Leonora Christina Ulfeldt

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Leonora Christina Ulfeldt

Leonora Christina Ulfeldt (* July 8, 1621 at Frederiksborg Palace near Copenhagen ; † March 16, 1698 in Maribo Monastery , Denmark ) was a daughter of the Danish King Christian IV and Countess of Schleswig-Holstein , who also gained fame as a writer . Because of her alleged involvement in the intrigues of her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt , she was imprisoned for 22 years as a political prisoner. During this time she began writing her autobiography Jammers Minde, which represents her deprivation full of deprivation. The most striking features of the harrowing prison memoirs are the realistic description of her life in prison and the impressive portrayal of herself as a proud, loyal and inflexible woman who finds her faith in God's grace after a crisis and in this consciousness endures her long prison life patiently and with a certain sense of humor. Jammers Minde is considered the most important prose work in Danish literature of the 17th century. In addition, Leonora Christina wrote a second autobiography, which is called Den franske selvbiografi because of the French language used and which describes her life from childhood to imprisonment.



Jakob van Doordt : Kirsten Munk with her eldest four children , 1623; on the far right the two-year-old Leonora Christina

Leonora Christina was the third survivor of twelve children of King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway († 1648) from his second marriage to Kirsten Munk († 1658). This came from a Danish noble house of poor standing, so that Christian IV's marriage with Kirsten Munk could only be concluded as morganatic and she did not receive the title of queen. Her descendants were excluded from the line of succession. Leonora Christina was therefore not awarded the title of princess, she received the title of Countess of Schleswig-Holstein , which was also awarded to her mother in 1627 ; d. H. it was socially below the royal family, but above the rest of the nobility. She was the king's favorite daughter. As is customary in the upbringing of noble children, Leonora Christina was brought into the care of her maternal grandmother, Ellen Marsvin, on the island of Funen after her baptism . Together with some of her siblings who also lived there, she learned to read and write from the age of four and received music and religion lessons.

Because of Denmark's participation on the Protestant side in the Thirty Years War , Leonora Christine and two siblings were brought to Friesland in 1628 for security reasons to the niece of their father, Sophie Hedwig , who was married to Count Ernst Kasimir von Nassau-Dietz . Your autobiographical notes begin with this stay. The only seven-year-old girl developed affection for the eleven-year-old Mauritz, the count's second eldest son, who promised to marry her one day. As a token of his love, he gave her Latin lessons, usually reserved for boys. They spent a lot of time together until Leonora Christina got chickenpox , was bedridden and, in her fever, was no longer aware of what was going on around her. Vilhelm , Mauritz's older brother, disapproved of this relationship and took Mauritz to Leonora Christina's room to show him her rash and thus destroy his friendship with her. Mauritz became infected and died nine days later. After her recovery, she was told that her boyfriend had been away with his mother, and later a teacher showed her Mauritz's embalmed corpse in a glass coffin. She fainted from horror and much later, since the dead boy had been wearing a rosemary wreath, she could not bear the smell of these flowers. Leonora Christina vividly describes this incident in her French autobiography . The death of her boyfriend, for which she apparently felt partly responsible, was a memorable event for her whole later life.

In 1630 Leonora Christina returned to Denmark. In the meantime, her father had to leave the scene of the Thirty Years' War as a loser. In the same year he banished Leonora's mother Kirsten Munk from the court after she had not only cheated on him, but also allegedly tried to have a supposed magician curse him. Christian IV took himself as a new, lifelong lover Wiebke Kruse , a servant of his exiled wife, who bore him further children. The embittered king forbade his children to see their mother Kirsten Munk. Christian IV gave his favorite daughter a special education. Her prominent position aroused the jealousy of her siblings.

At the age of nine, Leonora Christina was engaged to the 15-year-old nobleman Corfitz Ulfeldt at the request of her father . Corfitz was the son of Chancellor Jacob Ulfeldt , had studied abroad and was considered very educated and urbane. He became the favorite of the king and finally the most powerful man in Denmark after Christian IV himself. Although the engagement went back to her father, Leonora Christina herself chose him as a child and turned down other applicants.

