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Agriculture - North Zealand

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In 1768 the Science Society published the first real map of North Zealand. Apparently there is no connection to the contemporary surveying concerning the forest reforms and the map gives an exaggerated picture of the distribution of the forest.

Agricultural Reforms
From the middle of the 18th century there was a public debate of the agricultural and forestry conditions. The debate was characteristic of the Enlightened Age and the enlightened despotism, where the royal power went into dialogue with enlightened circles in society in order to create new thinking and development. A general view in the debate was that grazing and felling were important reasons for the bad state of the forests and that is would be wise to aim at more distinct regulations for use and a separation of forest and agriculture.

Land and Labour
The cultured land, which belonged under the crown in North Zealand, was organized under five barn farms: Frederiksborg, Esrom Monastery, Kronborg, Kollerødgården og Ebbekjøbgården (later Tulstrup and Knorrenborg Vang). All the farms were farmed out to county officials until 1717.
The crown needed deliveries of game, foods, firewood and so on, and was thus very interested in the labour delivered by peasants and smallholders through the villeinage. As far as the peasants were concerned there were no limitations in the villeinage, which apart from the extensive work with hay harvesting for the stud farm and forest work also included driving for the court, where they sometimes had to muster 100-200 carts. In addition there were transport of foods and the borrowing of linen. The smallholders were usually artisans as well as farm hands, but they had the advantage that they only had to provide one day of villeinage a week.

The Rider Estate
The years 1713-14 during the Great Nordic War were markedly crisis years for the agriculture. The peasants were impoverished and prefect von Raben initiated a radical reform, where the corn-growing was abandoned and only do hay harvest in the fields, rent out the harvest in the forests and aim to abandon the villeinage.
However, things didn´t go that far, but in 1717 a radical reform is passed, which laid out rider estates. Villages are shut down, the barn farm in Kollerød was transformed in to rider estates for one officer and 30-40 riders. The peasants had to contribute to the support of the riders, but the continued impoverishment resulted in the fact that they had to cancel the peasants´ arrears.

The Dominance of the Stud Farms
The rider reform is a military reform, which also brought with it a certain change to the cultivation. However, one problem had not been anticipated, namely that problems arose with the delivery of food in the larger towns, among them Elsinore.

Most important was the venture to concentrate on hay for the royal stud farm, which with the rider estates took up most of the production land in North Zealand. In 1720 they went from 10 to 50 grazing fields with acreage of 62,5 square kilometres. The number of horses was in the first half of the 18th century around 1600 and the demand was 8000 loads of hay and grass per year.
Stud Farm Fields 1720
Stud Farm Fields 1720
Stud Farm fields 1765.
Stud Farm fields 1765.

The Hay Harvest Areas
The need for feed hay in the heyday of the stud farm was thus enormous and just about everything was used. Best suited for hay harvest and grazing were the cultivated areas and the forest meadows in the western part of the present Grib Forest. Strø field around the present Strøgårdsvang was a typical hay harvest field, while other areas also were used for grazing.
The enormous need for labour became an impediment for the abolishing of the villeinage in North Zealand, but it did not impede the reform process.
Grazing Horses
Grazing Horses
Tree Growth
Tree Growth
The Grazing Forest
The Grazing Forest
Hay Harvest Meadow
Hay Harvest Meadow
Strøgårds Field
Strøgårds Field

Enclosure Reforms
In 1757 a commission was appointed “in the interests and for the benefit of agriculture”, which resulted in three enclosure regulations for Zealand, Møn and Amager. The regulations mainly aimed at lifting the solidarity in the commons between the members of a village or between more villages.
Private estate owners experimented in the following years with more extensive reforms and in 1766, after Christian VII had come to the throne; reforms were begun with the lifting of the solidarity between the farmers on the royal estate in the Copenhagen County. In 1769 another commission came up with an even more radical enclosure regulation, which aimed at that fields within four years “should be divided and closed”, and from 1776 there was focus on the moving out and means were provided for this.
North Zealand 1768
North Zealand 1768
North Zealand 1777
North Zealand 1777
Star Replacement
Star Replacement
Replacement Reforms
Replacement Reforms

The Small Farmers´ Commission
In 1784 a farmers´ commission was set up Kronborg and Frederiksborg counties, the so-called Small Farmers´ Commission and from here on the enclosures in North Zealand accelerated: In 1789 the land was enclosed in 113 villages and the following year it was over. That same year no less than 423 farms and 257 houses moved out and thus the landscape was really changing. The woods and the scattered trees disappeared and farms and houses are built in the open land.
The enclosure was the most important result of the Small Farmers´ Commission and the reform which had the greatest impact on the change in the cultural landscape. Other tasks were the abolishment of the villeinage and tithe. Moreover they started work t extend the knowledge of better rotation of crops with new crops like potatoes. Finally 35 schools were built in the two counties in the years 1784-90.

North Zealand as an Experiment
When North Zealand was selected as focus for the small agricultural commission and with that the first great reform wave, it was connected with the fact that it was necessary to relate to a landowner, namely the crown, or the state, if you will. For two reasons this was a quite manageable task. The crown estate consisted of approximately 160 villages with 1300 farm owners, and quite a few had already been renewed at the first reform efforts in the 1760´s and 70´s.
This is probably also why the changes in the landscape is quite clear in the map from the Royal Danish Society of Sciences and Letters from 1777. Enclosure maps for the individual villages give a detailed look in the process and the changes locally. In the enclosure map from Horserød you can clearly see the new and the old cultivation pattern and how field land and the early forest areas are included in the process.
North Zealand 1777
North Zealand 1777

Sand Drift and Afforestation
In the map from the Royal Danish Society of Sciences and Letters from 1777 you notice that there is a connection between the general reductions of the forest area also is afforestation along the North Coast, for instance in Asserbo and Hornbæk plantations. These areas were planted to stop the increasing sand drift, which had developed into an ecological disaster in the whole country and also in Scania. In the map from the Royal Danish Society of Sciences and Letters you can find the term “Elsinore shifting sand” in several locations.
Sand drift and migrating dunes is connected to forest felling and the transition to agricultural production. As early as the 13th century there were signs of increasing sand drift. The Middle Ages crisis in the 14th century in connection with the Black Death, a decrease in population and deserted farms gave the landscape an opportunity to regenerate. In Zealand former agricultural areas became forest. This situation lasted to the 17th century, where population increase, war and devastation once again subjected nature to increased pressure.
The Sand Drift
The Sand Drift

Forest Plants as Windbreak
In North Zealand former rich agricultural areas north of Arre Lake had been given up and the entrance to Arre Lake as well as Søborg Lake was blocked. In the beginning of the 18th century the situation worsened quickly in North Zealand and the state took the initiative to stop this development. As in the case with the forest and agricultural reforms they started in North Zealand.
In 1702 the inhabitants of Tisvilde and Tibirke poured out their troubles to the king, because the sand drift had almost ruined the latter village. The farmers had help putting up fences and their taxes were lowered, but it was not until 1724 an initiative was taken to a more goal-oriented fight with the appointment of Ulrich Röhl as “Inspector at the shifting sand in Kronborg County”. Called in villeinage peasants planted lyme grass and crest and covered the area with turf for a 15-year period.
Windbreaks in the form of forest plants followed up the planting. The first was started in 1726 in Tisvilde. The Tisvilde Plantation was enlarged in 1793 with 27,5 hectares of Scotch pine, that same year 14 hectares in Hornbæk and 1799 they planted the Sonnerup Forest in Odsherred.
The Controlling of Sand Drift
The Controlling of Sand Drift

©  Øresundstid 2009