The Frederiksborg Stud
|The Frederiksborg Horse was one of six improved horse breeds. In time a uniform coloured horses in sub groups were bred, so the king could use a team of six horses in front of a carriage, or make a present of it to other royalties. The Frederiksborg horse in this engraving curiously enough is on the Scanian coast with Kronborg in the background.
The Frederiksborg Stud Farm
From the early Middle Ages there are reports of horse breeding and export from the Danish area. Abbot Wilhelm of Æbelholt thus receives a letter of thanks for a magnificent horse, which he gave to Abbot Stephan in Paris. Another source from around 1200 mentions a yearly export from Ribe alone of 8000 horses and the chronicler Arnold from Lübeck relates that the the country´s source of wealth is the horse breeding.
Through the entire Middle Ages the horse was indispensable as a means of communication: For transportation, as a work tool and at war. The need of and the consumption of horses was enormous and the knight on horseback became almost an icon of the Middle Ages. In a Danish context it is known that King Erik Menved at princely party outside Rostock in 1311, gave more than 80 men ”an ambler each”, i.e. a horse each with accessories and dress in connection with their knighting.
Concentration in North Zealand
Horse breeding in the Middle Ages, where the king took care of his administrative duties travelling around the realm, has taken place in several of the royal properties, but also on the land of nobility and monasteries.
With the Reformation in 1536 the royal power takes over the monastery land and by trading land with the nobility the royal power puts its hands on most of the land in Northeast Zealand. The intention is to create connected hunting grounds and to further the breeding of horses.
In the time of Christian the 3rd Frisian horses are bought to stud farm fields at Esrum Lake and Frederik 2. shows interest in horse breeding at his accession to the throne as early as 1559. In 1560 the last monks leave Esrum Monastery, and the king calls in that same year horses from Nyborg Castle to Frederik´s Castle, where a stud farm is established in 1562. The following royal order is from April 5th 1584:
”The king has decided the foals in Faurholm could be taken from there; the grey Turkish horse, which the king received from the king of Poland, must come to the Hungarian stud farm in Fauerholm.”
Frederik II Receives Tribute
The Horses of the Renaissance
Frederik 2. had traded the estate Fauerholm with the nobleman Peder Oxe, who instead received Tølløse in Midzealand. From a letter from the following day it appears that Esrum and Hørsholm also had stud farms and these had heavy Frisian horses. These horses were mainly used as carriage horses. Apparently the king possessed Turkish (Arabian) as well as Hungarian horses and he also imported horses from Italy and Spain in order to develop the breeding.
The times make new demands on the looks and the use of the horses military as well as civilian. The royal power becomes more settled and the horses are increasingly used for ceremonial duties. In Frederik 2.´s time the Danish horse becomes famous in Europe. The Catholic Spanish sovereign Philip 2. orders 60 mares for breeding in 1583 and the French king buys a similar number. The prototype is a robust and versatile horse, suited for riding as well as carriages.
Christian 4th´s Time
Christian 4. rebuilds the first Frederiksborg and at the summer castle Sparepenge a stable for 300 horses is built in 1599. Branding of the horses is introduced and in 1610, Esrum becomes the headquarters for the stud farm. A similar lay out is planned for Börringe Monastery in Scania.
In connection with this reorganization a number of villages around Esrum Lake is closed and the land is laid out for stud farm fields and dikes and ditches are made. There were already two farms at Frederiksborg, where the breaking in of the horses took place. The Danish horse, Der Dänen Ross, is described as one of six improved European horse breeds in 1610. Still a robust horse with the considerable weight of the baroque horse, which is evident in equestrian portraits of Christian 4.
Christian 4. on horseback
The Riding School
The Influence of War
The Swedish wars with their occupations and plunders in 1657-1660 took its toll on the stud farms. The Swedes took some horses as booty, others strayed in the forests and it was difficult form a general view of the situation. This is described like this in 1661:
”In Kronborg fief Esrom is the main farm, where his royal highness has his stud farm. Apart from this there are three meadow fields, Gurre Field, Teglstrup Field and Egebæk´s Field”´
Kronborg County made up the northern part and the present Frederiksborg County the southern part. Esrum is thus still the centre of the stud farm, while the mentioned meadow fields are mainly used for hay harvest. After the harvest they let mares with foals crop the meadows.