Supervised by high-ranking teachers, Leonora Christina learned German and French, received dance, religion and music lessons and acquired special skills in the art of embroidery. In addition, according to her own testimony in her autobiography, the king's daughter had an excellent memory.

Marriage and first years of marriage

Karel van Mander (around 1610–1670), Leonora Christina (around 1643)

Since a new king, although Denmark was de facto a hereditary monarchy, could de jure ascend the throne only after his election by the Rigsråd (in which influential nobles sat), the high aristocracy was able to demand more say and privileges for their approval. This amounted to a restriction on royal authority. In addition, members of the royal family were not allowed to marry subjects in order to maintain the king's impartiality. Christian IV therefore used his daughters with Kirsten Munk, for whom this marriage ban did not apply due to their morganatic status. He married her to promising courtiers from influential families in order to bind them to him and thus strengthen his power. Leonora Christina married Corfitz Ulfeldt, who was strongly supported by the king, in a splendid ceremony on October 9, 1636 at the age of 15, and for the next few years led a privileged and carefree life in a lavishly furnished house in the center of Copenhagen . In her memoirs she writes that she loved her husband very much from the beginning of her life and also characterizes her husband's love as exuberant: he adored and loved her like a fiery lover and not like a husband. Accordingly, her marriage was exceedingly happy and she was able to perform her duties as wife and mother satisfactorily.

Leonora Christina took painting, violin and guitar lessons and was instructed by Corfitz in Dutch and Italian. She also acquired a knowledge of Latin. She was dissatisfied with the progress of her education, as she had little time due to her numerous births and travels. She had ten children, three of whom died very young; she also suffered three to five miscarriages. She felt that giving birth to so many children was more of a "handicap", but was convinced that it was necessary because of her upbringing. Without ever complaining about it, she still wanted to be not just a “birthing machine”, but an equal partner to her husband. Therefore, she strove to constantly develop her talents despite her many pregnancies.

Leonora Christina, 18th century engraving

The ambitious Corfitz was appointed imperial court master in 1643, making him the second highest man in the state after the king. Leonora Christina became the “first lady” at court for years, as there was no queen. Although the couple impressed foreign guests, the Danish nobility perceived them as arrogant and hungry for power. Many members of the lower classes, e. B. your doctor Otto Sperling the Elder. They revered, however, and remained loyal to them for life. Probably through large-scale corruption and embezzlement, Corfitz accumulated great fortunes in a short time, which he invested not only in lands, but also in jewels and other assets. Leonora Christina often accompanied her husband on embassy trips abroad, such as 1646–1647 to Holland and France , where she was widely admired. In Paris she enchanted the queen widow with her grace and intelligence. When the Ulfeldts returned to Copenhagen, there were tensions with the old king, which Leonora Christina in her memoirs passed over in silence, as he suspected Corfitz of embezzlement for a long time and because Leonora Christina, like the other children of Kirsten Munk, tried to do this to bring the king closer again. Nevertheless, the Ulfeldts were on Christian IV's deathbed, whose death (1648) Leonora Christina described as a turning point in their life. The Ulfeldts immediately expelled the seriously ill Wiebke Kruse from the court.

Years of exile

After Christian IV's death, his son and successor Friedrich III fought . of Denmark and Norway , who was also Leonora Christina's half-brother, the dominant position of Corfitz Ulfeldt and three other sons-in-law of Christian IV. The wife of Frederick III, Sophie Amalie von Braunschweig-Lüneburg , became the relentless enemy of Leonora Christina, who was probably her leading position did not want to give up at court. In 1649 Corfitz traveled abroad with his wife on an official mission, but his influence in Denmark waned increasingly. This was also because other nobles feared the great power of Ulfeldt. From 1650 the new king had the former imperial court master's earlier financial transactions examined in order to prove embezzlement. Dina Vinhofvers , mistress of a competitor of Corfitz, posed as Corfitz's mistress and accused him and his wife of wanting to poison the king, but was convicted of perjury and executed. In July 1651, the Ulfeldts finally left Denmark because of the increasingly poisoned climate, first went to Holland and then lived as refugees in Sweden. Leonora Christina was stripped of her title of countess.

