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Administration and Court


The cities had a certain administration of justice and liberty of action via the city courts and the artisans´ guilds. But the tendency after the Reformation was more regulation from central quarters.

At the top was the king’s court and then the absolute royal power.

Administration and Administration of Justice (GB)
In addition to the internal administration of justice, which was exercised in the guilds, it was the town´s council, which from the beginning took care of the judicial matters and the administration in the town. They did not yet discern between the administrative/ executive and the judicial power. The daily administration took place in the council room and here they also passed sentences and interrogated witnesses. In some cases the used juries and sentences could then be appealed to the parliament and ultimately to the king´s court.

Until 1619 the town government consisted of two mayors and aldermen, who were selv-sufficient and solely represented the upper classes. In addition the town council appointed town bailiff, who dealt specifically with practical assignments. He could also engage different ”civil servants” like workhouse principal, executioner, midwife a.s.o. At a random day 6.12.1562 the following are present in the council hall:

"Thenn 12. dag junij, neruerinndis paa raadstuenn her y Hellssinngør Hendrich Moenssen och Hanns Pouillssen, borgmestere, Annders Saxenn, Jacop Hanssen, Rassmus Hanssen och Jørgenn Wiig, raadmendt, Jenns Jepssenn, byfogit, mett noger aff borgernne."
Valuation cases, inheritance questions and other elucidations of financial claims are fixed items on the agenda, and cases concerning trade also appear frequently.
Elsinore Town Hall
Elsinore Town Hall

The public Moral
The council also took up matters regarding law and order and supervision of the public morals. The protocol from June 12th 1562 testifies to this:
A Scotsman by the name of Thomas Væver complained that his neighbour Mikael Skrædder´s wife, Charinne, ”often greets him with scolding and improper adress” Thomas therefore threathened to take her before the council, to which Charinne allegedly answered that she did not give a damn about him , mayor and council (”... you and they are just like turds”). The mayor asked Thomas Væver to prove this and he called upojn two witnesses, who confirmed his allegations. Rasmus Olsen Bager could add that he the other night saw Charinne go home in the evening with ”... a man, who was wating for her in an alley and followed her into the house...” The mayor told the good men to remeber this incident another time.

The suggested that Charinne was a woman of easy virtue and that was not very sensational in a town, where prostitution was so extensive that they had to send the entire regiment of women packing. Poor womaen, who had to do anything to survive was probably the most exposed group in the society. it is often women from this group we meet in the witch trials, which become more and more common during the renaissance.
The Sword of the Executioner
The Sword of the Executioner

©  Øresundstid 2009