Absolute Monarchy and Baroque Horses
When he was crown prince Christian 5. (1670-1699) had visited the court of Louis 14. and studied the splendour of the absolute monarchy at close range. As early as 1670 he initiates the hunting fashion of the times, riding with hounds, and calls in English advisors and introduces English horses for the hunt.
In the course of a few decades the stud farms apparently recovered after the Swedish wars. This is evident by the dowry Christian 5. gives his sister, Ulrikke Eleonora, when she is to marry the Swedish Carl 11. after the Scanian wars ended in 1679. The princess is equipped with no less than 7 teams with 6-7 uniformly coloured horses.
Christian 5.s Riding Dress
Riding Dress 2
Riding Dress 3
A Horse Race
A famous bet between the English envoy Robert Molesworth and the king´s stable chief Anton Wolff von Haxthausen illustrates the use and proficiency of the horses. They bet 1000 Dutch ducats, quite a nifty sum, whether one of the king´s horses was able to run the distance from Nørreport in Copenhagen to the town gate in Hillerød, all in all 35 kilometres in less than 45 minutes.
Molesworth could choose between five riding horses in the royal stables and chose a small spotted horse, which a fortnight later carried through the ride in 42 minutes. The horse was a so-called Coureur (runner), which was especially used for riding with hounds. According to tradition the particular horse exists stuffed in Christiansborg Riding Ground Museum.
Horse racing was not unusual at the time. Public appearances were limited to representative connections, for example weddings and funerals, but there were also indoor appearances in Christiansborg Riding Ground for the court and invited guests. The riding ground outside could also be used and in Copenhagen there were other suited areas. Christian the 5th is said to have preferred an area in Rosenborg Garden, but Kongens Nytorv, where the equestrian statue of Christian 5. is displayed, was originally designed as a riding ground.
At the large court parties the king himself appeared with others in tournaments with riding at the ring and simulated battles with valuable prizes for the winners. An eye witness accounts the festivities at Ulrikke Eleonora´s upcoming wedding in Christiansborg riding ground April 11th. After riding with the ring and horse ballets they ended with animal fights between dogs and bears, tigers, badgers and bulls.
Prince Jørgen at a Trot
Prince Jørgen on Pompeux
The Rosenborg Wallpaper
The Original Christiansborg
The Advanced School
Christian 5. was an excellent rider, who was said to tire out six horses in the morning. In the daily training it was dressage, different paces and jumps according to the principles of the so-called advanced school. All these paces and jumps are depicted in detail in a number of paintings from the 1690´s, made by and unknown artist and hung in Rosenborg Castle.
Here you can see the different paces, volts and jumps, which originally originate from the science of warfare and its use of the horse. Half of the 24 paintings depict this, while the other half show scenes from the so-called riding carousels, riding at the ring and so on. The depicted horses have, like the Lipizzaner horse, the typical characteristics of the baroque horse: hook-nosed head, heavy thick throated neck, a long back and a muscular croup. The pictures are somewhat distorted, but they also show some of the characteristics of the later Frederiksborg horse.
Prince Jørgen at a Trot
Prince Jørgen on Pompeux
Riding at the Ring Lattice
In 1690 they gave out a stud farm regulation, by which new principles regarding pure breeding according to colour, i.e. they worked up units with uniform horses, red, white horses etc., so the king could have different teams of horses at his disposal to the many official doings. Pure breeding according to colour is a shift in the fashion, which had been on its way for several decades, but is now prevailing in the taste of the rococo era and normative for breeding into the 18th century.
A large number of Spanish stallions are bought to further the efforts into pure breeding at first with good results.
Horses in Front of Christiansstad
Bella and Hertha
Hother, the Stallion
Horseman Estates and Stud Farms
Around 1700 a regulation concerning horseman estates is introduced. This entailed that a cavalry man was supplied with a small plot and a horse, which he had to put up in times of war. Royal estates were used and the king´s stud farms supplied the horses. In 1717 the Esrum Monastery becomes a horseman estate and a large part of the land laid out for this purpose. That same year the centre of the breeding work is moved back to Frederiksborg Castle and in 1720 Lille Ladegård at Frederiksborg Castle becomes the new centre for the stud farm.