The Swedish Queen Christina leased her Barth Castle in Pomerania to the Ulfeldts for large sums of money. Leonora Christina, however, did not feel sufficiently respected by the Swedes and did not attend the wedding of the new King Charles X Gustav of Sweden in 1654, which she described with biting irony , because a seat that was too low was reserved for her. To deal with Friedrich III. to reconcile, Corfitz sent his wife to Denmark in 1656 because he thought she would be more suitable for the task. She described this trip twice. The first report, written in Danish, was written immediately after her mission and primarily tells the course of her negotiations with the representatives of the Danish king. In her autobiography, written much later, she makes her report more dramatic and describes that her mission failed because she was stopped on the journey to the king by his envoy Ulrich Christian Gyldenløve, the son of the Vibeke Kruse. On her way back, she had to pull the pistol to avoid arrest by the overzealous royal official.

After this unsuccessful attempt at reconciliation, Corfitz finally changed sides. In 1657 he supported King Charles X in his victorious war against Denmark and negotiated for him the disastrous Peace of Roskilde (1658) for the Danes . He lived with his wife on an estate donated to him by the King of Sweden in gratitude, but was dissatisfied with his acceptance into the Swedish aristocracy and his appointment as inspector of the territories newly conquered by Denmark in southern Sweden. Among these territories was the rich province of Skåne , where he had hoped for the establishment of an aristocratic republic. Since he publicly expressed his displeasure, Charles X became suspicious of him. When a new Swedish attack on Denmark, in which Corfitz no longer took part, failed, Leonora Christina's husband was placed under house arrest in May 1659 on suspicion of collaborating with the Danes. But Leonora Christina cleverly defended her sick husband at a hearing called in her home in Malmö , as contemporary documents show. Although the court still pronounced the death penalty on Corfitz for treason, the sentence was not carried out and the couple remained unmolested. After negotiations, the Danish ambassador, Leonora Christina's brother-in-law, obtained a pardon for Corfitz, but before the Ulfeldts found out, they had fled Sweden separately due to rumors of their alleged imminent banishment to Finland .

Corfitz returned to Denmark, where Leonora Christina soon followed. But both were interned as state prisoners by the Danish king for 17 months in Hammershus fortress on Bornholm . At this point in time, Frederick III, who wanted to remove the aristocrats' great privileges and say, was preparing a coup to introduce an absolute monarchy . In doing so, he was able to rely on an alliance with the wealthy bourgeoisie of Copenhagen and the clergy, who had long quarreled with the nobility over its privileges. Hence, the elimination of one of the most influential nobles like Corfitz was an important step for the Danish king to implement his plans. In September / October 1660, the aristocracy finally had to accept their disempowerment.

The Ulfeldts' jailer, Adolph Fuchs, was meanwhile behaving rather cruelly with his prisoners. This is evidenced not only by the description of Leonora Christina in her Franske Selvbiografi , but also by contemporary records by civil servants. Corfitz found it difficult to control himself against Fuchs' humiliations, but Leonora Christina endured them with cold superiority. Because of this degrading treatment, the Ulfeldts tried to flee in March 1661 by abseiling from prison at night with a loyal servant on sheets and boards tied together. But when the moon disappeared behind clouds, the servant fell into a ravine and had to be rescued by Leonora Christina alone. Then she dragged her weakened husband down the steep cliffs. During these delays it got light and the guards caught the fugitives. When Fuchs inspected her escape route, he believed that only diabolical forces could bring this about and thought Leonora Christina was a witch . The couple were now held separately and only released in December 1661 against surrender of almost all of their property. Corfitz also had to swear an oath of allegiance to the king.

After their release, the Ulfeldts lived on the Ellensborg estate on the island of Funen, which Leonora Christina had inherited from her grandmother. At the request of friends of the Ulfeldts, the Danish king allowed Corfitz to travel to Holland in 1662 for health reasons. Shortly afterwards, his wife followed him to Bruges , where her eldest son killed her former prison guard and tormentor, Adolph Fuchs, whom they met by chance. This murder was not done at her request, but it was approved. Corfitz offered the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg the Danish throne, which he wanted to get him by instigating a revolt. In addition, Corfitz sent his wife to England to reclaim a substantial sum of money that he had lent to King Charles II of England in 1649 during his exile. However, the Danes had received knowledge of Corfitz's conspiratorial intent from the Brandenburg elector himself and sentenced him to death in absentia on July 24, 1663 for high treason. His property was confiscated and his children were banished. Leonora Christina, who had meanwhile traveled to England, was received by Charles II, but arrested on her departure in Dover and extradited to Copenhagen, where she arrived on August 8, 1663. She had to hand over all the jewelry, swap her beautiful clothes for poorer ones chosen by her old enemy Sophie Amalie and was incarcerated in the so-called Blue Tower (Blåtårn), the notorious prison at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.


