took over the large properties of the church in North Zealand. The king traded with the nobility and could gather his large landed properties in Zealand and during the reign of Frederik II the building of big renaissance castles started.
Scania became for the most part the area of the aristocracy in the course of the 16th century, while the royal power had concentrated most of its estates in North Zealand by trading land with a number of noble families. Thanks to the Sound duty the king was closely attached to Elsinore and the medieval castle Krogen.

Changing of the Sound Duty
In 1567 Frederik II, on the suggestion of the vassal Peder Oxe, to change the Sound duty so it no longer was paid by the vessel, but by the value of the cargo. This led to a considerable increase in income. In 1566 they collected 45.000 daler, a sum, which was increased the next year to 132.500 daler. (In the 1620´s the income had increased to approximately 200.000 daler per year) The income became very important and enabled the possibilities to build princely palaces.
Krogen 1420
Krogen 1420

A New Castle
In the beginning of the 1570´s the idea of building a more up-to-date military installation than the old Krogen. The project was begun in 1574 and the first phase went on to 1577, when they carried through a revision of the town´s privileges, which involved exemption from taxation and ”freedom of other troubles” for 20 years.
The king stressed in the privilege letter, that new arrivals should have the same privileges as the residents and thus obey the mayor, aldermen and the town council. Probably the king had felt a need for creating better terms for the many arriving craftsmen.

Frederik II and The Building of Kronborg
In connection with the building of Kronborg and the activities surrounding this Frederik II proved to an active and all-round interested renaissance prince. The king followed the building activities intensely, he interfered in the smallest details and he had a decisive influence on the final appearance of the buildings.

Two Stages
Kronborg was not built according to its own plan, but was adapted to the old ground plan of Krogen. Erk of Pommer´s Krogen was a medieval fortress, with a square ground form, 80 metres on all sides and with a house in every corner. On this ground form Frederik II built his Kronborg in two stages.
The king hired two master builders (architects) from Flanders to head the work. These were Hans van Paeshcen (Hans Påske) in the first stage 1574-77 and after that Antonius van Opbegen from Mechelen. Flemish stonemason carried out the masonry, while Danish craftsmen made the woodwork.

Princely Appearance
From the beginning the castle was built in red bricks with window casings and ornaments in sand stone, but when Antonius van Opbergen took over the building was covered with sandstone slabs. Perhaps they thought that the building thus had a more princely appearance, which clearly distinguished it from the many manors of the time.
Picture From 1582
Picture From 1582

The Inauguration of Kronborg
In an open letter from January 1577 Frederik II decided that the name of the new fortification was to be Kronborg.
In 1582 the fortification was considered finished enough to he inaugurated and that took place April 15th with the ringing of bells, cannon salute and the distribution of money to the poor.
In the summer of 1582 the castle was used for representative purposes in connection with the king receiving the Order of the Garter from English messengers.
This ceremony took place August 13th and the English messengers Lord Willoughby, wrote in his report to queen Elisabeth that ”all heavy cannons were fired and there was a royal festival and a very elaborate and ingenious fireworks.

The Finished Castle
The great banqueting hall, which is considered to be the largest in Northern Europe, had not yet been used, but the environment was worthy of a Renaissance prince.
The building activities continued and in 1583 the dome on the great tower was finished. In 1585 the castle appeared in the shape that Frederik II wanted.
Kronborg around 1590
Kronborg around 1590
Kronborg before the fire 1629
Kronborg before the fire 1629

©  Øresundstid 2009