A map from around 1720 shows the positions of the stud farm fields and their connection to the horseman estate. It shows an extensive enterprise with centres around Grib Forest and Esrum Lake. The areas, the fields, were scattered all over North Zealand, from Egebæksvang in the east to Pandehave Hestehave in the north. Many place names in North Zealand, for example Hestehave in Hillerød, Søborg Hestehave, and a number of localities in Grib Forest with the suffix –vang, testifies to the activities of the stud farm.
Stud Farm Fields 1720
The Stud Farm in Frederiksborg
The Heyday of the Stud Farm
The first part of the 18th century is the heyday of the Frederiksborg Stud Farm and it becomes the largest agricultural unit in the country with adjoining land up to 11.300 tønder (1 tønde=1363 acres) land, 100 permanently employed personnel and 160 horses. However this also meant the end. The principle of pure breeding according to colours entailed a risk for inbreeding and this in time becomes evident. Furthermore the consumption of horses was enormous and it held great prestige for the royal power to use the self-coloured horses as presents to other royal families.
When Frederik 4. (1699-1730) in 1708 travels down Europe he brings with him to white stallion teams from Krogdalsvangen, which he gives away on the way. Some years the number of presents constituted 150 and meant that they had to buy new horses for the stud farm. When he was buried in 1730, no less than 120 black horses were used in the funeral procession from Copenhagen to Roskilde.
Until around 1740 the horses are stabled in the royal barn farms in the winter, but in the period 1742-46 the architect designs and builds a united stud farm complex called Frederiksborg Ladegård. Around the same time the sculptor Saly starts an equestrian statue, which has since been praised as one of the best in the world and it comes to symbolize the Frederiksborg horse. It took Saly 22 years to finish the statue, which had been donated by Asiatisk Kompagni, who had almost been ruined by the project.
A map from 1765 shows the extent of the stud farm in Frederiksborg County. Here we see the core areas of the stud farm consisting of a number of fields around the western bank of Esrum Lake, a similar area in Frederiksborg and finally Store Dyrehave with adjoining areas. From this time there is also an account of the condition and application of the fields.
The Frederiksborg Stud Farm 1753
The Statue at Amalienborg
Stud Farm fields 1765.
In the following years the stud farm is in crisis because of inbreeding, and during the regime of Struensee they start to limit the activities. The English born Queen and Struensee´s mistress, Caroline Mathilde, is perhaps the last queen, who keeps horses on a large scale for her own use: 2 riding horses and 31 carriage horses.
The utilitarianism of the Age of Enlightenment starts to gain influence and in order to rectify the economy they decide to sell horses. This takes place at an auction in Christiansborg and becomes a draw from all over Europe. One the sold white stallions, Pluto, becomes one of the progenitors of the famous Lippizaner horses, a mare progenitor of the Russian Orloff-trotter.
However the sale does not stop the decline in the breeding. Experiments with breeding across the individual studs around 1776, do have some positive results, but experiments to toughen up the horse among other things by releasing the Fane Stud from Pibervangen in Hesselø in 1784, is disastrous. In 1790 the royal stud farm is merged with the official stud farm department and must now help the farmers horse stock. A map from 1792 shows that the stud farm fields in Cronborg County still at this time takes up large parts of Grib Forest.
Stud Farm Fields 1792
Hay Harvest Meadow
The Large Reduction
In spite of difficulties and costs the Frederiksborg Horse becomes a national symbol and it is not until 1799 the stud farm enterprise is seriously restricted. 1170 tdr. land is handed over to the newly established stud farm Fauerholm and the five original stud farms along Esrum Lake are transferred to the Forest. The Forest and agricultural reforms at the end of the 18th century has already deeply affected the operation of the stud farms. The farm land has been changed, some of it parcelled out for smallholding, but it is not until 1840 the last remnants of the hay harvest villeinage are finally abolished.