Blue Tower (1611)

Leonora Christina was long interrogated by royal officials about her husband's plans. She gave clever answers without admitting that she knew about her husband's conspiratorial intentions. On the contrary, it declared the allegations against Corfitz to be false. She was informed of the condemnation of her husband, whom she could no longer save. The king might show mercy if she betrayed her knowledge of her husband's plans. She only lost her composure for a short time, continued to deny any complicity and protested that she had only given her husband the loyalty and support expected from a wife. Your survey did not provide any information for the Danish government. Without a trial, the king's daughter was kept in a cell in the Blue Tower. She got into a crisis of faith and quarreled with God, by whom she felt unjustly punished because she only acted as a loving and faithful wife. After a few days, however, she came to the conclusion that she must submit to God's grace; for the Lord chasten those whom he loves. So she could see her imprisonment as a test that had to be passed. She had not abandoned Corfitz - as once in her opinion Mauritz - and therefore now stoically endured her cell life, which was to last a total of 22 years (1663–1685).

Other confidants of the Ulfeldts should also be eliminated. The former doctor of the prisoners, Otto Sperling the Elder, was born. Ä. (1602–1681), also imprisoned in the Blue Tower in 1664, where he died after 17 years of imprisonment. Corfitz Ulfeldt himself escaped arrest and fled across Europe, but drowned in the Rhine on February 20, 1664 . His palace in Copenhagen was torn down and a pillar of shame was erected in its place . Leonora Christina was told that her husband had been executed and only later did she learn the truth. To her astonishment, she was relieved that he had now finally escaped his pursuers.

In the foreword to her autobiography “ Jammers Minde ”, Leonora Christina explains to her children that she had been able to flee several times, but that she was waiting for the king to release and acknowledge the injustice committed against her; only then could she help her children. During the first few years of her arrest, she was not brought to pass the time, so she thought of tasks for herself. So she scribbled notes on sugar packaging with a chicken feather dipped in the soot of the candle smoke. She used a needle found in her cell for embroidery, using thread that she won from her silk stockings that had been opened. She studied the vermin and made assumptions about their reproduction. In her memoirs she reports on her frequent arguments, but also conversations with her constantly changing servants, which she received as a noblewoman in prison, but who also had to inform Queen Sophie Amalie about the life and demeanor of the prisoners. Such women were often tough and presumptuous, and Leonora Christina could only ward off a maid by threatening to strangle her with her bare hands. She also indirectly witnessed an abortion by a servant. She learned English from someone else. The prison warden often visited her at night when he was drunk and made advances to her. The disastrous hygienic conditions of the dungeon, which she describes as dirty, smelly and contaminated with fleas and rats, can be seen in her report, according to which a servant in 1666 insisted on scrubbing away the excrement accumulated over the years of the earlier prisoners in the small cell, and Leonora Christina fell ill from the stench.

French autobiography , after 1670. Author and provenance notes for Leonora Christina's manuscript, not before 1715. Royal Library , Copenhagen
Jammers Minde . Handwritten manuscript by Leonora Christinas, around 1674 to 1680. Frederiksborg Castle

After the death of King Friedrich III. (February 9, 1670) and the accession of his son Christian V of Denmark and Norway to power , Leonora Christina's imprisonment conditions were eased. This gave her a more spacious cell, writing materials and an annual financial allowance that enabled her to buy books. But she remained imprisoned for a long time due to the resistance of her old enemy Sophie Amalie, the mother of the new king. For their amusement, some ladies secretly visited Leonora Christina in the evening, who immediately recognized one of them as "Fraulein Augusta von Glucksburg" (probably the 36-year-old daughter of Duke Philipp von Schleswig-Holstein-Glucksburg) and concluded that the other ladies the wife of Christian V, Charlotte Amalie of Hessen-Kassel , and his sister Anna Sophie of Denmark and Norway , the wife of the Elector of Saxony. The women pitied the prisoner; only the haughty Augusta showed no emotion and was suspected by Leonora Christina of having secretly passed on her conversation to the queen widow Sophie Amalie. The queen's mother, Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg , a landgrave of Hessen-Kassel, also visited the prisoner in secret and spoke to the king for her release. This should be done when the Queen's first child became a son. But when the king's mother showed up for the prince's baptism, she threatened to leave immediately until Christian broke his word. The widows quarreled before the king, but Leonora Christina was not dismissed.

Otto Sperling the Younger (1634–1715) tried just as unsuccessfully at the beginning of 1673 to get his father of the same name and former doctor of the Ulfeldts out of the Blue Tower. He encouraged his father and Leonora Christina to write their memoirs in order to influence opinion in Europe and thus put pressure on the Danish government. With this aim in mind, Leonora Christina wrote her autobiography in the same year, and in French with consideration for the international readership , but did not achieve her aim. The manuscript was smuggled out of prison and published by Otto Sperling the Elder. J. and later historians used. It experienced a certain distribution in transcripts, translations and adaptations. After completing the Franske Selvbiografi , the imprisoned king's daughter began to write a report on her long imprisonment, " Jammers Minde ", which was intended for her children. She also read historical books and used this material to create sketches of famous women (" Zierde der Heldinnen "), in which she recorded her emancipatory idea of ​​the equality of both sexes. She did not consider the sacred poems she wrote to be of high literary quality, but colored them very personally. Many of these rhymes have been preserved in various copies and thus show their great popularity in the 17th century. Finally, Leonora Christina devoted herself to music and handicraft.

Release and old age

Only after the death of her implacable opponent Sophie Amalie († February 20, 1685) did Leonora Christina regain her freedom at the age of 63. The Chancellor Frederick von Ahlefeldt , who had once reluctantly led her to the Blue Tower, ordered her dismissal on May 19, 1685. But the prisoner did not leave her prison until 10 p.m. under cover of darkness and a veil that protected her from the eyes of the curious crowd. She was picked up there by the daughter of her long-dead sister, Elisabeth Augusta Lindenov. The Queen and her ladies watched this spectacle from the balcony of the palace. King Christian V assigned Leonora Christina an apartment in the Maribo Monastery and granted her an annual pension of 1,500 Reichstalers. Here she spent the last 13 years of her life more or less appropriately. Generally living relatively lonely, she sometimes received visitors, including the Danish poet Thomas Kingo . Above all, she completed the manuscript of " Jammers Minde " that had begun in the Blue Tower . She tried in vain to regain her former wealth for her three children who were still alive. Her eldest daughter Anna Katharina, widow of the Flemish nobleman Vigilius de Cassette, lived with her from 1688, and her youngest daughter Leonora Sophie also visited her often. Her youngest son Leo , who had made a steep military career in the Habsburg service, was only allowed to visit Leonora Christina twice with the permission of the Danish government, first as a 40-year-old man in 1691; his mother had last seen him as a twelve-year-old boy.

On March 16, 1698, Leonora Christina died in the Maribo monastery and on April 6, 1698, she received a simple burial in the adjoining church, just as she had requested.


Leonora Christina and her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt had at least 10 children, seven of whom reached adulthood. The ten children were:

  • Anna Catherina
  • Christian (1637–1688) killed Adolph Fuchs and later became a monk
  • Jacob († as a child)
  • Ludwig
  • Leo Belgicus (* 1646, † as a child)
  • Corfitz
  • Mogens († as a child)
  • Ellen Kirstine
  • Leonora Sophie
  • Leo (1651-1716)

Other sources say that Leonora Christina was pregnant again during her flight to Sweden in 1651/52. Another daughter, Christina, is said to have been born in Stockholm, but she died as an infant. In the Franske selvbiografie even from a total of 13 children's speech.

Literary work

According to today's view, Leonora Christina was not a full-time writer in the narrower sense, but a very educated woman who belonged to the first social circles, who processed her experiences, which were often at the center of Danish politics, on an aesthetically high level in literary terms. The Swedish noblewoman Agneta Horn and Queen Christina of Sweden created comparable autobiographical works .

Because of her adventurous and dramatic fate, Leonora Christina stayed in the Danish history books. Her reputation as one of the most outstanding Danish prose writers of the 17th century was founded on her posthumously accessible work “ Jammers Minde ”, which reports on her long imprisonment in the Blue Tower. The original manuscript had been inherited by Leonora Christina's son Leo and it was kept under lock and key in the family property and only a few saw. It only became known to a wide audience after it was rediscovered in Austria and published in 1869. The author herself had not planned the book for publication, but rather sent it to her children as a souvenir book. Leonora Christina did not publish any of her other works, most of which are only known through mentions of other authors. Her second autobiography, " Den franske selvbiografi ", was published in facsimile in 1958 after the original manuscript was found again (1952), while an older edition from 1871/72 is based only on a later copy of the work.

Leonora Christina's manuscripts and correspondence are in the Frederiksborg Palace National History Museum , the Royal Library and the State Archives in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

The franske selvbiografi

In Den franske selvbiografi , Leonora Christina creates a portrait of her happy youth at the Danish royal court and continues the story until she was imprisoned for many years. The chronological representation itself often skips larger periods and becomes like a novel by focusing on certain events and humorous portrayal of exciting adventures. On the one hand, the author speaks at a distance from herself in the third person and philosophizes intelligently about the vicissitudes of life, but at the same time is the actor who communicates her thoughts about the dramatic events. Throughout the novel, she is characterized as a persecuted heroine who patiently and courageously endures intrigues and humiliations by virtue of her belief in Providence and the awareness of her high ancestry (portraying herself as Christian IV's favorite daughter). A central motif is her unshakable love for her husband, to whom she also reciprocates after her description, but is otherwise portrayed as weak and completely dependent on her, irascible and otherwise hardly positive, which is not true in this one-sidedness. This characterization arises from the meaning of her memoir, to portray herself as innocent, which is why she has to distance herself from her husband and his proven high treason. The motives of their opponents are reduced to their jealousy and no rational reasons for their actions are given. Otto Sperling the Elder J. used Den franske selvbiografi in his never printed book about learned women, in which he reports in detail about Leonora Christina's upbringing and knowledge.

Jammers Minde

Leonora Christina's literary masterpiece is the autobiography of her time of suffering, Jammers Minde (English: Remembrance of misery; title of the 1911 translation: “Memory of suffering”). Leonora Christina wrote the first third of the book in the Blue Tower. The foreword is followed by a report on the first three weeks in the dungeon with extensive dialogues from her interrogations, in which she defends herself confidently and skillfully. The most important moment, however, is her initial spiritual crisis until she is convinced that her sufferings are tests of God and that God, if she remains steadfastly innocent, will restore her freedom. In this context she uses many quotes from the Bible and identifies - like Agneta Horn in her autobiography - with Job . Leonora Christina describes herself as a "suffering Christian" who has to serve a harsh sentence as an innocent test of God. While she was writing in prison, she hoped that one day her words would be read by the children to whom the book is addressed. She explains that her actions are justified as worrying about the future of her family and that she must suffer so much only because of her loyalty to her husband. Her style alternates between embellished and richly pictorial rhetoric and coarse colloquial language.

After her release from prison, Leonora Christina revised Jammers Minde's text in Maribo and continued it. The focus in this part of her work is on the presentation of her daily routine in the Blue Tower. Particularly individual events and how they dealt with the prison staff and inmates are described in detail. The religious considerations are becoming less important, and the style of their realistic description of prison life is accordingly no longer rhetorical but more colloquial. With the arrival of the year 1674, the work on her work stopped again. Then she continued, but only briefly touched the following years, noting that her guards were afraid of the day they would be released, as they would lose their high wages. Above all, she wanted to show her children her version of her detailed dismissal: the rehabilitation of the proud and innocent king's daughter by God's grace. In an addition to the preface, she lists many of her enemies who would have come to a disgraceful end.

Throughout the book the keynote is that, because of her clear conscience and her belief in the righteousness of the Creator, she was able to maintain her pride and humor as well as her self-control over the years and thus alleviate the hardships of imprisonment. She underscores this point with the fiction that she wrote her entire work during her imprisonment. However, a precise philological analysis of the original manuscript can show that most of it was written in Maribo.

Adornment of the heroines

Leonora Christina did not consider Jammers Minde to be her main work, but her collection of biographical sketches of well-known women under the title Hæltinners Pryd (German: ornament of the heroines), a literary genre common at the time. She began her work in detention, but later revised it. Only a fragment of a bad copy remained of this book. Her heroines come partly from historical, partly from mythological tradition. They are described as controversial, clever and loyal, in some cases paralleled with the image they designed of themselves in their autobiography and, for this purpose, open contradictions between their representation and that of their historical sources are accepted. In her opinion, many women are braver than men. It considers it unreasonable that acts are judged by the people who carry them out instead of measuring people according to their acts. The author praises qualities such as courage, strength, intelligence, patience and faithful love for the husband. For their contemporaries, e.g. B. Sparrow d. J., Adornment of the heroines was an outstanding work.


The high literary and aesthetic quality of the writing of her admirable perseverance during her long arrest explains that Leonora Christina is still much admired and honored as a writer today. Her fate and especially her memoirs have secured her a permanent place in Scandinavia's cultural consciousness. Poets and prelates praised her as the ideal Dane for her loyalty, patience, and determination. Jammers Minde experienced numerous adaptations in fiction, music and art.

The German poet Leopold Schefer gained an early insight into the writing and used many materials for his novel Die Gräfin Ulfeld or the twenty-four royal children , published in 1834 . She then exerted a great influence on Jens Peter Jacobsen'sFru Marie Grubbe , Interieurer fra der syttende Aarhundrede ” (“Mrs. Marie Grubbe, interiors from the 17th century”). The Danish painter Kristian Zahrtmann immortalized Leonora Christina's story in 18 monumental paintings, which were published in the edition of her book in 1890 and which appeared as single prints in 1907.

There was occasional criticism of Leonora Christina, for example that she was too blindly devoted to her unworthy husband, arrogant or stubborn. Likewise, critics presented Jammers Minde as a tendency writing that should absolve them of all guilt before posterity. Yet her autobiography remains very appealing to artists, believers, patriots and feminists.

Editions of Jammers Minde


  • Leonora Christina Ulfeldt's "Jammers-Minde". En egenhændig Skildring af hendes Fangenskab i Blaataarn i Aarene 1663-1685 , ed. v. Sophus Birket-Smith , Gyldendal , Copenhagen 1869. Online version
  • Jammers Minde and other selvbiografiske Skildringer , ed. v. J. Brøndum-Nielsen and CO Bøggild-Andersen, Copenhagen 1949.
  • Leonora Christinas Jammers Minde , ed. v. Poul Lindegård Hjorth and Marita Akhøj Nielsen, Copenhagen 1998.


  • Memories of the Countess of Schleswig-Holstein Leonora Christina married Countess Ulfeldt from her captivity in the Blue Tower of the Royal Castle of Copenhagen 1668-1685 , ed. v. J. zwieback, Vienna 1871. online version
  • Memory of suffering. These are memorabilia from Countess of Schleswig-Holstein Leonora Christina , edited. v. Clara Prieß, Leipzig 1911.
  • Jammersminde. The Leonora Christina, Countess v. Ulfeldt, autograph description of her imprisonment in the Blue Tower in Copenhagen from 1663-1685 , translated by Eva von Baudissin , Berlin 1917.
  • Pity minde. Memories of Countess Leonora Christina Ulfeldt , translated by Hanns Grössel , Munich 1968.

Other works

  • Den franske selvbiografi (French memories), facsimile edition, ed. v. CO Bøggild-Andersen, Copenhagen 1958.
  • Hæltinners Pryd (Ornament of Heroines), ed. v. Christopher Maaløe, Copenhagen 1977.


  • Heinz Barüske: The Nordic literatures . Volume 1, Haude & Spener, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-7759-0157-4 , pp. 162-168.
  • Sophus Birket-Smith : Leonora Christina Grevinde Ulfeldt's history . 2 vols., Copenhagen 1879–1881.
  • Annegret Heitmann: Leonora, Countess Christina Ulfeldt . In: Ute Hechtfischer et al. (Ed.): Metzler Autorinnenlexikon . JB Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 1998, ISBN 3-476-01550-5 , pp. 297-298.
  • Jens Kragh Høst: Life and fate of the imperial count Korfitz Ulfeld and the countess of Schleswig-Holstein Eleonore Christine , Royal Deaf- Mute Institute, Schleswig 1829.
  • Katrin Lunde and Luise F. Pusch : Leonora Christina. The daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway: Denmark's first feminist? in Luise F. Pusch (ed.): Daughters of famous men. Nine biographical portraits . Insel Taschenbuch 979, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-458-32679-0 , pp. 47-115.
  • Marita Akhøj Nielsen: Leonora Christina Ulfeldt . In: Marianne Stecher-Hansen (Ed.): Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB), Vol. 300. Thomson Gale, Farmington Hills (Michigan) 2004, ISBN 0-7876-6837-0 , pp. 460-470.
  • Lutz Rühling: Reason's sacrifices for the construction of metaphysical meaning in texts of Scandinavian literatures from baroque to postmodern . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-525-20589-9 .
  • Bodil Wamberg: Leonora Christina. Dronning af Blåtårn . Copenhagen 1991.
  • Inga Wiehl: Ulfeldt, Leonora Christina . In: Anne Commire (Ed.): Women in World History , Vol. 15. Yorkin Publ., Waterford (Conn.) 2002, ISBN 0-7876-4074-3 , pp. 713-718.

Web links

Commons : Leonora Christina  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Leonora Christina Ulfeldt  - Sources and full texts


  1. a b Heinz Barüske, 1974, p. 168.
  2. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 461; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 714 .; Jens Kragh Høst, 1829, pp. 5-7
  3. Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 714.
  4. Lunde / Pusch, p. 53
  5. Lunde / Pusch p. 55f
  6. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 461; Inga Wiehl, 2002, pp. 714-715.
  7. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 461; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 715.
  8. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 461; Inga Wiehl, 2002, pp. 715-716.
  9. The office of Reichshofmeister came into being around 1430 and was the highest state office in the Danish Empire. He was a kind of prime minister and representative of the king. In addition to his prominent constitutional position, he had a number of important tasks, even if his duties were not clearly defined. In the 16th century he was in charge of the financial administration and was in charge of the rent chamber and customs.
  10. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 461–462.
  11. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 462; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 716.
  12. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 462-463; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 716.
  13. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 463; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 716.
  14. ^ Jörg-Peter Findeisen: Denmark . Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 1999, ISBN 3-7917-1630-1 , pp. 135-138.
  15. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p 463rd
  16. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 463-464; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 716.
  17. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 464 and 467; Inga Wiehl, 2002, pp. 716-717.
  18. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p 464th
  19. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 465; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 717; Excerpts from “ Jammers Minde ”, which deal with these episodes of Leonora Christina's prison life, are cited by Heinz Barüske, 1974, p. 164ff.
  20. RH Stoddard: Leonora Christina in the Blue Tower Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (1873), p. 522-523.
  21. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 465 and 467; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 717.
  22. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 467-468; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 718.
  23. Johannes Ziegler (ed.): Memories of the Countess of Schleswig-Holstein Leonora Christina married Countess Ulfeldt from their captivity in the blue tower of the royal castle in Copenhagen 1663–1685 , Vienna 1871, p. 266.
  24. Lunde / Pusch p. 103
  25. Annegret Heitmann, 1998, pp. 297 and 298.
  26. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, pp. 460–461 and 468; Heinz Barüske, 1974, pp. 162 and 168.
  27. Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 465.
  28. Heinz Barüske, 1974, pp. 163-164; Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 467; Lutz Rühling, 2002, pp. 56, 59, 79.
  29. a b Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 468.
  30. Annegret Heitmann, 1998, p. 298; Marita Akhøj Nielsen, 2004, p. 468 and 470; Inga Wiehl, 2002, p. 717.
  31. ^ Leopold Schefer, Die Gräfin Ulfeld or the twenty-four royal children , 2 vols., Veit and Comp., Berlin 1834